Thursday, February 22, 2007

February 2007


Slogan of the Month

Ivory tower politics can be very isolating. Politicians are advised to be aware of this and keep open channels with the public, and reality; otherwise they become aloof from reality and hear only what their partisan “loyalists” are telling them. Those “loyal servants” will be quick to disappear once high-powered politicians become low-power politicians.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor


· Chair in Politics · Olmert · Peretz · The Hezbollah War · Uzi Dayan on Security
· Poll - “Kadima” is about to evaporate · Peres · Ramon · Karadi
· Arcadi Gaydamak · Poll: 75% of Israelis want to be in EU · Ted Honderich
· New Books · Thank You · English Ways


Chair in Politics



I was offered, and accepted, a Chair in Politics at the University of Hull. I am slowly settling down in my new office. My new contact details are:

Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Chair in Politics
Department of Politics and International Studies
University of Hull
Cottingham Road
Hull, HU6 7RX
United Kingdom
Tel 01482 465024
Fax 01482 466208
R.Cohen-Almagor@hull.ac.uk

Olmert

On February 1, 2007 Ehud Olmert was summoned before the Winograd Committee and stood before them for some hours, giving his testimony. Unsurprisingly, he insisted that Israel won the Hezbollah War and spoke about military and diplomatic achievements. Olmert also argued that Israel's intensive aerial offensive took Hezbollah by surprise and strengthened Israel's deterrence, adding that the Shiite group will think twice before daring to launch a cross-border attack in the future.
Some people learn the hard way. See my slogan of the month. The guy is aloof from reality. It is for the people of Israel to show him the way out. Olmert should not be trusted. I only hope that his future mistakes, that are bound to come, will concern only himself and his immediate family. Israel had more than enough. Thank you.

Peretz

Gabi Ashkenazi left his post as Defense Ministry director general to assume the role of Chief of Staff, but it is still unclear who will replace him. Defense Minister Amir Peretz met with Yedidiya Ya'ari, former chief of the Navy and currently the CEO of Raphael; Ami Sagis, former head of the Technology and Logistics Branch in the Israel Defense Forces, and former head of Military Intelligence, Major General Aharon Ze'evi. All three rejected an offer to fill the post.

A few other candidates have been approached by associates of Peretz, but all refused to take the assignment. Apparently, reservist generals are turning down the job offer because the tenure of Amir Peretz at the ministry is expected to be short. Maybe Peretz should consider appointing one of his friends and so-called “loyalists”, like MK Yoram Martzyano. He is a civilian, like Peretz, with no background in security. Peretz thinks that his performance has done well by the army, Israel’s security, and the IDF. The brute fact that he is the only person who thinks this way does not really matter. So we are stuck with a guy who weakens Israel’s security. The only person who can change this is Olmert.

But we have a prime minister who thinks about his personal survival, not the national interest. Olmert, who should have admitted the mistake of appointing Peretz for the job and dismiss him immediately after the war, does not like to say: “I was wrong”. For some strange reason, he thinks he will gain more by not admitting this tragic mistake. Well, he is wrong yet again. The public, and the media, will not leave him until he will do this. His only escape is by separating himself from the duo Halutz-Peretz. One is gone. The second should go soon.


