Saturday, September 15, 2012

Politics – September 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

Call Ehud Barak Netanyahu’s loyal servant. This is exactly what Barak is. There is no greater insult to Barak. Bibi loves it.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

With Mitt Romney’s official nomination as the Republican Presidential candidate, the election campaign has started. We should expect fascinating months leading to the November elections. It will be close, very close, and very tense. It is very difficult to say who will clinch the win, and I suspect that every vote will count. What a thriller!

In Israel, Iran continues to dominate the headlines as the debate whether Israel should attack the known nuclear plants intensifies. Prime Minister Netanyahu is a great believer in the power of the media. I have never seen a leader who uses the media so much, for better and for worse, for spins, communication, news, quasi-news, spreading of rumors, befriending some, attacking others. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s presence in the media is unprecedented. It seems that he has more media consultants/advisors/activists than advisors on all other issues, including security, combined. Prime Minister Netanyahu almost breathes via the media. He could be the media’s dream if he did not try to censor them and see that they publish only what he wants.

And now, on September 2, 2012, even Judge Eliyahu Winograd, the darling of the establishment, the loyal conformist, came out publicly to criticize Prime Minister Netanyahu and his loyal servant, Defence Minister Ehud Barak. Winograd, who failed to demand Olmert’s resignation following the fiasco of the Israel-Hezbollah War said: “I do not trust them”.

Israel suffered immensely from the Hezbollah rocket attacks in the 2006 war. Winograd warned that if Israel were to attack Iran, missiles might become a common feature in Israeli daily life and he, Winograd, does not know to what extent Israel is capable and ready to absorb such attacks.

Former head of Mossad Meir Dagan does not trust the duo Netanyahu-Barak. Former head of the SHABAC Yuval Diskin does not trust Netanyahu-Barak. Former head of IDF Intelligence Uri Sagi does not trust Netanyahu-Barak. Former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi would rather sleep with snakes. It is clear that President Shimon Peres does not trust Netanyahu-Barak. People who worked closely with the duo do not trust their ability to make wise decisions.

The problem, however, remains that for some obscure, complicated reasons the Israeli public continues to trust Prime Minister Netanyahu and, to date, does not seem convinced that there is a better person to replace him.

The Israeli media are preoccupied with the question who in the cabinet will vote how, calculating the votes for and against an attack. Make no mistake: the cabinet will vote as the prime minister wishes. Mr Netanyahu has filled his cabinet with enough Caligula horses to get any result he wishes on issues that are of importance to him.

Shana Tova – Happy New Year
Reflections on August Newsletter
Obituary - Pete Stanley Steffens
My New Book Public Responsibility in Israel
Rockets from Gaza
Iran-North Korea
The United States Tripled Weapons Exports Mostly to the Middle East
Sam Nunn, Richard Lugar First Recipients of Nuclear Security Award
Golden Pen of Freedom Awarded to Anabel Hernández
Visit to Washington DC
New Books
Religion in Manchester
Monthly Poem
Light Side 

Shana Tova – Happy New Year

Shana tova, Gmar Chatima tova, Good Health, Peace and love to you and your loved ones. Have a wonderful, productive and happy year.

Reflections on August Newsletter

Bob wrote from Australia:

Thanks Rafi!

More than can be said by Mr Assad. The trouble there is that he is taking too long to lose his power to hit those who lack his weapons, and a lot of good Syrians are going to die as a result.

Iran looks to be building up political and diplomatic support among developing countries, which will only make it harder to bring their nuclear weapons program to a halt. Indeed the Non-Aligned conference in Tehran may help to proliferate it elsewhere, and the principal loser then would be the US.

Romney's foreign policy continues to make me despair. He could be so much better than he looks at present - but I don't think foreign policy is going to play much of a role in this election, and will be neglected until much too late.

All the best, and as always with Middle Eastern affairs, I keep my fingers crossed!

All the best to you and your family!


