Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Politics – February 2009

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding. Albert Camus

People often resort to violence when they lose their patience. Often, however, violence proves to be an unsuccessful shortcut for reaching viable solutions. Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Israel Elections - Comments and Exchanges regarding my War Diary - Post War Developments - Blog’s Initiatives - Law v. Common Sense - New Times, Old Hateful Rhetoric - New Article - New Book - SPRING HEALTH LAW SYMPOSIUM - Movie of the Month - Gem of the Month - Light Side

Israel Elections

For many months, all the polls said that there would be clear winner in this 2009 election: Bibi Netanyahu. A week prior the elections, the polls indicated that the gap between Likud and Kadima, headed by its new leader Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, was reduced to two mandates. This promised an exciting election and motivated people to come to the polls.

On February 10, 2009 the elections for the 18th Knesset were held. The results (in brackets is each party’s representation in the prior 17th Knesset):

Kadima: 28 (29)
Likud: 27 (12)
Yisrael Beitenu: 15 (11)
Labour: 13 (19)
Shas: 11 (12)
United Torah Judaism: 5 (6)
National Union: 4 (4)
Hadash: 4 (3)
Ra'am Tal: 4 (4)
Balad: 3 (3)
Meretz: 3 (5)
Jewish Home (National Religious Party): 3 (5)
Pensioners: 0 (7)

What we learn from these results:

Since 1977, there was only one government that was led by a party left of the Likud. This was the second Rabin government (1993 until Rabin’s assassination on November 4, 1995). The Israeli public manifests remarkable consistency and the trend of voting to the right intensifies. The right block is now very powerful, with Likud 27, Yisrael Beitenu 15, National Union 4 and Jewish Home 3 = 49.
Violence and war push people to radicalization. The last two wars of 2006 and 2009 contribute to the “rightization” of the Israeli public.
The Israeli left by comparison was reduced to two Zionist parties, Labor and Meretz (=16), plus two Arab-non-Zionist parties (=11). Together 27 seats.

For the first time in Israel’s history, Labour is reduced to being only the fourth largest party in the Knesset. This is the result of poor leadership. People see Barak as suitable for the Minister of Defence job, but unsuitable for the prime minister's office. I can understand why.

The wild horse of the last elections, the Pensioners Party, has disappeared. Its seven mandates went to all other parties, mostly of the right and Kadima. This was the result of poor leadership and internal rivalries within the party.

The elimination of the Pensioners Party means that the center of the political map is now controlled by one party, Kadima, that posits itself perfectly between Labour and Likud. It will be difficult to comprise a coalition without Kadima.
It is Netanyahu’s interest to include Kadima in the government because of its centralist position in Israeli society. If he thinks long-term about the sustainability of his government, Kadima should be in. Any other combination without Kadima will not last long.

Beyond personal issues, Kadima’s agenda is very different than that of the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu. Livni wishes to push forward peace initiatives. Bibi and Lieberman wish to block such initiatives.

The two religious parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, are pragmatic. They will go with anyone who will give more resources to their electorate. Both recommended Netanyahu to President Peres. Altogether, 65 members of Knesset recommended Bibi. Only members of Kadima recommended Livni.

The tense elections constituted a major blow for Meretz, the Civil Rights Party, that hoped to gain 7 seats. Many of the voters cast their votes to Livni, empowering her to lead the government. After all, Kadima’s peace-and-security platform is not that different from Meretz’s. So why vote for the weak-original when you can vote for the powerful imitation?

The most worrying development is Yisrael Beitenu, headed by Avigdor Lieberman. He is not interested in peace. With him are the eternal hawk Uzi Landau, and the former ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon. Yisrael Beitenu’s major sources of power are the Russians and the young voters. Lieberman’s authoritarian leadership appeals to the Russians; with him they feel at home. And wars tend to radicalize, especially the young. The two recent wars did not help the peace camp on both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides.

A government led by the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu will not bring peace to Israel. I doubt whether it will bring security. Thinking long-term, only reaching understanding through compromises with Israel’s neighbours will guarantee Israel’s existence.

On election day I was invited to deliver a lecture about Israeli politics at the Leeds Jewish Center. It warmed my heart to be with some 100 people, all of whom care about Israel and its future.

