Monday, December 22, 2008

Politics – December 2008

People are so preoccupied with the pursuit of happiness that they ignore their little everyday blessings. Raphael Cohen-Almagor

We are not giving you the advice to start smiling at everyone you meet in New York. That would be dangerous. James H. Fowler, co-author of a study that found that happiness is contagious (from NY Times).

State of Human Rights Report 2008 - The Iranian Threat - Labour Primaries - Likud Primaries - Kadima Primaries - Index of Peace and War - The Middle Class is Shrinking in Israel - BBC - USINPAC Petition - My Inaugural Lecture - Israel Law Review - New Article - New Book - New Movie - Joke of the Month

State of Human Rights Report 2008

JERUSALEM - December 4, 2008 - To mark 60 years since the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948, the Association for Human Rights in Israel (ACRI) has dedicated its annual "State of Human Rights Report" to evaluating Israel's respect for the Declaration's various tenets. Though the Declaration is not binding, it has served as the basis for many subsequent laws, treaties, and conventions relating to human rights the world over.
Below are highlights from ACRI's "State of Human Rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories Report 2008." As Israel's leading human rights organization, ACRI has fought to preserve the rights of all for 36 years and boasts a long list of achievements in protecting and promoting the full spectrum of rights and liberties in Israel and the Occupied Territories. These accomplishments are detailed in the report.

The Right to Equality:
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." (Article 1)."Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." (Article 2(1))

Women's Rights:
· The representation of women in senior academic posts is 10% lower than the average in Europe and the more senior the post, the lower representation. · Conversely, in the judiciary, women constitute a majority of 51%, the same proportion as their representation in the overall population; equality between the genders is also preserved among judges and the duties they perform.
Rights of Arab Citizens of Israel:
Though Arabs citizens are a national indigenous minority entitled to full equality, they have been subjected to systemic and institutional discrimination in all aspects of life since the establishment of the State.
· Whereas Arabs in Israel account for 20% of the population, the area of jurisdiction of all Arab authorities consists of only 2.5% of the area of Israel.
· Social and institutional barriers have prevented Arab citizens from acquiring land or leasing it in more than 80% of the country.
· Mixed towns: 90,000 Arab citizens of the State live in mixed towns - Ramle, Lod, Acco, Haifa, and Yaffo. Vast discrepancies in infrastructure, maintenance, and services between Arab and Jewish neighborhoods in the same town is abundantly clear; sometimes there are even walls separating the Arab and Jewish populations.
Rights of the Disabled:
· The average income of people with disabilities is less than 70% of the average income of people without disabilities.
· A survey of employers conducted in 2007 revealed that 85% of Israeli managers do not employ people with disabilities and 23% state that they do not want to hire workers with disabilities.
The Ethiopian Community in Israel:
The Ethiopian community encounters widespread discrimination among members of the public and on the part of institutions. An examination of government policies reveals no lack of good intentions, but still, not enough has been achieved to help this community fully realize its rights.
· More than 72% of children of Ethiopian origin have grown up in poverty.
· The rate of high school graduates among students of Ethiopian origin is 39.14% compared with 63.8% among the overall Jewish population.
· 65% of Israelis of Ethiopian origin are known to the Social Welfare authorities.
Civil and Political Rights
Security and Human Rights:
"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile." (Article 9)· The Incarceration of Unlawful Combatants Law (2002), amended to be more stringent in August 2008, allows for holding a person indefinitely in administrative detention if there is a “reasonable basis to assume” - based on secret evidence - that he took part in hostile activity against the State of Israel “directly or indirectly”, or that he is a member of a militia carrying out hostile activity. On 11 June, 2008 - in one of the harshest decisions in recent years - Israel’s Supreme Court affirmed the legality of some provisions of this law, including holding a person for 14 days without judicial review.
· The Entry into Israel Law (1952) allows the State to detain individuals who are in Israel unlawfully for purposes of expelling them. The proposed Prevention of Infiltration Law, which passed its first reading in the Knesset in May 2008, would allow for arbitrary and extended administrative detention without adequate judicial review or proper legal proceedings.

