Are we right, when faced with atrocity, simply to compete in voicing expressions of denunciation and outrage? Do all attempts to understand the motives of the perpetrators, or to reflect on what drove them to act so abominably, risk moral equivalence and compromise our own humanity?
Say what you like about the sybaritic Blairs (and doing so has become a favourite silly-season activity), they do understand the importance of holidays. Not for them the one week somewhere and a couple of city breaks later. They go away for August.
I wanted to tell the stories of four remarkable British women whose lives were scorched by Stalin's purges. One was shot as a spy; one nearly died as a slave labourer in Kazakhstan; and two saw their husbands taken away to the Gulag and had to spirit their small children out of the country.
Alan Morris, who has lived in the Dordogne for 14 years and has counted the British escapees in, and out again, describes the idea of living abroad as a fool's paradise. "Most professional people last about two years," he says.
The European Union, worried about extremism and violence on its southern borders, has long seen peace in the Middle East as a strategic priority. In 1980, EU leaders broke new ground by voicing strong support for the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state.