Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Politics – December 2011 Happy Festive Season and Happy New Year

Peace pact should be fair and just for all signatories, otherwise its worth is no more than a piece of paper.

Peace is maintained only when its signatories are happy and content with it; only when they have more to gain by peace, and much more to lose if peace is annulled.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.

~Eleanor Roosevelt

Two-State Solution
Reflections on the November 2011 Newsletter
Exchange with UCU General Secretary
A Survey about Nuclear Middle East
Israeli Democracy Is Attacked by Its Own Members of Knesset
Campaigning against Bills to Limit Funding for Israeli Human Rights Groups
Israeli Occupation
Harvesting Organs in China
The Road to Berlin
Hitler and the Mufti of Jerusalem
My New Article
The William Frankel Social Justice Fellowship
Open Journal of Philosophy
New Books
Gems of the Month
Monthly Poem
Life at 50

Two-State Solution

Thanks to all who sent words of encouragement and support. These are most appreciated. It is a long and tiring struggle for a worthy cause.

I established a Facebook page calling for Two-State Solution. You are welcome to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/234214629978119/

In the past few weeks I delivered three lectures calling for a two-state solution at the University of Baltimore Law School, Oxford University, and King’s College, London. I am grateful to Ken Lasson, Ruvi Ziegler and Ahron Bregman for their kind invitations.

I am happy to speak to colleagues and students, spread the word and push the motion forward.

Reflections on the November 2011 Newsletter

From Professor Dr. Jan C. Joerden, from Europa-Universitat Viadrina, Germany:
Dear Rafi,
I am impressed by your brave and wise new campaign, and will support it, as far as I can. Let us hope, that it will succeed in one or the other form as your three foregoing campaigns did. It seems to me an outline of a fair solution (as far as I can see this), and that is, what is needed for Israel and Palestine.
Best regards

From Dr. Yoav Tenenbaum, Tel Aviv University, Israel:
Dear Rafi,

I have just finished reading your latest Newsletter.

As always, it's interesting and thought-provoking.

I liked your review of the new book about J.S. Mill! Incidentally, the cover of the book seems to be singularly beautiful.

Congratulations on your new article!

Should you wish to send it to me, I would be glad to read it.

I liked the exchange you had with the student about Israel being an Apartheid state. It was concise, sharp and to-the-point. Have you read Goldstone's article in which he criticizes the comparison between Israel and South Africa under the Apartheid regime?

I would beg to differ with you regarding your comment about the efforts of the Palestinian Authority to carry out unilateral steps aimed at being accepted in international organizations as a sovereign state.

To begin with, the Zionist Movement didn't try to be accepted in any international organization as a sovereign state prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. The problem is not that the Palestinian Authority wishes to be accepted as a member or associate member of international organizations, but that it wishes to be accepted as a sovereign state, when such a state does not exist in situ.

Secondly, the diplomacy being conducted by the Palestinian Authority in this regard is a clear attempt to achieve concrete results without having to negotiate with Israel. It wants all the benefits without having to pay any price! This is hardly something that either Israel or those interested in a negotiated peace should accept with equanimity.

As regards your new campaign, I wish you, as a friend, the best of luck! I do have my reservations about certain points you raise as part of your campaign, but I embrace your call for a negotiated peace, which is achieved without violence or terror.

Your reference to your late mother was moving.

Thank you for sharing with me your Newsletter!

Best wishes.


Exchange with UCU General Secretary

I belong to one of the largest labour unions in the UK, the University and College Union. This union has a hard core of members who strongly oppose Israel, and every once in a while submit motions to boycott it. I decided to write to my senior official, General Secretary Sally Hunt. Here is the exchange:

21 October 2011

Dear Ms. Hunt

As a UCU member, I wish to protest against the UCU repeated decisions to boycott Israeli academics. I think such a decision is unjust, unfair, and counter-productive. Let me explain.

The decision is unjust because any sweeping decision, by its very nature, cannot do justice. It is one thing to offer a rationale to boycott a certain institution or individual for good reasons. It is quite another thing to simply boycott everyone. I  oppose general boycotts in principle.