The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age:
"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation." (Article 12)Technological developments in the last 20 years have made the right to privacy more vulnerable than ever.
· In June 2008, the Communication Data Law, nicknamed the "Big Brother Law," came into effect. The Law allows the police and investigative authorities in Israel to obtain from cellular telephone companies and Internet providers personal information about anybody - information about their location, the names of people they contacted from their phone, Internet sites they surf, people with whom they corresponded by email, etc.
· In October 2008, another dangerous bill passed its first reading in the Knesset - to set up a biometric database to include the fingerprints and facial features of Israeli citizens and residents. Biometric information of this nature cannot be altered or substituted; if it falls into the wrong hands or is used for unauthorized purposes, irreversible damage may be caused.
· Over the last few years, the Ministry of Health has been building a "National Medical Registry." With the realization of this project, doctors, emergency room staff, and a number of other functionaries will be able to access, with a keystroke, the medical information of every resident, even if most of it is irrelevant to the required medical treatment.

Freedom of Expression and the Internet:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." (Article 19)
The Internet is an open and democratic arena for the exchange of opinions and information that also provides a platform for weak and silenced voices in society. Yet, threats against freedom of expression have proliferated in this arena.
· In March 2008, the Knesset Committee discussed a bill requiring Internet site operators to be held responsible for the responses of Internet surfers (the "Talkback Law"), effectively allowing them to censor readers' comments based on a number of criteria unrelated to the ethics of the comments.
· In February 2008, the first law of its kind in Israel, censoring the Internet, passed its first reading. The bill, which would filter Internet content, seeks to restrict Internet access to adults. Although it is intended to serve worthy ends - the protection of minors from harmful Internet content -, a central censorship apparatus directed by the government is extreme and dangerous.
Freedom of Information
In 1998, the Knesset passed the Freedom of Information Law initiated by a coalition of organizations including ACRI. According to the Movement for Freedom of Information, which monitors the implementation of the Law, not one ministry in the Israeli government fully implements the Law, and only a few ministries implement it satisfactorily.

Freedom of Movement
"Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State." (Article 13)·
In September 2008 approximately 65% of the main routes leading into the 18 most populated Palestinian towns in the West Bank are either blocked or controlled by IDF checkpoints, according to OCHA (the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).
· OCHA also reports that 415 kilometers of the Separation Barrier (some 57% of the planned route) have been completed, and 79% of it - 329 kilometers - was built within the West Bank, separating Palestinians from their land and creating enclaves with no territorial contiguity in which Palestinian communities remain isolated from each other and the rest of the West Bank.

Social and Economic Rights
"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control." (Article 25)Over the past 30 years, Israel has moved from being one of the most egalitarian countries in the Western world in terms of income distribution to the least egalitarian Western country, with the exception of the United States. At the same time, many basic social services have been privatized - specifically education and health.
· In 2006/2007, 420,000 families were poor - 20.5% of the families in Israel - and the incidence of poverty among children was 35.9%, or 805,000 children.
· The number of "working poor" families has increased dramatically: The incidence of poverty among families with one breadwinner rose from 17.6% in 2002 to 23.9% in 2006/07. A report by an inter-ministerial committee in March 2008 noted that the level of nutritional insecurity is troubling.
Residents of East Jerusalem and the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev suffer most acutely from abject poverty and lack of social services:
· In 2006, 67% of the Palestinian families in East Jerusalem and 77.2% of East Jerusalem children lived in poverty, compared with 21% of the city's Jewish families and 39.1% of the city's Jewish children.
· Tens of thousands of people live in 39 unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev without clean water, electric, sewage, and telephone infrastructures, or paved roadways, and suffer from severe shortages in educational, health, welfare, and sanitation services.

