Thursday, April 28, 2005

April 2005

Gaza, Ezer Weizman (1924-2005), Recognition of Reform and Conservative Conversions, Jibril al-Rajoub, Sharon and the Settlers, Poll Among Israelis and Palestinians, Tourism, Iran, New Report on Iraq's WMDs, End-of-Life Conference, Terri Schiavo and Pain, Media Ethics, The University of Haifa Response to the AUT Boycott Decision, Arthur Rubinstein Competition, Maccabi Tel Aviv, International Football and Racism, Saul Bellow, Books, Mar Adentro, Whose Life Is It Anyway, Photos

Dear friends and colleagues,

Attached to this Newsletter some incredible photos that I wished to share with you. However, some of you had complained about this habit of mine, saying photos take too much of the disk space. Thus, those of you who do NOT wish to receive photos and other attachments in the future are invited to alert me and I promise not to send you anything but text from now on.


Were I in power-position, I would prohibit arrival of citizens who do no reside in Gaza into the territory. There are now more than 8,000 people in the Gaza Strip, the highest number I recall in years, and more people are coming to strengthen the Jewish hold over the Strip. People are building houses. I look at this with dismay. It is beyond my understanding why the government allows all this to take place, one hundred days prior the evacuation.

Ezer Weizman (1924-2005)
On April 26, 2005 former president Ezer Weizman, who played a key role in establishing the Israel Air Force and in forging peace with Egypt, died at his home in Caesarea, at the age of 80. Weizman was born in Tel Aviv in 1924, and his family moved to Haifa shortly after. His father, Yehiel, was the brother of Chaim Weizmann.
Weizman, who learned to fly at 16 and volunteered to serve in Great Britain's Royal Air Force at age 18, was one of the founders of the Israel Air Force and undertook daring missions during the 1948 War of Independence.
In 1958, Weizman was appointed commander of the Israel Air Force, a post he subsequently served in for eight years. A year after he left the post, while he was serving as the head of the IDF Operations Branch, the 1967 war broke out. Israel's air force played a crucial role in that war.
The shift from the military to politics came naturally. In three decades in political life, he made a highly public transition from hawk to dove, saying the Jews had to learn to "share this part of the world" with the Arabs.
Immediately after retiring from the IDF, Weizman joined Golda Meir's government. Over the years, he resigned from his position in the Herut party due to differences of opinion with Menachem Begin, set up a new party, joined Labor, and later resigned from the party.In the late 1980s, Weizman met with Palestine Liberation Organization officials in Europe, at a time when such activities were illegal. The prime minister at the time, Yitzhak Shamir, threatened to dismiss him.
Weizman served as Israel's seventh president from 1993-2000. As president, he invited Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat to his house, in an effort to advance the peace process. His casual style breathed life into the largely ceremonial office and endeared him to many Israelis. Weizman was forced to resign as president over a police probe into allegations of bribery while he had served as a lawmaker and cabinet minister. Charges were never pressed as the statute of limitations had expired.
Weizman was part of the Israeli aristocracy but was one of the people. His uncle was Chaim Weizman, the first State president. When he became President he felt that he closed a certain circle. Through marriage to his loyal wife Ruhama who always stood by him whatever he did or said, Weizman became part of the Dayan clan, described as the Israeli Kennedy family. His major traits were his courage that brought him to be second in command (Weizman believed that during his time it was impossible for an air force commander to become chief of staff), his original thinking, and his genuine warmth and charisma. His tongue was one of his major assets, but also arguably his major obstacle as sometimes it preceded his sharp mind.
Weizman coined the saying "The Best to Fly", the slogan that is still used by the air force to attract the best soldiers to its ranks. It is said that Weizman was also responsible for the addendum to this slogan: "And the Best for the Pilots" (it sounds better in Hebrew, meaning the best girls for the pilots). Even if Weizman did not coin the latter, the attribution correctly represents his chauvinistic attitude towards women. He belonged to generation when generals believed that women (especially soldiers) were their property.
I first met Weizman in 1981. I was a young soldier who attended Dayan's funeral in his kibbutz, Nahallal. Before the funeral I went to the Dayan home, where members of the family, friends and others assembled. In the garden I joined a distinguished circle of people: generals, politicians, and family. I was the youngest of all, and the one who did not belong, still no one had approached me. I said to myself: "If anyone will approach me, it will be Weizman". Indeed, after a few minutes and some staring in me, Weizman came to me with his hand forward, asking "And who are you, young man? Are you a member of the family?" I shook his hand and answered in the negative. I said that I very much appreciated Dayan and wanted to show my respect. Weizman, in his usual style, said something like "This is very nice of you. Welcome. Feel at home".
Five years had passed. I was an MA student at the Department of Political Science, Tel Aviv University. Weizman was a minister without portfolio in the prime minister office. I did a study on the Six Day War and wanted to interview some pertinent people. As Weizman was the Deputy Chief of Staff during the war, I asked him for an interview. Weizman agreed and as he was not terribly busy ("I don't have much to do here", he told me in his candid language. "From time to time I meet with ambassadors") we had two meetings, each lasted almost two hours. We spoke about the war, and also about other issues that came to his mind. He was warm, personal ("call me Ezer"), full of charisma, and remarkably sincere. As a matter of fact, I was surprised that he talked openly about issues that were delicate and sensitive. To give a few examples: Ezer asked me who else did I interview. I answered and then he asked: "What about Rabin?" (Chief-of-Staff in 1967). I said that I wrote to him, however Rabin answered that his busy schedule (he was Minister of Defence in 1986) did not allow him time to grant me an interview. Weizman laughed in his loud voice and said: "Nonsense. Of course he will not grant you an interview. He collapsed on the eve of the war. He could not bear the responsibility. He asked me to take over, but I thought this would be a mistake and refused. I told him (Rabin): Collect yourself. Of course he would not like to see you to speak about this".
I read Ezer Weizman's book, On Eagles' Wings (New York: Macmillan, 1976, pp. 211-212), where Ezer mentions this episode. Still I was amazed that he spoke in such blunt manner to me. You may understand that Rabin and Weizman did not like one another a great deal. Rabin never forgave Ezer for spilling the beans and telling the story in his book.
At one point during the interview, Weizman changed the subject and spoke about current events. At that time there was a dispute between Israel and Egypt over a small piece of territory, not far from Eilat called Taba. Egypt claimed that Taba is theirs, while Israel insisted it should remain Israeli. The issue came before an international tribunal that eventually decided that Egypt was on the right, and Israel gave Taba away. When I interviewed Ezer, the issue was still unresolved. He raised the issue and said: "Taba should and will return to Egypt". I was amazed. I said the issue is under legal proceedings, yet to be decided. Ezer, in his usual passion, jumped from his chair, went to the other side of the room, took out a map (generals always hold maps in their rooms), opened it, and showed me in some detail where exactly the international border had passed, what the Egyptians had argued, what Israel had argued, and why Egypt was right. Ezer said: "Israel can bring its best legal advisers. It is a waste of time. We will lose". I was thinking to myself: What if I will go to the media and tell them about our little chat? Of course I would never do such a thing, betraying his trust. But I thought it was not very prudent on his part to confide in me in such manner. When I submitted my study, I omitted the most sensitive parts of the interview from the transcript. I did not wish to cause Ezer any trouble. I was literally enchanted.
Our next communication was when Weizman was already president. The year was 1994 and I was deeply troubled by the incitement campaign against Yitzhak Rabin. I thought that a person who is well liked and respected by both the political left and the political right in Israel should raise voice of alarm and warn against the consequences of such incitement. I could not think of a better person than Weizman and wrote to him, voicing my concerns. One day, I was at my study at home when the phone rang. It was Weizman. He received my letter and wanted to say that he appreciated my concern, and will find the right opportunity to warn against the incitement against Rabin. To the best of my knowledge, he never found the right opportunity. This is a pity.
The last communication I had with him was in 2002, as I approached him to write the chapter on the Israel Presidency for my edited book, Israeli Institutions at the Crossroads (London: Routledge, forthcoming). Weizman was an obvious choice. However, as much as he wanted to write the chapter, his health was already then not in good shape, and he felt he had to decline. I asked Yitzhak Navon to write the chapter.
Ezer Weizman was a man who was true to his conscience, thus he did not hesitate to leave his party when he felt that his heart was no longer with the Likud. He had an excellent chance to succeed Menachem Begin; still, when he felt that his views and his party's views do not coincide anymore, he was willing to leave his comfortable position in the party's leadership, and establish a new party, Yachad. Just imagine if he would have stayed and compete against Yitzhak Shamir for the Likud leadership. Our history could have been very different.
Weizman was a man of many contradictions: simple in many respects, complicated in others. He did great things, and made stupid slip of the tongue. He was an aristocrat who felt the people, and saw himself as a bridge between those who have to those who don't have. He lived in one of the most affluent places in Israel, in Caesarea, yet loved the neighbouring and impoverished development town of Or Akiva. He was asked to be buried in Or Akiva, next to his beloved son Shauli. Weizman knew how to warm the hearts of thousands in Israel and abroad. He was incredibly brave in time of war, but he dreaded war. He was a passionate warrior, and even more so a passionate man of peace. He was an original thinker, but made foolish mistakes that you did not expect from a man of his qualities, like the mistake that forced him to resign from the presidency. I am sure he never quite understood what was the fuss about him receiving large sums of money from an affluent businessman, also when he was already State president. I can see him in my mind, saying to Ruhama: "This is none of their damn business. Fuck them!" Luckily for Weizman, the Legal Advisor to the Government, Elyakim Rubinstein, was very sympathetic and understanding. Still Weizman was forced to retire, much against his will. Elyakim (Eli) and Ezer knew one another very well, having in their respective rich histories many meeting points. Eli knew that Ezer was like an innocent child who was not aware that he did something wrong (I once asked Rubinstein about this. Eli prudently and politely gave no answer).
I will cherish Ezer Weizman in my mind. Yehi Zichhro Baruch (may his soul rest in peace).

