Thursday, October 26, 2006

October 2006

Slogan of the Month:

Beware of Evil from the North.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor

This was a relatively quiet month (compared with the recent ones…). This does not mean it was all quiet on all fronts. There are battles in Gaza. The IDF is continuing its pursuit of people involved in firing Qassam rockets, attempting to bring some peace and quiet to the troubled city of Sderot. Sderot has been suffering from the rockets since August 2005, when Israel had evacuated Gaza.

The news was dominated by two issues: The investigation of President Katsav for allegations of sex offences, and the attempts of Prime Minister Olmert to enlarge his coalition. As for the first, on October 15, 2006 the police team investigating allegations against President Moshe Katsav recommended that the president be charged with rape, indecent sexual assault, fraud and illegal wiretapping. As for the second issue, the courted party was Yisrael Beiteinu, headed by Avigdor Lieberman. After intense talks, we now see this Putin-like democtator, and its racist party inside the coalition. I wish Olmert and Lieberman a glorious failure.

The Hezbollah War; Syria; Elections Now; Polls; Changing the Electoral System; Lieberman; Guest Article: Disengagement 2005 the Correct Decision; President Katsav; Peres; European Journalism Fellowships in Berlin; Freedom House Launches Online Press Freedom Resource; British Chevening Scholarships 2007/2008; Haifa Film Festival;

The Hezbollah War

I received comments and criticisms of my harsh critique of the Quartet. The criticisms have two dimensions: The first relates to my analysis of the decision-making process; the second is utilitarian, cost-benefit, saying that the alternative might be worse than our present leadership.

As for the second: It is not up to me to decide the identity of Israeli leadership. I know that I don’t trust my government anymore, and am afraid of what might come next. They lack the prudence needed in such levels of decision-making, concerning 7 million people in Israel, and dozens of millions in countries around us. I believe the present leadership is unfit for the job, and it is for the Israeli public to elect a new leadership in which we could put our trust.

As for the first line of criticisms: On the eve of Yom Kippur, Chief of Staff Dan Halutz gave a revealing interview (Alex Fishman and Ariela Ringel-Hoffman, “I find it difficult to bear the cost of the war”, Yedioth Ahronoth, Yom Kippur Supplement, October 1, 2006). Read carefully what he has to say.

Halutz came to the government meeting on July 12, 2006 with a recommendation to retaliate strongly. He did not know what will be the scope of the operation. The assessment was that the Hezbollah will fight back with rockets. “I did not know that this would escalate into a war of such scope” (p. 6).

“That night we did know that we are heading to fight a war against the Hezbollah; we spoke ofa disproportional response to what the Hezbollah did” (p. 6).

Halutz expected the Hezbollah attack on the north. [The interviewers did not ask him whether he expected that the scope of the rocket attacks will be 150-200 per day, from Metullah to Hadera. RCA] He wanted to bring Lebanon into the “operations” by attacking the State of Lebanon. The idea was to motivate international actors to come to Lebanon in order to influence the course of events. [Hence, attacking Lebanese infrastructure, like the port, power stations, bridges and the airport. RCA.] Halutz says he would repeat the same recommendations today. [Quite startling, don’t you think? RCA]

One of the ministers asked about the estimated length of operation. Halutz said “we could not provide a timetable. We talked about days, not weeks” (p. 6).

To the question: “Did anyone asked you about ground operations? Did you raise the issue yourself”, Halutz answered: “That night, truth needs to be said, I did not appraise, nor did anyone else, that this would reach the point it had reached” (p. 6).

Halutz said he did recommend declaring war. [Indeed, according to my government, what we experienced for more than a month is not war. The government is the only body in Israel that calls the war “campaign”. Indeed, in their logic, war was never declared, never intended, never opened. Hence, this was not war. RCA]

Halutz maintained: “I will patiently wait till the inquiries are complete. If it will be found that I failed in my conduct, I will resign” (p. 6). [And this is the man whose admirers assert that he is a quick thinker, wise, with ability to grasp issues to the fullest. God. RCA].

