Thursday, October 27, 2005

October 2005

Dear friends and colleagues,

Until the vicious attack on Hadera, infra, this month was relatively tranquil. There were a few shooting incidents in which three young people lost their lives. A few Kassam missiles had landed, also in Sharon's ranch. Luckily no one was injured. Condoleezza Rice mildly condemned Israel for the continuation of building settlements around Jerusalem and voiced her belief in "The Road Map" without deadlines for carrying it out (whom do they think they are fooling -- the Palestinians?). More should be done to bring closer the end of the occupation. The occupation should be over, the sooner the better. Gaza First is only the first step in the right direction. It should not be Gaza Last. This does not necessarily mean that Israel should rush into decisions. The Palestinians also have something to prove. But the strategic plan should be voiced loud and clear: Israel is in favour of a two state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And the deal should be fair to both sides, not only to one of them. By 2008, the occupation should become a historical fact, observed in past terms, not present.

Attack on Hadera, Sharon, Bibi, Labour, New Polls, Mehlis Report on the Hariri Assassination, Yisrael Aumann, Bogliasco Center, Bella Italia, Esthetic Monaco, Berlin Lecture, New Book

Attack on Hadera

On October 26, 2005 a suicide bomber exploded in the open air market in the coastal city of Hadera a little before 4 P.M., killing five people and wounding 30 others. Five people were said to be in serious condition; another four sustained moderate wounds. It is the first bombing inside Israel since August 28, when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to Be'er Sheva's central bus station, wounding 20 people. Israel blamed the attack on the Palestinian Authority's failure to crack down on militants. The explosion occurred in front of a felafel stand at the entance to the market in downtown Hadera, a city that has been a frequent target of attacks during the past five years of violence.Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack soon after the blast, saying the bombing was retaliation for the death of its military leader, Luay Sa'adi, in an Israel Defense Forces raid in the West Bank several days ago. Military sources, however, were quick to point out that a bomb attack of this magnitude took longer than three days to plan.The suicide bomber who carried out the attack was identified as a 20-year-old resident of the West Bank town of Qabatiyeh. The bomber's name, Hassan Abu Zeid, was announced over a bullhorn in Qabatiyeh, residents said. Israel Radio reported he was released about one month ago from Israeli prison.Police said that there had not been specific intelligence of an attack in Hadera, but the number of officers had been increased following more general warnings.


Sharon was able to overcome Bibi's challenge. Bibi used all his influence to gather the Likud Center to challenge Sharon's leadership but, surprise, surprise, Sharon won. Not for the first time, Bibi's calculations proved to be erroneous.

The media put a lot of emphasis on an incident that took place before the Center's elections: Sharon came to the Center, for the first time after the implementation of the Gaza First Plan, to present his worldview. He rose to speak, only to find out that the microphone was not working. One of Bibi's supporters ensured that this would occur. Ashamed he stood on the podium, trying to speak, to no avail. There was no chance for him to out-voice Bibi's supporters who were chanting against him. He returned to his seat, unable to speak. The media reported that some Likud members identified with Sharon's humiliation and then and there decided to switch sides.

Well, this might be true. But I also think that there were enough Center members who were delighted to watch Sharon in his humiliation. Anyway, this can explain the result only partly. The main factors, I think, were more substantial:

- Members of the Center, like most politicians, are driven by the basic survival instinct. They wish to see themselves continue serving their party, their nation, and themselves (you decide about the order of things, according to your cynicism) indefinitely. Their chances to do just that under Sharon are substantially higher than their chances under Bibi.
- The Center members could not disregard the public, and there was quite a discrepancy between what the public wants, and what they seemed to want. While the public voiced, in repeated polls, their satisfaction with the Gaza First Plan, and with Sharon's leadership, the Center members were not that enthusiastic. They are more hawkish than the public. But, at the end of the day, there will be national elections, and the Center members wish to continue their affiliation with the leading party. With Bibi this seemed to be questionable. Reason prevailed, as they: "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush".


