Thursday, July 14, 2011

Politics – July 2011

Gilad Shalit is still in captivity. Veshavu banim legvulam.
Economy of peace may be as expensive as the economy of war. However, while economy of peace is constructive, economy of war is destructive.
Wise people avoid entering situations that all others stumble into and then struggle to exit.
Know where you are coming in order to know where you are going (paraphrasing Ahad Aha’am).
~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Gilad Shalit – 5 LONG Years
Tehran-Tel Aviv Neighbourhood
Israeli Studies Conference at Brandeis
Israel and The Bomb
UN committee: Israel Must Allow Civil Marriage
An Interesting Thought
US-Saudi Relationships
Academic Freedom v. Academic Responsibility
Dr Miguel Beltran
Oxford Passes Vote of No Confidence in Government’s Education Revolution
Call for Contributors for the 2011 Global Integrity Report
2011 Gruber Justice Prize
Edward Kossoy awarded the Grand Cross of Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland
True Image of Planet Earth
My New Article
Novel of the Month
New Books
Gem of the Month – Boston
Movie of the Month - Strangers no more
Monthly Poem
Light Side
My Visit to Israel

Gilad Shalit – 5 LONG Years

In 2005, Gilad Shalit began his military service in the Armoured Corps in the 71st Regiment of the 81st Brigade. On one fateful Sunday, June 25, 2006, a Hamas group attacked an Israeli Merkava Tank which was guarding the security fence and an army post on the Gaza border, both inside Israeli territory. The armed men infiltrated the border via a tunnel under the security fence, close to the Kerem Shalom Crossing. During the attack the tank commander, Lt. Hanan Barak and tank team soldier Staff- Sgt. Pavel Slutzker were killed. Four other soldiers were wounded. One member of the tank crew, Gilad Shalit, was abducted and transferred to the Gaza Strip. Despite the best of efforts, the IDF has no clue as to where Gilad is being kept.

Indeed, since Gilad’s abduction, there has been no information as to his whereabouts. Gilad has not been granted any visitation rights by the International Red Cross or any other humanitarian organization, as required by International Law. The Shalit family has tried to send a number of letters, through the International Red Cross. As far the family knows, Gilad has only received one letter, which was transferred with the mediation of President Nicolas Sarkozy to Khaled Mash’al, Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau. Last month I was advised of some positive developments but the hopes were short lived. The gap between Israel and Hamas, so it is reported, is still far too wide to bridge.

Five L-O-N-G years are more than enough. Free Gilad Shalit. The government should invest in his release. It should be one of its top priorities. Soldiers won’t fight if they come to believe that their government will not do everything to free them if they fall to enemy’s hands. Veshavu banim legvulam

You can lend your support to the Shalit family by writing to Aviva and Noam at

Gilad Shalit

Tehran-Tel Aviv Neighbourhood
You live at 3 Cherry Street. You enter into a fierce argument with your neighbour Rivka who lives at 85 Cherry Street over delicate issues concerning restoration of houses and evacuation of rubbish. Rivka reacts by threatening to kill you, saying that she will relentlessly pursue you until she sees you dead and buried.

John approaches you, saying that Rivka is not serious; she merely talks. She will never dare to murder you. The police will protect you. The community will defend you. Rivka will not risk her liberty. She would not like to serve life sentence in jail. Rivka continues with her dangerous threats. Will you be comforted by John? Will you sleep peacefully at your home?

If you won't, please don't tell Israelis they have nothing to fear of Iran.

Israeli Studies Conference at Brandeis

I attended the 27th Annual Conference of the Association for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. As you can imagine, it is important for me to attend this conference. This time I presented a paper on Is Law Appropriate to Regulate Hateful and Racist Speech: Religious Extremism in Israel”. I express gratitude Mr Trevor Pears for his kind help which enabled my participation in this important conference.

Let me share with you some of the highlights of this conference.

Professor Moshe Halbertal spoke of six transformations in Israeli society:

  First, the ultra orthodox transformed from a small minority that looks inside to a minority that wishes to influence. The enemy in the past was David Ben Gurion, or the sovereign. Now the enemy is the Supreme Court. This process started in the 1970s.

Second, the emergence of a very secular, anti-religious, anti-clerical block. It is sometimes called The Strong state of Tel Aviv. Of course, the first transformation of the ultra orthodox, haredi population, feeds the second.

