If only all year could be summer. A wonderful season indeed.
This month was a month of speeches. First Obama’s speech in Cairo, and then Netanyahu’s speech at Bar-Ilan University (Bibi continues to copy Obama, suddenly making a significant speech at a local university). There was nothing significantly new in both speeches. New was the tone of Obama’s speech. Obama is extending a hand to the Muslim world, clearly wishing to open a new chapter of understanding and cooperation between the leader of the free world, and the mighty Muslim world.
Obama-Netanyahu; Iran; USA Resumes Relationships with Syria; Peace and War Index – May 2009; Yet Another Missed Opportunity; Facebook Disables 'Hate Muslims' Group; Holocaust Denial Is Hateful per se; Net Responsibility in Democracies; Salutation – Libby and Len Traubman; In Memory - Sheila Finestone (1927-2009); 2009 LORENZO PRIZE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY; Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) and Luis Alfonso De Alba Win Press Emblem Campaign Award; Freedom to Create Prize; My Visit to Israel; My New Article; New Books; Note on the New Books Section; Novel – Q & A; English Football; Euro Economics; July Vacation
The 25th Association for Israel Studies Conference was recently hosted by Sapir College, Sderot. Sadly, Sapir did not wish to take any risks and held the conference in the nearby city of Beer-Sheva. Sapir Academic College was a target for terrorist rocket attacks from Gaza. Sad reality. Israel. 2009.
The conference was attended by many leading scholars of Israel studies. The shared belief of my American colleagues was that the bond between Israel and the USA will remain unshaken. This is the result of common interests, shared beliefs, mutual warm sentiments, and friendly history. However, Obama and Netanyahu remain on a clashing course. The relationship in the near future will be tenuous.
I don’t think Obama is hostile to Israel, or neutral in his attitude to Israel. He reiterates the administration's unreserved commitment to Israel. He wishes to promote security and stability in the Middle East (I realistically refrain from writing “peace”), and put pressure on both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take concrete steps in the right direction. Here are the issues:
Iran – the USA does not wish Israel do something that is not coordinated with the Obama administration. Talks about Israel’s pre-emptive attack on Iran are unsettling and unwelcomed.
Two-state solution – the Israeli cabinet is unified in its willingness to push forward such a solution. I suspect that at least some of its members are not sincere when they say that the issue is on the table. In any event, words alone will not suffice. The concrete steps on the ground are contrary to such a solution.
Settlements – The Obama administration is concentrating its efforts to halt the expansion of settlements. Israel remains adamant, speaking of the settlements’ “natural growth”. More than 300,000 Israelis reside in the West Bank, and the number is growing. Immigrants are sent to the West Bank. Concretely, what Israel does is creating facts on the ground that establishes a “Greater Israel” at the expense of a future Palestine.
Aid to the Palestinian Authority – USA does not need Israel’s consent and will provide such assistance whatever Israel may say. Such assistance will be provided when the Obama administration thinks that this will serve American interests in the region. The scale will be decided as events unfold and the PA’s ability to sustain quiet is proven.
Arab Peace Plan – the Obama administration is eager to see many Arab countries participating in the peace talks. The larger the involvement, the greater likelihood that the hopeful agreement will hold water and be sustainable. Israel’s interests are different as it is one state against many countries, and the power of its voice might be reduced when the number of potentially hostile participants is large. Israel needs the USA's constant reassurance that Israel’s best interests will not be sacrificed.
Security checkpoints – The Palestinians emphasize time and again that Israel’s security needs do not require the excessive number of checkpoints presently installed in the West Bank. Israel thinks differently. What is required is good will and trust between the two sides. These precious commodities are scarce at the moment. For the USA to intervene, a meticulous military inspection is required. This will not be welcomed by Israel.
Gaza blockade, and the passage of construction and other necessary material to the Strip – Obama wishes to see more positive steps to provide relief to the Gazans. Israel is not happy to cooperate, as Hamas continues to engage in terrorism and shows no intention of even recognizing Israel, let alone living side by side with the Zionist state. This is another bone of contention between Obama and Netanyahu.