So Bibi remains the tragic figure in this story. Once again, he allowed his instincts to guide him and to take over. He was rushing into decisions according to polls, without reading the whole map, because he lacks the required patience and because he is a shallow thinker. His challenge was short-lived. Now Bibi's "circles" say that he is considering to return to the business world. This would be a wise decision indeed. As a businessman his mistakes are less likely to cost human life. I will be the first to congratulate him and to wish him success, and I encourage his "circles" to urge Bibi to take this prudent decision.

The election frenzy is now over. Thanks to Bibi, early last month all were sure that Israel is heading to elections within the next six months. Now this is a non-issue. No one wishes to challenge Sharon before the scheduled elections next year, and and we will all be very surprised if Sharon loses the campaign. The people of Israel wish Sharon to continue his initiative.


Even Labour supporters prefer Sharon over their own leaders. Astonishing somewhat, but they realize that Sharon is better qualified to take tough decisions and execute them, especially if he will continue with the evacuation process. I had a discussion with the Secretary General of the Labour Party last month. Then he was speaking about retiring from the government, consolidating forces to oppose Sharon and challenge him. Now this, according to Labour's leaders, is passé. It seems Labour gave up any zeal to challenge Sharon, as if they are quite comfortable in the deputy-pilot seat, part of the coalition, enjoying government pleasantries. With this attitude, Labour will never return to its glorious days of Mapai. Under Peres's leadership, they expect to have 22 MKs in the next round of elections, and they are content with this result, which will retain their power as the second largest party. No one really wishes to lead Labour in the next elections against Sharon, as they don't believe in their ability to win. The only person who takes this responsibility is Peres. He does not mind. He has enough credentials, and enough rounds in which he came second. He is used to this. So Peres will lead Labour, probably for the last time (about time) and then Labour will need to allow new people to emerge and contest the leadership. Likely candidates, at this early point: Minister of the Interior Offir Pines-Paz, former head of the SHABAC Ami Ayalon, Secretary General of the Histadrut Amir Peretz and possibly Secretary General Eitan Cabel (one of the few people in politics whom I like and respect). The present leadership: Fuad Ben-Eliezer, Matan Vilnai, Haim Ramon, Efraim Sneh and Ehud Barak should take a back seat and work for the victory of one of the above contenders. They all should come to terms with the brute reality that the public does not find them suitable for the prime minister role. Barak will probably be the last to acknowledge and to accept this. He still believes he is the cleverest kid in town. He suffers from the same lapses that affect Bibi's judgment.

New Polls

A new poll conducted by the Center for Empowerment of Citizenship in Israel and Tel Aviv University showed that democracy is important or very important to 80% of the population. It is of some importance for 13%, and not important for 5%. The rest, 2%, did not know how to answer the question "To what extent is Israeli democracy important to you?"

"In your opinion, the state of Israel is too democratic, or less democratic than it should be?"
Too democratic 17%
Less democratic 43%
As it should be 37%
Don't know 3%

(Obviously there is room for improvement and a lot should be done to improve democratic life in Israel).

"What do you prefer: democratic government whose conduct contradicts your views, or undemocratic government that acts in accordance with your views?"

Democratic and contradicts my views 72%
Undemocratic and correspond to my views 20% (frightening, don't you think?)
Don't know 8% (also of concern)

"Do you agree with the following statement: State of Israel should grant equal rights to all, without discrimination on any ground: religion, race or gender".
Agree 77%
Unsure 11% (I presume the reservations are regarding the Arabs, far more than women)
Disagree 10%
Don't know 2%

"Do you agree with the following statement: The government can be publicly criticized also in states of emergency"
Agree 66.5%
Disagree 20%
Unsure 11%
Don't know 2.5%

"Do you agree with the following statement: Given the current state of affairs, it is preferable that Israel have strong leadership that will settle issues without dependence on elections or Knesset voting".
Disagree 34% (note that only a minority disagrees with this undemocratic suggestion. This shows the extent that democracy is fragile in my country).
Unsure 12%
Agree 48% !!
Don't know 6%

In one word: Alarming. I should note that previous polls that asked this question received about 30% support for this undemocratic proposal. Israeli democracy is eroding, also as a result of the massive emigration from the former Soviet Union that brought in people who are stripped of any understanding of democratic values.

