Friday, December 21, 2007

Politics – December 2007

The scratch on the wall is just a scratch. Many scratches, however, may change the shape of the wall. Often many incremental steps rather than a single blow, bring about historical changes.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor

This was another sad month for Israeli education. While the teachers ended their strike on December 13, 2007, university lecturers continue their strike, leaving hundred of thousands of students at home.
The chairman of the Secondary School Teachers Association Ran Erez said: "we have achieved the reform we wanted for secondary school education and all the goals of our struggle," shortly after signing a deal ending a 55-day teachers' strike. Erez listed the achievements of the agreement reached with the Finance Ministry and the Education Ministry as the reduction of the number of students per class, the restoration of school hours previously cut, wage increases and pay for the 55 strike days, as well as "a long line of work conditions that we didn't make public."

In contrast to Erez' optimism, a Jerusalem strike activist and teacher said that the signed agreement was without teeth. "There is no big news here," he said anonymously. "It angers me that this is the outcome after two months of struggle. [The deal includes] two wage offers already received by the teachers, and rejected. We will study the deal's details and see how we can continue to fight for the things that are important to us."
According to the agreement, the teachers will receive an 8.5 percent wage increase in exchange for two weekly hours of private tutoring. In addition, the teachers will receive another 5 percent wage increase, in accordance with a Histadrut labor federation agreement, over the course of three years. In addition, a 4 percent salary increase to prevent the erosion of teachers' wages will be pushed up. It was also agreed that the number of students in every classroom will be reduced. These are significant achievements, but still the teachers receive far less than they deserve.

Annapolis - Ambassador Imad Moustapha - Human Rights in Israel - Academic Strike - UNESCO LAUNCHES WORLD PRESS FREEDOM PRIZE 2008 - Nazi Family Album - The Challenge of Islamists for EU and U.S. Policies: Conflict, Stability and Reform - Call for Papers-Special Issue: Global Warming, Governance, and the Law - New Books - Gem of the Month - Best Photos of 2006
Light Notes


The November Peace Index, conducted by Eppie Yaar and Tamar Herman, shows that despite the wide media coverage of the Annapolis conference and the prime minister’s proclamation that it marked a political turning point of historic importance, the Israeli Jewish public’s level of interest in the conference remained quite low; as in the period before the conference, the majority did not follow it with any regularity. Furthermore, notwithstanding the joint statement and the positive spirit in which the conference ended, the overall public assessment of its outcomes in terms of a basic clarification of the disagreements between Israel and the Palestinians, or advancing the chances of peace between them, tends in the negative direction. Many more in the public remained skeptical, or did not change their opinion about the chances of reaching a lasting peace with the Palestinians, than were encouraged by the event and became optimistic about the chances for peace. These findings reinforce my claim that we deserve better leaders. The question is: Where the hell are they?

A considerable majority of the Jewish public sees the Palestinians’ demand for an independent state as just and thinks Israel can allow itself to agree to the establishment of such a state. The source of the Jewish public’s skepticism and even pessimism is apparently the widespread expectation that a peace agreement based on “two states for two peoples” would not lead, for the Palestinians, to the end of their historic conflict with Israel. The distrust of the Palestinians’ intentions is also evident in the Jewish public’s clear, ongoing preference for a closed border that would not enable free passage from one side to the other even if the two-state solution was implemented. However, the Jewish public does not think this desirable solution is in reach; the prevailing view is that without the agreement of Hamas there is no chance of arriving at a peace agreement, and that the sides will have a hard time overcoming their disagreements on the core issues.

As always, I am thankful to Eppie for the information.

Amitai Etzioni reacted to my Annapolis piece by sending me the following, which I am pleased to publish.

