Sunday, May 26, 2013

Politics – May 2013

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

I also welcome promoting the two-state solution. See

The story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about angels and villains. It is a story about many innocent victims on both sides of the Fence.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

This was a very warm month on the northern border of Israel and beyond. Israel exploited Syrian delicate situation to target military installments inside Syrian territory, claiming that it targeted missiles that were about to be delivered to the Hezbollah. The United States justified Israel’s actions, characterizing them as act of self-defence.

Concerns flared whether Hezbollah might attack Israel in retaliation, possibly drawing Lebanon into the conflict. Israel thus deployed two of its Iron Dome missile-defense batteries closer to its northern border. Iran’s IRNA news agency said Israel could expect a “crushing” retaliation from Syria or “the resistance,” meaning Hezbollah.

Exchange with Abe Silverman
Visitors to the University of Hull
My New Article
New Books
Visiting Los Angeles
Gem of the Month - Lumley Castle
Monthly Poems
Light Side

Exchange with Abe Silverman

April 25/13
Dear Rafi

Many years ago you and I met at a Bnai Brith sponsored symposium in Toronto. I instantly took a liking to you and over the years have grown to appreciate your intellect. I must say however that in the last little while I have begun to resent your Idealistic and unrealistic point of view.

I too support a 2 state solution, but refuse to be sucked in by the beautiful rhetoric of a President Obama. Yes we all know that Israel needs to make peace with its neighbors. Yes, it is fundamental to Israel's security and its survival. And yes, Palestinian children do have the right as do all people to grow up in their own country. And no we don't need the President or any other foreign leader to point this out to us. And Obama is not the first President to utter the words "we are at a crossroads". We have been at a crossroads for 65 years.

But I am not very optimistic that a 2 State at peace solution will be achieved in our life time. True peace can only happen when the Arabs accept that Israel is the Jewish State as envisioned in the Partition Plan in 1947. And to date not one Muslim State and has accepted that premise. Not even the 2 Arab States that we have peace treaties with. And until that happens all we can hope for is long periods of calm for Israel and its people. Anything else is just wishful thinking.

Abe Silverman
Edmonton Canada

April 29, 2013
Dear Abe

I am happy we both agree of the need for two-state solution. I hope the leaders of Israel and Palestine will find the way to achieve this goal. If not, the future I am afraid will be anything but calm. Our children deserve better.

Best wishes


April 30/13

I too hope that the leadership on both sides can come together and make the hard decisions it will take to reach an agreement. But wishing will not make it happen and I have very strong doubts that it can happen. As I see it the Arabs just don't want us there and they definitely will not agree to recognize Israel as the home of the Jewish People. And we cannot accept anything less. With the rise of anti-semitism all over the world we Jews must have somewhere to run to. History has taught us that not having our own homeland places us at great peril. Maybe even more so than not having a peace agreement with the Arabs. We are faced with difficult choices. Let's not make the mistake of choosing one that will leave us even more vulnerable. 

With fond regards

Dear Abe

I do not think that the recognition of Israel as the home of the Jewish People is a major issue. I think Mr Netanyahu has picked this as a tactical concern: the Palestinians are putting on the table so many demands: refugees, settlements, borders, Jerusalem etc., let us put to them an Israeli demand. The Palestinian Authority will recognize Israel as the home of the Jewish People once agreement is reached on the other concerns.

I have been studying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the major part of my life. Many years ago I have reached the conclusion that this conflict is extremely difficult because both sides have justifiable claims, both sides have committed many errors, both sides fail to perceive peace as a strategic goal, both sides dehumanize the other, both sides mistrust the other, both sides still believe they may gain more by being obstinate, both sides are willing to sacrifice a lot, paying with blood for their inability to reach a compromise.

This is not a story about angels and villains. It is a story about many innocent victims on both sides of the Fence who are paying for the inability of their leaders to understand that peace is the ultimate goal. It is precious and of vital importance, so much so that it deserves painful concessions and costly compromises.

Like you, Abe, I support Israel as a Zionist state, as the state of the Jewish people, and I wish it to remain Jewish. If we fail to act at this particular junction, we might miss the train and Israel would cease being the fulfillment of the Zionist dream. We must seize the moment.