The Hezbollah War

One of its greatest failures, a subject that has also occupied a great deal of time in the Winograd Committee's probe of the war, is the fact that the IDF did not put an end to the short range-rocket attacks. An analysis of testimonies and investigation reports suggest that while the Air Force and the intelligence branches focused on Hezbollah's arsenal of medium- and long-range rockets, dealing with Katyushas was neglected. The medium-range Fajr missiles in the Hezbollah arsenal, and the longer range, Iranian-made Zilzal rockets, were under careful IDF study since its withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000. This careful preparation resulted in the success of what the IDF calls "the Fajr night," that same 34 minutes during the first night of the war during which the Air Force struck dozens of homes of Hezbollah activists where the rockets were hidden and eliminated that threat.
However, the Northern Command practically ignored the issue of short-range rockets. Moreover, after the war, some of the officers argued that the matter was not part of their area of responsibility. "The result," defense sources said to Haaretz, "is that we went into this war ignoring an entire aspect [of the threat] - a genuine vacuum."
The gap in intelligence was not considered a pressing issue, even though war games carried out by the General Staff and Northern Command in previous years made it clear that the Air Force was unable to solve the problem posed by short-range Katyushas on its own.
The Katyusha failure became increasingly obvious as the war dragged on: Hezbollah continued launching rockets against communities in the Galilee and the IDF was unable to cope. Due to a shortage in intelligence information, there were not enough Katyusha targets to attack. During the fighting, Air Force intelligence began dealing with some aspects of the problem, but no definitive results were ever achieved.
In addition to the intelligence problem, the chief of staff divided responsibility on a territorial basis: Northern Command got the area between the border and the Litani River, and the Air Force got everything north of the river.
Moreover, the chief of staff divided the area between the border and the Litani in two - separated by a yellow line - which stood for much of the war at a distance of 6-7 kilometers north of the border. Firing orders were as follows: From the border to the yellow line, the use of artillery and air power was the responsibility of Northern Command; from here on northward, it was in the hands of the Air Force.
In other words, the IDF broke a cardinal rule and violated the overlap that exists between authority and responsibility. Northern Command was responsible for the fighting from the border onward to the Litani River, but in order to use helicopters and fighters in attacks in the area located between the yellow line and the Litani, it had to ask for authorization from the Air Force in Tel Aviv headquarters.
For its part, the Air Force considered its responsibility over the area between the yellow line and the Litani to be of secondary importance, having its hands full with the area north of the Litani. Moreover, intelligence information on that part of the war front was limited.
69 percent of Katyusha rockets were identified as having been launched from an area north of the yellow line. And the vast majority of them were launched between the yellow line and the Litani. The area from which most of the Katyushas were launched was the area for which the IDF had the least intelligence. Astonishingly, at General Staff deliberations held during the war, the awareness that the Katyusha problem was serious was only understood at a relatively late stage of the armed confrontation. Testifying before the Winograd Committee, senior officers from Northern Command, including GOC Udi Adam, who resigned after the war, claimed that the General Staff had limited the means they had to deal with the rockets. General Staff severely restricted the ground operations during the war's first two weeks. At the General Staff they claimed that they pressed Northern Command to take control over the area north of the yellow line, but that its leadership delayed this move and showed unwillingness to assume responsibility there.


Uzi Dayan on Security

I have been following Dayan’s career since I first met him in his uncle’s funeral in 1981. A group of people assembled in Moshe Dayan’s garden prior the funeral, among them were Ezer Weitzman, Moti Hod, Meir Amit, Lt. Colonel Uzi Dayan and your humble servant. Already then, people spoke of Uzi as of Chief-of-Staff material. Dayan junior was close to reaching this goal and later became Deputy Chief of the General Staff. After he finished serving in public positions, he entered politics. However, he is far too na├»ve, quite arrogant, does not understand the ins and outs of politics, and lacks the required charisma. He made so many mistakes in politics that I am not sure whether he will be able to correct them and pave his way into Israel’s leadership. However, nothing should be taken away from his qualities: astute thinking, sharp eye, one of our best security strategists. The following article was published in Jerusalem Issue Brief, Vol. 6, No. 19 - 13 February 2007. I agree fully with Dayan’s analysis.


Israel's Deterrence after the Second Lebanon War
Maj. Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan

The Islamic fundamentalist war against Israeli and Jewish existence in the Middle East - which is being waged by both Hizbullah and Hamas - did not begin in 1967, and it is not going to end even if Israel redeploys along the 1967 lines.

Hardly anybody in Israel thinks that if we give territories now, we will get peace in return. We left Lebanon and Hizbullah grew stronger, ending in a war. We left Gaza and received a stronger Hamas and Kassam rockets. Israeli is not suicidal and we are unlikely to try this strategy again in another place.

If we do not respond to the Kassam rockets, we cannot provide even basic security to the Israeli population. If the current ceasefire collapses, Israel might decide to regain its deterrence and prevent Hamas from becoming Hizbullah No. 2 by returning to the Israeli-Egyptian border and by reoccupying some areas in the Gaza Strip.

If Iran achieves a nuclear weapons capability, it will proliferate very quickly to terror organizations, which is reason enough for Israel to defeat both Hizbullah and Hamas. Even if Hizbullah does not have nuclear weapons itself, it will be operating under an Iranian nuclear umbrella, which could affect Israel's ability to respond effectively to attacks.