I am sure you are following the events in Iran after the elections. Unsurprisingly, the Holocaust-denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reelected. Unclear to what extent the elections were kosher. Here is one blog that followed the events in Iran: http://shooresh1917.blogspot.com/2009/06/blog-post_13.html
While I was in Beer Sheva, Israel conducted a large-scale civil defense exercise in the face of missile attack. A siren went off all over Israel and citizens were asked to enter nearby shelters. The country is divided into small units, and administrators of each unit were asked to verify that shelters in their area are prepared to take large number of citizens for a prolonged period of time, in the event of an Iranian attack. Scary business; I hope this was a one-time exercise that will not be repeated.
However, note that the head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency recently told Congress that Iran and North Korea are cooperating on ballistic missiles. Diplomats in Vienna told the press that Iran had denied an IAEA request to install additional monitoring cameras at the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, and IAEA director-general Mohammad ElBaradei asserted that Iran desires nuclear weapons. In addition, two Hezbollah operatives were reportedly arrested in Azerbaijan, bearing Iranian passports. Iran does not cease for a moment its activities in the global web of terror.
USA Resumes Relationships with Syria
President Obama has decided to send an ambassador to Syria after a four-year hiatus, in a positive sign of the deepening engagement between the Obama administration and the Syrian government. The right way is to talk, not to ban.
The State Department informed Syria’s ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha, of the decision. Mr. Obama has not yet chosen a person for the post.
“It’s a reflection of Syria being a pivotal country in terms of achieving a comprehensive peace in the region,” one senior official said. “There is a lot of work to do in the region for which Syria can play a role. For that, it helps to have a fully staffed embassy.”
The State Department has twice dispatched Jeffrey D. Feltman, the assistant secretary for the Near East, and Daniel Shapiro, a National Security Council official, to Damascus for exploratory meetings. Two weeks ago, the administration’s special envoy for the Middle East, George J. Mitchell, met with Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, for what Mr. Mitchell later said were “serious and productive discussions.”
Just before Mr. Mitchell’s visit, an American military delegation visited Damascus for talks about how Syria could contribute to the stabilization of its neighbor Iraq. American officials are worried about foreign insurgents flowing into Iraq from Syria.
The Bush administration withdrew the ambassador to Syria in 2005 to protest the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon. Washington suspects Syria of being involved in the attack, which it denies.
Since then, a chargé d’affaires has been the highest-ranking American diplomat in Damascus. The new ambassador would have to be confirmed by the Senate.
Meanwhile, the meeting between George J. Mitchell and Prime Minister Netanyahu was cancelled. The tension between the American and Israeli administrations is noticeable. Defence Minister Barak, who becomes the official/unofficial Israeli envoy to iron the differences, will come to Washington soon for discussions.
Source: Mark Landler, “Obama Will Send Envoy to Syria, Officials Say”, The New York Times (June 24, 2009).
Peace and War Index – May 2009
On the eve of President Obama’s address in Cairo, only about one-third (31%) of the Israeli Jewish public saw his position on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as neutral. A majority of 55% think he leans more to the Palestinian side, and only 5% say he favours the Israeli side. Moreover, 60% do not trust the president to take into account and uphold Israel’s interests in his efforts to improve America’s relations with the Arab world.
One can perhaps understand, then, the view of the majority—65%—that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to Washington was not successful (19% think that it was), even though 56% think the positions he presented there were appropriate, neither too tough nor too compliant (13% think he presented overly tough positions, 9% that they were too compliant, and the rest do not know).
Yet, despite the views Netanyahu has recently voiced on a solution to the conflict, and particularly his refusal to declare his support for a Palestinian state, an overwhelming majority of the Jewish public still thinks a settlement with the Palestinians is impossible outside of the two-states-for-two-peoples formula (67%), with only 18% saying it would be possible. A segmentation of the answers by party vote in the latest elections shows that, with the exception of the National Union, voters for all the parties see it as impossible to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians outside of the two-states-for-two-peoples solution. At the same time, the majority, 52%, opposes a two-state solution if it requires substantial concessions by Israel, compared to 41% who are prepared for an agreement entailing such concessions.
