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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: January 19, 2009 @ 10:56 am

    Respite for the people of Gaza – but for how long?

    Deaglán de Bréadún

     Hush little baby don’t you cry
    You know your daddy’s born to die.
    All my trials Lord soon be over.

    We should pray to every god we know that the suffering of the Gaza people is over, at least for the time being. It’s likely under the circumstances that they will see further pain, death and loss in the future but let us hope that the current respite lasts a long time.

    For once, Hamas made a smart move in demanding the withdrawal of Israeli troops who are leaving anyway. That way, neither side loses face. But it’s probably too much to expect that the rocket attacks will permanently cease. Can Hamas not see that these forays are the perfect excuse for Israel to hit back with far, far greater force? Or in their religious exaltation, do they care about the fate of their people?

    It was the same with the suicide bombings. That deadly tactic provided the perfect justification, in the eyes of many, for Israel to build the wall/barrier/security fence, call it what you like and thereby inflict a devastating blow on the Palestinian people.

    I was in Gaza on 9/11 as a reporter covering the visit of our then-minister for foreign affairs (now Taoiseach) Brian Cowen, to the Palestinian President/Chairman Yasser Arafat. For a brief while, the finger of guilt for the World Trade Center attacks pointed at the Palestinians and I still shudder when I recall the fear on the faces of ordinary Gaza residents that day. Happily the real culprits were identified and the danger passed.

     The Israelis probably feel their timing was quite smart. They wrapped up their attacks just in time for the Obama inauguration. Mission accomplished? Maybe not. Past experience has shown that such attacks on civilian locations can arouse stubborn defiance and strengthen the spirit of resistance – the exact opposite of what was intended. True, the supply of rockets may be hindered for a while but there are few things as easy to obtain as weapons in this day and age.

    If you were a young Gaza boy or girl whose father or mother had been killed by the Israelis, what would you want to do? Engage in peace talks and shake the hand of those responsible for the deaths of your nearest and dearest? Join Hamas or some similar faction and wreak vengeance on your oppressors?

    • Betterworld Now says:

      And how would you, as a young Gazan boy or girl, with your $10 Kalashnikov go about attacking a heavily-armed neighbour other than to entice it to enter your territory where at least you can improve your odds of survival during the few seconds that you squeeze the trigger?

      Hamas cannot attack Israel except when Israel invades and occupies its territory. That is why they persist with what would otherwise be considered ridiculously untargeted rocket attacks.

      And Israel always withdraws before it achieves any strategic goal because it cannot sustain the casualties to its own forces that would be required. Hamas waits because it can. In war, it’s not how much damage you can inflict but how much you can sustain that counts.

      So long as Israel is allowed to commit war crimes with impunity, especially belligerent invasion (“the ultimate war crime”), the rocket attacks on it will continue. And it will retaliate. And children will be slaughtered.

      If ever there were an international border that needs to be policed by the United Nations, this is it. But only one party to the conflict recognises this and it’s not Israel. Not yet anyway.

    • Deaglán says:

      Good to hear from you, BWN. I have been missing our little jousts.
      You are echoing Terence MacSwiney there with your suggestion that it is not he who inflicts the most but he (or she) who endures most that will prevail.
      I am intrigued by the notion of Hamas luring the Israelis into Gaza to take a pop at them. In the process hundreds of Gaza children and adults get killed. I hope you are wrong about their outlook on this. It reminds me of a quote attributed to Lenin – which I cannot source – about the masses being the manure of the revolution.

    • Clare says:

      I was struck by your opening lines. Lovely piece. Thanks for highlighting it.

    • Betterworld Now says:

      It is necessary to put yourself into their mindset to understand how blood sacrifice is considered heartrendingly necessary. For such desperate people, the question is, What other choice do they have?

      They can’t exactly get into their 2008 series heavy tanks equipped with 1000lb cannons and drive into Israel to take a few carefully-targeted pot-shots at some overcrowded UN-run schools now can they?

      Even if they could, they are unlikely to be then allowed to escape their documented war crimes by driving home for tea before getting ready to vote for any one of a phalanx of fundamentalist warmongers who have also evaded international justice with the connivance of ‘the west’.