Dr Yoav J. Tenembaum wrote from Tel Aviv:


Thank you very much for your August 2012 Newsletter.

As ever, it was interesting.

I fully agree with your comment regarding the intentions of Iranian regime towards Israel. You quote to very good effect. Those who argue that the Iranian regime does not intend to see Israel destroyed should advance clear-cut proof for what they say. The Iranian leadership has been consistent and quite clear in its intentions. To claim that these statements do not reflect the real wishes of Iran's leaders, one should provide concrete evidence and not just engage in fanciful and wishful thinking.

I liked in particular your comments on Wanda Teays, Seeing the Light (Malden, MA.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). Very interesting!

As someone who loves (and writes poetry), I was intrigued by your poem. I had to read it several times, to be quite candid with you. I liked its rhythm, its music, so to speak. I am not so sure I fully understood its meaning, though. It wouldn't be the first time I like a poem due to its rhythm and music, so to speak.

Your quote of Netanyahu's statement against racism and violence is important. I think it was important that the prime minister uttered those words in public and that you have decided to quote him in your newsletter. Any manifestation of racial hatred, let alone violence against innocent civilians, due their being of Arab origin is a moral crime against everything we Jews believe (and should believe) in. I find the phenomenon to be repugnant.  

Thank you for an interesting Newsletter!


Obituary - Pete Stanley Steffens, distinguished journalist and academic

I was saddened to hear that Pete Steffens - journalist, academic, and son of the great US 'muckraker', Lincoln Steffens, died August 23, 2012 in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada.

Pete was born in San Remo, Italy on November 21, 1924 and grew up in Carmel, California. His parents were Lincoln Steffens, sometimes called the first investigative journalist, and the activist and writer, Ella Winter. His stepfather was the Oscar-winning Hollywood screenwriter, Donald Ogden Stewart.

He was educated at Harvard and Balliol College, Oxford and pursued further studies in Florence and Prague. He was on the rowing team at Oxford and while in Florence, qualified for the Italian Olympic swim team. Before he could join, the Second World War took him back to the United States, where he served in the Navy.

He began his journalism career as a copy boy on the San Francisco Chronicle and worked for Reuters in London and the Middle East, Time Magazine and other publications and broadcast media.

He taught at Columbia University, Western Washington University and University of California at Berkeley, where he influenced and supported students who founded the Free Speech Movement in the 1960s.

He was fluent in at least eight languages, including Russian, Czech, Italian, Hebrew and Greek, and was the world authority on Sir Thomas Gainsford, the first English language news editor. Among Pete's notable works were articles on the young Golda Meir, the young King Hussein, and other Middle Eastern leaders, and a cover story on Charlie Chaplin for Ramparts magazine, whom he interviewed at Chaplin's home in Switzerland. 

Pete loved people from all places and walks of life, and was eternally modest and humble, often hiding his credentials and connections.  

Pete spent his last years in Nanaimo with his wife, Valerie Alia, a writer and academic. He is also survived by two daughters, two stepsons and a granddaughter. At the time of his death he was completing a book of memoirs and helping to research a film on his father's life.

Valerie is interested to establish a scholarship fund for Native American journalists in Pete's name. Here are the details:

The Western Foundation accepts contributions in Pete’s memory to begin building a scholarship fund.
You can send a check, or contribute online form. To contribute online, please click on the following link:
In the upper right is a sunburst that says "give to WWU." Click there and it takes you to the online form.

If you prefer to send a check, make it payable to the WWU Foundation and mail to:
WWU Foundation
MS 9034, 516 High Street
Bellingham, WA 98225-9034

For further information, please contact

I convey my sincere, heartfelt condolences to Valerie and family.

My New Book Public Responsibility in Israel

My new book Public Responsibility in Israel (Achrayut Ziburit Be’Israel), co-edited with Ori Arbel-Ganz and Asa Kasher, was published (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem: Hakibbutz Hameuchad and Mishkanot Shaananim, 2012, Hebrew), 607 pp.

