Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Politics – October 2012
Even more bad and distressing news for the peace camp as Likud and Lieberman join forces. Even more efforts are required to fight for peace to avoid violence.
My Listserv includes some journalists and media professionals. Please put peace on your agenda, examine various options for peace, see that this issue is constantly debated and addressed. Without peace we are destined to war.
Support is sought to facilitate the work of the Middle East Study Group. Information at
I also welcome promoting the two-state solution. See
“Size does matter”.
~ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, October 25, 2012
“I and Netanyahu will overcome everything”.
~ October 26, 2012, Mr Avigdor Lieberman after signing his party unification with Likud
Size does matter: Try to surround yourself with people with a big heart.
Be aware of your frailties and weaknesses.
~Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Elections will be held in Israel on January 22, 2013. At the moment, the victor will be Mr. Netanyahu who has succeeded to hijack the elections. He skillfully outmaneuvered his opponents by focusing attention on one sole topic - Iran. As Mr Ahmadinejad has no followers in Israel, and no one would be foolish enough to suggest that Mr Netanyahu is not committed to the security of Israel, Netanyahu has posited himself as THE leader. All other contentious issues are pushed aside: social justice, poverty, state and religion, two-state solution, the status of ultra-orthodoxy in society.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is most pressing, requires careful attention and detailed plans for solution. It is no less important than Iran, yet very little on the issue of peace is present today on Israel’s agenda, thanks to Mr. Netanyahu’s worldview and Greater Israel policy.
On October 24, 2012 Hamas fired at least 72 rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians overnight. Two people were severely wounded, a third was lightly wounded, and three others were hospitalized for shock. The escalation came on the heels of an official state visit, first of its kind, by Qatar's ruler Emir Hamad bin Khalifa A-Thani (see below). From the start of the year up until now, Hamas fired 729 rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians this year to 729, far in excess of the estimated 653 launched in all of 2011.
I have recently visited Boston and Washington DC (see below) and found that Mr Netanyahu has succeeded also in the USA to divert conversations away from peace, focusing on Iran. This was the hot topic in my discussions to the point that I explicitly responded that I am tired of discussing Iran time and again. Israel will not attack soon, I explained (see below). Let us discuss how to move the peace wagon forward.

US Presidential Elections – Israeli Perspective
Mitt Romney and Women
Obama and Romney on Bioethical Concerns – A Comparison
How the USA Benefits from Its Alliance with Israel
Israeli Polls
November 4, 1995
On Refugees and Guest Workers
Survey: Most Israeli Jews Would Support Apartheid Regime in Israel
Qatari Ruler's Visit to Gaza Signals Turning Point for Hamas
Iron Dome
Between Ed Miliband and Neil Kinnock
MESG Program 2012-2013
Visit to Brandeis
My New Article
Catch 18
New Books
Art Recommendation
Twitter Recommendation
Monthly Poem
Gem of the Month
Political Joke
Improving the Football Game
Light Side

US Presidential Elections – Israeli Perspective
Mr Netanyahu wants Mr Romney in the White House. True, Mr Netanyahu and Mr Obama do not like each other. There is no chemistry between the two leaders. This is the result of very different worldviews. Mr Netanyahu’s agenda and his understanding of Israel's best interests is remote from Mr Obama’s worldview and the latter’s understanding of the US best interests and of Israel's best interests. Obama believes there is no contradiction between the American and Israeli best interests. He believes peace would serve both but peace comes with the price. Netanyahu is unwilling to pay the price.

Politics is not about sentiments. It is about interests. Mr Netanyahu fears four more years of Obama in the White House because this might entail even stronger and dramatic clash with the US administration wishing to calm the boiling Middle East by resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Until now, Mr Obama did not show the necessary resolve to push the two sides to agreement. Free of another election campaign, he might be more willing and committed to do so. Netanyahu does not wish him to have this opportunity.

American voters: this is the choice you need to make as far as Israel is concerned:

If you wish to have solid US-Israel relationships of the Bush JR type, vote Romney.

If you vote Obama, a clash between the two countries is almost certain.

If you vote Romney, another violent clash between Israel and Palestine with wider implications on the Middle East is most probable. The implications might not be limited only to the Middle East.

If you wish to give peace a chance, vote Obama. With Obama the prospects for peace are more viable.

Mitt Romney and Women
Mr Romney is a modern conservative. He represents the modern conservative men. This representation is great for men, less so for modern women. I mean, if you are a modern woman who has 1950s views on the role of women, Mr Romney is the guy for you. But if you are a being of the 21st Century, think carefully.

