Thursday, April 27, 2017

Politics – April 2017

This has been another successful year for of the Middle East Study Group (MESG).
I begin organizing research and seminar activities for next year. Support is sought to facilitate the work of the MESG.
If more information is required, simply Google “Hull MESG”.
All help, great and small, is appreciated.

“In the memory of those who were lost, we renew our commitment and our determination not to disregard the warnings of our own times… We must stamp out prejudice and anti-Semitism everywhere it is found… We must defeat terrorism, and we must not ignore the threats of a regime that talks openly of Israel’s destruction. We cannot let that ever even be thought of.” 
~President Donald Trump
April 2017

On Technology
Our task is to make the most of innovation while addressing its negative side effects.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Reflections on March 2017 Newsletter
Inside the Black Box of Israeli-Palestinian Talks
Terror in Jerusalem
Why They Did Not Bomb Auschwitz?
Nicola Sturgeon
Theresa May
MESG Ambassador Forum – Sir Vincent Fean
Good News from Lebanon
Good News from the United Nations
My New Article - “Patient’s Autonomy, Physician’s Convictions and Euthanasia in Belgium”, Annual Review of Law and Ethics, 24 (2016): 343-356.
Great news: Europe may harmonize how internet companies fight hate speech
Guest Article: Jagdish N. Singh, “The Threat of Muslim Brotherhood”
Gem of the Month - Vondelpark
Gem of the Month - Princeton
Gem of the Month – New York
Gem of the Month - Glasgow
New York Theatre – “Oslo”
Three Notable Differences between NY and Yorkshire
Monthly Poems

Light Side

Reflections on March 2017 Newsletter

Thanks to readers who wrote to me, saying how much they appreciate the firm voice that I have been raising throughout the years against the occupation, noting quite correctly that the occupations denies basic human rights from the Palestinians and also that it undermines Israeli existence as a democracy, as a country in the world democratic community.

And thanks to all those who expressed interest in the technology news for the future. These are indeed important developments that will greatly influence future generations.

I should note that there are many points of agreement between my views and those of Mr Abraham Silverman. Many polls showed that a significant part of Jewish Israelis support a two State solution. In the past, Israeli leaders were willing to trade land for peace. Sinai, Gaza, and Southern Lebanon. Sinai was evacuated through agreement. In return, Israel received peace with Egypt. Gaza and Southern Lebanon were cleared unilaterally. In return Israel got rockets and terrorists from Gaza and Lebanon. Abraham and I agree that it is in Israel's best interest to reach an agreement with the Palestinians. Like him, I understand the complexities of the problem. Just saying that the occupation must end will not make it so. This should be done through understanding and agreement with the PLO. We agree that enough blood has been shed. We both wish and yearn for normal life of peace and tranquility. 

Inside the Black Box of Israeli-Palestinian Talks

I recommend this interesting article by Michael Herzog, published in

27 FEBRUARY 2017
All sides failed in the most recent round of negotiations—but there was an opportunity for real progress. Take it from someone who was there.

Terror in Jerusalem

I was saddened to read about the unnecessary death of Hannah Bladon, 21, who were stabbed while riding the light rail in Jerusalem. The terrorist was identified as Jamil Tamimi, 57, from the Ras al-Amoud neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Ms Bladon, a student at the University of Birmingham, had been on an exchange programme with the Rothberg International School at Hebrew University of Jerusalem since January. 

The Board of Deputies of British Jews tweeted its condolences, saying: "Our hearts go out to family of the British woman murdered by a terrorist in Jerusalem, an unholy attack as city marks Passover & Good Friday".

The Jewish Leadership Council added: "We are horrified to hear of the murder of a British tourist near Old City of Jerusalem at a time of faith & peace. Send deepest sympathies."

