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What Iran gains from the conflict in Israel

A little more than a week before Hamas carried out its Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, the US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, said: ‘The Middle East region is quieter today than it has been in two decades.’ Sullivan was expressing a consensus view, one apparently shared by the Israeli government. Then came the attacks of last

War at close quarters: a report from the Kfar Aza kibbutz

When faced with a tragedy on the scale of Saturday morning’s attack by Hamas terrorists on Israeli communities near Gaza, it’s natural to look to history for comparisons. Many did that over this week. The event that was mentioned most often was Israel’s previous intelligence failure at the start of the Yom -Kippur War, exactly

Britain must stand up against those who support Hamas

It was 7 a.m. when the ‘peace rave’ outside of Re’im was reaching its peak. Outside the kibbutz, five miles from the Gaza border, the participants of the dance festival were ‘coming up’ at just the moment that the terrorists of Hamas started to come down. They arrived on motorised paragliders, with machine-guns in position,

What going blind taught me about humanity

Twenty-one years ago, when I was a young Labour MP, I wrote a piece in these pages about going blind. I described a rare degenerative eye condition called choroideremia, which shrinks and darkens one’s vision until eventually there’s nothing left. I started to see less in my late teens; by the time I wrote the

The full English: how to fall in love with this country

My nine-year-old half-Russian daughter has arrived in England for the first time since she was a baby. As she knows almost nothing about British culture apart from Peppa Pig and Willy Wonka, my job is to put together a week-long programme before she goes back to Italy, where she currently lives with her mother, my

Scattering my father’s ashes in Santiago de Compostela

We are in the holy city of Santiago de Compostela to scatter our father’s ashes. He and my youngest sister had planned to walk the Camino, which finishes here at the resting place of Saint James, to mark the start of her adulthood and the beginning of his retirement. Instead, my two sisters have been

The refreshing libertarianism of New Hampshire

Crossing a state line on one of the American interstate roads, drivers are normally greeted by a variety of signs. They may advertise the delights awaiting the visitor – ‘10,000 LAKES’ or ‘FAMOUS POTATOES’ plus instructions about local speed limits. And normally, as the coup de grâce, ‘BUCKLE UP’. Travelling north in New England on

Notes on...

Why are we superstitious about Friday the 13th?

Uzeste contains 387 people and a dead pope. The tiny French village is one of the less glamorous papal resting places, where the earthly remnants of the unfortunate Clement V await the General Resurrection. How much of Clement is left is hard to tell. As his body lay in state after he died in 1314,