Friday, January 28, 2011

Politics – January 2011

It is hard to be a man. It is harder to be a woman in this Man's world. And if you have a confused sexuality, Oh Man/Woman...

Gilad is still in captivity. Veshavu banim legvulam.

    ~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

The top story in Israeli news this month was the conviction of former President Moshe Katsav of rape.

Reflections on December Newsletter
Gilad Shalit
President Moshe Katsav – A Rapist
Ehud Barak Resigned Labour
Galant – take 2
Settlement-building Boom
Ecuador Became the Fifth Latin American Country to Recognize Palestine
Iran Steps Up Arming Hezbullah against Israel
Arthur Rosett (Arthur July 5, 1934-January 4, 2011)
February 8 - "Safer Internet Day"
Yad Vashem Holocaust Archive Is Now Online
What is Israel Website
New Books
Tu BeShvat
Monthly Poem
The Most Watched YouTube Clip
Valentina Lisitsa Playing Für Elise
Light Side

Free Gilad Shalit. The government should invest in his release. It should be one of its top priorities. Veshavu banim legvulam.

Reflections on December Newsletter

Professor Art Hobson has been a loyal reader of my Blog since its inception in 2000. I know that he cares about peace and tranquility in the world. He has commented and written to that effect for many years. Here is part of what he had published in NWA Times on January 2, 2011:

Israel needs tough love from the U.S.

Despite major disagreements with some Israeli actions, the U.S. government and most Americans, including me, have supported Israel since its founding in 1949.  Israel continues receiving $3 billion annually in mostly military assistance from the U.S., amounting to one-third of all U.S. foreign aid.  Furthermore, U.S. diplomatic support has been crucial for Israel, with the U.S. often standing alone with Israel at the United Nations.  For example, during 1972-2006 the U.S. vetoed, by its single vote, 42 U.N. Security Council resolutions that were unfavorable to Israel.

But in light of recent events, it's time to question this policy.  Is it in America's interest?  Is it in the world's interest?  Is it even in Israel's interest?  I raise this last question because, in light of increasing Israeli obstinacy over their illegal (according to the International Court of Justice) settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel appears to be its own worst enemy. At a White House news conference last March, the well-known author and reporter Helen Thomas asked the President's press secretary "How can the U.S. support Israel when it continues to violate international law?"  Sadly, this has become a good question.

For over forty years, Israel's settlements in the occupied territories have been an obstacle to peace.  Not only President Obama, but also the nine presidents before him, have opposed settlement construction.  The settlements, the checkpoints, the settler-only roads, and the illegal route of Israel's security barrier, make daily life impossible for Palestinians.

These days, it's Israel, more than Palestine, who is holding out on the peace process.  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has gone so far as to state unilaterally that Palestinians are ready to end all historic claims, such as the right of return for those displaced from Israeli soil, once they establish their state in the lands Israel has occupied in the 1967 Mideast war.  But ironically, when Abbas appealed to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to halt settlement building in order to continue the peace process, the Israeli leader told him his own government would fall if he halted settlement activity because of opposition from settlers and their sympathizers.  This represents a sad failure of Israeli democracy.

The outlines of a rational peace agreement have been clear for years:  Israel must give up its settlements in return for the Palestinians giving up the right of return to their pre-1949 lands in present-day Israel.  Jerusalem must be shared, with West and East Jerusalem probably becoming the capitols of Israel and Palestine, respectively.  Some larger older Israeli settlements could be retained, by mutual agreement, in return for allowances for some Palestinians to return to their pre-1947 homes.

For the good of all concerned including Israel herself, Israel needs some tough love.  There's no reason why we should continue providing $3 billion in aid plus diplomatic cover to a nation that is harming U.S. interests.  We need to tell Israel that we can no longer provide either the aid or the cover unless they absolutely end all settlement activity permanently, and come to a reasonable agreement with the Palestinians.


Dear Rafi

Many thanks for your e mail of today's date enclosing the December, 2010 Politics. bulletin.

I found that it makes excellent reading and have enjoyed the humour you pump in from time to time. I agree with "Chrismess" which I do not relish because of its commercial aspect. I note the KLM AlItalia comments which I had experience of and lost many suitcases (at Schiphol) I even had two brand new suitcases replaced by KLM because mine where damaged, etc...