Halutz established nine inquiry committees that are supposed to hand out their recommendations until December. He believes we need to say the truth to ourselves (p. 8). [Halutz believes the truth should be told only by him and by his people. The others are biased and, in any event, lack the knowledge/ability/wisdom to discern truth from falsehood. RCA]

Halutz warned that Israel is close to military confrontation in Gaza. Israel should not allow Gaza to become another Lebanon (p. 8).

On October 16, 2006 Channel 2 broadcast an investigative report of the Hezbollah War. According to this report, one (1) government meeting preceded the decision to bomb targets in Beirut. They spoke of “a retaliatory operation”. The government had no idea that by this they forced the region into war. This is scary. No checks and balances. No monitoring mechanisms. You put the wrong people in a high-powered position, and they can open war without knowing it, in one harsh meeting, based on wrong conceptions and analysis of the Chief of Staff. And we trust our lives in the hands of these people. God. Israel needs to wake up. Soon.

Avigdor Lieberman wishes to change our ruling system to the presidential system, as is the case in Mother Russia. From the above lesson you clearly see that the prime minister in Israel has enough power. The last thing we need is to make him more immune and powerful.


On October 4, 2006 George W. Bush announced that he has no intention to resume negotiations with Syria. He said this at the time when Secretary of State Rice was visiting Israel. Bush posed three preconditions for Syria: full cooperation in the investigations of the murder of Rafiq Hariri; ceasing support for terrorist organizations and anti-coalition forces in Iraq; and stopping transfer of ammunition to the Hezbollah.
Bush may have a point in posing these sensible preconditions. At the same time, if he sees no option in offering carrots to Assad, he should increase the level of sanctions against Syria. As said time and again, there is no status quo. The present situation only serves the enemies of the free world.

Elections Now

I reiterate my call for elections before the present leadership of Israel will commit further mistakes that will cost us dearly. Let the public return to the polls and make “Kadima” crash in a loud noise. Enough is enough.


On Friday, October 13, 2006 Yedioth Ahronoth published a comprehensive poll on political matters. Here are the main findings:

45% support early elections
29% support the establishment of a new coalition
In other words, 74% are unhappy with the present government. I wonder why…

71% support relocating Amir Peretz to another ministry. Enough is enough. Security is a too important issue to be left in the hands of a person who does not understand security.

The two winners of the Hezbollah War remain strong. If elections were held today, these would be the results:
Likud – 22 seats; Bibi Netanyahu back to the prime minister office
Yisrael Beiteinu – 20 seats
Kadima and Labour – 15 seats (I would be surprised to see Kadima with 15. I think that until the elections, if nothing substantive would happen, they will be close to evaporation)
Shas – 10 seats

Other interesting findings:
64% oppose opening negotiations with Syria. As I thought, Israel is not ready to speak peace with Syria at this stage.
62% support having an alternative to the religious marriage ceremony. People wish to have alternatives to choose from, not only one option.

Changing the Electoral System

The President's Committee on Election Reform has completed its study, recommending changing the electoral system. I said time and again that in this regard we should learn from Germany. Germany is using a mixed electoral system in which part of the Bundestag is elected in single majority districts in which a candidate must gain the greatest number of votes to win, and part is elected through proportional representation, which gives all parties a fair opportunity to gain some representation in the legislature based on their electoral strength.

Germany’s policymakers after WWII wanted to avoid a repetition of the Weimar proportional representation system, which encouraged multiplicity of parties to run candidates for the Reichstag, thereby contributing to political instability and to the rise of National Socialism. In the early 1990s, Russia, Mexico and Japan adopted a similar mixed electoral system. I suggest the same for Israel. Sixty percent of the Knesset to be elected directly via a party list as is now the case in the proportional system, and forty percent to be elected in the provinces. The idea is to split Israel into several provinces in a way that would reflect the various groups in society and their relative prominence. Each voter will cast two ballots: the first for one of the competing party candidates in the province; the second for one of the lists of candidates drawn up by each party. The number of mandates received by the party is based on its percentage of votes in the entire country. The seats are then distributed to the parties according to their strength in each province. The combination of a higher threshold (I recommend three percent) and a mixed electoral system would reduce the ability of small interest parties to be elected, will make the Knesset less diversified, with five or six parties at most, and reduce the extortion power of the small parties, some of which would altogether disappear. The Knesset’s power will rise and its effectiveness as a legislative body would grow.