As for the settlements, the Jewish public appears to be divided on whether they contribute to or weaken the Israeli national interest, with a small majority (48%) saying they weaken it and 43% that they contribute to it. At the same time, the majority—53%—think Israel should not agree to an inclusive settlement evacuation even if reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement were to hinge on this alone, while 41% would support such an evacuation. In a cross-section by political party, only Meretz, Labour, and Kadima voters favour an evacuation of all the settlements under these circumstances; voters for all other parties oppose it.
The picture on a settlement evacuation, however, changes when it comes to isolated settlements in the heart of the Palestinian population and to the illegal outposts, as distinct from the large settlement blocs. In this case, 53% of the Jewish public think Israel should agree to an evacuation and only 29% say otherwise. Not surprisingly, there is a close connection between views on the benefit or cost of settlements and willingness to dismantle them for a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Among those who think the settlements contribute to the national interest, 74% oppose evacuating them and 23% favour it; among those who think they harm the national interest, 57% support an evacuation and 37% oppose it.
I thank Eppie Yaar for this information.
Yet Another Missed Opportunity
In a recent interview to Newsweek, Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert revealed that he suggested to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that the Holy Basin area of Jerusalem be under no sovereignty at all and administered by a joint committee of Saudis, Jordanians, Israelis, Palestinians and Americans.
The proposal to internationalize the Holy Basin was intended to achieve a breakthrough in the negotiations around the issues of sovereignty over holy sites in Jerusalem, the issue which had reportedly caused the breakdown of the Camp David talks in July 2000. Olmert's proposal manifested his willingness to give up sovereignty over the Temple Mount, the Old City and the Mount of Olives.
Olmert also suggested to Abbas Israel withdrawal from 93.5 to 93.7 per cent of the West Bank, compensating the Palestinians with territory equivalent to 5.8 per cent of the West Bank, and allow for direct crossing between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Olmert stressed he rejected Palestinian demands to realize the right of return, and instead offered a "humanitarian gesture" of accepting a small number of Palestinian refugees, "smaller than the Palestinians wanted, a very, very limited number."
What a difference between Olmert’s good will and welcomed suggestions and his conduct in practice. The man who was elected on a two-state solution platform, who genuinely wished to bring peace, brought about two wars during three years in office. I hope that present and future prime ministers and Palestinian leaders will use the Olmert initiative as a starting point for future negotiations.
Source: Aluf Ben and Barak David, “Olmert offered to withdraw from 93% of West Bank”, Haaretz (June 23, 2009), http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1094882.html
Facebook Disables 'Hate Muslims' Group
Facebook has confirmed that it has disabled a group called "I Hate Muslims in Oz." Barry Schnitt explained: "We disabled the 'I Hate Muslims in Oz' group… because it contained an explicit statement of hate. Where Holocaust-denial groups have done this and been reported, we've taken the same action".
Facebook distinguishes between “explicit statement of hate” and Holocaust denial. Its directors believe that Holocaust denial is not hateful per se and does not therefore contravene the company's terms of service. Schnitt said: "We're always discussing and evaluating our policies on reported content, but have no plans to change this policy at this time. In addition to discussing it internally, we continue to engage with third-party experts on the issue".
Holocaust Denial Is Hateful per se
Holocaust denial constitutes a special and problematic category of speech. It is far from being innocent. Holocaust denial is a form of hate speech because it willfully promotes enmity against an identifiable group based on ethnicity and religion. It is designed to underestimate and justify murder, genocide, xenophobia and evil. Holocaust denial assumes a form of legitimacy to racism in its most evil manifestation to date, under the guise of pursuit of "truth". It speaks of an international Jewish conspiracy to blackmail Germany and other nations, to exploit others and to create Israel. It depicts a picture by which Jews conspired to create a hoax, the greatest fabrication of all time. Adolf Hitler did not plan a genocide for the Jews but wished instead to move them out of Europe. No gas chambers ever existed. This is an invention of the Jews to dramatize the mere "fact" that in every war there are casualties; WWII was no different. People from many countries were killed. Many of them were Germans. And yes, Jews were killed. And also people from other religions.