Recognition of Reform and Conservative Conversions

On March 31, 2005 the High Court of Justice ruled in a 7-4 decision that Israeli residents who travel overseas solely for the purpose of undergoing a non-Orthodox conversion are entitled to Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. The precedent-setting decision was handed down in a petition filed in 1999 by 17 tourists and legal foreign workers who have lived in Israel as temporary residents for many years. All of the petitioners studied for conversion one year in Israel, but underwent the actual conversion overseas.

While overseas residents who underwent non-Orthodox conversions in their own communities have long been eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return, the state has hitherto refused to recognize overseas conversions by Israeli residents unless the convert resided in the community where he converted for at least a year.

"The Jewish nation is one," Supreme Court President Aharon Barak wrote in the verdict. "It is dispersed around the world, in communities. Whoever converted to Judaism in one of these communities overseas has joined the Jewish nation by so doing, and is to be seen as a `Jew' under the Law of Return. This can encourage immigration to Israel and maintain the unity of the Jewish nation in the Diaspora and in Israel."
Barak emphasized that the overseas community must be "recognized," but said the convert should not be required to join the converting community. "Judaic studies are not part of conversion, but preparation for it," he wrote, and the petitioners, who studied in Israel but were converted overseas, should therefore be viewed as having converted overseas. The state had argued that these were effectively not overseas conversions at all.
Several of the justices, however, ruled that since overseas conversion entitles the convert to Israeli citizenship, the state has the right to "set criteria for the recognition of overseas conversions." Lawyers working for the state said that such criteria could include a "minimum time" that the convert must spend in the relevant overseas community overseas - a criterion that, if adopted, would effectively restore the status quo and render yesterday's ruling meaningless.

Since all of the petitioners underwent their formal conversions overseas, the justices were able to avoid the question of whether non-Orthodox conversions performed in Israel should be recognized under the Law of Return. About 10 months ago, the court ruled that the Law of Return applies to people who convert in Israel, but did not specify whether they meant only Orthodox conversion - the only kind recognized by the state - or also non-Orthodox conversion.The Israel Religious Action Center - the Israeli branch of the Reform movement, and the organization that represented the petitioners in court - was pleased with the verdict, but disappointed that it did not extend to conversions in Israel. The Conservative Movement's response was similar. Yahad leader, Yossi Beilin, said the ruling would "finally break the Orthodox monopoly over conversion."

Israel is on the right track. Maybe one day we will become a nation like all other western nations that put the liberal spirit, and its emphasis on autonomy and individuality before religion. In Beit Daniel, the major reform synagogue in Tel Aviv, where my family and I attend prayers from time to time, some people study for conversion. We attended a ceremony when two gerey zedek (converts) completed their one year of intensive study and were admitted to the community. It was a warm-hearting ceremony.

Jibril al-Rajoub

In January 2005 I wrote: "Don't be too amazed if Abbas would reappoint Rajoub in the near future. He needs him and co-optation is a proved mechanism to bring potential rivals to back your own camp." Less than three months have passed and Rajoub is back as the head of security in the West Bank. This after some shooting incidents outside Abu Mazen's headquarters in Ramala. Abu Mazen is still refusing to fight against the militant militias, each with its own leaders and agenda, some opposed to any negotiations or settlements with Israel. Eventually, if he wishes to lead the Palestinian people to a Palestinian state he will have to do this, especially for his own sake.

Sharon and the Settlers

One of Rabin's gravest mistakes was his refusal to meet with the settlers who were protesting against the Oslo Accords. He said that there was nothing to discus with them, as he was determined to pursue with his plans, and they were obviously against. He felt it was a waste of time, a futile discussion. Not only that he ignored them, but he was also mocking the political right, calling them "rotors", people who were making a lot of noise and wind, but it no productive outcome. And we are talking of people who might need to evacuate their homes. The alienation, frustration and anger led to pulling of the trigger.

Sharon made the very same mistake, ignoring the Gaza settlers. This until April 5, 2005, when he finally met with them. It was a painful but most necessary meeting. Sharon is the prime minister of all people in Israel, the settlers included. They need to vent. He needs to hear. It is always preferable to meet, to discuss, to exchange views, to voice grievances and anger, than to conduct violence. I hope this was only the first meeting of many. There should be a constant exchange of ideas, especially between people who disagree about the fundamental issues of their lives.

On April 10 Sharon met with George W. in his Texan ranch. The reports spoke of "good discussions", "pleasant atmosphere", "exchange of gifts" etc. George W. is not really interested to be firm and bold about the expansion of settlements in the West Bank. Sharon is able to carry out his plan. In the end, after the Gaza dust will settle down and evaporate, the settlers will continue to hold him as their darling. Sharon is giving away Gaza and at the same time building the Jewish hold over the West Bank. This is not the fair bargain the Palestinians are hoping for, which means that we are doomed to have more fighting, more terror, more blood, more tears.