That is nothing compared with my adventures with EL AL I had problems with El AL when I was last at Lod where they had overbooked the New York flight via Heathrow (London) by 31 passengers. El AL asked for volunteers to agree to take the next plane to Heathrow/New York which was due to leave three hours later..The 30 passengers who volunteered and I, waited until 4am the following day (eight hours later!!!). In the meantime everyone was angry and when they discovered that I was a lawyer they ask me to be their spokesman. The airline refused to give us food and drink during the wait, refused us free telephone calls to those who were meeting us at Heathrow/New York airports and refused us accommodation. EL AL said that it was not their responsibility to feed and water us and accommodate us. The responsibility rested with Lod Airport authorities. When I approached Lod Airport Authorities I was told that the Manager was at home and that they could not do anything without his instructions. By that time it was 11pm in Israel. I insisted to talk with the airport manager and I got him out of bed and at the airport and after much argument and persuasion all the 31 of us got a meal including drinks of our choice and we were allowed to make telephone calls to those who were meeting us in London/New York.. Accommodation was not offered as we were told that the chartered aircraft which was to take us back was on its way and that it was not convenient (too expensive) to book us for a few hours in a hotel. I have never flown since with EL AL! Other bad airlines are Cyprus Airways, Air France, and Bulgarian Airways (which have now gone bust!) The best airlines I have ever flown with are Cathay Pacific, Malaysian Airlines and Lauder Air (Austrian Coy owned and run my the Austrian racing driver Lauder)

On the more serious matters the Mount Carmel fires were a tragedy and was surprised to read that Israel did not have the equipment to deal with these and had to rely on other countries for assistance. I note that Cyprus sent a plane amongst many other countries. It is gratifying that some Arab countries and Turkey also assisted at the moment of need. As for your article in Greek, I did not know that you are learned in that language. We must speak Greek next time we meet.

Thank you too for your festive season card which you sent me some days ago and to which I have not replied. I have been extremely busy recently - in fact extraordinarily so.

Thank you for the wise greetings  in your  e mail which I very much appreciate. I wish you and your family a happy festive season and may 2011 bring you joy and many rewards and much satisfaction in all you undertake.

Warmest greetings

Professor Jo Carby-Hall, University of Hull


As always, enjoy reading
Re this (with which I very much agree): I am working on the second edition of Freedom from Religion: Rights and National Security (will be released 2011),, and am ---literally---at the moment working (adding) material re the Rabbis/apts/Arabs etc. To call it a disgrace is to compliment. Worse is the NON action by Weinstein, Na'aman and what I believe to be mere lip service by Bibi.

Israel cannot sit idly by while senior officials incite to racism and undermine its democratic values. Such officials need to decide: either they are public servants who adhere to the laws and values of the state that employs them, or they incite to hate and violence. If they chose the latter, they should resign immediately. And if they do not see the necessity in doing so, then the state should discharge them from all public responsibilities. Israel as a Jewish state has an obligation to secure the well being of its vulnerable minority.

Amos N. Guiora
Professor of Law
University of Utah


Dear Rafi,

I have read with interest your latest Newsletter.
As ever, I have found it to be thought-provoking.
With your kind permission, just a few remarks:
Your analysis of Netanyahu -
Although I don't necessarily agree with everything you write, I must say that it is coherent and interesting.
I think that to compare Netanyahu with Begin is rather premature.
Your view of Begin is conveyed with the benefit of hindsight whereas your assessment of Netanyahu is not.

As a matter of fact, if one dwells dispassionately on Netanyahu's stance on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, one can, in my opinion, reach the conclusion that some of his positions have changed in a manner that would have been difficult to imagine only two years ago: For instance, his Bar Ilan speech, in which, for the first time, he was ready to accept, in principle, the establishment of a Palestinian state. Indeed, even his policies have been modified in ways that are surprising, as his decision to freeze construction in Israeli settlements.

You might say that the first was a matter of public rhetoric, but the latter was a policy decision which he and his government implemented on the ground for nine months. No previous Israeli government, whether from the left or from the right, had ever undertaken a similar freeze.

Time is needed, in my view, to draw comparisons with previous Israeli prime ministers. Netanyahu, I think, ought to be assessed on the basis of facts, taking into account the circumstances within which he has to shape his government's policies - both domestic and international. A more nuanced, less deterministic, analysis of his policies, so far, are called for, in my opinion.

Your comments about the unilateral recognition by a few Latin American countries of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders (the boundaries that preceded the Six Day War):

I would beg to differ with your conclusions: The United States, as other serious countries, cannot engage in virtual diplomatic games. The recognition extended by those South American countries is hardly serious as there is no Palestinian state in situ.

The comparison with Ben-Gurion's declaration of independence is incorrect, in my opinion.

Israel was recognized as a sovereign state only following Ben-Gurion's declaration, which came in the wake of the UN General Assembly's Partition vote of 29th of November, 1947. Indeed, Ben-Gurion's declaration of independence followed the clear-cut rejection by the Arab states and the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs of the UN Partition Plan and the subsequent attack on the Jewish population in Mandatory Palestine.