The decision is unfair because it is based on a small, committed and vocal group of members who made boycotting of Israel their life’s mission. They exploit the silence, indifference and inactivity of the majority of UCU members to pass their unjust resolution which does not represent the views of many, possibly most members.

The decision is counter-productive because it undermines the objectives that the committed group of members wishes to reach. Boycotting Israeli academics weakens the peace camp in Israel, strengthens the right-wing position that prefers land over peace and over the promotion of human rights, and hardens the hard-liners.

Israeli academia tends to be liberal. Many of its members belong to the peace camp. Many academics are human rights activists. Many oppose the settlements. Many are for a two-state solution, a just settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the splitting of Jerusalem, return to the 1967 Green Line, and finding a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.

I have intimate knowledge with Israeli academia. I have been a professor in two universities in Israel and have good contacts with all Israeli universities. I established the Center for Democratic Studies at the University of Haifa and served as its director. Since 1985, I have been promoting human rights in Israel and for the Palestinians inside and outside of Israel. I received the cooperation and support of many academics in all Israeli institutions. We have been trying to influence government decisions for many years, with some success, most notably during 1990-1993, when Israeli academics including myself pushed for negotiations with the PLO and putting in motion the peace wagon. Boycotting academia will work against the peaceful, constructive and liberal elements in Israeli society and will play into the government's hands. The right-wing governments systematically cut university budgets because they know most academics do not vote for them. Your decision plays into the hands of politicians who are trying to downplay the importance of Israeli academia.

Those who wish to boycott Israel say that Israeli academia is sponsored by the government. This is true. Thus, they deduce, academics are implicit collaborators of discriminatory policies against Palestinians. This claim is as true as the claim that British academics are implicit collaborators in the British government decisions to wage war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Those who wish to boycott Israel blame academics for not being able to influence governmental decisions for the better. Yes, Israeli academics do not have the power they wish to have. But your decision will make them even more powerless. Israeli academics tend to be involved in leftist, peace-seeking politics more than academics in Britain, Canada and the USA, countries I know well. The Israeli government pays attention to its academics to a similar degree that the British government pays attention to its own academics.

Those who wish to boycott Israel undercut academic freedom and betray values we all hold dear: Freedom of expression, tolerance, equality, justice and peace. Sweeping boycott decisions are truly horrible.

Finally, I personally object to sweeping boycotting decisions. But if you insist on boycotting countries, I fail to understand why the UCU singles out Israel time and again. Unfortunately, we live in a world where there is no shortage of injustices and severe human rights violations. How come that of all countries in the world it is only Israel that preoccupies the minds of some UCU vocal members who have little understanding of the situation in Israel? The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Index of Democracy 2010 puts Israel in 37th place out of 167 surveyed countries. This index takes into account, among other things, civil liberties. Granted that Israel has room for improvement, but 130 countries are ranked below Israel. Why don’t you focus your attention on any of those countries for a change? Please see the Index at http://graphics.eiu.com/PDF/Democracy_Index_2010_web.pdf

I hope these words find way to your heart and mind. I am happy to discuss them in person, and to debate any UCU member who promotes this appalling boycott decision. Clearly those who promote an Israeli boycott know very little about the relationship between Israeli academia and government, and have a dubious understanding of the essence of academic freedom.


Raphael Cohen-Almagor

24 November 2011

Dear Professor Cohen-Almagor

Thank you very much for your letter of 21 October 2011. Apologies for the delay in responding.

I am very grateful to you for taking the time to set out your views so cogently and clearly. I have always expressed my public opposition to proposal for an academic boycott of Israel.

However, I am so very pleased to have the opportunity to correct a fundamental misunderstanding, which is probably at least in part due to mis-reporting in the press and on the Internet.

It is true that the case for an academic boycott of Israel has been debated at our annual conferences. It is also true that there is a group within the union which has been vociferous in its support of such a policy. We are a democratic organisation and one with a very strong commitment to freedom of speech and debate. I therefore would, of course, defend the right of members to raise and freely discuss the boycott issue and Israel/Palestine in general.

We, like many unions, support the TUC position on the issue of a wider consumer boycott.

However, let me be absolutely clear: the UCU has never taken a decision to boycott Israeli academics. It is not our policy.

I hope that this explanation will reassure you and thank you again for your letter.

