a different side of Israel

Tag: CNN (page 2 of 2)

‘Dems’ Close to Sweeping U.S. Congress

Democratic PartyIn a clear and decisive mandate on President Bush’s domestic and foreign policies, The Democratic Party appears close to sweeping both houses of Congress in the aftermath of one of the most important mid-term election campaigns in U.S. history.

Democratic Party personalities, such as Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, pictured, celebrated what they considered long overdue victories; not only personal, but ideological as well. Pelosi, a California Democrat and House Minority Leader, stands to become the first woman House Speaker in U.S. history. For those who aren’t aware, Speaker of the House is one of the most important positions in the U.S. government, and is only a ‘heartbeat’ away from the Presidency, being number three in succession to America’s highest political office. Other ‘Dems’ achieving victory in their campaigns include Senator Hillary Clinton (D. N.Y.) and Independent candidate Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. Lieberman became a real “come-back kid’ after losing his state’s Democratic nomination in July. He plans to side with his former party in upcoming legislation, he remarked, following news that he had won re-election.

A number of governorships changed political hands, including a very important one in Massachusetts when Black American Democratic candidate Deval Patrick defeated his Republican rival, making Patrick the first Black American in history to be elected to the governorship in his state. Arnold Scharzenegger easily won re-election in California, despite numerous controversies over his administrative record in America’s most populated state. That in a way is all right, as it will give talk show hosts like Jay Leno and Colin O’Brien continuing ‘material’ to use for jokes on their shows.

The election victories also included several important state legislative questions, including ones on stem-cell research and abortion; both of which have been important subjects for President Bush. Reversal of abortion bans in some states will be a definite blow to Bush’s “pro-life” Republican Party legislative bills. Certain special interest groups such as single parents and gay marriage should also benefit.

The Administration foreign policies, particularly in the Middle East and Iraq will see a number ‘changes’ as well. A Democratic held House will undoubtedly demand an early end to the American presence in Iraq, especially since Congresswoman Pelosi will be House Speaker. How these changes will effect countries like Israel remains to be seen, as the Bush Administration has tried to present itself as being closing allied with Israel on many matters, including the recent war in Lebanon; and concerning Israel’s on-going conflict with the Palestinians. What America’s policies will be concerning Iran and North Korea will also be influenced as well.

What this all boils down to, goes back to an old protest song composed and sung by American icon Bob Dillon during the Vietnam War era:

” Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’. ”


15,000 Lebanese Troops Proposed for Israel’s Border

An interview by one of CNN’s Middle East correspondents with Mr. Mohammad Chatah, special advisor to Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, reviewed Lebanon’s proposal to send a contingent of 15,000 Lebanese Army soldiers to patrol their border with Israel. The proposal, subject to approval by Parliament, and to Israel agreeing to withdraw all its forces from southern Lebanon, is being drafted along with an American sponsored proposal to station an international force of 30,00-50,000 soldiers there as well, is being met by mixed feelings from both sides of the conflict, including the Hezbollah.

15,000 ‘Lebanese troops’? Hmmmm. This is a very intriguing and provocative suggestion for a variety of reasons. First of all, when Beirut Lebanon was bombed by Israel with the purpose of destroying the Hezbollah command headquarters in the city’s southern section, after all or most of the Lebanese air force had been disabled; why didn’t the 75,000 strong Lebanese Army spring in to action to defend their homeland? Even now, this force has had little participation in the nearly month-old conflict, except to man a few anti-aircraft batteries and assist with helping fellow Lebanese flee their country for safe havens in Cyprus and beyond.

Another factor to consider is due to Lebanon’s governing political ‘mix’, at least half of this military entity is composed of Shiite Muslims; undoubtedly very loyal to Sheikh Nasrallah who is himself a member of this branch of Islam, as well as most of his Hezbollah organization. It would be naïve not to think that at least part of the official Lebanese armed forces, perhaps several thousand, actually possess two uniforms: one for their duties in the LAF, and the other for perhaps ‘volunteer’ activities in the HWSN (Holy Warriors of Sheikh Nasrallah).