Comments and Exchanges regarding my War Diary

Professor Stephen Newman, Toronto, wrote the following on January 26, 2009:
Your report on the war is heartbreaking. The coverage here is less than complete and tends to emphasize the death and destruction visited on Gaza. Sid Ryan, the provincial head of the union that's on strike at York (it's a union of public employees), has called on Ontario universities to deny access to any and all Israeli scholars unless said scholars publicly denounce their government's actions in Gaza. Yes, that's right. The man at the head of a union with locals consisting of university workers wants to impose a political test on visiting academics. My fear is that once the strike ends some of our students will take up the call. Many of the grad students in my department consider themselves men and women of the radical left, so naturally they have adopted the Palestinian cause as their own. I've already had a few somewhat tense discussions with faculty colleagues over Gaza. There are some who rushed to condemn Israel, without of course making any mention of Hamas' responsibility for the war. But on the pro-Israel side I've encountered a surprisingly large number of colleagues who refuse to express any sympathy for the suffering of innocent civilians in Gaza, as though acknowledging the tragedy would somehow give aid and comfort to Hamas! Rousseau had it almost right. It's not civilization that smothers sentiments of natural pity in modern men and women, it's politics.

JH wrote from England:

Rafi,If the Israeli response was `disproportionate` as has been repeated ad nauseam, what would a `proportionate` response have been? Firing shells and dropping bombs at random on Gaza?
All good wishes, JH

Hi Rafi,

I hope your Newsletter is widely disseminated. I spent part of the 3 weeks of Cast Lead Operation in Sderot, in our international media center and therefore had many opportunities to convey many of your messages and observations.
I hope you are receiving responses from overseas.
Best regards,

Aviva Raz Shechter
Department for Combating Antisemitism
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Professor Joyce Appleby wrote from California:
Sent: Mon 26/01/2009 18:20
To: Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Subject: Re: Politics-January 2009

Rafi -- it was good to hear from you. I'm afraid that Israel is losing the war for legitimacy with its attack on Gaza. I know you know the litany of charges, so I won't repeat them. But you do say that "the occupation" is an inappropriate designation because Israel withdrew from Gaza. But it still maintained control over access to Gaza and its people's access to the world which I would call a continued occupation. And you do not mention the blockade which Israel imposed upon Gaza. There are no angels in this conflict, yes, but there is one very powerful state willing to impose its power and a pretty impotent, angry, and reckless band of people confronting it. That, at least, is how I see it. Joyce


Hi Joyce

Good to hear from you. I am afraid I cannot agree with you.

Israel evacuated Gaza in order to enable the creation of a Palestinian state. A year later, the Palestinians elected Hamas to power. Hamas has built its legitimacy and power on three platforms: religion, welfare and terror. It never acknowledged Israel. Israel does not appear on its maps. It educates children to violence and bloodshed. It promotes martyrdom.

When your neighbour does not recognize your right to exist and does everything to undermine your position, to kill and maim, wouldn’t you take precautions? The Hamas’ priorities are clear: First, the destruction of Israel; and then all the rest. The destruction of Israel is more important than settling refugees; developing infrastructure; eliminating hunger; promoting education. If Israel were to open its borders, Hamas now would fire the most advanced missiles and rockets that Iran can buy.

Frankly Joyce, be fair with yourself. Please don’t expect from Israel more than what you expect from yourself. Your neighbour wants to kill you. He says that to you time and again. Would you open your house to him, allowing him access to buy the best weapon for your own killing? I doubt that.

The citizens of Sderot suffered Qassams for five years. The entire world witnessed that. Nobody cares. I presume you would also be disappointed if you were to complain to the police that your neighbour wishes to kill you, and the police would only shrug shoulders and say: Well, that’s your business.

If you read my blog carefully, you know that I called on everyone to intervene to avoid bloodshed. The signs were clear, at least to me. Nobody cared. Israel said, enough is enough.

There are no angels on BOTH sides. But I hope you agree that Israel has the full right to defend itself and to protect its citizens. At least that. We may disagree about the measures and the scales of violence. I don’t know. I said I do not condone the killing of 1300 people. I cannot condone this. But please understand that our neighbour is not Beverley Hills. Instead, it is a bloody terrorist organization that will walk the extra mile to see Israel destroyed.

Best wishes



This, Rafi, is the argument that I believe is losing credibility. Not because Israel does not occupy an unenviable position surrounded by enemies, many of whom do not believe it should exist, but rather because of the wanton use of its power. It has occupied, controlled, and encroached upon a hostile population for sixty years and in that time, as its enemies have become more frustrated, it has become more violent. You can't compare a householder to a nation. Nations have policies and resources that individuals do not. Yes, it is infuriating to have Hamas sending rockets into Israel, but the Palestinians are a hostile, occupied people with member who are going to continue, as it already has shown, to harass its occupiers. The damage from the rockets have been minimal while the bombardment of Gaza was horrific with half the trapped population being composed of children. It isn't enough to declaim against this and call their deaths collateral damage. Air bombardments which are the tactics of the powerful always have significant collateral damage which are accepted by the attacker in advance.
What to do? The only thing Israel can do at this point is try to build a viable Palestinian state by assuring the contiguity of all of its land, its full access to the outside world, and the removal of all Jewish settlements within its territory. I realize that no Israeli government would get the go-ahead for such a program, so this situation has the makings of real tragedy for all.