      War victims who have been brutalised repeatedly find it hard to accept that they are rearing their children to be victims too. In that context, sacrifices have to be made for the sake of the unborn future generations.

      To act otherwise, is to hand your children to your tormentor for a lifetime of torture in exchange for preserving your own miserable life. What parent would make that choice?

    • Deaglán says:

      But does it achieve anything?

    • Kieran Magennis says:

      But who would have expected that Israel would have disregarded international condemnation so completely? Even pleadings from its ‘friends’.

      Could it be that Israel actually desires to be despised? Perhaps because this provides a platform to remind the world about Jewish victimhood, and punish the world’s conscience for double standards?

      Could it instead be that Israel already believes it has lost the long game for the existence of a separate and secure Jewish state and has now adopted a different strategy?

    • Deaglán says:

      I have to say that, unless the region settles down, the outlook for the survival of the Israeli state in the longer term must be open to question. Several scenarios present themselves, all fairly horrific. An all-out extremist Islamic assault on Israel perhaps or some similar existential threat to the Israelis which makes them feel obliged to choose the nuclear option as their last means of survival. It’s a pity George W. Bush did not devote his energies to resolving this problem and setting up a viable Palestinian state, instead of going ahead with the invasion of Iraq.

    • Betterworld Now says:

      “Does it achieve anything?”

      That’s easy for you to ask from the comfort of your ivory tower. Even asking it is to seek an alternative reality rather than to deal with the current one.

      Sitting in the ruins of your house wondering how you are going to respond to the cries of hunger from your children changes your perspective. What answers would you give a 4-year old when they ask why there is no house and no food? And that’s after they have seen you bury their loved ones (some for the second time).

      All of the six billion spent on infrastructure by the EU has been utterly destroyed – that is your and my taxes deliberately invested in providing the people of Gaza with an alternative view of the future – ground to dust in an act of hatred unparalleled in recent history.

      The devastation wrought on Gaza by Israel shown on Channel 4 yesterday* was reminiscent of newsreels I have seen of Hiroshima. The only buildings standing were those where the invading thugs were billeted. This is a war crime. It needs to be prosecuted.

      When that happens, and only when that happens, is it time to deal with your question.

      *watch Jonathan Millar’s report here: http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/politics/international_politics/scale+of+gaza+devastation+revealed+/2908257 )

    • Deaglán says:

      The answer I would give to my four-year-old is that, “We have a really inept political leadership and we have to replace them with someone who won’t bring death and destruction down on our heads but instead harness the vast goodwill that exists towards the Palestinian people around the world.”

    • Anthony says:

      Deaglán – The answer that you would give to your four-year-old is a well-judged response if the context represented that as a real possibility. It’s not by accident the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have become divided in recent years, I think the practice of colonial divide-and-rule is not beyond an analogy to the practice of Occupation. Israel’s rule over politically-divided Territories has served its self interests far greater with the Palestinians being involved in battles amongst themselves. It’s worrying that as a political commentator on such matters your answer seems to fail to grasp the intricacies of this reality, and instead places the burdens of responsibilities on a single party.

      Would you not suggest a better argument would be to start dealing with Hamas as an integral player in this conflict who need to be part of any solution to it – much in the sprit of Obama’s unclenching of the fist gesture. Unless you’re coming from the understanding that Hamas is made up of entirely inherently evil people and that the citizens of Gaza are of different ilk than you or I, why would they not be able to be brought into a viable political reality that really offered some solution to this conflict?

    • Deaglán says:

      I would love to see Hamas playing a full part in peace negotiations but they won’t make the necessary concessions to get to the table. Even the Provos called a ceasefire – and they were far more deadly with their rockets than Hamas. If the Palestinian side forswore rockets and suicide bombs, the spotlight would shift to the Israeli Occupation. It’s called leadership.

    • Anthony says:

      I don’t think it’s fair to compare the scenarios. The Provos had been included, in some form, in the political scene long before their cease-fire was called, and in fact when Sinn Fein were excluded the Provos broke their ceasefire in 96-97. This was at a time when one could argue that there was a viable political process in place that made an armed movement even more repugnant.

      I’d like to see the Palestinians take a course of action that inspired world wide pressure, in a South African fashion, but the reality is that option just does not exist. The Occupation is aggressive, it is not a benign security measure for Israel and history shows countries are born out of conflicts, not impassiveness.