Israel should tell the countries that are going to give hundreds of millions of dollars to the reconstruction of Lebanon that the money will be transferred only after we have a sign of life from Israel's kidnapped soldiers and they are released as stated in UN Resolution 1701.

Signing an agreement with Syria will not change the situation, except to make Syria stronger in Lebanon. Talking with Syria does not start with the Golan Heights. It starts with terrorism, and the role that the Syrians play between Iran and Hizbullah in Lebanon.

What Israel needs now is leadership with an agenda.

Two Different Conflicts in the Same Region
There are two different conflicts occurring in our region at the same time. One is the Palestinian struggle for an independent state. The other is the Islamic fundamentalist war against Israeli and Jewish existence in the Middle East - which is being waged by both Hizbullah and Hamas. This war did not begin in 1967, and it is not going to end even if Israel redeploys along the 1967 lines. These two conflicts sometimes intermingle because they have joint interests, but it is not the same war.

The Collapse of Deterrence
Israel lost much of its deterrence in the summer 2006 war in Lebanon. In most cases, the fact that there was a war is proof of the collapse of deterrence. Now Israel must rebuild its deterrent capability.

There used to be a mutual balance of fear between Israel and Hizbullah. For many years we have known that once a conflict began, Hizbullah could launch rockets at the northern third of Israel and civilians would be in shelters for up to several weeks. On the other hand, Hizbullah knew that Israel could actually destroy Lebanon, while it could not destroy Israel. The prevailing conception was of a kind of a balance that ensured a calm situation. This worked for six years.

The Outcome of the War
The goal of the summer 2006 war should have been not only to defeat Hizbullah, but also to prevent it from regaining its strategic capability by destroying the arms route from Iran and Syria. In order to win such a war Israel had to defeat Hizbullah to such a degree that the other forces in Lebanon would complete the task and eventually destroy it, and then act as a barrier to isolate Lebanon from Syria, but this was not done. After the end of the war, Hizbullah was still strong enough to continue to launch its rockets.

UN Resolution 1701 is problematic for Israel because it does not give Israel the tools to prevent Hizbullah from regaining its strategic capabilities. Nor does it give Israel a way to obtain the release of its kidnapped soldiers. It was within Israel's capabilities to achieve its military goals, but we did not do so, and Resolution 1701 prevents us from doing so after the war.

Resolution 1701 only mentioned Israel's kidnapped soldiers in the preamble, with no linkage and no sanctions. Israel should have demanded that the agreement be linked to a sign of life from the soldiers or having them handed over to the Lebanese authorities. Also, the Israeli naval blockade of Lebanon should have been lifted only after there was a solution for the kidnapped soldiers.

Israel should tell the countries that are going to give hundreds of millions of dollars to the reconstruction of Lebanon that the money will be transferred only after we have a sign of life from Israel's kidnapped soldiers and they are released as stated in UN Resolution 1701.

Hizbullah was hurt, but not to such a degree that it cannot regain its power, including its supply of money and arms. Politically, they have become even stronger in Lebanon.

Once a war ends in the Middle East and there is another war on the horizon, there is no deterrence. Actually, it is the opposite of deterrence if a war ends with everyone talking about the next one.

The Collapse of the Land for Peace Idea
The land for peace idea has now collapsed. Hardly anybody in Israel really thinks that if we give territories, we will get peace. We left Lebanon and Hizbullah grew stronger, with the situation ending in a war. We left Gaza and received a stronger Hamas and Kassam rockets. Israeli is not suicidal and we are unlikely to try this strategy again in another place. We have to find another way, and a new concept is urgently needed, taking into account how to regain deterrence.

Gaza
There is a connection between what happened in Lebanon and the way we left Gaza. We have to find a way to leave areas so that they will not become a threat, as happened in Gaza. Hamas is becoming like Hizbullah because we left the Gaza-Egypt border.

We have this strange ceasefire in Gaza. We cease and the Palestinians fire, and after awhile, everything collapses because it has no real basis. If the current ceasefire collapses, Israel will have to make a very tough decision. The Israeli decision might be to regain its deterrence and prevent Hamas from becoming Hizbullah No. 2 by returning to the Israeli-Egyptian border and by reoccupying some areas in the Gaza Strip. If we do not respond to the Kassam rockets, we cannot provide even basic security to the Israeli population. I hope we won't arrive at this point, but a lot depends on the leadership on the other side of the security fence, among the Palestinians.

