Friday, February 22, 2008

Politics – February 2008

The Hezbollah War - The Winograd Report - Gaza /Sderot - The Road Out of Gaza - The United States Government’s Contribution to UNRWA’s 2008 - Negotiating with the Islamic Republic of Iran - Join Clinton’s Campaign - Tom Lantos - Note on Terminology - Sammy Smooha - New Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA) - ESSAY CONTEST ON CIVIL RIGHTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST - Israeli Tennis - Thank You - New Books - Book Review - Gem of the Month : Bowfire - Film Recommendations - Light Notes

The Hezbollah War
During the last stages of that war, in August 2006, when more and more evidence emerged about the war misconduct and flawed decision-making on all levels – political, military, social – a group of concerned citizens gathered to voice dissent and think of ways to improve the situation. That group changed its format, but a core of activists, mainly of parents whose sons fought in the war, many of whom died or maimed, remained.
Recently they issued their own report about this most unnecessary war and wished to present it to Prime Minister Olmert. The honourable prime minster refused to see them. There is nothing he could talk to them about. And it would be difficult to look them in the eye and accept their feelings, their pain.

The report is 82 pages long, in Hebrew. I’d be happy to forward it to interested parties.

The Winograd Report

The shift from the yishuv to the sovereign state of Israel was manifested by the concept of mamlakhtiut, meaning legitimate state public authority. The concept was contrasted with yishuviut and tnuatiut (party-affiliated goals). It accentuated the need to ascribe state activities with unitary character, divorced from partisan political considerations. This need was of paramount importance in the spheres of public administration and services and in state security.

The salt of the earth people are mamlakhtiim. They are part of the establishment. They are conformist. They know what is expected of them. And they deliver the goods. This was also the case with the Winograd Committee.

Eliyahu Winograd is a well-respected judge who sat on many national committees. He is very experienced, and he knows what is expected of him.

Ruth Gavison is a leading figure in the field of constitutional law and human rights. She also sat on numerous committees. Like her colleague Winograd, her eye is always open to the government. She is part and parcel of the establishment, and likes to remain active in these influential circles.

The two army generals, Haim Nadal and Menachem Einan, are highly respected officers who were there to investigate the army’s conduct. They also are very mamlakhtiim. Always have been.

The wild card was Yehezkiel Dror, Israel foremost scholar on public administration. He usually has an uncompromising voice of conscience, and he never cared too much about being mamlakhti. Thus, his nomination came as a surprise to me.

The criticisms against the establishment of the committee, that it was wrong for the prime minister to be able to choose the people who will investigate his actions, proved to be justified. In this respect, the Report is not surprising. Still, it is interesting how the distinguished committee members were able to take Olmert off the hook.