Naturally, Sheikh Nasrallah and other Hezbollah leaders are all in favor of this idea, which will result in Hezbollah returning to southern Lebanon that much quicker, albeit in different uniforms. This would be with the sobering knowledge that should they try to engage in some of their former activities; i.e. firing Katyushas and other missiles into Israel, or kidnapping more Israeli soldiers; then Israel would have the right to declare all-out war against the Republic of Lebanon, with even more devastating results.

Other options involving some kind of international peacekeeping force, or even a more beefed-up version of UNIFIL, this time to be equipped with sufficient military hardware to make it a respectable military force; are also being discussed in the UN and by various other organizations, including NATO and the Arab League. The pitiful scene of Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora breaking into tears as he bemoaned the deaths and injuries of his country’s citizens; and massive destruction of property was enough to spur many into action to try to seek a end to this conflict that has wrecked absolute havoc to both sides. The P.M.’s enthusiastic support of Nasrallah and his organization, however, does make many wonder just where Mr. Siniora stands. Perhaps the Sheik might even offer Mr. Siniora a prominent position in Hezbollah; providing of course that Siniora agree to accept a different version of Islam – Nasrallah’s version, of course.

Calling it like it is

Israel’s present conflict in both Lebanon and Palestinian ‘ruled’ areas adjacent to it is being called by a number of terms, including: Crises in the Middle East (CNN’s favorite), Armed Conflict with the Palestinians and Hezbollah, military reprisal operation, etc. All of these terms appear to be a way of glossing over what the ongoing events have really become; and that the correct term is really that age-old, three letter word: WAR. Most dictionaries, including time tested Webster’s Dictionary, define the conflict as follows:

War: Open armed conflict between countries or between factions within the same country. Another definition: Any active hostility, contention, or struggle. And a third definition: Military operations as a profession or science.
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Open letter to the Lebanese people

Dear People of Lebanon,

Images. Images of wide-spread destruction, of death and human suffering, and of mass exodus of people trying to flee their country for safe havens in Cyprus and other locations. These are the images shown to the world by zealous news commentators from CNN, Sky News, The BBC, and a host of others, including even Israel’s own dedicated journalists and broadcast teams. What has been going in Lebanon, seemingly almost like a re-run of both the Lebanese civil war and the 1982 Operation Peace for Galilee has once again turned the Country of the Cedars into a scene of destruction and chaos. Watching this human drama unfold has become prime-time viewing for us all, particularly for those who feel that those who are involved in creating this destruction (i.e. the Israeli military forces) appear to be overzealous in their pursuit of their sworn enemy, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and his Hezbollah organization. All of this appears to be going unabated, including the death and destruction that has been rendered upon Israel by the Hezbollah, who refuse to agree to a cessation of hostilities, including the release of two Israeli soldiers being held captive by them, and one of the primary causes for this tragedy to begin in the first place.

Lebanese RefugeesThis situation has unfortunately led to all-out warfare, with hundreds of thousands of innocent Lebanese caught in the middle between the two warring sides. You, the people of Lebanon, composing a variety of religious backgrounds, and living in a land that has contributed much to the history of the region, including a people known as the Phoenicians; whose colorful sailing vessels plied the trade routes of the Mediterranean, and whose people built the mighty City State of Carthage in what is now modern day Tunisia. Your ancestors also helped to build the Israelite Temple in Jerusalem. That is correct; one of your illustrious kings, Hiram of Tyre, was hired by King Solomon to build the Temple; partially made with giant cedar trees cut and brought by sea to ancient Israel in order to be used to construct the innermost chamber of the Temple as commanded by God.

It has been most unfortunate that you, the people of this land with so rich a heritage have not been able to live in peace with the descendants of ancient Israel, as you once did during those glorious days when the combined Phoenician and Israeli commonwealths contributed so much to the cultural and commercial life of the entire eastern Mediterranean. You may not recall, but, before Israel became an independent country in 1948, thousands of Jewish Palestinians used to vacation in Lebanon and go skiing on the slopes of the Souf or Lebanon Mountains during the winter months. Your unwillingness to be at peace with your Israeli neighbors has done you more harm than good; especially due to groups like the Hezbollah being allowed to thrive there and conduct their terrorist operations. No doubt, many of you are not supporters of Sheikh Nasrallah and the Shiite Islamic ‘fiefdom ‘ he created. In fact many of you, especially those of Christian or Druze persuasion, may even live in dire fear of this organization, whose main aim is to turn your country and a big part of the surrounding area into a strict Islamic fundamentalist Caliphate with Nasrallah as its leader.