Since September 2015, Palestinians have killed 42 Israelis and two visiting Americans, mainly in stabbings, car ramming assaults and shooting attacks. 
Israeli forces have killed at least 243 Palestinians during that time, most of them identified as attackers by Israeli authorities. Most of the Palestinians were killed while attempting attacks, Israeli police say. Others have been shot dead during protests and some have been killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

Why They Did Not Bomb Auschwitz?

I have devoted much of my life to the study of the Holocaust and to educate others. One of the questions that have troubled my mind was: Why didn’t the allies bomb the rails leading to the death camps? Why they did not bomb the crematoriums and the gas chambers?

Education Minister Naftali Bennett visited the basement of humanity. In his eloquent speech he said one bombing attack could have stopped Auschwitz. He is right.

Watch his speech

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland First Minister, was the keynote speaker in the 2017 Political Science Association Annual Conference. Born in Glasgow, Sturgeon was delighted to welcome hundreds of political scientists to her city.
Sturgeon dedicated most of her short and sharp speech to the relationships between Scotland and England following Brexit. She explained that Scotland voted to remain in the EU. Scotland was forced to leave the EU against its will. This is unacceptable. Democratically speaking, it is wrong to disregard its democratic choice. Scotland should decide its future, not England.
Sturgeon acknowledged that some people are reluctant to have another referendum. But if Scotland does not have a referendum, leaving the EU will have significant economic implications.
Sturgeon voiced the opinion that referendum should take place once the parameters for leaving the EU are known. They will be known, Sturgeon estimated, in 2018. Then Scotland will carefully review all implications for staying in the UK, or leaving the UK and becoming independent. Acknowledging the limitations of referendum, Sturgeon said that it is about voting “Yes” or “No” on a very complex issue. There are understandable anxieties regarding each choice. It is thus important to have an informed decision, respectful of all opinions.

Asked about her popularity in Scotland and also in England, Sturgeon said that the most important quality for a politician is to speak candidly from the head and also from the heart, with conviction and guiding principles. People respond well to honesty and passion.

In June 2015, a bill allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the Scottish and local government elections has been passed unanimously at Holyrood. The Scottish Election (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill reflected a long-standing wish of the SNP government to lower the voting age, a policy which got a boost after the independence referendum in September 2014, in which 16 and 17-year-old youngsters were allowed to vote. On the same day that Scotland passed this bill, MPs in Westminster struck down an amendment to give the vote to under-18s in the upcoming EU referendum. Sturgeon said that extending the franchise to 16 and 17-year-old people during the Scottish referendum was widely considered a success in terms of engaging young people in politics. Sturgeon revealed that she tried to persuade Prime Minister Cameron to do the same in England but failed to persuade him. Sturgeon argued that if Cameron would have accepted her advice, he would still be in power, and the UK would still be part of the EU.
Indeed, a poll conducted prior to the Brexit referendum showed that 64% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 wanted to remain, while only 24% wanted to leave. At the other end of the spectrum, 58% of over-65s wanted to leave. The decision to leave the EU will affect the 16-17 year-old far more than it will affect people over the age of 65.

Theresa May

Another smart politician. She became prime minister because she was better positioned than any of her fellow MPs to succeed Cameron following his colossal Brexit miscalculation. She was not elected and her rivalries reminded her that simple fact time and again. May is leading the nation in tough times. Bold decisions need to be made regarding but not only Europe. She wanted a full mandate from the people.

Why now?

May reads the polls. The recent poll of 1 April showed that May has opened up a 37 point gap over Jeremy Corbyn as more than half of British voters (me included) think she would make a better Prime Minister than her Labour rival. This is the time to call for quick elections that will grant her 5 years in 10 Downing Street. Corbyn needs a miracle to close this gap in two months. The elections are scheduled for 8 June 2017. Quite honestly, he also needs wisdom, a quality that he clearly lacks.

This will be Britain's third general election in two years, following parliamentary elections in 2015 and Britain's Brexit referendum last June.