Annapolis: A Speech Not Given
There follows an address that will not be delivered by President Bush at the Middle East peace talks in Annapolis, Maryland. After the proper tribute to the various dignitaries present and a reference to the importance of peace for the region and the world, the speech reads as follows:

"A Palestinian state, long overdue, can be born before the sun sets on this day. It must be a state that will live in peace and security with Israel. To proceed, several essential compromises, which I list immediately, must be reached. None of them will please either side--the sure sign of compromise. However, if each side will continue to seek advantages, the road to peace will never be traveled. I hence call on all sides to bring an end to the bloodshed and suffering and to embrace the following set of peace and state- building measures. The measures must be accepted as one, and there is no room for haggling about their composition. The United States and its allies are committed to do all they can to ensure that the terms of the following suggestions will be honored.

The borders between Israel and the Palestinian state will follow roughly along what is known as the green line. Because of security concerns and developments that cannot be reversed, the final border according to the attached map varies by less then ten percent (in terms of the territories encompassed) from the green line. In some cases, it turns over to the Palestinian state some towns and villages that are west of the green line (mainly comprised of Israeli Palestinians); in some cases it turns over to Israel some towns and villages that are east of the green line (mainly comprised of Jewish settlers); in few cases, it creates bi-national parks on the border. All in all, it requires both sides to make concessions, albeit not totally equally ones. A small tilt to Israel in this part of the measures for peace will be more than offset when we turn to the status of Jerusalem.

The barrier that separates the two states will be repositioned in line with the said map, but from now on it will be fully recognized as legal. It should be noted that once the sides learn to live in peace with each other, the barrier can be very readily removed and replaced by normal border markers used by most nations. Also, even as we speak, it should be noted that the barrier already has 96 gates that can be opened at will to the flow of people and goods.

Jerusalem will be the capital of both the state of Israel and of the Palestinian state. It will also ensure sovereign control of the holy sites to still other faiths. There are several neighborhoods in Jerusalem that Palestinians consider part of that city (such as the Shuafat refugee camp, Sawakhra, Walaje and other villages) but many in Israel --do not. These are parts in which many Palestinians live. These and some other areas, to be discussed, will be the location for the Palestinian capital. Sites that are holy to several religions will be granted a sovereign status, comparable to the Vatican in Rome. Their guardians--for instance Saudi Arabia for the Al Aqsa mosque, and the Greek Orthodox Church for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre--will watch over these places and neither the police nor the armies of the state of Israel nor the Palestinian state will enter these turfs unless clear evidence is presented to the international community that they are being used to harbor terrorists and weapons.

The right of return
All the Palestinians that have left Israel in 1948 have a right to return to their homes and lands or be properly compensated for their loss. No distinction will be made among those who left voluntarily, were chased out, and those who sought to return after the war and occupy their Jewish neighbors' house. However, these rights will be balanced by rights of Jews who left Arab countries, such as Iraq and Egypt, and other Muslim ones such as Iran. No distinctions will be made among those who left voluntarily, were chased out, or just sought to better their economic state. Hence the right to return will be enacted for the net numbers involved.

In closing
There are numerous details that must be worked out. Not least is how to ensure that the new Palestinian state will not allow a terrorist group such as Hezbollah to use its territories to accumulate heavy weapons and fighters bent on the destruction of Israel. However, for now I call on all sides to accept a compromise that will satisfy neither, but will allow the bloodshed and suffering of good people to end, for each to have a state of their own, and for them to learn to live together in peace and prosperity."
Amitai Etzioni is Professor of International Relations at The George Washington University and the author of Security First: For A Muscular, Moral Foreign Policy (Yale, 2007).

Ambassador Imad Moustapha

On December 17, 2007 the Ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United States, Mr. Imad Moustapha, came to the Wilson Center to speak on U.S., Syria and the old new Middle East: Confrontation or Cooperation?

I asked him three questions: Syrian relationships with North Korea; Syrian relations with terrorist organizations, first and foremost Hamas, and Syrian interference in Lebanon. Here is what he had to say:

There are no nuclear projects in Syria. There are no Syrian-North Korean nuclear relationships. If you (i.e. RCA) refer to the absurd story of the Israeli bombardment of an alleged nuclear plant in Syria, this is just media hype, similar to the fabricated allegations regarding nuclear weapons in Iraq.