Nasralla on poster in DamescusI assure you, people of Lebanon, that your neighbors to the south do not want to occupy you, and do not want to be your enemy. They would like nothing better than to be at peace with you; a peace similar to the one they have with another nearby country, which is more than 95% Muslim, i.e. Turkey. In case you not aware of it, more than 400,000 Israelis visit Turkey annually: spending millions of dollars in tourist resorts, casinos, and other attractions offered by a country who decided many years ago that the was a better way to ‘fly’. Why can’t this happen in your country as well, with Israeli tourists skiing once again in the Souf as their great grandparents did, enjoying the casinos, hotels and discotheques of a rebuilt Beirut, and investing capital into your banks and other financial institutions. If you truly want your country to once again be called the ‘Switzerland of the Middle East’, then this is the best way to accomplish this goal, and not by siding with one of the world’s most vociferous terror organizations whose ranks and leader are no less heinous than the Al Qaeda organization and Osama bin Ladin himself.

So, People of Lebanon, the choice is yours. As has been said so correctly by Dr. Phil McGraw, one of America’s most popular television show psychologists: “you either get it, or you don’t”. At this moment, dear Lebanese people, as you watch your country being torn apart once again as your board ships and other conveyances provided for your escape: you apparently don’t get it.

What The Hell Is Going On

I hadn’t turned on the news and was working away in that zone of focused concentration that comes along every so often – quite ironically on a tourism piece for a British website – when Saar walked in the house, immediately turned on the TV and said, “Haven’t you seen all the balagan?” And there went my totally focused concentration and with it any need to be writing tourism pieces for British websites.

What the hellAnother two soldiers kidnapped on the northern border, the live news reports on every channel told me, then rumors about the ones who were missing, later the news that 4 were dead and 4 missing and then the confirmation that 8 were dead.

And then massive Israeli air strikes on southern Lebanon and Hezbollah started raining down Katyushas on the north, or was it the other way round, I can’t even remember and can’t keep up with just how fast things have exploded into catastrophe.

The next morning we wake, weary-eyed from a late night watching the round-the-clock coverage of the tragedy as it unfolded, and turn on the TV to see that rockets have hit Nahariya. Nahariya!

“Call Shelley,” I tell Saar, which he does after a couple of seconds it obviously takes his mind to absorb the information. Shelley, his sister, is already a good hour into her escape to Tel Aviv and launches hysterically into descriptions of whistling rockets, incessant booms, billowing smoke and fire and a house near her that was hit.
What the hell was going on? Katyushas in Nahariya? Bombs in Beirut?

A heavy depression hangs over the Haaretz offices when I come into work. It’s definitely a depression, not a panic, a depression, mixed with concern and a deep sense of confusion. Weren’t things slowly, ever so slowly, maybe, just maybe showing some slight hint of a sign of improvement not that long ago? How could the rug have been so quickly swiped from under our feet?

More strikes on Beirut and the news that Rosh Pina had closed its airport and then that rockets had hit Safed. I was there last weekend.

Everybody’s cell phones keep going off as we’re trying to put the weekend pages together, pages that normally attempt to bring some color for a Friday morning, maybe some art pieces, a few light features, but no one’s in the mood for cooking columns this week, and the pages are devoted to analyses and pictures of devastated buildings, blown up roads, rubble and fire.

“Can we call it war? Is this a war?” the editor’s asking. “Not yet, we can’t say war, throw that picture, change the headline.”

“They’ve hit Haifa!” someone shouts.

“My son’s there…”, “My daughter’s there…” and all the cell phones start ringing again.

I MSN Lisa, who generally knows everything about everything: What the hell is going on?

Iran, madness, crazy, Syria, Nasrallah, world opinion, U.S., UN, she gives me her sharp analysis and it doesn’t do anything to calm the slowly rising anxiety I am feeling in my stomach.

