Gordon Brown often must have felt like Moses. In his case, however, enduring patience and loyalty eventually did pay.
The news in Britain was dominated by two very different developments. First, Gordon Brown who finally assumed office in 10 Downing Street. I bet that sometimes he felt like Moses. But patience did pay this time, and he was able to reach the promised office. I wish Mr. Brown lots of success, especially in Britain’s foreign affairs. He appointed quite a young person for the job, and time will tell if Mr. David Miliband is fit for the job.
The news was also dominated by terrorist attempts. More in the Newsletter infra. Terror is one of those things to which you can never get used. It always horrifies you, and particularly when people who are assigned to save lives are involved in the taking of lives.
Shimon Peres – Ecology - The Hezbollah War - Alan Johnston - Israel Releases Palestinian Prisoners - Special Report of “Peace Now” Settlement Watch – Terrorism - British Boycott of Israeli Academia - Leon Katz – Israeli Consulate: Update – Poland - New Articles - New Book - Enchanting Read - Gem of the Month - The Pastor, the Donkey and the Media
Peres replied to my congratulations by saying that he expresses his heart-felt gratitude for my good blessings, and that he is excited from the warmth received from me and others and he is looking forward to facing the heavy challenge. He maintained: “It is great privilege for me to serve the people, and serve as a voice for all that is good and unifying in it. We are a country that must be strong in facing the dangers, and we are people whose beliefs are as strong as the prospects it is able to achieve. Your blessing is very important to me”.
We experienced heavy rains in June. I have never seen so much rain in my life at any point of time during the year, especially not during the “summer”. The British should think of a different terminology for their seasons. The present names are misleading. Noah would applaud and say those storms give good competition to his good old days. Some people were killed. Others experienced loss of property and great inconvenience.
We are destroying our environment. In England people died as a result of floods; in less than two hours flight, in the same continent, people died of the heat. I wonder when we’ll wake up and realize that some drastic steps need to be taken in order to make our planet liveable for generations to come.
Global warming is a tremendous and growing problem. The warmest global average temperatures on record have all occurred within the past 15 years, with the warmest two years being 1998 and 2005. Most of the warming in recent decades is likely the result of human activities. Other aspects of the climate are also changing such as rainfall patterns, snow and ice cover, and sea level. As ocean waters becoming warmer, wind and storms are becoming stronger. Water reservoirs evaporate. Take, for instance, Lake Chad, in the 1960s one of the largest lakes in the world.
We should invest our resources in two separate directions: one, after recognizing the evils we inflict on our planet by our way of life, to reduce pollution, to move to more economic exploitation of energy sources, including solar; keeping our waters clean as much as possible; moving to wiser consumption of natural resources in a way that will not endanger species, plants and trees.
We are now using the atmosphere as a free dumping ground for carbon emissions. If we continue to do so, our children will inherit a very problematic world to live, and to die in. The continuous melting of Greenland and Antarctica is vivid and most worrisome. In fifty years time, large parts of the globe will be flooded with waters, as the ocean waters will rise and cover densely populated land, including Manhattan, Florida, San Francisco Bay, Calcutta, Beijing, Shanghai, Bangladesh, the low countries in Europe (The Netherlands, Belgium), as well as many islands. The floods will destroy much of these large areas, potentially could kill millions of people and potentially make tens if not hundreds of millions refugees. Those needy, hungry, displaced refugees will inflict immense pressure on the entire world economy.
Second, it is amazing how little we can do to mitigate natural disasters. We are pretty good in forecasting them, but then wait like sitting ducks. Humanity invested billions to visit the moon, Mars and exploring other planets. Why don’t we invest similar amounts of money in research towards mitigating storms, hurricanes, tsunamis and typhoons? Surely we can do better than simply sit and wait for the next disaster.
What can YOU do?
You release greenhouse gases as a result of using energy to drive, using electricity to light and heat your home, and through other activities that support our quality of life like growing food, raising livestock and throwing away garbage. Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced through simple measures like changing light bulbs and properly inflating your tires. Look at the following site which provides over 25 easy steps you can take to not only reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduce air pollution, increase your nation's energy independence and save money. See
Also watch Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and ensure that your children, students and colleagues see the film. It is not an amazingly engaging film, but it is most interesting.
The Hezbollah War
During the July-August 2006 war, citizens in the north of Israel were left more or less to find their own solutions, surviving day in, day out with hundreds of rockets. The government did very little to help. Hundreds of thousands of people left their homes. For long weeks they lived in shelters, or traveled to secure places, away from the rockets’ range.
On July 18, 2007 State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss published his report on last summer's war. Unsurprisingly, his conclusions are that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former Defense Minister Amir Peretz, government ministers, former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and Home Front Command chief Major-General Yitzhak Gershon had each failed severely in the processes of decision making, evaluation and estimation in their handling of the Home Front during the Hezbollah War. They all had displayed an "eclipse of reason."
The 582-page report is the most comprehensive ever published by the State Comptroller's Office, and apparently the harshest. The report was prepared from September 2006 through March 2007 by a number of teams comprised of dozens of workers at the State Comptroller's Office. The teams collected thousands of documents and heard the testimonies of dozens of officials, including ministers, military officials, police officers, heads of local authorities, and representatives of private organizations which aided the Home Front during the war.
