Thursday, August 25, 2005
Tensed Month, Sharon, Incitement, Mofaz, Israeli Democracy at the Crossroads, Tourism, New Article, Btselem website, New Journal, New Address
Dear friends and colleagues,
This has been a very tensed month, heaven for political zealots who exploited the tension to spread hatred and destruction. It started with mass murder by an Israeli Army deserter dressed in a military uniform who opened fire on August 4, 2005 aboard a bus carrying Israeli Arab passengers in Shefaram, an Arab town in the north of Israel. Four were killed and at least a dozen wounded before an angry crowd beat the gunman to death.
The shooting was one of the deadliest by a Jewish attacker in recent years. One more attempt to halt the evacuation of Gaza. The gunman was identified by the military as Eden Natan Zada, 19, an army private who was reported absent without leave around mid-June after refusing to take part in preparations for the Gaza pullout.
Natan Zada went to live in Tapuah, one of the most militant Jewish settlements in the West Bank, known as the extreme bastion of Meir Kahane's followers. There is a saying in Israel that the law stops at Kfar Tapuach. The people there see the law as recommendation, and abide to it only when it suits there agenda. People of Tapuach were involved in many attacks on Arabs. Natan Zada is one of many "stray weeds" who are willing to take arms to fight for their ideology. And please read this last sentence in your most cynical tone. Unfortunately, after the Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, we know that the term "stray weed" is designed as kisuy tachat (ass cover) by the security forces, to justify their inability to track those zealots and stop them before they murder innocent people.
The anti-disengagement plan headquarters were quite successful in their campaign. They coloured the country with the resistance colour – orange (imitating Ukraine, not the Dutch). Many people who did not form an opinion about the pullout from Gaza joined their camp. The pain of uprooting touches almost everyone. It is natural to identify with the families who are forced to leave their lives, their homes and start a new life in a foreign place. Against most predictions, only 150 families left the Gaza Strip before August 15, 2005 – the official day declared as the day when the evacuation will start. Some 5,000 people who do not reside in the Strip joined the families who awaited the security forces and refused to leave on their own volition. That means that some 11,000 people were in the Strip on the eve of evacuation. Jewish presence in the Strip was never so strong, not at least in the past 100 years. The pressure exerted by the anti-disengagement camp was so significant that it influenced most of the Gaza residents to forego some of the compensation money granted by the government if they were to leave until a certain date prior August 15.
I, for one, did not expect such a massive campaign for the Strip. The explanation for this campaign lies beyond the premise that "every meter of Jewish land counts". True, there are zealots who are not willing to give up any part of Israel to the Palestinians, no matter what gains we may harvest. Luckily, I believe they are small minority. To understand the volume and intensity of the anti-disengagement campaign we need to put this historical precedent in the larger context of Gaza First, two states solution, and ending the occupation. The orange headquarters wanted us to realize that what we witnessed during the past months will be peanuts compared to what they are prepared to do if any leader will contemplate the evacuation of Judea and Samaria. They are prepared to tear the nation apart, to disrupt public life, to meet the security forces with force if West Bank settlements will be even debated.
The first three days of the evacuation were relatively quiet. On August 15, 16 and 17 some 850 additional families left the Strip without physical confrontations. There were more hugs than pushes. Settlers were hugging the soldiers and police men who came to evacuate them. Touching scenes. Many people cried.
On August 17, 2005 Asher Weissgan, a 38-year-old resident of the West Bank settlement Shvut Rahel, on Wednesday shot to death four Palestinians with whom he worked and wounded two others, one of them seriously. The victims have been identified as Mohammed Mansour, 48, and Bassam Tauase, 30, both from the Nablus region; Halil Salah, 42, from Qalqilyah; and Osama Moussa Tawafsha, 33, from the village of Sanjil, not far from the West Bank town of Ramallah. The government condemned the attack as an "exceptionally grave Jewish act of terror." Sharon instructed the security establishment to deal harshly with all attempts to harm innocent people.
"I'm not sorry for what I did," said Weissgan before entering a remand hearing at the Petah Tikvah Magistrate's Court. "I hope someone also kills Sharon."
The most dangerous point of the process was in Kfar Darom, where some dozens of punks fortified themselves on one of the roofs, throwing oil, juice, fruit, conserve tins, bottles with urine, and acid on soldiers and policemen. Some of the security people were injured. The security forces arrested more than 100 people, handling the situation with courage and determination. On the whole, I salute the security forces for their restraint, ability to swallow indignations without response, and resolute actions. The police force has an unjust reputation of resolving crises with beatings. The last few weeks showed just how unjustified this reputation is. I am very proud of them.
Thanks to them, things never went out of control. It was a tough and touching process, with no casualties on the Jewish side. Four Israeli Palestinians, and four Palestinians from the West Bank were murdered in the process.
The evacuation of West Bank communities Sa-Nur and Homesh on August 23, 2005 brought to an end, in less than a week, the pullout from all 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank. The IDF expects all soldiers to have left the Gaza Strip by September 15.The IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said the removal of settlers' possessions and the demolition of the houses would be finished around September 3. He said he believed the IDF would need another 10 to 14 days to evacuate all its bases and personnel from the Strip. I am very sorry that the government did not collect itself and pursues the unfortunate decision of demolishing the settlements. I still wonder whether there are things I do not know that brought about this sorry decision.
The Southern Command wants to complete the withdrawal as soon as possible, out of concern that soldiers left in Gaza after the withdrawal of Israeli civilians are "sitting ducks" for Palestinian terror organizations.The IDF's departure from the Philadelphi route, along the Gaza Strip-Egypt border, awaits cabinet approval and might be postponed until October.
Not in the first time in his eventful life, Sharon needs to face tough decisions. Bibi Netanyahu is now attacking him with all his might, no gloves, understanding that now it is time to act as he enjoys firm majority among the Likud supporters. He is looking for the right opportunity to convene the Likud Center and challenge Sharon. Sharon is doing his best to halt the process, allowing him more time to change the balance to his favor. He might not succeed.
Time is running out for him. His son, Omri, who was taking out the dirty laundry for him, is deeply involved in legal investigations for transgressing the election law in funding his father's election campaigns. The orange camp is pressing hard for Bibi. Anything but Sharon. New elections are drawing near and the Labour soon will find an excuse to retire from the government so as to allow enough time to collect itself and present the party as a credible opposition. This means that within the next few months Sharon will need to compete against Bibi in the Likud Center for leadership. He will not do this if polls show Bibi is clearly ahead, as the situation is now. Then his only choice is to establish, for the third time in his life, a new party. The problem is that it is not easy for him to leave the Likud for various reasons: You do not leave a product that sells so well. Likud is a sure stock in Israeli politics, a winning stock. Sharon will leave it only if there is really no other option. Secondly, bear in mind that Sharon built and formed the Likud. It is his creation, though I assume that politically he could have started his political career with Labour. Labour did not want him in the early 1970s. Sharon always had a reputation of an individualist who does what he thinks, without too much consultation or respect for the elders. Now, there are not many elders above him, and he remains an individualist to his bones. But he surely does not do for his home. He could have been like Yitzhak Shamir, doing more or less nothing, continuing the status quo, and sailing away to a sure term in the prime minister office. I am glad it was him, and not Peres or someone else from Labour, who took this rough decision of foregoing some of the gains of the Six Day War. Gaza First is the start. The process will continue until the end of occupation. It is better to leave these decisions, and their implementation, at the ends of the Likud. They are much better than Labour in convincing the people that this is the right thing to do.
In light of the many calls to murder Sharon, it was reported that the prime minister is sleeping with a pistol. How many PMs in democracies you know that sleep with a gun next to their bed? Difficult times.
As the incitement campaign continues, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz sparked furious debate on August 10, 2005 by saying that there was "no indication" that the 1995 assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin had been sparked by incitement. Unbelievable.
Mazuz warned that excessive use of laws against incitement could curb free speech. "The atmosphere within the public has an influence, but it must not be used as an excuse to shut people's mouths," he said.