Iran
Israel cannot deter Iran just by being strong. We are vulnerable because our country is so small and would be particularly endangered if the Iranians achieve a nuclear weapons capability. In addition, if Iran achieves such capability, it will proliferate very quickly to terror organizations, which is reason enough for Israel to defeat both Hizbullah and Hamas. Even if Hizbullah does not have nuclear weapons itself, it will be operating under an Iranian nuclear umbrella, which could affect Israel< /st1:place>'s ability to respond to attacks.

Finally, a nuclear Iran is not only an Israeli problem. If, in another ten years, there are a dozen nuclear states including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, this is an inherently unstable situation.

Syria
From the point of view of a national security strategy, Syria must be isolated immediately. Signing an agreement with Syria will not change the situation, except to make Syria stronger in Lebanon. Talking with Syria does not start with the Golan Heights. It starts with terrorism, and the role that the Syrians play between Iran and Hizbullah in Lebanon.

My philosophy is all-inclusive. Use force, if needed, but this does not mean that we do not have to talk to people. We can negotiate and use force at the same time. In the end, we are trying to achieve coexistence as a basis for full agreements and a lasting peace with our neighbors.

Leadership is Needed
Looking ahead to its challenges, what Israel needs now more than anything is leadership with an agenda, knowledge, experience, and authority.

* * *

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan served as Head of the Planning Branch of the IDF General Staff and headed the Israeli security committee to peace negotiations with the Jordanians, Palestinians, and Syrians. He later served as head of the Central Command and as Deputy Chief of the General Staff. He also served as Chairman of Israel's National Security Council and was the National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister. This Jerusalem Issue Brief is based on his presentation at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs in Jerusalem on December 7, 2006.


Poll - “Kadima” is about to evaporate

On 30 January 2007 Yedioth Ahronoth published a poll that shows “Kadima” is about to evaporate, as I suspected. 80% think that Olmert should reach personal conclusions regarding his war conduct and resign. The major winner of Olmert’s misconduct is Bibi Netanyahu. Compared to Olmert, Netanyahu is conceived as the savior. God forbid. 34% think that Netanyahu is the most appropriate leader to serve as Israel’s prime minister. Second is the Teflon Lady, Tzipi Livni, with 16% and Ami Ayalon, also with 16%.

If elections were to be held now, the “Likud” was likely to gain 32 seats (compared to the 12 seats the party has now). “Kadima” and “Labour” 9 seats each, and the racist “Yisrael Beitenu” 10 seats.

“Labour”’s hope is the primaries in May, when a new leader will be elected. I hope it will be Ami Ayalon. Ayalon could bring the party to some 20 seats. “Kadima” has no hope, unless Olmert resigns. I wish he will surprise me, or that the Winograd Committee will. Not that I am optimistic about either, but one is entitled to hope. Olmert’s future lies with his past. He is still reluctant to recognize this.


Peres

On January 17, 2007 I attended a farewell reception for my good friend Murray Smith who returned to his home in New Zealand. The key speaker in the event was Shimon Peres who said: People are telling me that the situation in Israel is very bad. But I look in my diary and see that everything is fine. Today, for instance, I met with an architect who wants to build Tel Aviv in white… All is well.
Accordingly, one may judge a woman’s beauty by looking at her nails, I presume.

Peres, who is one of the few people who has wealth of experience in the present government, wishes to resign from his post as vice prime minister in order to achieve yet another momentous mark: to be the first person in the history of Israel who served as both prime minister and president. For this celebrated note he wishes to abandon the government and leave the citizens of Israel with a less trustworthy government, as if the situation is not bad enough.

But hey, apparently it is not that bad. Look at Peres’s diary.

Shimon Peres’s reality has been filtered for many years. The hopeful (or hopeless) optimist never allowed facts to interfere with his vision and agenda. Peres sees light even half way through a dark tunnel that was closed ten years ago due to concrete fear from yet another earthquake. His diary, and office, are surrounded by people whose role is to tell him the reality as he wishes to see. This is why Peres is known in Israel as the “visionary” or “floater”. This is why he lost almost every major campaign in which he participated during the past thirty years. Being surrounded by people whose role is to tell you the reality as you wish to see can be misleading. Still, one cannot but admire Peres’s zeal for politics, and his survival ability. In this Peres is remarkable, the best you could get.