In the office, the discussion has moved on as to whether the suiciders on buses were worse (yes) and what would happen if they hit the oil refineries in Haifa, and general consensus settles on the word disaster.

But they won’t hit the refineries, right? Saar calls, “They’ve never hit Haifa before.”

Iris’ phone rings, and from the long conversation that proceeds in German we gather it’s her parents urging her to come home. And leave Elad? she says after hanging up. His army unit is based in the north and the emergency call-up orders for reserves are already in the post.

We send our paper to the printer and hand over the baton to the night desk.

In the morning, big headlines, red pictures.

All day we flick through the channels, CNN, BBC, Sky News, Channel 10, Channel 2, back again. We hit Nasrallah’s building. “Yes!” says Saar, his hands in the air. But the World Cup was last week.

The death toll rises, Beirutis flee, Nasrallah’s still alive. I turn back to my tourism piece as the planes are flying overhead. A Canadian friend pops up on MSN. We chat late into the night.

It’s only been four days and it feels like months already. This is madness. I check Lisa isn’t in the north and press her for more insights. Regional conflict or brokered ceasefire, Saudis, deep shit, things are BAD in Gaza ….missile in Tiberias!

Nasrallah says that Tel Aviv’s next.

But they can’t hit Tel Aviv.

Right …

Al-Jazeera report on 9/11: it was the Joos!!

9/11A few months ago, an acquaintance in Israel told me that Al Jazeera in English was looking for local staff and suggested that I apply for a reporting position. When he mentioned the salary I was, I confess, tempted. It was far, far more than I could ever hope to earn working for the Israeli media.

So I ran the idea by a Palestinian friend of mine – a journalist who’s based in the West Bank.

“What do you think?” I asked. “Should I go work for Al Jazeera?””

“Sure!” he said. “Absolutely. Great idea.”


“Absolutely. Then you can kiss your career as a journalist good-bye, ’cause nobody serious will ever hire you again.”

When I read this report on Al Jazeera, I thanked the powers above that I’d listened to my friend. Incredibly, a news outlet that professes to be the CNN of the Arab world, has published a report that purports to “prove” that Israel was behind the attack on the World Trade Centre.

Yes, boys and girls, you heard it here: it was the Joos.

The most hilarious part of the article is the sources. Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see a list of them – but they’re not direct links to original sources. Instead for each source the reader is told to google a string of words. Do that and the first hit will be another secondary source – usually a conspiracy theories site – that again quotes the supposed primary source without linking to it directly. And of course the quotes, if you can find the original source (good luck with that) are one-liners that are taken out of context.

It’s the most pathetic piece of crap I’ve seen in a looong time. Read it and weep.

Make pot, not war: Israel’s Green Leaf party

One of the fascinating aspects of Israel’s raucous, lively democracy is the variety of political parties. It seems there’s a party to represent every shade of political opinion, religious belief, ethnicity and social view. With the elections coming up, we’ve decided to write a bit about some of the smaller parties, their platforms and viewpoints.

Israeli Green Leaf Party
This week our focus is on Ale Yarok, the Green Leaf Party.

From the party’s website:

The Ale Yarok party is an ultra-liberal movement founded in 1999 and today is running for Knesset for the third time. The ideology we are interested in forwarding is personal freedom, quality of life and legalization of the cannabis plant and all its applications.

Click here for the video link to a CNN interview with Boaz Wachtel, the head of Ale Yarok, that was made last summer shortly before Israel withdrew from Gaza.

As part of our coverage, we asked Green Leaf party activists Sylvia Sheinbaum, Gil Dattner and Varda Dror to give us a list of 10 things they love about Israel.

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The Larry Miller guide to the Middle East

This was a little piece that Larry Miller wrote at the Daily Standard. It was initially attributed to Dennis Miller (LIKE MOST OF THE SITES HAVE BEEN DOING OUT THERE) but as we all know, mistakes happen. We Made A Mistake. Sorry. It wasn’t intentional. We hold no responsibility what so ever for what we publish. Never did actually. Is that CLEAR !? Thanks Don.

Larry Miller (Not Dennis Miller) A brief overview of the situation is always valuable, so as a service to all Americans who still don’t get it, I now offer you the story of the Middle East in just a few paragraphs, which is all you really need.