Poll Among Israelis and Palestinians

Nir Boms has referred to me a poll conducted by the Hebrew University and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Polls in Ramalla. Identical questions were posed to both Israelis and Palestinians about current affairs. 85% of the Israelis and 84% of the Palestinians support negotiations. While 57% of the Israelis support interim agreements, 59% of the Palestinians wish to negotiate the final settlement of the crisis, including Jerusalem and the right of return.

60% of both Israelis and Palestinians support the Road Map. 70% of the Israelis and 59% of the Palestinians believe that Sharon and Abu Mazen are able to advance and carry mutual trust-building steps. 41% of the Israelis and 25% of the Palestinians are optimist about the possibility to end the conflict in the near future. Each side tends to blame the other for the rocky and bloody road in which we live. 63% of the Israelis blame the Palestinian terror, whereas 54% of the Palestinians blame the Israeli policy. Only 5% of the Palestinian conceive terror as the main obstacle to peace. Sharon's disengagement plan is conceived by 75% of the Palestinians as a victory of the armed struggle, and some 33% of the Palestinians support the continuation of the armed struggle after the completion of Sharon's plan.


As terrorism plays a lesser role in our lives, more and more tourists are coming. In 2004 some 1.5 million tourists visited Israel. This year 2 million tourists are expected. Israel does not yet meet its potential of having between 5 and 6 million tourists each year, but it is on the right track. Israel is blessed with many beautiful spots, with varied nature, plants and animals, comfortable climate, and many holy sites for three major religions. Each tourist spends between $1,500-2,000. Tourism can play a major factor in our economy, as it played in the past. Among the tourists who arrived early this year were 3,000 nice Irish football fans, who filled the Tel Aviv pubs before and after the international game: Israel v. Ireland. The score was, at the end, 1:1, and we enjoyed having the green Irish guests, for my taste (although some may disagree) especially during the rare moments when they were sober. More about this game, later.

Some of you of live abroad have visited Israel and more are soon to come. I always enjoy seeing you and spend time with you. You are all very welcome.


Iran's nuclear policy continues to worry me a great deal. The free world should not allow the fundamentalists such power, and the Iranian stubbornness to maintain their "sovereignty" and "independency" is a recipe for disaster. Recently MEMRI published a pertinent article:

Head of Iranian Nuclear Negotiating Team Sirus Nasseri: "We Are Walking on a Knife's Edge"; U.S. and EU Should "Get Used to the Idea of a Nuclear Iran", MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis Series, Vol. 218 (April 7, 2005)
By: A. Savyon*

At the end of the first three-month period of negotiations stipulated in the November 2004 Paris Agreement signed by Iran and the EU Three (Britain, France, and Germany), a steering committee of representatives of all the parties met for a joint assessment of the situation. It was decided that the negotiations would continue as Iran maintained its suspension of uranium-enrichment activity.(1) At the same time, the commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and armed forces announced that they were prepared for a possible military attack.
Iran's Reaction to the New U.S. Initiative
The international media recently reported a change in U.S. policy toward Iran, citing as evidence the U.S.'s March 11, 2005 statement that it would agree to offer Iran benefits and incentives, such as dropping its veto of Iran's candidacy for the World Trade Organization, and permitting Tehran to purchase spare parts for civilian airplanes. This would be in exchange for Iran's cooperation in the nuclear issue, with the aim of attaining a permanent cessation of Iran's uranium-enrichment activity. It should be noted that the day before the "change" in U.S. policy was reported, U.S. President George W. Bush extended the sanctions on Iran for another year.(2)

Iran rejected the U.S. offer, calling it "ridiculous,"(3) and an Iranian spokesmen claimed that these measures could not be considered "confidence-building" because Iran was in any case entitled to WTO membership, and because there should never have been restrictions on the purchase of spare parts for civilian airplanes in the first place.(4) Supreme National Security Council Secretary Hassan Rowhani explained: "We will make no deal on enrichment. Economic incentives, including purchasing the Airbus and joining the World Trade Organization, will not compensate for giving up enrichment."(5)
The U.S.'s willingness to correct its past errors and lift the sanctions it had imposed on Iran would not be considered incentives according to Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi: "No economic incentive is equal to Iran's right [to develop nuclear energy]."(6)Furthermore, Iranian spokesmen noted that they were expecting genuine confidence-building measures on the part of the U.S.: removing the freeze on the billions of dollars in Iranian assets in U.S. banks, lifting U.S. sanctions on Iran, and reversing the hostile U.S. policy towards Iran. Only then would Iran reconsider its policy toward the U.S. - but no matter what, uranium enrichment and the development of nuclear energy would remain Iran's right as a sovereign state, and would remain non-negotiable.(7)
The Iranian-European Deadlock
The Iran-EU Three negotiations currently underway are at a deadlock. According to reports, the EU Three have demanded that Iran permanently suspend all uranium-enrichment activity, while Iran remains uncompromising in its insistence that there be no permanent suspension of such activity and that as a sovereign nation signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty it is entitled to enrich uranium.(8)

In his recent visit to Paris, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami explained the Iranian position: "Our basis for discussions [with the EU Three] is the November 2004 Paris Agreement, which recognizes Iran's right to peaceful use of nuclear technology." "Iran has provided a comprehensive proposal for continuation of the talks, which has been received positively by the Europeans, notably France."(9)

Iranian officials called the EU Three demand for a permanent suspension "a blatant breach of the [Paris] Agreement" (in which the Europeans agreed to recognize Iran's right to develop nuclear energy).(10) It should be mentioned that the EU Three did indeed recognize this right in principle because Iran is an NPT member, but still did not agree to Iran enriching uranium in high percentages that would allow the development of nuclear weapons.(11)According to an official Iranian spokesman, Iran's Supreme National Security Council Secretary Hassan Rowhani said in a meeting between the Council of Experts with Former President and Expediency Council Chairman Hashemi Rafsanjani, "At no price will Iran consent to a permanent suspension of its uranium-enrichment activity."(12)Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi was resolute on the issue: "Iran is determined to pursue the enrichment process, and others cannot stop [its] uranium-enrichment program."(13)Head of the Iranian negotiating team in the nuclear committee in the EU Three-Iran talks, Sirus Nasseri, recently stated that there is no possibility of Iran permanently relinquishing its uranium enrichment: "This is something we are not willing to consider."(14) The U.S. and the EU should "get used to the idea of a nuclear Iran."(15)
French ambassador to Tehran François Nicoullaud made it clear that the referral of the Iranian dossier to the U.N. Security Council was "a real danger," even though the parties have decided to continue negotiations. He made it clear that the European considerations transcend the Iranian issue, saying: "...The decision that will be made regarding the [Iranian] dossier will constitute a model for other countries in the world."(16)
Iran's Negotiating Positions
Iranian spokesmen said that the negotiations are currently focusing on the issue of "objective guarantees" that Iran is to give the EU Three to assure them that it is enriching uranium strictly for civilian, not military purposes - and not on the EU demand that Iran permanently suspend uranium enrichment.(17)

