Thursday, March 29, 2012

Politics – March 2012

Support is sought to facilitate the work of the Middle East Study Group. Information at

I also welcome promoting the two-state solution. See

Peace in the Middle East requires vision and boldness.

Peace is a precious commodity. Like any other precious commodity it is expensive. Those who wish peace should be willing to pay and sacrifice for it.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Polls show that if elections were to be held now, Mr Netanyahu will stroll gently to his seat at the prime minister office with no major difficulties. Most worrying for the Israeli left and peace camp that is willing to compromise and pay the prize for peace is that the religious-right part of the Knesset would retain its power, possibly strengthen. Once upon a time, up until Prime Minister Olmert, both camps were more or less similar in size (58-62 MKs). Now the religious-right camp has a solid majority of some 71-74 MKs. Mr Netanyahu has radicalized his views and is influencing the Israeli public to move in the same direction. He does this through very effective influence on the media, projecting and dictating his views. The left is evaporating. The center of the political map has moved to the right. The Likud, in many respects, represents the Israeli center of today.

With the US internal issues, including its election year, there is no international pressure on Israel to engage in peace talks. Judging by its actions, not rhetoric, Mr Netanyahu has very little yearning to make any necessary concessions to the Palestinians. Talking for the sake of talking will not do. This is why President Abbas sees little point in meeting Prime Minister Netanyahu.

When starting the two-state campaign last November, I knew that patience needs to be cultivated. Such a monumental task requires good will, commitment, and zeal that both sides do not have at the moment. Peace initiatives need to be put on the back burner, waiting for the right time to emerge. The right time requires bold and committed leaders who mapped the options before them and realized that this is the best option on the table. I sincerely do not think that Mr Netanyahu think that the two-state solution is the best available option. He acts upon dreams, desires and hopes, not upon clear view of the situation. Violence, I am afraid, is unavoidable. It will erupt when it will be convenient for Israel’s opponents, and it may come from many directions. The Palestinian is one of them, and it is probably the least disturbing.

With the Arab world changing shape, American foreign policy becoming more inward looking, and with the Iranian threat looming, the Palestinian issue is pushed aside. It is bad for the Palestinians. I am afraid it is also bad for Israel. The key for Israel’s security, I stress time and again, is peace with the Palestinians. Presently, promoting peace does not feature on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s busy agenda.

Reflections on February Newsletter
Iran: Stop the execution of Abdolreza Ghanbari
Targeted Assassinations
Aix Group Economic Initiative
The Future of the Internet
Nominate the blog that best defends free expression
Data Journalism Awards open for entries
John Demjanjuk
Visitors at the University of Hull – Dr Asaf Siniver
My New Article - “Zionism – A Just Revolution”
New Books
My New Poem
Monthly Poem
Purim in Tel Aviv during the 1930s
Light Side – International English

Reflections on February Newsletter

Abe Silverman wrote from Alberta:

Good morning.

I to support the 2 State solution. We also both agree that both sides will have to make painful compromises. So lets look at what I believe are the deal breakers.

(1) Will Israel recognize the State of Palestine in the West Bank back to 1967 borders with some land swaps and in Gaza. I believe the answer is yes. This will mean the dismantling of most settlements and Palestine excluding Jews from living anywhere on Palestinian soil. Big compromise on the Israeli side.
(2) Will the Arabs agree that a condition of Israel making this compromise will be that they accept Israel as the home of the Jewish people. I don't think they will.
(3) Will the Arabs agree that Israel will control the Jordan Rift valley for a period of years and Palestinian Airspace for security reasons. Will the Arabs agree that Palestine will not build a Military with offensive weapons but maintain a police force with defensive weapons only. I don't think they will.
(3) Will the Arabs accept that the Palestinian refugees will not be allowed back onto Israeli soil but will be compensated for any loss of property. I don't think the Arabs will.
These are the issues that I believe are not solvable at this time. I don't see as insurmountable, Jerusalem, water and resource sharing a free zone between the West Bank and Gaza and the many others that I see as not  significant.

Warm regards
Abe Silverman

Professor Ray Spier of the University of Surrey wrote:

The problem is that once the price has been paid can one be sure that the peace will be lasting - or just used as a step to acquire a more advantageous position for further demands and conflicts?