Here we go:

The Palestinians want their own country. There’s just one thing about that: There are no Palestinians. It’s a made up word. Israel was called Palestine for two thousand years. Like “Wiccan,” “Palestinian” sounds ancient but is really a modern invention. Before the Israelis won the land in the 1967 war, Gaza was owned by Egypt, the West Bank was owned by Jordan, and there were no “Palestinians.”

As soon as the Jews took over and started growing oranges as big as basketballs, what do you know, say hello to the “Palestinians,” weeping for their deep bond with their lost “land” and “nation.”

So for the sake of honesty, let’s not use the word “Palestinian” any more to describe these delightful folks, who dance for joy at our deaths until someone points out they’re being taped. Instead, let’s call them what they are: “Other Arabs Who Can’t Accomplish Anything In Life And Would
Rather Wrap Themselves In The Seductive Melodrama Of Eternal Struggle And Death.”

I know that’s a bit unwieldy to expect to see on CNN. How about this, then: “Adjacent Jew-Haters.” Okay, so the Adjacent Jew-Haters want their own country. Oops, just one more thing: No, they don’t. They could’ve had their own country any time in the last thirty years, especially two years ago at Camp David. But if you have your own country, you have to have traffic lights and garbage trucks and Chambers of Commerce, and, worse, you actually have to figure out some way to make a living.

That’s no fun. No, they want what all the other Jew-Haters in the region want: Israel. They also want a big pile of dead Jews, of course that’s where the real fun is — but mostly they want Israel.

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Islam and Christianity

By Denis Schulz


Joseph Zogby was an aide to Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk during the Clinton administration. He was part of Slick Willie’s most disastrous outreach programs bringing in friends of the PLO and Hamas to get their insights into the Middle East. Zogby had frequently condemned his own country for its genocidal treatment of Native Americans and for the willful ineffectuality of the Americans in dealing with Israel. Zogby, of course, is an Arab American. The genocidal treatment of Christians in the Middle East by Muslims was never one of his concerns. But things are changing they say a new age begins, democracy is a-foot in the Middle East. Are they sure? Can one bet on it? What are the odds?

Is Iraq safe for Christianity now that Saddam Hussein has been deposed? Of course, there are tens of thousands of American troops patrolling the most dangerous areas; a democratic government of sorts is in the making; women are voting; Mullahs are proclaiming peace and toleration. It should be safe for an angelus or two, maybe a couple of Stations of the Cross shouldn’t it?

Think again. Christian women are being abused on the streets of Baghdad by Islamo-fascist thugs for not wearing the hijab; shop owners mostly Christians who sold beer under Saddam without fear are being shot dead in their own places of business; four churches were bombed in a single day in Baghdad; priests have been threatened and killed; Christian children are being forced to read the Quran; Christian Midnight Mass was cancelled this year because of fears of being bombed.

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Ariel Sharon Hospitalized

Ariel Sharon January 2006 In a press conference just given at Hadassa Ain Kerem the news was announced that Ariel Sharon was rushed to hospital when he was reportedly feeling unwell. He has been hospitalized tonight at 11PM. He suffered a “Significant Stroke” and will have to under go surgery. A short time ago the legal team has transferred authority of government to Ehud Olmeret as Sharon will be placed under full unaesthetic. Sharon was due to go through a procedure to repair a heart defect tomorrow.

11:50 PM

In a second announcement a few minutes ago, Ariel Sharon has gone into surgery.

11:57 PM

After an MRI exam the prognosis of hospital staff was that Atiel Sharon suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. He will undergo surgery immediately.
The feeling is that this is a high risk surgery and there exists a significant risk to his life.

I wish him well and hope the surgery is a success.

00:15 AM

In a phone interview on Channel 10 TV News a hospital source claimed “stroke was massive”. The commentary speaks of the severity of the stroke and the low chance of recovery. It seems that the damage done will prevent him from returning to office in the short term.
Sharon May Not Recover reports Sky News, this was mentioned now in local broadcasts.Article Here!
“Majority of sufferes of these magnitude stroke will need at the least 6-8 months in recovery. Severe effects are likely in these cases.

A CNN Report here.