Today, the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs has a negotiating partner, which the leadership of the Jewish community in Mandatory Palestine did not back in 1947-1948.

The recognition extended by those South American countries is completely different, as it didn't follow any act of formal recognition by any international body such as the UN, or even a Palestinian declaration of independence.

A state that does not exist, has not been declared by anybody, has been recognized by some South American countries; and now you want the US to follow through? In my view, this would hardly be a serious diplomatic move by the US. The US is not known to engage in such acts of virtual diplomacy.

Incidentally, such acts of recognition only harden the position of the Palestinian Authority in believing that it can wait passively without doing much in terms of negotiating directly with Israel, let alone making some painful concessions in order to achieve the desired peace.

Thank you very much for your kind attention and patience in reading my comments on your interesting and thought-provoking Newsletter.

Best wishes.
Dr. Yoav J. Tenenbaum
Tel Aviv University

Gilad Shalit

Gershon Baskin, co-CEO of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (, published in the Jerusalem Post a sad, poignant piece on why Gilad Shalit is still in captivity. The sad true is that Shalit is still in Hamas’ hands because no one wants to give Hamas a victory.

After four and half years, Shalit could have been home a long time ago; the price tag has been known for more than four years, and has not changed. Baskin personally received the first list of Hamas’s demands, which he passed on to the Prime Minister’s Office, and the price remains today as it was then – in fact, Hamas has made some compromises, but Shalit remains in captivity.

Gilad Shalit

Hamas indicated a willingness to conduct direct secret talks to conclude a deal. The Israeli response was: We have an agreed-upon mediator – a German former intelligence officer – and everything must go through him.

Egypt, which has provided the umbrella for the negotiations, has the Muslim Brotherhood to worry about. The recent elections there were a clear demonstration of the political manipulations the regime is willing to undertake to prevent any kind of political victory for Hamas’s elder brother.

Jordan, like Egypt, doesn’t want to see celebrations of Hamas’s success in bringing about the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority work overtime to crush the influence of Hamas in the West Bank. Hundreds of prisoners released to Hamas is perceived as a direct threat to the Abbas regime.

The Americans don’t want a Hamas victory, and why should they care about a single IDF soldier anyway?

Ehud Barak certainly doesn’t want to be perceived as the man who gave in to Hamas.

Ehud Olmert didn’t want that either, even though his negotiator almost closed a deal.

Who in the government wants to gain the reputation of being soft on terror? Prime Minister Netanyahu has calculated the political costs of a deal and has concluded that “business as usual” is much better than paying the price to bring Shalit home.

There are no negotiations taking place. The German mediator, Dr. Gerhard Conrad, has basically stopped trying, knowing that the process is stuck almost where it was more than a year ago.

Egyptian security officials claim they could conclude a deal, but no one will appoint them to take full charge, and without that they will play only a passive role.

A senior Norwegian official who I tried to engage in mediation on a number of occasions, and was willing to do so says that while Hamas was willing for him to try, he had to coordinate with Egypt, which was not interested in someone else stepping in, and Israel simply refused.

In July 2010, a letter from a senior Hamas official was delivered to Conrad through a UN official in Gaza, after its contents had been authorized by Hamas strongman – and the person believed to be holding Shalit – Ahmed Jaabari, in which Hamas agreed to moderate some of its demands.

Baskin received a copy and delivered it to the prime minister and the minister of defense. Jaabari was willing to accept that a certain number of prisoners on the Hamas list would be removed, and that Hamas would agree that about 30 of the West Bank prisoners could be released to Gaza or sent abroad. Israel’s position was that more than 10 names on the Hamas list be removed entirely, and that more than 120 West Bank prisoners be expelled to Gaza or abroad.

On the basis of the letter and other indications, Conrad tried to renew the process, but came to a dead end on the Israeli side. Baskin recently spoke with that senior Hamas official, who continues to state that Jaabari is now willing to accept even more deportees to Gaza and abroad, but Israel continues to refuse to enter serious negotiations.

Source: Gershon Baskin, “Encountering Peace: The Forgotten Soldier”, The Jerusalem Post (January 3, 2011).

President Moshe Katsav – A Rapist

On December 30, 2010, the Tel Aviv District Court convicted former State President Moshe Katsav of two counts of rape and other sexual abuse charges, declaring that Katsav's version of events was "riddled with lies."

The verdict was handed down after a long legal battle which lasted more than four years. The allegations relate to his terms as tourism minister and as president of the country. Several women stepped forward with similar allegations that Katsav (butcher in Hebrew) exploited his authority to rape them and to demand sexual favours.