Here is Mr Romney’s condensed view on the role of women in our society: You wake up in the morning; you prepare breakfast for your family. You give your husband and children a nice meal, kisses and hugs and bid them farewell as you are getting dressed, quickly put on your make up and shoes, and rush to work. You work until 16:30, and then you quickly return home just on time to greet your husband and children with a warm meal as they return home. You open the door for them with a big smile, hugs and kisses, and lead them to the dining table, already nicely prepared for them. You are energized and happy because the family is the source of happiness.
Mr Romney is a modern feminist: women should work, up to a point, but not at the expense of all their traditional roles in the family.
American women: If this image of a woman appeals to you, vote Romney!
Obama and Romney on Bioethical Concerns – A Comparison
The Hastings Center, a leading bioethics think tank in New York, has created a table comparing the positions of Democrat President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney on a range of hot-button bioethics issues. These range from the future of Medicare to abortion to pandemics.
How the USA Benefits from Its Alliance with Israel
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy published its 7th Strategic Report on US-Israel relationships. The authors, Michael Eisenstadt and David Pollock, report that since 1949 the US provided Israel with economic and military aid worth $115 billion. In return:
· Israeli intelligence provided invaluable information regarding US enemies and rivalries: Russia, Arab countries, Iran, al-Qaeda, among others.
· Israel is the US most sophisticated and experienced partner in rocket/missile defence.
· The armed forces of both countries benefited from collaboration in the fields of counterterrorism, military fighting and unarmed aerial vehicles (UAVs).
· Israel sales to the US military equipment worth $300 million prior 9/11 and $1.5 billion annually today.
· Israel advises on homeland security matters.
· Israel ranks among the top 6 countries in the world in technological innovation. Joint ventures between the two countries create tens of thousands of jobs for American workers in information technology, medical R&D, and defence.
· Israel helps US energy companies.
· Israel is a world leader in basic research and clinical applications in the medical field.
Source: Michael Eisenstadt and David Pollock, How the USA Benefits from its Alliance with Israel (Washington, DC.: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 7th Strategic Report, 2012).
Israeli Polls
Repeated polls carried in Israel show that Mr Netanyahu will be the undisputed victor in the coming elections. The Likud more or less retains its power with 25-28 seats in the Knesset. Second is Labour, with some 20 MKs. Third is the Lieberman party, Yisrael Bietenu, with 14-15 seats.
Kadima is expected a massive decline, from 28 seats to 8 seats. Shas would retain its power, with very stable 11 seats. She may increase its power now that its former charismatic leader, Arye Derei, has returned home. Derei may bring two more mandates.
All in all, and this is the most important issue, the Right-Religious block would have 66 seats, compared to the Centre-Left block of 54 seats. With this ratio, it is very difficult not to see the Likud retaining its power. Simply put, at present no other party leader would be able to compose a coalition.
Mr. Netanyahu attracts 35% of the voters who either believe he is the right leader for Israel at this time, or do not see anyone more suitable for the job. Second is Labour leader, Shelly Yechimovitz with 16% popularity. This is a huge difference. Barak? He enjoys 4% popularity. His party Atzmaut is struggling to pass the threshold entry to the Knesset.
The wild card is Tzipi Livni who is still sitting on the fence, weighing her options. The above picture may change if Ms Livni would decide to jump at the last moment on the Labour wagon. Whether she would agree to be Yechimovitz’ no. 2 is an open question. Ms. Livni would be wise to hold her cards close to her chest and decide when it truly matters.
To avoid this potential problem and other unpleasant (from the prime minister’s point of view) surprises, on October 25, 2012 Netanyahu signed a unification deal with his old friend, Avigdor Lieberman. The Likud and Yisrael Beitenu will run together on one inclusive list. Mr Netanyahu now assured himself that he would be called to the president to comprise the coalition.
Polls also show that Israelis most worry today of confrontation with Iran. Some 50% of the population put this issue as Israel’s highest priority. They trust Mr Netanyahu to handle the crisis better than anyone else.
The Iranian issue overshadows all other concerns. Many Israelis struggle to make a living, with growing prices and taxes; but as Israel’s very survival is perceived at stake, the economy won’t be the decisive factor in their voting decision.

