Monday, August 04, 2014

Politics – July 2014 -- War!!

Politics – July 2014 -- War!!

Support is sought to facilitate the work of the Middle East Study Group. Information at

I also welcome promoting the two-state solution. See

Thank you

Thanks for all those who contact me to voice sympathy, concern and good wishes for our families and friends who are put under the line of fire in Israel. I appreciate it.

For all that Israel has accomplished, for all that Israel will achieve, Israel cannot be complete and it cannot be secure without peace. It is never too late to seed the ground for peace—a true and living peace that exists not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of all Israelis and Palestinians. That is the future the United States remains committed to, as Israel’s first friend, Israel’s oldest friend, and Israel’s strongest friend.

~ Barack Obama

See David Grossman, Stop the Grindstone of Israeli-Palestinian Violence, NYT

Michael Walzer, “Israel Must Defeat Hamas, But Also Must Do More to Limit Civilian Deaths: The moral calculus of a messy war”. The New Republic, July 30, 2014

I agree with the Washington Post's Editorial: The U.S. should push for the disarming of Hamas in Gaza-Israel cease-fire,

Professor Asa Kasher sent me two articles he co-authored with Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, “Assassination and Preventive Killing”, SAIS Review, Vol. XXV, No. 1 (Winter-Spring 2005): 41-57, and “Military Ethics of Fighting Terror: An Israeli Perspective”, J. of Military Ethics, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2005): 3-32. I’d be happy to send them to interested parties.

R. Cohen-Almagor, “Israel Cannot Be Complete and It Cannot Be Secure Without Just Peace”, in Sharnoff’s Global Views (July 18, 2014),

Thanks for the many letters and comments I received about my article. It was republished in “Israel versus Palestine? Who do you support?”, The Daily Journalist, World Wide Experts,

Your comments prompted me to write “Is Israel’s Operation Protective Edge Justified?”, in Sharnoff’s Global Views (July 25, 2014),

Operation Protective Edge

War Diary

July 19, 2014

Exchange with Professor Joyce Appelby

Reflections on Is Israel’s Operation Protective Edge Justified?

Reflections on June Newsletter

Exchange with Florence Biano

Rocket Fire on Israel

Life in the Gaza Strip


Abu Mazen

On the British and Israeli Media

When the Artillery Is Firing, the Muses Are Silent ?

On Politics of Numbers

US-Israel Relations

When Dust Settles

Washington DC

More Thanks

Monthly Poems

New Books

Light Side

Operation Protective Edge

Once triggered, violence can escalate rapidly.

Following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli boys, some Israeli-Jews decided to take the law into their hands to revenge by killing an innocent Palestinian. They picked 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair, murdered him and burned his body. The Israeli police acted swiftly. Six Jews have been arrested. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned the father of a murdered Palestinian teenager to promise that the attackers would be prosecuted: "I wish to express my shock and the shock of Israel's citizens over the despicable murder of your son," Prime Minister Netanyahu told the father, Hussein Abu Khudair. "The murderers will be brought to trial and prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

Israel targeted Hamas terrorists as the organization is deemed responsible for the abduction of the three slained young boys. Dozens of air strikes were launched against Hamas targets. Hamas retaliated with rocket fire on Israeli towns. Rockets and mortars were fired at Israel on July 7, 2014. On July 8, 2014, Israel responded with a military operation against Gaza. The offensive, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” is aimed at striking Hamas and ending the rocket fire.

War Diary

I have been written a war diary, reflecting on events, expressing my own mood. Venting thoughts. I will publish it one day. Here is a glimpse.

July 19, 2014

July 19 seems to be a watershed in this military campaign. It was a horrific day. From then on, things got worse.

From my diary: Four soldiers died in combat and one Israeli civilian died as a result of rocket fire. 30 soldiers were injured. The death toll in Gaza increased to 350 Palestinians, most of them civilians. The IDF intensified its artillery and pushed forward into Gaza. More tunnels are uncovered and destroyed. The rocket fire does not stop on Israeli cities. 112 rockets were fired on Israel.

This seems to be, until now, the harshest day of the operation. Israeli decision-makers are fed up with the situation, the constant barrage of rockets on Israel, and with the machinery of terrorism the IDF has uncovered in Gaza. All hell broke loose. Now the aim is to break Hamas.

If Hamas wanted to press Israel to extend the operation and to inflict more damage on Gaza, then it certainly has achieved its target. Netanyahu, who seemed to be calculated until now, seems to lose his breaks. A responsible government is required to ponder the consequences of its decisions and to calculate the cost-benefits of conduct before and during conflict. It should be in control of events and not allow snow-balling, rapid escalation when events control you rather than you control them.

My heart is heavy. Military achievements need to be supplemented with diplomatic efforts to explain and reason Israeli actions. It is difficult to understand what Lieberman is doing in the diplomatic sphere. People who are ignorant of the situation might not even know that Lieberman is Israel’s Foreign Minister. I expected him to embark on a diplomatic tour. Lieberman prefers to remain in Israel.

Exchange with Professor Joyce Appelby

Commenting on “Israel Cannot Be Complete and It Cannot Be Secure Without Just Peace”.

July 18, 2014

Missing from your analysis, Rafi, are three key elements: Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Israeli blockade of Gaza, and the casualties the Palestinians have sustained. Joyce

July 20, 2014

I began formulating the principles that guide my thinking and sent Joyce an early draft of “Is Israel’s Operation Protective Edge Justified?”

July 21, 2014

I appreciate your principles, Rafi, but they all operate to benefit Israel. If nations have the right of self-defence, do occupied territories have the right of resistance? Gaza may not be occupied, but it's not an independent state either. Israel not only limits concrete imports, but determines how much food can be received. It's a terrible situation with deep-rooted hatred felt on all sides. My realistic streak tells me that the resolution of hostilities lies in some far off future.

July 21, 2014


We are all product of upbringing, culture, family. At the same time, I think these principles may resonate with non-Israelis as well.

The historical string of events was as follows: Israel evacuated its forces and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005. The Israeli aim was to enable a case test for Palestinian independence.

A year later Hamas came to power. Hamas consistently opposed the Oslo Accords and any form of reconciliation with Israel. It upholds uncompromising zeal to destroy Israel. From the moment they took over, they launched terrorist attacks on Israel. Does Israel have the right to defend itself?

As you know, I criticized Israel for constricting the delivery of essential products into Gaza. I have addressed this issue on my blog and in other forums a number of times. Mistakenly, I should say, I also criticized Israel for restricting building material. Now we know that Hamas was using this material to build more underground, terror tunnels, than above the ground for the benefit and welfare of Palestinian civilians.

Every society, including yours, has the right of self-defence. You are living in New Mexico. Suppose Mexico decides to reclaim its territory from the USA. USA would not have it, and Mexico would launch rockets on New Mexico. Would you tolerate this?

I agree it is a terrible situation with deep-rooted hatred felt on all sides. I also agree with your realistic streak that the resolution of hostilities lies in some far off future.

