Editor's Letter

As the world watches transfixed and horrified, it's only natural that we devote five pages to the crisis in the Middle East. Indeed, it would be remiss if we did anything else. We have a brilliant lead piece by Zaki Chehab, perhaps the leading authority on Hamas and other radical groups, on the causes of the conflagration. We have viewpoints from Israel and Lebanon, from Rageh Omaar in Tehran, and from Washington Andrew Stephen deconstructs the Bush world view, or rather the lack of it. We'll continue to give you the best analysis and comment on the issue as it unfolds.

The piece we were planning to make our lead is still very prominent. Mike Atherton, yes he, the former England cricket captain, makes his NS debut with a brilliant and detailed look at the new British disease of gambling. This is the subject of a book he's about to have published, so he knows what he's talking about.

Elsewhere, we have a rich array of fine and witty writing. Take a look at Roger Boyes profile of Klaus Wowereit, the champagne quaffing gay mayor of Berlin and a possible future German Chancellor. It is one of the most hilarious but also insightful pieces I've read in a long time. The actress Saffron Burrows provides an enjoyable diary; the lawyer and TV star Clive Anderson is the guest on the human rights slot, 'it could have been me', drawing attention to the plight of Iranian lawyer Nasser Zarafshan. Martin Bright and Peter Wilby addressing the deepening crisis in Downing Street over loans to peerages, as do our friends writing Neighbours from Hell, while Rory Bremner recalls his tennis playing past with Tony and Cherie. Now he wouldn't have done the decent thing and got out his wallet, would he?!