Third, the Russian immigration. They brought mixed marriages and strong anti-religious sentiments.

Fourth, the weakening of religious Zionism. Mafdal has eroded. The mizrachi Spheradi has eroded as well.

Fifth, change in Israeli Arabs. While in the past they emphasized equality, yearned to achieve equality, now they speak of minority under occupation. Many of them wish to transform the identity of Israel from a Jewish State to a State of all its citizens. I think that equality is still very much the prime concerns of Israeli Arabs. In a private conversation, Halbertal proposed that there will be two hymns, one Jewish; the second for others. I, on the other hand, have been advocating a change of a few words. The Israeli national anthem is clearly Jewish. It explicitly ignores the multicultural and multinational character of the state. A state anthem should represent all people, not just the majority. We should learn from the lessons of other democracies that were bold enough to change their anthems in order to represent all factions of their populations (most notably South Africa, the ‘rainbow’ nation, after 1994). Israel need not necessarily adopt a different anthem. It may simply change some words: instead of ‘Zion’ to speak of ‘Israel’ or ‘our land’; instead of a ‘Jew’ to speak of a ‘person’ or ‘citizen’. Such accommodations are steps in the right direction towards a more democratic society. Symbols are important in the life of a nation.

Six, the attitude of American Jews has changed. In the past they said Amen on every Israeli government decision. Now some of them are not willing to accept every government decisions. J-Street is one manifestation of this changing spirit.

Former ambassador to Israel and Egypt Daniel Kurtzer opened by saying it is time to worry. He mentioned four causes for pessimism. First, there is lack of strategy that could be followed. The US highlights security and democratization. Netanyahu disagrees with Obama on crucial issues: Borders and settlements. After the meeting with Obama, Netanyahu went to the Congress and expressed his hard-line position. This is diplomatically bad. Kurtzer seemed to believe that Obama should have reacted but he did not. Another problem is consistency. On the one hand, Obama forced a settlement freeze; on the other hand, he vetoed a UN resolution denouncing settlements. Ambassador Kurtzer  noted failure to follow the strategy that the American administration devised.

Second, there is far more talk then action. Many speeches but very little follow-up. There is no sustained diplomatic empowerment. As a diplomat, said Kurtzer, I know when the president wishes action and when he does not care.

Third, lack of determination and persistence. If you don't wish to play the game don't put the nickel in. But don't say things without following them. The Madrid Peace Summit came about as a result of hard work. Both Shamir and Assad were initially negative. A resolute American persistence was needed to push the initiative. Now we do not see this kind of hard ball insistence to push the process forward. If we don't show the same presidential determination, maintained Kurtzer, then maybe the time of American involvement in the Middle East may come to an end. The consensus in the Washington think-tanks is that now it is not good time to push for big peace initiative. However, will the future bring better time? Is it in the American interest to buy into the Washington consensus? Kurtzer argued unequivocal “no”. Things are not getting better. The US might lose its grip.

Kurtzer found the American position regarding the Arab Spring also problematic. Why bomb Libya but not Syria? Seven monarchies are facing problems. The US does not have a consistent policy, and it is not determined to follow a clear policy or to force it. Kurtzer said that the American administration lacks determination, precision and clarity.

I asked Kurtzer whether he thinks that pressing a peace initiative now may yield positive results. He answered that Yitzhak Rabin and King Abdullah wanted to resolve the Palestinian issue in order to address the major worry -- Iran. Rabin said it already in 1992. Now the Iranian problem is far worse and it should be better resolved sooner than later, and the key is to push for settlement between Israel and Palestine.

Kurtzer maintained that the Arab peace initiative was one of the most important initiatives since 1948. It should have been followed. He said: You build an international consensus and then you have a diplomatic strategy to pursue.

I think that US credibility has significantly eroded and unlike Kurtzer think that the US needs to wait for the right time in order to push forward a new initiative. It would be futile to push it now. The Washington think-tanks, I am afraid, are correct. I agree with Kurtzer that the situation becomes more complicated as regional validators lose power. Egypt is preoccupied with internal problems at present. Egypt may resume its key role after the presidential elections. Jordan will not jump quickly into peace initiative. We are left with Saudi Arabia and Turkey as possible validators.