Members of the Committee have stated that the manner in which the ground operation was conducted gives rise to extremely grave questions. They have also stated that a profound change is necessary in the patterns of action of the government and military echelons and that a determined and ongoing effort will be needed to bring about change in the modes of action of the governmental-military system. They wrote:
This conception of our role was one of the main reasons for our decision not to include in the Final Report personal conclusions and recommendations. We believe that the primary need for improvements applies to the structural and systemic malfunctioning revealed in the war - on all levels. Nonetheless, it should be stressed that the fact we refrained from imposing personal responsibility does not imply that no such responsibility exists. We also wish to repeat our statement from the Interim Report: We will not impose different standards of responsibility on the political and the military echelons, or to persons of different ranks within them.
Let us emphasize: when we imposed responsibility on a system, an echelon or a unit, we did not imply that the responsibility was only or mainly of those who headed it at the time of the war. Often, such responsibility stemmed from a variety of factors outside the control of those at the head. In addition, a significant part of the responsibility for the failures and flaws we have found lies with those who had been in charge of preparedness and readiness in the years before the war.
According to the report, one government meeting preceded the decision to bomb targets in Beirut. They spoke of “retaliatory operation”. The government had no idea that by this they forced the region into war. This is scary. No checks and balances. No monitoring mechanisms. You put the wrong people in high-power positions, and they can open war without knowing it, in one harsh meeting, based on wrong conceptions and analysis of the Chief of Staff. And we trust our lives in the hands of these people. God. Israel needs to wake up. Soon.
· 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.
· The committee found serious failings and shortcomings in the decision-making processes and staff-work in the political and the military echelons and their interface.
· The committee found serious failings and flaws in the quality of preparedness, decision-making and performance in the IDF high command, especially in the Army.
· The committee found serious failings and flaws in the lack of strategic thinking and planning, in both the political and the military echelons.
· The committee found severe failings and flaws in the defense of the civilian population and in coping with its being attacked by rockets.
· These weaknesses resulted in part from inadequacies of preparedness and strategic and operative planning which go back long before 2006.
However, the committee stopped short of telling Olmert: For the good of the nation, go. They knew that he will read the report and still will not get this message if they will not be explicit. They let him off the hook.
Olmert behaved irresponsibly when he appointed Amir Peretz to be Minister of Defense. He did this out of partisan political considerations, knowing full well that Peretz is unqualified for this heavy responsibility. By this he abandoned security considerations, and drove Israel’s enemy to try the inexperienced trio (Olmert, Peretz and Halutz).
The government had knowingly decided to subject 1 million people to continuous rocket attack, without providing them with adequate shelters and defence.
I wrote before: The essence of Olmert’s “leadership” is surviving in office. He is a lame duck. He will not be able to deliver anything, because most of the people do not trust him, do not trust his judgment, perceive him as a pathetic leader who cares only about his chair. Olmert is unable to lead our nation, and he is also incapable to do this. He exploits the public’s inability to get rid of him. We all read this clear writing on the wall. But a blind person is unable to read writings on the wall. His eyes are covered. His heart is deft.
Ari Shavit rightly wrote in his Haaretz article (January 31, 2008) that serious statesmanship is alien to Olmert, fundamental thought could not be further from him: “The prime minister is a first-rate politician, but an irresponsible captain. His irresponsibility is endangering Israel's future. True, Olmert is not the whole picture. He is not the essence of the problem, but he is its embodiment. As long as he is in charge of the nation's fate, it is unable to deal with the gravity of its situation. It will not be possible to deal with the Iranian threat at a time when the national leadership is trying to jump through hoops. It will not be possible to rehabilitate the country's and the army's systems when the commander-in-chief lacks integrity and lacks moral authority.” On February 8, 2008 I wrote to Professor Dror, urging him to voice a clear call for Olmert’s resignation. I explained that I fear the future decisions that the person might take, which might result in further casualties and blood, and I fear our enemies, who are quick to smell weakness, will put him on trial and Olmert will fail, yet again, to control the situation and yet again let the situation control him.
Dror answered laconically, thanking me for my letter and saying that he does not wish to comment “at this stage”. It might be too late when he will find it appropriate to voice an opinion as to who is responsible for the most unnecessary war in the history of Israel to date.
Minister of Defence, Ehud Barak, did exactly what was expected of him. He stayed in power. Yet again he showed that he is a petit leader who does not see beyond his self-interest.

Gaza – Sderot

I was asked: What do I think about the situation in Gaza? My response is: Horrible. I am sorry for the Gazans who need to live like that. I wish things were different. And what do you think about the situation in Sderot?

People tell me: But in Gaza, civilians are suffering. My response: Are the residents of Sderot IDF soldiers?

An American colleague at the Wilson Center said: If a Mexican militia were to target a city in Texas, the US would wipe the militia, and the city in which they seek refuge. No society can allow rockets on its cities. Israel has the right to defend its citizens.

More than 4,000 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israel from Gaza by Hamas and other Palestinian organizations since Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005. The daily rocket fire has deliberately targeted civilian communities in Israel, making life in its towns and villages in the vicinity of Gaza unbearable. I lived three weeks under the threat of rockets during the sorry Hezbollah War. I cannot imagine how it feels to live under such terror for years. This is a complete nightmare. It cripples your life.

I am especially sorry for the lives of children across the border. They will live with heavy scars for the rest of their lives.