The situation continues to be volatile, with the US elections and the elected president’s decision vis-à-vis Iran, and the Middle East continuing to boil. Syria’s future is still unclear as Assad is still fighting to keep his power, and the Jordanian politics is warming up.
November 4, 1995
Never forget - November 4, 1995, a sad day for Israel, for the peace camp, for democracy, and especially for the Rabin family.
On Refugees and Guest Workers
BBC commented on Israel’s restrictions on immigration and deportation of Africans from Israel to keep it a Jewish state and racially homogenous and people asked me to comment.
Israel is having the most hawkish government in its modern history, with the leader of Shas (ultra-orthodox party) as Minister of the Interior. Refugees who find their way to Israel by smuggling the Egyptian border are thrown out of the country.
Israel is not the only country in the world to do this. We learned this from the USA in its attitude to illegal immigrants coming from Mexico.
Far more complex issue is Israel's treatment of guest workers, invited to work in Israel for a certain period of time (3 to 7 years) who married locally, establish home and family, and now are thrown of the country. I have alerted about this in the past, signed petitions, and invited others to sign petitions. I do not report of all events that are taking place in Israel on my blog. It is far too long as it is. If you wish to be fully informed, join me on Facebook and Academia and/or follow me on Twitter @almagor35. I report main events on Twitter and some of Israel's ministers are my Facebook "friends". Obviously, they ignore my views completely.
I should stress that the Law of Return relates only to Jews. All others are not welcomed to remain. Guest workers are welcomed to do the dirty jobs, for a period of time, and then return to their home countries. They will be replaced by other guest workers who will be treated the same way.
I am asked whether Israel will attack Iran and my response is: possibly, but not soon. Mr Netanyahu understands his limits. Israel has strategic interest to maintain its close alliance with the United States, notwithstanding the president’s party affiliation. He would be exceptionally unwise to attack Iran prior the American elections.
Mr Netanyahu in his dealing with Iran resembles a person who stands on the rooftop of a building and shouts: hold me, I am about to jump. People who wish to jump just do it. They do not keep shouting to stop them. Those who are concerned about an attack should watch for Israel’s silence. Then they should be truly concerned.
My sources say Iran is willing to engage with the USA and it will after the presidential elections. The USA is unwilling at the moment to engage with Iran. The president is preoccupied with his campaign. He will address the issue after the dust has settled and he resumes work at the White House.
The eleventh election of the President of Iran is scheduled to be held on June 14, 2013 to vote for the seventh President, successor of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. All the experts I met opined, without exception, that no men of the Ahmadinejad camp will be elected. The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei, is intent to see that an executive official, a loyal public administrator, who will carry his words to the letter and won’t contest him, be elected. All the experts with whom I met depict a brighter, more positive future for the relationships between Iran and the west. I hope they are right.
Art Hobson, Professor of Physics, has forwarded a recent article he published with NWA Times on October 7, 2012 titled “Iran, Israel, and the bomb: there's a better way”. Below is the majority of his piece.
Iran now has, at its deeply buried Fordow facility, most of the centrifuges needed to build a nuclear fuel stockpile of 20 percent enriched material--a stockpile capable of quick "breakout" to a significant nuclear weapons capability. Allow me three paragraphs to explain the science.
Most fuel for nuclear reactors and bombs requires "enriched" uranium. Natural uranium is a mix of two types or "isotopes": it's mostly uranium-238, but about 1 percent is uranium-235. Reactors and bombs get their energy only from U-235, not U-238. Most reactors run on fuel that is "enriched" to about 4 percent U-235, but bombs require uranium that is "highly enriched" to 90 percent U-235. The enrichment process is difficult and is the main barrier to both reactors and bombs.
The most popular enrichment method uses "centrifuges" that rapidly spin a gaseous form of uranium. The heavier U-238 migrates toward the outside of the centrifuge, while lighter U-235 migrates toward the inside where gas is "creamed off" and sent to another centrifuge for further enrichment. Using thousands of coordinated centrifuges, the Fordow facility has enriched uranium to 20 percent--far too low for nuclear weapons but about right for Iran's medical reactors that produce materials for cancer treatment. But Iran already has enough 20-percent fuel to run its medical reactors for years. This fuel is clearly meant for weapons, or at least the threat of weapons.
Enrichment is an "exponential" process, implying that a four-fold enrichment from 20 percent to 80 percent is as easy as enrichment from 1 percent to 4 percent. So this 20 percent enriched material gets Iran quite close to enough bomb-grade material for a small nuclear arsenal that could rival Israel's nuclear arsenal. In July, Iran test-fired several Shabab-3 missiles, capable of reaching Israel and Europe. North Korea supplied much of the missile technology.
Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to establish a "red line" beyond which Iran's nuclear developments would trigger an attack on Iran. President Obama says that an Iranian nuclear weapon is "unacceptable," apparently implying that he would attack Iran if he thinks they are about to get the bomb. In my opinion, both Netanyahu's and Obama's policies are disastrously misguided. Here's why.
Israel lacks the U.S.'s deep bunker-busting power needed to damage Iran's fortified facilities. Thus any successful attack will have to be a joint U.S. and Israeli venture. Furthermore, the attack will have to be prolonged and may require invasion and occupation in order to permanently stop Iran's nuclear developments, because a cease-fire would allow Iran to rebuild its nuclear facilities. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of rockets from Iran, Lebanon, and Gaza will rain down on Israel, both sides may use gas warfare, Iranians will rally behind their present regime, Iran and others will lash out with Islamic terrorist goons, and an oil crisis will sink the world economy. Nuclear weapons will proliferate as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and others seek the weapons they think they need to balance the scales against Israel, the U.S., and each other.
A U.S. attack on Iran will be a mistake that will dwarf our misadventure in Iraq.
There is a better way. The United Nations 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. The idea comes from the Arab nations, partly in order to pressure Israel to give up its nuclear weapons arsenal. It's clear that Israel cannot maintain its unrivaled Mideast nuclear superpower status much longer. Unfortunately, Israel refuses to discuss disarmament, refuses U.N. inspections, and is one of only four nations remaining outside the NPT.
The ground is prepared for disarmament. At an international conference of 120 nations in Iran in August, both Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei and Egypt's President Morsi called for a Mideast nuclear-free zone.