I asked Kurtzer whether it is time to welcome other mediators like Europe, Russia, the UN and even China. Kurtzer chose not to answer this question. It is hard for Americans to recognize that the days of the US has the world’s only super-power might be numbered and that the international arena is changing yet again. We need to bear in mind that the international arena was very different up until 1945. I think this might be the summer of Europe when France, Germany and the UK will play a more crucial role in the process.  This might be also be the summer of the UN. Both Europe and the UN are trusted in the Arab world more than the US. The Netanyahu administration that confronted President Obama will be, I am afraid, on the losing side. Shimon Peres is right on this issue.

Former ambassador to the UN Professor Gabriella Shalev said that equality is essential to the democratic ethos. Unlike me, she does not think there is a contradiction between the Jewish and democratic values of Israel. The values are compatible. Minority rights are protected. The Supreme Court affirmed equality rights for all. At the same time, Shalev argued that Israel needs to better implement equality in practice. The actual situation is not perfect. There is discrimination against Israeli Palestinians. Arab municipalities lack resources. Arab representation in offices is meager and under-representative. Land development plans are far from satisfactory when concerning Arab towns. There is a gap between the rhetoric and practice.  The government must adopt a policy of affirmative action. Discrimination, Shalev argued forcefully, is both illegal and immoral.
Professor Sammy Smooha described Israel as an ideological state. He argued that there is an inherent contradiction between Jewish values and democratic values. Israel is not sufficiently democratic.  Smooha differentiated between procedural democracy and value democracy, arguing that Israel is a procedural democracy but it is not value democracy. Values of equality, liberty and justice are not enshrined. Israel does not have a constitution. There is no Basic Law: Equality of Rights. There isn’t equality of gender or equality between minorities. There is a permanent emergency situation, and emergency regulations are discriminatory against Arabs. Furthermore, Israel has a millet system which undermines the creation of a civic state that is shared by all. Israel is first and foremost a Jewish state and the problem is the exclusivity of Jewishness. Smooha asked: Why are 100 percent of the state symbols Jewish? 80 percent is not enough? The major problem, he argued, is Zionism -- the perpetuation of Jewish state at the expense of others. Israel has a Law of Return while there is no right of return for Palestinians.

Journalist Nazir Mgally remembered that he asked Rabin on his way to the White House Oslo peace-signing ceremony how come that there was no single Israeli Arab on the delegation. Rabin answered that this was peace between the PLO and the Israeli Jewish population. Rabin’s assistant, Eitan Haber, came to Mgalli and asked him not to publish this strange answer.  Of course he published.

Israel and The Bomb

I heard an interesting debate between Professors Shai Feldman and Avner Cohen.

  Feldman correctly observed that the Israeli public is not pressing the issue. The bomb is not a political issue. But once Iran will have a bomb, the vagueness (“amimut”) policy will change.

Avner Cohen thought that the present policy of non-acknowledgment is mistaken and harmful. He argued that the policy is the result of taboo, which is far more than mere amimut. Israel needs to acknowledge its capacity. Feldman disagreed. In his opinion, to which I fully agree, there is no such necessity. The adopted policy provides Israel with a measure of deterrence without going public. As a result of this policy, Israel is not in the same club with India and Pakistan. Once Iran acquires nuclear capacity, then Israel may need to sharpen and reconsider its policy.

Avner Cohen believes that Iran aspires to be on the verge of full nuclear capability without developing it fully. In his opinion, Israel still has a lot of time. It takes a decade to achieve full nuclear capability. Cohen agrees with Dagan that Israel should not attack Iran as the consequences will be very harsh. Both Israel and the US understand that. Israel will not attack without American consent, and it is unlikely that the US will grant such consent. It did not under President Bush. The US is less likely to consent now, under President Obama. The US will press on Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey not to enter the nuclear race and will continue to support Israel.

How long can Israel maintain amimut? I think that if Amr Moussa is elected to the Egyptian presidency, he will press on this issue. He had pressed Israel in the past. This issue is close to his heart and he will use his influential position to clear the issue and to force upon Israel measures of control.

  Professor Emanuel Adler argued that in the past we thought that an existential threat to Israel meant nuclear explosion, thus, we endowed ourselves with a nuclear deterrent to prevent it. But alas, he correctly asserted, the most pressing existential threat to Israel, which could bring about its end as we know it is a combination of de-legitimization, demographics, the loss forever of the option of a two-state solution, economic collapse, and emigration. Against this kind of threat nuclear deterrence is useless. So we may end up between a rock and a hard place; only a strategy that defuses both the conflict and eventually makes the Middle East free of nuclear weapons may help us escape this situation. Nuclear deterrence should continue to be Israel's insurance policy, but only temporarily until the Israeli-Arab conflict is defused, fast, for nuclear peace's sake.

