Sunday 12 May 2024



'As my brother Larry rightly points out, we can be proud of the way we have brought her up; she is a credit to us.'  Gerald Durrell, paying tribute to his mother, Louisa

The US Republican Party is as loopy as the Democrats

US Senator Lindsay Graham (Republican) says he would support Israel dropping an atom bomb on Iran.

I'm reminded of Martin Amis saying the USA is as strange as Saudi Arabia.

The insanity of America was the theme of William Boyd's fine comedy 'Stars and Bars' and there used to be a weekly column about it in the Daily Mail and Daily Express, but now the madness is seeping into other countries via the internet.

I have changed my mind 360 degrees (I do this much more often than most people) and have come round to thinking John Mearsheimer is right when he says that Iran getting the bomb would stabilise the Middle East.

British public opinion poll: two thirds think Israel should call a ceasefire

A recent You Gov poll of opinion in the UK shows that 69% think Israel should stop and call a ceasefire at the current time, about the same as the 66% who said so in February, whereas only 13% think Israel should continue to take military action – a figure unchanged from three months ago. 

Thursday 9 May 2024


"All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting." 
George Orwell

'If we lose the intellectual debate, you will not be able to deploy any army in the west, ever.' It turns out pro-Palestinian material is the reason the US Congress wants to ban TikTok.

These remarks are so revealing. 

Alex Karp (who's a Democrat) and Mitt Romney are obviously right, even though we were told that what the latter said was a dangerous conspiracy theory that undermined faith in democracy. 

Senator Romney has substantiated the theory and it does.

I quote what Caitlin Johnstone published today. She is a socialist and a first class journalist in a word where very few exist. For Middle Eastern and much world news left-wing journalists are by far the most trustworthy.

Video clips are here and here.

'During a vitriolic rant about university demonstrators at the Ash Carter Exchange on Innovation and National Security on Tuesday, Palantir CEO Alex Karp came right out and said that if those on the side of the protesters win the debate on this issue, the west will lose the ability to wage wars.

Romanian-Israeli holocaust survivor thinks Israel will never enjoy peace

Ha'aretz carries an interview with Liku Rifca Carmi (née Marcovici) who grew up in a rich Jewish family in Sighetu Marmației, a Romanian town now on the Ukrainian border, that had been assigned by Hitler to Hungary. 

In April 1943 all the Jewish families in Sighet were ordered to report to the town's train station in ten days' time. Her father, Shlomo Marcovici, turned to a coal miner he knew who took them to an abandoned gold mine in the forest, with potable water running through it. 

Israeli Minister of Justice gets his news from Al Jazeera, as the cabinet is 'told nothing'

At a recent meeting with hostages' families, the very right-wing Israeli Minister of Justice Yariv Levin told them, "I know little about the management of the war and the negotiations. We're told nothing and they don't share with us. Most of what I know is from watching Al Jazeera, because I speak Arabic."

I get my news about the war from Ha'aretz (the Israeli equivalent of the Guardian) which is well informed and very critical of the Israeli government, in both respects unlike the British Daily Telegraph, Times, etc or the American media. I probably should follow Al Jazeera too.

'The end of a superpower'

Googling, I just saw 'Masha Gessen: The end of a superpower' and thought it referred to the USA, but then saw that it was a video about the collapse of the Soviet Union.W Documentary

Wednesday 8 May 2024

Masha Gessen: Biden is sacrificing the election for Israel

Masha Gessen is a Russian-American who once wrote a brilliant book about Putin.

Gessen told a Ha'aretz interviewer today that Biden's support for the attempts to suppress student demonstrations in favour of Palestinians will cost him the election.
"If he doesn't have the youth vote he has no hope of beating Trump. So that's another brick in the case for the incredible support for Israel. That Biden and his administration are willing to sacrifice the election to ongoing engagement with Israel is heartbreaking, shocking."

Monday 6 May 2024

There is little point in reading the papers. Twitter is a much better source, now that the CIA no longer controls it

The silly idea that Ukraine can push Russia out of Crimea, as opined by a Chinese 'expert' is relayed uncritically in the Economist, where it is read by people who matter. 

Reuters tells us that 

US intelligence believes Putin probably didn't order Navalny to be killed, Wall Street Journal reports

I had the gravest doubts at the time. It was not in Putin's interests just after the successful (from his point of view) interview with Tucker Carlson.

Values are not a reason to go to war

Two very good articles, worth your time.

This from the wonderful Arnaud Betrand, whom God preserve:

'I won’t retell the history of the Ukraine conflict with NATO expansion, the Maidan coup, the non-respect of Minsk, etc. The fact is that history will be extremely clear: the Ukraine war was anything but “unprovoked”, as you always hear. Same thing with Oct 7th: you have 70+ years of history leading up to it, and first and foremost a dereliction of duty by the West with its largely unconditional backing of Israel against the Palestinians. And guess what: when you back one actor vs another in a confrontation, both wrt Ukraine and Gaza, it obviously heightens tensions and ultimately leads to hot conflict where the party whose adversary you support sees you as an adversary too… It’s basic common sense. As such this “ring of fire” Europe is surrounded by is of its own making to an immense extent.