According to Mazuz, prosecutors have refrained on principle from filing charges against people suspected of incitement. "We do not believe in enforcing the law [as a tool] to change the atmosphere of public life," he said. Interesting. I wonder why he is using the law and affects public life on issues like prostitution, drugs, guest workers, and Sharon's disengagement plan.
"A skullcap does not confer immunity from observing the law," Mazuz continued, "But no one wants to link the words of one person and the acts of another."
Source : Yuval Yoaz, "AG: No indication Yitzhak Rabin killing was due to incitement", Haaretz (August 10, 2005).
As you know, my view is very different. Incitement lies outside the boundaries of the Free Speech Principle. It should not be protected nor legitimized in any form, certainly not by the Legal Advisor to the Government, certainly not at this heated time, when calls against PM Sharon are gaining momentum and people contemplate his murder. What did we learn from 1993-1995? I have a strange feeling of déjà vu. I hope the Israeli legal establishment will collect itself before it is not too late. Just a week before this controversial statement I sent Mazuz and Attorney General Eran Shendar an article on incitement, indicating similarities between 1993-1995 and 2003-2005 and calling to take stringent measures against people who instigate to murder. Israel cannot afford Mazuz's liberalism. I wonder whether Mazus were liberal to the same extent if the calls for murder were directed against him.
Those of you who read Hebrew may be interested in http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/objects/pages/PrintArticle.jhtml?itemNo=614198 or
As Sharon is taking all the heat, sorry fire, and presents himself as THE leader of this historical process of reshaping Zionism, Mofaz is slowly building himself in the Likud and the public. He is the Minister of Defence, directly responsible for all the operations in Gaza and North Shomron. Still, he is not singled out like Sharon, enjoying the image of the one who implements, not one who decides. Interesting question what he will do if Sharon retires and establishes a new party. If he is to remain with the Likud, all he needs is to wait for Bibi's first gross mistake, and we know Bibi is prone to make such mistakes, to be voted into leadership. Or he may remain loyal to Sharon. I hasten to say that upon ascertaining that his position in the top five is not harmed, he will remain in the Likud. Loyalty? This is for people who have a firm ideology and conviction and who do not play partisan politics. One thing is certain: in his quiet, careful and calculated way, Mofaz is planning his moves to become Israel's prime minister. Do not underestimate him. He was a very successful general, who succeeded where many (including Sharon) had failed: reaching the top position. And he has a very impressive career as a politician, quite an achievement considering he is just a kinder in this battle field.
Israeli Democracy at the Crossroads,
Just published: R. Cohen-Almagor, Editor, Israeli Democracy at the Crossroads (London: Routledge, 2005). Here is my final word, published with permission by Routledge:
Israeli Democracy at the Crossroads
This chapter considers some of the issues raised by the contributors to this book. I speak of the harms of concentrated media ownership and then discuss health rights, arguing that democracy should not neglect its elderly citizens, at the time of their greatest need. There is an unwritten contract between the state and its citizens that should be maintained and preserved. Having said that, in a constrained reality that does not assume that all needs will be provided, people are forced to recognize that optimal health care for all is an unrealistic expectation. Prioritizing becomes unavoidable, and there is a need for the state to offer citizens a number of insurance alternatives. The study goes on to probe the limits of multiculturalism and the relationship between state and religion, arguing for separation between the two. It argues for accommodating the interests of the Israeli-Palestinians, striving to safeguard equal rights and liberties for all citizens notwithstanding nationality, religion, race or colour, and insisting that citizens have also duties to fulfill. Finally, the study considers the need for targeted assassinations as means to fight against terror and it proposes the Gaza First Plan as a way to break the deadlock and bring some peace and tranquility to Israel. It should be noted that I have been promoting the Gaza First Plan since 2000, and that just before the proofs went to the printer Arafat died (on November 11, 2004).
People who live in Israel say: There is no dull moment. We always have action. Indeed, people yearn for some tranquility, for some peace of mind. This book shows that life in Israel will continue to be interesting and challenging.
Israel is a young democracy. It is still in process of development and undoubtedly it will face further tests. The key factor for its success is its relationships with our neighbours. Security expenses exhausts a third of our budget, leaving insufficient resources for the development of other spheres. The constant security threat destroys the tourism industry and preempts external investments essential for economic growth. Unemployment continues to rise. Salaries going down in real terms. Welfare benefits are cut. Taxes are high and continue to rise. Israel has the highest rate of taxes in the world, outside Scandinavia. During the past decade many industries and services were regressing, or closed down. High-tech industries experience what the rest of the world is experiencing. The only business that is flourishing is security. Stroll the streets and see soldiers, policemen, and personnel of many security operations. People are worried about their physical security as well as about their economic security.
In this chapter I wish to consider some of the issues raised by the contributors to this book. The discussion is supposed to give the readers some food for thought as to how we can contribute to the safeguarding and enhancing of Israeli democracy.
In modern democracies we find more and more channels of communication held in fewer hands. As evidenced by the historic development of large European media conglomerates, such as News International, Bertelsmann, Hachette, and Fininvest, the tendency for media firms to expand and diversify is not new. This tendency has been on the rise in Europe, Israel and North America during the 1990s when we witnessed major transactions and mergers that increased the power of a few media tycoons in the major countries of the world.
The process had started some thirty years ago. When we look at the western world we can discern a pattern that developed during the late 1960s-early 1970s, that big conglomerates buy up the media. The 1970s and 1980s saw the most astounding media buy-outs of the century, usually by highly diversified conglomerates looking to expand into “infotainment”, information, and news. The extraordinary consolidation in media ownership continued with even greater frenzy in the western world as the 1980s drew to a close with the merger of Warner Brothers and Time Inc. (now called Time Warner Inc.); Rupert Murdoch’s $3 billion purchase of Walter Annenberg’s Triangle Publications; the decision of Gulf & Western (now called Paramount Communications Inc.) to concentrate on planetary media ownership; and Maclean Hunter’s takeover of Selkirk Communications Ltd. This rapid concentration in media ownership was aided by conservative governments that embraced the principles of deregulation and privatization, including major funding cuts to public broadcasting throughout Europe, Britain, Canada, and the United States. As the buying spree continued unabated, less media corporate conglomerates own and control most of the world’s major newspapers, magazines, broadcasting stations, book publishers, movie studios, and record and videocassette industries. In August 1995, Walt Disney Co. spent $19 billion in the second largest takeover in United States history acquiring the ABC television network. The next day it was announced that Westinghouse Electric Corp. had purchased CBS Inc., for $5.4 billion. A month later, Time Warner Inc. took over Turner Broadcasting System in a $7 billion stock transaction.
In Israel, three families and their companies dominate the entire mass media: Moses, Nimrodi, and Schocken. The Moses family controls Yedioth Ahronoth that has the largest circulation in the country: 390,000 daily and 660,000 on Fridays. Yedioth has circulation of more than 40 percent of the press market on weekdays and 70 percent of the press circulation on weekends. This circulation exceeds the circulation of all the Hebrew dailies combined, and is more than double the circulation of its main competitor Ma’ariv. An impressive achievement that makes Yedioth a monopoly in its field. In addition, the Moses family owns 17 local papers, six periodicals, a Russian-speaking daily, a publishing house, a music company, and is a partner in the commercial channel (Channel 2) and cable television operations (Arutzei Zahav).
The Nimrodi family owns Ma’ariv, the second largest daily with a circulation of 250,000 on weekdays (more than 20 percent of the press market). The family also has one local paper, three periodicals, a music company, a publishing house, shares in the franchise of the commercial television, and cable television operations (Matav). In turn, the Schocken family owns the influential liberal-oriented Ha’aretz that has a weekday circulation of 73,000 and also have a publishing house, an on-line information company, partnership with the international Herald Tribune and control over fourteen local newspapers and some local radio stations. Together, the three press barons control 84 percent of the market.