MESG Ambassador Forum – Sir Vincent Fean

I was pleased to host Sir Vincent Fean, Former British Ambassador to Libya, British Foreign Office, UK, who spoke about

Britain’s Ambivalent Relationship with Libya, a Country of Contradictions

Sir Vincent surveyed the history of Libya and its relationships with Britain. Reflecting on present state of affairs, he said that since 2014 British and Western policy has concentrated on:

- keeping neutral the three institutions on which Libya's economic survival and future development depend  (NOC, LIA and Central Bank). As long as these three institutions continue to operate in the national interest, there is hope of building a viable and successful state – eventually, but not just yet.

- avoiding being drawn into disputes (eg about 'legitimacy' - a meaningless term in this context, but an obsession among the parties) between the two governments in East and West or between the claims of Benghazi and Misrata. These are destructive arguments and conflicts which cannot resolve anything. 

- creating a third pole, capable of winning the support of the population, who are fed up with power being monopolised by militias, and building national institutions for the first time. This has proved extremely difficult. The Skheirat (Morocco) Agreement and the current Government of National Accord were real achievements. But the GNA has proved as powerless and as undynamic as its predecessors. And they have no levers or mechanisms for implementing policies. Early popular support has dissipated, because they seem ineffective without external support on the ground. So the GNA is likely to collapse unless strengthened. The international community had hoped to build on the GNA by bringing in the Misratans and giving Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar – from the East - a key military role. But neither Haftar nor the main forces in Misrata seem ready to play ball. So far, there is no willingness anywhere to compromise in the national interest. 


In recent years the West has seen Libya as a problem to contain, with the focus on reducing migration flows via Libya, removing Islamic State and limiting the spread of terrorism and instability from Libya to its neighbours. This has sometimes undermined the search for Libyan stability and long-term political solutions (eg by working with and building up Misrata forces tackling Islamic State in Sirte and Haftar's forces tackling terrorism in the East). The various militias are past masters at playing off and using external patrons in this way to strengthen their relative positions and claims. The West needs to prioritise long-term stability over short-term fixes. 

- Haftar's consolidation of control in the East and the oil ports  - and the concern it provokes in Misrata - poses a risk of wider conflict breaking out between the two most powerful groups in Libya. Neither of these two parties has the military power to defeat the other,  or to stabilise the whole of Libya under its control. Any open conflict between them will be destructive (ruining the country's economy and infrastructure) and inconclusive. Both sides overestimate their strength and ability to prevail. This may lead them to miscalculate. Their respective suppliers (Turkey and Qatar for Misrata and Egypt, UAE and Russia for Haftar) will do their best to ensure that their protegee remains undefeated. It must be Britain’s priority to avert conflict now and encourage de-escalation. The influence of these external patrons of the Libyan factions will be crucial. So far, that influence has been partisan, self-serving and destabilising.

The future

If a solution is to last, it must be made in Libya, not in Rome, Paris or London. For now, the West should encourage the creation of a more dynamic GNA Mark 2, changing its composition and mandate, and accelerate training of a neutral police force and army to support it. The West and the East of Libya must meet and find where they can agree. Libya needs a neutral national government, not one imposed by one set of militia or one city-state determined to control the country's resources. 

The militias must be reined in (by channelling state payments to citizens by other routes than through militia leaders). Guns must be taken off the streets. 

There needs to be a process of reconciliation and historical education. The UN can help here. The revolution - which was really a whole series of local revolts against the regime in each city rather than a national movement, strengthened local communities and strengthened tribal loyalties in the periphery (as did the struggle against Italian colonisation). It has weakened the sense of national identity and commitment to build a Libyan state. It created a sense of local entitlement. Local militias in each city (but especially in Misrata and Benghazi) believe that they overthrew Qadhafi - which they did, in their own region - and that they suffered more than their neighbours during the battles. So they believe that they deserve their reward now and should dominate any government and access to resources. That is why they have no time or respect for any democratic process. They want it all, and they want it now.