"Do you agree with the following statement: Minimal threat to State's security justifies serious restriction of democracy".
Disagree 40%
Agree 35%
Unsure 17%
Don't know 9%

Another poll, conducted by Mossawa, The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, and published by Haaretz on October 19, 2005 showed that thirty-five percent of Jewish citizens oppose the law designating Arabic as an official language of the State of Israel.The poll also showed that 45 percent of Jewish citizens said they oppose the decision to reopen a police investigation into the October 2000 riots in which 13 Arabs - 12 Israeli citizens and one Palestinian - were killed by police.Thirty-four percent of poll respondents said they oppose closing probes into the October 2000 events and 17 percent said they had no opinion on the matter.

Sixty percent of Jewish citizens feel that there exists anti-Arab racism in Israel while 29 percent believe Arab citizens are not the targets of racism. Fifty-one percent of Israeli Jews feel the Arab population should be granted the right to independently manage their education system, cultural life and other community matters.The poll drew distinctions between the Russian Jewish sector and the general Jewish population. It was found that 57 percent of immigrants from the former Soviet Union (FSU) say they believe that Israeli Arabs should not be granted collective rights. Only 26 percent of immigrants from the FSU believe Israeli Arabs face discrimination while 50 percent say they believe there is no anti-Arab racism in Israel.

Mehlis Report on the Hariri Assassination

It seems that I overestimated Assad's wisdom. Apparently his regime was involved in the Hariri's assassination. According to the Mehlis Report, it is plausible to think that Assad's advisors came to him, saying: We need to get rid of this Hariri guy. You will not be involved. You know nothing about this, and Assad agreed. He, and his advisors, who were his father's advisors, thought that the nasty little games they did under the father can be done also now. They did not fathom that there are new rules of the game after September 11, 2001, and that these will be stringently enforced as long as George W. Bush in power, and Kofi Annan is the Secretary General of the UN. Annan is a loyal servant of the USA, knowing exactly on which side the bread is buttered. His reliability and loyalty to the USA are unquestionable.



On February 14, 2005, former Lebanese Premiere Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in a huge bomb explosion in Beirut. Suspicion fell on the Syrians, who had occupied Lebanon for 30 years, and who were refusing to leave despite UN Security Council Resolution 1559 which called for Syrian withdrawal. Hariri was a very wealthy man who had used his wealth to rebuild Lebanon after the Lebanese civil war. Initially he cooperated with the Syrian occupiers, but he had become an opponent of continued Syrian occupation. A Mr Abu Adass from an unknown group called al nasra wal-jihad fee bilad Al-Sham took "credit" for the assassination, but nobody had ever heard of this group and the man's story was not believable. It appeared to be part of a plot to turn suspicion away from Syria.

Anti-Zionists blamed Israel. However, it seemed that the explosion, which took place in downtown Beirut in the midst of a well-protected motorcade, could not have been done without the collusion of Lebanese and Syrian authorities. It would be difficult to acquire and conceal large quantities of explosives under the watchful eyes of Syrian intelligence. Following extensive demonstrations in Lebanon, the Syrian government agreed to end the occupation of Lebanon. However, it was apparent that number of Syrian intelligence personnel remained in Lebanon. A number of prominent Lebanese personalities whose opinions and positions were inconvenient for the Syrian government were killed in various explosions. A large number of armed Palestinians belonging to groups sympathetic to Syria infiltrated the Lebanese refugee camps, causing alarm in the Lebanese government and in the Palestinian National Authority. Lebanese army tanks surrounded the camps.