Yours sincerely

Sally Hunt
General Secretary

A Survey about Nuclear Middle East

On December 1, 2011, Ynet published a survey conducted by the Saban Center that shows 65% of Israeli Jews willing to give up nuclear weapons if Iran waives its own program. They prefer to see nuclear-free Middle East. In contrast, some 19% of respondents said they want both countries to have nuclear capabilities.

Some two thirds of respondents said the government must promote a comprehensive peace plan, based on 1967 borders, with a demilitarized Palestinian state. Some 71% said they agreed with a definition of Israel as "the homeland of the Jewish people and all its citizens."

The survey also indicated that the Israeli public is split over pursuing a military option regarding Iran. 43% of Israeli Jewish respondents said they support a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, while 41% opposed it. Among the Israeli Arab public, 68% opposed military action while only 4% supported it.

Asked whether they believed Tehran had an intention to develop nuclear weapons,
90% of Israeli Jews responded affirmatively, while only 47% of Israeli Arabs thought the same.

Among the Israeli Arab population, 48% believed that a nuclear Iran will have negative influence on the Middle East, compared with only 17% that said it will have a positive affect.

At least 54% of Israeli Jews held a positive view of President Obama, while only 39% expressed a negative view. However, 39% of respondents also said they were disappointed with Obama's policy in the Middle East, while 22% said they were encouraged by it and 35% expressed no stance.

Source: Yitzhak Benhorin, “'We'll give up nukes if Iran does same'”, Ynet (December 1, 2011), http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4155677,00.html

Israeli Democracy Is Attacked by Its Own Members of Knesset

A wave of anti-democratic legislation by very active right-wing MKs threatens to undermine Israel’s liberal democracy even further. Read and judge for yourself.

Upcoming Proposed Legislation (Bill Sponsors)
1. “Amendment to Non-Profit Organizations Law” Bill (MK Ofir Akunis, Likud, and MK Faina Kirshenbaum, Yisrael Beitenu)

This new bill, also known as the NGO Bill, is a combination of past proposals by MKs Akunis and Kirschenbaum to limit foreign government donations to non-profit organizations in Israel.

The combined bill divides non-profit organizations into three categories with different standards for taxation and capping contributions: 1) Organizations that reject Israel’s right to exist, call for boycotts of the State or call on IDF soldiers to refuse orders may not receive any funding from foreign governments; 2) Organizations defined by the Knesset Finance Committee as political will have to pay a 45% tax on such donations, unless the Committee decides to waive the tax following a hearing; 3) Non-political organizations that receive State funding will be tax-exempt and may receive unlimited donations from foreign governments.

Status: The Knesset Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the original two bills by a majority of 11 to 5 on November 13th, 2011. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein called the original bills unconstitutional and said they violate, “the concept of legal proportionality, and infringe on basic legal cornerstones such as freedom of assembly, free speech and equality before the law.” At that point Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indefinitely postponed additional votes on the legislation and asked MKs Akunis and Kirshenbaum to revise their separate bills, resulting in the current bill. US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague have expressed concern over the new bill. The Ministerial Committee for Legislation was due to vote on this new bill in the coming days but following criticism from the Attorney General and others, this vote has been postponed.

2. “Basic Law: Jewish State” Bill (MK Avi Dichter, Kadima):

The original Jewish State bill would have enshrined in Israel’s Basic Laws a definition of the country as a Jewish State and the homeland of the Jewish people. The bill aimed to elevate Hebrew to the only formal language of Israel whereas Arabic would have become a language with “special status” in the country but no longer an official language. The bill would have granted “constitutional status to State symbols, national holidays, the flag and the national anthem,” made democracy subordinate to the Jewish character of the State in certain circumstances and included a reference to Jewish religious law as the inspiration for the State legislature. The original bill garnered 42 (of 61 necessary) signatures. Due to opposition and after Kadima enforced party discipline against the bill, MK Avi Dichter withdrew his proposal on November 14th, 2011.

The new, reformulated bill, similar to the original that was withdrawn in November, would enshrine in Israel’s Basic Laws a definition of the country as a Jewish State and the homeland of the Jewish people. The new version still makes Israel’s democracy subordinate to its Jewish character but does so in less explicit terms. The bill characterizes Arabic as “a language of the State” with Hebrew remaining as the only official language. References to Jewish religious law serving as inspiration for the legislature have been removed in the current version.