These reforms have been put on the public agenda time and again, and every time had been turned down due to pressure exerted by the small parties fighting for their survival. Most notably, the religious parties have resisted such attempts with notable success. Israel needs strong and bold leaders who are able to rise above and beyond their immediate interest to sustain power in order to carry out these reforms to better legislative ability.

Olmert is willing to consider changing the electoral system. First, he needs something to do. Second, he will consider more or less anything which could save his seat, and enable him to remain in power. Third, he realizes that all the suggestions that are now put forward are all the result of lack of leadership. The feelings of discontent and frustration are fueled by a growing recognition that the nation needs a new father. Since the hospitalization of Sharon, many Israelis feel that there is no captain to direct our ragged boat in the stormy waters.


Avigdor Lieberman was able to harvest the fruits of the Hezbollah War and to enter the coalition. He needs all the legitimacy he can get. Since Meir Kahane, he is the most frightening figure in Israeli politics.

Labour MKs mumbled something about their inability to sit in the same coalition with Lieberman but upon acceptance of some political bribes from Olmert, their conscience or whatever is left of it was calmed down. They would like to keep their ministerial seats warm and cozy. The only Labour minister to oppose the decision was Sports and Culture Minister Ophir Pines- Paz. I like him
Labour MKs Avishai Braverman, Danny Yatom, Nadia Hilou, Shelly Yachimovich and Raleb Majedele signed a protest letter, saying quite rightly: "Sitting together with Lieberman would legitimize a perception that supports the expulsion of Arabs and would legitimize Lieberman as a leader; it would harbor a Netanyahu-style economic policy and a diplomatic deadlock that could lead to a military escalation". I am disappointed that only they signed the letter.

On October 25, 2006 Labour leader and Defense Minister Amir Peretz said he believes the coalition in its new format could perhaps last "even a year," but only if there's a political process to end the stalemate in which he is embroiled. I think Peretz is incorrect, yet again. This could have been his escape route from the honey trap called Defence Ministry, but Peretz does not miss an opportunity to take more erroneous decisions.
If, as expected, Labor's central committee approves on Sunday staying in a coalition with Yisrael Beiteinu, the cabinet will ratify Avigdor Lieberman's inclusion in the government the following day.