As for Khaled Mashaal: Israel kicked him out from Palestine. He then moved to Jordan, and from Jordan he found a home in Syria. He is a Palestinian. We Syrians did not invite him to Syria, but Mashaal needs a home. We cannot just kick him to the sea. He is an equal human being. There are half a million Palestinians residing in Syria. If Israel will open its gates to resettle them in Palestine, by all means. Until then, they all are entitled to live in Syria.

Syria recognizes Lebanon as a sovereign, independent state. Syria withdrew from Lebanon. Ambassador Moustapha hopes this will give a good example for other occupying countries, like Israel and the USA. But then, Ambassador Moustapha maintained, there is no comparison between the Israeli and American occupations to the so-called occupation of Lebanon by Syria. He did not elaborate why there are no grounds for comparison. He continued that if I (your humble servant) refer to the Hariri’s assassination, Syria cooperates fully with the largest murder investigation in history. This is a terrible crime, and Syria is interested to find the people responsible for the assassination. This, you will agree, is most reassuring.

At the same time, it was interesting to read a few days later, on December 19, 2007, President Nicolas Sarkozy saying: "I have reached the end of the road with [Syrian President Bashar] Assad. Words alone won't suffice, I want actions". (“Sarkozy loses patience with Assad”, The Jerusalem Post).

France has grown increasingly impatient with Syria, particularity over its intervention in Lebanese politics and its alleged involvement in political assassinations in the country.

Sarkozy spoke with Assad on several occasions recently in order to bring about a solution to the crisis over the Lebanese presidency, but it appears that his patience is now wearing thin. "I spoke to him three times recently and I spoke with him clearly and honestly," said Sarkozy. "I took the risk and spoke with him when no one else would," Asharq Alawsat quoted the French president as saying.
Sarkozy continued: "I took the initiative and said to him: 'Lebanon has a right to have an autonomous president who will have a national unity government. You must use all the means and abilities at your disposal to influence the attainment of this goal!'"

"But I am telling you," he was quoted by the London-based newspaper as saying. "I have reached the end of the road with Assad. Now words will not suffice, I want actions." Sarkozy added that Assad's last chance would be on Saturday, the latest deadline set for the Lebanese parliament to elect the next president. He said the last time he spoke with Assad was on Sunday.

The French president also pointed an accusing finger at Hezbullah. "The obstacles are tied with Hizbullah that wants the country's opposition to have the ability to thwart any decision that it doesn't agree with."

Answering other questions, Ambassador Moustapha said that the Golan heights territory is part and parcel of Syrian territory. It is recognized “by the whole world” as Syrian territory. He maintained that Syria believes in the formula “land for peace”. Once Israel withdraws from all occupied territories: The West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and South Lebanon, the road to normalization between Israel and Arab states will be paved. It was quite clear from his words that resolving the Palestinian issue is a precondition for peace negotiation between Israel and Syria, and that Syria will not settle for less than 100 percent of the occupied Golan.

Ambassador Moustapha explains that Syria is wishing to regain its territory through peace negotiations, not through war. He believes that peace is inevitable. Israel will realize that it cannot depend on sheer military superiority to maintain its brutal occupation. Israel understood this more clearly in the summer of 2006, when it was unable to break the Hezbullah. The only solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is for Israel give land for peace.

Ambassador Moustapha also said that Syria receives invitations to secret peace negotiations with Israel. He clarified Syria has nothing to hide. Peace negotiations should be a public event behind close doors. Syria believes in track-1 diplomacy.

Ambassador Moustapha also advised the audience, and the US at large, that Hamas is the democratically elected party of the Palestinian people. Calling Hamas “terrorist organization” and other negative terms does not help. This is not constructive. He maintained that Syria considers Israel to be a terrorist state. Possibly, to his mind, this is constructive.