The material collected was analyzed and handed over to the bodies mentioned in the report in March 2007 in order for them to present their remarks and responses.
To recall: the most unnecessary Hezbollah War lasted 34 days, during which 41 citizens and 119 soldiers were killed, and thousands of civilians and soldiers were injured. During the war, Hezbollah terrorist organization launched some 3,900 rockets at Israeli communities and IDF bases in the north.
The state comptroller's report points to a large number of failures, some of them extremely severe, in terms of the authorities' preparedness to handling the Home Front at times of emergency and the functioning of the government.
State Comptroller Lindenstauss listed three main areas of failure. In the legal field, that current law does not give a fitting solution to preparing the home front for and its treatment during times of crisis. In the field of preparedness, there was no comprehensive and ordered discussion of arrangements for emergency situations. In the operational field, governmental departments, local authorities and other institutions - including the Home Front Command and the government body for emergency management - did not fulfill tasks they were given.
According to the report, "The handling of the Home Front during the war was extremely inadequate… The state's leaders invested most of their efforts in the fighting in Lebanon, rather than in handling the Home Front which suffered comprehensive injuries and damage from the first days of the war”.
The report says that when the war broke out, various professional bodies presented the government with assessments of the situation and estimates of the scope of the damage the war would incur. These assessments included a detailed description of the home front's preparation for rocket and missile attacks. But, the report says, the government did not discuss these assessments until July 30, 2006, the 19th day of the war.
"This conduct left a 'vacuum' in the handling of the Home Front and left the residents of the north exposed, vulnerable and with no defense during a most difficult period of time. The severe failures in handling the Home Front during the war reached a situation of 'spiritual weakening.'"
According to the report, as the war was launched the prime minister and the ministers discussed the significant damage and injuries the Home Front was expected to suffer, and the prime minister even instructed the government ministers and the heads of the defense establishment to prepare for "a new reality" in the Home Front.
"However, the expected damage to the Home Front was not translated by the government ministers and the defense establishment into actions and comprehensive, systemic preparedness… The Home Front issue was not examined as required and the significance it was given in the decision making process was inappropriate," the state comptroller says.
"The conduct of the prime minister, the ministers and the responsible bodies was in most cases reactive – not initiated – and partial, inappropriate and in some cases was carried out in a significant delay."
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss rules that once the vagueness regarding the different bodies' responsibility toward the Home Front – and the northern residents' extreme distress – were revealed, the State authorities should have taken an expanded approach of claiming responsibility and taking operative steps to fix the failures in real time: "This is the appropriate moral approach, this is the important leadership test," the comptroller says, but "this was not done. The failure and destruction revealed regarding the Home Front's preparedness and functioning during the Second Lebanon War are significant and severe."
The report notes that the government, the Defense Ministry and the IDF – mainly the Home Front Command – did not implement during the first stages of the war any previously prepared contingency plans for handling and controlling the Home Front in times of emergency, although these plans could have allegedly provided tools and solutions for a significant part of the problems discovered in the Home Front during the war.
Home Front Command
Addressing the conduct of the Home Front Command, the comptroller asserts that "the failure to operate the resources and manpower subject to the Home Front Command at the time of an ongoing and wide-scale event, which affects all residents of the north, is a serious failure." Furthermore, the handling of weak populations in the Home Front was inadequate: "The relevant ministries did not deal with the weak populations according to an organized plan for times of emergency”.
"The solutions provided by the responsible government offices and some of the local authorities for meeting the needs of special population groups – elderly people, the handicapped and others – were delayed and only partial... The vacuum left by the State authorities was filled by private and public bodies that volunteered to help the population in the north. They should be blessed for that."
Here the comptroller referred first and foremost to the billionaire Arkady Gaydamak who did not just stare at the developments, but actually contributed a small fortune to help the deserted civilians who were crying for help, exhausted by the massive terrorist attacks on their homes.
"The shelters in every part of the Home Front were designed for short stays and were unfit for prolonged stays. There exists a large gap between the required and the existent when it comes to shelters and fortified buildings. Most of the population lack substantial protection from rocket attacks."
Both Jewish and Arab local authorities did not maintain existing public shelters they were responsible for, and in some cases did not build a correct amount of shelters for the population. The Home Front Command did not supervise the shelters. Successive tax cuts over the years severely damaged the home front's preparedness for emergencies. The Arab sector in particular had insufficient bomb shelters and means of protection for wartime.
According to the report, the Home Front Command presented to the government an overly optimistic assessment of the potential dangers posed by the possible spread of dangerous chemicals. The IDF assessment did not place emphasis on this danger despite the fact that most chemical storage facilities were unprotected against missile attacks. The comptroller said: "The handling of reserves of hazardous materials in the vicinity of residential areas was deficient in the most severe of manners."