As for the broadcasting industry, Israel underwent a media revolution during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Until then the electronic media were state owned. The Broadcasting Authority had a monopoly on all radio stations and on the single television station. In effect, the state was the sole producer of all the electronic news. In November 1993, the first broadcast that was financed by commercials was started. This commercial broadcasting is subject to public monitoring of the Second Television and Radio Authority. This Authority selects through franchise the broadcasting corporations. In addition to Channel 2, the Israeli public was connected in the early 1990s to extensive cable television systems through five major cable television operations companies, each provides services to a different geographic area. Seventy percent of the public is connected to cable. Within five years, most of the Israeli households were transformed from having access to one major TV station, Channel One, controlled by the Israeli government, to more than fifty cable channels. This was a drastic transformation that reshaped the mass media in Israel.
During the deliberations about the Second Television and Radio Authority Law there was a debate about the legitimacy of cross ownership. The publishers of the written press argued that because commercial budgets would be referred to television, their newspapers would suffer great losses. To compensate them, they felt they should have a share in the new medium. Furthermore, they had the experience and expertise to be involved in the project. Critics spoke of the unhealthy situation when one or more persons control the most popular information sources. Such a situation could corrupt the person/s who hold so much power, deciding the agenda and the interpretation of public concerns. 
The Second Authority was split among three production networks: Keshet, Reshet (Yedioth has 24 percent of the holdings) and Telad (Ma’ariv has 18 percent of the holdings) in a way that gives two of the networks control on two different days of the week, and the third controls the content of three days. Through this arrangement it was hoped that a voice would be given to various interests, and none of the networks would decide the agenda alone. A joint News Corporation was established that is in charge of the news reports throughout the seven days of the week. Some of the major national and international (Coca-Cola being one of them) economic corporations and banks have shares in the three production companies. The Law prescribes procedures for the transfer of ten percent or more of the shares from one share-holder to another without the consent of the Second Television and Radio Authority Council. It also restricts ownership to a maximum ten percent of a single franchise. The publishers opened an extensive lobby to change the situation and succeeded to increase the share to 24 percent. Then they tried to raise it again, this time to 49 percent, but this second attempt has proved unsuccessful thus far. During the time of this lobbying, when the publishers of Yedioth and Ma’ariv were active in the Knesset trying to change the law to their advantage, both newspapers did not discuss the issue and the criticism voiced against their initiative. Consequently, the majority of the public was totally unaware of the debate and its importance. It needed a prime time report of the issue by Channel 1, the public channel, to provoke a debate.
There is room for concern when we observe the accumulative power of the Yedioth mega chain (in Israeli terms). Yedioth could exploit its power to over-emphasize a certain issue or to hide another. It could take advantage of its resources to advance a specific matter and to silence another, hindering the public right to know. Moreover, the existing situation connects newsagents and economic corporations. Could the newspapers criticize their partners when such criticisms might hinder their own economic interests? To what extent could the written press publish criticisms of the commercial television of which they are part? And vice versa, could the television openly criticize the press? Cross ownership serves the interests of the three major families, but it directly negates the public interest.
In purely economic terms, by ensuring a large number of competitors within the media market, competition is promoted which, in turn, leads to a more efficient service, to a quality service, to better reporting, and grants the consumer more effective choice. Competition and choice enhance the market and make it develop more rapidly. Conversely, lack of competition leads to stagnation. If large chunks of the market are secured, why should a media baron invest more resources in providing a better service and quality reports? Public policy considerations require some degree of intervention by a regulator in order to encourage a variety of voices and views.
In September 1997, the Public Committee that has been established to investigate the legal procedures associated with the conduct of the Israeli press issued its report. The report warned against the mischief of cross-ownership that threatened the free press. But because the members of the Committee thought that this issue required looking at the entire media market, while their role was limited only to the working of the written press, the report refrained from concrete recommendations. All the report says is that there should be a symmetric regulation between limitations on press ownership and ownership over the electronic media.
To conclude: Freedoms of expression and of the media do not imply the freedom to own an unlimited number of communication organs. On the contrary, these freedoms contradict one another; unrestricted capitalism in the form of either cross-ownership or excessive ownership of media organizations negates free expression and free media. Excessive media ownership can hinder pluralism of ideas, creating a media market that is tightly controlled by a few decision makers who use their power and influence to project views that conform to their partisan interests.
In most liberal societies, basic health is seen as one of the necessary conditions for the exercise of personal autonomy. It is generally acknowledged that individuals have a right to health care. The prevalent assumption is that this right generates an obligation or duty on the part of the state to ensure that adequate health care is made available and which further requires that equal access to available health-care is provided through public funds. The state has no obligation to provide a health-care system itself, but the state does have the obligation to ensure that such an adequate system is provided. Basic health care is now recognized as a “public good” rather than a “private good” that one is expected to buy for oneself.
The constraints on the financial resources allocated for care of the ill force us to consider, in an honest and serious manner, the tension between the ideal and the real. Currently, challenges to our health have medical solutions, albeit sometimes partial, that were unimaginable in the previous century. The new technology is very costly, therefore costs and benefits must be examined and priorities determined as to how to invest the scarce and costly resources.
Every discussion on the allocation of resources is bound to reveal the tension between the macro and the micro, between the needs of society and the needs of the individual. The tension is inescapable, and the work of drawing the appropriate balance is delicate. Emphasizing the needs of society might inevitably result in ignoring the needs of some individuals. In the liberal tradition, the starting point is the individual rather than the society. Liberals conceive shifting the emphasis from the individual to society as a very dangerous move.
Costs must be examined when society seeks benefit from expensive technological treatments. We must realize that it is unrealistic to expect the government to pay for the most expensive treatments. The question of the extent to which citizens are willing to finance the most expensive treatments should be raised in public forums. The state should provide several insurance alternatives that would suit citizens’ different capacities to pay for health services: the higher the premium paid, the more inclusive the medical treatment that citizens would enjoy.
As people grow old, their health deteriorate. From the moral-contractual perspective, democracy should not neglect its elderly citizens, at the time of their greatest need. There is an unwritten contract between the state and its citizens that should be maintained and preserved. As the state expects its citizens to contribute to its maintenance so the citizens expect their state to assist in their own maintenance. The contract is mutual, not one sided. It is based on the principles of justice and fairness. Having said that, in a constrained reality that does not assume that all needs will be provided, people are forced to recognize that optimal health care for all is an unrealistic expectation. Prioritizing becomes unavoidable, and there is a need for the state to offer citizens a number of insurance alternatives.
In this context, one must examine the concepts of self-responsibility, social responsibility and the relationship between them. Idealization of one of these concepts might lead to neglect of the others. These two concepts are important, and one cannot come at the expense of the other. The concept of social responsibility should be promoted, but it should not be seen as an all-encompassing substitute for the individual’s self-responsibility. A view of society that assumes responsibility for everybody might lead to the collectivization of the individual, who might consequently disappear within the collective mass.
That is to say that the concept of social responsibility cannot be applied equally to those who assume responsibility for themselves and to those who shirk it. Take, for example, an individual who becomes addicted to drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol. We believe that there is room in democracy for a certain amount of paternalism, but this does not include the power to force people to stop drinking or smoking. Liberal society may assist alcoholics and drug addicts to overcome their addiction, but it cannot coerce them to quit and act without their consent. The question is whether the state has an obligation to provide identical healthcare rights to a person who looks after himself or herself and to another who deliberately ruins his or her body. Health cannot be conceived as a concept that is stripped of individual responsibility. To a great extent, the individual possesses the liberty to destroy his or her health. Does the state have an obligation to invest its limited resources in people who do not undertake the basic responsibility to preserve their health?
We must, therefore, recognize that individuals have basic medical rights, but it does not follow that the state has a duty to protect a person’s health while he or she is harming it in various ways. The state has an obligation to warn us of dangers. The individual has the liberty to take risks. The state can offer schemes for rehabilitation from addiction. When the individual knowingly takes serious risks, such as consumption of hard drugs or alcohol, and does not show a genuine desire to find a way out of this situation, the state’s duty loses all significance. It is neither fair nor possible to make the health of one person the duty of another. The state may accordingly decide that assuming responsibility for one’s life can serve as a criterion for the allocation of resources. Consequently, certain groups should not receive the care for which they are prima facie eligible. Society must declare loudly and clearly that people who refrain from taking responsibility for their own health cannot expect equal attention in the distribution of limited medical goods. These people have brought about their own exclusion from the right to receive health services. The need for medical treatment does not, in and of itself, ensure one the right to receive medical treatment. The need should be rooted in the concept of rights only when accompanied by personal commitment to the preservation of health and to the promotion of social good. A person as a moral agent who lives in a society is obligated not to neglect his or her health if he or she wants to be equally deserving of medical care.