The project started in 2006. Here is the book’s rationale, as it was written then:

The year 2006 was a difficult year for Israel. It started with Ariel Sharon’s departure, continued with elections that resulted in a new government in power, headed by a new party, “Kadima”. Then three soldiers were kidnapped, and war erupted. We have continued Qassams landing in the south of Israel, and continued tension in the north of Israel. Above us hovers the Iranian nuclear threat and we await the results of the dozens of inquiry commissions established to investigate the war misconduct. Are they aimed to calm the atmosphere, or to seek substantive responsibility?

Anywhere you turn you hear and read about violence, scandals and corruption: violence on the roads, with hundreds of people killed in road accidents, most of which were the result of nervous drivers who don’t respect their fellow drivers; violence in discos, where youth go to party with knives in their pockets; violence in football stadiums, where people come to watch games with hand grenades in their pockets; violence directed at city mayors, including firing at them and throwing hand grenades at their homes; violence in roadblocks vis-à-vis the Palestinians; violence at home, where husbands express their feelings toward their wives by murdering them; violence at school, where a 14 year-old was found dead in the toilet and the identity of her killer is yet uncertain. Violence is part and parcel of Israeli life.

Scandals are endless, with the State President under investigation for sexual harassment against several women who worked under him. The Prime Minister’s conduct is under the Attorney General’s investigation for three separate affairs and we await Mazuz’s decisions. Several ministers are also under such investigations. The Minister of Justice stood trial for kissing a young soldier.

Corruption is everywhere: allegations against the prime minister, ministers, state president, members of the Knesset, city mayors and other public officials. Football players are under investigations for selling games. Who is responsible for all this? Are we all? The leadership? Somebody? How do we deal with those phenomena? How do we redeem the concepts of responsibility and of accountability, and better Israeli society?

Public responsibility is rather an ambiguous term. While politicians define their Public Responsibility in terms of administrative and constitutional laws, the public's approach seems to be significantly broader.

Human understanding of the responsibilities of a public servant might be influenced not only by formal codes, regulations and laws, but also by culture, norms, moral. Ideology may lead to different definitions of reality and therefore may create different expectations regarding policy.  Similarly, as religious authorities structure their own rules and philosophies, they may define loyalty and moral priorities differently.

Public responsibility is often conceptualized as an objective and universal expression beyond time and era.  However, the individual's understandings and interpretations may emphasize the personal perspective of bureaucrats and elected officials' duties.

The question is, therefore, what does public responsibility really mean? Is it possible to define a theoretical and/or analytical term that will consist of and cover all aspects mentioned above? Is it necessary? Finally, how can one bridge between citizens' expectations and subjective concepts of the term public responsibility and the limited definition drawn by the public sector?

These and other related questions are addressed in this seminal volume. For the first time, leading Israeli scholars and experts have gathered to explore the meaning of public responsibility. Each of the distinguished authors - historians, political scientists, sociologists, social-psychologists, philosophers, literature, education and cultural scholars, law professors, policy analysts, economists, former judges, legislatures and ministers – had clarified a different aspects of Public Responsibility based on his/her professional discipline and resulting understandings of the discussed concept.  The result will be a thorough review of the meaning of public responsibility.

The issue is of utmost importance, and I’d be happy to promote the book in England, the USA, and other places.