During the war, the Home Front Command instructed several factories to minimize the use of dangerous chemicals. The factories in turn demanded compensation for the financial losses this would entail. The report concludes that for this reason, the IDF failed to enforce its instructions and basically allowed the factories to ignore the IDF's directions.
The IDF failed to instruct the chemical factories in close proximity to shopping malls, office buildings and public places to take extra precautions, endangering countless lives. The IDF began to safeguard the factories only nine days after the war had begun.
Regretfully but unsurprisingly (for anyone who knows the Israeli scene and decision making process), since the war ended last August, the Home Front Command has yet to complete the safeguarding of the 458 facilities containing significant amounts of dangerous chemicals.According to the comptroller's report, the government did not hold hearings on the matter of evacuating civilians from the north of the country, even while there was a mass southward migration of Israelis in response to Hezbollah attacks on the north.The report holds that it would have been appropriate for the government to hold meetings on the matter, something that then-defense minister Amir Peretz refused to do. The report determines that "the programs for evacuating civilians were insufficient to handle the wide range of scenarios" in the north during the war, and that "a number of the facilities intended for the absorption of evacuees were located in areas subject to IDF or Hezbollah bombardment, and a number were not available at all."The report holds that during the first week of the war, the majority of evacuees should have been able to entrust their evacuation to local authorities, under an official evacuation plan prepared ahead of time. Nonetheless, after the war broke out, official plans to evacuate civilians were not carried out and the government did not make decisions on the matter of evacuation.
Lindenstrauss found severe failures in the conduct of the police during the war, which placed the lives of police sappers and Israeli citizens in danger. Though the police were responsible for the citizens in the home front, the organization had outdated information regarding the types of weapons Hezbollah may use.
The comptroller also found a severe failure in the transfer of information between military intelligence and the police regarding the rocket missiles fired by Hezbollah: "Only several days after the beginning of the war, when the police had a critical need for highly classified information, did the military intelligence department organize a regulated channel through which specific information could be transferred to the police," the report reads. It also emerged that the IDF attempted to exclude the police from use of an alert system designed to warn against rocket strikes before the Home Front Command's sirens go off. During the first days of the war, the police's northern district was given access to this system. However, during the course of the war, the Home Front Command disconnected the police from the system. The police asked to be reconnected, saying the system could save police officers' as well as citizens' lives, but the request was ignored.
The comptroller wrote that successive governments had overlooked the preparedness of the civilian population for times of war: "Successive Israeli governments for years failed to fill their responsibilities with regards to the Home Front and did not study its readiness for times of war."
"Budget cuts over the years, which were approved by successive Israeli governments, were approved with no consideration of their implication on the Home Front in times of emergency, and they severely harmed the front's preparedness."
The comptroller recommended the government commission a budget study to improve the Home Front's preparedness: "An urgent solution to the identified problems should be found through both a general examination of the State's readiness for and focusing on improving the front's capability to deal with emergency situations."
In his usual manner, the prime minister who received the report some time prior the official publication of the report tried to move the discussion away from himself, reiterating the mantra that the State Comptroller has a personal grudge against him. The Prime Minister's Office and senior IDF officials disagreed with the comptroller's conclusions, and accused him of adding irrelevant criticism to his report.
Like old Cato, I continue to call for elections as soon as possible. That man who does only one thing, survive in office, should go away. Israel will be much better off seeing him cultivating his garden and taking care of his immediate family, only them.
The BBC journalist held hostage in the Gaza Strip since March was handed over by his Islamist captors to ruling Hamas officials on Wednesday, June 4, 2007. “It is just the most fantastic thing to be free,” he told the BBC live by telephone from the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. At times, he said, it was quite terrifying.
“I dreamt many times of being free and always woke up back in that room. Now it really is over,” said the 45-year-old Scot, adding he had followed events by radio and thanked the public and colleagues for their support throughout his 114-day ordeal.
“The last 16 weeks have been the very worst of my life," he added. "I was in the hands of people who were dangerous and unpredictable."
Mr Johnston said he was not tortured during captivity but he did fall ill from the food he was served. He had been kept in four different locations, two of them only briefly. He was able to see the sun in the first month but was then kept in a shuttered room until a week before his release, he said.
He was kept in chains for 24 hours but was not harmed physically until the last half hour of his captivity, when his captors hit him "a bit".
Mr Johnston said Hamas's seizure of power in Gaza and its subsequent pledge to improve security in the territory had facilitated his release. "The kidnappers seemed very comfortable and very secure in their operation until... a few weeks ago, when Hamas took charge of the security operation here".
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said the freeing of Johnston showed his Islamist movement had brought order to the Gaza Strip by seizing power in the territory last month: "We have been able to close this chapter which has harmed the image of our people greatly. The efforts by Hamas have produced the freedom of Alan Johnston… We had expressed our regret in the name of the Palestinian people at the abduction of the respected journalist Alan Johnston, which represented an offence to our people.
His captors, The Army of Islam, an al-Qaeda-inspired group with links to one of Gaza’s powerful clans, and Hamas exchanged prisoners in recent days during negotiations to free Johnston.
One of those who helped negotiate his release from the Army of Islam group said a leading Muslim cleric had been brought in by mediators to issue a fatwa, or religious edict, calling for Johnston’s release.