Referring to the guarantees offered by Iran during the negotiations, Iranian President Khatami said that his country "presented to Europe five detailed proposals, and they [the Europeans] should provide us with solid security guarantees."(18)

On another occasion, Khatami added: "Iran is ready to give formal guarantees that it will never produce nuclear arms in return for respect for its legitimate right to possess fuel cycle plants under IAEA safeguards." He also said that Iran wanted nothing more than what the international conventions had authorized.(19)

Also stating that Iran is ready to give assurances that it will not produce bomb-grade uranium, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi added: "We do not intend to enrich to the level that is needed to make atomic bombs and have imposed a limit ... that we enrich [uranium only] to the level we need for nuclear (reactor) fuel."(20)

According to reports, Iran has proposed a limited uranium-enrichment project, under which it would keep 500 centrifuge sets to enrich uranium up to 5.3%, under close IAEA monitoring. The EU Three has rejected this proposal and demanded a permanent suspension of uranium enrichment, arguing that this plan for a pilot centrifuge project for uranium enrichment could be diverted by Iranian scientists to gather findings for military use.(21)It should be noted, however, that international treaties and regulations permit NPT member states to produce low-enriched uranium (LEU) solely for civilian purposes. The level of enrichment permitted for these purposes is 3%-7%, and it is subject to IAEA inspection and must follow IAEA notification. In contrast, high-enriched uranium (HEU), necessary for military purposes, is between 20%-90%.

In an extensive interview, Sirus Nasseri discussed Iran's position in the negotiations with the EU Three: "Iran will soon present its final proposal and will set a target date for the EU to either accept or reject it. We do not want confrontation, but if they cannot respond to what we believe to be rational, they can choose their own path because we are ready to flex our muscles..."

"It is clear to me that we are walking on a knife's edge. There is no guarantee that we will reach an agreement. What I can say with certainty is that during the negotiations we witnessed, step by step, more willingness to be flexible on the part of the Europeans. At the same time, this does not mean that they have the ability to reach an agreement with us. The EU must accept Iran's uranium-enrichment program..."(22)

"For the Europeans, success in these talks - at least at this stage - is vital. For us, it is [merely] an advantage. We'd prefer to reach an agreement and go about our business, because it would improve our relations, but it is not imperative. It is up to the Europeans to choose their path... If these talks fail, and [Europe] is not able to advance them, it would find it difficult to play a major role in any important global political issue. This is a crucial point. This also gives us room to maneuver vis-à-vis Europe and to use it as a buffer - not a mediator - between us and [the U.S.], with which we are in conflict.

"...We truly want to produce fuel. Why should we care that technically speaking, this enrichment-based fuel production can also be used for something else?... What is important is our intention... Moreover, we allow supervision.

"...One thing worries us, and because of it, we told the Europeans that their time is running out. We said: 'We don't know what deal you made with the Americans, and your denial of such a deal is unclear to us.' There is a danger that their offer will improve to a point that if we reject it, they could claim that they made Iran an excellent offer and that its rejection indicates a desire for nuclear weapons. This is indeed a danger. Therefore, the negotiations have become much more difficult, the pressure has increased, there is more tension, and we are getting to a point when we might take the final step."(23)
Additional Iranian Threats
Alongside the negotiations, threats have also been made by several top Iranian officials.(24) Iranian President Mohammad Khatami told a press conference: "The Europeans will suffer more than Iran if they decide to capitulate to U.S. pressure" and that "The enemies will be damaged more if they decide to do something against Iran."(25)

Khatami said that the EU Three's demand that Iran commit to a permanent halt of its uranium-enrichment activity was "a blatant breach of the Paris Agreement." He added, "The
Europeans will bear the responsibility for what might happen."(26)

Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Hassan Rowhani told a press conference that Iran would "halt all its confidence-building measures" if its dossier was transferred to the U.N. Security Council. "If Europe refuses to accept [the formula Iran has suggested to the EU], it will face problems..."(27)

At a recent international nuclear technology conference in Tehran, Rowhani added: "If [Iran-EU] negotiations fail because of the U.S. pressure and the Iranian nuclear dossier is referred to the U.N. Security Council, the region will come up against serious problems, and regional security will be jeopardized."(28)

Former representative to the IAEA, Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi was even more blunt, telling the Iranian daily Kayhan: "Europe should understand that its security is closely linked to Iran's security."(29)
Iran Declares Its Military Preparedness
In recent months, commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and armed forces have announced their complete preparedness for a possible military attack on Iran's nuclear installations and other sensitive sites. Iranian spokesmen have declared that Iran's response would be formidable. Recently, the London daily Al-Hayat published a report on Iran's preparedness for an American or Israeli attack. The following are excerpts:(30)"Iranian military sources say that the armed forces and the Revolutionary Guards have made all the field preparations for handling a surprise attack on targets within Iran. [These preparations] are not limited to the nuclear installations, which are dispersed among the cities and various locations - Bushehr, Isfahan, Arak, Natanz, Tehran, Yazd, and others - but also include military and industrial plants and dams.

"...Iran's military command has taken into account the possibility of a disruption of [communications] between military posts and the central command... As a precautionary measure, the command has ordered all military and Revolutionary Guards sectors to respond swiftly - within no more than an hour and without waiting for orders - against pre-selected targets, [in light of anticipated] international political pressures that might force Iran to not respond.

"The objective is to deliver a harsh blow to the U.S. and its ally Israel at the outset, and then to expand the arena, in light of international efforts to contain the crisis and limit its scope and intensity, so as to ignite the whole region. This way Iran will assure its right to respond. "...All the countries that host U.S. military forces - particularly Iraq, CENTCOM [U.S. Central Command] in Al-Siliya [Qatar], the Al-'Odeid base in Qatar, and the Fifth Fleet command in Bahrain - are among the sites Iran might consider as targets. However, the biggest fish of all is Israel, which is likely to suffer 'hellfire' - particularly when the Iranian response 'will use [varied] weapons and reach other targets that the aggressors are not expecting them [to reach].'

"These sources added that although Iran anticipates a devastating attack that will destroy a significant part of its economic and industrial achievements of the past 26 years, it is now pondering an issue that seems to it to be justified: Can the Bush administration grasp that it will have to send home at least five [dead] American soldiers per day? And how will the administration respond to the [American] people, who will question the benefit of the attack on Iran..."

According to Al-Hayat, Iranian military sources had reported that during a meeting between a French diplomat and Expediency Council Chairman Rafsanjani, the diplomat asked Rafsanjani whether Iran would relinquish its nuclear program, and was answered with an unequivocal "no." When the diplomat said that the U.S. had selected 325 targets within Iran as the first targets in any possible American attack, Rafsanjani explained to his guest that the Iranian counter-attack would be just as powerful and devastating.

The report continued, "When the Western diplomat asked, 'What if the place in which you are convening (the Marble Palace, a few dozen meters from the Islamic Republic's Presidential Building and the residence of Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei) is also among the targets?' Rafsanjani answered succinctly, 'Even if I am the target, [Iran will not relinquish its nuclear program].'"

*Ayelet Savyon is Director of MEMRI's Iranian Media Project.