Ramon

On January 31, 2007 in a unanimous ruling, three-judge panel of the Tel Aviv Magistrates' Court found former justice minister guilty of indecent conduct by kissing a female soldier against her will at the Prime Minister's Office. Justices say they found Haim Ramon's version not credible.
"We are not talking about an innocent kiss on the cheek or on the forehead out of feelings of affection, but a kiss that has all the elements of a sex offense," the judges wrote.
The court found the complainant's testimony reliable that Ramon had kissed her against her will, an act which they called humiliating and intrusive. Ramon, on the other hand, lied and did not stick to the truth.
"We found that the defendant did not stick to the truth, tried to move the blame far away from him, belittled and reduced his actions and responsibility, and on the other hand, exaggerated. As for the defendant's part, he distorted and twisted the facts in a sophisticated way," they said.
I read the Ramon decision, and was not convinced. The three judges believed every word of the young soldier, and none of Ramon's. He should appeal. It is possible that all the truth is with one side, but usually this is not the case. Often the truth lies somewhere in the middle. The amazing thing is that they totally dismissed the defence testimonials, to the point of even suggesting that the prime minister’s personal advisor, Rivka Falach, and others had lied. Amazing indeed.

In any event, Ramon paid a high price for the two seconds of that fateful kiss. It will be very difficult for him to return to public life with this criminal stain.


Karadi

Following harsh findings of a special commission (Zeiler Committee) convened to investigate the conduct of the Israeli police in a notorious affair in which a police officer joined a criminal gang and murdered a rival criminal, Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi decide to resign. On February 19, 2007 Karadi explained that his decision would allow the police force to internalize the Committee’s conclusions. Karadi said: "I resigned to spare the police from being shaken, and to minimize the focus on me." The Zeiler Report found serious deficiencies in Karadi's conduct in this affair, when he served as commander of the police's Southern District.
The outgoing commissioner said also the media were generating an unpleasant atmosphere around the police, but that Israel Police is a strong body and it will pull through this difficult period. He congratulated Public Defense Minister Avi Dichter for choosing Israel Prison Service commissioner Ya'akov Ganot as his replacement, and thanked his deputy, Major General Benny Kaniak, wishing him success should he choose to accept Dichter's offer to become IPS commissioner.

However, one scandal pursues another and it seems this government is incapable of appointing unquestionable people to key positions. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz harshly criticized Ganot's appointment in light of his past entanglements with the law, while senior police commanders said they felt resentment as Avi Dichter did not consult with them on the appointment. Though Mazuz found "no legal obstacle" to the appointment, he argued in a letter to Dichter that it was extremely problematic in light of his questionable past. The majority of the Court wrote in its 1996 ruling: "The number of incidents gives the impression of corruption, but doubts remain as to whether these incidents could, in fact, be established as corruption, and as to whether they crossed from the realm of disciplinary infractions into the realm of criminal offenses,".
Mazuz argued that the harsh findings of the Zeiler Committee demanded the appointment of an unsullied commissioner to restore public faith in the police. Therefore, he said, this is not the time to appoint someone with a checkered past.

Former Supreme Court Justice Yitzhak Zamir, who presided over Ganot's case said: "Despite his (Ganot's) acquittal, the court also said that it is a borderline case and that he has serially displayed inappropriate behaviour in several incidents. This is not a manner befitting a police officer; it damages the image of the police. And to appoint someone like him as commissioner, after Karadi resigned over much less… We need to rehabilitate the police, its culture and integrity. There is a concern that crime has infiltrated the police. So to take a man with such a hunchback from the courts is unfitting."

Zamir is a decent and righteous person. He usually refrains from commenting publicly on such issues. This time he felt he should step out and voice concern: “I want to hope that Minister Dichter will abandon this appointment. I don't think it needs to be brought to the Supreme Court. Not everything needs to be examined legally. You need an unsullied man, spotless, to head the police, and I do not believe this to be the case here. It's still not too late for the minister to change his mind… the Supreme Court has ruled against appointments that were far less important because of an unclean record in the past, you can never know for sure what it will rule."