Hamas is a bitter enemy that has no qualms. It is fully resolved to destroy Israel. But no leadership can live by the sword forever. People want normal life. Hamas days in Gaza are numbered. The question is who will replace it. I hope the Gazans will opt for a more reconciliatory party than Hamas.

With your permission, I would like to publish our exchange in my next Newsletter.


July 23, 2014

Today's letter to the New York Times gave a nice sweep of opinion about Palestine and Israel, Rafi. You may certainly use our correspondence in your newsletter. Joyce

A Clash of Views Over the Mideast NY Times (July 21, 2014)

Reflections on Is Israel’s Operation Protective Edge Justified?

in Sharnoff’s Global Views (July 25, 2014),


Professor Steve Newman wrote from Toronto:

Hi Rafi,

Good piece.

I am concerned that so many Palestinian deaths will lose Israel friends in the West. The action may be justified, both in terms of the laws of war and the moral requirements of a just war, and still be ill-considered. Yes, Hamas bears responsibility for hiding its warriors and weapons among civilians. What the world sees, however, are the deaths of hundreds of civilians, many of them children. What the world sees are Israeli strikes targeting places of worship, schools and hospitals. Again, Hamas bears responsibility for hiding its warriors and weapons in or near these facilities. And what answer do we give when the world asks if it is necessary to inflict horrendous collateral damage on the civilian population in order to strike at Hamas? Hamas fires one barrage of rockets after another, but there are few Israeli casualties. Luck, perhaps, or testimony to the effectiveness of Israel's anti-missile technology. What the world knows is that few have died and little damage has been done to people's homes or public buildings. In contrast, Israel's militarily proportionate response brings disproportionate casualties among the residents of Gaza. Who is so hardened that their heart does not bleed at the sights displayed night after night on the evening news? I'm no geo-strategist, but it occurs to me that this campaign is not going well for Israel even if, in a strictly military sense, it looks to be achieving its goals. You can win the battle and lose the war.

But losing the battle for world opinion is not my only concern. It troubles me that Israel's leaders do not appear to have considered the inevitability of large numbers of civilian casualties or the morality of inflicting such casualties in response to rockets that have, thus far, proven largely ineffective. Yes, the terror inflicted by the rockets is real. And yes, every state has the right to defend against such attacks. But if my neighbor, who is my declared enemy, is firing shots in the air in the direction of my house --shots that could injure or kill me or members of my family but haven't, because his gun is of a primitive design and his aim is bad --should my initial response be to target his house with a sophisticated canon that will not only obliterate his dwelling but inevitably send shrapnel into homes on either side of his? Is that a responsible use of my power? I'm not so sure. Maybe there is another way to handle the situation.

A further concern of mine has to do with the control Israel exercises over who and what enters or leaves Gaza. I've heard Gaza described as a "prison camp" because Israel and Egypt control the points of entry and have effectively strangled the local economy. Again, Israel acts in self-defense and with justification. Why should Israel permit the importation of goods and resources into Gaza that are used to wage war against the Jewish state? At the same time, however, these restrictions render the lives of ordinary Palestinians miserable, which only benefits Hamas. And by the way, this is something else that turns world opinion against Israel. It doesn't matter that Hamas has failed to improve the lot of the people of Gaza or even to have tried; the worse things are in Gaza, the worse Israel looks in the eyes of the world.

Frankly, a part of me doesn't believe that the present government of Israel cares a fig about the people of Gaza. It doesn't care about civilian casualties or about the miserable conditions that prevail even in the absence of armed conflict. And this perhaps is why Israel finds "collateral damage" acceptable. I can imagine Netanyahu saying "Palestinian problems are for Palestinians to solve." But I think he's wrong. Peace requires that leaders on both sides start to care about the well being of the other. It's not enough for Israel to be on the right side of the laws of war.

Or so it seems to me from the safety of my study in Toronto.



Mr Tim Friedman wrote from Leeds:

Hi Rafi

Again I find myself in total agreement with your clear analysis and assume you highlight the “Collateral Damage” passage because this is what the rest of the world COULD do to help but which it is not doing.

The first responsibility of any government is to ensure its population may live in safety and most of the world accepts Israel is entitled to live in peace within secure borders. It cannot do so with continual rocket attacks from Gaza or tunnels facilitating armed incursions into its territory.

If, because of the pressure of the Arab countries and their automatic criticism of Israel and because other countries’ concerns in the light of the dreadful carnage in Gaza, Israel is compelled to pull out without stopping rockets and closing tunnels, this will be the green light for all terrorist organisations to use their unfortunate peoples as expendable pawns.

The world has obligations which it wilfully ignores, finding it more comfortable to pontificate than to assume responsibility by strongly condemning breaches of international law by terrorists. Failure to take such a stance imposes an immense burden on those countries which observe international law and the Geneva Conventions and makes future similar incidents more likely.

Best wishes


Reflections on the June Newsletter

Ms. Yumi Arima wrote from Japan:

Dear Rafi,

The news of consecutive teenagers perishing has frightened us and inflicted deep sorrow even in the Far East in Japan.

For me, as a mother, I hope to stop these awful clashes in East Jerusalem immediately.

I admire your efforts to build peace between Israel and Palestine. “Never give up”.

Please give my regards to Zaavit.

Lots of my love,


Regarding the poll that showed that Palestinian support for a two-state solution with Israel has dropped to below the 30 percent mark, and that 60 percent wish to eliminate Israel, Professor Sam Lehman-Wilzig ( commented:


I too am for a two-state solution. But how does one even begin to get there if a majority of the other side (the general public) does not even recognize our right to exist? I am not talking about the "blame game", but reality. Two sides cannot agree on anything if one side doesn't accept the existence of the other side -- and this is expressed not only in "public opinion" but in all the educational materials etc. Good will is not enough in such a situation. I know that sounds awfully pessimistic (and I am known as a VERY optimistic person), but reality is stronger than "hope".


Dr Alan Roth wrote from London:

Dear Rafi,

Please find attached, yet again, an official statement from the German MP and Speaker of the German Foreign Ministry Philipp Mißfelder supporting Israel in this terrible time.

As far as anyone can see, he is the SOLE official voice in Europe/UK who comes out loud and clear in an unconditional support of Israel defending itself against Hamas.

Please see press releases attached (German and English).

I am certain you have also noted that he, like his boss Chancellor Merkel, is also a supporter of the two-state solution in addition to being a staunch friend of Israel. Philipp Mißfelder writes: “Israel’s military action against those behind the attacks, Hamas, is justified. The terrorist organisation Hamas, which has been ostracised by the EU, rejects the Jewish state’s right to exist and is unabatedly preaching hatred against Israel. This hatred is leading to the murder of innocent people and obstructing the peace process. Germany stands side by side with Israel. We support a two-state solution which lays down the final borders between the two states.”

Shabat Shalom and best regards,

Exchange with Ms. Florence Biano

Florence wrote from Haifa:

Good morning Rafi,
Life in our region is too sad to deserve any comments.
The 3 boys found after 19 days shattered us.
How can we dream? Do you know how???