What might one require as a surety for good long term (centuries) behaviour?  In the good old days one was required to place a treasured member of one's family in the court of the party to the agreement.

Thanks none the less for your work in seeking solutions.

All good wishes,

Ray Spier,
Emeritus Professor of Science and Engineering Ethics,
Former Professor of Microbiology,
Formerly of the University of Surrey.

Professor Sam Lehman-Wilzig of Bar-Ilan University wrote that it is not difficult to understand why the Obama administration chooses not to intervene (yet) in Syria while it did in Libya. Libya is a relatively homogenous society ethnically; Syria is a gigantic mishmash of different religious groups, ethnic groups etc. Second, there is no united opposition in Syria. Third, intervention in Libya was no real threat to anyone. In Syria, there is a mortal threat to Iran, to Hizbollah, and to a limited extent to Russia – this could lead to a much wider conflict. The U.S. has gotten involved in two Arab morasses already these past ten years.

Professor Art Hobson from the U Arkansas, Fayetteville, wrote For deterrence and a nuclear-free zone, not war

Deterrence isn't perfect but it's much better than war.  Iran needs to know explicitly that we will devastate them if they launch a large-scale attack on Israel.  This will deter Iran just as it deterred our mortal enemy the Soviet Union for decades.

Israel is of course a longtime nuclear power.  Experts have for five decades estimated that Israel has stockpiled 100 to 200 nuclear weapons using plutonium from its Dimona nuclear reactor.  Even a few of these bombs could devastate Iran, providing further deterrence. 

There’s hope, if we'll just reach for it instead of reaching for our guns.  The U.N. Non-Proliferation Treaty's 189 nations, including the U.S., voted unanimously in 2010 to convene a conference "on the establishment of a Mideast zone free of nuclear weapons."  This idea came from the Arab nations, including Iran, and was designed to pressure Israel to give up its nuclear weapons.  But Israel refuses to discuss its nuclear program, has refused U.N. inspections, and is one of only four nations--along with Pakistan, India, and North Korea--that don't participate in the NPT.

The Israeli public is less hawkish than Netanyahu.  Only 43 percent support a strike on Iran, even though 90 percent think Iran will acquire the bomb; 64 percent favor a nuclear-free zone that would include Israel; 65 percent says it's better for neither Israel nor Iran to have the bomb than for both to have it. 

So the ground is prepared throughout the Mideast for a nuclear-free zone.  This, rather than another war, is the right path for the U.S. and Israel. Israel's nuclear preeminence in the Mideast is ending.  Realistically there is no way Israel can indefinitely maintain its regional superpower status.  If we bomb, Iran will just rebuild with greater fervor and may be joined by other Mideast nations. 

We should pursue deterrence and peace rather than unilateral pre-emptive war with dangerous and unknown consequences. 

Art Hobson is a retired physics professor at the University of Arkansas and author of a physics textbook for non-science college students, Physics: Concepts & Connections (Pearson, 5th edition 2010).


As demands to halt Iran’s nuclear programme through military action increase, the organisation Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) has published a report highlighting the potential dangers this would entail.

Iran’s nuclear facilities, numbering fifteen in total, include uranium enrichment facilities as well as power plants. A report in November 2011 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expressed concerns over potential military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme. The more generally expressed fear is that eventually Iranian nuclear facilities could be used to produce weapons grade uranium or plutonium.

Whilst acknowledging the possibility of undeclared equipment in the country, SGR’s Dr. Stuart Parkinson states that the quantities of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium needed for weapons is large enough for production to be detected by the IAEA, whose safeguards would be broken long before the arms were completed.
The IAEA’s November report concluded that most evidence of military-based nuclear activity in Iran related to a former programme, abandoned in 2003, casting further doubt over the current development of nuclear weapons.