Arcadi Gaydamak

As if Israeli politics is not saturated with enough problems, on February 21, 2007 Israeli-Russian billionaire businessman Arcadi Gaydamak launched a new political movement called Social Justice, vowing to steer clear of the traditional political-security platform to focus instead on social issues. Gaydamak, who has been a police target since his arrival in Israel, said he did not intend on running for a seat in the Knesset and would run the movement's affairs as its chairman.
Gaydamak has two obsessions: power, and Gaydamak. For the past few years he made every effort to gain legitimacy and become part of the Israeli elite, which on the whole did not welcome him. His road to fame and fortune is under continued investigation, and people are careful not to associate themselves with him. During the Hezbollah War he took very positive steps, entering the lacuna of Israel’s leaderless government, offering his wealth to help thousands of refugees who needed shelter and food. For this he should be congratulated and thanked. But now comes the time to reap dividends.
The only top politician who is not afraid to be seen with Gaydamak in public, and to negotiate with him, is Bibi Netanyahu. As you know, I always doubted Bibi’s ability to make careful decisions. Now, it seems, they were able to strike a deal.
"Politicians work for their own interest only to be elected and then to receive official budgets and serious social status," Gaydamak said. The tycoon's decision to found a political movement came about after privately commissioned opinion polls showed him to be popular among the Israeli electorate, especially among immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
One poll showed that a Gaydamak-backed faction would win 25 seats in the Knesset.
Gaydamak's move drew criticism from left-wing MKs who doubted his social agenda. Meretz MK Ran Cohen cast doubt over the genuineness of the movement, accusing the Israeli Russian billionaire of using his popularity to bolster the Likud party. "How ironic that Gaydamak's party is called Social Justice when his intention is to help Netanyahu to create another million poor people," he said.
Labor MK Yoram Marciano said the Israeli-Russian billionaire "is trying to buy the regime with money." "This is a dangerous phenomenon of linking capital to politics. The political system should reject Gaydamak's dangerous attempt to infiltrate it," he said. I concur. The first person who should be worried about this is Olmert. And then also the public at large. The public might think that Gaydamak will spread his wealth to them. If at all, the poorer segments of Israeli society are likely to suffer Gaydamak’s entry into politics. The problem is that they do not see this.


Poll: 75 percent of Israelis want to be in EU

Survey commissioned by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and published by YNET on February 22, 2007 finds that most Israelis want to be part of EU. 75 percent of Israelis would like Israel to be part of the European Union. Half of Israelis visited Europe in the past three years. The most popular destinations were France, Italy, Britain, Spain and Germany.
Eighty percent of the respondents said they liked Britain, making it the most popular European state among Israelis. Germany placed second with 67 percent support. Germany was followed by Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Turkey and Norway.
The poll was carried out as Germany took up the rotating EU presidency – but only one-quarter of Israelis were aware of Germany’s leadership of the EU.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among the most popular foreign leaders among Israelis: 50 percent of those questioned said they supported Merkel, while a mere 9 percent said they disliked her. 60 percent of Israelis believed Merkel’s election as Germany’s first female chancellor improved Germany’s image in the world; 77 percent of Israelis from the generation that experienced the Holocaust expressed their support for her as well.
Dr. Lars Hansel, KAS manager in Israel, said, "The results show how deep the German-Israeli bond is and will help to bring Europe and Israel even closer.
"Germany is committed to Israel's security having recently sent peacekeeping forces to the shores off Lebanon to help protect Israel and subsidized the sale of 3 Dolphin class submarines to the Israeli Navy. This poll proves that Israelis want to strengthen the German-Israel ties, too," Hansel said.


Ted Honderich

In my Masters days I read some of Honderich work, most notably Violence for Equality, and found it sound and well-reasoned. Hence, when I heard that he is about to deliver a lecture in Hull, I noted down the occasion in my diary.