Status: The vote on the new bill is expected to be postponed for the next two months. If the bill passes it will become Israel's eighth basic law.

3. “Knesset Vetting for Supreme Court Candidates” Bill
(MK Zeev Elkin, Likud, and MK Yariv Levin, Likud)

The bill, part of a series of bills also known as Judicial Selection Reforms, gives the Knesset Constitution Committee the right to vet, support or nix any Supreme Court appointment and its president through hearings at the Knesset's Constitution Committee. The bill will give the Knesset further powers to influence the composition of the Supreme Court, seeing that the “right” judges with the literarily right worldview will be nominated.

Status: The bill had been postponed at the time of writing.

4. “Nakba” Bill (MK Alex Miller, Yisrael Beitenu): The Nakba Bill, officially titled “Budget Principles Law (Amendment 39) – Reducing Budgetary Support for Activities Contrary to the Principles of the State,” enables a committee of the Ministry of Finance to fine municipalities, public institutions, or publicly supported organizations if they believe these bodies oppose the interpretation of the term “Jewish and democratic State,” express feelings of mourning related to the Israeli Independence Day or the Nakba, or violate the symbols of the State.

5. “Acceptance to Communities” Bill (MK David Rotem, Yisrael Beitenu, MK Yisrael Hasson and MK Shai Hermesh, Kadima): Otherwise known as the ‘Misgav Bill’ and an amendment to the Cooperative Societies Ordinance (Amendment No. 8), this bill institutionalizes recent practices by communal villages in which the villages’ admissions committees can reject applicants if their residency would damage the social-cultural fabric of the community including in communities devoid of any special, defining social characteristic. This bill will affect villages of up to 400 family units in the Negev and Galilee.

Update: The High Court of Justice has issued an Order Nisi following two separate petitions filed against the Acceptance to Communities Law and has required the government and the Knesset to explain why this law should not be disqualified on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. The petitions will be brought before an extended panel of nine High Court Justices.

6. “Loyalty Oath” Bill: (Minister of Justice Yaakov Neeman, Independent): An amendment to the Citizenship Law which would require every non-Jew who wants to become an Israeli citizen to swear a loyalty oath to Israel “as a Jewish and democratic State.”

Status: On October 11th, 2010 the bill was approved by the government. On October 18th, 2010 Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered Minister of Justice Yaakov Neeman to extend Cabinet-level debate on the bill in order to apply the loyalty oath to Jewish immigrants who seek citizenship.

The bill will be discussed throughout the Winter session.

7. “Limiting the Right to Petition the High Court” Bill (MK Yariv Levin, Likud, and MK Danny Danon, Likud)

An amendment to the Basic Law, Justice – section 15, the bill aims to limit public petitioners to the High Court by baring certain types of non-profit organizations from petitioning the court including those that are not the principle injured party in the case. The bill also stipulates that the public petitioner must be an organization that operates in Israel. The petitioning party will be obliged to present a summary of the donations that it has received for a period of up to three years prior to the petition. This bill is aimed to exclude international human rights organizations.

Status: Israel’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation unanimously voted against backing the bill on November 27th, 2011.


Campaigning against Bills to Limit Funding for Israeli Human Rights Groups

The Israeli government has decided to freeze or postpone considering the Bills that were intended to restrict funding to Israeli human rights and social justice groups. This followed a concerted campaign both within Israel and internationally.

The New Israel Fund (NIF), an organization for the promotion of human rights, peace and tolerance, mobilised to thwart two anti-democratic bills, which seek to limit funding to Israel’s human rights organisations and NGOs from foreign governments and other state entities [mainly US, UK and Europe].

In Israel, NIF and its flagship grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) composed a ten-point paper to MKs, the media and opinion shapers. This set out our concerns that the Bill would damage Israel’s democracy and Israel’s image. NIF also issued a press release condemning the bill.