Sunday 5 May 2024


"Marx and Freud are the two great destroyers of Christian civilisation, the first replacing the gospel of love by the gospel of hate, the other undermining the essential concept of human responsibility.” Malcolm Muggeridge

“Life is like the Vīṇā, when it is strung too taut, the strings break, when it’s too loose, no sound comes out. The string that produces a tuneful sound is not too tight and not too loose.” The Buddha

Saturday 4 May 2024

Swiss magazine Blick spoke to half a dozen anonymous commanders on the Ukrainian Eastern Front

'The tenor was that Ukraine would lose the war. “The Russians will conquer the Donbass by October, then the conflict will freeze and we will have to negotiate with Putin,” predicts Serhiy*, an officer in a brigade that is holding out in the embattled Chasiv Yar. “The Russians will force us to attack you Europeans as part of their army,” says Ihor, commander of an engineering company in Donetsk.

Students could once borrow the Book of Kells

The student protests against Israel could be the most important consequence of the Hamas attack and Gaza slaughter. We shall see. 

Trinity College, Dublin fined its students' union €214,000 over the protests, to cover the loss of revenues from visitors who come to see the Book of Kells. 

Karl White tells me rhat the Book of Kells was available in the 17th century for borrowing by students against a surety of £3 10s.

Do these things apply to Romania too?

From an interesting article in today's Daily Telegraph by Jeremy Warner.

Poland's GDP could for various reasons overtake that of Great Britain, France and Germany. Could is the key word but Poland has already has a Western standard of living.
"If we instead take purchasing power parity as the measure, which attempts to adjust for the fact that the cost of living is substantially lower in Poland than Britain, then Poland is already richer than the UK – $49,000 per capita against $47,000. That gap is forecast by the IMF to widen further over the next five years to $63,500 against the UK’s $50,000.


"It is easy to love people in memory; the hard thing is to love them when they are there in front of you."
John Updike

Friday 3 May 2024

Sir Gerald Kaufman `My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza'


'My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszow. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed. Madam deputy speaker, my grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.'

Please do watch an excerpt from Anglo-Jewish politician Sir Gerald Kaufman giving the speech of his life on January 15, 2009 (a pity he was reading from notes) or read the transcript below. 
It really is worth it.

My previous low opinion of him has shot up to the ceiling. Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?

He was on the right of the party, by the way, a lifelong Zionist and stalwart of the Labour Friends of Israel.

Thursday 2 May 2024

Vanity Fair plot spoiler alert! Please do not read this until you read the book.

'It isn't difficult to be a country gentleman's wife,' Rebecca thought. 'I think I could be a good woman if I had five thousand a year.'

I just finished rereading Vanity Fair, which I found superficial at twenty. I felt the same about all the many books I read by Thackeray, but Vanity Fair this time was electrifying. 

I have always admired and sided with free spirits, as did Thackeray when young, when he was one, but a lot of them are parasites, crooks or whores. Becky Sharp is all three and a murderess. 

'The enormous death and destruction the IDF is leaving behind in Gaza aren't currently bringing us any closer to achieving the war's goals.'

Amos Harel in Israeli left-of-centre  newspaper Ha'aretz on April 8, 2024 - nothing seems to have changed in the last 3 weeks.

'The IDF and Shin Bet did find tunnels where Sinwar hid during the war. In those tunnels they found Hamas command posts, Sinwar's personal documents and gear, and cells and cages where the hostages had been held as human shields. Since then, he has apparently been moving among other hideouts in his complex deep under the ground of Khan Yunis.

'It's reasonable to assume that Sinwar and Deif will eventually be killed or captured, given the effort being invested in this. Hamas' No. 3 in Gaza, Marwan Issa, was killed in an airstrike last month after he violated the rigid security protocols adopted by senior Hamas officials. It's even still possible that there could be a breakthrough in rescuing the hostages.

'But the public should be told the truth: The enormous death and destruction the IDF is leaving behind in Gaza, alongside quite a few losses on our side, aren't currently bringing us any closer to achieving the war's goals.

Wednesday 1 May 2024

The good old days, consule Planco

King Abdullah I of Jordan had been a member of the Turkish parliament and won the parliamentary seat of Mecca in a contested election before the Great War. I wonder if you could get a drink there. He became king of an impoverished scrap of land, lost Mecca and was outraged by the Jewish settlement in Palestine. 

How can one not but miss the Ottoman empire?