Public Responsibility
Edited by:
Raphael Cohen-Almagor, Asa Kasher
and Ori Arbel-Ganz

Prologue: Public Responsibility by Yitzhak Zamir
Introduction: On Public Responsibility by Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Part I: Theory

  1. Public Responsibility's Typology and its Behavioral Expression by Ori Arbel-Ganz
  2. Public Responsibility and Ethics by Asa Kasher
  3. Halakcha and Public Responsibility by Rabbi Yuval Shrlo
  4. Public Responsibility as Rational Choice by Gideon Doron and Assaf Meydani

Part II: Institutions
  1. The President’s Public Responsibility by Suzi Navot
  2. Public Responsibility of the Prime Minister by Arye Naor
  3. The Legislatures’ Public Responsibility by Naomi Chazan
  4. Public Responsibility of Judges by Eliahu Mazza
  5. Public Responsibility of the Local Government and Municipalities by Nahum Ben-Elya

Part III: Public Administration and Executive Agencies
  1. Public Responsibility of the Public Administration by Eran Vigoda-Gadot and Jacob Cory
  2. The Legal Advisor to the Government – A Clerk or a Leader by Talia Sasoon
  3. Public Responsibility of the Bank of Israel by Ohad Bar-Efrat
  4. Public Responsibility of Citizens' Representatives in Public Committees by Ruida Abu-Ras
  5. Public Responsibility of the IDF's General Staff by Yagil Levi

Part IV: Non-Governmental Organizations and Players
  1. The Citizens' Public Responsibility by Avia Pasternak
  2. Public Responsibility of the Mass Media by Dan Caspi
  3. Public Responsibility of the Israel Press Council by Moshe Ronen
  4. Truth, Power and (I)responsibility: Optimist Thesis on Words Manufacturers by Merav Rosenthal-Marmorstein
  5. Public Responsibility of the Private Sector and Firms by Aviva Geva
  6. Integrative Corporate Governance and Ethics Programs – Keys for Public and Social Responsibility of Corporations by Elie Bukspan
  7. Public Responsibility of Third Sector Organizations by Nisan Limor and Benjamin Gidron

Part V: Policy Issues
  1. Public Responsibility for Gender Equality by Orna Sasoon-Levi and Orli Benjamin
  2. Public Responsibility for the Israeli Arabs by Sami Smooha
  3. Public Responsibility for Education by Orit Ichilov

Epilogue: Public Responsibility in Israel by Raphael Cohen-Almagor and Ori Arbel-Ganz


Further information at

I dedicated the book to Gad Yaacobi (,7340,L-3442660,00.html ) who was a “rare bird” in Israeli politics: ethical, responsible, wise, passionate about Israel and utterly committed to whatever he took upon himself. Gad was supposed to write the chapter on government responsibility but died prematurely. I miss him.


According to official figures published by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, 32% of Israeli-Jews and 46% of Israeli-Palestinians spend more than they earn, unable to pay for the day-to-day expenses and accumulate debt.
Around 52% of bank account holders find themselves in overdraft at least once a year, and 21% of them are in the red (overdraft) most of the time.
Banks blocked the accounts of 11% of all account holders over the past year.
Nearly a third of all account holders were contacted by their bank because they had exceeded their credit ceiling in the past year. Of those, 12% were contacted once and 5% four or more times. Seven percent said their accounts were routinely blocked.
The survey found that 14% of all Israeli hold three or more credit cards while 22% of all Israelis don't have credit cards. Among Israeli- Palestinians the plastic-free population reaches 54%.
Seven percent don't have a bank account at all, although the difference between Palestinians and Jews is massive. Only 5% of Jews have no account, compared with 20% of Palestinians. Among the unemployed, 19% say they don't have a bank account, compared with 5% of people holding jobs.

Rockets from Gaza

The relationships between Gaza and Sderot are one dimensional. I wish to see the day when I would write about normal, neighbourly relations between the two cities.

On August 31, 2012, two rockets exploded in Sderot. One of them hit a house, causing damage to the property. Luckily, no one was wounded. The second landed in an open field and did not explode. Later on the same Friday morning, a third rocket landed in an open field in Sha'ar Hanegev, causing no injuries or damage.

Mayor of Sderot David Buskila said: "We can't relax here, we are going back to the tough days [of rockets falling] in Sderot. Sometimes there are lulls but the shooting has gone on for 12 years now. There was a miracle here.