Beyond this ambiguity, Parkinson warns against pre-emptive military air strikes, not only because the facilities are located over a diverse area (with two underground, making them extremely difficult to target), but also because of the impact on and reaction of the Iranian population. Whilst scientists would be likely to redevelop the programme, he suggests that the move could also quite logically cause the population to “unite around the current government and support any subsequent moves to attain a nuclear weapon for deterrent purposes.” Parkinson continues:

“The Iranian government could then embark on a ‘crash’ nuclear programme. This would first include withdrawing from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, with its detailed inspection regimes and technical restrictions, allowing it to rapidly pursue one of a number of weapons production paths – using either uranium or plutonium. The specific option chosen and the speed with which it would be pursued would depend on the extent of the damage to its major facilities and the degree to which secret stores and facilities are available. Purchases of additional supplies on the black market would add to this capability. The only way to try to prevent such a scenario would be continued air attacks – probably over a prolonged period. A major armed conflict would thus become very likely.”

The impacts of this would be catastrophic. To avoid such a risk, diplomatic initiatives such as a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East or steps towards an international programme on renewable energy could be taken, both of which are suited to Iran’s environment.

Further details on these and the background to the conflict can be found in the full report which can be accessed here: The Dangers of a Military Attack on Iran's Nuclear Programme.

BRUSSELS (AP) – March 15, 2012 -- Dozens of Iranian banks were blocked from doing business with much of the world as the West tightens the financial screws on a country it wants to prevent from developing nuclear weapons.

The Belgium-based company that facilitates most international bank transfers took the unprecedented step of blocking 30 Iranian banks from using its service. The move is likely to hurt Iran's all-important oil industry and make it difficult for citizens to receive money from relatives living abroad.

The move by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, is part of a broader effort by Western nations to isolate Iran financially and to halt Israel from launching an attack on Iran that might affect not only the region but world peace at large.

SWIFT said it was forced by recent European Union sanctions to discontinue service to the Iranian banks. SWIFT is a secure private network used by nearly every bank around the world to send payment messages that lead to the transfer of money across international borders.

The chief executive of SWIFT, Lazaro Campos, described the move as "extraordinary and unprecedented."
"It is a direct result of international and multilateral action to intensify financial sanctions against Iran," he said.

The regime has been able to withstand these sanctions in part because high global oil prices have provided Iran, the world's third largest exporter, with record oil revenues. Iran exports 3.5 million barrels of oil per day, about 4 percent of the oil consumed in the world. Last year, Iran generated $100 billion in revenue from oil, up from $20 billion a decade ago, according to IHS CERA, a consulting firm.

Iran is expected to continue to sell to India, China and other major oil customers that are not participating in the EU embargo.

But by forcing SWIFT to expel Iran, Western nations are trying to make it more difficult for Iran to sell oil even to willing customers. A single oil tanker can hold $100 million worth of oil, making electronic bank transfers crucial.

Analysts expect Iran to try to skirt the sanctions in a few ways. It may exchange oil for cash, gold or other commodities directly. It may try to mingle its oil with oil from other countries in international terminals and pipelines to mask its origins. It could get help from the central banks of countries friendly to Iran.

"Throughout the history of the oil trade, someone always gets around trade embargos one way or another," said Jim Ritterbusch, a veteran oil trader and analyst.
Also, Iranian banks that have not been sanctioned by the EU could sell oil.

Analysts say by reducing the number of customers for Iranian oil and making it more difficult to pay, Iran will be forced to accept a lower price for its oil and likely be unable to sell all that it hopes to.

Judith Dwarkin, chief energy economist at ITG Investment research, said Spain and Japan are already reducing Iranian imports and Europe's large oil companies have also cut back ahead of the July deadline. Iranian oil shipments have already slipped in recent months. In Februrary they fell to a 10-year low, according to the International Energy Agency.

Saudi Arabia has said it would increase production to make up for any shortfall resulting from the sanctions. Still, analysts say that will likely drive up prices because it will reduce the amount of wiggle room - called spare capacity in the industry - that the world's oil producers have to make up for shortfalls elsewhere.

Oil markets were largely unaffected by Thursday's announcement; traders had already pushed prices higher in recent weeks in anticipation that Iranian supply would be disrupted. Analysts say these worries have made oil $10 to $20 per barrel more expensive than they otherwise would be. In New York. Oil settled at $105.11 per barrel Thursday.

Washington and allies Britain, France and Germany have taken a tough approach toward Iran over the nuclear issue but have run into resistance from Russia and China. The six nations have agreed to meet with Iran to negotiate a solution, but East-West disagreements within the group are greater than ever. Talks between the seven nations ended in failure more than a year ago in Istanbul, Turkey.