Human Rights in Israel

I thank Dan Yakir of the Association for Civil Rights for sending me the following:

Each year, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) publishes a report on the state of human rights. This year’s report, published to coincide with International Human Rights Day on December 10, provides a survey of the human rights situation in 2007 in Israel and the Occupied Territories. Through the report, ACRI wishes to draw attention to the most flagrant human rights violations, note positive trends and developments, and trace significant human rights-related processes that affect Israeli citizens and residents. In preparing the report, we relied on a variety of information sources, including: government publications; NGO reports; newspaper articles; parliamentary documents; and court litigation.

The principal infringements of human rights stem from the policies and actions of government authorities, which either fail to protect rights or violate them directly. The “blanket” of rights that the State is supposed to ensure for all individuals is steadily shrinking, leaving more room for rights violations and exposing more people to human rights infringements, often those who belong to the periphery. In light of this worrying situation and the negative impact it has on the fabric of society, the continued silence of the Israeli public concerning human rights violations is deafening. ACRI's aim in publishing this report – and sharing its contents and their significance with decision-makers, the media, and the general public – is to reduce the disparity between the importance of human rights (to every man and woman, to democracy, and to society) and the place afforded them by the Israeli public.

In recent years, we have witnessed a growing trend toward unequal access to health services and the evolution of two separate health systems that are fundamentally different in terms of quality – one for the wealthy and the other for the poor. Public medicine is on a downward spiral that threatens to erode social solidarity.

Fear, stereotyping, and delegitimization characterize the Jewish majority's relations with the Arab minority in Israel. These attitudes are reflected, in part, by racist legislation and draft legislation, by the "special treatment" that Arab citizens receive at airports, and by attempts to limit the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to participate equally in political life and express their views, collective identity, collective memory, and shared vision.

We have chosen to devote special attention in this report to two populations that are rarely in the public spotlight: the residents of East Jerusalem, whose dire living conditions are the result of deliberate policies that have perpetuated neglect and discrimination for the past 40 years; and the Bedouin residents of the unrecognized villages in the Negev, who are subject to continued discrimination in planning and land issues, and who faced a particularly harsh policy of house demolitions during the past year.

Phenomena that characterize trafficking in persons – such as "binding" workers to a single employer and demanding that they pay brokerage fees – still prevail. Regulations and procedures for formalizing the legal status of foreign spouses, parents, and children of Israeli citizens remain, for the most part, shrouded in fog. While there have been a number of improvements in regulations concerning acquiring status in Israel, immigration policies toward non-Jews have stiffened. The “temporary” ban on granting legal status in Israel to Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens and residents has been in effect for more than five years. The considerable rise in the number of refugees arriving in Israel (mainly through Egypt) in the past year was accompanied by the government’s increasing evasion of its moral and legal obligations toward refugees and asylum-seekers.

The continuing violations of human rights in the Occupied Territories are described in ACRI’s reports year after year. The reality of life in the Occupied Territories means that even the most fundamental rights are not guaranteed. This year's report highlights restrictions on freedom of movement, which render it almost impossible for West Bank residents to maintain an ordinary day-to-day life; the situation in Hebron, a microcosm of all the violations brought about by the ongoing occupation, the settlements, and Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories; and the dire situation in Gaza, primarily focusing on the consequences of Israel's decision to close the crossings to and from the area in response to the take-over by Hamas.

There were encouraging developments this year regarding the rights of workers and job-seekers. It appears that efforts to raise public awareness about the exploitation of contracted workers, together with the public pressure that followed, finally prompted the government to take responsibility – as both the country's largest employer of contracted workers and as the authority charged with enforcing employment laws. We hope that the momentum of the important developments during the past year will continue so that contracted workers will be able to work with dignity. Harsh public criticism was also effective in bringing about a reassessment of the welfare-to-work plan (also known as the "Wisconsin Plan") and introducing fundamental changes to its implementation.

In the field of criminal justice, it is important to note on the one hand the enactment of new legislation that prohibits imposing prison sentences on unrepresented defendants. On the other hand, the right of a person to be present at hearings concerning his or her case is being eroded.