Guest Article: Disengagement 2005 the Correct Decision

I was asked many times whether I still support the idea of Gaza First for which I campaigned since 2000, until its acceptance by Prime Minister Sharon. I answered in the positive, mainly because there was no future for Israel in Gaza, and because we were losing many soldiers who were defending the settlers. In 2000, of course, I had no idea that the Hamas will gain the leadership. I did know about the Qassams, but thought Israel should devise method to counter the problem. I still think this is the case. We should invest in anti-rocket defense which would effectively protect our skies and block the rockets in the air.
The following article was published recently on Mideast: On Target. I am grateful for permission to copy it here.
by Yisrael Ne’eman and Elliot Chodoff
By the end of this summer many in Israel, and possibly even a majority have declared last summer’s Disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria to be a mistake. We will take a close look at this assertion, attempting to analyze the events of the past year in historical, political and military perspectives. It is clear that those who were and remain religiously or ideologically opposed to the Disengagement will not find this analysis relevant, since for them the withdrawal is not to be measured by events but by predetermined values.For those who believed that Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza would convince the Palestinians that they should end their war with the Jewish State and return to the Peace Process, the Disengagement was certainly a failure. We did not share that political naiveté, and considered the withdrawal from the perspective of geography, demography and strategy. It was, in our opinion, the least bad alternative in dealing with the reality known as Gaza.In this discussion, we will analyze the effects of the Disengagement a year later, but we will not consider the wisdom or folly of Israel’s policies in the aftermath. Simply put, even if the Disengagement were the correct decision as we believe, The 8,000 Jews in Gaza were surrounded by 1.3 million Palestinians, most of them Hamas supporters, as we saw in the January elections when Hamas took 76 out of 132 parliamentary seats. Sharon’s withdrawal decision made sense from both a political (disentangling from a bi-national situation) and military (completely indefensible settlements) perspective. It had the added benefit of eliciting an explicitly and publicly stated shift in US foreign policy. Israel gained on both fronts. Remaining in Gaza did not enhance anyone’s security, least of all those Jews who resided there who were pounded constantly by Palestinian rockets.Today, the central popular criticism is that the unilateral withdrawal encouraged terrorism, in particular of the World Jihadist type as represented by the Hamas. Another point presents then-prime minister Sharon as willing to evacuate Jews as a way of avoiding a criminal investigation into alleged fraudulent election funding for his 1999 Likud chairmanship campaign. Before delving into these issues we need to consider some historical examples. The great Revisionist leader, Zev Jabotinsky was in favor of not reclaiming Tel Hai, Metulla and Kfar Giladi in 1920 after the area was overrun by Bedouin, leaving heavy Jewish casualties at Tel Hai, including Zionist hero Yosef Trumpeldor. David Ben Gurion and Menachem Ussishkin overruled him and sent pioneers to resettle the Galilee Panhandle. Jabotinsky did not want to aggravate relations with the British since the northern border between the Jewish National Home of the Palestine Mandate and the French Lebanese Mandate had not yet been decided. He considered the alliance with the British more important than settlement in this specific region.Ben Gurion ordered the withdrawal from Bet Ha’arava in 1948 when he realized the kibbutz was indefensible against Jordanian army attacks. In 1951 after losing several bloody battles in the El Hama region (Hamat Gader) at the southern tip of the Golan Heights, BG ordered the army to abandon its exposed posts deep in the Yarmukh River valley as they faced continuous Syrian attacks originating from high ground.Likud prime minister and staunch Revisionist Menachem Begin evacuated all of the Sinai Peninsula in return for peace with Egypt during the years 1979 – 82, including the Labor Party built settlements that housed 6,000 residents. Furthermore, Begin offered to give Gaza to Egypt, meaning a further evacuation of Jews, but Egyptian President Sadat refused the offer and told him to deal with the Palestinians instead. Those who condemn the “secularists” for what they did must consider that both BG and Begin had members of the National Religious Party in their governments. We have an interesting biblical precedent for this phenomenon: King Solomon handed over twenty cities in the Land of Kabul (central western Galilee) to King Hiram of Tyre as payment for his help in building and decorating the First Temple in Jerusalem.The point is that lands have been ceded by Jewish leaders in the Land of Israel when worthwhile or necessary, whether the reason be military, political, diplomatic or religious. Those who have ceded the lands have been left, right, secular and religious and all had the interests of the Jewish People in mind. We must also consider the approximately 10,000 Jews who were forced to leave their homes and their perspective. The majority of Israelis living in the areas evacuated were and most likely continue to be supporters of the National Religious Party (NRP) or the National Union (NU). Both believe in the Greater Land of Israel as a value, even if the NRP is somewhat more moderate in approach. They consider the Disengagement an “expulsion”, often compare it to atrocities against Jews over the ages in Europe and the Moslem world and view the Sharon government as having betrayed them. Many have dropped out of the Israeli political mainstream preferring to “disengage” from the state. Their ideological view is one of God’s will (diocentrism) versus that of an Israeli