Buskila emphasized that schools would continue to operate as usual. "Our schools are protected, and our students will go to school as usual."

And the fire continues. On September 8, 2012, two homes were severely damaged by a Grad rocket in Netivot, in southern Israel, near the border with the Gaza Strip. An additional rocket was fired at Be'er Sheva, and fell in an open area. No casualties or damage was reported.
Mayors of Be'er Sheva, Ashdod and Omer decided to cancel school on the following day.
Netivot’s Mayor, Yechiel Zohar arrived at the scene of explosion. “The home here is completely destroyed,” said Zohar. “There was an Iron Dome system here, but it’s currently not here. The defense establishment needs to rethink its deployment of the systems – unfortunately this is not the first time a house in Netivot has suffered a direct hit”.
“Fortunately there were no casualties or injures, but it’s still luck – it could have hit a house with a whole family inside. This needs to end. The Iron Dome needs to come back here – over the last few weeks they’ve been shooting at us nonstop,” said Zohar.
The week before, sources in Gaza reported that Hamas arrested 20 people on suspicion of affiliation with armed Salafist groups operating in Gaza and trying to fire rockets into Israel. Hamas has been confronting these radical groups over rocket fire, as it tries to maintain calm in the Strip and ensure its continued rule.
These groups, some of whom are comprised of former Hamas operatives, continue their efforts to launch missiles into Israel, while Hamas and the Isamic Jihad try to maintain calm. 

Iran-North Korea

Good news. For Iran and North Korea. The two countries have signed an agreement to cooperate in science and technology. The two countries will cooperate in research, student exchanges and joint laboratories, and in the fields of information technology, engineering, biotechnology, renewable energy, the environment, sustainable development of agriculture and food technology, the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported.

North Korea has had close ties with Iran. Leaked U.S. diplomatic cables from 2010 showed that U.S. officials believe Iran has acquired ballistic missile parts from North Korea.

Pyongyang's Communist government and Iran's Islamic republic share little in the way of ideology, but they have common enemies. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei explained: "The Islamic Republic of Iran and North Korea have common enemies, because the arrogant powers do not accept independent states."

The United States Tripled Weapons Exports Mostly to the Middle East

According to a U.S. Congress study, the United States tripled weapons exports last year, mostly to allies in the Middle East in a major drive to counter Iran's ambitions in the region.

The study by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress, said U.S. weapons exports totalled $66.3 billion in 2011, out of a global weapons market of $85.3 billion.

By contrast, Russia's arms exports stood at a distant second at $4.8 billion in the same year.

The study said the 2011 figures for U.S. arms exports constituted an "extraordinary increase" in just one year over the $21.4 billion in 2010 sales. The U.S. exported weapons worth $31 billion in 2009.

In addition, the U.S. had worked out a policy goal with Arab allies in the Gulf to build a regional missile defence system to protect cities, oil refineries, pipelines and military bases from possible Iranian military attack.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman were major buyers of U.S. weapons. In agreements with the U.S. worth 33.4 billion dollars last year, Saudi Arabia agreed to buy 84 advanced F-15 fighters, ammunition, missiles and logistics support and pay for upgrading 70 of the F-15s. The U.S. also sold military equipment that included dozens of Apache and Black Hawk helicopters to the Saudis. The UAE purchased a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence and an advanced antimissile shield, which includes radars, which were valued at $3.49 billion, as well as 16 Chinook helicopters for $939 million. Oman bought 18 F-16 fighters for $1.4 billion, the study said.

Sam Nunn, Richard Lugar First Recipients of Nuclear Security Award

U.S. Senator Richard Lugar and former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn are the first recipients of a new international award created in their honour to recognize individuals or institutions dedicated to advancing the cause of nuclear security.