You know, the frustrating thing is listening to both sides. Both are blaming the other with the exact same words: “they do not want us here”, “they understand only force”, “we will prevail”, “we are just”, “they do not understand our historic claims”, “we are here to stay”, “we will conquer them”, “we are just”, “they are evil”. We speak the same stifling words, and we are unable to walk the walk.

We must learn to walk the walk.

With my best wishes

May 02/13

Dear Rafi

I think that a mistake was made when Israel entered into a peace agreement with Egypt and Jordan and did not insist that they recognize Israel as the Jewish State. It would have made it easier for the Palestinians to accept what I believe is the first condition that the Arabs and all of Islam must accept for there to be any chance for a long term peace agreement and true peace. If the Arabs are left with the dream of one day controlling all of Israel there will be no peace, just quiet for periods of time.

I get the impression that you feel that Netanyahu is not interested in being serious about reaching some kind of agreement with the Palestinians and again you seem to be suggesting that it is because of his right wing views. Is it not fair to say that every Prime Minister and coalition government from the left or the right have made attempts to reach agreements with Arafat and Abbas and have had no success? Everything I read and hear from Netanyahu clearly says to me that he is prepared to make the tough decisions and make the territorial concessions to reach an agreement. Am I wrong in my understanding?

I an sure that there is much blame to be placed on Israel for the failures of the past, but I just cannot believe that Israelis and their leadership would not make major sacrifices as they have in the past if only the Arabs would accept the reality that is Israel. I have not read or heard or seen anything that has convinced me that the Arabs are prepared for Jews to live on what they believe is their ancient Holy Land. And I am not referring to Judea and Samaria or Gaza. I am talking about all of Israel.
Warm regards

May 6, 2013

Dear Abe

I am yet to see concrete actions from the Israeli government to promote peace. Of course we are entitled to be suspicious about the Palestinians. Our mutual history is one of violence and bloodshed. There is very little trust between the two sides. But to put all the blame on one side is wrong.

The story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about rivalry on a little piece of land to which both sides have legitimate and justifiable claims. Luckily, unlike the Solomon trial, it is possible to split the land. This is the only solution, taking into account complex set of considerations relating to history, religion, nationalism, and viability.

Both sides must be content with the solution. If both sides won’t be happy, the children of Israel and Palestine will continue to suffer for many years to come, and I suspect Israel will be required to make tremendous changes that some will find it hard to swallow, even harder than swallowing the required compromise now.

Those who are involved in the peace process know what it takes to achieve peace. It is not a question of knowledge. It is a question of will, commitment and ability to deliver.

Best wishes

May 9, 2013

Dear Rafi
I want very much to understand your point of view and others who feel the same. It would be very helpful in the class that I teach and the many lectures I give on the subject of peace. And yes we all know the solution but how do we get there. Sharing the land is and should be the ultimate goal but I have not heard anything from anyone who is promoting the 2 State Solution on how you overcome the insurmountable difficulties to reach such a goal. How do you get the Arabs to accept that Israel is the land of the Jewish people. How does Israel deal with the Palestinian Refugee problem. How do the Palestinians accept a demilitarized State. How can Israel in light of the problems with Gaza not insist on a presence in the Jordan Rift Valley. And for the Arabs to insist that no Jews can live as citizens in a future Palestinian State should be an affront to all those who embrace Democratic values.

It also is very clear to me that every Israeli Government since Ben Gurion has tried to find a way to reach an agreement with the Arabs and the agreements that where signed in Oslo and Camp David the Arabs have not respected.

So, yes a 2 State solution should be the ultimate goal but it will take the wisdom of Solomon to get us there and so far a Solomon does not walk in our midst.  

Warm regards

May 12, 2013

Dear Abe

The issues you mentioned, and others, are solvable at the moment.

SecurityPalestine and Israel shall base their security relations on cooperation, mutual trust, good neighborly relations, and the protection of their joint interests. The Palestinian sovereignty should be respected as much as possible. Checkpoints will be dismantled. Only the most necessary will remain, subject to review and necessity. The Palestinian state will be non-militarized. This issue was agreed upon in 1995. They wish to have effective police force, and Israel agreed to that.