Katsav was convicted of raping and sexually assaulting a former employee, named A., from the Tourism Ministry. He was also convicted of sexually harassing another woman, H., from the President's Residence, of sexually abusing and harassing yet another woman L. from the President's Residence, and of obstructing justice.

According to presiding Court Judge, George Karra, Katsav tried to charm A, and when she did not respond to his overtures, he began to harass her. The defendant told the victim that he was in love with her, added Judge Karra, and left her feeling humiliated.
"We accept A.'s version of events that the humiliation stemmed from a single reason, that she refused to accept the defendant's sexual advances," said the judges.
"While the defense team called this a malicious plot born from A.'s desire to seek revenge against the accused for firing her, the prosecution brought forth a list of witnesses who testified to having hearing A.'s remarks over the course of time between when the event occurred and when the case broke open," said Karra. "These testimonies disqualify claims of slander," the judges rules. "All of these testimonies based on what A. said contradict the defendant's claims that this was an invention born from emotions."
The verdict read out by the panel of three judges - comprising Karra, Miriam Sokolov and Judith Shevach - was the first judicial statement on the veracity of allegations repeated, dissected and mulled over by Israeli media over four years.

Katsav appeared pale and wan, shaking his head with disbelief after the judges read out the verdict. His punishment is expected to be severe, as the maximum penalty for rape is 16 years, and the minimum four.

Ehud Barak Resigned Labour

After destroying the Labour Party, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is seeking new forums. He announced his decision to step down from his position as Labour Party chairman, following months of turmoil within the weakened faction.

Barak in a familiar pose; note the similarities between his pose and Netanyahu's

In the wake of waning support from his own party ministers, Barak announced the inception of a new faction of his own called Atzmaut (Independence). Four Labour colleagues - Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, Deputy Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Orit Noked and Knesset Member Einat Wilf – joined their leader. Barak seeks independence from the party which served him well. I cannot say this was mutual.

Yet again, the person who is known in Israel as Ehud Barach (meaning “Ehud Run”) is running away from responsibility. A leader who leads by example. No wonder Barak is the least popular politician in Israel nowadays. You can fool some people sometimes, but you cannot fool them all the time.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was aware of the move and encouraged it; his associates at the Prime Minister's Office even helped Barak plan it. The number of breakaways is not enough to rob him of his parliamentary majority. Netanyahu's coalition currently has a majority, with 74 seats - including its Labour members - in the 120-seat Knesset. "The split will create an island of stability, a small and consolidated group within the coalition," said a source close to Netanyahu. Also remember, Kadima will always be happy to jump in if needed.

With talks stalled for more than three months, an increasing number of Labour members had urged Barak to pull out of the government because of the peace process impasse. Labour had been due to vote next month on whether to quit the right-wing coalition government over Netanyahu's wrecking of the peace process. Barak's move obviously pre-empts that decision. . Barak does not wish to depart the Ministry of Defence. He loves his job and the sense of power.

On the same day, January 17, 2011, three Laboor ministers - Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman and Trade, Industry and Labour Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer – quickly responded by resigning the government. The Labour's four remaining lawmakers, with whom Barak hardly spoke let alone consulted, are greatly relieved. Their duty is to revamp the party, consolidate it and move it forward with determination.

After intense negotiation day between Likud and Atzmaut, on January 18 the price was paid: Barak remains the defense minister; MK Shalom Simhon was appointed the new National Infrastructure Minister instead of resigning Labour minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer; MK Matan Vilnai received the Minority Affairs portfolio instead of Avishay Braverman, and MK Orit Noked was appointed the new agriculture minister instead of Simhon. I hope not to see them in any future government. Let them enjoy what they have now and let it be their last achievement.


Galant – take 2

General Yoav Galant is yet again in the news and yet again for the wrong reasons. While apparently he had nothing to do with the infamous Galant Document that was designed to block his way to the Chief of Staff Office, this scandal is all about him and his behavior. Apparently, an army general can do almost everything he wants in Israel 2010. But he might not be able to do everything in 2011.

A report by the State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss concludes that Galant illegally took over public land that was not his near his home on Moshav Amikam. The report brings to light two main issues. The first is that Galant had signed an affidavit confirming an untrue statement with respect to his building permit. In addition, he illegally paved two paths leading to his 350 square meter house at the heart of 35 dunam of land. The second issue is that Galant had approached the Israel Lands Administration with a request to plant olive trees on land that he had supposedly cultivated. Galant had stated that the land in question had been cultivated for several years, but the report reveals that Galant had in fact not cultivated the land.