It should be further clarified that the suggestion is not to deny medical care to smokers. They should receive care but the state cannot compel them to take treatment to quit their addiction. When there is no will on the part of the smoker, the treatment is bound to fail. Similarly, when the doctor sets as a precondition to cease smoking for the success of lung treatment and the patient is not willing to make the commitment, the treatment is bound to fail and there is no reason to invest valuable resources in that patient. The resources, which are always limited, should be invested in patients who are willing to make the commitment and who, therefore, have a better chance to succeed in overcoming the disease.
In the center of this perception lies the concept of responsibility. Responsibility is a personal concept, internal to people and subjective in essence, requiring self-recognition and a certain amount of self-sacrifice. Of course, self-responsibility does not exclude the possibility that the agent may ask for assistance and advice from people whose experience and expertise he or she appreciates. People can ask for the opinion of doctors, family members, and friends to consider and reconsider options concerning their health. But after reaching a decision, the agent must be held accountable for his or her resolution. A responsible person is one who recognizes and knows that he or she must pay, whether in monetary or other terms, for his or her (mis)conduct. People who do not take responsibility for their lives thus manifest lack of responsibility for their surroundings and society at large and alienate themselves from the existing social contract. The contract is a mutual one between the individual and society. An ongoing, open, social discussion will determine the boundaries of social accountability resting on the shoulders of every individual and the commitments of the state to its individuals. The boundaries are fluid and nonpermanent, and they are open to discussion and argument. This is not a matter of the state shirking its responsibility toward certain populations. The state must offer those people chances for bettering their situation and rehabilitating them by helping them discard their addictions; however, the state may not impose means of correction to force them “to be free".
Some categories of treatment are too costly for most individuals in society. The sums of money involved in the transplantation of organs are enormous, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in these cases the state should help by devising special insurance schemes in which the state would assist those who commit themselves to having a transplant. The commitment could take two forms: special insurance for organ transplantation, and an explicit willingness to donate organs if certain conditions are fulfilled. Society must not reach a situation where only the richest obtain these expensive operations. Charity and turning to the public for fund raising are options, but such donations must not be made obligatory: certainly they should not be considered an adequate substitute for state aid. Special public committees of diverse composition should make decisions concerning the allocation of costly treatments. It is preferable that these committees include doctors as well as public representatives from various disciplines: ethicists, economists, sociologists, lawyers, social workers, and clergymen. Together they will decide on proper priorities regarding the medical needs of each particular patient.
Values can come into conflict: promoting individual freedom may entail intolerance towards illiberal groups, while promoting tolerance of illiberal groups may entail accepting restrictions on the freedom of individuals. What should be done in such cases?
In every democracy certain norms and moral codes must be shared by all people despite their cultural differences; hence the range of norms that society can respect has limitations. The most basic norms democracy has to secure are, in my opinion, respecting others as human beings (under the Respect for Others Argument), and not to inflicting harm upon others (under the Millian Harm Principle). Having explained these two principles elsewhere, I present them here without much elaboration.
The Respect for Others Argument is founded on the assertions that we ought to respect others as autonomous human beings who exercise self-determination to live according to their own life plans, and that we respect people as self-developing beings who are able to develop their inherent faculties as they choose (that is, to develop capabilities people wish to develop, not every capability that they are blessed with). At the same time, we insist on the requirement of mutuality. We ought to show respect for those who respect others.
The boundaries of tolerance are determined by the qualification of not harming others, which is added to the Respect for Others Argument. Under the Harm Principle, restrictions on liberty may be prescribed when there are clear threats of immediate violence against some individuals or groups. The same idea was pronounced in a different phrase by a Jewish sage, Rabbi Hillel, who said: "What is hateful to you do not do unto your fellow people".
The upholding of the Respect for Others Argument and the Harm Principle safeguards the rights of those who might find themselves in a disadvantageous position in society, such as women; ethnic, religious, national and cultural minorities; homosexuals; and others.
Liberal democracy could interfere to curtail some norms that undermine its basic principle of granting equal respect and concern to all. Democracy cannot endure norms that deny respect to individuals and that are offensive to some, although they might be dictated by some religions. Some norms are unacceptable by liberal standards because they are perceived to be intrinsically wrong. Among these are norms prescribing discrimination on grounds which people are not able to change (sex, colour, religion, race, ethnic affiliation, etc.). This holds true for coercive religious practice. Democratic governments have to play the role of umpires both in the sense of applying just considerations when reviewing different conceptions and in trying to reconcile conflicting interests, trends, and claims. This delicate task demands integrity as well as impartiality. Governments should not exploit their role for their own advantage, and when making decisions they have to bear in mind the relevant considerations and demands which concern society as a whole, not only one or some fractions of it.
At present, some religious practices are offensive to the sensibilities of women, and involve coercion, which conflicts with the liberal elements of democracy that vouchsafes the rights of individuals. One of these is the right to follow one’s conscience and to practice one's beliefs as one sees fit, as long as this practice does not entail harm to others.
Religion and State
If an illiberal minority is seeking to oppress other groups, then most liberals would agree that intervention is justified in the name of self-defence. Hence the secular majority in Israel has every right to object to attempts which aim at narrowing its freedom of conscience and to broaden the authority of religious orthodoxy.
Democracy is supposed to allow each and every individual the opportunity to follow her or his conception of the good without coercion. Israel today gives precedence to Judaism over liberalism. I submit that on issues such as this one, the reverse should be the case.
In this context, Asa Kasher outlines a list of components that make Israel a Jewish state and then demarcates the most notable deficiencies of Israeli democracy. Some of the Jewish characteristics contradict and undermine the democratic nature of the state and here I would like to take issue with them.
Israel, being the only Jewish state in the world, should strive to retain its Jewish character. The symbols should remain Jewish with some accommodations in order to make the state a home for its Palestinian citizens as well. Shabbat should remain the official day of rest. Palestinian villages and towns may make Friday their day of rest. Hopefully, one day, when security considerations would become less dominant and pressing, and the Israeli economy could afford two days of rest, as is the case in many parts of the world, then Friday and Shabbat will become the two official days of rest.
Having said that, the preservation of the Jewish character of the state should not entail coercion of the predominant secular circles of Israel. The guiding principle should be Live and Let Live. We need to differentiate between the symbolic aspects and the modus operandi aspects. As far as the latter are concerned, separation between state and religion should be achieved. People are born free and wish to continue their lives as free citizens in their homeland. Coercion is foreign to our natural sentiments and desires to lead our lives free as possible from alien restraints and impediments. Hence, while Shabbat should be observed, malls and shopping places outside the cities should be available for the many people who work during the week and do their shopping during weekends.
Public transportation should be made available for all people who cannot afford having a car and for those who do not drive. The state should cater for the needs of as many citizens as possible. Kosher shops and restaurants should be available and with them non-Kosher shops and restaurants for the secular, agnostic population.
Most importantly, the significant events in one's life: birth, wedding, divorce and death should be handled in accordance of the people's own choices. If they so desire, people may involve rabbinate and other religious institutions in their private lives. But this option should be left to them. If people wish to have secular ceremonies then they should have the ability to conduct them and not to be forced to undergo practices which mean very little to them, if anything. The state should have as little as possible say in family, intimate affairs.
The argument for religious autonomy and against religious coercion leads me to distinguish between inter-group relationships (one group imposing its views on another), and intra-group relationships (a group imposing its views on its own members). One group has no right to coerce the entire society into following its conception of the good and abiding by its cultural norms. In the event that a religious or cultural group makes such an attempt, other segments of society have to open further channels of communication and resolve the situation by peaceful means. If these means fail, they should resort to authoritative means to draw the boundaries and fight against coercion.
