Letters - 10 February 2017

From humanity and animals to theism and nontheism

Humanity and animals

I was pleased to read ‘Humanity and animals’ from Barrie Sheldon (27 January). I agree that we should always bear in mind the other forms of life on this beautiful planet and I have adopted for many years the lifestyle he suggests.

However, while a vegan diet frees up a lot of land for wildlife, unfortunately a universal adoption of this diet is unlikely and, even if it happened, would only push to the future an urgent problem.

This planet is a finite size and there is no longer room for the diversity of life that once existed. Species are going extinct at an alarming rate. A major cause of this is the rapid growth of the human population. Unless we can find a way to limit this growth, future generations will inherit a world devoid of all the variety and beauty we have come to love.

We have a Quaker commitment to sustainability and I’m pleased that over the past few years there have been moves to include population in our discussions on this important commitment and the establishment of the group Quaker Concern Over Population (QCOP).

I hope we continue to press for global action over this problem before it is too late and most of our wild animals are lost forever.

Anne Brewer

Holocaust Memorial Day

Ethnically Jewish, I feel uncomfortable about Holocaust Memorial Day.

I lived in Israel for nearly twenty years following my graduation in 1950. I was then proud to belong to a country which was making the desert bloom; and absorbing hundreds of thousands of immigrants. Today, however, I fail to understand how Israel, a nation of Jews, can mistreat another nation, Palestine, by settling on its ‘territory’.

On Holocaust Memorial Day, accordingly, I feel that we have perhaps lost the right to receive sympathy ourselves.

The problem, of course, is the Old Testament! Its text allows belief in the concept that eretz yisrael, the Land of Israel, was promised by God to the Jews. And eretz yisrael is believed by many Israelis to include territory currently inhabited by Palestinians.

Michael Oppenheim

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