These are potentially good news for Gilad Shalit and his family. Gilad is the young Israeli soldier who was kidnapped last year by a Palestinian group and all IDF attempts to bring about his release had failed till now. Possibly, Johnston’s release may start a momentum that would result with prisoner’s exchange between Israel and the Palestinian group, through the mediation of the Palestinian Authority or another good-willed third party.
Israel Releases Palestinian Prisoners
On Friday, July 20, 2007, Israel released 255 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture meant to bolster Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in his power struggle with Hamas. Abbas said this was only the first group of prisoners to be released and that more would be freed shortly, Israel Radio reported.
Most of those freed are from Abbas' Fatah movement. Prominent among the freed prisoners is 61-year-old Abdel Rahim Malouh, second in command in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which assassinated Israeli minister Rehavam Ze'evi in 2001. Malouh at first refused to sign a form saying he would refrain from any terror activity in the future, without which he could not be released, but changed his mind when Abbas intervened personally, a PFLP lawmaker said.
For Palestinians, the prisoners are heroes in the struggle for statehood, and large-scale prisoner releases are seen as an effective way for Abbas to win popularity and support. However, Israel refuses to free inmates serving time for wounding or killing Israelis, in part for fear of a public outcry. None of the prisoners being freed was directly involved in attacks on Israelis, according to Israeli officials.Israel holds about 9,200 Palestinian prisoners, most of whom were arrested during the past seven years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting. Almost every Palestinian family has had a member in Israeli jails at some point, and the fate of the prisoners is one of the most emotionally charged issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Special Report of “Peace Now” Settlement Watch
A new report released on July 6, 2007 by Peace Now shows that 90 percent of the settlements sprawl beyond their official boundaries despite the large amount of unused land already allocated to them. Here are the main findings and conclusions:
Deviations from the area of jurisdiction – the overwhelming majority of the
settlements (90%) deviate from the area of jurisdiction which has been delineated for them. In fact, almost one-third of the total area of the settlements lies outside their official jurisdiction.
land upon which the settlements are actually situated is located outside the official areas of jurisdiction. The explanation for this phenomenon can be found in a desire to expropriate additional land that is beyond the official areas of jurisdiction of the settlements. All of this stems from the fact that while the areas of jurisdiction are, in any case, kept solely for use by Israelis (since the Civil Administration, the Army and the settlers do not permit Palestinians to use those areas), expropriation attempts by settlers are aimed at areas located outside the areas of jurisdiction, with the full knowledge that in fact, no one enforces the law against their actions. For a complete table showing the settlements according to the percentage of their use of the area, see: http://www.peacenow.org.il/data/SIP_STORAGE/files/7/3197.xls
Expropriation of privately owned land – over 10% of land included within the
jurisdiction of the settlements is privately-owned by Palestinians, despite the fact that officially, the Order Regarding Regional Councils (discussed above), does not permit the inclusion of private land (with the exception of areas which were seized by the Army) within the areas of jurisdiction of the settlements.
The number of demolitions carried out against Palestinian illegal construction was three times higher than the number of demolitions in the settlements.
Correlation between location of the settlements and deviations from the areas of
jurisdiction – there is an unmistakable correlation between deviations from the areas of jurisdiction and the region in which the settlements are located. Two Regional Councils together – Binyamin (49%) and Samaria (30%) - contain almost 80% of the total area which deviates from the areas of jurisdiction, despite the fact that 45% of the total areas of jurisdiction are located within the boundaries of these Regional Councils.
Correlation between the character of the settlements and deviation from the areas of jurisdiction – there is an unmistakable correlation between construction
beyond the areas of jurisdiction and the type of population residing in the settlement.
64% of all of the settlements’ land that is outside the areas of jurisdiction is situated around national-religious/orthodox settlements (as contrasted with ultra-Orthodox settlements) whose population is characterized by an ideological dedication to the settlement project. In this context, one should perhaps point out that 14 of the settlements which have the highest percentage of such deviation are national-religious/orthodox settlements. This fact underscores that the phenomenon of deviating from areas of jurisdiction is unmistakably ideological.
For the full table of settlements according to the percentage of deviation, see:
Correlation between the path of the security barrier and deviation from the areas of jurisdiction – almost 75% of the area of the settlements that deviate from the area of jurisdiction is situated around settlements located east of the path of the
security barrier. This fact, once again, underscores the link between this phenomenon and ideology, as well as the lack of action on the part of the system
charged with enforcing the law. The data contained in this report correlates to the common wisdom that as a rule, the further away a settlement is from the Green Line, the more politically extreme is its population. In addition, the deeper one goes into the West Bank, the weaker the law enforcement system becomes until it turns into a very amorphous concept.
Despite the fact that 40 years have passed since the birth of the settlement enterprise, and despite the fact that the State’s perceptions of the project have undergone far-reaching changes at various periods, Israel’s policy, as expressed on the ground, continues to promote, first and foremost, the interests of the hardcore ideologically-motivated right-wing settlers.