Hi Florence

It is very hard. I know. But I must have hope; otherwise reality is far too frustrating.

Reality can be better. We should do our best to make it better. Reality is not only for others to change. We need to make a contribution, small as it is. Providing hope is a contribution.

Dreaming can be very nice. It might also end up in a nightmare. Positive thoughts are more likely to lead to sweet dreams.

Sleep with no dreams is dull. It is preferable to having nightmares, but it lacks so much compared to those who experience beautiful, colourful, zestful dreams.

I continue to dream for my children, and for other children. Israeli and Palestinian kids can have a life similar to life in the UK, Canada and the USA. Inshallah one day….

Best wishes


Hi Rafi,

Would love to dream again, I have grandchildren but I can't,

We're so far from peace unfortunately!


Rocket Fire on Israel

In red: number of rockets per day.

In blue: number of intercepted rockets by the Iron Dome.

Ynet, August 1, 2014

Life in the Gaza Strip

Read the BBC report on Gaza,


Peace? Hmmm… No. Two-state solution? No.

Do I still believe that two-state solution is the best solution for this dreadful conflict? Absolutely.

Peace is the key for Israel’s security. Two-state solution is the key for peace.

But this is not going to happen soon. Now all I see is long, dark terror tunnels. I do not see the light at the end of the tunnels.

I have been arguing that for such a momentous achievement of resolving a deep, entrenched conflict, three things are absolutely essential:

An Israeli leader who is committed to bring peace to his people and is willing to pay the necessary price;

A Palestinian leader who is committed to bring peace to his people and is willing to pay the necessary price;

Shared belief by both leaders that the time is ripe for peace. By “time is ripe” it is meant that both leaders believe that enough blood was shed, that they need to seize the moment because things might worsen for their people, and that they have the ability to lead their respective people to accept the peace agreement and change reality for the better.

I let you judge the leaders’ commitment to peace. The present seems far riper for war and violence than for peace.

As I wrote to Florence, peace will come, Inshallah one day…

We must remain realistic, and hopeful.

Prime Minister Netanyahu argues that destroying the terror tunnels will provide a solution.

A short-term solution.

The core problems and issues need to be addressed. It is difficult to address them with a terrorist organization that does not even recognize your right to exist and that wishes to eradicate you from the map. You may argue that the core issues should be addressed by the Palestinian Authority. But…

Abu Mazen

Abu Mazen is the President of the Palestinian Authority and the leader of the Palestinian people. He heads a Hamas-Fatah government. There is staggering dissonance between his formal position and his real, actual powers.

Abu Mazen cannot deliver, fears for his own position, or is content to see the downfall of Hamas.

Bleak future, for the time being.

On the British and Israeli Media

The British media show time and again distressing pictures of dead and maimed children, and people covered in blood in Gaza. In the war on public awareness and public sympathy, Hamas is winning.

The media in Britain is like a mirror image of the media in Israel. In Britain, most of the reports are highly critical of Israel. The BBC is committed to the balancing principle and there you see reports that explain Israel, but they are short compared to the reports from Gaza. In Israel, most reports provide backing to the government to continue military operations. Haaretz is more critical than any other medium. Most of the people in the talk-shows I listen to support and justify the military operation.

When the Artillery Is Firing, the Muses Are Silent?

There is a saying in Hebrew: When the artillery is firing, the muses are silent. But should they?

During the past few weeks, there were loud and disturbing voices against all Arabs, and against those who dared to criticize the war. There were calls denouncing all Arabs, including the Israeli-Arabs, as a cancer that needs to be eradicated. There were calls to kill all Arabs. People say there are no innocent people in Gaza. The Palestinians are responsible for their lot. There were calls against the ever-shrinking Israeli left, portraying peace activists as defeatists at best, and as traitors at worse. Anyone who dared to mention the heavy Palestinian death-toll was attacked, including academics, musicians and actors. Academic freedom is under attack. Freedom of speech is reserved to only those who unequivocally support the war effort. People confuse caring for basic human rights, and Israel bashing. Many of those who criticize Israel care deeply about Israel. They criticize because they love Israel and wish to protect its best interest, not because they exploit the opportunity to mount an attack on Zionism and Israel’s right to exist. Attempts to silence “unfavourable” opinions should be countered. Freedom of speech is an important principle, vital for democratic life and for the promotion of civic culture.

On Politics of Numbers

Politics of Numbers holds that at some point the no. of casualties becomes intolerable. Assessment should be made beforehand as to what that number is, and measures should be taken not to reach it.

See Casualty numbers raise questions about Gaza war,;_ylt=AwrBJR7D_NBTpRMAnhDQtDMD?elq=03f9c850a5404b719056c93017d5b2d9&elqCampaignId=2040

US-Israel Relations

The American public shows greater sympathy for Israel than for Hamas.

Israel relations with the American legislature are solid and good.

Israel relations with the American administration reached an all-time low.

On July 29, it was embarrassing to listen to the Americans and the Israelis. As in a kindergarten, Netanyahu and Kerry leaked to the press different details of their conversations, disagreeing about content: “He said”, “No, I said”.

The wedge between Israel and the American administration is very worrying. I hope the US remains “Israel’s first friend, Israel’s oldest friend, and Israel’s strongest friend”.

When Dust Settles

Leaders of Israel and Hamas should reflect and ask themselves: Was it worth it? Did they achieve their aims? Is Israel more secure? Is Gaza freer?

Washington DC

On August 26 – September 2, 2014, I am scheduled to be in Washington for APSA. I will be happy to meet friends.

More Thanks

For the past seven years, Mr Boris Boltyansky has provided invaluable service for the dissemination of this Newsletter and the “Israeli Politics” Blog, ttp://

I thank Boris for his professionalism and caring attitude. Thanks to him this Newsletter has reached many thousands of people across the globe.

I also wish to thank the dozens of people who write to me and express interest. This Newsletter is now 14 year-old. I wanted to stop the Newsletter a number of times but each time you provided reasons for me to continue running it.

It is only thanks to you, your interest and kind encouragement that I continue writing. Right now, I am humbled and speechless by the events. My energy level and spirit are low. I want to go to sleep and wake to a new reality.

Monthly Poems

Summer Sun

Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.

Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.

The dusty attic spider-clad
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.

Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy's inmost nook.

Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.

Robert Louis Stevenson

New Books

Not this month.

Light Side

Well no. Not this month.

I was hoping to write at the end of this round of hostilities. On August 3, there was a refreshing change in the Israeli perspective. I wonder what happened on August 2 that brought such a radical change, from very militant declarations to ordering the withdrawal of the IDF from Gaza. The Israeli government wishes to bring things to a close. No change with Hamas. Is there a possibility for closure?

Until now, more than 3,000 rockets launched at Israel from Gaza. We count 67 Israeli deaths, most of them soldiers. 4,000 targets in Gaza were struck by Israel, resulting in 1,730 Palestinian deaths, 9,130 injured, mostly civilians.

My heart is heavy. What a terrible summer.

Yearning for tranquility, peace and love.

Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on
Earlier posts at my home page:

People wishing to subscribe to this Monthly Newsletter are welcome to e-mail me at

Follow me on Twitter at @almagor35

Monday, July 07, 2014

Politics – June 2014

Support is sought to facilitate the work of the Middle East Study Group.

Two-state solution of Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security next to each other, is the only solution to the protracted and complex conflict.

To all dreamers – Never, ever give up

~ Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Two issues have dominated this month Israel’s headlines: During the first half of June the issue was elections for a new president. There were a few candidates before the Knesset. Lot of dirt emerged. Netanyahu tried to stall the elections, and even aired an idea to abolish the presidency. All this because he did not like one of the candidates... Other candidates had to retire as dirt was flung their way, or threats were expressed that the dirt will come out if they were elected, thus reconsider... Such fun, as Miranda Hart would say.

I campaigned throughout the month for former Justice of the Supreme Court, Dalia Dorner, who I have known for many years.

The second issue that dominated the headlines from June 13, 2014 onwards was the kidnapping of the three school boys. On June 30, the bodies of the three boys were found. What a waste. So unnecessary. I am sad for what had happened and for what will happen now. The entire Israeli nation is unified in deep grief. In such times, we all stand together, seeking and provide comfort to each other.

May their souls rest in peace

Another issue that attracted the headlines was the instalment of the unity government in the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli government opposes the inclusion of Hamas. I believe that in order to reach peace, Hamas must be included. It is both a Palestinian and an Israeli interest to reach a two-state solution, rather than a three-state solution. Disunity among the Palestinians only increases friction and instability in the region. It does not help peace and security.

This is the time of the year when I summarize my reflections on the Premier League, the best football league in the world. For the past few years I have been doing this each and every June. Those who do not enjoy football will have a shorter read. Those who enjoy football are welcome to comment, voicing agreement or dissent.

Reflections on May Newsletter
Rubi Rivlin is the 10th President
NYT article by Dani Dayan, former chairman of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria
Yair Lapid
Poverty in Israel
Poll: Most Palestinians want to eliminate Israel
Moshe Kachlon
My Visit to Israel
Thank you!
Rise of UKIP
Anita Bromberg to head Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF)
New Books
English Premier League Summary 2013-2014
Monthly Poem

Light Side

Reflections on May Newsletter

Bill Dackman wrote from Baltimore:

Hi Rafi

I hope you are enjoying your time in London.

I just finished reading you blog and have two questions.  The diversity calendar is a good idea and I am sure provides helpful information to those who care.  I noticed that the Jewish Holiday of Hanukah is missing (I couldn’t find it).  Is this an online calendar that can be edited so this holiday can be included?

I also wondered why you made no mention of the shooting/murder at the holocaust center in Belgium?  You wrote a bit about the visit of the Pope to Israel (that occurred after the murder) so timing issues can’t explain the omission.  Is this tragic event (and the growing atmosphere of anti-semitism in Europe and worldwide) not worthy of even small mention in your blog?

As you are well aware, if we want to look back at history regarding the combustible mixture of economic woes and anti-Semitism we can clearly see a potential danger today.

Stay safe my friend.


Hi Bill

You are twice right. I wrote to the University Equality Office and alerted its Director of the omission. I asked her to include Hanukkah in future publications and to amend the calendar.

As for the murder in Brussels and the growing anti-Semitism, I reflected on it on other social media outlets on which I am active (Academia, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook) in real time, voicing my concern. You are most welcome to connect via those outlets (my Twitter is @almagor35). In my blog, I try to maintain a balance between good and bad things, and I am unable to include all the information that take place in a month. Granted that I often omit many important things that take place, but some of my readers have noted to me that my blog is long… (while others claim it is too short and fails to reflect on very important issues (-: ).

All good wishes

Abraham Silverman wrote from Alberta:

May 28/14
Now that the latest Peace Talks appear to be dead, which probably comes as no surprise but to those who wear the Rosiest of Glasses, what does the future bring?
I am not sure why Netanyahu continues to build in existing settlements or why he builds new settlements if in fact that is the case when the optics are not helpful. I do however believe that settlements are not the obstacle to peace that the Palestinians would like us to believe. Israel has a history of removing settlements and settlers for the sake of peace. And given the right deal I have no doubt that Israel would do so again.
I don't believe that the Palestinians are prepared to make similar sacrifices because they are not as yet prepared to accept the existence of the Jewish State. It is clear from the statements made by several high ranking Palestinians that the right of return of Arabs to Israel is not negotiable. No commitment has been made by the PA to put an end to incitement and the spread of hatred. And the latest move to reconcile with Hamas whose very existence is for the purpose of the destruction of the Jewish State makes the PA totally unacceptable as a peace partner.

So what does my crystal ball tell me. Annexation. Annex Judea and Samaria to be called the Province of Palestine. Impose Israeli Federal law with language and cultural freedoms enshrined. Much like Canada has extended to the Province of Quebec. And with the help of the International community spend Billions to develop the infrastructure and standard of living of all the Arabs to the same standards of the rest of Israel. Much like Germany did in East Germany after the wall came down. A path to citizenship and eventual independence should be included in the annexation legislation. The world will yell and scream and threaten, but as usual things will calm down and when the Palestinian Arabs finally start enjoying the benefits of being part of Israel we will have the peace that we all yearn for. Or an acceptable facsimile. Rose coloured glasses? Maybe. Anything better in that crystal ball. Not that I can see.

Abraham Silverman
80-27018 SH 633
Sturgeon County AB T8T 0E3
780 9510322


On May 27, 2014, in a speech at the nationalist-religious Jewish learning institution, Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Jerusalem will remain united forever.

Netanyahu said that in the 47 years since Israel wrested East Jerusalem from Jordanian control, the city has been united: “That’s how it’s been since and that’s how it will always be.”

Netanyahu described Jerusalem as “the heart of the nation”, the Jewish nation. This is true. But is Abu Dis “the heart of the nation”? Is Al-Izarieh “the heart of the nation”? Is Al-Sawahreh “the heart of the nation”? Is Kufr Aqab “the heart of the nation”? Can Israel decide for another nation what will be their capital? With this unequivocal statement, Jerusalem will remain united forever, Netanyahu gives up hopes for peace and security during his term in office. Sad. Very sad indeed.

According to Central Bureau of Statistics 37 percent of the 815,000 residents of Jerusalem are Arabs.

35% of Jewish Jerusalemites defined themselves as ultra-Orthodox in 2013, up 5% from 2007. An additional 30% define themselves as religious, 14% consider themselves “traditional” and a mere 20% consider themselves secular. The traditional and secular population of the city dropped seven points in the past decade. Slowly but surely, Jerusalem returns to its Biblical days, in terms of the composition of its population.

Rubi Rivlin is the 10th President

On June 10, 2014, Reuven "Rubi" Rivlin was elected to the presidency. There was tension, there was drama, but at the end the expected happened. There were five candidates, including two who are not politicians. They received 13 votes (Dalia Dorner) and one vote (Nobel Prize-winner Professor Dan Shecthman). Dalia Itzik, who owes her political career to the present president, Shimon Peres, came third after Rivlin and Meir Shitreet.