According to the deniers, the Holocaust is the product of partisan Jewish interests, serving Jewish greed and hunger for power. Some Jews disguised themselves as survivors, carved numbers on their arms and spread atrocious false stories about gas chambers and extermination machinery. It was not Germany that acted in a criminal way. Instead, the greatest criminals are the Jews. The Jews were so evil that they invented this horrific story to gain support around the world and to extort money from Germany. For their extortion and fabrication, for creating the greatest conspiracy of all times, they deserve punishment, possibly even death. Jews are demonic and crooked people who deserve to die for making up this unbelievable tragedy. In effect, the ultimate purpose of Holocaust denial is to legitimize another Holocaust against Jews.
Thus, those who deny the Holocaust are anti-Jewish. It is demeaning to deny the Holocaust for it is to deny history, reality, and suffering. Holocaust denial might create a climate of xenophobia that is detrimental to democracy. It generates hate through the rewriting of history in a vicious way that portrays Jews as the anti-Christ, as destructive forces that work against civilization. Hateful messages desensitize members of the public on very important issues. They build a sense of possible acceptability of hate and resentment of the other which might be more costly than the cost of curtailing speech. Hate speech, in its various forms, is harmful not only because it offends but because it potentially silences the members of target groups and interferes with their right to equal respect and treatment. Hateful remarks are so hurtful that they might reduce the target group member to speechlessness or shock him/her into silence. The notion of silencing and inequality suggests great injury, emotional upset, fear and insecurity that target group members might experience. Hate undermines the individual’s self-esteem and standing in the community.
People, especially young people, are open to challenge truisms, ask questions, raise concerns, refute and debate. The next generation may hold debates on the Holocaust as today we hold debates on the Armenian genocide/massacre, bringing different voices; some of which will confirm there was a Holocaust, other refute this statement. Young people may grow to think critically about the Holocaust: As some say there was Holocaust while others say there was not, possibly, so they might be inclined to think, the truth is in the middle. Meaning, there were episodes of mass killings of Jews, but there was no systematic plan to execute all the Jews of the world. Downsizing the Holocaust is most probable. It is also most troubling. Of course, on this issue, the natural logical tendency of seeking the middle ground is fundamentally mistaken.
Facebook and other Internet Service Providers should reconsider their position on Holocaust denial as it often does violate their general terms of service. Don’t keep silent in the face of hate. We learned that silence is conducive to the spread of hatred and bigotry, and that harmful words might lead to harmful action. There is a direct link between hate speech and hate crimes. Hate messages deserve our full attention. They should be condemned and delegitimized before they create ripe circumstances for murdering the targets of hate.
Net Responsibility in Democracies
I am now writing a book about social and moral responsibility on the Internet. Recently I was invited to present the first part of the research at the Second Annual Berkeley-GW Privacy Law Scholars Conference in Berkeley. Abstract infra. I’d be happy to send my (rather lengthy) paper to interested parties for comments and criticisms.
I thank the conference organizers, Chris Hoofnagle and Daniel Solove for their kind invitation.
The Internet's design and raison d'être are complete freedom, but soon enough people began to exploit the Net's massive potential to enhance partisan interests, some of which are harmful and anti-social. Given that the Internet has been a part of our lives for a relatively short time, the discussions about the costs and harms of the Internet, and how to address them, are in their infancy. The transnational nature of the World-Wide-Web makes regulation very difficult, if not impossible.
In this paper I wish to address the ethical, social and legal problems rooted in technology in response to potential risks on the Internet. The Internet is not the problem. The problem arises where it is utilized to undermine our well-being. This study provides a theoretical framework within which global problems such as racism, child pornography, terrorism and suicide promotion can be addressed and resolved. Informed by the different experiences of a number of democracies, this study harnesses the capacities of the public and private sectors in reaching viable, practical solutions.
