Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Politics - July 2008

Our children are not born to hate, they are raised to hate.

- Thomas della Peruta -

On August 6, 2008 I am scheduled to arrive in Israel for two weeks. I’d be happy to see as many friends as possible during the visit. All who are interested to see me, please get in touch now to set a date and time, as this visit will promise to be very hectic.

Israel at 60 - Israel: Hamas Agreement - Tractor Terror - PALESTINIAN CENTER FOR DEVELOPMENT AND MEDIA FREEDOMS - Israel: Hezbollah Deal - Too Late
Prime Minister of Bulgaria Sergei Stanishev - The Situation in Iraq - American Presidential Elections - Barack Obama - Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: General information and resources - Farewell to the Woodrow Wilson Center
Department of Politics, University of Hull - New Article - New Books - Data abut This Blog - Gem of the Month: Euro 2008 - Film of the Month - Jewish Haiku

Israel at 60

Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, spoke recently in an event celebrating Israel’s 60th anniversary, pledging Canada’s unequivocal support of the State of Israel. Watch this short and forceful video that warms the heart: ; I thank Bertha Skladman for the link.

Israel-Hamas Agreement

On June 19, 2008 at 6 a.m. the lull in the fighting in the Gaza Strip was supposed to go into effect. During the first four days the terrorist organizations have not fired shots or launched rockets or mortar shells from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. The IDF also stopped its counterterrorist activities in the Strip and orders for opening fire were refreshed.

Hamas presented the lull arrangement as a victory for the movement, which succeeded in “imposing” its conditions on Israel by virtue of the activities of the “resistance” and popular Palestinian protest.

Whenever Hamas agrees to a truce, that means that it needs some relaxation in the tension, to bring some quiet to the weary activists. This is a testimony to the IDF’s success in thwarting terrorist activities. Rest assured that Hamas uses this period to regroup, rearm, and prepare for the next stage of the struggle.

However, the truce did not last for long. Only five days later, on June 24, three Qassam rockets fired from Gaza struck the nervous Israeli border town of Sderot and its environs, luckily causing no serious injuries. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack and said it had been a response to an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Nablus earlier that day in which a senior Islamic Jihad operative and another man were killed.

Tractor Terror

Terror has many faces and variants. Some two weeks into a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, at around noon on July 2, 2008, three women were killed and at least 30 people were injured when a tractor driven by a Palestinian resident of east Jerusalem went out from a construction site on a terror rampage. He drove against the direction of traffic on Jaffa Street, trampling pedestrians and vehicles and plowing into two buses in downtown Jerusalem. The driver, 31-year-old Hossam Dawiath, a father of two from the village of Tzur Baher, was shot dead by two security men.

According to an assessment by the Gaza Strip organizations, as well as by sources in the Palestinian Authority, the Jerusalem attack was an independent act carried out by the driver alone. A Hamas spokesman said that the Jerusalem attack was "a natural reaction to Israel's aggression," adding the group did not know who was behind the attack. The Islamic Jihad issued a statement praising Wednesday's attack: "The attack is a clear message to the enemy from the person who carried it out and the entire Palestinian people, that it should expect more attacks for as long as it continues its crimes against the Palestinian people and the aggression against our people, our land and our places."

This was the first terror attack in Jerusalem since a gunman killed eight students in a religious school in March.


The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), which has been up and running since May 2006, prides itself on being the first and only independent organisation to concentrate on monitoring media freedom violations in Palestine.

MADA says their site will expose perpetrators against media freedoms, as well as be a place for Palestinian journalists to have a say and speak out against the violations. Time will tell whether they will expose Palestinian violations of free expression as well as Israeli activities against free journalism. Time will tell the extent to which this organization is independent and free.

See MADA's site, in English and Arabic:

Israel-Hezbollah Deal

Israel has known many sad days. July 16, 2008 was one of those days.
After long months of negotiations during which Hezbollah kept secret whether the two abducted soldiers were dead or alive, Hezbollah handed over two black coffins with the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Though officials had suspected Goldwasser and Regev were dead, the sight of the coffins was the first confirmation of their fate. The entire country cried with the bereaved families.