In recent weeks, Hamas has escalated the rocket fire against Israel. Since January 1 2008, Palestinian terrorists have fired more than 420 rockets and mortar shells into Israel civilian cities and towns, over 200 of which were fired in a span of four days in late January 2008.

In a recent radio interview I was asked what I think of Defence Minister Barak. Well, I think Barak the soldier is far better than Barak the politician. Unlike his predecessor, Barak does understand security matters and needs, and he is in the right place to weigh alternatives and make unpleasant decisions. I trust his ability to analyse the situation and prescribe the right and appropriate measures. I trust he does not take such decisions lightly. I know he is capable of taking tough decisions when these are deemed necessary. He does not blink. The Palestinian rocket attack needs to be stopped. On January 17, Barak decided, in an attempt to stop the rocket attacks, to close all crossings between Israel and Gaza. At the same time, the supply of electricity to Gaza from Israel’s power grid, accounting for over 60% of Gaza’s power needs, continued unabated. I am told that this policy is being assessed daily, taking into account the availability of existing stocks of food, fuel and medicine in Gaza, together with the overall security situation. I believe that. This sounds like the calculated Barak, who likes to be on top of things. I wish he were as patient and calculated on other issues as he is on security matters.

The Road Out of Gaza

By Nathan Brown
Publisher: Carnegie Endowment
Policy Outlook No. 39, February 2008
Full Text (PDF) -

I thank Carnegie Endowment for permission to use this material in this forum.
The Middle East peace process will fail unless Palestinian political institutions are rebuilt, argues a new paper from the Carnegie Endowment. The rebuilding of viable political structures to represent and serve the Palestinians is the only way to move beyond the current political stalemate and the failed effort to build a Palestinian state.
In The Road Out of Gaza, Palestinian expert Nathan J. Brown discusses the economic and political disarray not only in Gaza and the West Bank but within Hamas and Fatah as well, and argues that the international efforts to rebuild Palestine are in reality counterproductive. Brown suggests a long-term international strategy based on restoring Palestinian institutions, encouraging a Fatah–Hamas agreement, and emphasizing regional diplomacy.

Key Conclusions:
An agreement must be reached between Hamas and Fatah—there is little chance for a military victory by either side. For this to be accomplished, Hamas must relax its hold on Gaza but be allowed to return to the cabinet.
Constitutional rule based on the terms of Basic Law must be restored and legitimate elections held. Hamas will then either have to deliver on its campaign promises of change or face voters in the parliamentary elections due in 2010.
Regional diplomacy must be emphasized. While Hamas does not listen to the United States and Israel, it does respond to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who have their own concerns over Hamas' rise.
Restoration of Palestinian institutions requires a degree of calm on the Israel–Palestinian front. Israel will need to be convinced that the cease-fire offers both short and long term benefits. Israeli leaders are oddly far more open to this idea than U.S. leaders.
“The risks of a strategy of ensnaring Hamas in traps laid by public opinion (expressed in part through elections), Arab diplomacy, and Palestinian political procedures are very real. But the path seems far more likely to pay off—both in security and diplomatic terms—than the current strategy of total isolation, abstract diplomacy, aid, and intermittent military operations,” concludes Brown.

The United States Government’s Contribution to UNRWA’s 2008

The United States announces an immediate initial contribution of $40 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in support of its 2008 General Fund Appeal. The U.S. contribution will support UNRWA’s provision of basic and vocational education, primary health care, and relief and social services to over 4.4 million registered Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. In 2008, the U.S. intends to support UNRWA’s General Fund at levels commensurate with the $90.65 million provided in 2007.
Every year UNRWA educates approximately 490,000 children in more than 650 schools, hosts nine million patient visits in 127 health clinics and one hospital, and provides special hardship assistance to 250,000 of the most vulnerable refugees. UNRWA’s tolerance education program promotes human rights, conflict resolution, and tolerance in every UNRWA school. Since the inception of its microfinance program in 1991, UNRWA has awarded 126,000 loans to help Palestinian refugees become self-sufficient and to promote private sector growth.
The United States is UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor. In 2007, the U.S. Government contributed $154.15 million to UNRWA, including $90.65 million for UNRWA’s General Fund and $63.5 million for its emergency appeals for Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza.
Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