(1) See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 209, "Iran seeks E.U. Consent for Modeling Its Nuclear Program on the Japanese-German Model - i.e. Nuclear Fuel Cycle Capabilities - Three Months Short of a Bomb," February 23, 2005, . MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 200, "The Iran-EU Agreement on Iran's Nuclear Activity," December 21, 2004, . Sirus Nasseri announced that the negotiations had ended without a final accord and that each side remained steadfast in its position. IRNA (Iran), March 24, 2005. (2) Iran Daily (Iran), March 12, 2005. President Bush noted that Iran constitutes "an unusual and extraordinary threat." Bush accused Iran of "support for international terrorism, efforts to undermine the Middle East peace process, and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them."
(3) Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Younesi, ISNA (Iran), March 13, 2005.
(4) Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi, Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), March 7, 2005; IRNA (Iran), March 13, 2005.
(5) IRNA (Iran), March 5, 2005.
(6) IRNA (Iran), March 15, 2005. Similar statements were made by Iranian President Khatami, IRNA (Iran), March 31, 2005; Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Rowhani, IRNA (Iran), March 5, 6, 2005. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Asefi said, "Correction of some mistakes and removal of a few unjustifiable restrictions will never persuade Iran to give up its legitimate rights." IRNA (Iran), March 12, 2005.(7) Supreme National Security Council Foreign Relations Committee Secretary Hossein Mussavian, Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), March 15, 2005. Iran rejected U.S. participation in the negotiations. Rowhani said: "We still doubt America's goodwill. They are not fair in negotiations and they use threats against Iran. They intend to transfer the Iranian nuclear file to the Security Council." IRNA (Iran), March 5, 2005. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Asefi also said that U.S. participation would be "destructive." IRNA (Iran), March 13, 14, 2005.(8) See Rowhani's statements at a press conference, Kayhan (Iran),IRNA (Iran), March 5, 2005; Khatami during a visit to Venezuela, IRNA (Iran), March 13, 2005.
(9) IRNA (Iran), April 6, 2005.
(10) Statements by Iranian President Khatami, Kayhan (Iran), March 15, 2005, IRNA (Iran), March 16, 2005. Sirus Nasseri stated that the E.U. Three demand for a permanent suspension of Iran's enrichment activities was not included in the Paris Agreement and that the E.U. Three should accept Iran's uranium-enrichment activity. Sharq, Tehran Times (Iran), March 15, 2005. See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 200 on the Paris Agreement, "The Iran-E.U. Agreement on Iran's Nuclear Activity," December 21, 2004, (11) International treaties and regulations permit the production of low-enriched uranium (LEU), at 3%-7%, for civilian purposes, and require prior notification to the IAEA and full IAEA inspection. For military purposes, high-enriched uranium (HEU), at 20%-90%, is required.(12) IRNA (Iran), March 15, 2005, Jomhouri-e Eslami (Iran), March 17, 2005.
(13) Kayhan (Iran), February 24, 2005.
(14) IRNA (Iran), March 24, 2005.
(15) Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), March 1, 2005.
(16) Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), April 5, 2005.
(17) Rowhani at a press conference, Tehran Times (Iran), February 27, 2005.
(18) Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), March 16, 2005, IRNA (Iran), March 15, 2005.
(19) IRNA (Iran), April 4, 2005.
(20) IRNA (Iran), March 15, 2005.
(21) Sharq (Iran), March 16, 2005; Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), April 3, 2005, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), April 1, 2005.
(22) Sharq, Tehran Times, (Iran) March 15, 2005.
(23) Sirus Nasseri in an interview with Iranian TV 2. See MEMRI-TV Clip 609, (24) For previous threats see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 189, "Iran's Nuclear Policy Crisis," September 21, 2004, MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 743, "Iran Threatens the West," July 13, 2004, (25) Kayhan (Iran), Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), February 24, 2005.
(26) Kayhan (Iran), March 15, 2005, IRNA, March 16, 2005.
(27) IRNA (Iran), March 5, 2005. Rowhani was referring to the model proposed by Iran and based on the Japanese/German model. See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 209, "Iran seeks E.U. Consent for Modeling its Nuclear Program on the Japanese-German Model - i.e. Nuclear Fuel Cycle Capabilities - Three Months Short of a Bomb," February 23, 2005, (28) IRNA (Iran), March 5, 2005.
(29) Kayhan (Iran), March 9, 2005.
(30) Al-Hayat (London), March 29, 2005.

New Report on Iraq's WMDs

On March 30, 2005, an American presidential commission reported that U.S. intelligence agencies were "dead wrong" in their pre-war assessments of Iraq's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and today know "disturbingly little" about the capabilities and intentions of other potential adversaries such as Iran and North Korea.

While praising intelligence successes in Libya and Pakistan, the commission's report criticized the government's collection of information leading to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, calling its data "either worthless or misleading" and its analysis "riddled with errors." That resulted in one of the "most damaging intelligence failures in recent American history."
According to the Washington Post, the 692-page report to President Bush determined that many of the problems that led to the Iraq breakdown have not been fixed, and warned that they may be undercutting the quality of current U.S. evaluations of Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons development. To avoid a repeat performance, the commission produced a set of 74 recommendations intended to "transform" a sprawling intelligence bureaucracy that it described as "fragmented, loosely managed and poorly coordinated."

The report presents the most extensive examination to date of how the United States came to believe that Saddam Hussein was harboring secret weapons of mass destruction, leading to a war that toppled a dictator but turned up no such weapons. The report depicted an intelligence apparatus plagued by turf battles, wedded to old assumptions and mired in unimaginative thinking.

Yet while unstinting in its appraisal of intelligence agencies, the panel that Bush appointed under pressure in February 2004 said it was "not authorized" to explore the question of how the commander in chief used the faulty information to make perhaps the most critical decision of his presidency. As he accepted the report yesterday, Bush offered no thoughts about relying on flawed intelligence to launch a war and took no questions from reporters.

Instead, he focused on the proposals to revamp the intelligence agencies further after their post-Sept. 11 reorganization. "The central conclusion is one that I share," Bush said, flanked by the commission's co-chairmen, retired judge Laurence H. Silberman and former senator Charles S. Robb (D-Val.). "America's intelligence community needs fundamental change to enable us to successfully confront the threats of the 21st century."

Some Democrats complained that the commission effectively ducked the central issue of how Bush decided to go to war in Iraq to eliminate weapons that were not there. Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) said the report "fails to review an equally important aspect of our national security policymaking process -- how policymakers use the intelligence they are provided."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) was even sharper. "The president's decision to go to war in Iraq was also dead wrong," she said, adding, "The investigation will not be complete unless we know how the Bush administration may have used or misused intelligence to pursue its own agenda."

The nine-member panel, officially called the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, blamed intelligence agencies for overselling their knowledge and not disclosing conflicting information to policymakers. At the same time, it exonerated Bush and Vice President Cheney from allegations of pressuring analysts to conclude that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction.

"The analysts who worked Iraqi weapons issues universally agreed that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments," the commission said. "That said, it is hard to deny the conclusion that intelligence analysts worked in an environment that did not encourage skepticism about the conventional wisdom."

In fact, the commission concluded that policymakers should in the future challenge analysts harder to justify their conclusions, even at the risk of being accused of politicizing intelligence. "It's very important for policymakers to question and push hard on the intelligence community to explore and to fill gaps," Silberman said.

The report expressed particular concern that the nation's intelligence agencies are not adequately focusing on biological weapons. It said U.S. forces in Afghanistan discovered that al Qaeda's bioweapons research was "further along" than U.S. intelligence had known, particularly involving a pathogen the commission referred to only as "Agent X."