Dear Joyce

I always look for the points of agreement. I hope we will be able to agree on some issues.

I think that my analogy does hold water. Essentially, we all yearn for a secure life. We all deserve life free of terror. This is true for you in relations to your neighbour. It is true for a nation in relation to its neighbours.

I am worried to read you saying “The damage from the rockets have been minimal” as if you suggest that it might be tolerable. I sincerely hope this is not what you suggest. I lived one month of my life under the shadow of rockets and can tell you this is most unpleasant. You hear the siren and like sitting duck you wait, knowing full well that if the rocket hits the house, you’ll be dead. This is terror. No one deserves to live like this. I am sure you would not wish to experience this feeling.

I agree with your last statement: We need to opt for a two state solution. Learning for experience, unilateral steps will not do. It has to come about via mutual agreement. At present this is hard to do when your counterpart does not recognize your right to exist.
Hoping for better days

Professor Art Hobson, USA, wrote on January 26, 2009:

Israel cannot expect to live at peace with its neighbors so long as its "settlers" occupy portions of the West Bank. Again, fundamentalism raises its ugly head as many settlers are motivated by extreme religion. Israel did a good thing when it forcibly ejected its settlers from the Gaza Strip. Now it must eject its settlers from the West Bank. All settlements, roads, internal walls, and internal check points must be vacated, or negotiated in exchange for Israeli land. Just as Israelis need freedom from rockets and suicide bombers, Palestinians need freedom from settlements and check points.
Now there's an ongoing war in the Gaza Strip. We can all surely agree that Hamas rockets exploding on Israeli territory are intolerable. But these rockets are not the whole story; nothing is ever the whole story in this 60-year conflict. Hamas was victorious in Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2006. Because the extreme fundamentalist Hamas movement rejects Israel's right to exist, Israel and the West rejected this election result. Since mid-2007, Israel has enforced a blockade on the Gaza Strip, stopping nearly everything except medical aid. The U.S. backs this blockade. Hamas smuggles supplies, including weapons, around the blockade. Israel and Hamas exchanged rocket fire during 2007 and 2008. A fragile ceasefire took effect in mid-2008 while Israel's blockade and Hamas' smuggling continued. In this situation, it was fairly predictable that the cease-fire would break down later in 2008 as Israeli attacks and Hamas rocket fire again picked up.
Now we are all properly anguished over the war. But it would have been more helpful if we had been similarly anguished earlier, over Hamas' rocket fire and Israel's blockade.
Again, one can argue over this history, but it seems clear that Hamas' demand that the blockade cease, and Israel's demand that the rockets cease, are both justified. Both must be granted if there is to be a durable cease-fire. Israel needs security, while Palestinians need freedom from Israeli control. Surely there's a way, using international observers, to allow the free flow of non-military goods into the Gaza Strip while preventing weapons that could threaten Israel.
In the longer run, the international community must pressure both sides to come to a two-state solution. The United States and Europe must make serious negotiations, and dismantling of Israeli settlements, a condition for aid to Israel, while Arab and European nations must exert similar pressures on the Palestinians. The world must demand an end to this poisonous problem.

My response on January 27, 2009:
Hi Art

I agree with most of what you say. Two observations:

Now it must eject its settlers from the West Bank. All settlements, roads, internal walls, and internal check points must be vacated, or negotiated in exchange for Israeli land. Just as Israelis need freedom from rockets and suicide bombers, Palestinians need freedom from settlements and check points.

This is very difficult. You need to come and see for yourself. I don't think Israel would be able to dismantle the entire lot, even if it wishes. The topography makes this almost impossible. This is why Israel offered in Camp David to compensate the Palestinians, meter for meter, when this would not be possible. I am talking about 3-7 percent of the West Bank.

In the longer run, the international community must pressure both sides to come to a two-state solution.

May I note that with regard to the Olmert government, there was no need to "pressure" Israel. Olmert was elected on a two-state solution platform. Barak government went to Camp David to agree on a two state solution. Sharon acknowledged the need for a two state solution. This is why he evacuated Gaza. More than 60 percent of the nation supports the idea. This is not true for Hamas, whose maps don't even mention Israel. It is one united "Palestine". On their maps, the dream is their reality. Israel does not have the right to exist.