The swap — mediated by a U.N.-appointed German official who shuttled between the sides for 18 months — reopened another searing moment from the country's past with the planned release of Samir Kuntar and four other Lebanese prisoners. Kuntar was convicted in a 1979 nighttime attack that killed two members of the Haran family, a 4-year-old girl and her father as well as a policeman. Although polls show Israelis solidly endorse the exchange, many see Kuntar as the embodiment of evil.

The exchange was a somber occasion in Israel, which planned no ceremonies. In Lebanon, however, a hero's welcome was prepared for Kantar, a Lebanese Druse who was working for a militant Palestinian faction. The swap is likely to provide a significant boost to Hezbollah, which is trying to rebuild a reputation tarnished when it turned its guns on fellow Lebanese in May.

Lebanon's Al-Manar TV quoted senior Hezbollah official Wafik Safa at the border as saying the bodies of the two Israelis were "mutilated" from injuries they suffered during the raid.

In the dead of night on April 22, 1979, Kuntar and three other gunmen made their way in a rubber dinghy from Lebanon to the sleepy Israeli coastal town of Nahariya, 5 miles south of the Lebanese border. There, in a hail of gunfire and exploding grenades, they killed a policeman who stumbled upon them, then burst into the apartment of Danny Haran, herding him and his 4-year-old daughter outside at gunpoint to the beach below, where they were killed. An Israeli court found that Kuntar shot Danny Haran in front of his child, then smashed her head with his rifle butt. Haran's wife, Smadar, who had fled into a crawl space in the family apartment with her 2-year-old daughter, accidentally smothered the child with her hand while trying to stifle her cries.

Kuntar denies killing the older child and has never expressed remorse. He was 16 years old at the time.
Israel held on to Kuntar for decades, hoping to use him as a bargaining chip to win new information about Ron Arad whose plane crashed in Lebanon in 1986.
In the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas, people handed out sweets to celebrate Kuntar's impending release. Ismail Haniyeh, Gaza's Hamas prime minister, warned Israel that it also will have to "pay the price" for Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas since June 2006 and presumed alive.

"As there was an honorable exchange today, we are determined to have an honorable exchange for our own prisoners," held in Israeli jails, Haniyeh said. "There is a captive Israeli soldier, and thousands of our sons are in prison. ... Let them answer our demands."

In addition to the five prisoners, Israel also has agreed to release the bodies of 199 Lebanese and Palestinian fighters killed over the years. This would not be the first time that Israel has paid a high price to return its troops. On several occasions, it released hundreds or thousands of prisoners in exchange for small numbers of Israeli soldiers, some of them dead.

Soldiers in Israel know that their country will do anything it can do to bring them home, dead or alive. July 16 confirmed this one more time. This is the least a country can do for its citizens who are willing to pay the highest price defending their country.

Source: Associated Press,;_ylt=As_zOVLLlf2pXxpuw3zOg.8UewgF
Too Late

One may say: Better late than ever. Another may say: Too late.

You may recall what I wrote about the Winograd Report, that it was expected given the identity and interests of the people Olmert had nominated. I called the majority of committee members “mamlachtiim”. I argued that the only free-of-constraints “wild card” was Professor Yehezkel Dror. That is why I wrote to him, asking to issue specific recommendations regarding PM Olmert. This is why I wrote to him yet again immediately after the committee issued its final report, urging him to raise a clear voice in favour of elections. Prof. Dror explained that the committee has no mandate to issue personal recommendations.

Now we hear what Dror really thought.

On July 3, 2008 Dror told Ynet: 'I regret the fact that we did not issue an explicit recommendation to the prime minister to resign...' He added that current peace initiatives are political maneuvers.

In a harsh article published in the Jewish-American Forward weekly, Dror wrote that such a situation as is present in Israel would not be possible in any other parliamentary democracy: "I was sure the prime minister would resign. It's amazing this hasn’t happened yet. This is not what I expected. It's beyond my nightmares". I am surprised that a man of his experience could have developed such false expectations. Dror has studied public administration all his life, and he is well versed in Israeli politics.

Now Dror says: "I regret the fact that as a member of the committee I did not insist that the report would include an institutional recommendation to the government and its head to resign following the findings." Looking back, Dror now realizes he had made a mistake in trusting the political system and the public to do what it took in light of the committee's harsh conclusions.