"The program was extensive, well-organized, and operated for two years before September 11" at sites containing commercial equipment and run by "individuals with special training," the report noted. Based on what they found in Afghanistan, U.S. intelligence theorized that al Qaeda "had acquired several biological agents possibly as early as 1999, and had the necessary equipment to enable limited, basic production of Agent X."
The commission expressed concern that intelligence agencies may still be misjudging situations in North Korea and Iran; however, the section of the report dealing with those countries remained classified. "The bad news is that we still know disturbingly little about the weapons programs and even less about the intentions of many of our most dangerous adversaries," the panel said in a cover letter to Bush.

The panel proposed empowering the new director of national intelligence, a position created by legislation last year, to better integrate the collection efforts of the government's 15 intelligence agencies at the CIA, Pentagon, State Department, Energy Department and FBI. But it also urged that analysts remain diversified at those agencies so they can carry on what the commission hopes will be a more lively debate about interpretations.

The panel suggested a variety of reorganizations, including the creation of a Human Intelligence Directorate within the CIA to oversee increased overseas spying by the agency's Directorate of Operations as well as the Pentagon and FBI. It also proposed merging the FBI's counterintelligence and counterterrorism divisions with its new intelligence division into a new National Security Service within the bureau. The new service would report to both the FBI director and the national intelligence director.

The report suggested several other new institutions as well, including a National Counter Proliferation Center to coordinate the fight against weapons of mass destruction; a National Intelligence University to enhance tradecraft training; a long-term analysis unit to escape the pressures of day-to-day intelligence collection; an Open Source Directorate to focus on finding publicly available information, particularly on the Internet; and a nonprofit research institute outside the intelligence community to encourage dissenting views.

The panel also recommended changes to the intelligence reports Bush gets that are known as the presidential daily briefing. Leading up to the Iraq war, the panel found, the briefings were "disastrously one-sided" and "more alarmist and less nuanced" than longer studies, such as the National Intelligence Estimates. The daily briefings never cast doubt on prior information provided to Bush and thus "seemed to be 'selling' intelligence in order to keep its customers, or at least the First Customer, interested."

End-of-Life Conference

On May 25, 2005 the University of Haifa will hold a one-day conference on end-of-life issues, dedicated to my latest book, Euthanasia in the Netherlands. The conference will be held in Hebrew at the Hecht Auditorium. Here is the program:

University of Haifa
The Center for Democratic Studies

Supported by the
President of the University
Rector of the University
Dean of Faculty of Humanities
Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences

The Israel Cancer Association

Conference on
Treating the Dying Patient

On the occasion of the publication of Euthanasia in the Netherlands
By Raphael Cohen?Almagor

25 May 2005
The Hecht Museum Auditorium, University of Haifa
(The conference will be in Hebrew)

9:00-9:20 Gathering
Chair: Prof. Ora Gilbar, Head, School of Social Work, University of Haifa
Prof. Aaron Ben-Ze’ev, President, University of Haifa
Prof. Yossi Ben-Artzi, Rector, University of Haifa

9:40-11:20 First Session
Chairperson: Mrs. Rebecca Hochhoyzer, Lilach Association-The Right to Die With Dignity

Opening Lecture

Prof. Rafi Cohen-Almagor, Director, Center for Democratic Studies, University of Haifa
“Euthanasia in the Netherlands”

Prof. Shimshon Rubin, Department of Psychology, University of Haifa
Dr. Israel Doron, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Studies, University of Haifa

11:20-13:00 Second Session
Chair and Respondent: Prof. Danny Statman, Department of Philosophy, University of Haifa

Prof. Asa Kasher, Department of Philosophy, Tel-Aviv University
“Principles of General Consensus”

Prof. Avinoam Reches, Chairperson of the Ethics Board, Israel Medical Association
Neurology Department, Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, Jerusalem
“Natural Death or Technological Death“

Prof. Ora Gilbar, Head, School of Social Work, University of Haifa
“Cancer Patients and Palliative Care: Psycho-Social Aspects”

Dr. Nathan Cherny, Director of Cancer Pain and Palliative Medicine Service, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem
“Directives on How to Protect Patients from Terminal Sedation“

13:00-14:20 Lunch Break

14:20-16:15 Third Session
Chair and Respondent: Dr. Sylviane Colombo, Faculty of Law, University of Haifa

Prof. Danny Statman, Department of Philosophy, University of Haifa
“Two Concepts of Dignity and the Dying Patient”

Dr. Netta Bentur, The Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, & Dr. Eyal Goldberger, Galil-Elion Hospice
“The Set of Services for the Dying Patients: Comparative and Experiential Views“

Prof. Jonathan Halevy, Director-General, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem
“The Dying Patient – Israeli Contemporary Situation and Expected Changes As A Result of the Steinberg Committee”

Dr. Shai Lavi, Faculty of Law, Tel-Aviv University
“The Power of the Law and It’s Limitations: Lessons from the History of Euthanasia in the United States”

Coffee Break

16:40-18:00 Fourth Session
Chair and Respondent: Prof. Eliezer Robinson, Chairperson of The Israel Cancer Association

Prof. Ehud Zmora, Director of the Department of Pediatrics & Preterm, Soroka University Medical Center, Beer-Sheba
“Decision-Making in Uncertain Situations on the Verge of life”

Prof. Arthur Eidelman, Director of the Department of Pediatrics, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem
“The Uniqueness of the Newborn and the Consequences of Critical Clinical Decisions”

Dr. Leonid Eidelman, Director of the Anesthesiology Department, Rabin Medical Center, Beilinson, and Vice Chairperson, Israel Medical Association
“The Impact of Palliative Care on Decisions at the End of His Life”

Dr. Avi Lazari, Reut Medical Center, Tel-Aviv
“Clinical Aspects in Treating Patients in Low Consciousness”

18:00-19:30 Round Table
Chair and Discussant: Prof. Emanuel Gross, Faculty of Law, University of Haifa

Prof. Ehud Zmora, Director of the Department of Pediatrics & Preterm, Soroka University Medical Center, Beer-Sheba
Prof. Jonathan Halevy, Director-General, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem
Prof. Rafi Cohen-Almagor, Director, Center for Democratic Studies, University of Haifa
Prof. Asa Kasher, Department of Philosophy, Tel-Aviv University

Please see this as a personal invitation. I'd love to see you all in this book celebration.

Terri Schiavo and Pain

In the end, Terri Schiavo was starved to death. This opened a new debate, whether patients in her condition are capable to experience pain. If we could prove that Post-Coma-Unawareness patients suffer, then we might think they are better off dead. We would not like to think that these patients would be sustained for months and years while suffering great pain. We would not starve such patients to death and may seek a more humane way to end life.

Disagreement exists regarding the question of whether Post-Coma-Unawareness (PCU) patients have the capacity to experience pain or suffering. The American Academy of Neurology’s opinion is that these patients do not. In their position paper, members of the Executive Board wrote that “Pain and suffering are attributes of consciousness requiring cerebral cortical functioning, and patients who are permanently and completely unconscious cannot experience these symptoms.” But then a question arises as to how one could safely conclude that the patient, indeed, is in a state of permanent (to be distinguished from prolonged or persistent) unawareness. In a similar vein, Cranford and Smith also argue conclusively that “Persistent vegetative state patients do not have the capacity to experience pain or suffering.”