The full version of ACRI's State of Human Rights Report 2008 in available at; To receive a hard copy of the report, please send your postal address to Mirah Curzer at For more information on specific topics or to schedule an interview, contact Melanie Takefman ++972-528606023 or

The Iranian Threat

Israel cannot afford to take lightly threats of mass destruction. We take the words of our enemies very seriously, for very good reasons. Israel learnt that words lead to actions, and that it should rely first and foremost on itself. On December 12, 2008 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made yet another verbal assault on Israel, saying it would soon "fade away from the earth."
"The crimes being committed by the Zionist regime are happening because it is aware that it has reached the end of the line and will soon fade away from the earth". He said world powers have become increasingly hesitant to show further support for Israel, which he said had lost direction.

The Iranian threat is not only a threat to Israel. It is a threat to the entire free world. A nuclear Iran would destabilize the Middle East and would lead to nuclear armament of other nations. Putting such a weapon in the hands of totalitarian nations is a risky business indeed, as they do not care about their people according to the accepted norms in the Western world, and their willingness to make great sacrifices in the present for achieving future plans is greater than what any democracy would find tolerable.

Labour Primaries

On December 4, 2008 the Labour Party held its primaries to decide the list for the 18th Knesset. Here are the results for the first ten spots:

1. MK Ehud Barak (did not compete)
2. MK Isaac Herzog - 24,788
3. MK Ophir Pines-Paz - 24,336
4. MK Avishai Braverman - 22,801
5. MK Shelley Yachimovich - 19,650
6. MK Matan Vilnai - 18,494
7. MK Eitan Cabel – (secured seat. He is the party general secretary)
8. MK Benjamin Ben-Eliezer - 17,912
9. MK Yuli Tamir - 15,869
10. MK Amir Peretz - 16,881

Whoowwww!!! What a refreshing list!!! So many new and promising faces to rejuvenate and energize the failed party. All the first ten seats will go, yet again, to the same team that brought the once-upon-a-time glorious party to its present condition, down on its knees. Add to this list the people who compete locally, and the picture is even gloomier as there is no true leader there either. Lessons are learned slowly and painfully. Eventually, there will be change, but not in the upcoming elections. I hope before the Labour Party completely evaporates.

After the results were announced, Labour Party Chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak told cheering faction members: "Today, Labor has a winning party, the best party." Sure. Of course. To the same extent that it proved to be a winning combination for the past recent years.

Likud Primaries

While the Labour Party needed to change in order to salvage the upcoming elections, the Likud does not. Bibi is doing quite all right, thank you very much. All he needs to do is to avoid the inherent temptation he has to open his mouth. When he speaks, things go wrong for him as then his persona pops out and reminds us of his personality, his ideas, his drives. When he is quiet, he allows others to make mistakes and retain his position as the main contender for the prime minister's office.

A few days after the Labour primaries, the Likud held its own show of democracy. Here it will not suffice to tell you who are the first ten candidates, although surely the majority of these will be ministers if Benjamin Netanyahu is elected to head the country. Although the Likud did not undergo significant change, it had its fair share of new faces. More than it wanted. I guess the following have all a chance to serve in the Knesset:

1.) MK Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud Chairman)
2.) MK Gideon Sa'ar (head of Likud faction in the Knesset), a very good parliamentarian, lawyer by profession; served in the office of Legal Advisor to the Government. He is a sensible and responsible man.
3.) MK Gilad Erdan, very energetic parliamentarian. Has a strong zeal to succeed. Unsure whether he knows his boundaries. Hawk.
4.) MK Reuven Rivlin, former Knesset Speaker. A very likeable guy, with hawkish opinions.
5.) Benny Begin - yes he decided to return to politics, possibly was bored with his life. The Likud voters did not forget this major "prince" and gave him a nice welcoming party, straight into fifth place which may secure him a ministerial office. There is not much love between him and Bibi, but they appreciate one another, and need each other. Begin is a hawk, though I presume that like his father he knows the virtues of pragmatism.
6.) MK Moshe Kahlon. He was voted no. 1 in the last primaries. Apparently a nice man.
7.) MK Silvan Shalom, sliding slowly down the scale. He knows that. Bibi calms him down.
8.) Moshe Ya'alon, former Army Chief of Staff, made a nice entry into political life. A hawk who will do his best to jeopardize any possible peace agreement. He trusts the Palestinians to the same extent that I trust a frightened snake.
9.) MK Yuval Steinitz - his strong alliance with Bibi continues to pay off. The former philosophy lecturer of the University of Haifa is doing well in political life. He must be disappointed, as he aimed higher. He will continue to sit very close to Bibi, his lifeline. He does what Bibi tells him to do.
10.) Leah Ness, obviously has good contacts with Likud supporters.
11.) MK Yisrael Katz, hawk
12.) MK Yuli Edelstein, hawk
13.) MK Limor Livnat, opportunist hawk, one of the most unpleasant people in politics.
14.) MK Haim Katz, a labour unionist; hawk
15.) Yossi Peled, former IDF general. Made a good entry into political life. I wish him luck. He is a sensible person.
16.) MK Michael Eitan, one of the best parliamentarians in the Knesset. Nice to see that he is able to retain his seat for so many years. People appreciate his hard work. A pragmatic and sensible person.
17.) Dan Meridor, like the senior prince Benny Begin, Dan decided to jump back into political life. It is good to have such people around. Dan is a decent parliamentarian, a wise man who has contributed a lot, and will in the future. A pragmatic and sensible person.
18.) Tzipi Hotoveli, obviously has good contacts with Likud supporters.
19.) Gila Gamliel - sad that she returned to politics. Did not miss her a bit. An opportunist.
20.) Moshe Feiglin, THE HAWK. The troublemaker. The most radical element in this right-wing party. Feiglin opposes peace talks with the Palestinians, encourages non-Jews to leave the country and advocates recapturing the Gaza Strip. In the past he was involved in illegal activities in “Zu Artzenu” (“This is Our Land”) movement which he established to counter any peace initiatives, at that time the Oslo Accords. I am sorry to see him here. More importantly, Bibi was not only sorry but took practical steps. He organized a petition to move Feiglin from the 20th place on the party ticket to 36th. The petition was submitted by Ofir Akonis, no. 28 on the Likud list and a Bibi loyalist, who argued that since female candidates fared relatively well, places on the ticket secured for women should be allocated to regional representatives. The result was that Feiglin, who ran on the national list, was effectively pushed down 16 places.

The Likud might have won some votes were Feiglin to remain in his place. On the other hand, the Likud might have lost others. Bibi did not wish to take chances. His list is hawkish enough. Until the elections, he will do his best to hide Feiglin and to keep him away from the limelight. He is too extreme even for Bibi’s taste, an achievement in itself. Kadima and Labour, on the other hand, will not miss an opportunity to attack Likud for its hawkish list, including Feiglin.
Two good men, former general Uzi Dayan and former Chief of Police Assaf Hefetz, did not enjoy the support they hoped for. They were elected to 42nd and 38th places respectively.
Opinion polls released in early December showed that the Likud would win 35 of parliament's 120 seats, compared with 26 for Kadima, led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
With this list, the Likud will be an obstacle to peace. If Obama will put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict high on his priorities, and Bibi will be elected to the prime minister's office, I see only one direction: Conflict between the two.

Kadima Primaries

The third major party with a good chance to be part of the next government held its primaries on December 17, 2008. The first two places were automatically allotted to Tzipi Livni and Shaul Mofaz. There were no great surprises. The experienced politicians secured their positions.

Third came Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and fourth MK Tzachi Hanegbi, who has still to fight to clear his name of all kinds of allegations. Finance Minister Roni Bar-On, Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Boim, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, MK Ruhama Avraham-Balila, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, and MK Marina Solodkin round out Kadima's top ten. No great news but I assume Kadima thinks no news is good news.

Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon made a last moment decision to run and was elected to the 17th position. He is contemplating his future in politics. It might be a good idea for him to take time-off from politics, as did Benny Begin and Dan Meridor, and return when people start to miss his qualities. He is a very competent politician.

And while Kadima was holding its primaries in Tel Aviv, rockets fell in the Negev. A few people were injured but luckily no one was killed. The IDF retaliated from the air attacking yet again terrorist targets in Gaza. “Normal” life in Israel.

Index of Peace and War

The November Index of Peace and War checked the public’s positions on two central issues: the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the Arab Peace Initiative. On the first issue, the findings of the War and Peace Index show a solid majority among the Jewish public of 58% (vs. 36%) who support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and a slightly larger majority (61% vs. 35%) who see the Palestinians’ claim to an independent state of their own as justified. Moreover, a clear majority, though a bit smaller—53% compared to 38%—also say that in the framework of a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Israel could allow itself to agree to an independent Palestinian state’s creation.

The poll asked about the upcoming elections: “Which government, in your opinion, will succeed in advancing the peace process while safeguarding Israel’s interests in the context of negotiations with the different Arab actors?” The choice presented this time was between a government headed by Ehud Barak, by Binyamin Netanyahu, or by Tzipi Livni. The answers show this order of preferences: 35% thought a Netanyahu-led government was the one that would best succeed in advancing the peace process while safeguarding Israel’s security interests, 25% thought so regarding a Livni-led government, and only 6% opted for a Barak-headed government as the one that would best succeed in fulfilling this task. Among the rest, 15% said all the possibilities were “the same” in their eyes and 20% responded that they did not know or had no clear position on the matter. This distribution indicates that each of the candidates has a potential basis to alter his or her status one way or the other, though the situation of Netanyahu and of Livni is much better than that of Barak.
I thank Eppie Yaar for sending the Index to me.

The Middle Class is Shrinking in Israel

The Marxist forecast regarding the advancement of capitalism in advanced countries is coming true in Israel: The gap between the rich and poor is constantly widening; the middle class is shrinking; people are becoming poorer while they are working; alienation is growing. This does not mean that I forecast a socialist revolution. Religion, nationalism and patriotism are still very strong, much stronger than class consciousness.

A new study of the Adva Center for Policy Analysis found that Ashkenazi Israelis earn around 40 percent more than their Sephardi counterparts. The study documents what many Israeli felt so well during the past decade: The number of Israelis receiving minimum wage or less grew by 22 percent in the past ten years, from 28.8 percent of workers in 1988 to 35.1 last year. The middle class also continued to shrink, from 33 percent of all households to 27.7 percent. The decade was marked by decreasing equality and justice in Israeli society.
"On the one hand, the government boosted the business sector by transferring pension savings from public to private management, and through tax reductions to corporations and the rich," it said. "On the other hand, the government took steps to undermine some of the most basic socio-economic arrangements including the social safety net, the education system and the public health and housing systems."
The past decade saw significant economic growth, particularly in the last five years, but while growth in Israel was 40 percent for the period, in the United States it stood at 60 percent or even more.
Growth in Israel was centered in the banking sector, as well as insurance and pension funds, and the high-tech industry, which grew by 47 percent. Traditional industry grew just 6 percent over the entire decade. This does not concern most Israelis.
The report notes that one of the most significant expressions of income inequality is the reduction of the middle class. As said, the share of total household income held by the three middle deciles went down to 27.7 percent. More than half of the households pushed out of those middle deciles - 57 percent - dropped to one of the lower deciles.
The government also contributed to income inequality in the past decade, the report stated, by cutting child programs, unemployment benefits and other social welfare services.

Source: Ruth Sinai, “Report: In Israel, Ashkenazis earn 40 percent more than Sephardis”, Haaretz (December 14, 2008).