Also agreed upon were joint Israeli-Palestinian patrols along the Jordan River, and the establishment of a permanent international observer force to ensure the implementation of the agreed security arrangements.

Jerusalem – What is Palestinian will come under the territory of the new capital Al Kuds. What is Jewish will remain under Israeli sovereignty. To maintain Palestinian contiguity, Israel may be required to give up some of the settlements around Arab Jerusalem.

Haram al-Sharif – On March 31, 2013, a Jordan-Palestinian agreement was signed between the PA and Jordan, entrusting King Abdullah II with the defense of Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. While Jordan may be a party to any agreement concerning the site, a broader arrangement is welcomed. As agreed by Abbas and Olmert, it will be under the control of a five-nation consortium: Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United States. The Waqf will continue its administration. Jews will enjoy right of access.

Refugees and their right of return – This is a major concern for both Palestine and Israel. For Palestinians, this issue is about their history, justice and fairness. For Israelis, this is a debated issue, where many Israelis are unwilling to claim responsibility for the Palestinian tragedy and most Israelis object to the right of return as this would mean the end of Zionism. The issue is most difficult to resolve as the original refugee population of an estimated 700,000-750,000 has grown to 4,966,664 refugees registered with UNRWA at the end of November 2010. About 40% of the refugees live in Jordan, where they comprise about a third of the population; another 41% are in the West Bank and Gaza, 10% are in Syria, and 9% are in Lebanon. In the West Bank, refugees constitute about one-third of the population while in Gaza they comprise over 80% of the population.

Israel and the PA have been arguing endlessly about this issue as a matter of principle without examining by surveys how many of the refugees and their families actually are intended to return to Israel if this option were to be available to them. What needs to be done is to identify the population, establish the numbers, and after mapping the refugee population conduct a survey among them that would include the following options:

Return to Israel;
Return to the West Bank;
Return to the Gaza Strip;
Emigrate to third countries that would commit to absorbing a certain quota (appeal will be made to countries that receive immigration on a regular basis to participate in this settlement effort);
Remain where they are.
The 1948 Palestinian refugees will be able to settle in Palestine. The rest of the world is legitimate to set quotas. Unification of families should be allowed in Israel on a limited quota annual scale. But massive refugee return to Israel will not be allowed. This dream should be abandoned. When Abu Mazen was asked whether he would wish Safed, where he was born he replied: “It’s my right to see it, but not to live there”. I suspect that Abu Mazen’s view reflects the view of many Palestinians who seek recognition, apology and compensation, not the right of return. Thus Israel should recognize the Nakba, acknowledge Palestinian suffering, and compensate the 1948 refugees and their children (but not grandchildren) for the suffering inflicted on them. An international tribunal of reputable historians and international lawyers, including equal representatives of Israel and Palestine, will determine the level of compensation. If needed, Israel may establish an international relief fund to which humanitarian countries that wish to see the end of the conflict contribute. I believe that between Israel, Europe, the Moslem World, North America and other countries of good will (the Geneva Accord mentions Japan; I would add China, Australia and Brazil), the required funding can be secured. The United Nations and the World Bank may also be approached to offer assistance.

I do not think many settlers would opt to live under Palestinian sovereignty but they should have the right to do so if they wish.

Once Israel and Palestine will reach an agreement about these issues, the Palestinian will accept Israel as the land of the Jewish people.

The days of Ben-Gurion are far away. You can crudely divide the relationships with the Arab world into two periods: before and after the Six Day War. Before 1967, the Arabs wished to destroy Israel and believed in their ability to do so. After 1967, still many Arabs wish to destroy Israel but many more ceased to believe in their ability to do so.

First attempts to reach peace with Israel were done by Sadat in the early 1970s. The Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir, was not interested. She wanted to keep the land. Only after the 1973 shock, Israeli leaders were willing to engage with peace talks while understanding that Israel will need to pay a high price for peace. Israel paid the price, and we have peace with Egypt for more than 30 years.

The peace with Egypt paved the way to other peace talks.