Dror stressed that he was amazed by Olmert's insistence, noting that he had expected the government to resign after the interim report. Dror went on to say that the changes in the army could not compensate for the ongoing weakness of the political echelon, which makes all the decisive decisions. He added that even an experienced defense minister could not cover up for a prime minister who lacks strategic thinking, regardless of his political wisdom.

Dror also expressed his criticism against Olmert in terms of the prime minister's recent conduct, which is not directly related to the war. He referred to Olmert's peace initiatives with Syria and the Palestinians as superficial maneuvers and even "a complete spin."

He explained that these initiatives lacked any deep, long-term and strategic thinking on the prime minister's part, which he said should be based on professional political-security staff work.
Dror noted that he was extremely concerned about the future. "In order to make difficult decisions in a democratic country – whether to divide Jerusalem or not, whether to evacuate settlements or not – one needs a lot of strength… All the public opinion polls show that the public has no faith in the prime minister and doesn’t believe him. My personal opinion is well known – in light of the lack of a strategic head during the war, I wouldn’t let the prime minister make important strategic decisions in regards to the future."

"I wouldn’t trust the prime minister because of what we saw during the Lebanon war and because of the failure to implement the required institutional repair – the establishment of a national security council," Dror concluded. "As we are facing great challenges from the likes of Hamas, Iran and the issue of the kidnapped soldiers, I am definitely not calm, to put it mildly."

Now he talks. He should have said the crux of these correct statements when it really mattered, when it would have been more effective. Why didn’t he?

Prime Minister of Bulgaria Sergei Stanishev

On June 17, 2008 the Woodrow Wilson Director's Forum hosted His Excellency Sergei Stanishev, Prime Minister of Bulgaria. Stanishev spoke mainly on economic matters, emphasizing Bulgaria’s yearning to prosper within the EU framework. He said that Bulgaria has always been an active proponent of an enhanced integration of the Western Balkans in the EU and NATO. At the same time, he emphasized the strong ties Bulgaria has with Russia, saying that the two countries have a long relationship, with a rich history that cannot be discounted.

Prime Minister Stanishev said the major challenge is the formulation of a common Euro-Atlantic strategic approach for the region, which would demonstrate a commitment on the part of the Euro-Atlantic institutions, send an encouraging message to reformers, and give democratization a decisive impetus.

Prior the lecture I was invited by Deputy Director Mike Van Dusen to a small gathering with Prime Minister Stanishev. I told him that my family for my mother’s side is from Bulgaria. He asked from which city and where is the family now. When I said that my family is now in Tel Aviv he said that there are quite a few Jews from Bulgaria in Israel. This is certainly true. I asked him how many Jews remained in Bulgaria and he answered 30,000, a figure that surprised me.

The prime minister is on my left. Next to him is Mike Van Dusen. On my right is the Bulgarian Ambassador to the US. I am showing this photo for my mother. I have the prime minister’s speech on file and will be happy to send it to interested parties.
Photo: Heidi Fancher.

The Situation in Iraq

On Friday, May 30, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosted a Director’s Forum with Dr. Adnan Pachachi, National Assembly member and former Foreign Minister of Iraq. Pachachi provided a fascinating analysis of the current security situation in Iraq and discussed Iraq’s future prospects, offering an important and thoughtful perspective on what it will take to pull his country out of violence and economic devastation.

Photo: National Geographic Blog

“The security situation in Iraq has improved somewhat,” declared Adnan Pachachi. “Violence in both Basra and Mosel has subsided a bit, and other areas have been pacified. Overall, though,” he said, “the country is in a very fragile and precarious state.”

Pachachi pointed to the continued heavy fighting in East Baghdad, as well as the consistent violence in Kirkuk. “Even in pacified areas,” he said, “there is still a pervasive fear among ordinary citizens.” The militias still have weapons, and, furthermore, their infrastructure is still intact. What is needed more than ever, Pachachi stressed, “is a professional, non-sectarian police force.”

Likewise imperative are free and fair elections. “In Iraq it is a propitious time for change,” Pachachi stated. Not only is there widespread frustration at the failure of the government to deal with everyday violence, he explained; there is also a growing disillusionment due to high levels of corruption, and because of the government’s inability to provide basic social services or address the failing economy.