      Regardless, arguing that Hamas won’t make the concessions is a fallacy. Whilst their rhetoric and militant activity is repugnant surely you can’t believe they are deluded enough to think that they could destroy Israel? Either way, the fact that they mooted the idea of negotiations (based on a two-state solution) as early as before their election win shows that time-honored tradition of all militant factions become more moderate once in positions of real responsibility.

    • Deaglán says:

      You have to have a situation where the Israelis cannot claim any element of victimhood. Suicide-bombings and rocket attacks play into the hands of the Israeli right (not sure there is much of a left these days). Arafat for all his faults was a rallying-figure who was held in some regard internationally and knew how to play the political game.

    • Anthony says:

      There’s a few of us left, but we tend to visit more than live there. It provides good critical distance.

      I agree with what you say above, but Arafat was never a great statesman and those that might be (Marwan Barghouti, for example) are locked up in Israeli jails.

    • Joanna Tuffy says:

      As per I breaking news and this linked article from Haaretz: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1057919.html Obama has made an interesting appointment as his Middle East Envoy, former Senator George Mitchell. He will bring his Northern Ireland Peace Process experience. I tend to be an optimist and it’s not easy to be that way on this issue but this is a good move?


    • Deaglán says:

      Yes, i don’t understand why Barghouti is being kept in jail when he could be contributing to a settlement. Re George Mitchell, I reported on his N. Ireland peacemaking. Might do a blog on him.

    • Eoin Lynch says:


      You say “It’s a pity George W. Bush did not devote his energies to resolving this problem and setting up a viable Palestinian state”, this is nonsense as it was impossible to create a Palestinian state while Arafat was the leader of the Palestinians as the Israelis could not offer anything more then what Ehud Barak offered in 2000. Arafat for all his international posturing would not accept a two-state solution. After Arafat died Bush tried to bring about the end to the corrupt practices of Fatah by making them accountable to the Palestinian people but they went on to vote for Hamas who are not only repulsive in their views and actions but when elected, let us not forget, murdered the opposition.

      Unfortunately there will not be peace for some time until the Palestinians accept the two-state solution. Then again who would have thought Egypt would have made peace with Israel but it needed the death of Nasser in order for that to happen. Will the Palestinians unite behind Abbas in order to make him a modern-day Sadat?

    • Deaglán says:

      It’s sobering to recall that Sadat and Rabin were both assassinated for their peacemaking efforts. Anyone who tries to bring about a settlement will be forever under threat from the extremists on his/her own side. It is my impression that Arafat wanted to make a deal in 2000 but felt he could not sell it to his people. I am glad to hear that the Israelis are sincere in their adherence to the two-state solution. The creation of “bantustans” on the West Bank would not appear to lay a very good groundwork for a viable Palestinian state however.

    • Betterworld Now says:

      “We have a really inept political leadership and we have to replace them with someone who won’t bring death and destruction down on our heads but instead harness the vast goodwill that exists towards the Palestinian people around the world.”

      … was precisely what that father was told when he was himself four years old.

      In fact, it was the prevailing view among British tabloid journalists of the SDLP leadership in the wake of the Ulster Workers’ Strike that brought down Sunningdale – were you, by any chance, learning your trade in Fleet Street at that time?

      So long as we insist on picking their leaders for them and determining the policies we consider acceptable to us, we will never convince the Palestinian people that we care a toss for their plight.

      You can’t eat scenery, nor can you eat platitudes. But then, I assume that you have never been in a position of relying on either for your sustenance, let alone your children’s sustenance.

      I find it impossible to square your apparent indifference with the reports I have seen coming out of Gaza – reports from respected journalists shown on British television. I can’t even square them with the Red Cross or UN statements on the events. Have you even been listening to our own John Ging?

      Perhaps you have been following a different set of reports or perhaps its a case of a mindset in need of decommissioning?

      Having learnt my politics from the mouths of proud Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, I know the Yiddish word they used to describe any apologist for state inspired thuggery: “mitarbeter”.