00:45 AM

Channel 2 News Reporting

Channel 2 News Sharon in Hospital

Hadasa Ein Kerem - Tonight

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Happy Holidays

It’s Christmas Day and the weather here is as close as it gets to snow. Raining, gray and cold. I miss the holidays a little. I leave CNN on the whole day so I can hear Christmas Day news that always seem to have a slightly more positive note then the usual noise. Tonight is also the night we light the first candle of Hanukkah. It’s a time to visit family and eat some Sufganiot (donuts). Cholesterol bombs. Yum..Does anyone remember the Chrismukah memo?

The apartments in Israel are made of stone and not really built for winter. In our place we use spiral electric heaters to keep the place warm and the orange glow makes it feel really cozy. You can almost pretend you have a fire place. You need to watch the dogs though, they seem to really get close to the heaters and the term hotdog takes on a whole new meaning.

There is a whole community of bloggers out there, each with their own opinions and style of writing. I recently witnessed (as many others) an angry exchange of comments on a site I enjoy reading. The instigators of the attack managed to get the worst out of people and to a certain degree I think that’s why we write. Frankly, better verbal violence then physical…Keep writing L.

So for all you out there – this is what a white Christmas would look like in Tel Aviv. Happy Holidays 🙂

Tel Aviv Snow - Gilad Benari

This and some more amazing photos by Gilad Benari.

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Katrina – is it happening?

Ever think that maybe its all happening as the environmental experts and scientists warned ? The Tsunami in Asia and the disappearing city of New Orleans (Katrina Hurricane) and the southern US makes me wonder.
What if this is it ?! Continue reading

London 7/7 – a local perspective

These are selected excerpts from an article written by Johann Hari on his blog. Johann is an award winning journalist and play write, he has written for The Independent, the New York Times, CNN and many other intenrational publications. He is also the contributing editor for Attitude (Britain’s main gay magazine) as well as being on the editorial board of The Liberal and other UK publications.

I headed for the East London Mosque – a few minutes’ walk away from the bomb in Aldgate – to watch afternoon prayers. In the stark white prayer hall, there are three hundred Muslim men, some wearing traditional white robes, others in leather jackets and jeans. Chairman Mohammed Bari reaches the podium and says, “Only yesterday, we celebrated getting the Olympics for our city and our country. But a terrible thing happened in our country this morning… Whoever has done this is a friend of no-one and certainly not a friend of Muslims. The whole world will be watching us now. We must give a message of peace”.

As everybody mills outside the mosque, there are groups forming to go and give blood at the Royal London Hospital up the road. Many people make a point of smiling at me, an obvious non-Muslim in their midst. There is an awareness here – although not yet in the rest of the country – that the Bin Ladenists who planned these massacres despise democratic, non-violent Muslims who choose to live in the West as much as they despise the rest of us. Anybody who tells you these bombers are fighting for the rights of Muslims in Iraq, occupied Palestine or Chechnya should look at the places they chose to bomb. Aldgate? The poorest and most Muslim part of the country. Edgware Road? The centre of Muslim and Arab life in London and, arguably, Europe.

This is not a fight between Muslims and the rest of us. It is a civil war within Islam, between democratic Muslims and Wahhabi fundamentalists who want to enslave or kill them. Yassin Dijali, 31, says, “It could have been our children on those trains too. This is where we belong. These people are insane.”

London’s response to the attacks is subtly different to other cities’. Like New York, we have our pictures of the missing-presumed-dead, but there is no visceral nationalism, and I have not seen a single Union Jack. Unlike Madrid, I could find no backlash against our political leaders (or at least, not yet); people seemed to react as if this was not a political act but a natural disaster, with no deeper causes than the tsunami.

On Friday morning, sitting outside a café on Whitechapel High Street, one of the lingering Jewish residents of the old East End, an 86 year-old called Henry Abelman, is drinking tea, as he does every day. He was here the last time fascists attacked London; he says with a laugh that he expects to be here the next time they toss some bombs at us too. “Not so long ago, we had bombs like this every day for six years coming from an army backed by twenty million people. That didn’t destroy us or divide us, so what do you think a few spoiled brats with home-made bombs are going to do?”

Like Henry, I’ll see you all on the tubes and on the buses Monday morning.

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