Looking forward, Pachachi listed the following as the key objectives for the Iraqi government to achieve: 1) ending foreign interference by Iran; 2) overcoming political sectarianism; 3) purging the armed and security forces; 4) promoting national reconciliation; 5) restoring the judiciary; and 6) dealing with the displaced and refugee populations and facilitating their safe return.

In terms of international assistance, Pachachi remained firm that Iraq has a vested interest in becoming self-sufficient. However, at least in the initial phases, the presence of multinational forces will be essential. Particularly with regard to cleaning up the security sector—which has in many cases been co-opted by regional players such as Iran—the support of international troops will be crucial.

Should the UN mandate be extended? Or should it be replaced with a bilateral pact between Iraq and the United States? Pachachi acknowledged that this will probably not be decided in the National Assembly for at least six months. He cited opposition among Iraqis on the issue of signing a long term agreement with the U.S. and yet, the fact remains that the presence of U.S. troops is widely perceived as indispensable. According to Pachachi, there is a genuine fear on the part of many Iraqis that a U.S. withdrawal would cause the country to plummet into violence again.

On the other hand, Pachachi allowed, the UN is uniquely poised to serve as a catalyst for national reconciliation. He surmised that there may be a window of opportunity for diplomatic efforts on this issue early next year.

Pachachi closed by saying he remains hopeful that the upcoming elections will pave the way for the establishment of a liberal, non-sectarian democracy. “Iraq is an ancient land with a young and vigorous population,” he said. “It has survived many upheavals and I have no doubt that it will rise again, due to the indomitable spirit of its people.”

American Presidential Elections

This was an amazing year because of the elections. People who love and appreciate politics to the extent that I do find themselves immersed in the elections, following the news, reading the statements, watching the debates. It is a long, tiring, and expensive process. Most humans would not be able to endure running such a campaign, physically, emotionally, and financially. It takes a lot of stamina, of charisma, of organization, and of resources to arrive at the finish line. And now it is McCain v. Obama.

I was asked time and again what do I think bout the elections, who should win it, who is the better candidate for Israel. Here is what I think:

As a political scientist and a student of democracy, I believe in checks and balances. I believe it is not good for any country to have a president, of the same party, in the highest institution of power for too long. It does not matter if you stand for Republicans or for the Democrats. Eight years is a long time. The country will be better off with a change. There is a need for new thoughts, new directions, new horizons, different people who run the show and counterbalance what has been done during the past eight years.

As a person who unfortunately became more and more aware of the corrupting power of politics, as my prime minister takes envelopes with cash and no receipts and thinks this is legitimate, the United States deserves a new leader in the White House, who is not associated with the present leader. Again, this is part of the wise checks-and-balances mechanism.

For me, the most crucial issues in this election are two issues: Human rights, and the stand on Israel. On human rights, minority rights, women rights, the United States will be better off with Obama.

As for Israel, I have listened carefully to McCain and Obama. McCain seems to me more sincere than Obama when he speaks about Israel. With McCain Israel will continue to have a strong and committed friend in the White House. People who know American politics far better than I do tell me that notwithstanding the political identity of the president, the White House will continue to be a bastion of friendship to Israel. I sincerely hope this is correct.

Israel is facing nothing short of an existential threat. As long as the Iranian ayatollahs and political leaders are committed to wiping Israel from the map, and equally committed to purse nuclear capability, Israel existence is questionable. We need to understand the seriousness of the threat stemming from this great nation, Iran. Leaders of the world are required to look beyond the immediate economic incentives, and unite to make Iran understand that it has much more to lose if it continues its nuclear armament. Today, the leader of the free world resides in the White House. To continue being the leader, and to see that the world is free, the Iranian issue should be first on the agenda. It is not only the destruction of Israel at stake. The entire region will go up in flames if the Iranian leaders will carry out their mission. Listening to McCain, I believe he understands this. On this issue, Obama sounds either naïve or inexperienced.

The repeated fallacy of Americans is that many believe that the same principles underlying this great nation are shared by all: Liberty, rule of law, and pursuit of happiness. Many still do not fathom that the starting point in understanding the Middle East is to realize that the same rules of the game do not apply. Liberty is not an end. Instead of rule of law we find rule of rulers. And often the pursuit of religion IS pursuit of happiness. Money cannot buy happiness. Resources do not bring tranquility. Reason sometimes needs to be forced and enforced. Standards of endurance and resilience are staggeringly high. Concept of time is long, not instant.