    • Deaglán says:

      Betterworld Now: I always feel I am winning the argument when my opponent stoops to gratuitous insults. Regular readers of this blog will know you for your uncritical admiration of totalitarian regimes: http://www.irishtimes.com/blogs/politics/2008/10/25/ironies-of-china/#comments

      To be insulted by your ilk I regard as a compliment. Incidentally, I am intrigued by your reference to the SDLP circa 1974. I don’t recall that British tabloids expressed much admiration for the SDLP. And what has that got to do with Hamas and the PLO? Are you a “sneaking regarder” of the IRA in its militant phase? By the way, I wasn’t in Fleet Street at any stage – not the London one anyway, although the old Irish Times building used to have its works entrance on Dublin’s Fleet Street. I don’t get this particular slur, BWN.

      I have consistently criticised and condemned Israeli attacks causing the deaths of civilians, especially children, in Gaza. But the truth and the facts don’t matter to someone with your mindset.

      However, in condemning the deaths of civilians I will not buy into the suggestion that Hamas are a good political leadership. For all its faults and mistakes, I don’t recall that the PLO ever allowed the political situation to be created whereby Israel could behave as it has done in the last few weeks in Gaza. I am not a PLO supporter but facts are facts.

      I don’t get your Yiddish-language insult. I am sure it is as gracious and charming as your other writings. What’s the Yiddish for your own category: “Political Dinosaur”?

    • Betterworld Now says:

      It is disappointing to see that you resort to insult rather than deal with the charge of failing to understand the effects of oppression on a human population.

      Hamas and IRA are merely symptomatic of the process of subordination by military means of a people.

      Historically this process of violent suppression of the legitimate right to self-determination creates a backlash, the violence and barbarity of which is merely an equal and opposite reaction to the barbarity of the oppressor.

      My point is that the media are an intrinsic part of the process.

      You misunderstood my SDLP reference: I simply drew a parallel between what the British oppressor’s media were saying about the failure of leadership of the nationalist population in Northern Ireland (an impression you seem to share) and what the western media are currently saying about the Palestinians who elected Hamas, in effect, ‘if they had chosen less extreme leaders they wouldn’t be getting their skulls crushed now’.

      The media’s role, by failing to maintain an objectivity based on, say, the Geneva Conventions or the Universal Declaration, is to vilify the backlash whilst justifying the oppression.

      Punch’s cartoons of drunken lazy Irish peasants are today reflected in the characture of religious fundamentalist Hamas fighters using women and children as human shields. Both are necessary to create the political conditions wherein the oppressor can continue his suppression of the human rights of a subjugated population (i.e. media as collaborator or “mitarbeter”). Neither characture is true. But neither could exist without the failure of journalism to report reality accurately.

      Merely condemning all death is to avoid the historical context from which it springs. It also undermines the connection between the population on each side and their differing tolerance of violence and casualties (hence my reference to damage inflicted and damage sustainable).

      It seems that Hamas’ violence finds broad acceptance within the population of Gaza; I have no doubt that their vote has increased in the past three weeks.

      Israeli violence, in contrast, is only sustainable by deception, which is why journalists were banned from entering Gaza by Israel. (Indeed, Israel has long operated the most active media bullying operation on the planet, characterised by accusations of anti-Semitism for even the meekest questioning of their motives).

      The UN, Red Cross, Non-Aligned Movement and Micheál Martin cannot all be wrong. Israel already stands accused of war crimes. When the evidence finally emerges from Gaza, those charge will multiply.

      And, for the record, I (or my “ilk”) didn’t insult you, I merely asked you to examine your prejudices, surely a daily chore of all responsible journalists? Your OTT reaction to this challenge speaks volumes.

    • Deaglán says:

      Sorry, Betterworld. I thought your description of me as a “collaborator” (in Yiddish at that) and an “apologist for state-inspired thuggery” was an insult. I guess I’m being oversensitive.

      Your overall analysis is typical of a certain mindset among Ivory Tower inhabitants in the West who spend their time dreaming up excuses for nasty deeds by bombers and shooters in faraway lands.

      I put it to you that the military struggle contributed far less to the liberation of South Africa than the political activities of N. Mandela and Co. I put it to you that Martin Luther King achieved a hundred times more without firing a shot than the violent people for whom you like to find excuses. Also, I would be strongly opposed to Israel’s restrictions on journalists entering Gaza but you know darn well that media restrictions under the totalitarian regimes you admire so much are infinitely greater. I would call you a hypocrite, but I don’t want to insult you.