Survey: Most Israeli Jews Would Support Apartheid Regime in Israel

I just returned from Washington DC and Boston, where I delivered lectures promoting the two-state solution, engaged with people who are interested to promote peace, and promoting my forthcoming book, In Internet’s Way.
I emphasize time and again that two-state solution is the most viable solution, and that it is just a matter of time until another round of violence will erupt, and I am not talking about “exchanges” between Hamas and Israel over the Gaza border. It is just a matter of time until another war, or “operation” will erupt. There is no reason to believe that the Palestinians would accept as fait accompli what Mr. Netanyahu is preparing for them: empowering of settlements in a way that is designed to create facts on the ground, at the expense of the future Palestinian state.
Sometimes it is good to meet wise people, who are not experts yet are interested to understand historical moments. Recently I had such talks and they are most revealing. These people asked me to clarify what is the situation on the ground today, what are the alternatives, and then asked what Mr. Netanyahu has in mind. And when I did my best to explain his policy, their response is one: “But surely, this does not make any sense?!”
Indeed, it does not. The problem, however, that Mr Netanyahu leads the country into a very dangerous path.
A recent poll reveals, unsurprisingly, that most of the Jewish public in Israel supports the establishment of an apartheid regime in Israel if it formally annexes the West Bank. The emphasis is on the word “formally” because all that the Israeli government does is to de facto annexing the West Bank. The de jure element is still missing.
A majority also explicitly favours discrimination against the state's Arab citizens. The majority of the Jewish public, 59 percent, wants preference for Jews over Arabs in admission to jobs in government ministries. Almost half the Jews, 49 percent, want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones; 42 percent do not want to live in the same building with Arabs and 42 percent don't want their children in the same class with Arab children.
The figures are most distressing. A third of the Jewish public wants a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset and a large majority of 69 percent objects to giving 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank.
A sweeping 74 percent majority is in favour of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. A quarter - 24 percent - believe separate roads are "a good situation" and 50 percent believe they are "a necessary situation."
Almost half - 47 percent - want part of Israel's Arab population to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority and 36 percent support transferring some of the Arab towns from Israel to the PA, in exchange for keeping some of the West Bank settlements.
Although the territories have not been annexed, most of the Jewish public (58 percent) already believes Israel practices apartheid against Arabs. Only 31 percent think such a system is not in force here. Over a third (38 percent) of the Jewish public wants Israel to annex the territories with settlements on them, while 48 percent object.
The survey distinguishes among the various communities in Israeli society - secular, observant, religious, ultra-Orthodox and former Soviet immigrants. The ultra-Orthodox, in contrast to those who described themselves as religious or observant, hold the most extreme positions against the Palestinians. An overwhelming majority (83 percent) of Haredim are in favour of segregated roads and 71 percent are in favour of transfer.
The ultra-Orthodox are also the most anti-Arab group - 70 percent of them support legally barring Israeli Arabs from voting, 82 percent support preferential treatment from the state toward Jews, and 95 percent are in favour of discrimination against Arabs in admission to workplaces.
The group classifying itself as religious is the second most anti-Arab. New immigrants from former Soviet states are closer in their views of the Palestinians to secular Israelis, and are far less radical than the religious and Haredi groups. However, the number of people who answered "don't know" in the "Russian" community was higher than in any other.
The Russians register the highest rate of satisfaction with life in Israel (77 percent) and the secular Israelis the lowest - only 63 percent. On average, 69 percent of Israelis are satisfied with life in Israel.
Secular Israelis appear to be the least racist - 68 percent of them would not mind having Arab neighbours in their apartment building, 73 percent would not mind Arab students in their children's class and 50 percent believe Arabs should not be discriminated against in admission to workplaces.
The survey indicates that a third to half of Jewish Israelis want to live in a state that practices formal, open discrimination against its Arab citizens. An even larger majority wants to live in an apartheid state if Israel annexes the territories.
The survey conductors say perhaps the term "apartheid" was not clear enough to some interviewees. However, the interviewees did not object strongly to describing Israel's character as "apartheid" already today, without annexing the territories. Only 31 percent objected to calling Israel an "apartheid state" and said "there's no apartheid at all."
In contrast, 39 percent believe apartheid is practiced "in a few fields"; 19 percent believe "there's apartheid in many fields" and 11 percent do not know.
The "Russians," as the survey calls them, display the most objection to classifying their new country as an apartheid state. A third of them - 35 percent - believe Israel practices no apartheid at all, compared to 28 percent of the secular and ultra-Orthodox communities, 27 percent of the religious and 30 percent of the observant Jews who hold that view. Altogether, 58 percent of all the groups believe Israel practices apartheid "in a few fields" or "in many fields," while 11 percent don't know.
Finally, the interviewees were asked whether "a famous American author [who] is boycotting Israel, claiming it practices apartheid" should be boycotted or invited to Israel. About half (48 percent) said she should be invited to Israel, 28 percent suggest no response and only 15 percent call to boycott her.

Source: Gideon Levy, “Survey: Most Israeli Jews would support apartheid regime in Israel”, Haaretz (October 23, 2012).

Qatari Ruler's Visit to Gaza Signals Turning Point for Hamas

Qatar is everywhere. This tiny country becomes unavoidable. Wherever you go, Qatar is in your face. Qatar is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas and, as a result, money is in abundance. The Qatari rulers use it to their advantage, to acquire significance in a hostile, vibrant region. Via Al Jazeera, they disseminate the “right” views. Their airline company flies to more than a hundred destinations and is said to be one of the best in the world. Al Jazeera sport is a powerhouse in world sport TV, recruiting the best pundits and broadcasting all the important events in the world. The Olympics advertised Qatar. Barcelona advertises Qatar. Politics, energy, media and sport create a vital presence on the map of regional affairs, making Qatar a small but significant player. Qatar is a tiny principality that does not have manpower, advance weapons or (at least up until now) strong connections with the leaders of the world so as to exert pressure on them or sway them one way or another. But Qatar is rich, and is interested to make waves. Its leaders do not wish to be ignored. Time and again, they use their affluence to make a statement: Size does not matter!
On October 24, 2012, the emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, visited the Gaza Strip. Noted, he chose to visit Gaza, not Ramallah. The emir was the first Arab leader to visit the Strip since the organization's violent takeover in June 2007.
Qatar is one the two countries leading the Sunni camp against the Shi'ite axis. As Iran is lowering its profile in Gaza following the clear differences of opinion between Iran and Hamas on the question of Syria and the survival of the Assad regime, Qatar was quick to enter the vacuum, offering its wealth to the delighted Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, who was rushed to announce the "breaking of the Israeli blockade" of Gaza.
Haniyeh apparently realized the opportunity to appear the victor, and to improve his image in the eyes of the Palestinians: Just like that, without having to bow to the Quartet's demand to recognize Israel, the blockade of Gaza vanished.