Negotiating with the Islamic Republic of Iran

The United States Institute of Peace is sponsoring a book-length study of Iranian negotiating style as part of the Institute's ongoing Cross-Cultural Negotiation Project. This project develops and transmits useful knowledge for negotiating with foreign counterparts on matters affecting the prevention and management of international conflicts. Specifically, the project is designed to help professional negotiators better understand the negotiating behavior of their counterparts and thereby achieve mutually satisfactory political solutions to issues that might otherwise escalate into confrontation.
Recently USIP issued a report written by Ambassador (Ret.) John W. Limbert, who left the Foreign Service in 2006 and is currently Distinguished Professor of International Affairs at the U.S. Naval Academy. The author has over forty years of experience in Iranian affairs, including teaching in Iranian universities and secondary schools and earning a PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. He was a political officer at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 and became one of the hostages held at that embassy from November 1979 to January 1981. His publications include Iran: At War with History (Westview Press, 1987) and Shiraz in the Age of Hafez (University of Washington Press, 2005).
Here is the report’s summary. I’d be happy to send the full report to interested parties upon request.
Both Iranian and American sides come to the negotiating table burdened with years of accumulated grievances and suspicions. Their recent history has led both sides to assume the worst about the other and to see it as infinitely devious, hostile, and duplicitous. Yet, while talking to Iran may sometimes be difficult and unpleasant, it is also worth doing and may help both sides to find common interests lurking behind walls of hostility and distrust.
To enhance the prospects of a fruitful encounter, American officials should pay attention to a variety of traits that their Iranian counterparts are likely to demonstrate. Although some of these characteristics might make productive negotiation difficult, American negotiators should remain patient and focused on the issues under discussion.
Iranian negotiators may base their arguments on an abstract ideal of "justice" instead of defined legal obligations. This distrust of legalistic argument springs from the belief held by many Iranians that the great powers have long manipulated international law and the international system to take advantage of weaker countries. The American negotiator should, therefore, look for unambiguous, mutually agreeable criteria that both define ideals of justice and avoid legal jargon.
The combination of Iran's great imperial past and its weakness in the last three hundred years has created a gap between rhetoric and reality. Yet, while history certainly matters to Iranians, they will on occasion bury the past to reach an agreement, especially if that agreement serves a larger interest.
There are parallel governing structures within the Islamic Republic, making it difficult but also important for American negotiators to be sure they are talking to the right people. The factionalization of the Iranian political system can make Iranian negotiators reluctant to reach an agreement lest they become vulnerable to charges of "selling out" to foreigners.
Grand gestures may overshadow the substance of issues under negotiation, and American negotiators need to be able to distinguish substance from political theater.
Iranians feel that they have often been treated as fools in political contacts, and they will be very sensitive to American attitudes. If they sense that the American side considers them irrational and unreasonable, they are likely to react in exactly that way. American negotiators should thus treat their Iranian counterparts with professional respect and not lecture them on what is in Iran's national interest.
The Islamic Republic believes itself surrounded by hostile American, Arab, Turkish, and Sunni forces, all determined to bring about its downfall. Conspiracy theories are very popular, and events such as the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War are often considered the outcome of great power plots.
If an American negotiator senses that that the Iranians are overplaying a hand and pushing a momentary advantage beyond its value, the best response is to ask, "On what basis are you asking for that?" and to insist that the Iranian side come up with some understandable basis for its position. Mediation or arbitration by an impartial body can sometimes help to counter what appear to be unreasonable demands.
What works in any negotiation--preparation, knowing each side's best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA), building relationships, and understanding underlying interests--will work in negotiations with Iranians. What can undermine any negotiation-- such as ill-advised public statements--can also compromise negotiations with Iranians.