The Comptroller wrote that there is no question that Galant seized lands that were not his own. "Galant's version is that the mistake, which he admits to and apologized over, was actually his contractors' mistake, he had executed the planting on the land he received (8.649 acres) and continued planting an additional 6.9 acres by mistake. The blunder, which he claims was a bona fide error, is blamed on the planting, and claims he had no involvement in the issue".

The Comptroller also criticized the authorities involved in the affair. "Our findings show that there is a possibility that the various authorities acted with leniency in Galant's case, possibly because of his senior position".

This is Israel, not Saudi Arabia. Mansions such as Galant’s are not common. Even Israel’s wealthiest suburban communities, such as Kfar Shmaryahu and Herzliya Pituach, both north of Tel Aviv, are mostly made up of massive villas situated on relatively small plots of land. Galant’s castle is outrageous by Israeli standards. The alleged fact that he took the law into his hands to expropriate even more land is disgraceful.

The Green Movement submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice which called for disqualifying Galant as a candidate for IDF chief. The State Comptroller report does not answer the question whether Galant is qualified to serve as the new head of the IDF.

Legal Advisor to the Government, Yehuda Weinstein, is expected to decide by February 1 whether he will continue to defend Galant's appointment for IDF chief of staff or express support for the Green Movement petition. If he decides to continue advocating on Galant's behalf, it is unlikely that the court will intervene in the appointment.

Current Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi was supposed to step down in February. He might need to remain in office for a little longer.

Sources: Tomer Zarchin, “State comptroller: Incoming IDF chief illegally took over public land”, Haaretz (January 27, 2011),; Aviad Glickman, “Comptroller: Galant seized public land” YNET (January 27, 2011),,7340,L-4020196,00.html;;;

Settlement-building Boom

Worrying news from Israel. In the three months since Israel ended its settlement construction freeze in the West Bank,a settlement-building boom has begun, especially in more remote communities that are least likely to be part of Israel after any two-state peace deal. This means that if negotiations ever get back on track, there will be thousands more Israeli settlers who will have to relocate into Israel, posing new problems over how to accommodate them while creating a Palestinian state on the land where many of them are living now.

The NY Times reported that in addition to West Bank settlement building, construction for predominantly Jewish housing in East Jerusalem, where the Palestinians hope to make their future capital, has been rapidly growing after a break of half a year, with hundreds of units approved and thousands more planned.

Dror Etkes, an anti-settlement advocate who has spent the past nine years chronicling their growth, said he doubted whether there had been such a burst in settlement construction in at least a decade. Hagit Ofran, a settlement opponent who monitors their growth for Peace Now, said, “We can say firmly that this is the most active period in many years.” She said there were 2,000 housing units being built now and a total of 13,000 in the pipeline that did not require additional permits. In each of the past three years, about 3,000 units have been built.

While government data on the building will not be published until the new year, settler leaders did not contradict these assessments: “The freeze is over, and we are filling in the gap of need that was postponed,” said David Ha’Ivri, spokesman for the Samaria Regional Council in the northern West Bank. “The Peace Now numbers are reliable. Their count seems to be correct. The only difference is that they see it as negative, and we see it as positive.”

Naftali Bennett, executive director of the Yesha Council, the settlers’ umbrella organization, said he had information only on where there was a lack of building, not where there was construction in progress. He said his group wanted government tenders for an additional 4,000 badly needed units, mostly in large settlements.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister said that since the 10-month building moratorium ended in September, the government had been sticking to building only in existing settlements and had not expropriated more land for settlements. The construction going on now, he said, “will not in any way change the final map of peace.”

Settlement opponents disagree, saying that the larger the settler population, the more resources — water, roads, security — will be needed for them and the harder it will be to get Israelis to agree to a Palestinian state. Moreover, much of the new building is deep in the West Bank.

In the West Bank, most of the building in recent years has been in large settlements relatively close to Israel that are widely expected to be annexed by Israel by swapping land elsewhere in a future deal. These include the large settlements of Maale Adumim, the Gush Etzion block, Beitar Illit and Modiin Illit.

Building in those areas generally requires government tenders, and those have been slower in coming lately. The intense recent growth has been more in private building, mostly in smaller and more remote settlements, places with names like Tapuach, Talmon, Ofra, Eli and Shiloh. A number of unauthorized outposts are also experiencing substantial growth. The Defense Ministry is in charge of all activity in the West Bank and has the authority to stop even private construction, although it may end up paying compensation.