Adler maintained that defusing the Iranian threat and taking peace-making as part of an overall strategy of preventing nuclear war will strengthen democracy. Amimut would be superfluous and peace-making will strengthen civilian as opposed to military cultures, military interests, and military practices. There is, however, a reciprocal relationship between peace-making and democracy, the more liberal democratic the system becomes, the more emphasis on the individual, as opposed only of the collectivity, thus the easier it is to advance toward peace-making. This strategy requires a strategic sea-change by the Israeli leadership, and the Israeli people. Unfortunately, said Adler, “short of a catastrophe or perhaps massive outside pressure, I really do not see how else the change can happen; I do not think learning is an option right now.” Our task as academicians, however, is providing reasons for why starting with peace-making to deal with nuclear dangers makes sense. Adler would be pleased if he merely helped trigger some debate. Adler concluded by arguing forcefully and gloomily that peace is crucial to achieving this strategic goal and s/he who does not see it, such as the current Israeli government, are dancing and drinking champagne on the deck of the Titanic. Some years ago, this may have sounded like a scare tactic; today, with the iceberg in sight, it is not.

UN committee: Israel Must Allow Civil Marriage

Report on implementation of 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women says Israel lacks gender equality in matters of marriage and family relationships. There is no meaningful equality in Israel between men and women when it comes to matters relating to marriage and family relationships.

Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kadari, who heads Bar-Ilan University's Rackman Center for the Advancement of Women's Status, said: "There's a huge gap between rights that are formally granted, and the lack of implementation and enforcement of the laws".

Halperin-Kadari added that this was the first time that a UN committee had so clearly stated that Israel must allow civil marriage and do all it can to end the discrimination against women in family law.

The committee also stated that domestic violence and violence against women were still widespread in Israel. The panel also expressed concern over the scope of trafficking in women and the wide income gaps between men and women.

The report included a section on violence and harassment of women in the Palestinian-controlled areas, citing violence from Israeli soldiers, "non-state" elements, such as settlers, and the abuse they are subject to in their communities.


An Interesting Thought

I wonder whether the collateral drone policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan conform to the internationally accepted laws of war. May the International Criminal Court have a say on this matter?

US-Saudi Relationships

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil producer, a strong ally of the US in the Gulf, and a key player in the Muslim Sunni world. The Saudi King watches the US reaction to the Arab Spring and understands fully that the “friendship” between the two countries is not worth much. Political reform and democratization are more important for the Obama administration than other concerns. If the Arab awakening will reach the gates of Riyadh, it can be assumed that the US will react in a similar way to its reaction when Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt faced growing tensions that brought about their removal. As long as the US global involvement worked for Saudi interests, the Saudis backed American super-power outreach; when interests collide, disagreements between the two countries grow. The two countries certainly need one another, and the present mutual interests are binding. But the bond is conditional. It is conditioned on the Saudi people backing of their corrupt regime.


Russia has exhibited a very careless and un-thoughtful attitude regarding terrorism and human rights in the Middle East. Together with China, it projected non-interventionist attitude in the business of some countries, notably Iran and Syria. Russian policy is based on economic interests and on anti-American sentiments. Russia fails to understand that the webs of terror are interconnected and that Russia is not exempted of their venom.

In February 2014, for the first time Russia will host the Winter Olympics. The games in Sochi on the Black Sea coast will take place not far from Chechnya and the other troubled republics of the Russian North Caucasus. Problems of violence, terrorism and separatism in the North Caucasus show no signs of abating. Quite the opposite: They are spreading to parts of the region that had previously been relatively spared. Rebel activities increased in Kabardino-Balkaria and they threaten to spread to Karachaevo-Cherkessia and the Republic of Adygea in the west, two regions with vibrant Circassian minorities. Moscow should be very concerned that separatists and terrorists will use the Olympics to promote their ends. On my part, I hope for an increased cooperation between Russia and NATO, working together to devise fruitful counterterrorism measures which will have positive effects not only on the part of the world that is close to Russia but also on Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen.