At the same time, NIF Israel swiftly mobilised a social networking campaign. A sarcastic ad was posted on its "Don't Remain Silent" Facebook page (in Hebrew) immediately after the Bills received the initial ministerial committee approval. The ad said, "Congratulations to the Israeli government on joining the exclusive club that restricts international funding of NGOs: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Belarus and China”.
Thousands of British and other supporters of NIF from around the world emailed the Prime Minister asking that the legislation be shelved.
Before proceeding to the full Knesset for their first readings, the Bills were presented once again to the Ministerial Committee. Amid criticism from President Shimon Peres, leading members of Likud and opposition MKs, the British Ambassador Matthew Gould and the US State Department, as well as public pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to postpone the Bills.

Israeli Occupation

Like Old Cato, I repeatedly say that the Israeli occupation must stop the sooner the better. Occupation is inhumane, discriminatory, harmful and appalling. Israelis who live in denial, refusing to recognize the harms that the occupation entails, always astonish me. The following clip records a few moments at the QALANDIA CHECKPOINT. Every day, thousands of Palestinians  - workers, students, teachers, people who seek medical assistance, and others – are required to pass Qalandia to enter East Jerusalem which for them is the centre of their daily lives. The scenes are dreadful and inexcusable.

Granted that Israel needs to protect its citizens. Security is high on its agenda. In the past, some Palestinians from the occupied territories entered Israel for terrorist purposes and innocent civilians lost their lives. Qalandia is a particularly sensitive point of entry as it is very busy; but surely there are ways to avoid those disgraceful scenes. Palestinians can be allotted different hours of the day to enter Jerusalem; Palestinians who pass through the checkpoint on a daily basis for work or education purposes should be treated differently; different treatment for children; more soldiers to process entries. The checkpoint should be more humane and friendly. After all, the vast majority of the people who pass through Qalandia are not terrorists. Why should they be treated like this?

The occupation needs to stop.

Harvesting Organs in China

I am returning to a subject discussed in the past as there are new details. China has admitted that it harvests organs from condemned prisoners, but very little information about the practice has emerged in the press. Executed prisoners are believed to account for two-thirds of all transplants, although the government apparently wants to promote a voluntary scheme.

Who are these prisoners? Even less information is available about this, although the Falun Gong, a persecuted indigenous group, claims that its members are being killed for their organs.

A frightening article in the Weekly Standard sheds some light on the situation. Investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann interviewed several Uighur refugees now living in the West who had witnessed the process of organ transplantation. They tell stories of ghastly abuses of political prisoners.

The Uighur ethnic minority live in Xinjiang, the vast, arid Western province of China. They are not Chinese but Turkic; most are Muslims and a few have joined terrorist groups. To smother the possibility of revolt, the government has been encouraging Han Chinese to migrate there. In the 1990s there were riots which resulted in hundreds of deaths and arrests. "When it comes to the first organ harvesting of political prisoners, Xinjiang was ground zero," says Gutmann.

From what they told him, it appears that prisoners are injected with an anticoagulant. Then they are dispatched with a bullet in the right side of the chest. This leaves them unconscious but still alive. Organs are quickly removed, without anaesthetic, to ensure that they are fresh. They are immediately transplanted to patients, who appear to be mostly Communist Party officials.

Although most articles on the topic have depicted the prisoners as hardened criminals, Gutmann interviewed an Uighur policeman who told him that organs were harvested from young men arrested in political demonstrations. In the late 1990s, a young Uighur doctor was told "harvesting political prisoners was normal. A growing export. High volume. The military hospitals are leading the way."

When political unrest died down in Xinjiang, harvesting organs from Falun Gong started. "By my estimate up to three million Falun Gong practitioners would pass through the Chinese corrections system. Approximately 65,000 would be harvested, hearts still beating, before the 2008 Olympics. An unspecified, significantly smaller, number of House Christians and Tibetans likely met the same fate. By Holocaust standards these are piddling numbers, so let's be clear: China is not the land of the final solution. But it is the land of the expedient solution."

After riots in 2009, harvesting from Uighur political prisoners has resumed. Gutmann concludes: "China, a state rapidly approaching superpower status, has not just committed human rights abuses--that's old news--but has, for over a decade, perverted the most trusted area of human expertise into performing what is, in the legal parlance of human rights, targeted elimination of a specific group."