SWIFT facilitates not only large bank-to-bank transfers, but small ones as well, which could lead to unintended consequences. Many Iranians, including opponents of the current regime, live abroad and send small amounts of money to their families in Iran back home on a regular basis.

Iran: Stop the execution of Abdolreza Ghanbari

Abdolreza Ghanbari, a 44-year-old lecturer of Payam e Nour University, was arrested at his home in Pakdasht on 4 January 2010. He was charged with Moharebeh (enmity towards God) for receiving unsolicited emails from an armed opposition group, to which he does not belong. While in detention at the notorious Evin Prison, Prof. Ghanbari was interrogated for 25 days in a row and forced to confess under duress to unproven charges. Nasrin Sotoudeh was his lawyer until he was himself condemned to a six year sentence in Evin prison for "propaganda against the regime" and "acting against national security". In 2007, Prof. Ghanbari had already been detained for 120 days and sentenced to a six-month suspension from teaching and exiled from Sari to Pakdasht. Prof. Ghanbari has no known political connections. He was previously involved in teacher union activities until his union ITTA was dissolved in 2007.

Prof. Ghanbari's death sentence has been confirmed by Tehran's Appeal Court, Branch 36 in April 2010. He has since been waiting on death row. A request for pardon was rejected on February 28 by the Commission of Justice in Tehran. It means that authorities are allowed to proceed with the execution. The Education International calls on the Iranian authorities to stay the execution of Prof. Abdolreza Ghanbari and revoke the death sentence; to drop all charges against all detained trade unionists and release them immediately; to comply with the international labour standards and respect the rights of Iranian workers to freedom of association, assembly and expression.

I have signed the following petition and invite you to join: Your Excellency, I am writing to you to condemn the death sentence pronounced against Prof. Abdolreza Ghanbari, a university lecturer. I urge the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately stay his execution. Abdolreza Ghanbari was arrested at his home in Pakdasht on 4 January 2010. While in detention at the Evin Prison, Prof. Ghanbari was interrogated for 25 days in a row and forced to confess under duress to unproven charges. He has been sentenced to death for 'enmity towards God'. His death sentence has been confirmed by Tehran's Appeal Court, Branch 36 in April 2010. A request for pardon was rejected on February 28 by the Commission of Justice in Tehran. I urge the Iranian authorities to: - Stay the execution of Prof. Abdolreza Ghanbari and revoke the death sentence; - Drop all charges against all detained trade unionists and release them immediately; - Compensate the individuals for the damages suffered as result of detentions; - Register the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations (CCITTA) and allow it to hold trade union activities and reach out to members; - Stop the harassment and repression against teachers, unionists and human rights defenders; - Comply with the international labour standards and respect the rights of Iranian workers to freedom of association, assembly and expression; - Engage in a peaceful dialogue regarding the professional concerns of teachers in Iran. I look forward to hearing about your positive intervention on this very serious matter.


March 3, 2012

Fighting for his survival, President Assad authorized further atrocities against his people. Executions of scores of people are reported in Homs. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Syria to give humanitarian workers immediate access to people who desperately need aid.

"The images which we have seen in Syria are atrocious," said Ban. "It's totally unacceptable, intolerable. How, as a human being, can you bear this situation?"

Homs (Photo: AFP/YouTube)

UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos has been trying, without success, to get permission from the Syrian government to visit, and Ban said Assad's regime should let her into the country to assess the situation without delay.

British photographer Paul Conroy, who was wounded by shelling in Baba Amr and trapped there for several days until he escaped, told Britain's Sky News that "It's not a war. It's a massacre – indiscriminate massacre of men, women and children."

The European Union committed itself to document war crimes in Syria to set the stage for a "day of reckoning" for the country's leadership, in the way that former Yugoslav leaders were tried for war crimes in the 1990s by a special UN tribunal.

EU leaders in Brussels condemned Assad's regime for its nearly yearlong crackdown on an uprising that began with mostly peaceful protests but has veered toward civil war, with Syrian forces firing heavy artillery against civilians.

Words, however, evidently are insufficient to stop the bloodshed. What is needed is determined action against the brutal dictator who has no limits to secure his shaking seat. The condemnations do not yield any positive results; at the same time, Assad only intensifies his murderous orders.