Best wishes


Post-War Developments

The ceasefire did not last for long. On January 18, 2009, the unilateral ceasefire declared by Israel after Operation Cast Lead went into effect. On January 19, Hamas, speaking for itself and the other terrorist organizations, said that it would maintain a ceasefire for a week (which was later extended), and would use the time to reach an arrangement based on the Egyptian initiative. Despite its agreement in principle, and despite the fact that the IDF forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip, the terrorist organizations do not implement the ceasefire. Almost every day, they carry out sporadic rocket and mortar shell fire, or terrorist attacks directed against IDF forces near the border security fence. This fact should be highlighted, especially for those who think Hamas is a trustworthy organization that abides by its words. Jimmy Carter, I hope you are paying attention. The most serious violation occurred on January 27, when Hamas detonated an explosive, killing one IDF soldier and wounding three others. No casualties were incurred in the other attacks. The IDF responded by shooting at the sources of fire and with pinpoint Israeli Air Force attacks on terrorist targets.
On January 28, a rocket landed in Israeli territory across from the central Gaza Strip. It was the first rocket fired since the ceasefire was declared. Soon more were fired.
The IDF attacked from the air. Olmert, Livni and Barak said that they will not hesitate to resume the fighting inside the Strip. Hamas held talks in Egypt. Despite its vocal announcements that it won the war, it seems its leaders do not wish to resume direct contact with the IDF. Now there are talks about a one-year ceasefire, and exchange of prisoners: Gilad Shalit for hundreds of terrorists jailed in Israel. Israel, it appears, is willing to pay a high price for Gilad. He has suffered more than enough. It is about time he returns home to his loving parents. France, Turkey and Egypt are all involved in the negotiations. Their direct involvement is promising.

Blog’s Initiatives
My second international campaign has ended this month. As my elder readers who joined my Newsletter in 2000 know, my first campaign was Gaza First, which ended in 2005 with the evacuation of Gaza. Some of you debate whether that was a good initiative. I think it was. We should have tried.
Just think if we did not and allowed Hamas to take over the West Bank.
In August 2006 I opened my second campaign for early elections, as I lost all trust in my prime minister. Olmert soon will take “time off” to ponder his deeds and decide whether he wishes to open a new career. I am sure his future in business is guaranteed. I wish him lots of success.

Law v. Common Sense

Baruch Marzel was a close associate of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the most radical politician in the history of Israel, who called the Arabs “dogs” and wished to throw them out of the country. After Kahane’s murder, Marzel had a rivalry with Kahane’s son, Benjamin Zeev, over the leadership of Kach. The movement had split to two, Kach was outlawed, and Marzel continued his radical involvement in Israeli politics. Recently he joined the radical party “National Unity” that believes in Greater Israel, for the people of the Bible, with no concessions to anyone, including the Arabs.

“National Unity” decided to send Marzel as its Election Day representative on the local election ballot committee of… Umm El Fahm, a large Arab town in Israel. It should be noted that Kahane aspired to march in Umm El Fahem, conveying his message of hate, but was denied by the police on ground of preserving public security. Marzel follows his mentor to the letter. He recently won a lingering legal battle to allow him to march in Umm El Fahm. The march did not take place yet as the police do not accept the Supreme Court dictate. It seems that there is little connection sometime between the legal realm, and true reality. And now Marzel found a perfect solution to enter the Arab town as a representative of his party on the 2009 Election Day. Ideal.

The Legal Advisor to the Government, Menny Mazuz, objected. “National Unity” appealed to the Supreme Court that ruled that the party has the right to choose its representatives in every ballot in Israel, notwithstanding whether it is Jewish or Arab. Every Jew enjoys right of movement to every place in the country. Mazuz has no valid grounds to deny Marzel entry to fulfill his role.

On principled grounds, all this reasoning is correct. But there is little logic in this ruling, given Marzel’s history, ideas, and his particular relationships with Umm El Fahm. This ruling provided pretext to violence and bloodshed.

On Election Day, after second thoughts, “National Unity” decided to send Aryeh Eldad, another well-known zealot, as its representative. The police could not guarantee Marzel’s safety. Eldad was able to enter the town, hundreds of protestors circled the ballot, and after a few hours Eldad was escorted by the police out of Umm El Fahm. All this could have been avoided were common sense applied.
New Times, Old Hateful Rhetoric

A new survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of seven countries across Europe shows millions continue to believe the classical anti-Semitic canards that have persistently pursued Jews through the centuries.
The findings released on February 10, 2009 revealed that nearly half of the Europeans surveyed believe Jews are not loyal to their country and more than one-third believe they have "too much power" in business and finance. 31% of the respondents across Europe blame Jews in the financial industry for the current global economic crisis.
Overall, 40% of Europeans in the countries polled believe that Jews have too much power in the business world, with more than half of Hungarian, Spanish and Polish respondents agreeing with that statement.
A comparison with the 2007 survey indicates that over the past two years levels of anti-Semitism have remained steady in six of the seven countries tested. The United Kingdom was the only country in which there was a marked decline. Meanwhile, the percentage of those believing that Jews "have too much power in the business world" increased by 7% in Hungary, 6% in Poland and 5% in France.