Technological developments have advanced freedom of expression and information, but also raise dilemmas and conflicts between these rights and other rights and interests. The primary danger stems from the harmful use of databases and the Internet to invade the privacy of workers (by their employers) and citizens (by government authorities), which present new threats to the right to privacy that even the fertile imagination of George Orwell could not have envisioned.

All of these topics, and more, are addressed in the following report. To find out more, please visit ACRI’s Web site (

Academic Strike

University lecturers continue their strike, leaving hundred of thousands of students at home. The semester, which did not open, might be cancelled. The Minister of Finance is unmoved. Lecturers are struggling as their salaries are not paid in full. Many take loans in order to support their families. This month has been one of the lowest points in Israel’s high education.

SHABAC Launches its Internet site


Organisations working in the field of journalism and freedom of expression are invited to submit nominations for the 2008 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

The US$25,000 award honours a journalist or organisation that has made a notable contribution to the defence and promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially if this involved risk.
Named after the Colombian journalist who was killed 20 years ago for criticising the country's drug lords, the award is presented each year on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May.
Organisations can nominate a maximum of three candidates. Self-nominations are not accepted.
The deadline for submissions is 30 January 2008.

Download a nomination form here:

For more information, visit:

The Challenge of Islamists for EU and U.S. Policies: Conflict, Stability and Reform
The US Institute of Peace Report is now available at

CALL FOR PAPERS - Special Issue: Global Warming, Governance, and the Law

Fiona Haines, Nancy Reichman, and Colin Scott, as editors of Law & Policy, are bringing together a series of papers on the legal and policy issues around global warming. We are interested in papers in all areas of law and policy related to climate change from any relevant academic discipline including:
Global warming and redress through the civil law
Measures for redress for vulnerable island nations: Is there a role for naming, shaming and blaming?
Reducing emissions: the role of non-governmental actors and the private sector
The politics of the name: global warming vs. climate change
Comparative analyses of policy measures both within the industrialized world, but also within the industrializing regions of Central and South America and Asia
Moral persuasion and the global warming debate: Is there traction beyond economic interest?
Playing the politics of uncertainty: Do policy arena and place make a difference?
Global environmental governance/leadership and global warming: Is the call for global governance the likely way forward?
Dealing in reality: policies and challenges in responding to climate change and its affect on local populations
The list above is not exhaustive and we welcome papers and ideas from other areas of relevance. Our goal is to disseminate scholarship of the highest academic standard that can shed light on the multiple legal and policy challenges and opportunities posed by both the human impact on climate change and the growing need to respond to changes in climate being felt across the globe. Our aim is to showcase work that sheds critical insight on policy approaches that can bring together disparate actors at a range of levels (international, national, and local) while also providing the possibility for significant and swift improvements at the local level. We welcome scholarship from both specialists and non-specialists in the area of climate change.

INTERESTED IN SENDING US A PAPER?Email us:Nancy Reichman Fiona Haines Colin Scott
Law & Policy journal information:

New Books

The Oxford Handbooks of Political Science (Oxford University Press, 2007),

consists of ten volumes on political behaviour, political theory, public policy, political institutions, international relations, political economy, political analysis, political methodology, law and politics and comparative politics. Congratulations to Bob Goodin, General Editor of this important resource.

European Immigration: A Sourcebook / Anna Triandafyllidou and Ruby Gropas (Ashgate, 2007). ISBN: 0 7546 4894 X Publication Date: 12/2007Number of Pages: c. 400 p.

This innovative volume provides a comprehensive overview of the immigration situation in all 25 EU countries. Each chapter is written by a national expert and follows a common structure, allowing direct comparisons to be made between countries. Chapters provide a clear focus in terms of the methods used, data collected, literature reviewed and research questions addressed, and draw on hard-to-obtain material, including sources not previously published in English. Each chapter concludes with a critical assessment of the present migration situation of the country in question and its future prospects. Substantive introductory and concluding chapters offer a general overview of immigration in Europe, which complements and contextualizes the analytical and comparative insights of the individual countries.
The first reference volume to provide comprehensive coverage of the EU, European Immigration will be an essential addition to library collections and to individual scholars and policy makers in the field.