The international community considers all settlement building in the lands won by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, including East Jerusalem, to be illegitimate and illegal. Israel annexed East Jerusalem and does not consider building there to be an act of settlement. It argues that the West Bank is disputed, not occupied, and that building housing there for Israelis violates no international law.

There are more than 300,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and 200,000 Israeli Jews living in East Jerusalem, whom most of the world also considers settlers.

But within the Israeli legal system, settlements are regulated, while scores of small communities in the West Bank — known as outposts — have grown without regulation. Israel has vowed to take down many of those outposts, but it has not done so, largely to avoid the internal political confrontation that such a move would entail.

Since establishing any Palestinian state seems certain to involve moving tens of thousands of settlers into Israel, the more settlers there are, the harder such an establishment becomes, unless all the new settlers are within close-in blocks and the blocks become part of Israel.

Source: Ethan Bronner, “After Freeze, Settlement Building Booms in West Bank”, NY Times (December 22, 2010),

Ecuador Became the Fifth Latin American Country to Recognize Palestine

On December 24, 2010, Ecuador formally recognized Palestine as an independent state, following its neighbors Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay earlier this month.

President Rafael Correa signed "the Ecuadoran government's official recognition of Palestine as a free and independent state with 1967 borders".

Ecuador's decision, the ministry statement said, "vindicates the valid and legitimate desire of the Palestinian people for a free and independent state" and will be a key contribution to a negotiated peaceful coexistence in the Middle East.

Iran Steps Up Arming Hezbullah against Israel

Israeli and Western intelligence services have long been aware of Syrian and Iranian involvement in Hezbullah's arms buildup. Damascus Airport has been identified as the transit point for airlifts of Iranian arms that were subsequently transferred to Hezbullah via the open Syrian-Lebanese border, under the supervision of the Syrian security services.

A senior Pentagon official has divulged that Hezbullah has 50,000 rockets and missiles, including 40-50 Fatah 110 missiles and 10 SCUD-C ground-to-ground missiles.

Furthermore, some 10,000 Hezbullah fighters have been provided with a broad range of modern weapons, while the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have trained Hezbullah teams to operate these weapons.

According to Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, the Iranians exercise more control than ever over Hezbullah. Iranian General Hassan Madavi, Commander of the Lebanon Corps of the Revolutionary Guards, sits in Beirut alongside scores of Iranian officers and experts.

The Iranian intelligence services, operating in the framework of the Revolutionary Guards, have built many cells in Africa, most of which rely on Shiite emigrants from Lebanon. This is being undertaken in the framework of the African Division of the Jerusalem Corps of the Guards, an effort headed by Gen. Qassem Suleymani. After training in Iran, they serve as a nucleus for recruiting others and provide a base for Iranian intelligence activity in their countries.

In South Lebanon, with the assistance of the engineering units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbullah has dug tunnels that conceal its fighters from the watchful eye of Israeli UAVs that patrol the region. Hezbullah command centers were also equipped with an independent communications network funded by Iran.

Hezbullah also continues to conceal its war materiel in mosques, schools, fire stations, and the like. According to Israeli intelligence, at least 100 Lebanese villages have become genuine military bases.


Arthur Rosett (Arthur July 5, 1934-January 4, 2011)

I was saddened to hear of the death of Arthur whom I met upon my arrival at UCLA School of Law in 1999. Arthur was a kind man, a fine scholar, with a witty sense of humour and vast interest and knowledge in many spheres.

Arthur joined the UCLA School of Law faculty in 1967 and retired in 2003.  He had previously served as a law clerk to Justices Stanley Reed and Harold Burton, was an Assistant U.S. Attorney, practiced at Patterson, Belknap & Webb, became Associate Director of the President's Commission on Law Enforcement (The National Crime Commission), and participated as a research associate on the ALI Model Penal Code.  As a scholar and teacher, Professor Rosett was a vital part of our law school community for over three decades.  His scholarly work spanned a wide range of subjects that included Chinese law, contracts,  commercial law, comparative law, religious legal systems, and the careers of the judiciary.   His books include Contract Law and Its Application (6th ed., co-authored with Professor Daniel J. Bussel, 1999); A Living Tree: The Roots and Growth of Jewish Law (with Elliot Dorff, 1988); and The Judicial Career in the United States and Its Influence on the Substance of American Law (Rome:  Consiglio Nazionale delle Richere and the University of Rome, La Sapienza, 1992).  Arthur taught courses in Contracts, International Business Transactions, International Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Religious Legal Systems, as well as comparative law seminars, such as Japanese Law and International Commercial Law.