In the focus of my discussion are the neglected concepts of moral responsibility and of social responsibility, adopting them to the Internet realm. I will discuss and explain the concepts and their implications on people and society. I then address the issue of moral and social responsibilities of Net users (agents), focusing, inter alia, on the tragic story of Megan Meier. Next I move on to discuss the responsibilities of ISPs and web-host companies. Should they take effort to monitor their sites for such information or are they relieved of any responsibility? This is arguably the most intriguing and complex issue of Net responsibility. I argue that ISPs and web-hosting companies should aspire to take responsibility for content, and that they should respect and abide by the laws of the countries in which they operate. The dream of a medium that transcends geographical borders and facilitates unlimited and inexpensive access to consumers without any regulatory restrictions is over. A case in point is LICRA v. Yahoo! Inc. and Yahoo! France (2000). Next I turn to the issue of readers’ moral and social responsibilities: Responsibility of people who encounter malicious postings on the Internet, some of which might be damaging and harmful. Should they simply read the postings and move on or do something about it? Then I discuss state responsibility and finally reflect on the responsibility of the international community. I argue for international cooperation to address international concerns.
Salutation – Libby and Len Traubman
While in San Francisco I took part in a dialogue meeting, organized by Libby and Len Traubman. For the past two years, the retired couple are devoting their lives to promote peace and understanding between Jews and Palestinians. They have organized dialogue groups in the Bay area, designed to provide a listening platform and exchange between people who are concerned about the Israeli-Palestinians conflict, and wish to understand the other. Dialogue is about telling personal stories, understanding the other via his/her thoughts, feelings, fears, aspirations. Dialogue believes in the human dimension, in connecting between people qua people, through the humane qualities we possess. No need for great words, for the wide picture, for ideological, tendentious talk. Let’s speak instead about ourselves, trying to connect as human beings.
In the meeting in which I participated there were two Palestinians, two Israelis, and some concerned Americans. They all talked without bursting into each others’ words. They all listened. There was an exchange. This is the way to conduct conversations, and to understand one another, beyond fears, suspicion, hostility, bias, prejudice.
After the meeting, Libby and Len took me to their home in St. Mateo to continue the exchange. We have been in touch for some years, but this was our first meeting. We talked till 1 a.m., and continued talking in the morning till noon. I wish there were more people like Libby and Len who don’t only speak, but actually do quite a lot of amazing things to promote understanding between conflicting sides.
More information on their welcomed activities is available at http://traubman.igc.org/dg-prog.htm
In Memory – Sheila Finestone (1927-2009)
I was very sorry to hear of the death of former senator Sheila Finestone. Finestone was the MP for the Montreal riding of Mount Royal for more than a decade during the 1980s and 1990s. She was appointed to the senate in 1999, retiring two years later. Finestone was a compassionate social activist, and a loyal supporter of Israel. I met her a few times during my visits to Montreal as she was very eager to learn about Israeli politics, wanted to understand the Israeli scene and the differences between the parties. I certainly appreciated her ability to listen, a rare quality among politicians, and her strong desire to help Israel in any way she could.
I wish to express my sincere condolences to her family for their grave loss. Sheila will be greatly missed.
2009 LORENZO PRIZE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY
The European Commission is calling on journalists committed to reportinghuman rights, democracy and development issues to apply to the 2009 LorenzoNatali Prize. A total of 60,000 EUR will be distributed among 17 winners ata ceremony at the European Commission in Sweden.
The Lorenzo Natali Prize is open to print, TV and radio journalists workingin one of the five following regions: Africa, Asia and Pacific, LatinAmerica and the Caribbean, Europe and the Arab World and the Middle East.
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) and Luis Alfonso De Alba Win Press Emblem Campaign Award
On 4 June, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA)and the Mexican Ambassador to the UN, Luis Alfonso De Alba, were jointlyhonoured in Geneva with the first Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) Award for theProtection of Journalists.
MADA was chosen for its role in providing accurate and detailed updates during the siege of journalists both in and outside Gaza, from late December 2008 to mid-January 2009. During this time, foreign media were forbidden from entering the Gaza strip to report on the bombing campaign.
"In carrying out its mission, MADA has proven even-handedness, impartialityand a neutral coverage on media violations by all parties within and outside the occupied Palestinian territories, a courageous outlook that deserves serious acknowledgment," PEC said.