Join Clinton’s Campaign

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Tom Lantos

In my last Newsletter I spoke of Rep. Lantos’ illness and wished him good health. I am sorry to say that on February 11, 2008 Lantos, age 80, a California Democrat whose experience as the only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress shaped his strong support for human rights and U.S. military intervention abroad, died in Bethesda. He had esophageal cancer. Survivors include his wife, Annette Tillemann Lantos, whom he married in 1950, of Burlingame, Calif., and Washington; two daughters, Annette Tillemann-Dick of Denver and Katrina Swett of Bow, N.H.; 17 grandchildren; and two great-grandsons.
The Washington Post published the following on February 12, 2008: Rep. Lantos, born in Budapest to Hungarian Jews, served 14 terms in the House of Representatives. His district included southwest San Francisco and much of San Mateo County, where he was known for supporting the socially liberal agenda of his constituents. Last month, he announced he would not seek reelection because of his cancer treatment.
Rep. Lantos was a powerful figure on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where he had been the senior Democratic member since 2001 and its chairman since last year.
For years, he sided with Republican conservatives who believe the United States should assert democracy abroad and use the military to intervene when a moral imperative or national interest is at stake. In 2002, he supported the congressional resolution that authorized President Bush to invade Iraq and played a decisive role in gaining Democratic support for the measure.
On the House floor at the time, he noted his own past as a Nazi-resistance fighter during World War II. "Had the United States and its allies confronted Hitler earlier, had we acted sooner to stymie his evil designs, the 51 million lives needlessly lost during that war could have been saved," he said. "Just as leaders and diplomats who appeased Hitler at Munich in 1938 stand humiliated before history, so will we if we appease Saddam Hussein today."
After the Democrats gained control of Congress in 2006, Rep. Lantos became increasingly critical of the direction of the war in Iraq and called for large withdrawals of U.S. troops. He also held more than a dozen hearings on the situation.
Political scientist Bruce E. Cain of the University of California at Berkeley said Rep. Lantos's long alliance with Republicans on the war made him politically vulnerable at home.
"Lantos was able to have a very hawkish position on foreign policy because in every other dimension he was completely in sync with the peninsula constituents," said Cain, who is also executive director of the Washington campus of the University of California system.
Throughout his tenure, Rep. Lantos was a reliable supporter of Israel in Middle East peace talks and denounced Saudi Arabia for its alleged role in financing terrorists.
Yet he also described himself as "passionately committed to having a dialogue with people we disagree with," including Moammar Gaddafi of Libya. The North African leader long faced U.S. sanctions for his sponsorship of terrorist operations, including the plan that downed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.
Gaddafi made overtures to the West in the early 2000s, saying he was ready to abandon nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs. In 2004, Rep. Lantos was among the first members of Congress to visit Libya in decades, and he reported back that it was time to make initial steps toward normalizing relations with Tripoli by lifting the travel ban. (In 2006, the State Department rescinded Libya's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, leading to further contacts between the two countries.)
Rep. Lantos was co-chairman and founder of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, a group that highlights human rights violations around the world. Early on, he provided a public platform in the United States for the Dalai Lama by inviting him to Capitol Hill to meet members of the caucus, founded in 1983.
He was also successful in introducing sanctions against the junta in Burma and was recently working on legislation to block importation to the United States of Burmese gemstones, including imperial jade, through intermediary countries. The legislation passed in the House and is now in the Senate.
In 2006, he was among several members of Congress willingly arrested for protesting outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington to denounce the government's role in the killings in Darfur.
As Foreign Affairs Committee chairman in June, he was pivotal in the House's passage of a resolution pressing the Japanese government to officially apologize for the thousands of women used as sex slaves during World War II. Over the years, he was also an advocate for Taiwan in its tensions with China.
In November, Rep. Lantos sharply rebuked executives of Yahoo, the Internet company, for complying with Beijing authorities in identifying a Chinese journalist and Yahoo account holder. The journalist, whose pro-democracy efforts were considered subversive, received a 10-year prison term. "While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies," Rep. Lantos told the Yahoo officials.