Arthur's professional activities were was as rich and varied as his scholarship.  He played a significant role in promoting intellectual exchange in international programs within the university and in the law school.  In the 1980’s, Arthur revitalized our graduate program.  In particular, he administered, taught, and mentored the students in that program, matching them with appropriate faculty advisers and watching over their progress.  In addition, he facilitated faculty exchange visits to China, Latin America and Europe.  Arthur chaired the law school’s Graduate and Visiting Scholars Program and the Japanese Law research and curriculum workshops for several years.  He also served on the faculty advisory committees for the UCLA Center for Pacific Rim Studies, UCLA Latin American Center, UCLA’s Program in Mexico, and the Japan Exchange and Research Program.

In the broader community, Arthur’s extensive professional activities included serving on the board of directors of the Center for International Commercial Arbitration, on the panels that arbitrate disputes involving the Director's Guild of America, and on the board of editors of the American Journal of Comparative Law and the Journal of Psychiatry and the Law.  He was an elected life member of the American Law Institute, and for the 1996-97 academic year, he was selected for the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Comparative Law at Trento, Italy.

Please join me in extending my deep condolences to his wife, Rhonda Lawrence, and their family, David, Martha and Danny Rosett. 

See also

February 8 - "Safer Internet Day"

To denote the day, may I recommend to you and your families Internet in the Family V 2.0: A guide to helping children when they go online. The guide offers advice to parents for creating a family code of conduct and about how to help children learn to search the Internet, how to determine the credibility of information, why students shouldn't 'copy and paste' Internet material into their own schoolwork, how to avoid the dangers posed by undesirable sites offering pornography and worse, and how to conduct themselves in contact with others online.

The new version adds sections on social networks, cyberbullying and newspaper online news, plus, with the cooperation of Microsoft, 20  "BE A SH@RK ON THE INTERNET" tips in short, Twitter-style that newspapers can use for a youth sticker contest.

Yad Vashem Holocaust Archive Is Now Online

Around 130,000 images from the world's largest Holocaust collection have been made available online for the first time in a bid to make them more accessible to people across the world. The newly scanned images help to reach new audiences, including young people around the world, enabling them to be active in the discussion about the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem hopes that the project will help people across the world research the murders of millions of people deemed undesirable by the Nazi regime. Yad Vashem's library holds more than 130 million documents and this move is the "first step" towards bringing the whole of the "vast" archive online. The 130,000 pictures made available now show the faces of thousands of Jews, young and old who suffered Nazi persecution and murder before and during the Second World War.

The ongoing project has been aided by internet giant Google. The company is providing technical assistance to the museum and is also hosting the archive via its Google Storage service. Google's experimental optical character recognition (OCR) technology, also used to translate images into digitally legible text by its Goggles application, has been employed in the digitisation project. A spokesman said that, "while not perfect, it will make it possible to search and find specific photographs and other documents".

The release marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Yad Vashem, set up in 1953, holds millions of testimonies, photographs, diaries, and other documentary material relating to the Holocaust.

The collections are visible at

Source: “Yad Vashem Holocaust archive now available online”,

What is Israel Website

Thanks to Bertha Skladman I became aware of a beautiful website about Israel, yes yet another one. The beauty of this site is that it provides a panoramic view of some of its scenic views, a brief introduction to the beauty of the country and why it should be on the radar of tourists.

New Books

James M. Lutz and Brenda J. Lutz, Global Terrorism (London: Routledge, 2009).

This is the 2nd edition of a most useful resource about modern terrorism. It provides a comprehensive introduction to terrorism as a global phenomenon, analyzing the history, politics, ideologies and strategies of both contemporary and older terrorist groups.

Written in a clear and accessible style, each chapter explains a different aspect of terrorism and illustrates this with a wide variety of detailed case studies from across the world. Although the focus is on the contemporary, the book also includes discussion of older terrorist groups.

This edition includes new material on:

  • July 7 attacks in London
  • Bali bombings
  • domestic terrorism in Columbia
  • attacks in Iraq
  • Al Qaeda, the Tamil Tigers, the IRA
  • animal rights extremism

The unique combination of a genuinely historical focus and truly global coverage makes this an ideal introductory textbook for anyone studying terrorism.

I thank Routledge for a copy of this important book.

Tu BeShvat

On January 20 we celebrate Tu BeShvat, the "New Year of the Trees". We eat dry fruit and thank for the fruit, shade and beauty of nature.


1 I think that I shall never see
2 A poem as lovely as a tree.

3 A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
4 Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

5 A tree that looks at God all day,
6 And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

7 A tree that may in Summer wear
8 A nest of robins in her hair;

9 Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
10 Who intimately lives with rain.