Respondents across the continent were asked a series of indicator questions representing the most pernicious notions of anti-Semitism and whether or not they thought the following four statements were "probably true" or "probably false."

• Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country.
• Jews have too much power in the business world.
• Jews have too much power in international financial markets.
• Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.

Respondents were also asked whether they agree or disagree with the following statement:

• The Jews are responsible for the death of Christ

Finally, respondents were asked,

• If their opinion of Jews was influenced by actions taken by the State of Israel and whether they believed the violence directed against European Jews was a result of anti-Jewish feelings or anti-Israel sentiment.

Findings Summary - Attitudes Toward Jews

• Overall, nearly half of those surveyed in the seven countries believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country. A majority of respondents in Germany, Poland and Spain believe that this statement is "probably true;" in Spain, it is 64%.

• High levels of those surveyed across Europe still believe the traditional anti-Jewish canard that "Jews have too much power in the business world." Overall, nearly 40% of all respondents believe this stereotype to be true; in Hungary it is 67%.

• Similarly, European respondents still adhere to the notion that "Jews have too much power in international financial markets." Overall, 41% of those surveyed cling to the traditional stereotype; in Spain it is 74%.

• Large portions of the European public continue to believe that Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust. Overall, 44% of those surveyed believe it is "probably true" that Jews still talk too much about the Holocaust. A majority of respondents in Austria, Hungary and Poland believe it to be true.

• Overall, 23% of those surveyed continue to blame Jews for the death of Jesus.

• Overall, 23% of those surveyed say that their opinion of Jews is influenced by the actions taken by the State of Israel. Of those whose opinions are so influenced, 58% say that their opinion of Jews is worse as a result of the actions taken by Israel.

• In the seven European countries polled, 38% of those surveyed believe that violence directed against Jews is a result of anti-Jewish feelings, while 24% believe it is a result of anti-Israel sentiment. Hungarian and Polish respondents are most likely to believe that anti-Jewish sentiment is the reason behind violence directed against Jews in their countries. Spain is the only country in which more respondents (38%) cited anti-Israel sentiment as opposed to anti-Jewish feelings (26%) as the main cause of the violence directed against Jews.

• Overall, 57% of respondents believe that their government is doing enough to ensure the safety and security of its Jewish citizens. Austrian and German respondents are most likely to think that their government is providing enough protection for its Jewish citizens, while more than a quarter of respondents in Hungary and Poland do not believe their government is providing enough protection for its Jewish citizens.

Global Financial Crisis

• The survey showed that despite the complexities of the current global economic environment, Jews receive a disturbing amount of blame for the financial crisis. Overall, 31% of respondents across Europe blame Jews in the financial industry either "a great deal," "a good amount" or "a little" for the global financial meltdown.

Country by Country Findings on Anti-Semitic Attitudes

In responding "probably true" to the statement, "Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country," the 2009 survey found:

Austria – 47%, down from 54% in 2007
France – 38%, down from 39% in 2007
Germany – 53%, up from 51% in 2007
Hungary – 40%, down from 50% in 2007
Poland – 63%, up from 59% in 2007
Spain – 64%, up from 60% in 2007
The United Kingdom – 37%, down from 50% in 2007

In responding "probably true" to the statement, "Jews have too much power in the business world," the 2009 survey found:

Austria – 36%, down from 37% in 2007
France – 33%, up from 28% in 2007
Germany – 21%, unchanged from 2007
Hungary – 67%, up from 60% in 2007
Poland – 55%, up from 49% in 2007
Spain – 56%, up from 53% in 2007
The United Kingdom – 15%, down from 22% in 2007

In responding "probably true" to the statement "Jews have too much power in international financial markets," the 2009 survey found:

Austria – 37%, down from 43% in 2007
France – 27%, down from 28% in 2007
Germany – 22%, down from 25% in 2007
Hungary – 59%, down from 61% in 2007
Poland – 54%, unchanged from 2007
Spain –74%, up from 68% in 2007
The United Kingdom – 15%, down from 21% in 2007

In responding "probably true" to the statement "Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust," the 2009 survey found:

Austria – 55%, up from 54% in 2007
France – 33%, down from 40 % in 2007
Germany – 45%, unchanged from 2007
Hungary – 56%, down from 58% from 2007
Poland – 55%, down from 58% in 2007
Spain – 42%, down from 46% in 2007
The United Kingdom – 20%, down from 28% in 2007


New Article

Raphael Cohen-Almagor and Sharon Haleva-Amir, “Bloody Wednesday in Dawson College -- The Story of Kimveer Gill, or Why Should We Monitor Certain Websites to Prevent Murder”, Studies in Ethics, Law and Technology, Vol. 2, Issue 3, Article 1 (December 2008).