It was a bit strange to watch the BBC coverage of the terror attack in Mumbai. The news presenters in London referred to the terrorists as “terrorists”; while the reporters in Mumbai referred to them as “militants”. Are they receiving different orders about the wording? If you are far from London, you must refrain from using the “problematic”, “contested” word “terrorist” because one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, blah blah blah, and all the crap that someone coined without too much thinking, and others who find thinking altogether too challenging. A person who kills innocent civilians for political purposes is a terrorist. There is no washing machine to clean this.

USINPAC Petition

I was asked by the US-Indian Political Action Committee to post the following:

I wanted to request you to help us in spreading the message about a petition which we have recently launched. It is important to get massive participation on this petition to demonstrate to the US Congress and the administration the anger, pain, and desire for action on the issue of terror camps in Pakistan that is being felt by the Indian American community. Please visit the link:

USINPAC needs your support to implement a rapid response to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. USINPAC's action plan includes working with several key Members of Congress to develop an effective response from the US, supporting a Congressional Resolution condemning the attacks, supporting US-India counter-terrorism legislation, and organizing a Congressional Briefing on the origins of the terrorist attacks and the best way for the US to proceed. May I please request you to sign the petition and forward it to as many people you know.

My Inaugural Lecture

You are all invited to my lecture. Would love to see you.

On behalf of the University - The Vice-Chancellor has pleasure in inviting

to attend the Inaugural Lecture entitled

An internet’s way: terrorism, hate, child pornography and crime-facilitating speech on the free highway

to be given by - Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor

in the Middleton Hall at the University on Monday 2 February 2009 Commencing at 6.00 pm

The Lecture will be followed by a wine reception in the artcafé, Middleton Hall (to be advised)

RSVP: Ms. Pam DOCHERTY, Department of Politics and International Studies
Cottingham Road, Hull HU6 7RX
Tel: 01482 - 466085 ; Email:

Israel Law Review

The last issue of the journal, Vol. 41, is a special issue on law, human rights and the occupation. I recommend reading, or at least browsing:

Forty Years after 1967: Reappraising the Role and Limits of the Legal Discourse on Occupation in the Israeli-Palestinian Context

Introduction ........................................................................ Yuval Shany 6

Occupied Zone—a Zone of Reasonableness ........Martti Koskenniemi 13

Rules and Standards in the Application
of International Humanitarian Law ............................... Amichai Cohen 41

Binary Law Meets Complex Reality:
The Occupation of Gaza Debate ........................................ Yuval Shany 68

Human Rights, Israel,
and the Political Realities of Occupation .....................Grant T. Harris 87

Maintaining Law and Order
during Occupation:
Breaking the Normative Chains .................................. Kenneth Watkin 175

Illegal Occupation
and Its Consequences ........................................................... Yaël Ronen 201

The Jus Ad Bellum/Jus In Bello Distinction
and the Law of Occupation ...............................................Rotem Giladi 246
Suspending Sovereignty:
Reassessing the Interlocking of Occupation,
Failed and Fragile State, Responsibility
to Protect, and International Trusteeship
(Lessons from Lebanon) ................................................. Noemi Gal-Or 302

Enforcement of Occupation Law
in Domestic Courts:
Issues and Opportunities ...............................................Tristan Ferraro 331

New Article

“Dignity, Compassion, Care and Safety Valves at the End-of-Life”, Israel Law Review, Vol. 41, Nos. 1 & 2 (2008), pp. 358-393.