The State of Israel continues to make use of a variety of planning and administrative tools, among them the delineation of areas of jurisdiction of the settlements, to reinforce its position in this project. It should be pointed out that these means intensify and complement each other. These means include:
Halting land registration in 1967 so that Palestinians wishing to register their land in the Land Registry Bureau are faced with bureaucratic and financial obstacles which, in fact, prevent them from registering the land in their name;
Declaring almost half of the land in the West Bank to be State land and only
allocating it to Israelis;
Defining areas of jurisdiction for settlements and settlement councils with no
Systematically and continuously not enforcing the law when it comes to illegal
Not providing construction permits to Palestinians;
Effectively prohibiting, through overzealous enforcement (including expulsions and demolitions), any Palestinian use of even their own privately-owned land;
Preventing Palestinian access to privately-owned land.
Often when attempts are made to describe the reality that prevails in the West Bank, the discussion focuses upon questions relating to the “rule of the law”, particularly with reference to the shortcomings of a system charged with enforcing the law with regard to Israeli citizens living on the West Bank. This report, which is the third in a series of reports issued by the “Settlements’ Watch” team (see, “One offense begets another” published in November 2006, and “Building settlements in Nature Reserves,” published in February 2007), seeks to paint an up-to-date picture of the relation between Israeli law and the
deployment of the settlements.
The Report shows that the main problem can be found in the continual failure by Israel to enforce the law when it comes to Israeli citizens in the West Bank. This failure to enforce the law has become, over time, one of the principal elements of a policy whose main goal is that of transferring the majority of the land reserves in the West Bank into the hands of Israeli citizens. All of this is done to prevent the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel. It is difficult to see how the continuation of this policy can bring a better future for either of these two peoples.
This is yet another testimony to the evils of occupation. The occupation needs to stop, sooner the better. Like old Cato, I have been saying this for quite some time now, twenty two years to be exact. The tragedy is that we have two prime ministers, an Israeli and a Palestinian, who wish to promote peace but lost the respect of their respective people, and are powerless to play a major role in the shaping of history. Furthermore, when the other side wishes to destroy you and fire rockets at you, conceiving compromise as weakness, there are little prospects that any Israeli leader will evacuate settlements and work to cease the occupation, knowing that the consequences will be death and destruction of Israeli towns and villages. This deadlock is very sad indeed.
Britain is under constant threat of terrorism. Prime Minister Brown intends to conduct an urgent review of its methods for recruiting foreign doctors, after it emerged that seven of the eight of the people detained in the aftermath of the failed car bombings in London are from the medical profession. The doctors come from countries scattered across the Middle East and South Asia. The British national heath service has long relied on foreign doctors to fill its understaffed hospitals. The Royal Hull Hospital is just one testimony of this phenomenon. Of the nearly 239,000 doctors registered with the General Medical Council, some 90,000 qualified in countries other than the United Kingdom.
For the British public, the prospect of highly educated professionals as terror suspects is a chilling departure from the home-grown Muslim terrorists, many with family roots in Pakistan, who have been implicated in previous conspiracies here.
Speaking in Parliament on July 3 in his first appearance at the prime minister’s weekly question time, Brown said the government would also expand its worldwide “watch list” of potential terrorists: “It is vitally important the message is sent out to the rest of the world that we will stand strong, steadfast, and united in the face of terror”. He also announced that his government would set up a new national security council to respond to international threats to Britain’s security. “At all times, we will be vigilant, and we will never yield”.
Brown’s comments came as police appeared to have rounded up the main perpetrators in the plot to blow up two cars in central London and an attack on the Glasgow airport, in which two men rammed a Jeep Cherokee into the arrivals hall and set the vehicle ablaze.
The police official said that within a day or so he expected the authorities to reduce the terrorist threat level in Britain from “critical” — its highest level, meaning that a terrorism attack is imminent — to “severe.”
On July 3, the police arrested two other men on suspicion of terrorism after reports that canisters of gas were delivered to an industrial site in Blackburn, in northwest England. Officials would not say whether these arrests were linked to the incidents in London and Glasgow, in which gas canisters were also used.
Muslim leaders have condemned the plot promptly and vigorously. But some fret that a backlash is inevitable. “The integration of the Muslim community has been smooth to a point,” said Naim Raza, president of the Islamic Society of Scotland. “This attack will put those relations to the test.”
British Boycott of Israeli Academia
In addition, the British Journal of Medicine is conducting a poll on boycotting Israel. There is room for comments. While published by physicians and certainly interested in physicians' views, there are sections for others and members of the public. It is extremely important that all of you add signatures to oppose the boycott. The poll is at https://exfs.adir.hull.ac.uk/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.surveymk.com//s.aspx?sm=zrDgLYed7wn_2fe_2bcR2lC4Pw_3d_3d
I wrote that boycotting academia is not a solution. I am in favour of academic freedom and free expression. In addition, this proposition is counter-productive as the majority of Israeli academia opposes, to the best of my knowledge, the Israeli occupation.
Please feel free to circulate it quickly and widely as it is unknown how long it will be up.