Ambassador De Alba was credited for his dedication in raising the issue ofthe protection of journalists in conflict zones at the level of the UN. Helaunched a consultation process with fellow ambassadors to look atpossibilities for securing journalists' access to and safety in volatileareas.To read more about the award to MADA, see the MADA website: http://www.madacenter.org/en/?p=213%23more-213
Freedom to Create Prize
The philanthropic organisation ArtAction is seeking to "find light in darknessand courage in truth" with the 2009 Freedom to Create Prize, which honoursartists around the world who promote human rights and free expression and are denied their "freedom to create." The deadline for entries is 14 August 2009.
The prize is divided into three categories: the Main Prize is open to artists (individuals or artistic groups) in all creative fields; the Youth Prize is for artists aged 18 or younger; and the Imprisoned Artists Prize is for artists currently in jail because of their work. The total prize fund of US$125,000 is to be divided between the winning artists and advocacy organisations they designate in order to further the cause their artwork has highlighted.
For more information and to register, visit the Freedom to Create Prizewebsite: http://www.freedomtocreateprize.com/
I plan to be in Israel from July 21 until August 12, 2009 and be happy to meet my friends. Those who wish to set time for a meeting are welcomed to contact me now, as I am beginning to organize my schedule.
R. Cohen-Almagor and Marco Zambotti, “Liberalism, Tolerance and Multiculturalism: The Bounds of Liberal Intervention in Affairs of Minority Cultures”, in Krzysztof Wojciechowski and Jan C. Joerden (eds.), Ethical Liberalism in Contemporary Societies (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2009), pp. 79-98.
I thank Marco Zambotti for great cooperation, and Krzysztof Wojciechowski and Jan C. Joerden for their excellent editorial work.
As ever, I’d be happy to circulate my new article to interested parties.
John S. Dryzek & Patrick Dunleavy, Theories of the Democratic State (Houndmills: Palgrave, 2009). ISBN 9780230542877
The authors’ starting point is the classical theories of the state: pluralism, elite theory, Marxism and market liberalism. They then turn to the contemporary forms of pluralism prevalent in political science, systematically exploring how they address central issues, such as networked governance, globalization, and changing patterns of electoral and identity politics. They proceed to analyse a range of key contemporary critiques of modern states and democracy that have emerged from feminism, environmentalism, neo-conservatism and post-modernism. Each approach is carefully introduced and analysed as far as possible in relation to a common set of issues and headings.
Theories of the Democratic State takes the reader straight to the heart of contemporary issues and debates and, in the process, provides a challenging and distinctive introduction to and reassessment of contemporary political science.
Review- "At a time when many are rethinking the relationship between state and market, this is a very useful survey setting the issues in historical and theoretical perspective. Like its predecessor, Dunleavy and O'Leary's Theories of the State, it will be very effective for course use." - Peter A. Hall, Harvard University http://www2.lse.ac.uk/ERD/pressAndInformationOffice/publications/books/2009/TheoriesDemocraticState.aspx.
PART I: CLASSICAL VIEWS Pluralism Elite Theory Marxism Market Liberalism
PART II: PLURALIST TRANSFORMATIONS From Neo-Pluralism to Governance Competitive Electoral Politics Identity Politics
PART III: CRITIQUES OF THE STATE Democratic Critique and Renewal Feminist Theory of the State Environmental Theory of the State The Conservative Reaction
PART IV: BEYOND THE STATE Post-Modernism Globalization Current and Future Debates About the State
There are enormous challenges in establishing policing systems in young democracies. Such societies typically have a host of unresolved pressing social, economic and political questions that impinge on policing and the prospects for reform. There are a series of hugely important questions arising in this context, to do with the emergence of the new security agenda, the problems of transnational crime and international terrorism, the rule of law and the role of the police, security services and the military.
This is a field that is not only of growing academic interest but is now the focus of a very significant police reform ‘industry’. Development agencies and entrepreneurs are involved around the globe in attempts to establish democratic police reforms in countries with little or no history of such activity. Consequently, there is a growing literature in this field, but as yet no single volume that brings together the central developments.
This book gathers together scholars from political science, international relations and criminology to focus on the issues raised by policing within developing democracies examining countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.