Academic Freedom v. Academic Responsibility

Students at Ben Gurion University complained of lecturers who treated them as radical right-wingers. The furor resulted in a decrease in donations, and President of Ben Gurion University Rivka Carmi declared that “there is academic freedom but there is also academic responsibility”.

I wish to applaud this statement and President Carmi for the following step:

“Lecturers who will call for an academic boycott will have a disciplinary hearing,” so said President Carmi. “If you call for a boycott you cause damage to your colleagues. In essence this means they will not publish articles. If grants are not made, research will not be allowed”. Carmi based her opinion on two articles in the university’s ethical code that was recently approved, which concern the comments of staff members.

Dr Miguel Beltran

In April I wrote about Dr Miguel Beltran and asked for your support in bringing about his release from jail. I am happy to say that Dr Beltran obtained his freedom.

Dr Beltran was released from prison on Tuesday, June 7, 2011. Justice for Colombia reported: “A group of around 200 people went to meet him at the exit of the prison as he came out, including his family, many university professors, and his former students. Many more people joined Dr. Beltran afterwards to celebrate at an event at the National University. However, the Colombian media have continued to accuse Miguel of being a terrorist, in spite of him being found innocent. There are therefore severe concerns for his safety, and since being released he has had to be accompanied by bodyguards.”

Dr Beltran used his first interview since his recent release to thank the education community for its `warm solidarity' throughout his imprisonment. You can read the full interview on the Justice for Colombia website at

Oxford Passes Vote of No Confidence in Government’s Education Revolution

The most important value in British society is tradition. If something has existed for 500 years, why change? It may be good for another 500 years. Revolutions are thus rare. Evolution is welcomed. The present government, however, has decided on a revolution in the academic sector. The government is pulling its support and enabling universities to triple their student tuition to compensate for the loss of some 70 percent of their budget. This is very painful to the students, and trying for the universities.
On June 7, 2011 Oxford Academics along with OUSU representatives debated the motion of no confidence. At the conclusion of the debate, the result was 283 for, 5 against.
A website founded by academics and students at the University of Oxford (including Oxford UCU members) who have no confidence in the Government's higher education policies was launched. It is aimed to coordinate efforts within HE nationwide to mount a nationwide campaign vote of no confidence. The link to the website is:

Please help in ousting this horrendous decision that undermines British academia and deter students from entering academic students. Many students who would have liked to study will opt out as they would not lie to start their after-university life with a debt of some 50,000 pounds. Education is not only for the elite. Education should be for anyone who wishes to study and to broaden horizons.  


Call for Contributors for the 2011 Global Integrity Report

Global Integrity has issued a call for contributors for the 2011 Global Integrity Report. They are seeking journalists, researchers, social scientists, attorneys, academics and other experts with a background in governance and corruption issues to begin work on the Report.

There are different roles for interested contributors. Lead reporters prepare a 1,500 word story about corruption in their country. Lead researchers combine desk research with interviews of key informants to score more than 300 Integrity Indicators assessing their country’s anti-corruption mechanisms and institutions. Peer reviewers review the reporter’s story and the Integrity Indicators as well as overall country or region highlights.

To learn more about the requirements for working on the Global Integrity Report: 2011, please review the Fact Sheet below. Interested candidates, including those colleagues who have worked with Global Integrity before, should apply online no later than July 20, 2011 by visiting  Additional information about Global Integrity is available on their website (

The Report is a compilation of in-depth country assessments prepared by local experts that combines quantitative data gathering with qualitative journalistic reporting to produce a powerful “snapshot” of the strengths and weaknesses of national anti-corruption mechanisms. The data is widely used by development experts and aid donors; reform-minded governments; private sector investors; journalists; and advocates to prioritize governance challenges and promote anti-corruption reform efforts.

Global Integrity Fact Sheet

Who We Are Looking For: We are seeking qualified and motivated experts to perform field work in more than 35 countries. We are inviting interested journalists, researchers, social scientists, attorneys, and academic experts from any country with expertise in governance and corruption issues to apply online
at no later than July 20, 2011.

Country Team Roles: The following roles are available. 

Lead Reporter: An experienced journalist with a background covering politics and economics and currently working in the country of study. Having reported for international publications is a plus. Lead journalists should have a working knowledge of corruption issues in the country and should be able to write and communicate in English. Please include relevant clips as part of your application. Accuracy, professionalism, objectivity, and independence are critical qualifications. All applicants should be familiar with the AP Stylebook.