My heart-felt congratulations to Leon Katz, P. Eng., O. Ont., who was recently named an Officer of the Order of Canada. Mazal Tov to Leon and to his proud family.
The Order of Canada was established in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement and service in various fields of human endeavour. It is Canada’s highest civilian honour for lifetime achievement. Three different levels of membership—Companion, Officer and Member—honour people whose accomplishments vary in degree and scope. The “Officer” level recognizes a lifetime of achievement and merit of a high degree, especially in service to Canada or to humanity at large. Appointments are made on the recommendation of an advisory council, chaired by the chief justice of Canada.
Leon Katz was named for his lifetime of contributions in the field of biomedical engineering. His talents and national contributions span a range of innovative life-saving inventions and adaptations – including the first Canadian heart-lung pump developed out of two strawberry jam pumps, the first fetal monitor, the cardiac pacemaker, the original servo-controlled automatic scanner and printer (that located thyroid cancer metastases and produced accurate printout of every cancerous spot on the body); his service performing literally thousands of perfusions, himself; his pioneering work at the Montreal Neurological Institute with the renown Dr. Wilder Penfield and Leslie Geddes, and at the Institut de Cardiologie de Montreal with Dr. Paul David, where Katz conceived and designed the cardiac catheterization laboratory. During the latter 17 years of his career in the federal department of Health Canada, Katz was critical in developing federal legislation and regulatory controls in respect of diverse medical devices, including evacuated blood container tubes (EBCT), and ascertaining and alerting about the hazards of backflow into the patient, the result of line misconnections . Katz has also published over 90 scholarly articles and has been cited in many publications.
When asked what motivated her husband’s drive and direction, his wife Ruth Katz answered that following the War, Leon said that all the destruction and loss of human life he’d witnessed and experienced during military service in the European theatre, compelled him to construct anew and to dedicate his life to saving those of others. Asked how he has accomplished so much, Katz himself simply replies in his characteristic humility: "the doctors, medical practitioners and desperate parents identified urgent needs: so I just attended to them."
Israeli Consulate – Update
You may recall my complaint about the way Israel treats people who require the services of its consulate in London. I characterized the present situation by one word: Shame.
I received a letter from Mr. Nissim Ben-Shitrit, Head of Administration in the Foreign Office. He thanked me for my attention and concern, agreeing that the situation calls for improvement. Indeed, “in these very days we are attending plans for refurbishing the Embassy in London. Unfortunately, the bureaucratic systems that take care of this issue are delaying the work. I hope that when the renovation is complete the public and consulate workers enjoy better conditions”.
I join his hope and happy to learn that I was entering an open door as the issue is already under review and care. I hope bureaucracy hurdles will be overcome soon and will keep you posted as to how the renovation works progresses.
This month I visited a country I wished to visit for many years - Poland. I was invited to Slubice, once part of Germany, now a border little town on the Oder River. Collegium Polonicum is a joint venture between the two nations, established to promote cooperation and understanding between Poland and Germany.
The relationships between the two nations are complex and complicated, as Poland remembers the trauma of Nazi occupation.
In the library of Collegium Polonicum I was pleased to see an exhibition about the life and work of Janusz Korczak. The librarian, in turn, was pleased to hear that Korczak is a well known figure in Israel. In the Slubice Bazar, visited mainly by Germans who cross the border for relatively cheaper shopping, I was less pleased to see busts of Adolf Hitler. I asked the shop-keeper who is this person whose image he is selling, his answer was “a comrade”. Obviously he thought I was German. My host, who was surprised and quite disturbed by the exchange, thought it is illegal to sell such Nazi memorabilia in Poland.
On the way I spent some time in Poznan. The old city of Poznan is charming. The restaurants are good, and there are many bag shops, especially for ladies. The Poles don’t seem to have a lot to carry, but they like to carry their lot in fashionable bags. As could be expected, you will get your fair share of Churches. The museums are small, and the exhibits are explained in fluent Polish, no English. People on the streets, including the young, know very little English. Most of them smile when I approached them, usually with questions regarding location of places. But with the smile came very little understanding of what I asked, and less so ability to answer. Some giggled and continued on their way, I presume in embarrassment for inability to communicate. Poland is inclined to associate itself with the west, but it will take a while for them to become well versed in the international language of the world.
At first I was impressed with their respect for red light. Generally speaking, pedestrians stand still at red light, even when there are no cars around. This is quite different from pedestrians’ behaviour in other countries in which I live and travel, e.g. Israel, England and the United States. But then I noticed the drivers’ lack of respect for zebra crossing: Far less respect than the custom in England, even less than the norm in Israel. This may explain the respect shown for red light. Drivers are not trusted.
This first visit to Poland provided me with a new perspective of my late grandmother. Until her very last day, she remained Polish although lived most of her life in Israel. She carried her Polish identity with pride. Then she looked different, sometimes strange. In hindsight, she simply continued to be loyal to her culture and norms of upbringing. Like many Poles in Israel, her gestures raised a smile, so alien they were to the upfront, thorny behaviour of the new Jew that Israel has cultivated – the Sabra. Bridging the two worlds is challenging. Living the two worlds was, I now realize, not easy.