    • Betterworld Now says:

      I note your antagonism, your false allegations, bluster and diversion and chose to disregard all in order to return you to the question you have sought to avoid.

      I will make it simple: have you seen any evidence of war crimes by Israel in the past three weeks and, if so, what would you prescribe as the appropriate response for an Irish journalist to this?

    • Deaglán says:

      Glad you’re putting aside the personal insults that were an attempt to cover up the weakness of your argument.
      The duty of a journalist is to report the facts without fear or favour. I have not been on the ground in Gaza since the bombardment but, judging from the reports, it may very well be the case that war-crimes were committed. I would be happy to see this investigated by a suitable tribunal, say from the UN, with appropriate punishment if there is a guilty verdict.
      Killing civilians is wrong whether it’s with F-16s or rockets. You accept the first part of that last sentence but not the second part (when it’s rockets into Israeli territory).
      You are willing to give carte blanche to Hamas on the basis of the “right of resistance” or “self-determination”, I am not. You remind me of the guys who used to cheer on the Provos from a safe distance and sing Republican songs in Dublin bars in the 70s and 80s. Anyway, wasn’t it the Israelis who promoted Hamas initially, at the expense of the PLO?

      Here’s a review of a book on Hamas that I did for The Irish Times over two years ago and it sets out my analysis of them at that stage:-

      The Irish Times

      September 16, 2006 Saturday

      Defenders of the indefensible

      BYLINE: Deaglán de Bréadún

      Review of Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad By Matthew Levitt Yale University Press in co-operation with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 324pp. £14.99

      TEXT: The author of this book is described as “a counter-terrorism expert with extensive field experience in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza”.

      We are also told that he has “served as an FBI analyst providing tactical and strategic analysis in support of counter-terrorism operations”. In November 2005 he was appointed deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the US Department of the Treasury.

      It’s good to know where people are coming from. If you are seeking an on-the-one-hand-on-the-other assessment, Dr Levitt is not the man to provide it.

      This is very much the prosecution case against Hamas, now the dominant political force among the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. (I don’t think my reference to the West Bank here is accurate as it is my impression that the PLO are the main element in that area. Deaglán, 25 January 2009)

      And there are rich pickings for prosecution counsel. Hamas is deeply committed to terrorist tactics, especially the inhuman, inexcusable and indefensible practice of suicide bombings. The fact that the organisation has been elected to political office in the Palestinian territories does not make its activities any more acceptable although it does raise questions about the moral standards of the people who voted for Hamas.

      But we are long past the stage where either side in the conflict is prepared to listen to lectures on morality. Dr Levitt points out that suicide bombings have been described by Hamas leaders as the Palestinians’ F-16, and who could excuse the carnage and death wreaked on innocent and virtually defenceless civilians by Israeli firepower, including this deadly aircraft supplied by their American friends?

      As for Hamas, in addition to its horrific terrorist activities, the organisation is also responsible for a very substantial social welfare programme which ministers to the needs of Palestinians. This was meant to be a task for the Israelis and Yasser Arafat’s organisation but Dr Levitt points out that both of them “consistently failed” to carry it out. He further outlines how corruption and misappropriation of funds by PLO elements created an opening for the Islamic fundamentalists to make political advances.

      The author goes to great lengths to demonstrate how the Hamas social welfare programme, funded by supporters in the Muslim community abroad, is used as a means of building-up political support as well as providing a cloak for terrorist activities. This is hardly a stunning insight but he does provide chapter and verse from the files of various security and intelligence agencies – US, Israeli and Canadian as well as documents seized by the Israelis from the PLO.

      The problem with this type of material is that you are never quite sure how much to believe and which parts should be set aside. Security and intelligence personnel can be just as fallible and biased as anyone else, as we discovered in the Northern Ireland conflict with the cases of the Guildford Four, Birmingham Six and Maguire Seven.

      This is not to say that Dr Levitt’s book can be dismissed out of hand or that it should be taken less than seriously as an indictment of the sinister and alarming aspects of the Hamas agenda. But his scatter-gun approach means that a very wide range of people and institutions get hit and none of them gets a chance to speak in their own defence. Names of persons allegedly involved in terrorism clutter the pages of this book and one hopes their publication under such a respectable imprint is not used as an additional excuse by the Israelis to assassinate such people.