The American culture is in many respects short-term, built on yearning for instant satisfaction. This is a mirror image of the Middle East. There is nothing instant in the culture and dominant religion of the Middle East.

My advice to the American leaders, notwithstanding political affiliation: Listen to your enemy; read them; understand their language; respect their ideas and values; attend to their needs and aspirations without losing yours. Do not try to enforce your ideals on them.

Barack Obama

On July 15, 2008 Obama came to the Wilson Center to speak about security. Unlike the other two speeches of him that I attended during the past months, this one was calculated, measured, pedagogic, laying the principles upon which Obama intends to build US foreign policy if elected.

Obama started his speech with the Marshall Plan, saying that different challenges are ahead today. The terrorism threat. Nuclear threat. His main theme was that focusing on Iraq does not make America safe, that it is actually a source of weakness and destabilization. America needs to find itself, yet again, in the leadership position and in order to do this Obama suggests five principles:

Ending the war in Iraq: Whereas previously Obama said he intended to leave Iraq in 2009, now he speaks of the summer of 2010. Obama said: "For eight years, we have paid the price for a foreign policy that lectures without listening, that divides us from one another -- and from the world -- instead of calling us to a common purpose -- a politics that focuses on our tactics in fighting a war without end in Iraq instead of forging a new strategy to face down the true threats that we face… We cannot afford four more years of a strategy that is so out of balance and out of step with this defining moment." The future that both US and Iraq want is of no American presence in Iraq. The Iraqi people should take responsibility for their own future.

Shift the focus of the war on terror from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan: The fighting against Al-Qaeda should be in Pakistan, while fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Thus, American forces will be redeployed to that region from Iraq. Obama projected a strong image as a leader willing to use military force when necessary but eager to apply other "soft" measures of U.S. might: "It is unacceptable that almost seven years after nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on our soil, the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 are still at large… Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahari are recording messages to their followers and plotting more terror. The Taliban controls parts of Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda has an expanding base in Pakistan that is probably no farther from their old Afghan sanctuary than a train ride from Washington to Philadelphia. If another attack on our homeland comes, it will likely come from the same region where 9/11 was planned. And yet today, we have five times more troops in Iraq than Afghanistan." Obama also pledged a massive increase in aid to the Pakistani people to assist their economic development and foster democracy: "Make no mistake: we can't succeed in Afghanistan or secure our homeland unless we change our Pakistan policy. We must expect more of the Pakistani government, but we must offer more than a blank check to a General who has lost the confidence of his people. It's time to strengthen stability by standing up for the aspirations of the Pakistani people. That's why I'm cosponsoring a bill with Joe Biden and Dick Lugar to triple non-military aid to the Pakistani people and to sustain it for a decade, while ensuring that the military assistance we do provide is used to take the fight to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. We must move beyond a purely military alliance built on convenience, or face mounting popular opposition in a nuclear-armed nation at the nexus of terror and radical Islam."

Ascertain that nuclear weapons will not be in the hands of terrorists and rogue states: Global effort to protect against bioterrorism and cyber terror. Obama said that the US seeks a world free of nuclear weapons. He intends to pursue direct and aggressive diplomacy with Iran, tough negotiations bringing to bear American might. Obama repeated what he said at AIPAC, that the place route to pursue is a diplomacy of sticks and carrots.

Ending the tyranny of oil in our time: The US buys oil from states that support terror. It must end its dependence on oil. The US will invest in alternative energy research to explore, develop and massively use new forms of clean energy.

Rebuilding alliances, foster strong relationships, strengthen NATO, work with India: Obama also said that he intends to deepen US engagement in solving the Arab-Israeli conflict and to double foreign aid to friendly countries.

Obama's speech came just before an expected trip to Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Jordan, Germany, France and Britain. Both McCain and Obama see an opportunity in Obama's first foray abroad as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: General information and resources

The report of the HC to ECOSOC, E/2008/76, was released on July 2, 2008 in all languages.