The article deals with the Dawson College Massacre, focusing on the story of Kimveer Gill, a 25-year-old man from Laval, Montreal who wished to murder young students in Dawson College. It is argued that the international community should continue working together to devise rules for monitoring specific Internet sites, as human lives are at stake. Pre-emptive measures could prevent the translation of murderous thoughts into murderous actions. Designated monitoring mechanisms of certain websites that promote violence and seek legitimacy as well as adherents to the actualization of murderous thoughts and hateful messages have a potential of preventing such unfortunate events. Our intention is to draw the attention of the multifaceted international community (law enforcement, governments, the business sector including Internet Service Providers, websites’ administrators and owners as well as civil society groups) to the shared interest and need in developing monitoring schemes for certain websites, in order to prevent hideous crimes.

KEYWORDS: internet monitoring, violent websites, Dawson College Massacre, Jokela High School Massacre, Internet Governance, Kimveer Gill,

New Book

The Discourse of Politics in Action: Politics as Usual/ Ruth Wodak

Nowadays we have unprecedented levels of access to information; politics and the media share a closer relationship than ever before, and the more successful politicians acquire the status of quasi-celebrities. Despite this, there is widespread disenchantment with politics, a growing cynicism about the political process, and much concern about the so-called ‘democratic deficit’.

And yet, how much do we actually know about the real world of politics? Is our eroding trust in politicians based on a lack of understanding about the activities they actually engage in?

In an extensive critical ethnography of the European Parliament, typical ‘orders and disorders of discourse’ are identified that illustrate the discursive mechanisms by which politics are organised in this and other (transnational, national and regional) arenas. The intricate complexity of ‘powerknowledge’ in the daily quest for hegemony is analysed in detail, carefully documenting politicians’movement across many ‘communities of practice’, employing a huge range of genres, conversational styles, argumentative moves, and (in)direct pragmatic devices, as part of their ‘professional habitus’. Furthermore, this critical discourse analysis is juxtaposed with its fictionalised representation in the American TV soap The West Wing, which constructs an idealized version of this ‘backstage’, conveying to a global audience a highly simplistic account of what politics entails. This book goes behind the scenes of politics, uncovering the reality of daily ‘politics as usual’, and contrasting this with the glamorised, often sensationalised world of politics presented to us on television.

List of Figures, Tables and Photographs
‘Doing Politics’
The (Ir)rationality of Politics
‘Politics as Usual’ on the ‘European Stage’: Constructing and performing ‘European Identities
One Day in the Life of a MEP
Everyday Politics in Television: Fiction and/or Reality?
Order or Disorder: Fiction or Reality? The Implications of ‘Power and Knowledge Management’
on the Organization of ‘Politics as Usual’

RUTH WODAK is Distinguished Professor of Discourse Studies at the Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University, UK (and affiliated to the University of Vienna). Besides various other prizes, she was awarded the Wittgenstein Prize for Elite Researchers in 1996. She has published widely on (European and national) Identity Politics, Racism and Discrimination, Multilingualism and Language Policies, and Politics of the Past.

April 2009 Hardback £50.00 978-0-230-01881-5



Presented by the Washington College of Law (WCL) Health Law Project, Society for Women’s Health Research, Health Law and Policy Brief, Health Law and Justice Initiative, and Women and the Law Society

March 3, 2009
9:30 am – 4:00 pm
American University Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Room 603, Washington, DC

This program will feature topical issues involving women’s health care research, genetics, and sexuality. The program will feature leading speakers from academia, research institutions, government and private pharmaceutical and medical device industry companies.

9:30 am Registration

10:00 am Welcome Remarks
Phyllis Greenberger, President and CEO, Society for Women's Health Research

10:15 am Will your Lawyer Deliver Your Next Baby? The Effect of Rising Malpractice Insurance Costs on OB/GYNs
Steve Pavsner, Partner, Joseph Greenwald and Laake
Corrine Parver, Practitioner-in-Residence and Executive Director, Health Law Project, Program on Law and Government, American University Washington College of Law

11:00 am Your Mother’s Medicine: a new approach to the health care of aging women
Suzanne Mintz, President and CEO, National Family Caregivers Association
Judith Waxman, Director of Health Policy, National Women’s Law Center

Noon Luncheon Keynote Speaker: Maureen A. McTeer, Professor of Law, University of Ottawa School of Law: “Designs on Life: Being Human in the 21st Century.”