As Rivlin received only 44 votes of the 120 (actually 119, as one MK, Meir Porush of the ultra-Orthodox party, was overseas) and a simple majority is required, he and Sheetrit who received 31 votes advanced to the second round in the secret ballot for presidency.

In the second round, Rivlin received 63 of 116 valid votes while Sheetrit received 53.

In the first round, of the 119 ballots cast (MK Meir Porush was overseas), Rivlin got the most votes, 44, followed by Sheetrit with 31.

These are the simple facts. Let’s go beyond the facts. These elections have put Netanyahu in an awkward position. Rivlin is a long-serving Likud member, still in Netanyahu’s party (note the word “still”). Netanyahu and Rivlin are not on speaking terms. Rivers of bad blood run between them for the past ten years. Netanyahu did all in his vast powers to stop Rivlin. He blackened his name. He tried to bring popular Likud members to run against him. As mentioned, he even launched a trial balloon to end the presidential institution. When all failed, a few days before the elections he publicly voiced his support for Rivlin. Which such support, all are doomed to fail. Rivlin did not build on Netanyahu’s support. He crafted his Knesset campaign for more than a year. It goes without saying that Netanyahu was not among those who rushed to shake Rivlin’s hand once he was declared a winner.

The ballot is secret so that we do not know for which candidates the MKs voted. I “speculate” that Netanyahu did not vote for Rivlin.

The second round was interesting. Rivlin v. Sheetrit, who was the “dark horse” in this race. Sheetrit benefited from the votes given to Itzik and Dorner that had prevented Rivlin from winning in the first round. Both Rivlin and Sheetrit are genuinely nice men. Both are popular among members of the Knesset. Notwithstanding their political opinions, they are likeable people who have friends among all parties. Both have been in politics for many years. They have seen it all.

Sheetrit started his political career in the Likud. As one of the youngest mayors in Israel, he was elevated to the national scene as a promising politician. When Sharon formed Kadima, Sheetrit went with him. After Sharon’s departure from the political scene, Sheetrit joined Livni’s Hatnuah. His views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are moderate. Sheetrit is moderate on almost every possible issue. Only his wealth is not moderate. He married well.

So it was a fight between a long serving Likud member, and a former Likud member. If Netanyahu had known from the start that Sheetrit would do so well, he would have (discreetly of course) campaigned for him. He did not. Sheetrit was a surprise. I think Sheetrit was a surprise even for Sheetrit, who started his campaign many months after Rivlin. He is a relatively young man. He can position himself very well for the next presidential elections.

Once again, Netanyahu showed his limited capabilities. He is a very astute and smart politician. Wise he is not.

Who is Rivlin? A 74-year-old lawyer from Jerusalem, a genuine Jerusalemite. Member of the “proud national(istic) camp”. Staunch believer in one unified Jerusalem. He opposes a two-state solution. He opposes the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Rivlin was first elected to the 12th Knesset in 1988, and served as Likud chairman from 1988 to 1993. He lost his seat in the 1992 elections, but returned to the Knesset following the 1996. In 2001, under Sharon, Rivlin served as Minister of Communications. In 2003, he was elected Knesset Speaker. Rivlin opposed Sharon’s disengagement plan (Gaza First), and was known as a harsh critic of the Supreme Court for its “excessive activism”.

Rivlin loves football. In his younger political days he served as director and chairman of the Beitar Jerusalem Sports Association.

We share a love for sports and football. I am a Maccabi Tel Aviv supporter, a staunch rival of Beitar.


Netanyahu lost many points in this race. He should have either supported Rivlin from the start, putting aside their differences, or provided backwind for Sheetrit. He did not do either. Many Likud members, including some of his senior ministers, expected him to show leadership and wisdom, overcome the personal grudges, and campaign for Rivlin. Netanyahu was not interested. He went a step too far, far too far, when he proposed to abolish the presidency. The presidential office in Israel, a democracy, is an important institution, above and beyond certain personalities.

Netanyahu will be as welcome in the president's house as Rivlin is welcome in the prime minister's office. The two leaders will be required to speak from time to time. From the presidential office, Rivlin will be more than happy to assist any challenge to Netanyahu. And he will do just that. Rivlin is the president not because of the prime minister’s “help” but despite it.

Netanyahu understands that he does not have full control of the Likud party. Like Sharon, he may opt out and create his own partisan party, as he is still the most popular leader in Israel. As ever, it will be interesting.

People ask me what solution Netanyahu has in mind for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Increasingly I grow to believe that he re-adapts, without explicit acknowledgment, Menachem Begin's autonomy plan.

Officially, Netanyahu is committed to a two-state solution. Practically, on the ground, he does nothing to promote the two-state solution.

The Oslo Accords divided the West Bank into three parts, called A, B and C. Sixty percent of the Bank is within the C area. Netanyahu, without explicit annexation, is settling this land. He prefers to leave the Palestinians with a small piece of land, grant them autonomy to run their lives, and continues to control the area and provides for the settlers. Netanyahu does not wish to see the Palestinians having an independent, sovereign state. He believes that because the Israelis are the stronger party, they will be able to overcome opposition to this plan.

I do not think that this “solution” will work in the long-run.

NYT article by Dani Dayan, former chairman of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria

MAALE SHOMRON, West Bank — JOHN KERRY’S failed Middle East peace effort has made it clear that a negotiated political agreement is impossible at the moment. The two-state formula enjoyed decades of exclusive stardom, in which its appeal thwarted all innovative and alternative thought.

Government officials in Washington, Brussels and other capitals seem to have no idea how to proceed or are clinging desperately to a bygone idea.

But despair is not an acceptable policy. There are practical issues that can and should be solved. First and foremost, Palestinians deserve drastic and immediate improvements in their everyday lives. Obviously, this is not their main aspiration, but, unlike others, it is feasible right now. We are engaged in a bitter national conflict with the Palestinians. But we settlers were never driven — except for fringe elements — by bigotry, hate or racism.

Israel must initiate an ambitious and bold plan to improve every aspect of day-to-day life for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria — commonly referred to as the West Bank in these pages. Israelis must let go of the trauma of the Second Intifada that terrorized them between 2000 and 2005. They can’t go on living under psychological siege while imposing sweeping, burdensome restrictions on the Palestinians because of heinous acts of terror perpetrated a decade ago.

The security barrier separating Judea and Samaria from the rest of Israel should ultimately be dismantled and Palestinians should enjoy complete freedom of movement and be able to re-enter the Israeli job market. There’s no reason Israel should import thousands of foreign workers while so many Palestinians among us struggle to earn a living. Palestinians need to return to Israeli cities, and not only as blue-collar workers. Palestinian academics should be included in Israel’s advanced industries: An engineer from Ramallah should be able to work in Tel Aviv, and a Palestinian doctor treating patients in an Israeli hospital should not be a rare sight.
Barriers, checkpoints and military restrictions on movement must be lifted, and all Jews and Palestinians should be allowed to move freely. Palestinians should be allowed full entry into Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria and to cross the Green Line, and vice versa; the gates in the security barrier could be opened regularly as a preliminary phase before it is completely dismantled and removed. Palestinian security forces could continue carrying out the same tasks they do today. And in the absence of checkpoints, the Israeli Army will have to be more active than it is now. If violence erupts, this incremental process would be halted or reversed.

