In your obituary of Gerald Kaufman (28 February), you refer to his support for the Palestinians. When I first met him, more than 30 years ago, he was a supporter of the Labour Friends of Israel and Poale Zion. It was the horror and brutality of Israel’s occupation and its refusal to concede a Palestinian state that led him to speak out, as a Jewish MP, against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. On 15 January 2009, at the time of Israel’s Cast Lead bombardment of Gaza, when 1,400 Palestinians were killed, Kaufman referred, in a speech in the House of Commons, to the death of his grandmother, who was killed by the Nazis in the Polish town of Staszów. In a powerful and memorable speech, he said: “My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.”
• I was disappointed that your obituary of Gerald Kaufman made no mention of his being, with John Smith, a sponsored MP of the Boilermakers Society before that union amalgamated with the GMWU in 1982. It was a position he was proud of, as was shown in the speech he made in the Commons when John Smith died in 1994. There was ribald laughter in the Commons when he made the speech in what was a Tory-dominated chamber. Sadly, today’s politicians do not have his gift.