Note on Terminology

On January 27, 2008 The Washington Post announced the death of “The former guerrilla leader” George Habash (p. A17). I’d like to take issue with the Post on its terminology.
I think journalists are morally required to be conscious of the terminology they employ in their reports. Journalism should describe with accuracy and fairness people and events. An organization that targets civilians, that storms airports, that hijacks airliners, that aims to terrorize lives of innocent armed people randomly is a terrorist organization. A leader who sent his people to kidnap and murder randomly is not and should not be called a guerrilla fighter. The killing of innocent civilians traveling on an airplane, a bus or a train should not be described in terms of a "military operation." A difference exists between covering news and providing terrorists some sorts of legitimacy.

Let’s call spade a spade. To name a notorious terrorist “guerrilla fighter” is to betray ethics and morality. Terrorists deserve no “word laundry” for their brutality.

Sammy Smooha

The Minister of Education recently announced that Prof. Sammy Smooha won the Israel Prize in Sociology for this year. This is a well-deserved prize. I am delighted for Sammy and wish him further success. For many years now I have considered Sammy as the leading sociologist in Israel. Moreover, Sammy is a mensch, a person of integrity and conscience.
Sammy, go from strength to strength in good health and continue to excel. I am very proud in you and utterly elated. Mazal Tov and hearty congratulations.

New Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA)

Dave Silverstein asked me to post the following, and I do this with pleasure:

I am writing to announce the creation of a new association that promotes the highest standards of academic research and teaching in the fields of Middle Eastern and African studies, and their related disciplines.

The Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA) is a non-profit, non-partisan academic society formed under the leadership of Professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton University and Professor Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins University to advance research and discourse through programs, publications and services that support its members and the international community of scholars.

ASMEA offers its members opportunities to share their work in our forthcoming annual journal and quarterly newsletter and review books for the Association. It also provides a wide array of services—from research grants to employment search assistance—to help its members further their professional development. By providing superior services, ASMEA hopes to become the professional association of choice for discerning scholars.

Membership in ASMEA for the 2007-2008 academic year is free to teaching professionals, students, and academic institutions.

While visiting ASMEA, please take a moment to read about and register for our inaugural conference, which is set for April 24-26, 2008 in Washington, DC. The conference agenda and details on how to apply for consideration as a conference panel participant are available in the same location.

ASMEA seeks to attract the widest possible range of scholars to enhance the existing scholarship for all. With that goal in mind, I would appreciate it if you could share this announcement with any colleagues you believe may be interested in joining ASMEA.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Dave Silverstein
Executive Director


Young people from the Middle East or the United States are invited to enter the "Dream Deferred" essay contest on civil rights and free expression in the Middle East, run by the Hands Across the Mideast Support Alliance (HAMSA).

The essay contest asks young people under the age of 26 to consider the importance of individual rights, the potential for non-violent reform, and ways people can contribute on the grassroots level to the region's nascent civil rights movement.

Last year, 2,500 people entered the contest from 20 countries.

Essays can be submitted in English, French, Arabic and Farsi. A celebrity judging panel includes Iranian writer Azar Nafisi, and Ahmed Benchemsi of the Moroccan magazine "TelQuel".

The deadline for this year's contest is 30 March 2008.

Complete information and entry forms can be found online at:

Israeli Tennis

This was a great month for Israeli tennis. On January 24, 2008 Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram won their first ever Grand Slam tennis title with a 7-5 7-6 victory over Frenchmen Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra in the Australian Open men's doubles final.

I slept while AndiYoni were making history in the down under. Regrettably, I missed all the excitement and came to realize this marvelous achievement only upon waking up on Saturday morning.

Erlich and Ram have won 10 tournaments together and are unbeaten in Davis Cup play since 2005. But since their semi-final appearance in Wimbledon 2003, the Israeli pair, which is seeded 8th in the tournament, did not shine in Grand Slam events. It took seven Australian Open appearances for them to reach the final. In Melbourne this year they finally did it.

