ARENA NEWS WEEK: Assisted dying bill, conflict in Gaza and Dylan Thomas's love letters


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BBC Daily Politics reports on the debate over 'assisted dying' in the House of Lords

A controversial debate on assisted dying will take place in the House of Lords today, with a record number of peers requesting to speak. If passed, the bill would allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally ill patients judged to have less than six months to live. Supporters of this bill include Desmond Tutu, who has said he reveres "the sanctity of life, but not at any cost".

In 1996, Desmond Tutu visited Anglican bishop Trevor Huddleston, two years before his death in 1998. Huddleston was best known for his anti-aparthied activism and worked with Desmond Tutu opposing the aparthied regime in South Africa. Arena filmed this rare meeting, where the pair talk candidly about the Christian relationship with suffering and their views on mortality.

Desmond Tutu and Trevor Huddleston on Christianity and suffering

Arena: Stories My Country Told Me (1996). Directed by Anthony Wall


BBC news reports on the conflict in Gaza

The Israeli military has begun a ground offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza strip. Troops and tanks were sent into Gaza to deal "a significant blow to Hamas", Israel said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the invasion after days of intensive rocket fire and air strikes between the two sides. It is reported that 258 Palestinians, three quarters of them civilians, have died since the start of the wider Israeli operation on 8 July.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine stretches back decades, with many attempts for a peace settlement that remains elusive. In 1982, Arena filmed the Israeli novelist Amos Oz in his home town of Jerusalem, where he talks about his desire to create a dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. He believed that discussing their shared, albeit antagonistic, past could provide an avenue for understanding between young people on opposing sides. Oz takes a walk through Jerusalem, reflecting on his own experiences during the 1967 Six Day War and the complexities of the Palestinian-Israeli relationship.

Israeli writer Amos Oz discusses his work on the conflict between Israel and Palestine

Arena: A Walk With Amos Oz (1988). Directed by Dennis Marks, Series Editor - Anthony Wall


Dylan Thomas letters

Three unpublished early love letters written by poet Dylan Thomas to his wife, Caitlin Macnamara, have been sold at auction for £11,250. Thomas met Caitlin in the spring of 1936 after the two were introduced by the artist August John, and were married soon after. In these letters Thomas declared his love for Caitlin: "When I think of you doing anything, anything at all, I feel so many hundreds of miles and days away from (me) that I want to lie down and howl like a dog at all the cruel, uncharitable things that muddle us up and won't let us be together".

Dylan and Caitlin had a famously tempestuous and often destructive relationship; an inscription in one of his poetry bookes read "From Dylan to Caitlin. Adoringly - in spite". Arena's 2003 film 'Dylan Thomas: Grave to Cradle" uncovers the truth of the poet's life and death, including his relationship with Caitlin. The couple were both unfaithful, yet could not keep away from each other. Here, Caitlin gives a shocking account of their behaviour towards one another before Dylan's death in 1953.

An insight into the life of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas

Arena: Dylan Thomas - Grave to Cradle (2003). Directed by Nigel Williams

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