The negative ramifications of the visit on the Palestinian Authority's status in the West Bank - and on its head, Mahmoud Abbas - are clear. While Abbas and the Fayyad government are embroiled in an economic crisis and can hardly pay their workers' wages in time, Hamas has won a hefty donation: the kind emir has pledged $400 million, an enormous sum in Palestinian terms, to build two housing complexes, rehabilitate three main roads and create a prosthetic centre, among other projects, a transformational infusion of cash at a time when foreign aid to the Palestinian territories has been short.
Qatar, for its part, clarified that the political and security reality in the Palestinian territories has produced two separate political entities - one, comprising the PA and Fatah, in the West Bank; and the other, Hamas, in Gaza.
The emir of Qatar had thus far upheld Abbas' honour, but no longer. His visit sent a message to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza that the rift has shifted from temporary to permanent, and that the ideology of the entity in Gaza is much closer to his own.
The Qatari emir is known to be a very pragmatic political acrobat. As said, he puts his hands everywhere. The juggling has been thus far successful, but he might make a mistake and get hurt if he won’t be careful. Soft power has limits. Let us try to follow his policies. When the emir first took over from his father in 1995, Riyadh opposed his accession, and the bad memories linger. Thus Qatar's policies tend to challenge Saudi Arabia's regional dominance. At the same time, both countries are supporting opposition fighters in Syria, more competitively rather than collaboratively.
The Qatari emir is very opened to the west, wants to influence the west and be part of it. Vis-a-vis the United States, on the one hand, Qatar hosts one of the largest concentrations of US airpower in the region at al-Udeid Air Base, outside the capital. The United States has also reportedly installed an X-band radar in the emirate, which would be ideal for detecting incoming Iranian missiles. But on the other hand, Qatar is careful to retain close relations with Iran, with which it shares a huge offshore gas field. The emir recently irritated Washington by attending the Non-Aligned Movement summit that Tehran hosted in August.
Sheikh Hamad reportedly pledged Egypt $2 billion in aid. He is a welcome visitor to Cairo. In the past, the emirate almost established a diplomatic mission in Israel, and it has allowed Israeli diplomats to operate in Doha. And now he comes to the rescue of Hamas.
It should be also noted that Al Thani was dealt a humiliating blow by the Hamas leadership in Gaza in November 2011, when it outright rejected the unity agreement signed by Abbas and the outgoing head of Hamas' political bureau, Khaled Meshal, in the Qatari capital Doha. Al Thani's arrival in Gaza appears to signal recognition of the Gaza leadership in the struggle for power within Hamas.
But beyond that, it could be that the emir hopes his large financial investment in Gaza will succeed in distancing Hamas from Iran and Syria, and provide greater leverage to pressure the Hamas leadership in Gaza to agree to a unity deal with Fatah.
Drugs in Gaza
Drugs are a real problem is Gaza. You may think such a poor place would not have the money to buy drugs and you are right: cocaine and heroin are hard to be found. But painkillers such as Tramadol become popular among the Gazans, serving as a reality-numbing substance.
Under siege since early 2006, means of relaxation are scarce, and even some of the most resilient and educated people in the Strip have sought in Tramadol a break from the dire realities of trauma, manufactured poverty and continual stress.
A synthetic drug often prescribed for pain-related ailments, the innocuous pill comes in a second, more potent and potentially lethal variety: the illegal black market kind.
“Every week, we get three or four overdose cases, most of them young men,” says Abu Yousef, 34, a paramedic for over ten years. “Patients are sweaty, delirious, are vomiting, have abdominal pain, and may be hallucinating…it’s morphine after all, it has many side effects.”
The vast majority of users these days are not taking the pill on doctors’ advice. “Some people feel it makes them strong, gives them power. Even some medics take it now and then, because they work long shifts. Tunnel workers are more prone to taking it regularly. But for them it’s about maintaining stamina, not about getting numb.”
Dr. Hossam Al Khatib, 28, specialises in addictions. In his work helping addicts break their habits, he sees a variety of backgrounds and reasons for taking the drug.
“Most want to forget their problems, and Tramadol helps with this, temporarily,” he says. “There is high unemployment among youths and adults in Gaza, so in the past six years, even more people have started using Tramadol, including recent university graduates who a year or years after graduating haven’t found work.”
Although he says there was a substantial increase in drug usage after the trauma of the 2008-2009 Israeli war on Gaza, Khatib cites the complete closure of the Gaza Strip as the primary reason for current high levels drug usage. “The siege causes all of the problems: high unemployment, hopelessness, stress, anxiety, depression. Even some youths 15 years and older, take it because their lives are so difficult.”
With the pills sold cheaply on the streets of Gaza, starting to take and becoming addicted to the pills is easier for Gaza’s youths than other more expensive, less available, hard drugs.
Khatib explians that drugs and marijuana have been present in Gaza since long before 2006 and the imposition of the Israeli-led siege on Gaza. “But people weren’t using Tramadol and drugs as an escape mechanism, not like now. It really is a product of the siege.”
The causes of usage are deeper than mere joblessness and frustration, Khatib says. “The situation in Gaza is causing a change in Palestinian society, leading to more problems in the family. For example, a son whose younger brother has work but he himself doesn’t. He feels ashamed at not being able to contribute to the family, or to provide for his own wife and children.”
Young men of marrying age who cannot afford the cost of a wedding and married life are also increasingly at risk of developing Tramadol or other addictions, as a temporary relief from their shame and misery, Dr. Khatib notes.
While he says some are merely casual users, in Khatib’s experience roughly 20 percent are chronic users. “Addicts,” he says.
Both Khatib and Abu Yousef say the majority of drugs enter via the tunnels from Egypt, the lifelines of Gaza which have brought in foods, livestock, agricultural and fishing needs, and virtually everything banned by Israel under its years-long closure of Gaza’s borders.
“Due to the widespread poverty in Egypt, many Egyptians make Tramadol at home, to sell. Some is a mix of morphine and mouse poison,” says Abu Yousef. “Poison is an excitant, it stimulates the brain to produce serotonin, as does Tramadol. The poison itself is not addictive, but in high doses or repeated usage it can kill.”
As with most addictions, the irony in Tramadol use is that it not only does not solve the root problems for which users seek it out, but actually compounds them, says Khatib.
“Normal after-effects and withdrawal symptoms are depression, anxiety, insomnia, hopelessness, and remorse at having taken the drug. With chronic addicts, there may be loss in coordination, sexual problems and even sterility.”
Recognising most Tramadol addicts as faultily seeking a solution to their psychological state, Khatib stresses the importance of counseling once users have stopped taking the pill. “We try to make them feel important and hopeful, and encourage them to socialize, not to remain withdrawn from friends and their community.”
The root problems do vary, he says, but as with many of Gaza’s current problems, the solution is painfully clear: “If the borders were opened, the siege lifted, work available again, people here wouldn’t feel hopeless, wouldn’t feel the need to take drugs like Tramadol,” says Dr. Khatib.
I am quite impressed with President Morsi. A leader should be judged by his conduct – speech and action. As for Morsi, he tries to maneuver between conflicting interests and obligations. His speeches do not always match his actions. The rhetoric is more extreme than his deeds. His main concern is to bring stability to Egypt. These are, indeed, trying times for the great country in transition. President Morsi does not wish to rock the boat. Quite the opposite: he wishes to bring calm and sanity to his boiling country, and boiling region. Both Israel and the United States should engage with him. He should not be ignored. More paths for communication should be opened to his regime. Israeli and American public officials should see him. Egypt has, possibly more than ever, a major role to play, especially vis-à-vis the Hamas. If there is a mediator that Hamas trusts, it is President Morsi. Thus it is most important to show President Morsi the advantages that Egypt can gain by maintaining positive relations with both Israel and the USA.