1:15 pm The Rxx Factor: Different on the Outside. Different on Inside? Rethinking the Medical Model and Clinical Trials
Katie O'Callaghan, Division of Cardiovascular Devices, US FDA
Kathleen Uhl, MD, US Food & Drug Administration, Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health
Rebecca Wolf , 3L, Washington College of Law

3:00 pm When a Woman’s Choice is Not a Choice
Lisa Brown, Counsel, National Abortion Federation
Jill Morrison, Senior Counsel, National Women's Law Center

4:00 pm Reception

General Registration – no charge, but required. CLE Registration (3 credits will be applied for) –$55
To register, please go to
For further information about registration, please contact: Office of Special Events & Continuing Legal Education, American University Washington College of Law, 202.274.4075 or

Movie of the Month - Open Water (2004)

With Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis

This film takes your breath away. It is not easy to watch. Great acting of the two main actors, who carry this film on their shoulders for more than an hour, mostly in cold waters, where all you can see is the shadow of sharks. The music keeps you on your toes. I found myself praying for their salvation. What a stupid way to ruin your life.

This one is for people with a strong stomach. An untraditional Hollywood movie.

Following this disturbing film, I contacted a friend diver, David Levy, wondering whether the mistake that brought about this tragedy can happen in real life. David told me this film is based on a true story, and that following this tragedy, diving regulations were changed. He sent me the following:

Open Water: The True Story Behind the Disturbing Movie
In 1998, Tom and Eileen Lonergan disappeared off the Great Barrier Reef after a diving company accidentally left them behind in shark-infested waters. Their bodies were never found. David Fickling reports on the true story behind a disturbing new film...
The sun is bright and hot as you break surface. You squint to see the outline of a boat. After 40 minutes of scuba diving you feel disoriented. You paddle round to see whether the boat is behind you, but there is nothing: just calm, blue ocean, stretching to the horizon.
Such is the scenario of Open Water, the surprise hit of this year's Sundance film festival, which has also met with rave reviews across the American movie press. Shot on handheld digital cameras with a shoestring budget, it depicts the disintegration of a happy American couple after they are abandoned in shark-infested seas off the Bahamas during a dive holiday.
The promotional material boasts that the film is "based on true events", but its makers are now parrying questions about exactly which true events are involved. Yet few doubt that the inspiration is the case of Tom and Eileen Lonergan, American tourists who disappeared off Australia's Great Barrier Reef on January 25, 1998. The couple had wound up in Australia after several years of travelling round the world. They had met and married at Louisiana State University, where Eileen had taken up scuba diving and persuaded Tom to join in her hobby. For two years they had taught for the Peace Corps in the Pacific island country of Tuvalu, before spending a further year in Fiji.
They were planning to travel round the world before heading home, but first the couple were determined to visit the Barrier Reef. In Port Douglas, an upmarket diving and sailing town towards the end of the road north through Queensland, they decided to take a day trip on a 26-passenger boat, the Outer Edge. For A$160, the five crew would take them for three dives on the ribbon reefs, a stack of broad shoals that run along the seaward ramparts of the Barrier Reef, 40 miles offshore. On their third dive, round about 3pm, they headed off together and were last spotted swimming calmly 12m down. When they came to the surface after less than an hour underwater, the Outer Edge had gone.
Being left behind on a dive is not an instant death sentence. Paul Lucas, a tourist from Leicester with less than 10 dives under his belt, survived for 40 hours in stormy seas in January 2000, after he was left behind by a dive boat in northern New South Wales. A diver is wearing an inflatable lifejacket and has the air to inflate it in a tank strapped to their back. The danger in the blazing heat of tropical Queensland is that, without fresh water, someone floating in the middle of the ocean may dehydrate long before help can arrive.
The day after the incident the Outer Edge brought another tour party to the area, and one diver found six dive weights resting on the bottom. Oblivious to what had happened the previous day, a crew member described the find as a bonus.
At that point Tom and Eileen might still have been alive just a few miles away, using the empty dive belt to bind themselves together. They certainly appear to have survived the night: several months later a fisherman 100 miles north of the site found a dive slate which records their thoughts as dawn broke that morning. In a wobbly scrawl faded by months in the water, Tom Lonergan had written: "[Mo]nday Jan 26; 1998 08am. To anyone [who] can help us: We have been abandoned on A[gin]court Reef by MV Outer Edge 25 Jan 98 3pm. Please help us [come] to rescue us before we die. Help!!!"
Other clues offered tantalising glimpses of what might have happened. A wetsuit of Eileen's size washed up in north Queensland in early February; scientists measuring the speed of barnacle growth on its zip estimated that it was lost on January 26. Tears in the material around the buttocks and armpit had apparently been caused by coral.
Inflatable dive jackets marked with Tom and Eileen's names were later washed ashore north of Port Douglas, along with their tanks - still buoyed up by a few remnants of air - and one of Eileen's fins. None showed any signs of the damage you would expect from a violent end, suggesting that the couple were not the victim of a shark attack, as the film suggests. Experts at the inquest speculated that, drifting helplessly back and forth on the tides in the building heat of the tropical sun, the couple may have been driven delirious by dehydration and have voluntarily struggled out of their cumbersome outfits. Without the buoyancy provided by their dive jackets and wetsuits, they would not have been able to tread water for long. Publicity surrounding the case spelled disaster for the Queensland dive industry. Nearly 50,000 people work in Queensland's Barrier Reef tourist trade, which is worth A$4.3bn and hosts nearly 4m day trips every year. High-profile horror stories could irrevocably taint the image of local operators. Worse still, this had not been simply an unavoidable accident. Dive boat crews are meant to count every diver into and out of the water and then carry out a further count when the boat leaves the dive site, but somehow the Lonergans had slipped through the net.
Outer Edge skipper Jack Nairn said that he had ordered a crew member to carry out the count, and that the numbers had become confused because two passengers had jumped into the water halfway through. In any case, no one seems to have noticed that two sets of diving gear were missing as the boat steamed back to Port Douglas, nor was any alarm raised the following day when the Outer Edge returned to the same spot. It was only two days later, when Nairn found a bag containing the Lonergans' wallet and passports on the boat, that the alarm was raised. By that time, Tom and Eileen would probably already have died.
The industry's damage-control mechanism was desperate and unpleasant. Rumours started spreading - many of them put about by the Outer Edge's owner, Tom Colrain - that there was more to the Lonergans' case than met the eye. Melancholy passages in the diaries of Tom and Eileen were raised as evidence that they had committed suicide, that he had killed her in a murder-suicide, even that they had faked their own deaths and sped off to a new life in another boat supposedly spotted nearby. Sightings of the Lonergans began pouring in from all over Australia.
In the inquest and subsequent trial of Jack Nairn on manslaughter charges, the speculation reached fever pitch. "The defence attorney used these diaries to absolutely slander, to absolutely destroy these two people's reputations," says Eileen's father, John Hains, who travelled to Cairns for the hearing. "I was disappointed in the verdict [in which Jack Nairn was found not guilty of manslaughter]. I felt like the jury didn't believe that they were dead, and to me that was the essence of the trial, was to prove that they had died."
Six years on, the names of Tom and Eileen Lonergan are still those most likely to shut down a Cairns conversation, so the release and publicity surrounding Open Water is far from welcome. Jack Nairn still lives in the area despite losing his business as a result of the publicity and debts surrounding his trial. He initially refused to talk about the case, and would only discuss how the fallout from the case had affected him. "The reality of it is that the thing creates emotional turmoil for all of the people involved," he says. "It's incredibly unsettling and stressful for myself and my children, and for us it's a terrible thing that [Open Water] has been made. This is really very bad for the industry as a whole."
Nairn's concerns about the impact of the film on tourism are not surprising, given the Queensland dive industry's struggle to rebuild its squeaky-clean image in the wake of the Lonergans' deaths. In a check on 59 dive shops by Queensland health and safety inspectors in 2002, a total of 76 notices were issued for failure to do proper head counts, dive logs or lookouts - the main issues highlighted three years earlier in the Lonergan inquest.
Hains has no truck with the release of Open Water. "As far as the movie's concerned we're not interested. We won't see it," he says. Yet remarkably, he holds no grudge against the crew and passengers on the Outer Edge. "I don't have any hard feelings against anybody, because it was an accident," he says. His only disappointment is that among all the equipment washed up on the shores of north Queensland, there was never a trace of his daughter's body. "It leaves a big hole in you to lose your kid, that's part of your life. I wish they had found them, so we had something. I suppose we have the Great Barrier Reef. They're part of that."

Gem of the Month

Anna Vinnitskaya playing Rachmaninov Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Anna is a virtuoso pianist with extraordinary talent and self-confidence. Maestro Yoel Levi produces with the Philharmonic a clear and lucid performance, sound quality that should be recorded.

Light Side

A wife is a sex object. Every time you ask for sex, she objects.

There are only two four letter words that are offensive to men - 'don't' and 'stop', unless they are used together.

Q: Why do men find it difficult to make eye contact?
A: Breasts don't have eyes.

Yours as ever,
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