Lead Researcher: A proven researcher with experience conducting original fieldwork projects of similar or larger scale to the scoring the Integrity Indicators. While we prefer lead researchers to have direct experience studying corruption, we often hire experts with background in the broader democracy, rule of law, governance, and human rights fields. Lead researchers must be working in the country of study and be independent of government (having not served in a government position for at least 3 years) with at least 5 years relevant professional experience. A strong command of English is essential.

Country Peer Reviewer: A country-specific expert located either within the country of study or abroad, and/or a region expertise. Successful peer reviewers can come from a variety of backgrounds (journalism, academia, NGOs, private sector) but must have a working understanding of corruption issues in the country of study. Peer reviewers must have at least 3-5 years of related professional experience and working English.
Region Peer Reviewer: A region-specific expert with wide working experience on the region of expertise. Successful peer reviewers can come from a variety of backgrounds (academia, NGOs, international organizations, private sector) but must have a working understanding of corruption issues in the area of study. Region peer reviewers must have 5-10 years of related professional experience and working English.

For more detailed information describing the contents of a country report and a detailed description of our methodology and the different country team roles, please visit the Global Integrity Report online:

Timing and necessary availability: Lead researchers and lead reporters will begin their fieldwork on or about August 1st 2011 and must be able to submit their drafts by September 30th 2011.  Peer reviewers will perform their work in the first three weeks of December 2011.

Compensation: We compensate all of our contributors for their efforts.  Global Integrity generally contracts with individuals, not institutions, and final payment schedules and deadlines are agreed upon in a contract before work commences.  We typically pay lead reporters approximately US$1,500 for preparing the Reporter’s Notebooks, lead researchers approximately US$2,250 for scoring the Integrity Indicators, country peer reviewers US$300 for each country assessment they review (some review more than one country assessment and are compensated additionally). Regional peer reviewers are typically paid US$1,500, depending on the number of countries assigned.

Global Integrity is an international, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to tracking governance and corruption trends around the world. We work with local in-country experts to combine journalistic reporting with in-depth data gathering to produce actionable analysis to arm decision makers – including donors, government officials, investors, journalists, and grassroots advocates – with evidence-based strategies for promoting anti-corruption reform.  Our work is unique in that it relies on the contributions of local in-country experts and seeks to assess the opposite of corruption (i.e., good governance and anti-corruption mechanisms) rather than corruption itself.

For additional information describing the contents of a country report and a detailed description of our methodology visit the Global Integrity Report online:

2011 Gruber Justice Prize

I am delighted to report that among the winners of this year Gruber Justice Prize is the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. Congratulations to all who work in and for the Association. Continue the good work that you are doing in promoting civil rights and liberties in Israel and the occupied territories.

In the face of formidable political, cultural and historical forces aligned against democratic values, Barbara Arnwine, Morris Dees, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Center for Legal and Social Studies, and the Kurdish Human Rights Project have courageously provided access to legal justice to victims of discrimination and oppression.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)

An independent, non-partisan organization, ACRI has raised public awareness and helped set important precedents with cases it has brought before the Israeli Supreme Court to defend human rights in Israel and the occupied territories, including the rights of Arab and gay and lesbian citizens.

Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS)

Founded in 1979 during Argentina’s “Dirty War,” CELS has succeeded in bringing to trial government officials who committed human rights violations during that country’s military dictatorship, and to reopen previously closed cases by having laws holding officials immune from prosecution declared unconstitutional.

Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP)

Through its fact-finding missions, publications and legal advocacy, KHRP has been able to collect and disseminate, to the public and in court, evidence of human rights violations committed in the Kurdish regions, and to succeed in compelling government compliance with international human rights standards.

Barbara Arnwine

As attorney and executive director of the National Lawyers’ Committee, Barbara Arnwine has been a leading advocate for the rights of racial minorities, women and societally disadvantaged persons, playing a critical role in securing passage of the 1991 Civil Rights Act. Among many civil rights matters, she has also worked to address housing discrimination, equal access to quality education and expanding coverage of the Hate Crimes Act on the basis of sexual orientation.

Morris Dees

Cofounder of the Southern Poverty Law Center and a leading civil rights attorney for four decades, Morris Dees has used the courts to achieve major civil rights reform, including the redistricting of the Alabama legislature, and to put major hate groups out of business.