Contents: Introduction, Anna Triandafyllidou, Ruby Gropas and Dita Vogel;

Austria, Albert Kraler and Karin Sohler;

Belgium, Hassan Bousetta, Sonia Gsir and Dirk Jacobs;

Cyprus, Nicos Trimikliniotis and Corina Demetriou; Czech Republic, Jan Cernik;

Denmark, Marco Goli and Shahamak Rezaei; Estonia, Mikko Lagerspetz;

Finland, Silvain Sagne, Sanna Saskela and Niklas Wilhelmsson; France, Ulrike Schuerkens;

Germany, Norbert Cyrus and Dita Vogel; Greece, Ruby Gropas and Anna Triandafyllidou;

Hungary, András Kováts and Endre Sik; Ireland, Abel Ugba;

Italy, Ankica Kosic and Anna Triandafyllidou;

Latvia, Inese Šupule; Lithuania, Rita Zukauskiene; Luxembourg, Serge Kollwelter;

Malta, Katia Amore; The Netherlands, Jessika ter Wal; Poland, Krystyna Iglicka;

Portugal, Ana Teixeira and Rosana Albuquerque; Slovakia, Boris Divinský;

Slovenia, Svetlozar A. Andreev; Spain, Carmen González Enríquez; Sweden, Miguel Benito; United Kingdom, Franck Düvell;

Concluding remarks, Ruby Gropas and Anna Triandafyllidou;


The Globalization of Bioethics. Commentary on the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights,

edited by Prof Fabrizio Turoldo, has just been published in Italian.


Bioethics is experiencing a profound process of transformation. It is a discipline which in some way can be associated with the 1970s of the previous century and has as its objective the consideration of the ethical implications of the use of new biomedical technologies, whether it be in the field of research or that of clinical medicine. For this reason the discipline originally developed in the more technologically advanced countries, which felt the ever more urgent need to deal with such problems. Poorer and less technologically advanced countries did not feel the same urgent necessity to affront the ethical questions arising from the use of sophisticated instruments in intensive-care units, or those arising from in vitro fertilization techniques. Today, in contrast with the past, we are witnessing the participation of less technologically developed countries in the field of bioethics. These countries force the experts to address new questions, such as the allocation of health resources on a global scale, the issue of justice in the health sector, and the regulation of experiments conducted in third countries. Such globalization of bioethics is without doubt facilitated by international organizations such as UNESCO, which has set up two bioethics committees made up of representatives from numerous countries of various continents. Furthermore UNESCO has approved various documents on the subject of bioethics, the most important of which is, due to its numerous possible applications, the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, unanimously approved 19 October 2005 by the 33rd Session of the UNESCO General Conference. It is therefore with this document as a starting point that a series of authoritative voices in international bioethics, representing various countries and continents, reflect on the phenomenon of the globalization of bioethics.

Foreword (Antonio Papisca) Introduction (Fabrizio Turoldo)

Section One - General Background:
- The UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. Towards global bioethics. (Henk ten Have)
- Global Bioethics at UNESCO. A defense of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. (Roberto Andorno)
- The UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. The political-diplomatic way forward. (Gonzalo Miranda)
- Brief history of the genesis of the Declaration: values and principles strengthened, new perspectives and shortcomings. (Adriano Bompiani)
- The Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights and International law. (Paolo De Stefani)

Section Two - The principles and values of the Declaration:
- The issue of vulnerability. Reflections on the UNESCO Declaration. (Dietrich von Engelhardt)
- The principle of autonomy in the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. (Maurizio Mori)
- Human dignity as a supreme principle in bioethics. (Jude Ibegbu)

Section Three - Problems of bioethics in developing countries:
- The impact of the UNESCO Declaration on Asian and global bioethics. (Alizera Bagheri)
- The problem of allocating health resources. The African case. (Giovanni Putoto)
- Bio-social aspects of modern high-technology medicine. A comparison between Africa and the industrialized West. (Nereo Zamperetti)

Fabrizio Turoldo (editor), The Globalization of Bioethics. Commentary on the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, Fondazione Lanza - Gregoriana Libreria Editrice, Padova 2007, pp. 300, ISBN 88-7706-213-4, Euro 22,00.