I thank Jan Joerden, Krzysztof Wojciechowski , Ewa Bielewicz-Polakowska and Joanna Dlugosz for their kind hospitality. As ever, it was very good to see Jan. Whenever we meet, it feels as if our last meeting was yesterday.
Maria Alvanou, Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers: The Interplaying Effects of Islam, Nationalism and Honor Culture, Strategic Research and Policy Center, National Defense College, IDF, Working Papers Series Paper, no. 3 (May 2007).
This paper is an attempt to explain the involvement of Palestinian women in suicide terrorism through the outlook and tools of criminology. What is unique about this scholarly discipline- and indeed its defining characteristic is the central question about the causes of crime. If terrorism is perceived as a crime, then any factor that affects or concerns the perpetrator has to be analysed in order to break down the pattern of deviance and deter it adequately. Gender is one of these crucial factors, thus female participation in suicide terrorism qualifies for special research, since the cultural, social and religious standards in the areas where it happens, put women in a very different position than those of men. They are “special” deviants, not because the operational method of their self-immolation differs from that of men, but because their womanhood plays a key role in the way the whole social environment influences them. It is the specific province of criminology, studying the manifestations of crime and social control – in relation to law, but also the conditions, processes and implications at the societal level – to contribute in identifying and analyzing female suicide attacks. It can offer explanations valuable to the difficult task of counter-terrorism which will be more able to try and combat or modify the special characteristics of this special form of female criminal behaviour.
Thomas Carothers, "The Democracy Crusade Myth,” The National Interest (July/August 2007).
Carothers concludes: The sad, mildly ironic reality of the Bush approach to democracy promotion is that it may represent the worst of both worlds: It has soured people all around the globe, and many in the United States as well, on the very legitimacy and value of U.S. democracy promotion, despite having involved only a limited engagement in actual democracy promotion. The growing calls for a realist corrective, involving a backing away from democracy promotion, are misguided. Needed instead is a searching debate about how the United States can get back on track with what—until this administration—was the gradual development over twenty years of a U.S. approach to supporting democracy abroad, that while far from perfect and flecked with inconsistencies, nevertheless commanded bipartisan support at home and growing legitimacy around the world.
Marvin Kalb and Carol Saivetz, “The Israeli–Hezbollah War of 2006: The Media as a Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict”, The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Summer 2007), pp. 43-66.
Based on content analysis of global media and interviews with many diplomats and journalists, this article describes the trajectory of the media from objective observer to fiery advocate, becoming in fact a weapon of modern warfare. The article also shows how an open society, Israel, is victimized by its own openness and how a closed sect, Hezbollah, can retain almost total control of the daily message of journalism and propaganda.
Raphael Cohen-Almagor, “The Scope of Tolerance: Response to Nehushtan”, Israel Law Review, Vol. 40, No. 1 (2007), pp. 277-296.
The Israel Law Review invited a review essay of my book The Scope of Tolerance and then invited me to respond.
Raphael Cohen-Almagor, "Press Councils in Canada, Britain and Israel: Window Dressing and Lightning Rods", State and Society, Vol. 6, No. 1 (April 2007), pp. 43-75 (Hebrew).
The aim of this article is to review the work of the press councils in Britain, Canada, and Israel. Britain and Israel are unitary states, each with its own national press council. Canada is a federal state with provincial press councils in all provinces except Saskatchewan. The British Press Council and the Press Councils in Canada, with the exception of Quebec, deal only with the written press. The Quebec Press Council and the Israel Press Council deal with both the written and electronic media.
The press councils, however, do not possess real ability to sanction newspapers for misconduct. The espoused idea is of self-regulation by the press. The essay considers the history of the press councils in Britain, Canada, and Israel, analysing the ways they developed, their work, and how they have reached their current status. It is argued that the existing situation in the three democracies is far from satisfactory, and that the media should advance more elaborate mechanisms of self-control, empowering the press councils with greater authority and equipping them with substantive ability to sanction.
As ever, I’d be happy to e-mail the articles to interested parties. English version of the latter is available.
Thomas J. Biersteker, and Sue E. Eckert (eds.), Countering the Financing of Terrorism
List Price: £21.99ISBN: 9780415396431ISBN-10: 0415396433Publisher: RoutledgePublication Date: 17/07/2007Pages: 360
Groups committing acts of terrorism have adapted their means of financing to elude detection since the 9/11 attacks in the United States. Surveying the global community’s multi-year effort to cut off terrorist funding, this volume offers a much-needed analysis of a complex, widely discussed, yet poorly understood subject. While books on terrorism have touched upon the topic, this is the first comprehensive, balanced, and scholarly overview of terrorist financing, its methods, and efforts to counter it.
Bringing together leading analysts of terrorism, international relations, global finance, law, and criminology, Countering the Financing of Terrorism provides a critical assessment of the international effort to restrict terrorist financing. It evaluates the costs and benefits and offers recommendations for more effective policies for the future.