The report considers how the principles of equality between men and women and non-discrimination against women are paramount to the promotion and implementation of economic, social and cultural rights under international human rights law.

Farewell to the Woodrow Wilson Center

People build places. People make places. A place is built on the people who run it. From the top down, the Wilson Center staff is an amazing group of people – kind, welcoming, engaging, interesting, interested, caring.

Lee Hamilton says time and again: The Wilson Center acquires its name and reputation through the work of its scholars who are in the focus of the Center’s life and mission. The facilities are wonderful. The building illuminated. The location is superb. I cannot think of a better place to conduct research.

I wish to acknowledge the following individuals who made this year a very special one: Joe Brinely, Chuck Brown, Lindsay Collins, Kim Conner, Joe Gildenhorn, Haleh Esfandiari, Maria-Stella Gatzoulis, Dagne Gizaw, Lee Hamilton, Kent Hughes, Lucy Jilka, Leslie Johnson, Michelle Kamalich, Rob Litwak, Aaron Miller, William Miller, Sean McQuitty, Nick Mills, Melaney Monreal, Jacqueline Nader, Sean Singer, Janet Spikes, Dana Steinberg, Flip Strum, Michael Van Dusen, Howard Watkins, Sam Wells, Don Wolfensberger, and Marco Zambotti.

Thank you!!

Department of Politics, University of Hull

In the recent Good University Guide, the definitive guide to choosing a university in Britain, the Department of Politics at Hull is ranked sixth. See

Five more to go.

My alma mater, Oxford, is ranked – yet again -- the best university in the nation, before the “other place”. I believe Oxford is the best university to study in the world, as very few institutions could afford personal tutorial, one-on-one teaching of graduate students. There is no substitute for this method of teaching that forces you to think hard, presses you to find your inner capabilities, and moves you far beyond technical and mechanical pursuit of knowledge.

In terms of research facilities, however, Oxford and all British universities have to cover a lot of ground to achieve what Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Yale, Columbia and other excellent American universities have to offer.

New Article

R. Cohen-Almagor, "The Limits of Objective Reporting", Journal of Language and Politics, Vol. 7, No. 1 (2008), pp. 138-157.

The aim of this study is to scrutinize the assumption that objective reporting is good reporting, is ethical reporting. I do this by reflecting on different dimensions that are associated with the concept of objectivity: (1) accuracy; (2) truthfulness; (3) fairness and balance, and (4) moral neutrality. It is asserted that in many cases journalists are not objective in their reporting either because they consciously prefer not to be or because they are being manipulated by their sources. I close by asserting that the values of not harming others and respecting others should play a prominent part in the considerations of journalists. These are basic ethical standards that sometimes require normative reporting. Consequently, morally neutral coverage of hate speech and racism is a bad idea. It is a false and wrong conception. Subjectivity is preferable to objectivity when the media cover illiberal and anti-democratic phenomena.

As ever, I’d be happy to send a copy to interested parties.

New Books

AVI BEKER, THE CHOSEN: The History of an Idea, and the Anatomy of an Obsession (Palgrave MacMillan).

The Chosen looks at the concept from the Old and New Testaments to the Arab-Israeli conflicts to popular culture references to end-of-time beliefs of evangelicals, and highlights what all of us can learn from this very complex and controversial label. Crisscrossing the twin cultural and theological divides between Judaism, Christendom, and Islam, The Chosen explains how the Jews, of all people, have come to represent at once the epitome of both the good and the odious.

Beker covers not only the great stories of how the Jews came to be chosen and the Christian, Muslim, and Nazi efforts to appropriate the title, but also the key role “chosenness” plays in contemporary anti-Semitism and in the current Middle East conflict over the Land of Israel and the chosen city of Jerusalem.

John Milton Cooper (ed.), Reconsidering Woodrow Wilson (Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins, 2008).

Yaacoov Roi and Boris Morozov (Editors), The Soviet Union and the June 1967 Six-Day War (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2008).

Politics of the Modern Arab World / Edited by Laleh Khalili
Series: Critical Issues in Modern Politics

This 4-volume collection brings together some 70 articles already published in refereed journals. The aim is to counter the oft-cited opinion that studies of Middle Eastern politics are devoid of social scientific theory and method by providing an overview of the state of the scholarship in the field, innovations therein, and the debates that have advanced knowledge in the field.