government elected by humans (anthrocentism). Next is the issue of Sharon’s corruption. Arik was the national leader and “bulldozer” who had a hand in the establishment of more settlements than any other Israeli political figure. The Right (religious or not) did not consider him corrupt when he was in the settlement business, only when he turned against them. To think Sharon would change his whole ideology and legacy due to possible charges of receiving illegal election funds is to ignore his decades of military and public service to the state. Rather, Sharon, was a right wing secular politician who was willing to withdraw from parts of Judea, Samaria and Gaza if he believed it was beneficial to the State of Israel and the Jewish People. He closed this deal with US President George Bush in April 2004 with the exchange of letters in which the former asserted: Israel’s right to build the controversial security fence; the right of Israel to pursue terrorism where ver; that the 1949-67 armistice lines are not necessarily the final border as Jewish settlement blocs need to be considered in a permanent status agreement (PSA) and that the Palestinians had no right to refugee return inside Israel proper.None of this absolves the state from its obligations towards those evacuated. The state failed miserably in moving, resettling and reintegrating the Gaza and northern Samaria residents into Israeli society; there is no excuse for such lack of sensitivity and planning.The security question and the impact the Disengagement had on terrorism must now be considered, as Israel continues to face an ongoing security threat from Gaza as well as other areas.The two most publicized issues relating the Disengagement to Israel’s war on terror are that of the tunnels through which the Palestinian terrorist organizations smuggle arms and munitions from Egypt in to the Gaza area and the accelerated firing of rockets into Southern Israel. In the first issue there are those who contend that the withdrawal of IDF forces from Gush Katif and the zone of the Egyptian border has allowed the terrorists unprecedented latitude in acquiring large quantities of sophisticated weapons.This assertion suffers from serious shortcomings. First, the arms smuggling, through tunnels and otherwise, plagued the IDF for years prior to the Disengagement, and no satisfactory solution has yet been found. The economic incentives to the Palestinians for digging and operating the tunnels far outweigh the risks involved, including the demolitions of the buildings in which the tunnels originate. The IDF has, despite years of effort, found no technological solution to the tunnels and the cross border smuggling. While it is true that this past year has seen an unprecedented rise in weapons smuggling, the trend has been increasing over the years, even when the IDF was emplaced along the Gaza-Egyptian border. The rate of smuggling seems to have more to do with Egyptian efforts, or lack thereof, than IDF presence or absence in fixed positions. The rapid rate of increase may be the result of the Disengagement, but the tone had been set years earlier.Likewise, the Kassam rocket attacks, which have increased over the past year, were already on the rise before the disengagement. Gush Katif had suffered thousands of rocket and mortar attacks in the years prior to the withdrawal, as had the towns and villages of the Negev around Gaza. Improved rockets and increased ranges were already an issue in past years, and the Disengagement certainly did not move Beit Hanun any closer to Sderot than it already was.On the plus side the withdrawal freed up front line infantry forces to fight terrorism in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. Without commenting on the poor command performance of the IDF in the summer war against Hizbullah, the forces used to combat that organization would not have been available had they still been committed to protecting the residents of Gaza. The withdrawal removed thousands of choice, easy targets from under the guns of Palestinian terrorists, making the business of terrorism more than a bit more difficult for those in Gaza to practice. We have witnessed a surge in violence between Palestinian factions, at least in part a result of their inability to attack Israelis with ease. The removal of the IDF from the area permitted the terrorists to parade their weapons in public, but in the absence of Israeli targets, they have largely turned those weapons on each other. It is too early to tell whether the Hamas-Fatah conflict will erupt into full scale civil war, but their façade of unity was certainly broken in the aftermath of the disengagement. Last but not least, the Disengagement gained for Israel a modicum of world support that allowed for a freer hand in dealing with terrorists in Gaza today. There is little question that the anti terrorist offensive that began in early July with the grabbing of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit would have faced serious condemnation and threat of sanctions from world bodies had Israel not relinquished Gaza a year ago. Instead, the IDF has been given essentially a carte blanche to combat Hamas as it sees fit, with hardly a peep from the rest of the world. This phenomenon is not about the righteousness of Israel’s cause against the terrorists (it was righteous before the withdrawal, too) but rather the perception of the world that Israel made a gesture and was repaid with violence.Despite the fact that the Disengagement was strategically correct, it should not be generalized or projected automatically into other areas. What was correct for Gaza is not necessarily so for the West Bank or the Golan Heights. Each area is unique: geographically, topographically, demographically, economically and militarily. Perhaps the greatest success of the Disengagement is that it convinced many optimists that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is not about territory, and in so doing, shifted them from unrealistic optimists to harder thinking pragmatists. Whether that was worth the price, only history will tell.