However, reviewing the literature and discussing the matter with experts reveal that our knowledge is still very limited. Professor Martin Tweeddale, Director of the Critical Care Unit at the Vancouver Hospital, said that he simply does not know whether or not PCU patients suffer. In his opinion, we are in a position to say something in this regard when patients respond to certain stimuli, but when patients do not respond we are in no position to determine anything with regard to pain. Professor Tweeddale reiterates that because PCU patients (unlike coma patients) make some response to external stimuli, it is impossible to say they are unresponsive. On the other hand, because pain is totally subjective, we have no way of determining whether or not such sensations are present or whether there is any perception of them at all. Tweeddale concludes: “My own feeling is that these patients demonstrate complex, high level reflex activity only, but I am in no better position to defend that statement than are those who say there is no possibility of awareness, or those… who argue for some potential conscious activity, however rudimentary.”

Tweeddale admits he does not know the answer, but Joseph Alpert believes that PCU patients must be suffering at some level. He asks rhetorically: How could suffering not be present if any awareness exists of the extraordinary level of disability present?

Kirk Payne and his associates surveyed physicians’ attitudes about the care of patients in PCU. A substantial number of the medical doctors and neurologists who participated in the survey believed that these patients experienced pain, thirst and hunger, are aware of self and environment, and are made more comfortable by intravenous fluids and tube feedings. Stephen Ashwal and his colleagues reported that 20 percent of child neurologists in their survey believed that children in PCU experience pain and suffering, and 75 percent of the sample stated that they used medications to alleviate such symptoms. There is a spectrum of views on this most crucial issue, which again shows that we are still in the learning process and, hence, need to be extra careful in making decisions with regard to the patients in concern. Evidently, PCU patients do not give any indication that they experience the cognitive and emotional concomitants of pain and suffering.

But we cannot safely say that their inability to give any indication, or alternatively our inability to find any indication, may serve as sufficient grounds to conclude that these patients do not feel pain. It should be further noted that I am not aware of any study in which patients who emerged from PCU were asked whether or not they felt pain while in this condition.

In Israel doctors who treat patients in prolonged unawareness refrain from using the term PVS, considering to dehumanize patients. I recently learned that in Reut Medical Center they refer to these patients as patients in low consciousness.

Media Ethics

I was invited to take part in a workshop of media ethicists in London. We were some thirty people, mostly British (one Dutch, one Spanish and me), discussing ways to promote social dialogue and ethics in class and in the media. We discussed issues like objectivity, professionalism, the usefulness of codes of ethics, and responsibility.

After this workshop I was invited to give the Inaugural Lecture of the School of Applied Global Ethics at Leeds Metropolitan University. I spoke of Incitement, Hate Speech, and Freedom of Speech, warning against the voice that are heard today to kill Prime Minister Sharon.

I thank my kind hosts during this short trip: Alan Roth, Valerie Alia, Idit and Mike Goodisman, Meri and Ray Spier, and Brian Winston.

Upon my return to Israel I learnt that the British Association of University Teachers decided to boycott two universities in Israel: Bar-Ilan and Haifa. Below is my university's response to this contemptuous decision.

The University of Haifa Response to the AUT Boycott Decision

The University of Haifa is saddened and not a little outraged by the utterly unjust and unjustifiable decision of the British Association of University Teachers and by its attempt to erect barriers and obstruct the flow of ideas within the international academic community.In lieu of evidence to support the singling out of Israeli academia, the authors of this campaign have chosen to adopt a three-year old urban legend.We are astounded by the fact that the AUT never requested our response prior to adopting their resolution, and did not allow our position to be presented by members of the AUT who are familiar with the facts. The case against Israeli academia, in general, and the University of Haifa in particular, is devoid of empirical evidence and violates the principle of due process. Driven by a prior and prejudicial assumption of guilt, the AUT has refused to confuse itself with facts.
In actual fact, during the past few years, Dr. Pappe has transgressed all common ethical standards of academic life. Yet, despite his conduct, the University of Haifa has demonstrated extraordinary tolerance. One of his colleagues did indeed lodge a complaint with the internal faculty disciplinary committee. The complaint focused on Dr. Pappe's unethical behavior towards his peers and his efforts to disbar them from international forums for daring to contradict his views. Contrary to Dr. Pappe's claim, the university made no attempt to expel him.
As to the now too famous thesis that provoked this altercation, an independent committee was asked to examine the validity of the quotes that were used as the "scientific basis" for the highly controversial charges proffered in this thesis, authored by Mr. Teddy Katz. After a thorough examination, the committee members concluded that, in fact, the quotes in the written text did not match the taped comments of the interviews and that the text was grossly distorted. Therefore, they disqualified this MA thesis. This decision, it is important to note, matched a court decision given on the same matter. As Dr. Pappe did not like the committee decision, despite the undeniable discrepancies between the text and the taped interviews, he reacted by calling the academic community to boycott the members of this committee and the University of Haifa. Despite these violations of academic collegiality and ethics, Dr. Pappe was never summoned by the disciplinary committee as the committee's chairperson decided not to pursue the complaint that had been filed against him.Although there is always more work to do, the University of Haifa is proud of its record of Arab-Jewish cooperation and reconciliation, both on campus and in the community. Twenty percent of our student body are Arab citizens of the State of Israel, and the many Arab faculty members at Haifa include departmental chairs and a Dean. We will continue our efforts to further Jewish-Arab reconciliation, despite politically motivated initiatives to muzzle free speech and the academic discourse.
We are puzzled by the fact that despite the deluge of abuses of academic freedom throughout the world, the AUT has chosen to focus upon a politically spurious charge and, on the basis of false allegations, single out the University of Haifa for condemnation. The University of Haifa calls upon the AUT to rescind its resolution, one that represents a complete distortion of facts far more embarrassing to the AUT than to the University. We call upon the academic community throughout the free world to reject this politically motivated abuse of academic discourse.

Many people have asked me what I think of Ilan Pappe, a person I used to appreciate. This was long before he passed the fine line between being a researcher to being an ideologue. I think the University of Haifa is most unfortunate to have Ilan among us. On the other hand, we are most fortunate not to have ten like him in our midst. Then the Rector and President of the university will have the time to do nothing else but to deal with all the fires the Pappes would have generated. I am sorry that Ilan does not invest the incredible energies he has in prudent and productive ways but mostly in ways that provoke hatred, malice and bad blood. Just imagine what a fine researcher Ilan could have been were he to devote his time to research. I also think that if Ilan were true to himself he would have left our university a long time ago. Why should he associate himself, a fine and decent man, to such an awful institution that exploits and discriminates against Arabs, that betrays academic freedom, and allows people like him to go around the world and smear its name and reputation? Instead, Pappe prefers to sit inside the well and piss into it. The result might be warm for him and his family but the smell, Oh the smell. He feeds himself and his family by working in the institution that he makes infamous. He calls to ban its scientists in forums to which he is invited knowingly and purposely in order to spread his hatred. Pappe is using academic freedom, tolerance, and free speech to ask others to ban all other teachers at the University of Haifa. Only he deserves the right to enjoy this freedom and tolerance. In short, he is giving hypocrisy a bad name, and reaches new horizons in setting standards for comradeship, for honesty, for academic freedom, for free expression. We need people like him to test our capacity to endure. But despite him and his ilk, we will go from strength to strength and continue to be the most pluralistic university in Israel, a truly multicultural university, the only university whose student body comprises some twenty percent Israeli-Palestinians.