The UN was called upon to investigate and began doing so a relatively long time after the fact. As expected, much of the evidence was obscured or removed from the seen. Nonetheless, the preliminary report of investigator Detlev Mehlis was able to reach some tentative conclusions. These are given in the report below. The report is dated October 19, but was not released until October 21. The investigators asked for an extension and were granted an extension until December. Therefore, this must be viewed as an interim report.

Shortly before the release of the report, on October 12, 2005, Ghazi Kanaan, Interior Minister of Syria and formerly in charge of Syrian Intelligence in Lebanon, committed suicide.


202. It is the Commission’s view that the assassination on 14 February 2005 was carried out by a group with an extensive organization and considerable resources and capabilities. The crime had been prepared over the course of several months. For this purpose, the timing and location of Mr. Rafik Hariri’s movements had been monitored and the itineraries of his convoy recorded in detail.

203. Building on the findings of the Commission and Lebanese investigations to date and on the basis of the material and documentary evidence collected, and the leads pursued until now, there is converging evidence pointing at both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in this terrorist act. It is a well known fact that Syrian Military Intelligence had a pervasive presence in Lebanon at the least until the withdrawal of the Syrian forces pursuant to resolution 1559. The former senior security officials of Lebanon were their appointees. Given the infiltration of Lebanese institutions and society by the Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services working in tandem, it would be difficult to envisage a scenario whereby such a complex assassination plot could have been carried out without their knowledge.

204. It is also the Commission’s view that the context of the assassination of Mr. Hariri was one of extreme political polarization and tension. Accusations and counter accusations targeting mainly Mr. Hariri over the period preceding his assassination corroborate the Commission’s conclusion that the likely motive of the assassination was political. However, since the crime was not the work of individuals but rather of a sophisticated group, it very much seems that fraud, corruption, and money-laundering could also have been motives for individuals to participate in the operation.

205. The Commission considers that the investigation must continue for some time to come. In the short time period of four months more than 400 persons have been interviewed, 60 000 documents reviewed, several suspects identified, and some main leads established. Yet, the investigation is not complete.

206. It is the Commission’s conclusion that the continuing investigation should be carried forward by the appropriate Lebanese judicial and security authorities, who have proved during the investigation that with international assistance and support, they can move ahead and at times take the lead in an effective and professional manner. At the same time, the Lebanese authorities should look into all the case’s ramifications including bank transactions. The 14 February explosion needs to be assessed clearly against the sequence of explosions which preceded and followed it, since there could be links between some, if not all, of them.

207. The Commission is therefore of the view that, should the Lebanese authorities so wish it, a sustained effort on the part of the international community to establish an assistance and cooperation platform together with the Lebanese authorities in the field of security and justice is essential. This will considerably boost the trust of the Lebanese people in their security system, while building self-confidence in their capabilities.

208. The recent decision to proceed with new senior security appointments was hailed by all the Lebanese parties. It was an important step towards improving the integrity and credibility of the security apparatus. However, it took place after months of a security vacuum and extensive sectarian-political debate. Much needs to be done to overcome sectarian divisions, disentangle security from politics, and restructure the security apparatus to avoid parallel lines of reporting and duplication and to enhance accountability.

Yisrael Aumann

Yisrael Aumann, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who holds dual American and Israeli citizenship, and Thomas C. Schelling, an American, have won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. This is a great achievement for Israel. For a second year in a row, an Israeli wins this most prestigious prize.

Aumann and Schelling won the $1.3 million prize "for having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis," the academy said.
Through their work, Aumann, 75, and Schelling, 84, have helped to "explain economic conflicts such as price wars and trade wars, as well as why some communities are more successful than others in managing common-pool resources," the academy said in its citation. "The repeated-games approach clarifies the raison d'etre of many institutions, ranging from merchant guilds and organized crime to wage negotiations and international trade agreements."
Aumann was cited for his analysis of "infinitely repeated games" to identify what outcomes can be maintained over time.