A pertinent distinction to draw is between internalized coercion and designated coercion. If a religious sect denies rights and liberties to its women members, that sect may continue doing so because it is assumed that all members of that group internalized the system of beliefs that legitimizes the exclusion of rights from women. It is further assumed that all members of that group conform to and abide by the particular conception of the good that guides and directs members of the said group. They do not feel that they are being coerced to follow a certain conception. Outsiders may claim that a whole-encompassing system of manipulation, rationalization and legitimization is being utilized to make women accept their denial of rights. But on most cases this view may only be the view of outsiders, not of the persons concerned. If at all, one may argue that women of that sect are experiencing a form of coercion that could be called internalized coercion.
Difficulties arise when some women in the said cultural or religious group fail to internalize fully the system of norms that discriminates against them. Upon realizing that they are being denied fundamental rights, they might wish – for instance - to opt out of their community. If they are allowed to opt out, no question arises. If not allowed, then a case arises for state interference to overrule this individualistic, designated coercion that aims to deny them freedom to leave their community. I call this form of coercion - designated coercion. Unlike the internalized coercion it is not concerned with a machinery aiming to convince the entire cultural group of an irrefutable truth; instead it is designed to exert pressure on uncertain, “confused” individuals so as to bring them back to their community.
Accommodating the Israeli-Palestinians
After the Holocaust, the goal was to found a safe haven for Jews all over the world so as to avoid the possibility of another horrific experience of that nature. Indeed, the United Nations acknowledged the need of establishing a Jewish state. This creation, however, based on a specific conception of the good, discriminates against the Israeli Arabs. Israel acknowledges the problematic involved in the introduction of this perfectionist element in its framework of ruling. To assure an equal status for the Arab minority, the Declaration of Independence holds that Israel will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; that it will be based on the foundations of liberty, justice and peace; that it will uphold complete equality of social and political rights to all of its citizens irrespective of religion, race or sex, and that it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture. Yet, the explicit formulation of these principles could not make an Arab easily (if at all) identify with a state whose hymn speaks of Zion and of "the yearning of the Jewish soul".
The Israeli national anthem is clearly Jewish. It explicitly ignores the multicultural and multinational character of the state. A state anthem should represent all people, not just the majority of people. We should learn from the lessons of other democracies that were bold enough to change their respective anthems in order to represent all factions of their populations (most notably South Africa, the "rainbow" nation, after 1994). Israel need not necessarily adopt a different anthem. It may simply change a few words, mentioned above: instead of "Zion" to speak of "Israel" or "our land"; instead of a "Jew" to speak of a "person" or "citizen". Such accommodations are steps in the right direction towards a more democratic society. Symbols are important in the life of a nation.
Arabic is one of the two official languages of the State of Israel. Therefore it should enjoy a dominant status and have the importance it deserves. Arabic should be taught at every primary and high school together with English. Language is a key factor in creating bridges between people - Israeli Jews and Israeli Palestinians, and between Jews and Arabs in general. Here I should also note that Judaic studies should be available in every primary and high school. They should be made compulsory for two or three years and then optional. Studies of other religions that exist in Israel should also be made available. Sign posts should be written in Hebrew and in Arabic. Key sign posts should be written also in English (as now is the case) for tourists who hopefully one day will make Israel a "must see" in their travels.
Delegates of the Arab minority should be represented, in accordance with their size in society, in the Knesset and in the government. To date, there has never been an Arab minister. This should be corrected. At the same time, Israel would like to see from all its citizens, without exception, a real and strong commitment to the state, to peace, and to the struggle against terror.
The Rights and Duties of Citizenship
Citizenship entails many benefits. Citizens enjoy political and social rights. They are entitled to basic social security and to basic health privileges. However, the existing state of affairs in which large sectors of the population do not fulfill their civic duties is unacceptable and unfair to those who share the burden. People should not only take from the state. They should also invest in it and contribute to it. Israel cannot afford having such exemption phenomenon. At present, large sectors, mainly the ultra-orthodox, do not pay taxes, do not serve in the army, do not work; yet, they receive state support allowing them to study torah. Resources should be distributed equally to all sectors. Every citizen is expected to pay in accordance with his/her abilities. Israel should sponsor religious studies to the same extent that it supports university and other forms of high education. As long as the state deems it necessary to oblige its young citizens to serve in the army, all healthy people should take part and give a shoulder in carrying the security burden. This is true for all citizens without exception. Citizens who have a problem in serving the army for religious, moral or national reasons should commit themselves to do national service for the required period of time (presently three years for men; two years for women) in their own communities, working to better the conditions of their own group. That is to say that religious people who object to serve in the army, fearing that the IDF might corrupt their minds and souls, should do national service in their own neighborhoods. They could volunteer to work in welfare and relief organizations, the fire brigades, medical service, etc. Palestinian citizens who refuse to serve in order to avoid a situation by which they might confront their Palestinian brothers wearing PLO uniforms should do national service in their own communities. Finally, conscientious objectors could contribute to Israel in various ways other than serving in the army.
The Struggle against Terrorism
Terrorism and the peace process could not live together. A zero sum game exists between the two: any gain on one side comes at the expense of the other. Yasser Arafat failed to transform from a terrorist to a statesman and consequently has delivered almost nothing to his people in recent years. The Palestinians are capable of great endurance, but they also expect some return. I'm not sure the current el-Aqsa terrorist warfare (unlike the 1987-1993 intifada, this is not a popular uprising) has produced any.
Knowing that he cannot win a Palestinian war of independence alone, Arafat had sought to escalate the situation, hoping to spark a wider conflict. But with Syria, Jordan and Egypt apparently in no mood for war, his sights are now set on international involvement. Israel, of course, resents the prospect of UN and European forces on its soil. History has shown that such a presence invariably harms our interests - as it did prior to the 1967 war.
In recent years Israel resorts to targeted killing. Granted that a state is entitled to fight down terror and to defend its civilians, should it resort to such means as well? Against targeted killing it has been argued that Israel is killing people without trial or due process; that mistakes do happen and innocent lives might be taken; sometimes, during the operations not only the targeted individual is killed but also bystanders, including women and children. Furthermore, while targeted killing may disrupt and deter some attacks, it is likely to provoke more killings of civilians as revenge and makes it more difficult to forge peace. Moreover, this policy of targeted killing offends our sense of moral sensibility when government officials are acting like hit squads.
For targeted killing it is argued that this policy has prevented some attacks against civilians, made terrorists devote time and energies to hide instead of planning murderous operations, weakened the effectiveness of terrorist organizations, and possibly served as deterrence. Targeted killing is performed after ample consideration and in accordance with established and well-defined criteria. It is not arbitrary and every effort is being made by the intelligence not to maim innocent bystanders. Terrorists are not immune to being targeted and killed. Fighting them cannot be conducted in accordance with pacifist principles and with velvet gloves. The Palestinian suicide murderers have no qualms or reservations. They seek to kill any innocent Israeli civilian, be it old people, children, women or infants. The more, the better. Any place is suitable for the evil attacks: restaurants, coffee shops, discos, night clubs, pubs, schools and kindergartens, universities, buses. Stopping these vicious operations is of obvious importance and provides justification for targeted killing as means of self-defence. Furthermore, casualties are minimized for both sides, as targeted killing does not resort to massive scale operations that endanger both Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians. Indeed, targeted killing is a legitimate means to strike at those who terrorize lives of innocent civilians. Since the policy is applied against those who are either on their way to murder ("ticking bombs") or prepare the murderous attacks, targeted killing enables Israel to protect its civilians by eliminating those involved in the heinous attacks.
On 21 March 2004 Israel assassinated the spiritual leader of the Hamas movement, Ahmed Yassin. This sparked a heated debate in Israel and abroad. Obviously there are important legal and moral problems involved in the policy of targeted assassinations. I object to its being carried out as a matter of political whim. Self-defence is permitted in certain situations and the degree of force applied must be strictly limited to the needs of the specific situation. As said, I think targeted killing is permissible only in two situations: ticking bombs and in cases like Yichye Ayash, "The Engineer". I should further clarify that my objections to political assassinations is on a matter of principle. The decision for assassinations should stem from the military leadership, and the approval should be made by politicians. This is the right order of things. Hence my objection to Yassin's assassination. I could add a utilitarian argument about the calculus of harms after his assassination.