The Oslo process failed primarily because Arafat was not committed to peace and wished to gain more. He did not desert the PLO salami method of exploiting situations, working on your “partner’s” weaknesses, terrorize and exerting violence while using the language of “peace”. Israeli leaders -- Rabin and Peres -- played into his hands due to their burning desire to reach peace notwithstanding buses exploding in Tel Aviv. I believe things are different with Abu Mazen.

Best wishes


May 13/13
Sorry Rafi.
 I think you are engaging in some wishful thinking. Israel does not Trust the International Community to provide any security or observer status along the Jordan Rift valley or Jerusalem and why should they. They are and where dismal failures in South Lebanon, Golan and Sinai. The refugee problem I think is insurmountable, I don't believe the Palestinians or any other Arabs will recognize Israel as the National home of the Jewish people at this time. And though Golda Meir did not want to give up Sinai a peace agreement was not possible until Sadat recognized after the Yom Kippur war that only an exchange of land for peace would return the Sinai to Egypt. 
I believe that Netanyhu's plan to help strengthen the West Bank economy and improve the lives of the Arabs and a generation of Arabs who are not incited will hopefully bring them to a place where they will accept Jews in their midst. And that to me is the main reason why an agreement is not possible at this time.
With warm regards

A friend, Professor Sam Lehman-Wilzig, commented about this exchange:

A comment: you forgot to mention one aspect of a final peace treaty: compensation for 100s of thousands Edot Hamizrakh who were thrown out of their homes in Arab countries from 1948 onwards. They too demand compensation.

To which I answered:

If we are to demand compensation from Arab states, we surely need to demand compensation from many European countries as well for many years of exploitation and discrimination, from the time of the Inquisition ? Chmelnitsky? later?

Sam’s reply:
No. There's a huge difference. Not only did the Arab expulsion of Jews occur exactly at the same time the Palestinian Arabs had to leave their homes in Israel, but the Arab-Jews were expelled precisely BECAUSE of the establishment of the State of Israel! What more parallelism could one ask for? These are mirror images of each other -- and therefore what's good for the goose is good for the gander too.
All the best,

Visitors to the University of Hull

The Middle East Study Group (MESG) hosted Dr Ahron Bregman, King’s College London, who discussed “Ashraf Marwan and Israel's intelligence failure in Yom Kippur, 1973”.

Dr Bregman gave a fascinating and quite personal presentation of his own involvement in the affair. Ronnie exposed the Israeli mole inside President Sadat’s office. Until today it is a disputed issue whether the spy served one (Israel), or two governments (Israel and Egypt). While Ronnie (and I for that matter) believe Marwan was a double agent who served Egyptian interests, others (including Zvi Zamir and Uri Bar-Yoseph) believe he was a kosher Israeli spy.

I was happy to introduce the town of Beverley to Ronnie. He seemed to appreciate the picturesque streets. At the town centre we met Lady Pinder, Mayor of Beverley who would have preferred Ronnie to be at King’s College, Cambridge. Oh well...

My New Article

“Online Child Sex Offenders – Challenges and Counter-measures“, The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 52, No. 2 (May 2013), pp. 190-215.

The aim of this article is straightforward and practical: by utilising elements of routine activity and rational choice theories, it explains how online child sex offenders use the Internet and what can be done to counter the challenge they pose. The discussion opens with definitions of child pornography, child erotica, child exploitation material and paedophilia. Its main objective is to promote online protection of children. It is explained that online child sex offenders and paedophiles use the Internet to create virtual communities; collect, share and trade images; tempt, seduce and groom children. Then the article explores what has been done in the Western world to combat those criminal activities. Successful campaigns against child pornography require shared responsibility and effort by parents, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), legal enforcement and the international community at large.

Keywords: child pornography; child sex offenders; paedophilia; cybercrime; encryption; grooming; hotline; responsibility; virtual community

I am happy to email the article to interested parties.
The article is also available on my Website:

New Books

Laurie Ouellette (ed.), The Media Studies Reader (NY: Routledge, 2013).