You might be interested in the information and photos about WWII:

The Road to Berlin

British television is the best I know. Its documentaries are simply superb, well-researched, invested and compelling. Presently I am watching the Yesterday channel The Road to Berlin, describing WWII battles up until the Nazi welcomed defeat. Fascinating. The series integrates original footages, photographs, well-invested reconstruction of events, and interviews with WWII soldiers on both sides of the bloody theatres. After the D-Day landing in Normandy, it took the allies quite some time to break the German line. The cracking of the enigma code was instrumental in hitting German targets from the air. The British and American pressed a folk movement in two fronts. The Falaise battle was decisive in the allies’ victory. The dissolution of the German Army Group B was a catastrophe as great, in terms of the western front, as Stalingrad had been for Germany in the east. The German Seventh Army was destroyed and the Fifth Panzer Army was in little better shape. During the campaign, 50,000 Germans escaped from Normandy. The Falaise battle claimed at least 15,000 German lives as well as nearly all their vehicles, guns, and tanks. Another 50,000 men surrendered or were captured, adding to Germany’s total of 400,000 men killed or captured since D-Day. The Germans lost 22,000 combat vehicles in Normandy, including tanks.

The Allies had paid a price for their victory: since D-Day, 209,703 Allied soldiers had been killed, wounded, or captured—125,847 Americans. For this terrible toll the Allies and the world it was no longer a matter of if Nazi Germany would fall, but when. The road to Paris was now open and the allied advanced into German territory.
The program succinctly tells the tensions between Hitler and his commanding general, G√ľnther von Kluge, which after the failed assassination on Hitler’s life (July 20, 1944) resulted in von Kluge’s dismissal from command. von Kluge committed suicide shortly thereafter. For some reason, von Kluge’s role in the assassination plot is not mentioned.

Hitler and the Mufti of Jerusalem
This is a short video on the connections between the two of the biggest anti-Semites ever to walk this planet:

The William Frankel Social Justice Fellowship

Applications for the The William Frankel Social Justice Fellowship are now open.

The Fellowship is a 10 month internship programme in Israel for a post-university young Jewish activist. It provides an opportunity to intern with a social change organisation in Israel and to be immersed in Israel’s vibrant civil society.
The Fellowship seeks to nurture and secure the future generation of social change leaders within the UK community. It was established to honour the life of the late William Frankel, the former editor of the Jewish Chronicle, with his many accomplishments and his steadfast commitment to human rights and social justice.
Please click here for more information and to download an application form.

Open Journal of Philosophy

It is my pleasure to tell you that Vol.1 No.2 issue of OJPP, has now been published online: www.scirp.org/journal/ojpp.

To enhance the visibility and attract high-quality papers to the journal, we cordially invite you to recommend this journal to your colleagues, friends and your affiliation by accessing the following links,

Any proposal for publishing a special issue in this journal is welcome.

Meanwhile, if you have any comments and/or suggestions, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards.

OJPP Editorial Assistant
Scientific Research Publishing, USA. 

New Books

Amos N. Guiora, Homeland Security (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2011).

Amos is certainly qualified to write on homeland security. From 1997 to 2001 he served as the legal advisor to the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command, and in 2007-2008 he served as the legal advisor to the US Congress-mandated task force charged with developing America’s homeland security strategy.

Guiora explains the essence of homeland security and US vulnerability. In 2009 alone, the US had spent nearly $42.8 billion on homeland security. Guiora suggests a more effective cost-benefit spending by prioritizing risks, threats and dangers. He also stresses the importance of international cooperation and intelligence gathering. While focusing on the US in the main, Guiora also includes valuable reflections on Canada, Israel and the UK. Creating a coordinated international security plan and running international training and simulation exercises would benefit all parties concerned.

In assessing risks, Guiora argues that racial profiling has not worked, regardless of whether used in the criminal paradigm or in the fight against terrorism. The confluence between crime and terrorism is a major concern, especially drug-related crime that in the US manifested itself in cross-border violence of Mexican gangs. Another major concern is religious incitement of clergymen calling and recruiting their followers for jihad.