The award is cosponsored by Carnegie Corporation of New York, a philanthropic foundation, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an international think tank, to mark the occasion of their centennials. Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation, and Corporation trustees presented the award to Senator Lugar and former Senator Nunn at the Peace Palace in The Hague.

The Nunn-Lugar Award for Promoting Nuclear Security will be awarded every two years by Carnegie Corporation and the Carnegie Endowment to an individual or institution whose work has resulted in clear, discernible progress toward strengthening global security and peaceful co-existence among nations by preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and reducing the risk of their use. The award, which carries a $50,000 prize, is a tribute to Andrew Carnegie, who dedicated much of his philanthropy to the goal of achieving world peace and built the Peace Palace as a symbol of his faith in the ultimate realization of that goal.

Senator Richard Lugar and Senator Sam Nunn authored the Nunn-Lugar Act in 1991, establishing the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (CTR). The program sought to help the states of the former Soviet Union safeguard and dismantle their enormous stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, related materials, and delivery systems.

The CTR program reduced the spread of nuclear weapons by helping former Soviet republics meet arms-control treaty requirements such as START (the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). With CTR funding, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Belarus became non-nuclear weapons states. The program also helped to improve the safety and security of facilities housing biological weapons under the Cooperative Biological Threat Reduction program.

Since its creation, CTR has contributed to the deactivation of more than 7,500 nuclear warheads, neutralized chemical weapons, safeguarded fissile materials, converted weapons facilities for peaceful use, mitigated bio-threats, and redirected the work of former weapons scientists, and engineers, among other efforts.

Golden Pen of Freedom Awarded to Anabel Hernández

Mexican journalist Anabel Hernández was been awarded the Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom prize of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

Ms. Hernández was honoured for her commitment and dedication to investigative reporting that revealed corruption at the highest levels of Mexican society and has placed her life in danger.

“Personally, this award is a light that shines on my dark path, a light in the lonely and unequal struggle between a journalist and a whole apparatus of corruption,” said Ms Hernández, accepting the award.

“As a Mexican journalist, receiving the Golden Pen of Freedom tells me WAN-IFRA and its members refuse to remain indifferent to the slaughter of journalists and freedom of expression in Mexico, and that their joint denunciation will pressure the international community to stop this from continuing”.

WAN-IFRA has presented the Golden Pen of Freedom since 1961 to recognise the outstanding action, in writing or deed, of an individual, group or institution in the cause of press freedom.

Ms Hernández is a Mexican journalist who has worked for several important national dailies, and was driven to become an investigative journalist after the kidnapping and murder of her father in Mexico City in 2000. Her recent book, ‘Los Señores del Narco / The Drug Lords’, details the complicities between organised crime and high-ranking authorities, from government officials to the police, military and prominent businessmen. As a result, she has made herself the target of death threats from both state and non-state actors.

“In presenting this award, WAN-IFRA recognises the unyielding stance Anabel Hernández has taken, at great personal risk, against drug cartels, organised crime and corrupt officials,” said Erik Bjerager, President of the World Editors Forum, who presented the award. “Her actions have helped ensure the development of high quality, unrestricted investigative journalism in the region, and by presenting her with the Golden Pen of Freedom we express our solidarity with all Mexican journalists who remain defiant in the face of constant threats and horrendous violence.”

WAN-IFRA again called on the Mexican authorities, and in particular in-coming President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, to take urgent measures to end the violence against journalists.

WAN-IFRA has recorded 44 journalist deaths in Mexico since 2006; five have been killed this year, three in the state of Veracruz in the span of a single week. These figures make the country one of the most deadly beats in the world for media professionals.

 “Upholding international standards of freedom of expression and freedom of the press is the responsibility the state; the people of Mexico deserve nothing less,” said Mr Bjerager.

To read Anabel Hernández’ acceptance speech in full visit

To read WEF President Erik Bjerager’s speech in full visit

Visit to download WAN-IFRA’s latest report on press freedom in Mexico.