There is no tradition in Libya of compromise or accountability. Politics is treated as a zero sum game. The long-term future depends on culture change in Libya, which will take a generation - not just on finding the right government or political structures, important though that is. Libya has been held back in a semi-feudal condition. It needs to join the modern world. There are plenty of educated and capable Libyans - but most have left the country. They will have a role, when stability comes.   

The full lecture is available on the MESG website, at

Good News from Lebanon

It is pleasing to see positive developments in Lebanon. Hezbollah is in the habit of testing Israel or provoking its leaders’ attention. Recently Hezbollah led a media tour near the border, showing its control over the territory bordering Israel in bold denial of Lebanon sovereignty. This time the provocation was met by the Lebanese Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri expressed his commitment to a ceasefire with Israel and to preventing anyone, except the Lebanese army, near Lebanon’s border. al-Hariri requested the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to help bring an end to “continuous violations” of a ceasefire arrangement in southern Lebanon, voicing his commitment to Resolution 1701.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which effectively ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006 between Israel and the Hezbollah, mandated the creation of a buffer zone in southern Lebanon “free of ‘any armed personnel,’ both Hizbollah militants and Israeli troops.”

UNIFIL released a statement condemning the apparent violation of Resolution 1701 on the part of Hezbollah.

While al-Hariri opposes the Hezbollah, the Lebanese president Michel Aoun supports the organisation.

Good News from the United Nations

The United Nations has not always been a source of good news for Israel. Thus, it is pleasing to see positive developments in its corridors. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres vowed to take action to end anti-Semitism, and called denial of Israel’s right to exist a modern form of anti-Jewish hatred.
 Guterres said what is obvious to many outside the UN: Israel has the right to be treated like any other U.N. member state: “A modern form of anti-Semitism is the denial of the right of the State of Israel to exist,” Guterres said. “As secretary-general of the United Nations I can say that the state of Israel needs to be treated as any other state, with exactly the same rules.”
The U.N. General Assembly condemned Israel 20 times in 2016, compared to six condemnations for the rest of the world combined.
Guterres emphasized that treating Israel fairly does not mean agreeing with all of its government’s decisions. He also advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state.
“That does not mean I will always be in agreement with all the decisions made by any government position taken by any government that sits in Israel,” he said regarding his commitment to treat Israel fairly, but added that he supports “the absolutely undeniable right of Israel to exist and to live in peace and security with its neighbors.”
The secretary-general called the Holocaust “the most heinous crime in the history of mankind” and promised to marshal the U.N. to eliminate anti-Semitism.
“You can be absolutely sure, as secretary-general of the United Nations, I will be in the front line of the struggle against anti-Semitism, and to make sure the United Nations is able to take all possible actions for anti-Semitism to be condemned, and if possible, eradicated from the face of the earth,” he said.

My New Article

“Patient’s Autonomy, Physician’s Convictions and Euthanasia in Belgium”, Annual Review of Law and Ethics, Vol. 24 (2016), pp. 343-356.

The aim of this paper is to show the inherent contradiction in the Belgian euthanasia practice. While stressing patient’s autonomy, medical professionals exhibit paternalism in deciding the patient’s fate. First, background information is provided. Then the 2014 Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine Council Statement Paper will be considered. Concerns are voiced about euthanizing people who fail to find meaning in their lives, including those who underwent unsuccessful sex-change operation and blind people, euthanizing patients who did not give their consent, and euthanizing people with dementia. Finally, some suggestions designed to improve the situation are offered.

Keywords: Belgium, euthanasia, Federal Control and Evaluation Commission for Euthanasia, abuse, palliative care

The article is available at

Great news: Europe may harmonize how internet companies fight hate speech

Reuters reports it has obtained a draft European Commission document proposing that the EU implement measures that harmonize how online firms remove hate speech, child porn and other illegal content. Just how they'd take material down isn't clear, but Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have already agreed to an EU code of conduct that requires takedowns within 24 hours -- this would dictate how they pull the offensive content.

