In his meeting with Shimon Peres on Wednesday, Lord Greville Janner was speaking as founder of the Commonwealth Jewish Council. But for the children he had entertained earlier in an Ashkelon bomb shelter, his standing with the International Brotherhood of Magicians proved far more interesting.
"I learned magic when I was a youngster," the former Labor MP told Anglo File during his visit to some of the Negev cities receiving fire from Gaza. Janner says his career in magic began when his father, a local leader of British Jewry, sent him to Canada for fear of a German invasion into the U.K. Out of his element and alone, young Janner learned how to perform magic tricks, "It's a technique I've developed all the time over the years," he says.
Before his retirement from Parliament in 1997, Janner became known as one of Israel's most staunch supporters within Labor. "Currently, the party is very divided on the Israel issue," he says. Labor's leadership, he adds, is very pro-Israel, but is encountering increasing internal resistance. "It is possible that we will see mass street demonstrations against Israel in the near future," he says.
Asserting the current conflict is also a "media war," Janner said that the Israeli position will have a tough time competing with gory images of casualties in Gaza. "I went to see a building that has been very seriously damaged in a rocket attack," he added. "Israel needs to keep explaining and explaining just how serious and dangerous the attacks against its civilians are." During his visit, the octogenarian had to run or cover when a missile alarm went off.
At the same time, Janner - who speaks and understands Hebrew fluently - said that Israeli media sometimes exaggerates when reporting about the severity of the situation and the panic level in the Negev. "The people whom I met and also people on the street were remarkably sensible," he recalled. "Most people seem to be doing a good job and are standing firm and united under difficult circumstances."
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