Iron Dome

To those who rely on Israel’s technology and sophisticated weapons: on October 24, 2012 the Iron Dome defence system had successfully intercepted 7 of the 72 rockets and mortars launched by Hamas.

Only peace is the answer. It is a matter of time for Hamas to be able to target Israeli cities and towns across the country. The population of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is far less resilient than the population of Ashkelon and Sderot. Meaning that the Israeli response would be far harsher. Meaning a further, dreadful cycle of violence that might include other actors beside Hamas. Meaning bad news for the children of Israel and Palestine.
The regime of King Abdullah II is not immune to the 'Arab Spring' and the growth of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic movements that have sprung up across the Arab world. Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood leaders are pushing for reforms and participation in upcoming elections, which observers say may pave the way for the group to eventually control the regime.
So far, Abdullah has largely maintained control, partly by relinquishing some of his powers to parliament and amending the country’s 60-year-old constitution. His Western-trained security forces have been able to keep protests from getting out of hand. Up until now, most of the opposition remains loyal to the king, pressing for reforms but not his removal. But this attitude may change.
Abdullah also has been trying to buttress his ailing economy, straining under $23 billion foreign debt, a record deficit of $2 billion and rising inflation, by inviting foreign investment and marketing Jordan as a tourist destination.
Jordan’s population is around 6.5 million people. Its demography is in flux as Jordan became a safe haven place for refugees from Iraq, and now Syria. The Government estimates that there are 450,000 Iraqis in the country. At present, around 2,000 Syrians are crossing daily into Jordan amid continuing air and artillery attacks on towns near the southern border. All in all, it is estimated that up until now more than 210,000 Syrian refugees have fled to the kingdom to escape the violence at home, straining basic services like water, electricity and the health care system. This refugees wish to have shelter and food. They have little or no affinity to the Hashemite Kingdom. King Abdullah, like most leaders in the world, lacks the diplomatic skills and the charming politics of his father. His main ally is the army but he would need more allies to survive these trying times. His relationships with the Bedouin tribes do not resemble the relationships his father had with the tribes and their leaders. King Abdullah lacks the language, and with the changing demography of his country, he is facing further difficulties. These are bad news for Israel, the United States and the western world. King Abdullah needs all the help he can get.
Between Ed Miliband and Neil Kinnock
Ed Miliband reminds me of Neil Gordon Kinnock: positive man, good ideas, good vision, best intentions, and charisma of an ant.
MESG Program 2012-2013

The Middle East Study Group program for the coming year is:

ü Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor – “Just and Unjust Wars – A Study of the Israeli Wars” (31 October 2012)

ü MP Diana Johnson, “The Middle East and the Arab Spring – Personal Reflections” (Friday, 23 November 2012, at 12 am)

ü Dr. Bhumitra Chakma, “Escalation Control, Deterrence Diplomacy and South Asia's Nuclear Crises” (5 December 2012)
ü Ms. Sophia Dingly, “In the Eye of the Storm: Yemen since 9/11” (30 January 2013).
ü Professor Clive Jones, Leeds University,“Yemen and the Arab Spring” (27 February 2013).
ü Dr. Christina Hellmich, University of Reading, “Whither Al-Qaeda? The Future of the Islamist Threat” (6 March 2013)
ü Dr Ahron Bregman, King’s College, “The Yom Kippur War” (10 April 2013)
ü Professor David Ariel, President, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, “The Jewish Kabbalah” (8 May 2013)
All welcome. Please alert me if you wish to attend.