An EU official said the Commission was considering adopting a so-called "good Samaritan" principle whereby online platforms would not be held liable for content if they actively searched for illegal content on their websites, hoping this would make companies more proactive.

Last year, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft have signed up to stop the spread of hate speech online. The group have committed to a European Commission (EC) code of conduct that ensures their respective platforms "do not offer opportunities for illegal online hate speech to spread virally."

I discussed this issue at length in Confronting the Internet's Dark Side: Moral and Social Responsibility on the Free Highway (NY and Washington DC.: Cambridge University Press and Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2015).
ISBN 9781107105591

Guest Article: Jagdish N. Singh, “The Threat of Muslim Brotherhood”

Authentic studies say the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has been the fundamental source of almost all Islamist forces hostile to the United States. Founded by Hassan al-Banna in Egypt in 1928, the Brotherhood’s agenda has been to establish a worldwide Islamic Caliphate, a rule of Sharia law, through jihad. Former Brotherhood chief Mohammad Mahdi Akef called America “a Satan”. The Brotherhood seems well designed to take on the United States in due course.  Presently, it instructs its members to “use diverse and varied surveillance systems to gather information,… not look for confrontation with adversaries, at the local or the global scale, which would be disproportionate,” and master the art of the possible on a temporary basis without abusing the basic [Islamic] principles”. 

Rabidly anti-US leaders of al-Qaeda  Osama bin Laden and Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri , 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Mohamed el-Amir Awad el-Sayed Atta, Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi have  been members of the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood was the chief source of the 9/11 tragedy in America. U.S.-stationed Saudi intelligence officers, who aided the hijackers in the run-up to the 9/11 attacks, were in contact with senior members of the Saudi –funded Muslim Brotherhood in America. Nineteen al Qaeda operatives, all nationals from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Lebanon, perpetrated the 9/11 New York twin towers attack.

However, the successive dispensations in Washington shied away from reining in the Brotherhood. The previous Barack Obama administration rather extended support to the Brotherhood in a strategy document that regarded the group “as a moderate alternative to more violent Islamist groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State.”

The American approach towards the Brotherhood led to its growing influence within the United States. Today several home-grown organizations are believed to be close to the Brotherhood. They include the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and  the American Muslim Council, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Council on American-Islamic Relations , the Islamic Center of Southern California , the Islamic Society of Orange County. Like the Brotherhood, CAIR and Islamic Relief preach anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic rhetoric. 

In his confirmation hearings, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did refer to the Brotherhood as “agents of radical Islam like Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and certain elements within Iran”. But the administration has done nothing really substantial in this regard so far. On February 8, CNN reported the Trump administration was seriously considering designating the MB as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs). But a day earlier, Reuters reported the White House had placed on hold any executive order regarding such designation.

The Trump administration must designate the MB a terrorist organization and neutralize the home-grown groups linked with it. The existence of the latter is likely to provide, directly or indirectly, moral and material support to terror networks in their activities in the United States, endangering the security of the whole American nation.

The American presidency is fully competent to take any such action. The USA PATRIOT Act expands the search and surveillance powers of federal law-enforcement and intelligence agencies to detain suspected terrorists. The REAL ID Act of 2005 defines ‘terrorist organization’ to groups that solicit funds or memberships for either terrorist organizations or activities.

Significantly, the Trump administration has a lot of support for such a course of action against the Brotherhood.  Recently, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas proposed a bill to call for declaring the Brotherhood a terror organization.  Moderate American Muslims favour this course. American Shiite Sheikh Mohammed el Hajj Hassan,  founder of the American-Muslim Alliance, has  written a letter to Trump calling for the Brotherhood to be listed as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization.” In his recent visit to the White House, Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi requested Trump that political Islamic groups especially the Brotherhood be declared a terrorist group.
Washington has a considerable support from the international community as well in reining in the Brotherhood.  The world community is aware that the Brotherhood’s ideology of hatred and violence against all those who do not subscribe to it is not a threat to a single nation but our entire civilization. Most of the relatively liberal Muslim regimes, including Egypt, UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, have already banned the Brotherhood. 