"Insights into these issues help explain economic conflicts such as price wars and trade wars, as well as why some communities are more successful than others in managing common-pool resources," said the citation, published by Haaretz newspaper on October 10, 2005..

Aumann, who was born in Frankfurt, Germany, immigrated to New York with his family in 1938. He studied mathematics in New York and completed his undergraduate and graduate studies over there. He then went to MIT to write his doctoral dissertation and is now a professor at the Center for Rationality at the Hebrew University.
Schelling is a professor at the University of Maryland's department of economics and a professor emeritus at Harvard.

Upon earning his doctorate, Aumann moved to Princeton and began researching the games theory, then a field in its early days. He immigrated to Israel in 1956 and became a staff member at the Hebrew University Mathematics Institute, where he taught until his retirement.
In his research Aumann developed tools for accurate analysis of economic systems where player groups have great influence over the final result, while individual players have very little influence over the outcome of processes.

Bogliasco Center

I had wonderful and productive time at the charming villa of the Bogliasco Center. If you are working on an article, or about to complete a book, and you seek peace and tranquility to reflect and write, this is the place for you. The Center provides a room overlooking the sea, full board (fine Italian cuisine), a private study with excellent facilities – perfect conditions for peace of mind. The staff is friendly and helpful, the gardens charming, and if you wish to enjoy some city life, Genova is just 40 minutes away. My friends in the arts and humanities are welcome to contact me for further details if you are considering applying.

Bella Italia, Esthetic Monaco

Italy is beautiful. Those who are looking for new places to visit, beyond the "usual suspects" Rome, Venice, Florence, Sienna and Napoli are welcome to ponder visiting Vernazza (truly beautiful), Monterosso (charming), Levanto, Portofino and the promenade that connects Bogliasco to Nervi.

Also enjoyed Monaco a great deal. It is a place full of chic and good taste. For the first time I visited a living place and felt like I was in Disneyland: The designers of Monte Carlo and those who maintain it seemed to think about every little detail. It is certainly the cleanest and arguably the most esthetic modern city I've ever visited.

Berlin Lecture

Center for Democratic Studies and Posen Forum for Political Thought, The University of Haifa

Supported by
The President
The Rector
Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Social Sciences
The Research Authority

cordially invite you to

Festive Lecture in Honour and Memory of Prof. Sir Isaiah Berlin

The Lecture will be delivered by

Susan Mendus
Department of Politics
York University, The United Kingdom

Saving One’s Soul or Founding a State: Morality and the Politician

Chairperson: Prof. Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Greetings: Ambassador Simon McDonald CMG
Dr. Fania Oz-Salzberger, The School of History and the Faculty of Law; Director, Posen Research Forum

Wednesday, November 23, 2005, at 6:30 p.m.
Hecht Museum Auditorium
Main Building, University of Haifa

Refreshments will be served from 6:00 p.m.

Saving One’s Soul or Founding a State: Morality and the Politician
Susan Mendus

In his celebrated essay on Machiavelli, Isaiah Berlin argues that what is truly original about Machiavelli is his discovery that ‘there are at least two worlds: each of them has much, indeed everything, to be said for it; but they are two and not one. One must learn to choose between them and, having chosen, not look back’. The politician does not act contrary to morality; he embraces a different morality – the morality of politics.

In this lecture, I will discuss the claim that politics is itself a world of value and I will ask how that claim might influence our understanding and assessment of politicians who engage in morally disreputable acts.

New Book

Yoram Peri, Yad Ish Be'achiv (Tel Aviv: Yedioth Ahronoth and Bavel, 2005) (Hebrew).

Please consider ordering it for your library.

With my very best wishes, as ever,


My last communications are available on http://almagor.blogspot.comEarlier posts at my home page:
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