President Katsav

This affair did not make much sense from the start. Usually, on sex allegations, the defendant tries to minimize the gap between his (it is usually a man) version and the version of his victim. Not here. While the woman stated explicitly that Katsav had raped her on several occasions, he claimed “none whatsoever. I never had sex with that woman” (the phrasing may remind you of another president in another country). Clearly, one was lying over and beyond his/her teeth. The woman, known as A., received the trust of the police, who believed her version to be more credible. Katsav’s defence strategy collapsed in a loud noise. If there was anything between the two of them, he should have admitted this. But this is not what you expect from your president, a married man with grown children.

I reiterate my call to set a special committee whose aim will be to recommend to the Knesset a State President. The Knesset is not the most qualified body to elect a president. Usually they elect their friends. The committee, comprised of the Great and the Good in Israel, i.e., of public figures, retired Supreme Court Justices, retired politicians, prominent people in the economy, media leaders, and others, would recommend a candidate, and then members of the Knesset would vote, in an open procedure, whether to accept the recommendation. If they don’t accept the recommendation, detailed explanation should be supplied to the public. The Committee should be of 13 members, will receive recommendations in writing from all citizens of Israel who wish to voice their opinion, and after lengthy scrutiny will make their decision.


The media are already preparing for Katsav's successor. At the top of the list is Shimon Peres. You may recall that he lost to Katsav in the previous round. He would like to avoid another likely embarrassment, hence will be very cautious in accepting the proposal to run again in a Knesset which he does not much appreciate.

If he were to ask my opinion, I would advise against. Israel needs his experience in government. Anyway, I don't see him cutting ties from politics. I tend to think this is too much to ask of him. Old habits die hard. Peres can far better exploit his talents where he is now.

European Journalism Fellowships in Berlin
Application invited for the 9th round (Oct. 2007 to July 2008)
Deadline December 15, 2006

Journalists from across Europe and the United States are invited to apply for the European Journalism-Fellowships, offered this year for the 9th time by the Journalisten-Kolleg of the Free University of Berlin. Participants are given the opportunity to take a two-semester leave from their professional positions and spend a sabbatical year at the Freie Universitaet, pursuing a major research project or an individual programme of studies. At the same time, the programme enables participants to network with professional colleagues from Eastern and Western Europe and the United States. The programme starts in October 2007 and ends in July 2008. Highly qualified journalists in either staff positions or freelance employment with several years of professional experience, not currently residing in Berlin, are eligible to apply. The centre piece of the application is a proposal for a scientific-journalistic project to be pursued in Berlin. Certification of German language proficiency is required (e.g. Goethe Institut, DAAD).

We offer the following fellowships, for a period of 10 months:

Junior-Fellowships for journalists from Central and Eastern Europe with about five years of professional experience. Junior Fellows receive a monthly stipend of 1,025 Euros.

Standard-Fellowships endowed with a monthly stipend of between 1,100 and 1,500 Euros - depending on the level of professional experience (at least 5 years).
Applicants for the special Abgeordnetenhaus of Berlin (Berlin State Parliament) Foundation scholarship, endowed with a monthly stipend of 1,300 Euros and restricted to outstanding journalists from one of World War II Allied Nations (USA, former USSR, France, Great Britain) must, in addition, submit a review of their research proposal by an academic expert or professor.

The European Journalism Fellowship programme is being funded by several foundations and major media enterprises, in cooperation with the Freie Universitaet Berlin. Current sponsors include FAZIT-Foundation (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), Haniel-Foundation and Presse-Haus NRZ Foundation, as well as four major political foundations: Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation, Hanns-Seidel-Foundation, and Heinrich-Böll-Foundation.