Israel must also ensure that Palestinians have quick and convenient access to the international airports of Israel and Jordan and remove the majority of barriers and delays that currently impede Palestinian imports and exports entering and leaving the West Bank.

It is not in Israel’s interest to weaken or dissolve the Palestinian Authority or disrupt day-to-day Palestinian life. That means ending delays in transferring tax payments to the Authority and striving to promote its efficient functioning.

Moreover, the civil administration in charge of Israeli contact with Palestinians should no longer be run by the Israeli military, but by civilians who serve the Palestinian civilian population efficiently and courteously. A 50-year-old Palestinian shouldn’t have to deal with soldiers and officers half his age.

Palestinians should also be included as full-fledged members of the civil administration’s planning and building committees that consider construction in Arab towns. And Palestinian magistrates should be included in courts that decide on civil disputes, including those involving land. The law that applies to a 16-year-old Palestinian caught throwing stones should be the same as the one that applies to a 16-year-old Jew caught throwing stones and any other 16-year old of any ethnicity committing the same offense inside the Green Line. There is no practical or moral justification for a different legal policy for Palestinians and Israelis.

Finally Israel, in conjunction with the international community, must take measures to improve the infrastructure for water, sewage, transportation, education and health with the goal of narrowing the huge gaps between Israeli and Palestinian societies.
This also means thoroughly rehabilitating West Bank refugee camps. It’s unacceptable for fifth-generation Palestinian refugees to continue to live in abject poverty, which leads to frustration and violence. Camp residents should be provided with suitable housing, employment, health care services and education.

There should be zero tolerance for violence on either side. Just as the Israeli Army will remain to ensure security, the so-called price tag attacks perpetrated by Israelis against Palestinians and their property — to exact a “price” for perceived anti-settlement policies — must be stopped once and for all.

The Arab-Israeli territorial dispute is a zero-sum game, but the human considerations are not. We gain nothing from a Palestinian’s humiliation or poverty. Improving Palestinians’ quality of life does not conflict with other proposed endgames like annexation of Judea and Samaria or the two-state formula. Nor will final-status issues change; Palestinians will continue to vote in Palestinian Authority elections and Israelis in Israel’s elections.

It should be clear: This is not a plan for permanent peace but rather a blueprint for peaceful nonreconciliation.

Yair Lapid

Problems for Netanyahu also from his coalition.

Lapid, leader of the new party “Yesh Atid” (“There Is A Future”) was the minor winner of the last elections. He joined the true winner, Benjamin Netanyahu, and assisted him in comprising a stable coalition. Lapid’s ally at that time was Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing political party “The Jewish Home”. The two young leaders, Lapid and Bennett, found common language and assisted each other in gaining power positions within the government.

Their honeymoon has long gone, as substantial ideological differences have surfaced between “Yesh Atid” and “The Jewish Home”. Bennett, who has a history of bad blood with Netanyahu, nevertheless shares with the prime ministers many ideas relating to the “right” future for Israel. In their joint vision, a substantial part of the occupied territories, excluding major Palestinian cities, will be annexed to Israel. The settlements will grow in number and size, leaving the Palestinians with a very small territory, a far cry from what the Palestinians wanted and what former Israeli Prime Ministers Barak and Olmert offered the Palestinians.

Lapid is now making more and more noises that he does not share that vision, that such a vision does not serve Israel’s best interests, that it will result in more conflict and blood, and in a more inegalitarian society if not racist a la South Africa under the notorious apartheid regime.

Lapid may bring this government to its end. He does not share the messianic vision of Greater Israel nor the flagrant contempt for minorities’ basic human rights. He sincerely dreads watching Israel as it deteriorates into the status of world pariah.

Poverty in Israel

According to the Israel Bureau of Statistics Annual Report (2013), 725,300 adults of 20+ age, one in seven Israelis, defined themselves as “poor”. 39% of Israelis (34% of Jews, 62% of Arabs) spend more than they earn. One in three said that their economic situation has worsened in 2013. 42% can't afford dentist. 9% unable to pay their bills. 16% can't afford hot meals every day

Source: Zeev Klein, “1 in 7 defines himself as poor in 2013”, Israel Hayom (June 25, 2014) (Hebrew).

Poll: Most Palestinians want to eliminate Israel

The Times of Israel published a poll, showing that Palestinian support for a two-state solution with Israel has dropped to below the 30 percent mark.

60 percent of the population surveyed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (55% and 68%, respectively) said that the five-year goal “should be to work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea,” according to the poll, a position meaning the elimination of Israel. Meanwhile, less than 30% (31% in the West Bank, 22% in Gaza) would like to “end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza to achieve a two-state solution.”

Numerous other statistics from the survey confirmed the downward trend of support for a two-state solution as an end to the conflict. Two-thirds of respondents said that a two-state solution would be “part of a ‘program of stages,’ to liberate all of historic Palestine later” and that “resistance should continue until all of historic Palestine is liberated.”

On a more promising note, a majority of respondents registered opposition to violent resistance against Israel, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where 70% said Hamas should maintain a ceasefire with Israel and 57% said that Hamas should accede to the PA unity government’s renunciation of violence. In the West Bank 56% said that Hamas should adhere to the ceasefire and 50% said it should renounce violence altogether.

The poll showed that a clear majority of Palestinians — 62% of the West Bank and 73% of Gazans — support nonviolent “popular resistance against the occupation” and see it as a useful tactic.

Asked who should lead the Palestinian Authority in the next two years, 65% chose Fatah leaders, with Mahmoud Abbas leading (30%), then Marwan Baghouti (12%), Mohammed Dahlan (10%) and others (13% combined), while various Hamas leaders only won 9% of support in the West Bank and 15% in Gaza.

Moshe Kachlon

People ask me whether there is any hope for the peace camp. I answered in the positive. My hope is that Moshe Kachlon returns to politics, establishes a party that would challenge Likud, take enough votes to undermine the right-wing and then push the peace wagon forward.

Kachlon proved that he is an independent minded leader, who does not wish to be in anyone’s pockets, Bibi’s included. He declined very attractive offers to remain independent and to garner support for his new party.

Who knows: with the right circumstances, Moshe Kachlon might be a contender for the prime minister's office.

My Visit to Israel

I visited Israel for a dual purpose: research for my book on the failed peace process, and to take part in the annual conference of the International Association for Israel Studies in Sdeh Boker. 

My stay was dominated by the news about the three kidnapped school boys whose whereabouts is still unknown. Israel is carrying out a wide scale military operation in the West Bank in attempt to find the three youth. At the time of writing these lines, this military operation inflicts a lot of damage on the Palestinians and might escalate into yet another round of violence. Trust and good will among both sides is scarce.