The collection covers the Arab world, from Morocco to the borders of Iran, with the focus primarily on the 20th century, and especially the post-Second World War era. By choosing a wide array of authors, many of whom are from the region or from the non-Anglophone world, the full breadth of worldwide scholarship on the modern Arab world is on display. The collection defines politics broadly in line with the most innovative current works in the field of political studies to include not only politics at the state level, but also the public, social and popular domains that define and shape (and are in turn defined and shaped) by politics.

Through juxtaposing articles that have already been published at various junctures and in disparate locales, the collection illuminates the contours of the field and the startling inter-relations between the works of various scholars who may not have thought of one another as interlocutors.

July 2008: 234x156: 1,700pp
Hb: 978-0-415-45159-8: £595.00

Exploring Social Rights: Between Theory and Practice / Edited by Daphne Barak-Erez and Eyal Gross,

Exploring Social Rights looks into the theoretical and practical implications of social rights. The book is organised in five parts. Part I considers theoretical aspects of social rights, and looks into their place within political and legal theory and within the human rights tradition; Part II looks at the status of social rights in international law, with reference to the challenge of globalisation and to the significance of specific regional regulation (such as the European System); Part III includes discussions of various legal systems which are of special interest in this area (Canada, South Africa, India and Israel); Part IV looks at the content of a few central social rights (such as the right to education and the right to health); and Part V discusses the relevance of social rights to distinct social groups (women and people with disabilities). The articles in the book, while using the category of social rights, also challenge the separation of rights into distinct categories and question the division of rights to 'civil' vs 'social' rights, from a perspective which considers all rights as 'social'. This book will be of interest to anyone concerned with human rights, the legal protection of social rights and social policy.

'Social rights are the stepchildren of the human rights family. Are they really 'rights'? Can courts enforce them? And does it make any difference when they try? This remarkable collection of essays by distinguished scholars offers important new responses to all the basic questions. Ranging across disciplinary and national boundaries and brimming with both theoretical and practical insights, the book is especially welcome in this moment of mounting inequalities and growing interest in the possibilities and perils of social rights.'

William E Forbath, Lloyd M Bentsen Chair in Law and Professor of History,
University of Texas at Austin

'At the auspicious moment of the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and more than half a century since the beginning of the Human Rights Revolution–a time characterized by the end of the cold war, globalization and privatization, comes this important compilation which critically revisits the international commitment to social rights, and reconceives its core distinguishing principles–from crosscutting comparative, theoretical and practical perspectives–illuminating our commitment to human security.'

Ruti Teitel, Ernst Stiefel Professor of Comparative Law, New York Law School.
Author, 'Transitional Justice' (OUP 2002)

Islam and Human Rights in Practice: Perspectives Across the Ummah
Edited by Shahram Akbarzadeh, Benjamin MacQueen
Series: Routledge Advances in Middle East and Islamic Studies
• ISBN: 978-0-415-44959-5
• Binding: Hardback
• Published by: Routledge
• Publication Date: 06/03/2008
• Pages: 192

Questions over the compatibility of Islam and Human Rights have become a key area of debate in the perceived tensions between ‘Islam and the West’. In many ways, discussion over the stance of Islam in relation to such factors as gender rights, religious freedom, social and political freedoms, and other related issues represents a microcosm of the broader experience of how Muslim and ‘Western’ communities interact and relate.

This volume seeks to engage with the various debates surrounding Islam and Human Rights, in particular, challenging assumptions of a ‘standard’ or ‘essential’ Muslim perspective on Human Rights. Through a survey of the experiences of Muslim communities across the globe (the ummah), this volume highlights the dynamic way Muslims understand and incorporate Human Rights into their personal, social and political experiences.

From conceptual discussions on the issues of gender rights and religious freedom, to examining Muslim communities from South East Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, leading global experts bring forth key insights into the way in which Muslim communities live and experience Human Rights. The potential for deeper engagement with this issue is critical, as it opens possibilities for more profound understanding and tolerance.

Data abut This Blog

People have asked me questions about this blog. It is time to provide some information of its developments and where it stands today.