The UN has estimated that more than 7,500 people have been killed, while activists put the death toll at over 8,000.

Turkey tries to strike a wedge between Syria and Iran, but I suspect these attempts will prove futile. The two pariah countries have far too much in common and need one another.

The Arab world that always rushes to condemn any Israeli violence against “our brethren” in Palestine does far less than required to stop the killing of brethren Syrian civilians. The Arab League should lead the campaign to stop the bloodshed in Syria.

March 4, 2012

President Assad ordered to bomb his rivals from the air, employing the Syrian air force against rebel neighbourhoods. The death and destruction are horrible. Will this prompt someone to intervene, forcing free skies to prevent such atrocities?

2,000 refugees fled to Lebanon. I think more people will seek refuge in neighbouring countries.

March 13, 2012

The Arab Spring that sparked the Syrian civil war also prescribes, at least until now, the limits of intervention. The western world has posed itself against many countries that resent its intervention. I received some emails from people in African and Arab countries who wrote that notwithstanding the brutality manifested by the Assad regime, Europe and the US should stay out. This is a Syrian matter, to be resolved by the Syrian people. Russia who feels it was mislead in Libya, when “providing humanitarian relief” was translated to a NATO military operation, learnt the lesson and is unwilling to provide further help to the US and its allies. The US is reluctant to alienate itself further from many countries (also in Latin America) and thus is unwilling to save the Syrian rebels who failed until now to convince the Syrian economic elite in their ability to win over Assad. The vast majority of the Syrian army remains loyal to the regime. The key for the success of the Syrian rebels is to remain vigilant, show resilience and utilize the diplomatic corridors to garner the support of the Arab world in their cause. It is about time for the Arab world to show its ability to influence Arab matters, if it does not wish the West to resolve matters for them.

March 14, 2012

Russia insisted that it would not halt arms shipments to Syria even as evidence mounts that the regime is committing crimes against humanity, with a rights group today releasing a sickening dossier of the torture inflicted on those who oppose President Bashar al-Assad.

Targeted Assassinations

Israel should reconsider its policy on targeted assassinations. After taking down a senior Hamas commander, rockets were fired for a week on southern Israel. Some one million people lived in shelters. 265,000 children spent their days in shelters rather than at school. Hamas made it clear that it is willing to suffer costs, even high costs from the Israeli air force. The Israeli army is hesitant to launch another Cast Lead-like ground operation. It still did not overcome the Goldstone Report and similar condemnations for the use of disproportional force which resulted in the death of hundreds of civilians. Thus, the price tag is clear: If Israel wishes to continue with targeted assassinations, the result would be succumbing southern Israel with some one million people to relentless rocket terror. Moreover, we can assume that it is only a matter of time till improved rockets will find their way into Gaza; then other parts of Israel will be targeted.

The key to Israel’s survival and its security is peace. Peace has a price. Both Israel and Palestine need to compromise and be content with the solution. Otherwise, the cycle of violence will continue.

Aix Group Economic Initiative

Professor Christian Pihet and Professor Gilbert Benhayoun brought to my attention the Aix Group initiative. The Aix Group is an independent NGO registered in France. Its work is run by the Steering Committee through the French NGO, Institut pour la Cooperation en Mediterrane - Groupe d'Aix, and in partnership with the Peres Center for Peace (Tel Aviv) and the DATA Studies and Consultations (Bethlehem).

The Aix Group's research is directed by the Steering Committee, and conducted by Israeli, Palestinian, and international economic experts, academics, and members of economic organizations, with the underlying objective of producing and disseminating position papers which seek to identify economic scenarios and propose recommendations which promote win-win solutions for Palestinians and Israelis.

As evidenced by its numerous publications, the Aix Group has followed the peace process closely over the years, and provides comprehensive economic studies that assist in the important task of informing decision makers regarding the economic implications of their political discussions. The findings serve to provide key decision makers within the region and internationally with a solid basis from which to make decisions regarding final status issues. Importantly, the information presented by the Aix Group takes into account Palestinian, Israeli, and international perspectives, ensuring that the research and analysis is as impartial as possible.