Arthur Rubinstein Competition

The 11th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition was held in Tel Aviv and Eilat. This is always a great celebration for music lovers, a place where the new piano masters of the world may be discovered. I went to two sessions, and if I could I would spend most of my time listening to the performances. All the finalists has wonderful technique and play beautifully. The winner, Alexander Gavrylyuk, also has charisma. You could feel that he has the ability to inspire the symphony, and that the musicians play better due to him. Gavrylyuk, originally from Ukraine, currently lives in Australia and I imagine that we will hear more from him, and of him.

Israel should strive to have more competitions of this sort, to bring some of the talents of this planet to our troubled land, be it musicians, writers, painters, scientists and scholars. At present, the majority of the audience is Israeli. Maybe in the future, tourists will have incentive to come also to watch such competitions.

Maccabi Tel Aviv

The basketball team looks very good. It seems that only CSKA Moscow will stand between Maccabi and winning the European Championship. It has been a great joy to watch them this year, enjoying the remarkable atmosphere in the Nokia stadium. The challenge is great. The Final Four will be held in Moscow. In previous years, the teams that hosted the games and reached the Final Four almost always went all the way to win the Cup. Last year it was Maccabi in Tel Aviv. It will be a surprise if CSKA will not win.

The football team has a terrible year. Recently the team acquired Eyal Berkowitz who returned to Israel after a decade in England. It is intended to build the team next year around him. The big question is whether Eyal is still capable to deliver and to show the same notable football standards he exhibited in England. He did not play much last year, and is beyond the age of 30. Maccabi does not think it invests a great deal sum of money for nothing, and have high expectations. Next year we'll know whether the media boom announcing Eyal's expensive signing was justified.

International Football and Racism

After years in which football teams refused to come to Israel, and Israeli teams needed to host clubs and nations in Cyprus and in other countries, international football has returned. First against the "friendly" Irish, and after four days against the "unpleasant" French (the adjectives were used by the Israeli media). On paper, both teams are much stronger than their Israeli counterpart. The Irish led 1:0 from the 4th moment until the very last moment of the game. Then, Abas Suan scored a wonderful goal from 20 meters that made justice as the Israeli team attacked most of the game. Similar thing happened against the French. They led 1:0 but then, in the 84 minutes of the game, Walid Badir equalized and did some justice, as Israel attacked the French team most of the second period.

Both scorers are Israeli Arabs. They saved the games and our chances to reach the Mondeal in Germany. I cheered the Israeli team in the national stadium, not far from my home in Ramat Gan, in both games. Next to me was a supported who voiced his loud dissent when Abbas Suan was introduced into the game as a sub. He was very happy when Suan equalized the score, without noticing the identity of the scorer. Once the announcer declared the minute and the scorer, his quick reaction was: "Suan, the Arab?" He could not believe that the person who saved Israel in the 90th minute was an Arab. Many reacted in the same manner. When the same scenario reoccurred against France, those racists almost chocked. Some of them might have preferred Israel to lose rather to see Israel saved by Arabs.

Israel has tough games ahead against Ireland and Switzerland abroad. We need to win or draw if we wish to stand a chance to finish first in our table. Only the first team will automatically reach the Mondeal. The team in the second place will need to compete against other teams, ranked second, in the other seven tables. Israel will make a significant step in international football if we finish third, before one of the teams that are ranked above us: France, Ireland and Switzerland. The Mondeal is a sweet dream. Israel reached the Mondeal only once in its history: Mexico 1970. We had two draws (v. Sweden and the great Italian team) and one loss (Uruguay) at the first and for us final stage of the games.

Saul Bellow

On April 6, 2005 the Nobel Prize Laureate Saul Bellow died. The very first book I have ever read in English was Herzog. I was a high school student and had to write my first English book report. It was not easy. It was a challenging and inspiring book and since then I have followed him in my thoughts and looked for him on the media.

Herzog, I think, was published in 1964. Bellow published several other books, among them The Adventures of Augie March, To Jerusalem and Back, Ravelstein and Humboldt's Gift, the latter an especially intriguing and challenging book earned him the Pulitzer prize. When I was about to complete my MA and applied for doctoral grants and places in England and the USA, the best offer came from the University of Chicago and I intended to get myself involved with the Committee on Social Thought, in which Bellow was active. The thought of finally meeting him was exhilarating. Then came the offer from Oxford, and I assume I made the first person on the waiting list very happy when I gave up the generous offer made by the Dept. of Political Science. The next miss was in Oxford, when Bellow came to deliver a lecture at the Sheldonian. Alas, I arrived some twenty minutes before the talk, and the gates were closed. The hall was packed. I pleaded to the gate keeper who showed no mercy or understanding; instead he showed me the way to my bike.

The New York Times wrote on April 7, 2005:
Bellow's books were divined at yet another level in the beer-soaked precincts of the student bar in Hyde Park. We ransacked them for stories from the local streets and inside stuff from Mr. Bellow's divorces and his feuds with other intellectuals. It was through these exercises that some of us learned how books were put together. Colleagues and acquaintances sometimes flew into rages about their unflattering cameos in the novels. Most people kept quiet, though, secretly flattered that those hungry eyes had settled even briefly upon them.

Yehi Zichro Baruch (May his soul rest in peace).


Neil L. Whitehead (ed.), Violence (SAR Press, 2004). Cloth, ISBN 1-930618-51-4, $60.00Paper, ISBN 1-930618-52-2, $24.95.

Mar Adentro (The Sea Inside)

The big winner of the Oscar ceremony was "Million Dollar Baby". The Oscar for best foreign film went to the Spanish "Mar Adentro". Both films deal with medical ethics, specifically with the right to die with dignity. While the first is a moderate film that will not make an impression on the film industry, Alejandro Amenabar's "Mar Adentro" is the best film I have seen this year. Javier Bardem gives a remarkable performance as Ramon - a 55-year-old former sailor who broke his neck as a young man and has spent 25 years as a quadriplegic. Based on a real life case that engrossed Spain, Ramon’s desire to end his own life makes a gripping and absorbing drama about dying with dignity. This is a powerful and emotional film that makes a significant plea for physician-assisted suicide. Can be used also for educational purposes in bioethics classes. I highly recommend.

Whose Life Is It Anyway

Kim Cattrall is playing the role of a woman paralyzed from neck to toes following a car accident. She wishes to discharge herself from hospital, which means to die. The hospital refuses to grant this and the issue is brought before a judge who is finally persuaded to grant the request. In the end the patient is allowed to remain in hospital without receiving any medical treatment, food or fluids. She is starved to death. Unlike Schiavo, Cattrall in this theatre production in London, a new version to the 1981 Richard Dreyfuss' film, is competent and alert. This is a painful and disturbing death. Physician-assisted suicide is a much preferred solution. Surprisingly, it is not considered in this drama. I imagine PAS was unthinkable in the 1970s, when the play was originally written (the original was a play by Brian Clark, which was produced by the BBC in 1972 and on Broadway in 1978).


Enjoy the attached. These photos are simply beautiful.

With my very best wishes for a Happy Passover, as ever,
RafiMy last communications are available on http://almagor.blogspot.comEarlier posts at my home page:
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