Ruth Wodak, The Discourse of Politics in Action - Politics as Usual (Palgrave, 2009).
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.
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.
http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?PID=276612 April 2009 Hardback £50.00 978-0-230-01881-5
I thank all those who send me their books for inclusion. I wish to emphasize that I'm unable to publish reviews for all books received, nor do I promise to publicize all books. Publication means endorsement; thus only books I believe could enrich and educate my readers are mentioned.
Novel – Q & A
Vikas Swarup’s first and, to date, only novel is a modern Cinderella story. It takes place in the slums of India. The hero is a young boy, Ram Mohammed Thomas. His Prince on White Horse is a TV show, “Who Wants to Be Billionaire?” Why does an 18 year-old poor waiter want to participate in such a programme, and what are his chances to win? In this story, Ram becomes the Prince Charming, there to save his sweetheart from the darkest debasements of humanity, where human beings become commodity, where light, compassion, warmth are scarce, where death is more comforting than life.
Swarup’s book is witty, engaging and compelling. The unbelievable story becomes real as the plot unfolds, and we learn to know Ram and the twists and turns in his adventurous life. Swarup is a sensitive author, who blends tragic stories with a sense of humour, healthy cynicism, and understanding what are the ingredients of a good story. This is the best book I read this year.
The book was made into a film, Slumdog Millionaire. As is usually the case, the book is better than the movie. Don’t be deterred if you have seen the movie. The book is sufficiently different for you to enjoy.
It has been an excellent season for English football with dramas and excitement. It is no wonder that three of the four teams that reached the European Championship semi-finals were English. I followed my team, Tottenham Hotspur mainly on television, and Hull City in the KC stadium. Here are the players that impressed me the most. They are among the best players in the world. A joy to watch.
Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United, The Netherlands). Quiet. Serious. Trustworthy. Excellent positioning. Excellent reading of situations.
Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United, England). Solid. Rock.
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United, England)
In addition, I should note:
Goal Keepers: Jose Manuel (Pepe) Reina (Liverpool, Spain); Shay Given (Manchester City, Ireland)
Defenders: Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United, Serbia), Phil Jagielka (Everton, England), Kolo Toure (Arsenal, Ivory Coast), Luke Young (Aston Villa, England)
Midfield players: Paul Scholes (Manchester United, England), Yossi Benayoun (Liverpool, Israel), Michael Essien (Chelsea, Ghana), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City, England), Andrey Arshavin (Arsenal, Russia), Gareth Barry (Aston Villa, England), James Milner (Aston Villa, England)
Strikers: Dimitar Berbatov (Manchester United, Bulgaria), Theo Walcott (Arsenal, England)
To my friends that do not understand Economics and the crises we are experiencing – here's your first lesson to understand Euro Economics:
It is August. In a small town on the South Coast of France, holiday season is in full swing, but it is raining so there is not too much business happening. Everyone is heavily in debt.
Luckily, a rich Russian tourist arrives in the foyer of the small local hotel. He asks for a room and puts a Euro100 note on the reception counter, takes a key and goes to inspect the room located up the stairs on the third floor.
The hotel owner takes the banknote in a hurry and rushes to his meat supplier to whom he owes E100. The butcher takes the money and races to his supplier to pay his debt. The wholesaler rushes to the farmer to pay E100 for pigs he purchased some time ago.
The farmer triumphantly gives the E100 note to a local prostitute who gave him her services on credit. The prostitute goes quickly to the hotel, as she was owing the hotel for her hourly room use to entertain clients.
At that moment, the rich Russian is coming down to reception and informs the hotel owner that the proposed room is unsatisfactory and takes his E100 back and departs.
There was no profit or income. But everyone no longer has any debt and the small townspeople look optimistically towards their future.
I am taking a vacation in July. Thus, my next Newsletter will appear in late August. The Politics Newsletter is now in its ninth year, with almost 1,000 subscribers and thousand of hits on the blog. As always, I thank Sam Lehman-Wilzig and Sharon Haleva-Amir for all their help in the publication process. Sam’s wise counsel and Sharon’s technical ingenuity are invaluable.
Yours as ever,