This initiative started in 2000, after my return from UCLA, in response to questions I received from many friends and colleagues about events in Israel and the Middle East (the collapse of the Camp David talks, Taba talks, the eruption of an orchestrated terror attack on Israel that has never ended). At first, I had some 80 readers. In 2003, the Newsletter became a blog on . The circulation reaches some 800 people in dozens of countries, and the blog was read by thousands of other people.

Parts of it were republished in newspapers and magazines in Israel, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and Germany, possibly also in other countries. I always welcome comments and criticisms of my writings, and am happy to entertain questions, concerns and information.

Thanks to the blog I became a nexus of information. Every week I received dozens, sometimes hundreds of emails containing data and information about events, activities, human rights concerns, advocacy pieces and news from individuals and organizations in all parts of the world, many of whom I do not know. I learn a lot about human rights affairs and democratization processes in different parts of the globe. This has been a very gratifying experience. I hope that my monthly messages are of use and interest to people to some extent or another, as I try to accommodate many concerns.

I acknowledge gratitude to two people: Sam Lehman-Wilzig and Sharon Haleva-Amir. Sam is the first to read my monthly Newsletters. Often he prevents me from airing stupid, incoherent mistakes. Sam is a wonderful colleague, with a sharp eye and a wise mind. Sharon is the second to read the Newsletters prior publication. She is responsible for the beautiful photos that accompany the text, and for putting on the blog on She is doing a terrific job with her usual diligence and always supportive feedbacks. I cannot thank them enough.

Gem of the Month – Euro 2008

This was the best European championship I have ever seen. Exciting games. Terrific dramas. Goals in the last moment of games. Many beautiful goals. Wonderful football to relish. Even people who ordinarily do not watch this “boring, slow game”, as Americans say, were excited. The finale was unexpected…

The most exciting team was Turkey, which provided the most dramatic moments of the tournament. After the quarter finals I wanted Turkey to win the championship, and believed in its capacity to do this. Alas, in the semi-finals they met Germany.

Here is my team:

Iker Casillas (Spain)

Joan Capdevila (Spain)
Carles Puyol (Spain)
Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)
Philipp Lahm (Germany)

Andrei Arshavin (Russia)
Wesley Sneijder (The Netherlands)
Michael Ballack (Germany)

Semih Şentürk (Turkey)
Lukas Podolski (Germany)
David Villa (Spain)

Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)

Denis Kolodin (Russia)
Fabio Grosso (Italy)

Darijo Srna (Croatia)
Tuncay Şanlı (Turkey)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Nihat Kahveci (Turkey)
Miroslav Klose (Germany)
Fernando Torres (Spain)


Film of the Month

Bella (2006) is a beautiful, touching drama about two lost souls, Nina (Tammy Blanchard), a pregnant, unmarried waitress, and Jose (Eduardo Verástegui), an introspective yet troubled cook with a mysterious past, who find solace in each other as their lives become unpredictably linked throughout the course of one incredible day. An uplifting story of love, hope and forgiveness, this captivating tale is co-written and directed by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde. Verástegui gives a powerful, superb performance.

Jewish Haiku

Haiku - a form of Japanese poetry with 17 syllables in three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables, often describing nature or a season

On Passover we
opened the door for Elijah.
Now our dog is gone.

Today I am a man
Tomorrow I will return
to the seventh grade.

The shivah visit:
so sorry about your loss.
Now back to my problems.

Sorry I'm not home
to take your call. At the tone
please state your bad news.

Is one Nobel Prize
so much to ask from a child
after all I've done?

Quietly murmured
at Saturday Synagogue services,
Yanks 5, Red Sox 3.

Jewish Buddhism:
If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?

Drink tea and nourish life;
with the first sip, joy;
with the second sip, satisfaction;
with the third sip, peace;
with the fourth, a Danish.

Accept misfortune as a blessing.
Do not wish for perfect health, or a life without problems.
What would you talk about?

The Tao does not speak
The Tao does not blame.
The Tao does not take sides.
The Tao has no expectations.
The Tao demands nothing of others
The Tao is not Jewish.

The Torah says,
Love your neighbor as yourself.
The Buddha says,
There is no self.
So, maybe we're off the hook.

I thank Mike Adler for these pearls.

With my very best wishes for a beautiful stunning summer,
Yours as ever,

My last communications are available on
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