People may challenge this reasoning, arguing that sometimes the intelligence might be mistaken. This is true. When humans are involved mistakes might happen. The problem is that we don't have any other source to rely upon but our intelligence. If someone is on its way to carry a suicide attack, we need to rely on the information we have and stop him/her. As for the suicide planning side, luckily there are not many Ayashes around, and with regard to them the likelihood of misinformation is quite limited.
People may further argue that people like Ayash and Muchamad Deff (current chief of Hamas operations) should be brought to trial rather than assassinated. Easier to talk than do. Our IDF was on the trail of Ayash for years until his assassination. The IDF is still looking for Deff, made attempts on his life a few times and failed. Furthermore, suppose the IDF knows the whereabouts of the Hamas chief of operations. Should it send an elite platoon to capture him and bring him to trial, risking the lives of our best soldiers, some of them will surely not return home given the close guard around such a person, or send an Apache helicopter to assassin him from the sky? It is easy to say "capture him" and face this tough decision and afterwards face the families of the soldiers killed during the operation. Most commanders anywhere in this world will opt for the Apache.
From the same utilitarian perspective that I evinced people challenged the wisdom of assassinating Ayash, saying that all it did was to unleash even worse regime of terror. Ayash was the person, "The Muhandes", who prepared the explosive belts, put them on the suicide murderers, organized their route, and planned the place of the attack. Ayash was the guy who "educated" his successor Deff and others. Ayash was responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis. Leave him to live is too costly. Israel has the right to target such a mass murderer.
I am not a pacifist and firmly believe we have the right to defend ourselves against terrorists. We should not be like "them", blood-thirst and hateful terrorists, nor do I think we are like them when we take such measures. This is war and in war times harsh measures like targeted assassinations may be taken.
Having said that, violence breeds more violence and will not lead us to peace. We need to break this violent futile cycle. Just as Arafat is not delivering for his people, so the Israelis are not reaping any benefits. The Palestinians send people to blow themselves up on our streets, while Israel "targets" their leaders. They shoot, we fire missiles. They kill us, we retaliate - and dozens of lives are lost on both sides. We need to make an innovative, courageous change.
Between the Jordan River and the sea there are now about 6.5 million Israelis (among them 1.3 million Arabs/Palestinians) and 3.2 million Palestinians. The annual growth rate of the Palestinians is among the highest in the world. There is a need for separation in order not to reach the point of an apartheid state. We are facing the danger of becoming another Bosnia, or another white South Africa, or a combination thereof. Therefore there is an existential need to recognize the solution of two states for two nations. This is the essence of the Oslo Accords. This essence did not change.
In Camp David Israel proposed giving up 92% of the West Bank, and 100% of the Gaza Strip. Arafat insisted on the Right of Return, which means suicide for Israel. Israel was willing to acknowledge family unification on humanitarian grounds but cannot accept a full scale right of return for all Palestinian refugees. By insisting on this, Arafat stated that he wishes the demise of Israel as a Jewish-Zionist state.
Since 2000 I have been promoting and calling upon Israeli politicians to push hard the idea of “Gaza first”. This idea was mentioned on the papers without much elaboration. I have been proposing the following, which was largely adopted by Prime Minister Sharon.
The Gaza First Plan (published in perfect timing. First draft was written in 2000)
The Gaza Strip is arguably the most populated piece of earth in the world: 365 square kilometers with more than 1.2 million Palestinians, and some 7,500 Jewish settlers in sixteen settlements.
Assuming that the Israeli government approves the idea by a majority vote, the heads of settlers who reside in the Gaza Strip will be invited to Prime Minister Sharon. It will be explained to them that the government has decided to pull out the IDF from the Strip, and an honorable solution will be offered to them to resettle them in other parts of Israel. The proposal should be generous, something that the settlers will be happy to accept. This in deep appreciation of their historical role in creating facts in Eretz Israel. This historical role has come to an end. The government of Israel has decided that the costs – in blood and money – are too heavy, and it made a strategic decision that Israel no longer supports settlements at the heart of hostile Palestinian population. Those who decide, nevertheless, to stay will do this on their own risk. The IDF will supply them with arms and other defence mechanisms and it will be clarified that, on a certain date, the IDF will no longer be around to defend them.
Pulling out from the heart of the Strip is an Israeli interest. Israel needs to acknowledge that the Strip is Palestinian and that we don’t have a place there. This trust-building step is designed to show that Israel is willing to make territorial concessions.
A day after the evacuation, Prime Minister Sharon will call a press conference in which he will explain this step and invite Chairperson Arafat to establish an independent Palestinian state in the Strip while Israel closely scrutinize the region’s security. When asked about Judea and Samaria, the answer will be that this issue is dependent on the Palestinian conduct. If they show that they deserted terrorism and they wish to resolve the conflict, then negotiations will be resumed to deal with all the pertinent issues.
Meanwhile, defence mechanism will be erected along the Strip to separate the Palestinian authority from Israel.
The cycle of violence brings nothing but more violence. The present tactic (yes, it is a tactic, not strategy) is not a solution. The Gaza First Plan is not very costly and its gains are considerable. In the national arena, Israel’s position will be appreciated: evacuation of major settlements, pulling back the IDF, acknowledging the right of the Palestinians to an independent state. Israel is no longer the strong occupier with “the best military in the ME” but also a wise democracy that is willing to pay a price to reach a solution. From then on, pressure will mount on Arafat to respond positively.
The Strip does not have any holly component. Evacuation of settlements in Gaza is very different from evacuation of settlements in Judea and Samaria. This will be a test case for evacuation and resettlement.
The answer to the claim that this will be portrayed as a Palestinian victory is that it is an Israeli interest. Israel sees no future in the Strip. It is an essential step to push history in a positive direction. Therefore it is done unilaterally.
As Israel found the resourcefulness to evacuate Lebanon, after sacrificing hundreds of young soldiers in vein, so it is time to evacuate the Strip. Dozens of soldiers are been killed in vein, defending the few thousands settlers. It is time to stop this futile madness, this futile bloodshed that will bring no results for Israel. It is time to acknowledge that the Strip is Palestinian, and that we have no share in it.
Sovereignty: A significant difference exists between a Palestinian entity and a Palestinian state. With sovereignty comes accountability. There is a price for entering the community of nations. Sovereign countries are expected to overcome terrorist organizations and blood-brokers. A president cannot say that he does not control his own security forces (Arafat has far too many of those), or people. If he cannot control his own people, the national community will clarify that he does not deserve independence and sovereignty.
Separation: a test case to examine to what extent this is a useful solution. There are many speculations whether or not this is a viable solution. Instead of speculating, let us examine this issue in practice.
Caveat: of course there are many differences between Gaza and Judea and Samaria. The topography is very different. The holly component is missing. There are fewer settlements in Gaza. So we are talking of a circumscribed test case, but still a test case.
Costs and Disadvantages
Some will conceive this proposal as surrender. However, this step should have been carried out long time ago, in light of demography and Israel’s yearning to bring peace to our troubled region. We all want peace but not all of us are willing to pay a price for peace. It is time to understand that in order to have peace we need to pay a price. Peace, like any other precious commodity, is costly. Once we reached the conclusion that Israel has no interest in the Strip and that there are no free meals, especially not in the Middle East, it is time to do some constructive steps towards peace.
Furthermore, the Palestinians still have a lot to loose. In future negotiations both sides must acknowledge that they have something to gain, and no less importantly, something to loose. The Palestinians will not settle for Gaza only. They will ask for the West Bank, and rightly so. In order to continue the peace process, both sides must show commitment and sincerity.
Escalation of terrorism: This is a concrete issue that deserves careful attention. Thus, separation is suggested. The topography of the region is less complicated than the topography of the Bank. Of course, separation entails an economic price, especially to the Palestinians. Therefore, Palestine and Israel may both request economic assistance for Gaza. If there will be quiet, there is more likelihood that international support will be granted. It is an Israeli interest not to suffocate Gaza and enable the Gazans to develop independent economic resources.