11 Poems are made by fools like me,
12 But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer

More poems from Joyce Kilmer

Monthly Poem

A Familiar Letter

YES, write, if you want to, there's nothing like trying;
Who knows what a treasure your casket may hold?
I'll show you that rhyming's as easy as lying,
If you'll listen to me while the art I unfold.

Here's a book full of words; one can choose as he fancies,
As a painter his tint, as a workman his tool;
Just think! all the poems and plays and romances
Were drawn out of this, like the fish from a pool!

You can wander at will through its syllabled mazes,
And take all you want, not a copper they cost,--
What is there to hinder your picking out phrases
For an epic as clever as "Paradise Lost"?

Don't mind if the index of sense is at zero,
Use words that run smoothly, whatever they mean;
Leander and Lilian and Lillibullero
Are much the same thing in the rhyming machine.

There are words so delicious their sweetness will smother
That boarding-school flavor of which we're afraid,
There is "lush"is a good one, and "swirl" is another,--
Put both in one stanza, its fortune is made.

With musical murmurs and rhythmical closes
You can cheat us of smiles when you've nothing to tell
You hand us a nosegay of milliner's roses,
And we cry with delight, "Oh, how sweet they do smell!"

Perhaps you will answer all needful conditions
For winning the laurels to which you aspire,
By docking the tails of the two prepositions
I' the style o' the bards you so greatly admire.

As for subjects of verse, they are only too plenty
For ringing the changes on metrical chimes;
A maiden, a moonbeam, a lover of twenty
Have filled that great basket with bushels of rhymes.

Let me show you a picture--'t is far from irrelevant--
By a famous old hand in the arts of design;
'T is only a photographed sketch of an elephant,--
The name of the draughtsman was Rembrandt of Rhine.

How easy! no troublesome colors to lay on,
It can't have fatigued him,-- no, not in the least,--
A dash here and there with a haphazard crayon,
And there stands the wrinkled-skinned, baggy-limbed beast.

Just so with your verse,-- 't is as easy as sketching,--
You can reel off a song without knitting your brow,
As lightly as Rembrandt a drawing or etching;
It is nothing at all, if you only know how.

Well; imagine you've printed your volume of verses:
Your forehead is wreathed with the garland of fame,
Your poems the eloquent school-boy rehearses,
Her album the school-girl presents for your name;

Each morning the post brings you autograph letters;
You'll answer them promptly,-- an hour isn't much
For the honor of sharing a page with your betters,
With magistrates, members of Congress, and such.

Of course you're delighted to serve the committees
That come with requests from the country all round,
You would grace the occasion with poems and ditties
When they've got a new schoolhouse, or poorhouse, or pound.

With a hymn for the saints and a song for the sinners,
You go and are welcome wherever you please;
You're a privileged guest at all manner of dinners,
You've a seat on the platform among the grandees.

At length your mere presence becomes a sensation,
Your cup of enjoyment is filled to its brim
With the pleasure Horatian of digitmonstration,
As the whisper runs round of "That's he!" or "That's him!"

But remember, O dealer in phrases sonorous,
So daintily chosen, so tunefully matched,
Though you soar with the wings of the cherubim o'er us,
The ovum was human from which you were hatched.

No will of your own with its puny compulsion
Can summon the spirit that quickens the lyre;
It comes, if at all, like the Sibyl's convulsion
And touches the brain with a finger of fire.

So perhaps, after all, it's as well to the quiet
If you've nothing you think is worth saying in prose,
As to furnish a meal of their cannibal diet
To the critics, by publishing, as you propose.

But it's all of no use, and I'm sorry I've written,--
I shall see your thin volume some day on my shelf;
For the rhyming tarantula surely has bitten,
And music must cure you, so pipe it yourself.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

More poems from Oliver Wendell Holmes

The Most Watched YouTube Clip

In 2006, Judson Laipply uploaded "The Evolution of Dance," a six-minute mashup of 50 years of dance crazes. It became the most popular clip in YouTube history, with more than 157 million views.

Enjoy Evolution of Dance - By Judson Laipply,

Valentina Lisitsa Playing Für Elise

Valentina Lisitsa is known for her dazzling piano performances, rapid pace and powerful performances. Her critics found her sometimes too loud, and too rapid. I’d like to share with you one small piece in which Lisitsa expresses her utmost sensitivity playing Beethoven "Für Elise". Enjoy!

Light Side

A note on a toilet door of a well-respected high-tech company in Israel:

How come respected people -- engineers, researchers, computers wiz, the cream of the cream, who are able to direct a missile in stormy weather to a moving target at night, miles away from the launching place and hit it with great precision; how come these same people are unable to direct their wee and hit the target from one meter?

Peace and love.
Yours as ever,


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