Designed for the critical media studies curriculum, The Media Studies Reader is an entry point into the major theories and debates that have shaped critical media studies from the 1940s to the present. Combining foundational essays with influential new writings, this collection provides a tool box for understanding old and new media as objects of critical inquiry. It is comprised of 42 previously published readings, organized into seven sections: culture (including essays by Benjamin, Spigel and McCarthy), technology (including essays by Adorno and Horkheimer, Lipsitz and Appadurai), representation (including essays by Hall, Berger and Couldry), industry (including essays by Schiller, Curtin and Kraidy), identity (including essays by Hall and Marshall), audience and citizenship. One may argue about the selection, deciding these 42 articles and unselecting others, but any reader requires selection and every editor has a certain agenda. Critical introductions frame each section to help readers place each article in context and within a broader scholarly dialogue. Each section includes scholarship that foregrounds the politics of gender, ethnicity, race, class, sexuality, and geopolitics. Longer readings were selectively edited for conciseness and accessibility, and to maximize breadth of coverage. The book also has a useful Index. A map of a rapidly growing and changing field, The Media Studies Reader is an invaluable resource to students as well as established scholars.

I thank Routledge for a copy of this book.

James J. Chriss, Social Control: An Introduction (Cambridge: Polity, 2013), second edition.

What is social control? How do social controls become part of everyday life? What role does the criminal justice system play in exerting control? Is the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness a form of social control? Do we need more social controls to prevent terrorist atrocities?

In this new edition of his popular and engaging introduction, James J. Chriss carefully guides readers through the debates about social control. The book provides a comprehensive guide to historical debates and more recent controversies, examining in detail the criminal justice system, medicine, everyday life, and national security.
Assuming no specialist knowledge on the part of readers, Chriss uses a rich range of contemporary examples to illustrate the ways in which social control is exerted and maintained. The updated edition includes new and expanded discussion of the 2011 Tucson shootings, post-9/11 counterterrorism laws in the transition from the Bush to the Obama administrations, the death of bin Laden, racial profiling, housing segregation and white flight, hate crimes, (counter)surveillance and flash mobs, the diagnosis of conditions such as ADHD, and agents of socialization in the areas of work and consumption, religion, the family, and the mass media.

I thank Polity for a copy of this book.

Visiting Los Angeles

In the second half of June next month I am scheduled to visit LA. I will be happy to see as many of you as it possible. I will spend most of my time at UCLA.

Gem of the Month - Lumley Castle

We spent a weekend at Lumley Castle, celebrating several family events that have coincided recently. Lumley Castle is situated near Chester-Le-Street, between Durham and Newcastle. The noble-and-great have a nice life, and it was certainly interesting to witness the wealth, the art, and the architecture. Lumley is charming and delightful, a perfect weekend treat to celebrate family festivities.

Monthly Poems

A Calendar of Sonnets: May

O Month when they who love must love and wed!
Were one to go to worlds where May is naught,
And seek to tell the memories he had brought
From earth of thee, what were most fitly said?
I know not if the rosy showers shed
From apple-boughs, or if the soft green wrought
In fields, or if the robin's call be fraught
The most with thy delight. Perhaps they read
Thee best who in the ancient time did say
Thou wert the sacred month unto the old:
No blossom blooms upon thy brightest day
So subtly sweet as memories which unfold
In aged hearts which in thy sunshine lie,
To sun themselves once more before they die.

Helen Hunt Jackson

Rainbow Smile

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.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Light Side

Three mothers were sitting around comparing notes on their exemplary sons. “There never was a son more devoted than my Moishe”, said Ms. Blum. “Every summer he takes me to Bournemouth for a week, and every winter we spend a week in Aspen. Moishe is one of a kind”.

“That’s nothing compared to my Haimke”, sniffed Ms. Pollack immediately. “Every year he treats me to two weeks in Jerusalem, and every summer we go for two months to Miami, in his own private summer house”.

Ms. Siegal sits quietly, allowing her friends to burn with curiosity whether she has anything to say. Finally, when Ms. Blum and Ms. Pollack were almost on the verge of collapse, she said proudly: “No one, but no one loves his mother like my Ariel... nobody!”

“So what does he do?”, screamed Ms. Blum and Ms. Pollack in a simultaneous crescendo.

“Three times a week he gets into his car, rain or shine, goes to the best psychiatrist in New York, and pays him $350 an hour... just to talk about me!”

Peace and love. Happy Shavuut with lots of cheese and smiles!

Yours as ever,


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