Sovereignty without a counter Palestinian payment: We need to acknowledge that the Israeli stance till now was wrong. Evidently, a Palestinian independent state is only a matter of time. We’ll be far better off initiating its establishment rather than succumbing to international pressure in due course. Further, as said, sovereignty will entail positive results for Israel.
Economic costs: resettling Israeli citizens after their evacuation from Gaza is very costly. This burden might be too heavy for the shaky Israeli economy that knew better days. The government of Israel will need to approach the international community to commit a special fund for this purpose. Israel should not turn its back to the settlers who built their homes in the Strip and resided there for years, some of them for dozens of years.
It is time to be active. “Gaza First”, I feel, is a sensible step in the right direction.
Israel in the Middle East
Israel had signed peace pacts with Egypt and Jordan and maintains quiet borders with these two countries. The leaders of the three countries communicate and have mutual interest to continue relationships and to make the Middle East a more peaceful and secure place.
There are no imminent signs for similar pacts with the two other neighbors. Syria wishes to have the entire Golan Heights in return to peace, cold as it might be. I don't foresee any Likud leader agreeing to this demand. Syria maintains a strong hold over Lebanon, a puppet state that is unable to achieve independence. Lebanon is the valve through which Syria unleashes grievances and escalates the situation.
Israel will strive to maintain good and stable relationships with its strongest ally, the United States. The US has proved to be Israel's most reliable ally in the world, and Israel has proved to be a reliable partner of the US in the Middle East. Both countries need each other and both appreciate the mutual friendship and trust. With the American presence closer to Israel's border, the alliance between the two countries will further grow and develop.
The coalition involvement in Iraq is expected to last for long months. I also think it is only the second stone in the domino (after Afghanistan) and that we can expect more. I have a growing feeling that 11 September 2001 was the Sarajevo act of the new millennium. I fear we might be heading to a third world war. The process is much slower in comparison to the events leading to WWI. Having the experience of two world wars, and the knowledge of the destruction capacity that now exists, people are far more cautious with their actions. But I think the clash between the western world, fighting for its security and survival, and the enemies of democracy fighting for their identity and values, is unavoidable. The values of Al Qaeda and of the dictatorships sponsoring violence and terror cannot coexist with the values underlying the western world. We are expected to have long bloody years, with escalating violence, until the eradication of democracy’s enemies, hopefully without the destruction of humanity.
The problem is that we think in accordance with western values, forgetting that not all people actually adhere to these values. We hope for the better, while dictators don’t actually want to better this planet by peaceful means. In their view, to better the world means to wage war and terror on people whom they conceives as rivals. They use what I call in my writings “the catch of democracy”, i.e., the values underpinning democracy – first and foremost liberty and tolerance – to advance their position in the world at the expense of these same values. Because we don’t have much experience in dealing with such unscrupulous people we have let them develop and progress for many many years. Now they see that the patience of the champions of democracy is short. With the events of September 11 we began to digest what is at stake.
Another concern in Israel nowadays is Iran. It is estimated that by the end of 2005, early 2006, Iran will possess nuclear weapons. The intelligence warns that Iran might obtain nuclear capacity even sooner from an "external" player, such as North Korea, the Ukraine or another country. Israel certainly does not wish to have such a threat in our region. Deep in heart, some key players in Israel wish an American involvement in Iran as well.
Ample safeguards should be installed to protect our vulnerable reality. We live in an era of political violence and extremism and we need to find answers to the radical forces that seem to go from strength to strength and to overcome them. We need to declare that incitement is well outside the boundaries of tolerance. We need to adopt legal measures to exclude it from the protection of the Free Speech Principle and not hesitate to prosecute people who call for murderous attacks on others.
We must take stringent action now if we do not want to face yet other challenges. The legislature, the police, the courts and the media should take measures to exclude certain modes of speech from our society. Furthermore, we need to fight down all forms of terrorism, whether directed against Jews or against Arabs. Terrorism and democracy cannot live together. One must make way and advance at the expense of the other. It is our common interest to work for the victory of democracy. We also need to build bridges and promote understanding between different factions of the population, especially between the secular and the religious factions. Terminology such as “we are enlightened liberals and they constitute the forces of darkness” which is often utilized by Israeli civil libertarians will not help the forces of democracy. There are enlightened individuals within the religious circles just as there are intolerant individuals within the secular circles. Israel, as a religious and democratic state, needs to work out ways to bring about the good of both traditions, and to enrich the citizens’ understanding of both great forces that made Israel the state it now is.
The tourism industry is redeveloping. Apparently many French people are coming to Israel. It is so nice to hear French on the streets. French is a language I love to hear, though I know only one sentence that one should not say to ladies, not after the first meeting anyway. But it rhymes so nicely. I am happy to hear it everywhere. The ugly side of it is that some restaurants were quick to prepare two menus: one in Hebrew for the natives; the other for the French tourists, with prizes double the original. Same is true for some busy hotels. Taxi drivers charge double fee, claiming the meter is broken.
I had similar experience in Hungary a few years ago. Can't say I appreciated this kind of hospitality. The Israelis have also a beautiful side. We can be kind and sweet as well. Let us fight down the ugly side that some of us show, and see that the stream of tourism will continue and grow.
Just published "Compromise and Ethics in Teaching Abortion: Personal Experience", Ethical Space, Vol. 2, No. 2 (2005), pp. 29-34.
The aim of this study is to analyse the concept of compromise through a discussion of teaching ethics in class. The discussion opens with some reflection on compromise. Next I present the complexity of abortion and turn to discuss my personal experience in teaching this issue in the United States. Some ideas are offered on strategies to teach complex ethical issues in class and the paper ends with some question marks for further debate.
The article will be of interest to people who are interested in ethics and in abortion; to teachers in general and to teachers at law schools in particular. Those interested to read it are welcome to contact me and I'll gladly send a copy.
A good source on human rights in Israel and the occupied territories is
The data of the Israeli authorities is usually different from Btselem's data. Read both and make up your mind. Btselem is said to be less partial than Israel.
List members may be interested to hear about the following new journal, published by Routledge.
The Journal of Global Ethics is an international and interdisciplinary scholarly journal concerned with ethical issues arising in the global context. The Journal promotes the study of 'global ethics', encouraging examination of the wide variety of ethical issues that arise in the context of globalisation and global relations. The Journal provides a forum for the analysis of ethics and values and their relationship to globalisation, international relations, politics and development, engaging particularly in debates about global justice.
The Journal of Global Ethics welcomes contributions on all aspects of the theory and practice of global ethics as well as ethics in the context of globalisation.
Submissions are encouraged from any relevant discipline, including those of philosophy, law, theology, politics and international relations, and from practitioners and activists working in the field. Papers should be between 6000 and 8000 words, although other lengths and formats will occasionally be accepted and will be considered on a case by case basis. All papers will be anonymously reviewed.
For more details, go to
http://www.globalethics.bham.ac.uk/Journal/journal.htm, or <http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/17449626.asp>
5 Oscar Shindler Street
Please cease from sending material to the old Tirtza address. Those who plan to visit Israel, please put Haifa on your map. I'd love to see you.
Next month, from 8 September till 11 October I am invited to stay at the Liguria Study Center in Bogliasco, Italy (Fall 2005). http://www.liguriastudycenter.org/. I will be working on the challenges of the Internet to free democratic societies. I hope to see as many of my Italian friends as possible.
Enjoy the summer (well, most of you, those on my side of the planet).
With my very best wishes, as ever,
My last communications are available on http://almagor.blogspot.comEarlier posts at my home page: http://lib-stu.haifa.ac.il/staff/rcohen-Almagor
Books archived at http://almagor.fetchauthor.info
Center for Democratic Studies http://hcc.haifa.ac.il/~rca/center/
Those wishing to subscribe this monthly Newsletter are welcome to contact Raphael Cohen-Almagor at firstname.lastname@example.org
· . Gillian Doyle, “Regulation of Media Ownership and Pluralism in Europe: Can the European Union Take Us Forward?”, Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 16, Nos. 2-3 (1998), p. 451.