'This ambitious and fascinating collection will be required reading for anyone who wants to understand an often overlooked aspect of our struggle against terrorism. By taking us inside the operations of terrorists and efforts to track and cut off their financing, this volume provides an indispensable resource for all who want to understand what we have learned about terrorist financing, and what we can do better in the years to come.' Lee Hamilton, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, USA
'This volume makes an important and timely contribution to understanding the critical issue of how terrorists acquire and use financial resources and how governments and international organizations can control money flows. The authors, experts from a variety of fields, expose the complexity of the problem and challenge the conventional assumptions that have guided counterterrorist policy.' Martha Crenshaw, Wesleyan University, USA
Selected Contents: Introduction: The Challenge of Terrorist Financing Thomas J. Biersteker and Sue E. Eckert Part 1: The Social Organization of Terrorism 1. Producing Terror: Organizational Dynamics of Survival Jessica Stern and Amit Modi 2. The Evolution of al Qaeda Rohan Gunaratna 3. The Social Organization of Terror in Southeast Asia: The Case of Jemaah Islamiyah Zachary Abuza Part 2: The Financial Organization of Terrorism: The Raising and Moving of Funds 4. Terrorism, Charities and Diasporas—Contrasting the Fundraising Practices of Hamas and al Qaeda among Muslims in Europe Jeroen Gunning 5. Terrorist Financing and Organized Crime: Nexus, Appropriation or Transformation? Phil Williams 6. Trade Diversion as a Fund Raising and Money Laundering Technique of Terrorist Organizations Donald E. deKieffer 7. The Design, Development, and Implementation of Regulatory and Supervisory Frameworks for International Funds Transfer Systems Nikos Passas and Samuel Maimbo 8. Al Qaeda and the Gemstone Trade Douglas Farah Part 3: Responses to the Terrorist Financing Challenge 9. The US Regulatory Approach to Terrorist Financing Sue E. Eckert 10. International Initiatives to Combat the Financing of Terrorism Thomas J. Biersteker, Sue E. Eckert and Peter Romaniuk 11. Lessons for Countering Terrorist Financing from the War on Serious and Organized Crime Michael Levi. Conclusion: Taking Stock of Efforts to Counter the Financing of Terrorism and Recommendations for the Way Forward Thomas J. Biersteker and Sue E. Eckert
This is for those of us who are hopelessly romantic at heart. The story is illogical, hard to believe; it is beautifully written, and toys with thoughts we all have to one extent or another. I found it difficult to let the book leave my hands.
This is the Lake District. The area justifies its reputation as the most beautiful natural resort in Britain. I certainly have not seen a more beautiful region. Beautiful scenery, natural waterfalls, picturesque and tranquil landscape, lush vegetation, herds of sheep and cattle that could easily put you to sleep, and most charming lakes.
Places worth visiting include Keswick and Bowness-on-Windermere. See
William Wordsworth (1770–1850) is forever associated with the Lake District. It is an opportunity to record his “River Duddon”:
"I seek the birthplace of a native Stream.All hail, ye mountains! Hail thou morning light!Better to breathe at large on this clear heightThan toil in needless sleep from dream to dream:Pure flow the verse, pure, vigorous, free, and bright,For Duddon, long–loved Duddon, is my theme".
“NOT envying shades which haply yet may throw
A grateful coolness round that rocky spring,
Blandusia, once responsive to the string
Of the Horatian lyre with babbling flow;
Careless of flowers that in perennial blow
Round the moist marge of Persian fountains cling;
Heedless of Alpine torrents thundering
Through icy portals radiant as heaven's bow;
I seek the birthplace of a native stream.
All hail, ye mountains! hail, thou morning light!
Better to breathe upon this aery height
Than pass in needless sleep from dream to dream:
pure flow the verse, pure, vigorous, free, and bright,
For Duddon, long-loved Duddon is my theme!”
Miscellaneous Poems, Vol III (1820).
Wordsworth’s grandson used to teach English literature (maybe he’s still teaching) at St. Catz. I learned quite a bit about him while in Oxford.
The Pastor, the Donkey and the Media
This one is for all who are interested in the work of the media, especially for those who study and teach media ethics.
A pastor entered his donkey in a race and it won. The pastor was so pleased with the donkey that he entered him in another race and he won again. The local paper read: PASTOR'S ASS OUT FRONT.
BISHOP SCRATCHES THE PASTOR'S ASS.
The Bishop ordered the pastor to get rid of the donkey.
The pastor decided to give it to a nun in a near by convent.
The local paper, hearing of the news, posted the following headline: NUN HAS THE BEST ASS IN TOWN.
The Bishop fainted. He informed the nun that she would have to get rid of the donkey so she sold it to a farmer for $10.
The next day the headlines read: NUN SELLS ASS FOR $10.
This was too much for the Bishop, so he ordered the nun to buy back the donkey and lead it to the high plains where it could run free.
The next day the headlines read: NUN ANNOUNCES HER ASS IS WILD AND FREE.
With my very best wishes for a relaxed and sunny summer,
Yours as ever,
My last communications are available on http://almagor.blogspot.com/
Earlier posts at my home page: http://hcc.haifa.ac.il/~rca/ <http://hcc.haifa.ac.il/~rca/>