Given their shared values, India, Israel, Britain and other democracies are likely to back the United States in this war against the Brotherhood   . New Delhi can ill-afford to overlook the well-established linkages between the Brotherhood and the anti-India Islamist forces since its Independence.  New Delhi is unlikely to overlook also the fact that during the Taliban regime in Kabul, the Brotherhood had training camps in Afghanistan for Kashmiri militants against India and recently, at least 23 Indians joined the Brotherhood- linked Islamic State.

Israel’s chief enemy today -- the Palestinian terror group Hamas-- was founded by Muslim Brotherhood members. Hamas has been responsible for hundreds of terror acts in Israel that have claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians, including Americans.

In a statement to his Parliament in December 2015, then British Prime Minister David Cameron said : "Aspects of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology and activities… run counter to British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, equality and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. Parts of the Muslim Brotherhood have a highly ambiguous relationship with violent extremism. Both as an ideology and as a network it has been a rite of passage for some individuals and groups who have gone on to engage in violence and terrorism."

(The author is a senior journalist based in New Delhi).   

Gem of the Month - Vondelpark

One of my favourite places in the beautiful city of Amsterdam is Vondelpark. I like strolling the paths, relaxing on one of the benches, reading a book, and have a bite and coffee in one of its coffee shops. A true green gem in the heart of bustling Amsterdam.

Gem of the Month - Princeton

I had a good and interesting visit to Princeton University. It was a rainy day, wet and dreary but the university looked rich and enriching. It reminded me of Oxford.

The purpose of my visit was my research for the book I am writing on the failed peace process between Israel and the PLO, from Oslo until now. The book is primarily based on interviews and archival work. I came to Princeton to conduct my 24th interview with Daniel Kurtzer, former American ambassador to Egypt and Israel who took active part in many negotiations and who has been writing about the peace process. Of all the books I read that were written by the main actors, I found Kurtzer's most reliable and objective. Thus it was of special interest for me to interview him.

The interview, like most of the interviews I conducted until now, was fascinating, with many new insights. I perceive these interviews as historical documents of great importance. Once the book will be published, they will be added as appendices.

To complete my books I need to travel to some important peace junctions: Oslo (see below), Stockholm, Washington and Little Rock. All assistance in facilitating this research is most appreciated.

Gem of the Month - New York

I was invited to take part in “Terrorist Incitement on the Internet” workshop at Fordham Law School. Fordham is known for organizing excellent workshops and this one was no different. Fifteen speakers, all American law professors but me.

Fordham is perfectly situated next to the Lincoln Center, one of my favourite places on this planet and certainly in the great city of New York. I can never have enough of this bustling city, restless and busy, dotted with interesting places, art, music and culture, great eateries and universities. Exsighteeing city. Time flies when I am in the big apple. Look forward to return.

I thank Alex, Joel, Danielle, Martin, Dan, Art, Sue and Steve for their kind hospitality.

Gem of the Month - Glasgow

This was my first visit to Glasgow. I had time to explore only a fraction of its many gems. I intend to return soon and visit its art museums.

I thank David for his kind hospitality.

New York Theatre – “Oslo”

Watching the new play “Oslo” at the time that I am writing my book on the failed peace process was of special interest. While I am not familiar with the Norwegian perspective, I am familiar of the Israeli and Palestinian perspectives of the events that took place in the Norwegian capital during 1993. To the best of my knowledge, the portrayal of events is quite accurate in the play. Less so is the presentation of characters. There was insufficient attempt to portray the characters as they are in real life. Abu Ala and Uri Savir look very different on stage. Also the other characters are quite different. But the playwright keeps the audience interested and captivated for more than 2.5 hours, unfolding the remarkable story of an academic who wished to change history forever, and for better. Yair Hirschfeld achieved the dream that many academics have: not merely reporting history, but helping to shape it.