      Such assassinations have been a primary feature of the Israeli response to Hamas. Within a few weeks in early 2004, the movement’s leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his deputy Dr Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi were both killed. Apart from the damage to Israel’s own image caused by such activities, these extra- judicial killings failed to stop the march of Hamas and probably contributed to its stunning success in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections this year.

      Indeed the killing of the almost-blind, wheelchair-bound Sheikh Yassin made the world a more dangerous place for everybody because, as Dr Levitt points out in a chapter called “Will Hamas target the West?” the Sheikh was “one of the most vocal opponents to targeting western interests”.

      There are few concessions to readability in this rather repetitious compilation of intelligence and security data but, if treated with caution, it could be useful background material for policymakers and analysts seeking to predict future developments in a highly-volatile situation.

      In the author’s own phrase, Hamas personnel are “notoriously honest” which is one of the main reasons they have superseded the PLO. Seeking to kill the snake by cutting its head off clearly hasn’t worked. In the absence of a just and fair political settlement, the political influence of Hamas will continue to grow.

      As events in Lebanon have shown, unless the international community takes a more constructive interest in the region and seeks to restrain the conduct of all parties, this conflict will get completely out of hand, with possible dire consequences for us all.

    • Betterworld Now says:

      I agree with your last two paragraphs from 2006 but see less willingness to deal with Hamas in your current position than was evident in then. Of course, I would go further to say that cutting off the head of the PLO largely created the political vacuum into which Hamas has stepped. Whether that means that Israel are responsible for creating Hamas, I’ll let history decide. In fairness to Israel, they didn’t act alone in undermining the PLO, and Europe certainly is not guiltless.

      The PLO, you may remember, came to fame by hijacking planes and shooting hostages dead off the flight deck. So I find your suggestion that they are some sort of benign terrorist-free zone somewhat unproven.

      The hold the Palestinian Authority has over the West Bank is probably ever more tenuous and your erroneous reference to this in 2006 may not be so far off the mark now, particularly after the last three weeks of thuggery.

      Accepting that you have to deal with Hamas is a long way from supporting them. But understanding why they were elected (and would be re-elected again with a larger mandate) is important because if you cut their head off too you will reap an even greater whirlwind. These things are not susceptible to military solution. The extremists need to be brought in from the cold and shown that there are means other than violence to achieve their legitimate ends and discourage their illegitimate ends. But before any of that can happen we must insist on all parties respecting international law as the first step to opening that door. To that end, Israel must be pursued through the courts for its war crimes before we can ‘pass go’.

      Whether they accept it or not, it seems to me that the root of Israel’s intransigence and their ready resort to violence is US foreign policy. Disabling the US veto over UN actions will be necessary to allow international law to be brought to bear on this conflict.

    • Deaglán says:

      Yes, I have hardened a bit in my attitude to Hamas in the light of recent events. I keep thinking of the debate in Ireland at the end of the War of Independence/start of the Civil War. Collins & Co., as I understand it, said if the Treaty was not accepted, the British would come back and there would be, in Lloyd George’s phrase, “immediate and terrible war”. That was the rationale for the attack on the Four Courts. The intransigents were caught up in abstract, legalistic concepts, forgetting that the fundamental reality was that the British had pulled out. Wasn’t it Friedrich Engels who defined the State as “bodies of armed men” (and women nowadays, of course)?

      In the same way, intransigence has not benefited the Palestinians. I also think of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, which conducted such an effective campaign here in Ireland, and elsewhere, on behalf of the oppressed and disenfranchised in South Africa. I don’t remember any trumpeting of violence by the AAM. The focus was always on the political side of things. Now, I do have serious difficulties with the proposed isolation of the Israeli state through boycott but I think the political road is the only effective one in the end.

      I acknowledge the former involvement of the PLO in some very bloody deeds but, like certain people nearer home, they moved on from that.

      As for the US losing its veto at the UN, you are right in principle but it ain’t gonna happen. Ever. I have researched and written on the topic of UN reform ad nauseam (my nausea, not the reader’s I hope!) We’re darn lucky we don’t have the same system in the EU.

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