The book is currently available in the Italian language only.
For more information please contact Prof Fabrizio Turoldo:

Gem of the Month

This was the annual talent show at the Woodrow Wilson.

It started with lunch. All people at the Center sat at tables and enjoyed the fine cuisine. We had duck, in case you need to know. Lee Hamilton and Mike van Dussen addressed the public. We then moved to the packed auditorium. The Master of Ceremonies, associate director of the Asia Division, opened with a sharp comic monologue before inviting to the stage the in-house talents. The director of the Congress Division sang and played the Ukelele. One Fellow from Pakistan played the Sitar. We also had a wonderful singer, a violinist, a guitarist, two who played the flute, and a group of young singers “The Lee Hamiltones”, who sang “Mrs. Robinson” with new lyrics, addressing the Center’s concerns.

The event ended with a dessert reception. Scary. So many inviting calories on inviting tables.

This was a wonderful 4-hour event. I encourage all places of work to adopt this idea.

I was invited to read my poetry. I thank Maria-Steall Gatzoulis for reading the English translation. Infra is one of the poems, from my newly published Voyages (Jerusalem: Carmel, 2007, Hebrew):

The Academician

13 August 2000
St. Petersburg

Grey hat hides distinctive forehead
And black wig
That he bought for 7,000 Swedish Crones
After extensive searches
Days and nights
Between hundreds of blonde.

On his curious eyes
Wide horn glasses
On wide flattened nose
Holding a blue-cover book
“Spanish Jewry and Its Yearning for the Awakening of Dry Bones in the New Era”.

Product of ten years of profound thinking
Read, tore himself, probed libraries
Exactly two years, two months and three days ago
With the most distinguished “Obscure” Press
Situated near the world of water.

Enjoys explaining all beer drinkers
His contribution to uninformed science
On this most complicated subject
Researched by seven scientists, with their loyal assistants
In England, North America, Israel, Portugal and New Guinea.

Grey trousers, wrinkled and dirty
Above brown shoes with black heels
During the conference some borscht spilled on him
This was the hottest event of the four-day conference
On “Religion and Spirituality in an Era of Formative Consumption”
Near the oldest sauna on earth.

Scheduled to return to Knoxville with distinctive impressions
To share with his two anxious colleagues
And others who could not care less.
Maybe he will finally complete his monumental piece
“Spanish Jewry and Its Longing to Prophecy: The End”
And gain the long-expected tenure
After ten years of walking in the brown, arid desert.

Best Photos of 2006

Are on file with me. I am not sending them as some subscribers are not interested. Those wishing to see them are welcome to contact me and I’ll be happy to send them along.

Light Notes

The following are actual excerpts from classified sections of American newspapers:

Illiterate? Write today for free help.

Auto Repair Service. Free pick-up and delivery. Try us once, you'll never go anywhere again.

Our experienced Mom will care for your child. Fenced yard, meals, and smacks included.

Dog for sale: eats anything and is fond of children.

Man wanted to work in dynamite factory. Must be willing to travel.

Stock up and save. Limit: one.

Semi-Annual after-Christmas Sale.

3-year old teacher needed for pre-school. Experience preferred.

Girl wanted to assist magician in cutting-off-head illusion.

Dinner Special -- Turkey $2.35; Chicken or Beef $2.25; Children $2.00.

For sale: antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers.

Now is your chance to have your ears pierced and get an extra pair to take home, too.

We do not tear your clothing with machinery. We do it carefully by hand.

Toaster: A gift that every member of the family appreciates. Automatically burns toast.

With my very best wishes for this happy, festive season. Wishing you a wonderful year filled with beautiful memories, loving sentiments, new beginnings, exciting opportunities, and inspiring events.

Healthy, Successful and Productive 2008!!!

Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on
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