Visit to Brandeis
I recently returned to Brandeis University to deliver a talk about the peace process and two-state solution, and to meet some of the great scholars of this wonderful university. In my talk about resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I presented the possible solutions:

· Status quo
· One nation - two variants:
1. Palestinian and
2. post Zionism.
Both variants wish to end the Jewish state.
· Two state solution.
· Three state solution, usually brought by those who oppose the two-state solution.
· Jordan.
· The Iranian solution.

Of all the solutions, I firmly believe that the only viable one is a two-state solution. We need to explain this, generate support, and then push forward as hard as we can to reach that end. Nothing short than the destiny of Israel is at stake.
I was somewhat surprise when an Egyptian professor in the audience suggested that a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation is the most viable option. I agree it is if the Jordanian agree to this. I am not in favour of coerced resolutions.
Israel is the stronger side. It should adopt prudent policy to secure a solution to this protracted and bloody conflict. The establishment of a Palestinian State is a Palestinian interest. It is also an Israeli interest.
Pushing forward a two state demands enormous effort. The challenges are sturdy and obstinate on both sides of the Fence. Only unified effort may change things for the better.
We should call upon media professionals to push the motion on their agendas. We should engage in any forum to explain the two state solution.

We should call upon academics to discuss the issue engage in debates explain what is at stake.
We should call upon business people to donate to this campaign and provide us with the necessary infrastructure.
We should call upon students to engage in debates and discussions in their respective student unions.
We should call upon IT specialists to help disseminate the campaign via social networking sites chat rooms websites blogs and other means at their disposal.
We should call upon all others to help in any way you see fit.
I am most grateful to Fred Lawrence for arranging the visit and for his kind hospitality, and to Shai Feldman, Sylvia Fishman, Eugene Sheppard, Dan Terris, and Yehudah Mirsky for their warm welcome and for sharing their time and thoughts with me.
My New Article

“The Failed Peace Process in the Middle East 1993-2010”, Israel Affairs, Vol. 18, No. 4 (October 2012), pp. 563-576.

This article examines the major developments that have taken place since the signing of the Oslo accords in September 1993. It analyses the major mistakes made along the way by both sides, showing that brinkmanship is a very dangerous policy when one or both sides are willing to pay a high price in blood. Finally, it offers a blueprint for breaking the deadlock roughly based on the Clinton parameters of 2001 and the subsequent Israeli–Palestinian Geneva Accords.

I thank the following persons for their useful communications, comments and criticism: Yossi Beilin, Shlomo Ben-Ami, Richard Collin, Efraim Karsh, Amos N. Guiora, Jack Hayward, Sam Lehman-Wilzig, Dan Meridor, Aaron Miller, Robert O’Neill, Yoav J. Tenembaum, Dov Weisglass, and Gad Yaakobi. The article is dedicated in memory of Gad Yaakobi, a tireless doer who had devoted his life to promote and secure a peaceful Israel.

You can find the article at
Catch 18
My hosts at Brandeis University kindly arranged for me a tour of the Tumen Exhibit which contains rare books and some other gems (I have lifted an Oscar trophy for the first time… not mine (-: ). Inter alia, the collection includes the first edition of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, one of the finest novels I have ever read. As a teenager, after reading Les Misérables I read every Hugo book that was in my libraries, and I warmly encourage those of you who have not, for some obscure, mysterious reason, saw the musical to run and see it. It is wonderful. I saw it three times, in London, New York and Tel Aviv (in Hebrew for change). All three productions were fabulous.

But the true gem for me was the original handwritten manuscript of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22.
The book tells in a lively prose and enchanting, sharp cynicism the story of Captain Joseph Yossarian, a member of a US bomber crew stationed on the Mediterranean island of Pianosa, who tries avoid the best of his abilities the madness of World War II. The book had captivated me when I read it. Its logic is so atrociously funny, so twisted, so crude, so hard-hitting and surprising that I read and reread sections, and simply did not wish to leave the book out of my hands. It is wonderfully witty, fantastically original and brutally realistic that all who are somehow deluded by the adrenalin of war must reconsider their position. Each and every general should read it… Seriously. This book has inspired me for many years to come and up until now I consider it one of the very best I have ever read.
This book is the best of Joseph Heller who, in my judgment, was never able to replicate this shrewd originality in his other novels. The son of Russian Jewish immigrants to the United States, Heller had joined the US Air Force in 1942 at the age of 19, going on to fly 60 bombing missions against enemy targets over Southern Europe. After the war, while working as an advertising copywriter, he spent six to seven years (1955-1961) writing a novel that reflected his gruesome experience, and what he saw as the madness of military life.
Anyway, when my knowledgeable guide, Ms. Susan Shoemaker, mentioned in passing that they have the original book in Heller’s handwriting, my eyes sparked and I asked whether I could see it. She said “of course” and dashed to bring the box. And there it was, Catch 22 on yellow pages in Heller’s wonderfully clear handwriting (wish I had such an envious handwriting), with all the changes, deletions, additions of the author including one in the title. The book was originally titled Catch 18 but around the same time Leon Uris published his own masterpiece, Mila 18, and Heller’s publisher wanted a different title to avoid confusion. Both gems were published during the same great and important year, 1961.
Heller worked on Catch 18 for several years and to be able to follow the unfolding events and his remarkable characters he prepared a massive diagram, in his careful hand writing: name of characters on the left, and a horizontal time line. It was interesting to try to follow the mind of a genius.
I thank Ms. Susan Shoemaker for a memorable morning at the Brandeis Special Collection.
New Books
M.R. McGuire, Technology, Crime and Justice (NY; Routledge, 2012).