Edward Kossoy awarded the Grand Cross of Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland

On  May 3, 2011, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Poland to the UN Office at Geneva, held a recognition ceremony during which Mr. Edward Kossoy was awarded the Grand Cross of Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.

Edward Kossoy

Kossoy learned about the liberation of the Gęsiówka concentration camp by Polish resistance during the Warsaw Uprising.  Kossoy found some survivors of the camp and wrote several historical articles on the subject, which were published by Yad Vashem and in Polish emigre press (with the help from Jerzy Giedroyc). Kossoy has published several books in various languages (English, German and Polish) and historical articles related to restitution for Nazi crimes, contemporary international relations and Polish-Jewish dialogue. Many of these were published in the "Zeszyty Historyczne" (The Historical Journals) published by the Literary Institute in Paris. His memoirs, entitled "On the Margin..." were published in 2006 and nominated for the Nike Award in 2007.  Kossoy is an honorary senator of the University of Tubingen.

True Image of Planet Earth

Look at this picture. Not the image you use to see of our planet, but this is the true picture. This is our planet with the satellites and other objects in orbit around planet Earth. And the number is growing.

Mazlan Othman, the director of the UN's Outer Space Affairs office, said: “Space needs policies and laws to protect the public interest... We should have all the instruments to make sure that lifestyles are not disrupted because of misconduct in space.”

Photo: Mail Online

My New Article

Raphael Cohen-Almagor, “Internet History”, International Journal of Technoethics, Vol. 2, No. 2 (April-June 2011), pp. 45-64.

The aim of this essay is to outline and analyze milestones in the history of the Internet. As technology advances, it presents new societal and ethical challenges. Section II concerns the formative years (1957-1984).  The early Internet was devised and implemented in American research units, universities, and telecommunication companies that had vision and interest in cutting-edge research. Section III discusses the entry of the Internet into the commercial phase (1984-1989). It was facilitated by the upgrading of backbone links, the writing of new software programs and the growing number of interconnected international networks. Section IV concerns the massive expansion of the Internet into a global network during the 1990s when business and personal computers with different operating systems joined the universal network. Section V discusses the instant and growing success of social networking -- sites that enable Netusers to share information, photos, private journals, hobbies and personal as well as commercial interests with networks of mutual friends and colleagues. 

The most interesting part of the essay is concerned with the popular myth that the Department of Defense scientists thought that if the Soviet were capable to launch satellites, they might as well be capable to launch long-distance nuclear missiles. I refute this myth, arguing that ARPANET was not related to building a network resistant to nuclear war.

This article is part (chapter 1) of my forthcoming book, In Internet’s Way: Moral and Social Responsibility on the Free Highway.

Keywords: Internet, history, ARPANET, ICANN, innovation, open architecture, packet switching, social networking

Novel of the Month

Henning Mankell, Villospar (1995)

Stieg Larsson has evoked interest in Scandinavian literature. Suddenly we realized that interesting things are taking place in non-writing English, cold countries. Apparently, there is crime in Sweden, or at least creative writers about crime. 

Villospar is a well-written crime book about the pursuit after a vicious murderer, a young man with a twisted mind and a sick soul. The beauty of the book relates to Mankell’s hero Wallander. Mankell describes him in a sensitive, captivating way. Wallander is a real human being, not a superman or a James Bond type. He has faults, emotions, thoughts, strengths. He has one daughter, and one woman he loves. He copes with the mundane things of life while trying to solve a complicated serial murder case.

If you like crime, detective books, you would enjoy this one. I found it difficult to let this book out of my hands, and when the necessities of life dictated me to leave the book aside, I was very happy to return to it afterwards. It is an excellent read.

New Books

Mark Fackler and Robert S. Fortner (eds.), The Handbook of Global Communication and Media Ethics, Vols. I and II (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011).

This groundbreaking handbook provides a comprehensive picture of the ethical dimensions of communication in a global setting. Both theoretical and practical, this important volume will raise the ethical bar for both scholars and practitioners in the world of global communication and media. 
  • Brings together leading international scholars to consider ethical issues raised by globalization, the practice of journalism, popular culture, and media activities
  • Examines important themes in communication ethics, including feminism, ideology, social responsibility, reporting, metanarratives, blasphemy, development, and "glocalism", among many others
  • Contains case studies on reporting, censorship, responsibility, terrorism, disenfranchisement, and guilt throughout many countries and regions worldwide
  • Contributions by Islamic scholars discuss various facets of that religion's engagement with the public sphere, and others who deal with some of the religious and cultural factors that bedevil efforts to understand our world.