More on the Golden Pen of Freedom can be found at

Visit for more information on press freedom worldwide.

Visit to Washington DC

On 10-21 October 2012 I intend to be in Washington. I’d be happy to meet colleagues and friends and to deliver lectures to interested audiences. I am particularly keen to talk and promote the idea of two-state solution.

New Books

Jeremy Waldron, The Harm in Hate Speech (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012).

The Harm in Hate Speech is important and an invaluable resource. I read it with great interest.

Waldron argues that there is a sort of public good of inclusiveness that our society sponsors and that it is committed to. Hate speech undermines this public good, or it makes the task of sustaining it much more difficult than it would otherwise be. Hate speech creates an environmental threat to social peace, a “sort of slow-acting poison, accumulating here and there, word by word, so that eventually it becomes harder and less natural for even the good-hearted members of the society to play their part in maintaining this public good”.

Waldron maintains that hate speech undermines the dignity of the person. A person’s dignity is not just some Kantian aura. It is their social standing, the fundamentals of basic reputation that entitle them to be treated as equals in the ordinary operations of society. Hate speech aims “to besmirch the basics of their reputation, by associating ascriptive characteristics like ethnicity, or race, or religion with conduct or attributes that should disqualify someone from being treated as a member of society in good standing”. Hate messages undermine the targets’ equal status in the community, their entitlement to basic justice and to the fundamentals of their reputation.

In his critique of Ed Baker’s view, Jeremy Waldron rightly notes that it remains the case that hate speech damages the dignity and reputation of individuals in vulnerable groups; it undermines the public good of socially furnished assurance with which the dignity of ordinary people is supported; it remains the case that the hateful disclosure of racist attitudes through public speech defaces and pollutes the environment in which members of vulnerable groups have to live their lives and bring up their children.

In his critique of the American First Amendment position, Waldron notes that Britain has laws that prohibit racial and religious hatred (Public Order Act 1986) and racial discrimination (Race Relations Act 1976). Are these laws illegitimate? Was their enactment inappropriate and their enforcement morally wrong? Furthermore, almost all democracies have hate speech laws. Are they all wrong and only the United States, which protects hate speech, is right?

The Harm in Hate Speech is the best comprehensive book from a liberal perspective, written by legal philosopher, endorsing hate speech legislation. Waldron makes a powerful argument that surely promotes exchange and debate.

Some of Waldron’s American colleagues might now tag him as pseudo-liberal and quasi-fascist. Some of them might drop the ‘quasi’ qualification. Most non-American liberal scholars will find Waldron sensible and applaud his careful reasoning.

Kudos to Waldron for this important contribution. Kudos to Harvard for publishing it.

Anita Fatchett, Social Policy for Nurses (Cambridge: Polity, 2012)

This is a great learning book on nursing in Britain, discussing policy issues, the NHS and its reforms, health inequalities, diversity and working with chronic patients. The book is very lucid, with many examples and activities to illustrate problems and to evoke discussion and debate.

I thank Polity for a copy of this book.

Religion in Manchester

In Manchester, the Cathedral stands next to the National Museum of Football: the old shrine of religion next to the new shrine of (civil) religion.

Monthly Poem

She Walks in Beauty 

She walks in beauty like the night 
of cloudless climes and starry skies; 
And all that's best of dark and bright 
meets in her aspect and her eyes: 
Thus mellow'd to that tender light 
which heaven to gaudy day denies. 

One shade the more, one ray the less, 
had half impair'd the nameless grace 
which waves in every raven tress, 
or softly lightens o'er her face – 
where thoughts serenely sweet express 
how pure, how dear their dwelling - place. 

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow, 
so soft, so calm, yet eloquent, 
the smiles that win, the tints that glow, 
but tells in days of goodness spent, 
a mind at peace with all below, 
a heart whose love is innocent. 

George Gordon Byron 

               Light Side

Shana Tova, and Gmar Chatima Tova,

Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on
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