“Oslo” is a very popular show. I understand that every night, hundreds of people come to watch this chapter in the history of Israel and Palestine. I am delighted that so many people take time and pay good money to learn about this chapter.

If you are in the big apple, I warmly recommend “Oslo”.

Three Notable Differences between NY and Yorkshire

In Yorkshire, pictures in art galleries cost between £350 and £5000.
In Yorkshire, pictures in art galleries cost between $25,000 and $65,000.

Yorkshire cities look alive during festivals, a few times a year.
In NY, every day is a festival.

In the town of Beverley, multiculturalism is sort of a legend.
In NY, all cultures, language and colour.

Monthly Poems

Without You

Without you every morning would feel like going back to work after a holiday,
Without you I couldn't stand the smell of the East Lancs Road,
Without you ghost ferries would cross the Mersey manned by skeleton crews,
Without you I'd probably feel happy and have more money and time and nothing to do with it,
Without you I'd have to leave my stillborn poems on other people's doorsteps, wrapped in brown paper,
Without you there'd never be sauce to put on sausage butties,
Without you plastic flowers in shop windows would just be plastic flowers in shop windows,
Without you I'd spend my summers picking morosley over the remains of train crashes,
Without you white birds would wrench themselves free from my paintings and fly off dripping blood into the night,
Without you green apples wouldn't taste greener,
Without you Mothers wouldn't let their children play out after tea,
Without you every musician in the world would forget how to play the blues,
Without you Public Houses would be public again,
Without you the Sunday Times colour suppliment would come out in black-and-white,
Without you indifferent colonels would shrug their shoulders and press the button,
Without you they's stop changing the flowers in Piccadilly Gardens,
Without you Clark Kent would forget how to become Superman,
Without you Sunshine Breakfast would only consist of Cornflakes,
Without you there'd be no colour in Magic colouring books,
Without you Mahler's 8th would only be performed by street musicians in derelict houses,
Without you they'd forget to put the salt in every packet of crisps,
Without you it would be an offence punishable by a fine of up to £200 or two months' imprisonment to be found in possession of curry powder,
Without you riot police are massing in quiet sidestreets,
Without you all streets would be one-way the other way,
Without you there'd be no one to kiss goodnight when we quarrel,
Without you the first martian to land would turn round and go away again,
Without you they'd forget to change the weather,
Without you blind men would sell unlucky heather,
Without you there would be
no landscapes/no stations/no houses
no chipshops/no quiet villages/no seagulls
on beaches/no hopscotch on pavements/no night/no morning/
there'd be no city no country
Without you.

Adrian Henri

Light Side

Announcement inside train toilet
Please do not flush sanitary products, nappies, beer, cigarettes and gold fish.

A small boy asks his Dad, "Daddy, what is politics?" Dad says, "Well son, let me try to explain it this way: I'm the breadwinner of the family, so let's call me Capitalism. Your mom, she's the administrator of the money, so we'll call her the Government. We're here to take care of your needs, so we'll call you the People. The nanny, we'll consider her the Working Class. And your baby brother, we'll call him the Future. Now, think about that and see if that makes sense." So the little boy goes off to bed thinking about what Dad has said. Later that night, he hears his baby brother crying, so he gets up to check on him. He finds that the baby has severely soiled his diaper. The little boy goes to his parents' room and finds his mother sound asleep. Not wanting to wake her, he goes to the nanny's room. Finding the door locked, he peeks in the keyhole and sees his father having sex with the nanny. He gives up and goes back to bed. The next morning, the little boy says to his father, "Dad, I think I understand the concept of politics now." The father says, "Good, son, tell me in your own words what you think politics is all about." The little boy replies, "Well, while Capitalism is screwing the Working Class, the Government is sound asleep, the People are being ignored and the Future is in Deep Shit.”

Peace and love.

Yours as ever,


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