Every initiative to bridge gaps between Israelis and Palestinians is important and welcomed. Improving the economy of both nations is a shared interest. Further information can be found at

The Future of the Internet

What's your wish for the future of the Internet?

As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, the Internet Society invites you to share your wish for the future of the Internet.

+ Add your wish today!

I have written the following:

I wish for a responsible Internet, free of hate, bigotry, terrorism, cyberbullying and child pornography, with responsible gatekeepers who ascertain that none of the above will be part of the Net, to ensure a peaceful and secure future for our children

Nominate the blog that best defends free expression

The world's largest international blog competition is now open for entries! Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in conjunction with German media group Deutsche Welle wants you to name the blog from anywhere in the world that best defends free expression, as part of the Best of the Blogs Awards (the BOBs).

Suggest candidates in 17 categories, including the RSF award, which aims to support bloggers in countries where freedom of speech and press are limited - and goes to a blog that takes a strong stance for freedom of information all over the world.

There are also awards for Best Blog, Best Use of Technology for Social Good, Best Social Activism Campaign, Best Video Channel, and best blog in each of the BOBs' 11 contest languages.

This year the Special Topic Award puts the spotlight on culture and education, paying special attention to projects and initiatives that look at the right to education and promote intercultural dialogue.

Then, for a month starting on 2 April, look over the nominees in each category and vote for the ones you think represent the best of the best. Winners will be announced on 2 May.

Data Journalism Awards open for entries

Think you can get your message across in an age of information overload? Consider applying for the Data Journalism Awards, the first international contest recognising outstanding work and editorial excellence in the field of data journalism worldwide. The deadline for submissions is 10 April 2012.

The Data Journalism Awards are organised by the Global Editors Network, Google and the European Journalism Centre.

The jury, which include representatives from "The New York Times", Thomson-Reuters and "La Nacion", will select a winner for local/regional and national/international work from each the following three categories: data-driven investigative journalism; data visualisation and storytelling; and data-driven applications.

A total of 45,000 Euros (US $57,000) is up for distribution to the winners, who will be announced at the Global News Network's World Summit in Paris on 31 May 2012.

John Demjanjuk

On March 17, 2012, Ivan the Terrible (John Demjanjuk), who I helped to bring to trial in Israel (1986) for crimes against humanity during the dark days of WWII, died in Germany. Demjanjuk was the second and last person Israel brought to trial for Nazi war crimes. He was convicted in an Israeli court in 1988 and sentenced to death, but that conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1993 amid evidence that someone else was "Ivan the Terrible." Demjanjuk’s American citizenship was revoked in 2002 after a federal judge ruled that his 1952 entry into the United States was illegal because he hid his past as a Nazi guard. In May 2011, a German court found Demjanjuk guilty of assisting in mass murder as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Poland, and sentenced him to five years in prison.

In hindsight, I am sorry for bringing Demjanjuk to trial in Israel. His trial was not what I expected it to be. I was told by the Israeli and American legal authorities that he was Ivan the Terrible. The new data brought after the collapse of the Soviet Union which clarified that Demjanjuk was another Ivan -- a less terrible one but quite horrible on his own right, still not the person everyone thought he was -- were unknown to all people involved. That mistaken identity enabled Demjanjuk to return to his home in Cleveland until the US authorities extradited him to Germany in 2009.

Visitors at the University of Hull – Dr Asaf Siniver

I invited Asaf to deliver a talk at the Middle East Study Group (MESG). Asaf of the Department of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Birmingham investigates the links between mediation determinants and mediation outcomes in the Arab-Israeli conflict between 1948 and 2008. He identifies the most substantive and most researched cases of mediation in the conflict, as well as the most pertinent theoretical determinants of mediation as they appear in the literature, to present several hypotheses about the significance of such factors to mediation outcome. Using bivariate correlation analysis and various multiple regression models, he found that in the context of this conflict, Arab-Israeli mediation has been most successful when used by high-status third parties who employed manipulative strategies and focused on limited objectives, as opposed to pursuing a comprehensive settlement to the conflict or tackling its core issues.

My New Article

“Zionism – A Just Revolution”, Ethical Perspectives, Vol. 18 (2011), pp. 646-659.