I visited the graveyard of David and Paula Ben-Gurion in a serene and beautiful location, overlooking the desert. I also visited the Ben-Gurion Hut, where he had spent the last ten years of his life. Interestingly, the only picture in Ben-Gurion's bedroom is of Mahatma Gandhi. Ben-Gurion encouraged Israeli relationships with India and China.

I sat on three panels. One of them included Professor Sergio Dellapergola who researches inter-marriage in Israel. According to him, there are 6 million Jews in Israel, 1.4 million Muslims, 132,000 Druze, and others. 76,000 couples in Israel are comprised of a Jew and a non Jew. Of them, a small minority are Jews and Muslims, less than 1,000 couples.

I enjoyed the panel about Ari Shavit’s book My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel,

Shavit described his book as a “loving and critical book of Israel”, a book that touches taboos. The book expresses “my hopes, my emotions, my fears about Israel” with some poignant and revealing insights. Addressing criticisms that he is sentimental, Shavit simply said that, “Yes, I am sentimental. That's who I am”. Shavit maintained: “I did not wish to have a polemic book about Israel. I am sentimental, and the book has succeeded because of emotions and insights”.

Shavit described himself as a “Peace Now” guy who realized that 1967 is not the whole issue. The conflict is mainly about 1947. The Israeli left deluded itself that the issue is 1967, where in truth it is 1947.

Shavit explained that he wrote the book because Israel has lost its narrative. Israeli cynicism prevents us from seeing our achievements, and failures. He said that we need to create a new, liberal, modern Israeli society and democracy. We need to initiate a life-saving process to free Israel of the occupation. At first we need to limit it as far as possible, pull out from the West Bank in stages.

Relating to present leaders, Shavit said that Abbas dreads violence while Netanyahu is also reluctant to open wars. Both are not trigger-happy. Bibi is afraid to open a large-scale war.

Shavit also argued that for too long we have right wing governments that have abused the love of American Jews for Israel. He implicitly intimated that this love accompanied with unqualified support enabled Israeli leaders the pursuit of immoral goals that do not serve the best interests of Israel.

The theme of the conference was “leadership”. The concluding panel included Itamar Rabinovich, Justice Dalia Dorner, Michael Biton and Dan Meridor.

Michael Biton is the Mayor of Yeruham.  He impressed me with his clear and direct language. Leaders, he said, are selfless people who wish to work for the good of society. He criticized Israel for becoming a two-sector state of rich and poor, with little contact and relation with each other. Biton also criticized the primaries system adopted by the major parties in Israel, saying that they undermine stability. Labour had seven leaders in ten years. Leaders spend much of their time attending Bar Mitvahs and weddings in order to retain power.

Biton grew up in a poor family as one of nine children. His parents were cleaners but Biton said “I was a prince at home”. Thanks to his parents he became an officer in Golani and then decided to pursue local politics. I would not be surprised if he decides to enter, at some later point, the national waters.

Justice Dalia Dorner said that Israel inherited horrible laws from the British mandate. These laws gave all the powers to the government. The Supreme Court rulings set defences for minorities and against government. Dorner maintained that freedom of expression is the heart of democracy. The problem is that people want free speech for themselves and have little qualms to deny it to others.

Dan Meridor reminded us that David Ben Gurion did not wish to have a constitution for Israel. He concurred with Dorner in saying that the Supreme Court is playing an important role in protecting human rights. Meridor said that Jews have been champions of human rights for generations in Europe and America, when they were minorities. Now in Israel, when we are the majority, we should continue to be human rights champions. Meridor said that it is much more demanding to be a human rights champions when you are majority, when you need to forego power for equality & liberty.

Meridor acknowledged that leaders need professional advice and that they should not exploit power for the mere intention to stay in power.

Thank you!

I thank the following people for their kind hospitality: Pupi and Zvi Skladman, Ori Arbel-Ganz, Esther Bachrach-Yaakobi, Aharon Barak, Betty Basan, Keren Eyal, Ofer Harel, Orit and Shuki Ichilov, INSS, Noam Lemelshtreich, Yardena and Ori Lev, Menny Mautner, Mira and Yizhar Nozick, Yuval Rotem, Amnon Rubinstein, Elyakim Rubinstein, Meir Shamgar, Rehuven Yagoda and Yitzhak Zamir.

Rise of UKIP

The rise of UKIP in England and of the extreme right in Europe is most disconcerting. UKIP's rise may be attributed to several factors: disillusionment with both Tories and Labour; lack of leadership; strong anti-immigration sentiments, and racism.

A new study shows that 1 in 3 people in the UK admitted they hold prejudicial sentiments. We can assume that the true figure is higher, as some people do not admit those sentiments. About 30 percent described themselves as very or a little prejudiced against people of other races.

Levels of prejudice rise with age and unemployment, with the highest among over-55s and those with no qualifications.

Source: Lizzie Dearden, “Racism ‘on the rise’ in UK with 1 in 3 people admitting prejudice”, The Independent (May 28, 2014).

Anita Bromberg to head Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF)

I was delighted to hear that B’nai Brith Canada's National Director of Legal Affairs Anita Bromberg was chosen to head Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF). This is an excellent choice. Bromberg is the second member of the B’nai Brith Canada team to have received this high honour following another excellent choice, Dr Karen Mock, who was the director of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada.

Congratulations Anita!

New Books

Hugh Bochel and Guy Daly (eds.), Social Policy (London: Routledge, 2014), 3rd edition.

This beautifully presented and quite extensive volume provides a comprehensive introduction to contemporary social policy, and addresses its historical, theoretical and contextual foundations. Divided into four parts, it opens with a survey of the socio-economic, political and governmental contexts within which social policy operates, before moving on to look at the historical development of the subject. It discusses the welfare state in Britain from Queen Victoria to New Labour. The third part examines contemporary aspects of providing welfare, work and employment policy, education, health, social care, family support, and housing. The final part covers European and wider international developments.

Issues are addressed throughout in a lively and accessible style, and examples are richly illustrated to encourage the student to engage with theory and content, and to help highlight the relevance of social policy in our understanding of modern society. It is packed with features including, ‘Spotlight’ ‘Discussion and review’ and ‘Controversy and debate’ boxes, as well as further readings and recommended websites. A comprehensive glossary also provides explanations of key terms and abbreviations.

Social Policy is a clear, informative and important textbook for undergraduate students in Britain who are taking courses in social and public policy.

I thank Routledge for this most informative volume.

English Premier League Summary 2013-2014

Goal Keeper:

Petr Cech (Chelsea and Czech Republic)

Another great season for this tall, experienced and talented goal keeper. Cech has been among the best keepers in the world. He is wonderful goalie, true inspiration: professional, reliable, consistent, alert and agile. Goalkeeper is the last bastion. Every little mistake can be translated into a goal. He cannot make any mistakes, and Cech has saved Chelsea so many times this year, bringing them winning trophies. A wonderful goalkeeper.

This year, Cech suffered more injuries than in previous years. He should be careful and needs more support from his defence to protect him.

Cech was on my team also in the past two years. Consistently very good.


Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea and Serbia)

Photo: Chelsea

Strong, reliable, confident, determined, good in defence and in attack. Does not allow freedom to attackers. Very experienced. Reads the game better than any defender in the league.

Ivanovic was on my team also last year. Consistently very good.

Vincent Kompany (Man. City and Belgium)

Kompany is the inspiring leader off and on the pitch. An asset for both Man. City and Belgium. He is tall, strong, determined, quick and experienced. He is good on the floor, and superb in the air. The bastion of the City defence, and the heart of the team. Made more mistakes compared to last year, and suffered more injuries. Still a wonderful defender that every team would like to have.

Kompany was on my team also last year. Consistently very good.

Martin Škrtel (Liverpool and Slovakia)

Tall, strong, determined, great header, generally reliable, making few mistakes. The heart of Liverpool’s defence.

Leighton Baines (Everton and England)

A delightful player who continues to improve from one year to another. His look reminds the 1970s players in the English league but his style of play is as modern as can be. He is excellent in defence, and an asset in the offence. He is also capable of scoring goals. I would have loved to see him wearing a Spurs shirt.

Baines was on my team also last year. Consistently very good.


Yaya Touré (Manchester City, Ivory Coast)

The perfect midfielder who does everything. The best of the crop. Wonderful passes. Wonderful control of the ball. Great scorer. Great defender. A leader. What else you want from a football player? An asset to every team.

David Silva (Man. City and Spain)

Exactly the same phenomenon as in 2012. Silva had a great start. Until February 2014, Silva was the best midfield player in the Premier League. He began to struggle when Yaya Touré was not around as he clearly enjoys attacking than doing defence (which he does). He is quick, with a wonderful vision and great ability to pass and to score. When Touré returned from injury, Silva resumed shining. It is not easy to be the shining gem in the City squad which is full of talents. Silva stood out as the very best.

Silva is a mercurial player: always on the move, full of zest, life, creativity; poetry in motion.

Eden Hazard (Chelsea and Belgium)

An exceptional talent. Hazard for any defence. One of the best attacking midfield players in the world. Lazy in defence as he enjoys being in foreign (opponent) territory. Very creative. Very dangerous around the goal. The 23-year-old Hazard can develop further with the right guidance. His managers need to allow him the freedom to move as he wishes and to do what he does best: attack the goal.

Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool and Brazil)

I did not understand why Inter sold him. This was a huge mistake from which Liverpool has gained enormously. Rogers took this rough gem and mould it to take Liverpool step up. Coutinho reads the game well, controls the ball with both legs, great passing, and has a creative mind. He is still very young (21), with time to develop further.


Louis Suarez (Liverpool and Uruguay)

In the Premier League, Suarez learned from his mistakes. This year he has concentrated on what he knows best, scoring, and proved to be very successful. Simply put, he is the best striker in the league. Suarez is quick and dangerous. You cannot leave him alone for a second. He can create goals from almost nothing, will be there to exploit the simplest mistake. Quick in both feet, sharp, great location, focus and determination.

Suarez was one level above the other strikers. Quite an achievement. Without him, Liverpool could have only dreamed of championship prospects.

Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool and England)

Complemented Suarez. A perfect duo. Sturridge is strong, confident, good location, good passing, use both legs and is a terrific header of the ball.

My team consists of 4 players from Liverpool, 3 from Man. City, 3 from Chelsea and one from Everton. They come from Belgium (2), Brazil, the Czech Republic, England (2), Ivory Coast, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain and Uruguay.

My reserve team (consists of very good players who made a difference for their respective teams):

Asmir Begovic (Stoke)

Glen Johnson (Liverpool and England)

John terry (Chelsea)

Namnia Vidic (Manchester United)

Nathan Redmond (Norwich)

Fabian Delph (Aston Villa)

Luke Shaw (Southampton)

Tom Huddelstone (Hull City)

Aaron Ramsey had a terrific start of the season. He was a cut above the rest, the most valuable player in the league. But then he suffered yet another nasty injury that kept him out of the game for a few months.

Ramsay returned toward the end of the season and was instrumental in securing Arsenal the fourth place in the league, thus participation in next year European Championship, and in winning the FA Cup. He is a player for Barcelona.

Ramsay reads the game as good as any other player in the world. His presence in the opponent half is a constant threat as he creates positions and scores goals.  He is a team player, with a great pass and ability to make the touch that will change the game or decide it. He reminds me of Andres Iniesta. Good things happen when he plays. The problem is that he misses far too many games due to repeated injuries.


This has been yet another mediocre, frustrating, trophy-free season. Spurs has quite a strong squad but it misses some key players in key position.

Spurs has four world class players: Lloris and Vertonghen in defence, Eriksen and Paolinho in midfield. They are very good but not good enough to appear on my team. This is because they were not good enough to bring Spurs forward and win any trophies. They have solid support with Walker, Chadli, Adebayor and Townsend, but this is not good enough to compete against Man. City, Liverpool and Chelsea. Spurs should build the squad around these players, found new homes for the rest and replace them with world class players in strategic positions, most importantly two first-rate central defenders, a top left back (Shaw, but Spurs can’t compete with Man. Utd., yet) and two strikers. Soldado has not gel into the team and failed to develop partnership with the preferred striker Adebayor.

I hope Spurs will be able to keep Lloris, Vertonghen, Eriksen and Paolinho. I would not be surprised if they leave by the end of the year, especially if they enjoy success in the Brazil World Cup. Each player wants trophies, especially the very good ones. They will go where their chances to achieve trophies are great. Spurs should invest to show them that next year it can be on equal footing with the very best.

Most importantly, Spurs needs a top manager who will inspire the team and make it hungry for trophies. Spurs lacks the killer instinct, the zest and uncompromising desire to win. Throughout the season, Spurs did not show leadership. It substituted one mediocre manager with an inexperienced one, probably to save money. That costs.

Last year, Spurs learned (I hope) a lesson how not to spend money. More than 100 million pounds were spent, to reach the sixth place in the league. Real shame. Maximum investment yielding very humble results. Just think: Without that investment, Spurs would have probable finished 5-10 in the league. No team should go on a shopping spree and spend this ridiculous amount of money within a few months. The money should be well spent over a period of time, under close scrutiny, with the aim to remedy weak points and strengthen the team slowly. Building through movement.

Spurs appointed 42-year-old Mauricio Pochettino for the job. Pochettino did well at modest and un-aspiring Southampton, a team that cannot compare to Spurs. He plays attacking football, which is good. Time will tell whether he is the right person for this demanding job.

Monthly Poem


Come to me when grief is over, 
When the tired eyes, 
Seek thy cloudy wings to cover 
Close their burning skies. 

Come to me when tears have dwindled 
Into drops of dew, 
When the sighs like sobs re-kindled 
Are but deep and few. 

Hold me like a crooning mother, 
Heal me of the smart; 
All mine anguish let me smother 
In thy brooding heart. 

Duncan Campbell Scott 

Light Side

Not this month.

Peace, Common sense and Love.

Yours as ever,


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