· . Cf. Serge Robillard, “Vers une nouvelle reglementation europeenne”, in La Concentration dans les medias, Numero 1 (Quebec: Universite Laval, Centre detudes sur les medias, December 1996), pp. 25-33.
. Cf. Joyce Nelson, Sultans of Sleaze (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1989), pp. 63-64; James Winter, Democracy’s Oxygen: How Corporations Control the News (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1997), pp. xxiii, 3-11; Dwayne Winseck, Reconvergence: A Political Economy of Telecommunications in Canada (Cresskill, New Jersey: Hampton Press, 1998).
· . Dan Caspi, Mass Media and Politics (Tel Aviv: The Open University, 1997), p. 20 (Hebrew).
. Dan Caspi, Mass Media and Politics, p. 24; Dan Caspi and Yehiel Limor, “Introduction”, in D. Caspi and Y. Limor (eds.), Mass Media in Israel (Tel Aviv: The Open University, 1998), pp. 20-21 (Hebrew); Yehiel Limor, “Media Barons in Israel”, The Journalists Yearbook 1998, p. 99 (Hebrew).
· . Chapter C, Second Television and Radio Authority Law (1990), in Ethics in Television and Radio Broadcasting (Jerusalem: The Second Television and Radio Authority, 1997), pp. 26-29 (Hebrew).
· . Yaron Katz, “The Development of Cable Television in Israel and Its Connection to the Social and Political System”, Patuach:- Forum for Culture and Society (March 1996), p. 87 (Hebrew).
· . Moshe Negbi, Freedom of the Press in Israel – the Legal Aspect (Jerusalem: The Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, 1995), p. 177 (Hebrew).
· . Davida Lahman-Meser, “The New Map of the Media: Structure and Ownership, Challenges and Risks”, in D. Caspi and Y. Limor (eds.), Mass Media in Israel (Tel Aviv: The Open University, 1998), p. 185 (Hebrew).
· . Moshe Negbi, Freedom of the Press in Israel – the Legal Aspect, op. cit., p. 179.
. Hazel Fleming, “Media Ownership: In the Public Interest? The Broadcasting Act 1996”, Modern Law Review, Vol. 60 (May 1997), pp. 378-387. For further discussion on competition law, see Eric Barendt, Broadcasting Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), esp. pp. 121-143. For discussion on various forms of regulation, see David Goldberg, Tony Prosser and Stefaan Verhulst (eds.), Regulating the Changing Media (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998).
· . Report of the Public Committee on Press Laws, presented to the Minister of Justice and Minister of the Interior (September 1997), pp. 47-52 (Hebrew).
. For further discussion, see R. Cohen-Almagor, “Responsibility and Ethics in the Canadian Media: Some Basic Concerns”, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Vol. 17, No. 1 (2002), pp. 35-52.
. Max Charlesworth, Bioethics in a Liberal Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 108. For further discussion on the duties of the liberal state in maintaining the health of its citizens, see Troyen A. Brennan, Just Doctoring (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), esp. chaps. 3, 4, 8, 9.
· . For further discussion, see Lester C. Thurow, “Medicine versus Economics", New England J. of Medicine, Vol. 313, No. 10 (5 September 1985), pp. 611-614.
. For further deliberation on the contractarian approach, see John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971); idem, Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993).
· . The discussion here concerns adults who supposedly are responsible for their lives. The case is different when minors are involved, and certainly with infants who become addicted to drugs or alcohol while still in the womb.
. Another approach draws a distinction between discrimination of products and discrimination of people. While it is just to discriminate among products (such as cigarettes) by means of taxation, no discrimination among people should be made for the sole reason that they do not know how to preserve their health. See Robert G. Evans, “’We’ll Take Care of It for You,’ Health Care in the Canadian Community", Deadalus, Vol. 117, No. 4 (Fall 1988), p. 163.
· . For further discussion, see Eike-Henner W. Kluge, “Designated Organ Donation: Private Choice in Social Context", Hastings Center Report (September/October 1989): 10-16; Raymond J. Devettere, Practical Decision Making in Health Care Ethics (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1995): 440-466; R. Cohen-Almagor, The Right to Die with Dignity: An Argument in Ethics, Medicine, and Law (Piscataway, NJ.: Rutgers University Press, 2001).
. The Harm Principle is explained in R. Cohen-Almagor, “Harm Principle, Offence Principle, and the Skokie Affair”, Political Studies, Vol. XLI, No. 3 (1993), 453-470, reprinted in Steven J. Heyman (ed.), Controversies in Constitutional Law: Hate Speech and the Constitution (New York and London: Garland Publishing Inc., 1996, Vol. II), pp. 277-294. For a discussion of the Respect for Others Argument, see R. Cohen-Almagor, The Boundaries of Liberty and Tolerance (Gainesville, FL: The University Press of Florida, 1994), chaps. 3, 7, 8.
 . To quote Mill, the end for which "mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection". Power can be rightfully exercised over any member of society, against her will, is to prevent harm to others. Cf. J.S. Mill, On Liberty, in Utilitarianism, Liberty and Representative Government (London: J.M. Dent, 1948), at 72-73. See also pp. 114, 138.
 . Babylonian Talmud, Sabbath 31a.
 . For discussion, see R. Cohen-Almagor, “Israeli Democracy, Religion and the Practice of Halizah in Jewish Law”, UCLA Women's Law Journal, Vol. 11, No. 1 (Fall/Winter 2000), pp. 45-65.
· . See J. Rawls, A Theory of Justice, op. cit., pp. 216-221.
. For further deliberation, see Will Kymlicka and Raphael Cohen-Almagor, “Ethnocultural Minorities in Liberal Democracies”, in Maria Baghramian and Attracta Ingram (eds.), Pluralism: the philosophy and politics of diversity (London: Routledge, 2000): 228-250.
· . For an elaborated discussion, see R. Cohen-Almagor, “Between Neutrality and Perfectionism”, The Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Vol. VII, No. 2 (1994), pp. 217-236.
·  . Cf. Michael L. Gross, “Fighting by Other Means in the Mideast: A Critical Analysis of Israel’s Assassination Policy”, Journal of Political Studies, Vol. 51 (2003), pp. 1-19; idem, “Assassination: Killing in the Shadow of Self-Defense”, in J. Irwin (ed.), War and Virtual War: The Challenge to Communities (Amsterdam: Rodopi, forthcoming). See also H.C. 769/02 Public Committee against Torture v. The Government of Israel.
. For further deliberation, see Asa Kasher, "The morality of preemptive warfare", Maariv (12 January 2001) (Hebrew); Steven R. David, "Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing", Ethics and International Affairs, Vol. 17, No. 1 (2003); Emanuel Gross, "Thwarting Terrorist Acts by Attacking the Perpetrators or Their Commanders as an Act of Self-Defense. – Human Rights Versus the State’s Duty to Protect its Citizens", Temple Int. & Comp. L. J., Vol. 15, No. 2 (2001), pp. 195-246; Emanuel Gross, "Self-defense against Terrorism – What Does It Mean? The Israeli Perspective", Journal of Military Ethics, Vol. 1, No. 2 (2002), pp. 91-108; Daniel Statman, "Targeted Killing", Theoretical Inquiries in Law, Vol. 5 (2004): 179-198.
· . Raphael Cohen-Almagor, "Targeting assassination," Washington Post (Sunday, 25 April 2004), Outlook, p. B4.
· . For further discussion, see http://almagor.blogspot.com
· . R. Cohen-Almagor, The Boundaries of Liberty and Tolerance; idem, Speech, Media, and Ethics: The Limits of Free Expression (Houndmills and New York: Palgrave, 2001).
Prof. Raphael Cohen-Almagor (D. Phil., Oxon)
Director, Center for Democratic Studies
University of Haifa, Mount Carmel
Fax: 972-4-8249836; 972-4-8249120
Home page: http://hcc.haifa.ac.il/~rca