Gem of the Month – Boston

Boston is a great American city. It is rich in history, culture, education and beauty. It has great restaurants, beautiful harbor, great architecture, and some of the best universities in the world. Every visit to Boston is enriching and provoking. The more you see, the more you want to see.

Movie of the Month

Strangers no more (40 beautiful minutes)

In the heart of Tel Aviv, there is an exceptional school where children from forty-eight different countries and diverse backgrounds come together to learn. Many of the students arrive at Bialik-Rogozin School fleeing poverty, political adversity and genocide. Here, no child is a stranger. The school administration goes out of its way to make the children feel at home.
Strangers No More follows several students’ struggle to acclimate to life in a new land while slowly opening up to share their stories of hardship and tragedy. They learn Hebrew, the language that enables bridging between cultures and children from Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, and Israel. Some of them attend for the first time in their lives school, and they do this in an estranged country, in a strange language, with no friends and sometime with very limited family behind them. They need a lot of help to succeed. This special school provides the much-needed help.
This sensitive, emotional movie won the 2010 Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject.

Gavin Gross visited the school and confirmed what is shown in the film. He wrote to me, saying that he “toured the extraordinary Bialik-Rogozin School in south Tel Aviv a few weeks ago guided by their dynamic principal Karen Tal. 30% of the students are native-born Israeli Jews and Arabs from mostly poor local families, while the other 70% are from families of foreign workers, refugees (many from war-torn parts of Africa) and new immigrants. Six years ago it was a failing school but Tal has massively improved the percentage of students passing their matriculation exams from 27% to 72%. I went on a Friday morning and saw classrooms of African and Filipino Hebrew-speaking schoolchildren singing songs for the upcoming Sabbath.” Gross agrees that everyone should grab any chance to see the wonderful film "Strangers No More" about the kids learning in the School.

Minister of Interior Elie Yishay who sees guest worker's children as a threat to Israel should see the film. I hope his Jewish heart will be softened and his views change upon watching the film.

Every Israeli embassy and consulate should obtain a copy and show it to wide audiences. The movie reflects Israel at its best.

Monthly Poem

See what delights in sylvan scenes appear!
Descending Gods have found Elysium here.
In woods bright Venus with Adonis stray'd,
And chaste Diana haunts the forest shade.
Come lovely nymph, and bless the silent hours,
When swains from shearing seek their nightly bow'rs;
When weary reapers quit the sultry field,
And crown'd with corn, their thanks to Ceres yield.
This harmless grove no lurking viper hides,
But in my breast the serpent Love abides.
Here bees from blossoms sip the rosy dew,
But your Alexis knows no sweets but you.
Oh deign to visit our forsaken seats,
The mossy fountains, and the green retreats!
Where-e'er you walk, cool gales shall fan the glade,
Trees, where you sit, shall crowd into a shade,
Where-e'er you tread, the blushing flow'rs shall rise,
And all things flourish where you turn your eyes.
Oh! How I long with you to pass my days,
Invoke the muses, and resound your praise;
Your praise the birds shall chant in ev'ry grove,
And winds shall waft it to the pow'rs above.
But wou'd you sing, and rival Orpheus' strain,
The wond'ring forests soon shou'd dance again,
The moving mountains hear the pow'rful call,
And headlong streams hang list'ning in their fall!
But see, the shepherds shun the noon-day heat,
The lowing herds to murm'ring brooks retreat,
To closer shades the panting flocks remove,
Ye Gods! And is there no relief for Love?
But soon the sun with milder rays descends
To the cool ocean, where his journey ends;
On me Love's fiercer flames for every prey,
By night he scorches, as he burns by day.

Alexander Pope
More poems from Alexander Pope 

Light Side


A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge says,  "You've been  brought here  for drinking."

The drunk says "Okay, let's get started."


Short summary of every Jewish holiday: 

They tried to kill us. We won. 
Let's eat. 

My Visit to Israel

I plan to be in Israel on August 1-15, 2011 and would be happy to see colleagues and friends. Please get in touch.

Peace and love.

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
Follow me on Twitter at @almagor35