On February 20, 2007 I attended Honderich’s lecture. It is arguably the worst lecture I heard this year, possibly more, and I’ve heard some really bad ones. The philosophy department organized the lecture. Unfortunately, it included very little essence of philosophy and quite a bit of praise for terror. Honderich pitted together Zionism and 9/11. Later, however, he said that Zionism was a justified cause whereas 9/11 was irrational. However, neo-Zionism (the occupation of Palestine) is “barbaric” and should be fought against by all means, including terrorism. There is no doubt in his mind that murdering innocent children in Tel Aviv is justified, and that this would lead to Palestinian liberation. For someone who quotes Mill’s pursuit of truth argument about voicing different and conflicting opinions, Honderich manifests very little tolerance to opinions that do not coincide with his. He is sure of himself to the extent that politicians would be impressed but academics will raise their eyebrows. The story of Zionism that Honderich tells starts, for some obscure reason, in 1948. I wondered whether Honderich is at all aware that the Zionist movement started some one hundred years earlier. There is no mention of the UN 1947 Partition Resolution. There is no mention of who waged war on whom in 1948, and then subsequently through the years right up until now. There is no mention of the 2000 Camp David Summit. His definition of “terrorism” was deficient as it lacked at least three components that should appear in every definition: the threat of violence in addition to the use of violence; for religious reasons; hurting indiscriminately random targets.

For Honderich it was a mistake not to recognize the Palestinians as people in 1948. I wonder whether the Palestinians made the same mistake themselves, but this question was left open. Honderich did not deal with the question whether the Palestinians could have achieved a state by now if they did not resort to terrorism, or at least restrict terror to the occupied territories, or did not fire rockets on civilians. Other un-raised questions include: Is a state justified to fight against rockets fired against civilian targets? Should Israel help to establish a Palestinian state, knowing that this would lead to the expansion of areas that would be vulnerable to rocket attacks? Why terrorism is rational given that as historical phenomena terrorism did not enjoy much success?

Honderich is certain that the Palestinians should resort to terror to free themselves from Zionist barbarism. It is for them no less than a “moral right”. The very association of terrorism and morality troubles me. It troubles me a great deal.

The terror attack on 9/11 took place in order to free Palestine. Bush and Blair are idiots who should stand trial in Nuremberg. They are war criminals. Honderich seems to think that smearing other people and using many exclamation marks could compensate for his poorly-argued rationale. The west should speak to the Hamas as it is the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people. It really does not matter that Hamas wishes to eradicate Israel. Honderich was arrogant, condescending, misinformed, incoherent, manipulative and full of flaws. At the very least, he should conduct historical research to verify facts before he speaks about historical situations about which he has ideas, but apparently not much knowledge. I was very disappointed.


New Books




Dafna Lemish, Children and Television: A Global Perspective (Oxford: Blackwell., 2007)
http://www.amazon.com/Children-Television-Perspective-Dafna-Lemish/dp/140514419X













Dan Caspi (ed.), Media and Politics in Israel (Jerusalem and Tel Aviv: Hakkibutz Hameuchad/Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, 2007) (Hebrew). ISBN 965-02-0371-0.
http://www.vanleer.org.il/heb/publications.asp?id=86











Hillel Nossek, Annabelle Sreberry and Prasun Sonwalkar (eds.), Media and Political Violence (Hampton Press, 2007). ISBN: 1-57273-728-X.






Thank You




My family and I would like to express deep gratitude to Dean George Talbot for all his help. We appreciate his care, concern, wisdom and experience.









English Ways

We had a lot to do with service people of all kinds. I noticed that many of them say: “Leave this with me”, only to mean “Leave me alone”; if you like, this is the English alternative to the American’s “Don’t call me; I’ll call you”.

Having said that, Yorkshire in general, and Hull in particular are known as very friendly. For the first few weeks, we stayed in a family-run hotel, designed especially for business people who pass through the city. We were essentially given the second floor of the west wing, separated from the rest and away from the crowd. This allowed the kids opportunities to behave like kids whenever they wished, within reasonable limits but certainly not conforming to English etiquette. The staff was nice, pleasant and friendly. On average, I think they said twelve-times “Thank you” in one single dinner. Most of them were absolutely unnecessary; nevertheless, very pleasant.

It is quite an experience to spend weeks in a hotel. I am uncertain whether it is an experience I necessarily recommend, but it is interesting. You learn about staff and see things that guests-for-the-night will not normally recognize. The Pearson Park Hotel is no Faulty Tower. It provided us a home of sorts, peace and tranquility, with a lovely view to the park. We thank Steve and his staff for their courteous, friendly and welcoming hospitality.


With my very best wishes,

Yours as ever,

Rafi


My last communications are available on http://almagor.blogspot.com
Earlier posts at my home page: http://hcc.haifa.ac.il/~rca/