This is my first blog! I have written to a number of newspaper columnists, and wonder at the number of entries, and who  reads them. Well now I have a chance to find out!

We have been caught up in Inauguration Day in the United States. It has been an exciting time, even for me who is not a citizen here, only a “permanent resident”. I have long thought about the major responsibilities of the new President Obama, and what his first actions would be. Who would he talk to first, maybeGordon Brown or Putin? No the first was Abbas of Pelestine and the second Olmert of Israel.

I don’t know about you, but I have been horrified at the tragic devastation of Gaza in the past couple of weeks. The dreadful loss of life, including the innocent civilians with a large number of children. It is hard to imagine any justification for that. And the bombing of the United Nations school, a sanctuary seemed to me an evil act.

We have had principles for a just war from time immemorial. Some of them are: the response has to be proportional to the aggression and civilian lives need to be protected. Neither of these principles were observed, and Israel must take much of the blame. No doubt they were incited, but a thousand lives for less than ten is way out of any proportion. The “eye for an Eye and tooth for a tooth” was supposed to be a principle for the Jews that put them above other religions! This has not been observed in this case.  The Catholic Church in Palestine has long been saying that the people have been deprived of a right to live properly, and so I can imagine the people being angry. and the power given to Hamas.

I know that Hamas have not granted Israel the right to exist as a sovereign nation, and this needs negotiation. I know that they were the ones who did not renew the truce with Israel over Gaza and this sparked the recent fighting. So neither side are free of blame!

I hope that now George Mitchell is appointed by Obama to negotiate, that he will have the sort of success he had in Northern Ireland, and some measure of peace can be restored.