Guiora suggests stifling terrorism financing, the true lifeblood of the violent conduct. He rightly says that while there are plenty of foot-soldiers, only a small number of people act as financers of terrorism, thus they have a much greater overall impact on terrorism. International cooperation and cooperation between the public and the private sectors are the keys for effective counterterrorism campaigns. Drawing from the experiences of other countries and cultures facing similar threats significantly enhances developing an effective homeland security policy.

This timely book, in the fields of security studies and law, would benefit both experts and scholars. It is informative, thoughtful and policy-oriented.

Congratulations to Amos and thanks for sending me a copy of this noteworthy book.

Gems of the Month

1. Paul McCartney

As a teenager, the Beatles played a huge place in my life. I listened to their songs, sang them (badly) and danced them to the best of my abilities (not bad, I am told). Until today I love their music. My favourite among the four was always Paul McCartney and for years I looked for an opportunity to see him live in concert. The opportunity presented itself this month. Finally I saw Sir Paul, a legend already in his life time, singing some of his best songs from The Beatles and Wings live on stage. McCartney gave a 2h 50 minutes performance, showing that he has the zeal for old-fashioned rock and that he loves and appreciates his audience.  Young and old, people came from as far as Argentina and South Korea to see one of the most talented musicians that has ever walked our planet. It was, in a word, awesome!

2. Tommy Emmanuel

I saw Tommy Emmanuel performing last year in Toronto. When I heard that he is visiting Hull, I quickly booked tickets and saw yet another wonderful concert of this gifted guitarist. Emmanuel is a master of the guitar, able to extract sounds that very few in the world are capable of. This concert was quite different from the Toronto concert as he played a tribute to the Beatles, playing a few of their songs. Emmanuel also played something for Christmas from his new Christmas album which was quite delightful, and share with us some beautiful life stories. Go and see if you can. I recommend wholeheartedly.

Monthly Poem

I think awhile of Love, and while I think, 
Love is to me a world,
Sole meat and sweetest drink,
And close connecting link
Tween heaven and earth.

I only know it is, not how or why,
My greatest happiness;
However hard I try,
Not if I were to die,
Can I explain.

I fain would ask my friend how it can be,
But when the time arrives,
Then Love is more lovely
Than anything to me,
And so I'm dumb.

For if the truth were known, Love cannot speak,
But only thinks and does;
Though surely out 'twill leak
Without the help of Greek,
Or any tongue.

A man may love the truth and practise it,
Beauty he may admire,
And goodness not omit,
As much as may befit
To reverence.

But only when these three together meet,
As they always incline,
And make one soul the seat,
And favorite retreat,
Of loveliness;

When under kindred shape, like loves and hates
And a kindred nature,
Proclaim us to be mates,
Exposed to equal fates

And each may other help, and service do,
Drawing Love's bands more tight,
Service he ne'er shall rue
While one and one make two,
And two are one;

In such case only doth man fully prove
Fully as man can do,
What power there is in Love
His inmost soul to move


Two sturdy oaks I mean, which side by side,
Withstand the winter's storm,
And spite of wind and tide,
Grow up the meadow's pride,
For both are strong

Above they barely touch, but undermined
Down to their deepest source,
Admiring you shall find
Their roots are intertwined

Henry David Thoreau

Amazing Acrobatics

If you like acrobatics, this one is for you. Scary stuff.


Life at 50

I have recently celebrated my 50th birthday. Oahuu, I am vintage!, as Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French noted. This observation, and many others, are included in a small book called “Keep Calm, You’re Only 50”. Here are some other statements I liked:

To me, old age is always 15 years older than me.
Bernard M. Baruch

No woman should ever be quite accurate about her. Age. It looks so calculating.
Oscar Wilde

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.
Eleanor Roosevelt

You are only young once, but you can be immature for a lifetime.
John P. Grier

He who laughs, lasts!
Mary Pettibone Poole

One can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.
Edith Wharton

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.
Samuel Ullman

Age does not protect you from love. But love to some extent, protects you from age.
Jeanne Moreau

I thank Lynn and Darren for this little calming and reassuring gem.

Peace, light and love. Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.

Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on http://almagor.blogspot.com/
Earlier posts at my home page:

People wishing to subscribe to this Monthly Newsletter are welcome to e-mail me at r.cohen-almagor@hull.ac.uk
Follow me on Twitter at @almagor35