This is the first time an all-Israeli doubles pair has taken home a Grand Slam title. Ram won the 2007 French Open mixed doubles title with Natalie Dechy. No Israeli individual has ever won a Grand Slam. Israel’s expectations lie with the young and highly talented Shahar Peer to bring home such a trophy.
A day earlier, compatriot Shahar Peer and her partner Victoria Azarenka of Belarus lost in the women's doubles final to Ukraine's Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko. There will be further opportunities.

Thank You

I thank Corrine Parver for the opportunity to present my work at the American University Law School, and Kim Gross and Chris Sterling for inviting me to George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs. I also thank Peggy Pearlstein for organizing an audience for me at the Library of Congress to present my new book, The Democratic Catch.

New Books

Wodak & Krzyzanowski (eds) Qualitative Discourse Analysis in the Social Sciences, Palgrave 2008

Thomas Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights, 2nd Edition (Polity Press, 2007).

Some 2.5 billion human beings live in severe poverty, deprived of such essentials as adequate nutrition, safe drinking water, basic sanitation, adequate shelter, literacy, and basic health care. One third of all human deaths are from poverty-related causes: 18 million annually, including over 10 million children under five.However huge in human terms, the world poverty problem is tiny economically. Just 1 percent of the national incomes of the high-income countries would suffice to end severe poverty worldwide. Yet, these countries, unwilling to bear an opportunity cost of this magnitude, continue to impose a grievously unjust global institutional order that foreseeably and avoidably perpetuates the catastrophe. Most citizens of affluent countries believe that we are doing nothing wrong.
Thomas Pogge seeks to explain how this belief is sustained. He analyses how our moral and economic theorizing and our global economic order have adapted to make us appear disconnected from massive poverty abroad. Dispelling the illusion, he also offers a modest, widely sharable standard of global economic justice and makes detailed, realistic proposals toward fulfilling it.
Thoroughly updated, the second edition of this classic book incorporates responses to critics and a new chapter introducing Pogge's current work on pharmaceutical patent reform.
December 2007 9780745641447, Paperback £17.99

Book Review

Former President of the Israel Supreme Court reviewed my book, The Scope of Tolerance (2006) in the last issue of the Israeli journal Megamot. Shamgar clearly read the book, unlike other book reviewers that skimmed through books without reading them. His review, in Hebrew, is available on my website, under the BOOKS section

Gem of the Month - Bowfire

My favourite orchestral instrument is the violin. My father used to play his Stradivarius when I was a child. The violin captures feelings and sentiments in a moving way.

If you like the violin, don’t miss Bowfire next time it comes near you. A fascinating and impressive ensemble of violinists, many of them are Canadians. The Bowfire company is composed of virtuoso string players who are at the forefront of their respective styles, combined with equally gifted and respected backup musicians: piano/keyboards, bass, drums/percussion, guitars and cello. Fiddlers in the company are world-class step dancers and tap dancers. Stephanie Cadman is a talented actor, dancer, singer and fiddler. Yi-Jia Susanne Hou is full of captivating energy. Jon Pilatzke plays the violin while step dancing. So does Kelli Trottier. This avalanche of talent is brought together under the guidance of Creator and Artistic Director, Lenny Solomon and Broadway acclaimed Stage Director, Stafford Arima. Ninety minutes of joyful entertainment. Well recommended.

Film Recommendations

Some months ago I urged you to read The Kite Runner. This literacy masterpiece was made into a film, which I highly recommend. The best I have seen this year. As the book touches your heart, penetrates the depth of your soul and makes you tremble, so is the film. Rush.

I also recommend Tom Hanks most recent film, Charlie Wilson’s War. Based on a true story, this is a shrewd film that tells the story of one influential person to rid Afghanistan from Soviet occupation. In this context, I had a lunch discussion with Lee Hamilton who verified most of the details. The script and the acting in this film are superb.

Light Notes

For Sale - First Hand!
Encyclopedia Britannica
The Whole Set - 45 Volumes!
For a bargain price or to the highest bidder I no longer need it.
I got married last week
A N D M Y W I F E K N O W S E V E R Y T H I N G !!!!
Phone No. 03 - 5769283

Wishing you warm days, with my very best wishes,

Yours as ever,


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