I have written a review essay of Chaim Gans important book A Just Zionism and submitted it to Ethical Perspectives. The journal accepted my article on its merit and decided to invite more commentary on the book as my review, as is apparent from its title, has a very clear view of the Zionist project. The editors wanted a more varied discussion. So they invited critic and later sent me the articles. The result is a varied discussion: From one article endorsing Zionism evolved a whole symposium on Gans book with a minority of one article, mine, that depicts Zionism favourably. Without disputing the merit of the symposium I wrote to the editors, suggesting giving Gans an opportunity to respond to critic. The editors accepted my plea and the result is now published in Vol. 18 of Ethical Perspectives.

New Books

L.W. Sumner, Assisted Death (NY: Oxford University Press, 2011)

Wayne Sumner is one of my favourite philosophers. His books are always lucid, thoughtful and well argued. In his latest Sumner offers a valuable philosophical discussion on end of life issues and assisted death. He is making a plea for legalisation of assisted death which includes physician assisted suicide and euthanasia. He bases his arguments on compassion for the suffering of the dying and respect for their autonomy in choosing death. He argues that there is no convincing evidence that legalisation will put vulnerable sectors of sick population at risk. I beg to differ. I think it is a mistake to lump euthanasia and assisted suicide together. I think there is strong evidence to suggest abuse when euthanasia is concerned. Philosophically there might be no difference between the two practices. But in practice and consequently morally speaking I oppose euthanasia in principle.

For comprehensive argumentation and analysis, see R. Cohen-Almagor, The Right to Die with Dignity (Piscataway, NJ.: Rutgers University Press, 2001). 305 pp.
ISBN 0-8135-2986-7

I thank Wayne Sumner for sending me a copy of his book.

Routledge Books on the Arab Spring

The Arab Spring is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests that have been occurring in the Arab world since Saturday 18th December 2010. Revolutions have taken place in Tunisia and Egypt and the civil war in Libya resulted in the fall of the country's government last year. There have been civil uprisings in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen and protests on varying levels in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait and in other Middle Eastern countries. 

My New Poem

Rainbow Smile
17 March 2012

For Harriet Taylor-Mill

Your smile fell like a ray of light on
My troubled face
The spark in your blue eyes made
Me open bleeding heart to
The sound of bell tower
Makes me tremble like
A fly to the fan movement.

Chasing the wind may seem ridiculous
If you are not a bird
No one ever loved as I am able to
Love You
Cherish the glow in your hair
My Skies bright rainbow with
Manifold true colours.

Appear dim gone
Resume with bursting laughter
As Harriet from John to John
Smiles shine awake
A ray of light on
My yearning soul.

Monthly Poem

A Hazy Shade Of Winter

Simon and Garfunkel

Time, see what's become of me
While I looked around for my possibilities.

I was so hard to please.
Look around,
Leaves are brown,
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter.

Hear the Salvation Army band.
Down by the riverside's
Bound to be a better ride
Than what you've got planned.

Carry your cup in your hand.
And look around.
Leaves are brown.
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter.

Hang on to your hopes, my friend.
That's an easy thing to say,
But if your hopes should pass away
Simply pretend that you can build them again.
Look around,
The grass is high,
The fields are ripe,
It's the springtime of my life.

Seasons change with the scenery;
Weaving time in a tapestry.
Won't you stop and remember me
At any convenient time?
Funny how my memory skips
Looking over manuscripts
Of unpublished rhyme.

Drinking my vodka and lime,
I look around,
Leaves are brown,
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter. 


This website contains many of the paintings that have been enriching the world with beauty:

Purim in Tel Aviv during the 1930s

This month we celebrated Purim, the most joyful festival in the Jewish year. This short video (5 minutes) shows Purim celebrations in Tel Aviv during the 1930s. I recall similar scenes in Tel Aviv during the 1960s. Evokes memories…

I am sad that we are unable to celebrate Jewish holidays and festivals in this part of the world as I love and cherish. Yorkshire, for historical reasons, is not a Jewish region.

Light Side – International English

A laundry in Rome:

Tourist agency, Czechoslovakia:

The box of a clockwork toy made in Hong Kong:

In a Swiss mountain inn:

Airline ticket office, Copenhagen:

Peace and love.

Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on
Earlier posts at my home page:

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