Is England moving away from our traditional close friendship with the Arabs towards siding with Israel? 

I suppose we have to obey American orders.

What a shocking story but the US press asks no questions

I came across this curious story by accident. This so called Syrian terrorism group is apparently allied to Nato member Turkey. America and England have both had men in Syria illegally for years trying to bring down the legal Syrian government but this woman gets 18 years inside. Surely there should be protests?

"Al-Qaeda is on our side in Syria,” Jake Sullivan wrote to Hillary Clinton in 2011, as revealed by Wikileaks. This poor woman however is on the side of terrorists who are out of favour. 

Tuesday 30 April 2024

What they said

'The course of every intellectual, if he pursues his journey long and unflinchingly enough, ends in the obvious, from which the non-intellectuals have never stirred.'

Aldous Huxley

“The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but that is the way to bet.”

Chicago sports writer Hugh Keough, quoted by Damon Runyon. 

Thursday 25 April 2024

Hengist and Horsa were illegal immigrants and look what happened to them

Hengist and Horsa arrived in Kent as mercenaries at the invitation of the British King Vortigern (though here history and myth elide) and became the first English kings - I am astonished that many English people do not know this

Even the least educated Romanian knows about the earliest Dacian kings, Burebista and Decebal, but an English friend who took a First at Cambridge in Modern History asked me who they were. Which shows you Romanian National Communist schools taught pupils better than English pupils who care nothing for their (key word) medieval history.

The American empire dates from just after the end of the Second World War

American historian Howard Zinn was a Communist fellow traveller and exposed as a KGB agent, but these words of his on the Allied victory in 1945 are accurate. 

"The victors were the Soviet Union and the United States (also England, France and Nationalist China, but they were weak). Both these countries now went to work – without swastikas, goose-stepping, or officially declared racism, but under the cover of 'socialism' on the one side, and 'democracy' on the other, to carve out their own empires of influence. They proceeded to share and contest with one another the domination of the world, to build military machines far greater than the Fascist countries had built, to control the destinies of more countries than Hitler, Mussolini, and Japan had been able to. They also acted to control their own populations, each country with its own techniques – crude in the Soviet Union, sophisticated in the United States – to make their rule secure."

England, France and Nationalist China's victories were, of course, Pyrrhic. Since 1991 only the United States' empire remained but now, as was inevitable, it is being challenged.


Dud: 'You're a loony.'

Pete: 'They called Galileo a loony.'

Dud: 'They also called a lot of loonies loonies.'

What is so very depressing is that the EU vote - and the Scottish Referendum before it - has revealed how "patriotism" (my god, I feel old fashioned and archaic just typing that word) has not only been expunged as a virtue in the public consciousness and is now seen positively as a vice. This has been the relentless work of - in my opinion - left-wing politicians and academics since the war who have always recognised that by breaking up the unity of one community into smaller, sometimes artificial groupuscules ('working class', 'youth') they can then create political majorities which can be used to give them power. I mean who today can say, loudly, 'I am proud to be British' except old ladies in racist rants on buses or Sun columnists or madmen on the internet?

Wednesday 24 April 2024


"If she measured her own feeling toward the world she must have been pretty well able to gauge those of the world to herself and perhaps she reflected that it is the ordinary lot of people to have no friends if they themselves care for nobody."

Miss Crawley in Vanity Fair by Thackeray, which I am rereading.

“Change your conception of yourself and you will automatically change the world in which you live. Do not try to change people; they are only messengers telling you who you are. Revalue yourself and they will confirm the change.”

Neville Goddard, Barbadian mystic

Quotations from De Maistre and Burke in praise of prejudice

"Nothing is more vital to Man than prejudices. Let us not take this word in bad part. It does not necessarily signify false ideas, but only, in the strict sense of the word, any opinions adopted without examination. Now, these kinds of opinion are essential to Man; they are the real basis of his happiness and the palladium of empires. Individual reason is, of its nature, the mortal enemy of any association whatever because it gives birth only to divergent opinions." Joseph De Maistre. I remember my supervisor Robert Tombs looking askance when I told him that I found De Maistre's ideas attractive, all those years ago at Cambridge before life began.

Quotations from J.R.R. Tolkien

“The world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, and I smell it in the air."

Treebeard in J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

'Military idiot and bar'

It is tempting to think that retired army officers are stupid. The ones who become British Conservative MPs, for example, or the ones who write for the papers. The explanation for the things they say must be more nuanced, that they are trained to be soldiers not geopolitical analysts. 

Colonel Richard Kemp was in charge of the British troops we sent to Afghanistan (why didn't we know better, after losing three Afghan wars?) and writes in the Daily Telegraph  In February of last year he hoped that Ukraine could take back the territory lost to Russia the previous year and part of Crimea, 'but only with our support'.

A total Russian collapse is surprisingly close