Since 1999, 87 journalists from 28 nations have benefited from a European Journalism Fellowship to spend a sabbatical year of research and studies in Berlin. Major media companies have granted leaves of absence to journalists for participation in the EJF programme. Over the years, a close network of journalism has emerged among alumni. The European Journalism Fellowships of the Journalisten-Kolleg at the Free University of Berlin have thereby established themselves as a significant platform for journalists at the European level. For the future of European integration, especially the convergence of Eastern and Western Europe, it will be increasingly important for journalists to be familiar with their neighbouring countries, to have international contacts, and to become acquainted with different cultures. Our aim is to support the professional and personal development of journalists in this spirit.

The closing deadline for applications is December 15, 2006.

For more detailed information and application forms please contact:

Europäische Journalisten-Fellowships Journalisten-Kolleg Freie Universität Berlin
Otto-von-Simson-Str. 3
D-14195 Berlin

Freedom House Launches Online Press Freedom Resource

Freedom House has released a new web-based resource providing comprehensive information about press freedom around the world. The website includes global and regional pages highlighting the main trends for each year, as well as detailed historical data since 1980 from the organisation's annual Freedom of the Press survey.

Other features of the new web pages include annual essays summarising the state of global press freedom, interactive maps showing the state of press freedom in a country for each year since 2002, and reports and ratings for every country in the world. The web pages also contain links to press freedom resources, including Freedom House press releases, op-eds, programmatic activities, and other press freedom and media support groups.

"Freedom of the Press: A Global Survey of Media Independence" covers 194 countries and territories and rates each country's media as Free, Partly Free, or Not Free. Country narratives examine the legal environment for the media, political pressures that influence reporting, and economic factors that affect access to information.


British Chevening Scholarships 2007/2008
I would like to draw your attention to the British Chevening Scholarships offered every year by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), to enable promising young people in Israel to spend between three and twelve months in Britain for post graduate study or research. The British Council administers these funding schemes on behalf of the British Embassy in Israel.
Candidates interested in applying should contact our Scholarships Department at the address below, or access our website for application forms, guidelines and further information.
All fields of study are considered, but priority is given to subject areas related to politics and government, conflict prevention, regional and economic development, law and human rights, environment, media, business and economics, information technology and applied science.
We are now inviting applications for the academic year 2007/8. The FCO is particularly interested in applicants who, in addition to academic excellence, show leadership potential, strong motivation, good communication skills and an interest in contributing to Israeli society.
If you would like copies of our information sheet for distribution or to display on your notice boards, please contact us and we will be happy to send some to you.
The deadline for submitting completed applications is 18 December 2006
Claire LevyInformation & Scholarships ManagerBritish opportunity for people worldwide
The British Chevening Scholarship 2007 programme has been launched. Closing date for application is 18/12/2006. For more information please log on to

Haifa Film Festival

The Haifa International Film Festival was held during the holiday of Succoth on the ridge of Mount Carmel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The Festival was founded in 1983 and was the first of its kind in Israel. Over the years, the Festival became the biggest and most important film celebration in Israel. Each year, the Haifa International Film Festival brings together an audience of 60,000 moviegoers along with hundreds of Israeli and foreign professionals from the film and television industries.

During its eight days of celebration, the otherwise sleepy Haifa woke up for the occasion, its streets booming with people, with live music attracting people outside the main auditorium. The atmosphere reminded me of the Toronto Film Festival, which was held last month. The Festival premiered some 150 new films from the best and most recent international productions and held 220 screenings in seven theaters and under the sky: feature films, documentaries, animation, short films, retrospectives and tributes. Cheers for many more events of this kind.
I was asked about my blog. Its address supra. Essentially it comprises the newsletters sent to you, with the additional benefit of relevant photos. You are welcome to visit and explore.

With my very best wishes,


My last communications are available on
Earlier posts at my home page:
Center for Democratic Studies