This is an extensive critical review of Euthanasia in International and Comparative Perspective. My Review is divided into five parts. First, I outline the book’s strengths. I proceed by speaking of the need for clear and cohesive terminology. I then discuss end-of-life decision-making in some of the countries: Belgium, The Netherlands, and the State of Oregon in the United States, all allow PAS. Belgium and The Netherlands also allow euthanasia. I also discuss Israel’s Dying Patient Law, enacted by the Knesset on December 5, 2005. Finally, I make some suggestions for improvement, including a detailed proposal for PAS which I conceive to be the best policy when balancing one against the other the autonomy of the patient, on the one hand, and the safeguards against abuse when life might be considered too lightly, on the other. Indeed, the main difference between euthanasia and PAS is that in euthanasia, it is the physician who makes the final act of taking a patient’s life, whereas in PAS it is the patient who takes his or her life. In euthanasia, the physician has control over the process. In PAS, the physician controls the procedure up until the last act. The patient has control over the very act of suicide.

This is another product of my stay at the fabulous Wilson Center. As ever, I’d be delighted to send a copy to interested parties.

New Book

John Griffiths, Heleen Weyers, and Maurice Adams, Euthanasia and Law in Europe (Oxford: Hart, 2008),

This book is a successor to J Griffiths, A Bood and H Weyers, Euthanasia and Law in the Netherlands (Amsterdam University Press 1998) which was widely praised for its thoroughness, clarity, and accuracy. I used this book when I wrote my own Euthanasia in the Netherlands (2004) and interviewed Griffiths in his Groningen home. The new book emphasises recent legal developments and new research, and has been expanded to include a full treatment of Belgium, where since 2002 euthanasia has also become legal. The book also includes descriptions written by local specialists of the legal situation and what is known about actual practice in a number of other European countries (England and Wales, France, Italy, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland).
The book strives for as complete and dispassionate a description of the situation as possible. It covers in detail:
- the substantive law applicable to euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, withholding and withdrawing treatment, use of pain relief in potentially lethal doses, palliative and terminal sedation, and termination of life without a request (in particular in the case of newborn babies);
-the process of legal development that has led to the current state of the law; -the system of legal control and its operation in practice; -the results of empirical research concerning actual medical practice.A concluding part deals with some general questions that arise out of the material presented: Is the legalisation of euthanasia an example of the decline of law or should it, on the contrary, be seen as part and parcel of the increasing juridification of the doctor-patient relationship? Does the Dutch experience with legalised euthanasia support the idea of a 'slippery slope' toward a situation in which life - especially of the more vulnerable members of society - is less effectively protected? Is it possible to explain and to predict when a society will decide to legalise euthanasia?

New Movie - Changeling (2008).

This film is based on a true story that took place in Los Angeles in the early 20th Century (1928). It tells the story of a devoted mother Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) who was looking for her missing son, Walter. The police, wishing to show some results, produced a boy, convincing him he is Walter, but unsuccessfully convincing the mother, who still insisted that the boy was not her son, and that the police should continue the search after Walter. When she refused to let go, the unscrupulous police captain (Jeffrey T. Donovan) ordered her committed for psychological therapy. To the rescue came a local reverend (John Malkovich) who was pursuing the police for corruption allegations and other illegal activities. Michael Kelly is impressive as the only honest detective who is actually trying to serve justice, not some partisan, ulterior motives.

The story is tragic and painful. The cast is wonderful. Clint Eastwood directs the movie with his usual sensitivity and punctuation. He also composed the beautiful, captivating music. This guy is something else.
This is the best movie I have seen this year. If you are seeking an emotional drama that will penetrate your heart, this one is for you.

Joke of the Month

Abraham has died. His lawyer is standing before the family and reads out Abraham's Last Will and Testament: "To my dear wife Esther, I leave the house, 50 acres of land, and 1 million dollars; To my son, Barry, I leave my Big Lexus and the Jaguar; To my daughter Suzy, I leave my yacht and $250,000; and to my brother-in-law Jeff, who always insisted that health is better than wealth, I leave my sun lamp."

Wishing you and yours a beautiful festive season: Filled with a rainbow of colours, smells, sounds and pleasant memories for years to come.

Merry Christmas, Wonderful Chanukah filled with love and light, and Happy New Year!!


My last communications are available on Earlier posts at my home page: People wishing to subscribe to this Monthly Newsletter are welcome to e-mail me at