The tendency to make sweeping generalizations about technology has been almost as prevalent as the tendency to underestimate its real nature and impact. Technology opens new possibilities for offenders, and at the same time it offers new excuses for governments to resort to control mechanisms. Technology evokes suspicion and fear, and provokes imagination and innovation. McGuire advises not to overstate the fears and to safeguard our liberties against abuse – abuse by offenders and by intruding governments.
Indeed, there is nothing new in our reactions to technology. Henry VIII introduced the first integrated postal system in England and immediately provoked suspicion that this would be another form of government surveillance. Enhanced technology has been followed by enhanced scrutiny and fear. We fear exploitation, by abusers and by government abusing its power to protect us from the abusers.
McGuire surveys technological innovation in different spheres and shows the utter failure of self-regulation and its often negative impacts. Whether it is media/communication self-regulation, Internet self-regulation, medical self-regulation or self-regulation by the chemical, biological or nuclear industries, it is the business’ interests that prevail over the public interest or the interests of justice. The drive for profit outweighs all other considerations. Ethics is of secondary importance at best, sometimes of no importance at all. Thus, for instance, McGuire notes that more than 45 research articles published between 1945 and 1991 directly cited evidence based on Nazi experiments conducted by Josef Mengele and his likes.
This is a thoughtful, well researched and well argued book. It is a specialized book, a bit advanced for undergraduate students but a real gem for those who are interested in technology and its effects on our lives.
I thank Routledge for a copy of this book.
Art Recommendation

At Brandeis I toured the Rose Art Museum that is now hosting an exhibition of the Israeli artist Dor Guez, "100 Steps to the Mediterranean". I very much liked his photography and videos on complex issues of identity and belonging. I thank Ms. Dabney Hailey, Director of Academic Programs, for her guidance. It was a real treat visiting the Rose Museum in her company.

Twitter Recommendation

I recommend or @Daily_Good. Nice, pleasant news can be good news.
Monthly Poem
A Calendar of Sonnets: October

The month of carnival of all the year,
When Nature lets the wild earth go its way,
And spend whole seasons on a single day.
The spring-time holds her white and purple dear;
October, lavish, flaunts them far and near;
The summer charily her reds doth lay
Like jewels on her costliest array;
October, scornful, burns them on a bier.
The winter hoards his pearls of frost in sign
Of kingdom: whiter pearls than winter knew,
Oar empress wore, in Egypt's ancient line,
October, feasting 'neath her dome of blue,
Drinks at a single draught, slow filtered through
Sunshiny air, as in a tingling wine!

Helen Hunt Jackson
While in Washington, my old friends asked me whether I still writing poetry. This question inspired the writing of the following:
Do You Write Poetry?
19 October 2012
Washington DC
Do You Write Poetry?
Do I breath?
Do I think?
Do I love?
Life without poetry is like life without love
Like tree without shade.
Why living?
Better leaving
No after life
Live today
Love today.
Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Gem of the Month

Washington DC. I love this city. It is a great place, with great people. So much to do. Never a dull moment. So cultural. So vibrant. So enchanting and beautiful. I am always happy to return to this wonderful city.
I came to Washington to participate in the Annual ASMEA conference, deliver talks about two-state solution and about my forthcoming book, In Internet’s Way, and to meet people. I was happy to return to the most wonderful Woodrow Wilson Center, a place that always makes me feel at home.
I am grateful to Bill Dackman, Yardena and Ori Lev, Theresa Kaiser, John Keown, Hussein Ibish, Kimberly Gross, Jerrold M. Post, Frances and TimSellers for their kind hospitality.

Political Joke

Bibi Netanyahu is a pragmatist.

Improving the Football Game
I am fed up with waste of time in football. FIFA should learn from basketball and prohibit passing the ball back to defence if the ball is in the opponent’s half.

Also, the game should not stop for a second when substitutes are made. The fourth referee should handle the change in one of two designated corners of the pitch, while an appropriate announcement is made on the loudspeakers.
I hope FIFA shows some willingness to improve the game and make it more interesting, faster and engaging that it is now. There are many more innovative ideas to make it more attractive but let’s start with these two simple changes which, I hope, are not controversial thus a consensus among the different fractions can be achieved.

Light Side

Doctors meeting
A group of psychiatrists were attending a convention. Four of them decided to leave, and walked out together. One said to the other three, "People are always coming to us with their guilt and fears, but we have no one that we can go to when we have problems." The others agreed.

Then one said, "Since we are all professionals, why don't we take some time right now to hear each other out?"

The other three agreed.

The first then confessed, "I have an uncontrollable desire to kill my patients."

The second psychiatrist said, "I love expensive things and so I find ways to cheat my patients out of their money whenever I can so I can buy the things I want."

The third followed with, "I'm involved with selling drugs and often get my patients to sell them for me."

The fourth psychiatrist then confessed, "I know I'm not supposed to, but no matter how hard I try, I can't keep a secret..."
Peace and love.
Yours as ever,

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