Monday, August 26, 2013

Politics – August 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

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Reflections on My Two-State Petition
Middle East Studies Program
On Representation
Proposal for Parliamentary Democracy
Israel’s Future 1
Bill Requiring Referendum on Ceding Land Passes First Knesset Reading
Most Israelis Object to Withdrawing to Pre-1967 Borders
German Magnate Berthold Beitz, who saved Jews in WWII, dies
Israel’s Future 2
Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism - 4th International Conference
China to Stop Harvesting Organs from Executed Prisoners
Book Review - Ami Pedahzur and Arie Perliger
New Books
Visit to Israel
Gem of the Month – The Lake District
Monthly Poems
Light Side

Reflections on My Two-State Petition

PA wrote: “A two-state solution is no solution; it's capitulation. Israel should occupy its full Biblical borders, and only Jews and those chosen by Jews should have any rights there. End of story”.

Middle East Studies Program

Below information about our program for this year. All invited.

Title of event in full Professor Lester Grabbe, MESG, "The Manipulation of History for Ideology:  Pro-Palestinian and Pro-Zionist Examples"

Wednesday, 17 October 2013

Room 2-100 Wilberforce Building

Lester L. Grabbe is Emeritus Professor of Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism at the University of Hull.  As the academic title indicates, his main interest is in the history of ancient Israel and the Jews of the Second Temple period.  He founded and convenes the European Seminar on Methodology in Israel’s History, and publishes the proceedings in the sub-series European Seminar in Historical Methodology (T & T Clark International).  9 volumes are available and 2 more are in the process of editing.  In addition, he has authored a dozen volumes, as well editing or co-editing a total of 16 volumes.  He is series editor of the T & T Clark International monograph series, Library of Second Temple Studies.  Before retirement, he established and taught for several years a module, Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, and another module, Religious Sectarianism in History and the Modern World.

Any quotes or names of books/films/ music pieces should be in italics

Enquiries: Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Chair in Politics
T: +0044 (0)1482 465024
F: +0044 (0)1482 466208

Sponsored by:  Middle East Study Group

Title of event in full Ambassador Professor Manuel Hassasian, Palestinian Ambassador to the UK
Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Room 2-100 Wilberforce Building

Manuel Sarkis Hassassian (born 28 December 1953 in Jerusalem) is an Armenian-Palestinian professor who since late 2005 has been the Palestinian Authority's diplomatic representative to the United Kingdom after being appointed to the position by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He will speak on the prospects for peace in the Middle East.

Enquiries: Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Sponsored by:  Middle East Study Group

Title of event in full Mr Dan Meridor, “The Arab Spring and Its Impact on the Middle East and World Order
Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Room 2-100 Wilberforce Building

Dan Meridor was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence in the Government of Israel (31.3.2009 - 18.3.2013). In 2001-2003 he served as a Minister in the Israeli government, in charge of strategic affairs, and was a member of the Inner Cabinet. In 1999-2001 Mr. Meridor served as the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Knesset. In 1996-1997 Mr. Meridor was the Minister of Finance of Israel.  In 1988-1992 Dan Meridor was the Minister of Justice of Israel.  In 1982-1984 Mr. Meridor served as the Secretary of the Cabinet under Prime Minister Menahem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir. He is married to Dr Leora Meridor, with four children and seven grandchildren.

Enquiries: Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Chair in Politics
T: +0044 (0)1482 465024
F: +0044 (0)1482 466208

Sponsored by:  Middle East Study Group

Title of event in full Dr Rusi Jaspal, "Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism in Iran"
Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Room 2-100 Wilberforce Building

Dr Rusi Jaspal (M.A., Cambridge; M.Sc., Surrey; Ph.D., London) is Lecturer in Psychology at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. Dr. Jaspal has published widely on identity, intergroup relations and the media, with a particular focus on anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in Iran and the Muslim world. His work in this area has appeared in journals such as Israel Affairs, The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs and The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. Rusi Jaspal is co-editor (with Prof Dame Glynis Breakwell) of Identity Process Theory: Identity, Social Action and Social Change (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and the author of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism: Representation, Cognition and Everyday Talk (Ashgate, 2013).

Enquiries: Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Chair in Politics
Sponsored by:  Middle East Study Group

On Representation
This was published on the Jerusalem Post on August 12, 2013.
On 31 July 2013, the Governance Bill passed its first reading in the Israeli Knesset, with 63 MKs voting for and 46 against.
The bill amends the Basic Law: The Government. It includes a limit on the number of government ministers to 19 and of the deputy ministers to four; motions of no-confidence will be held only once a month in the presence of the prime minister or at the demand of 61 MKs, in which case the debate will be held immediately; if the motion of no-confidence is carried by a 61 MKs majority, and an alternative candidate for prime minister is proposed and accepted, the candidate will have 21 days to form a government instead of the current 28. Should the candidate fail, the deposed government will return to the cabinet. The bill also determines that if the coalition does not manage to pass the State budget within three months the Knesset will be dissolved. After the general elections, the government will have 55 days to form a State budget, and the Knesset 45 days to pass it. All these amendments have strong reasoning behind them.
The most controversial part of the Bill was the raising of the election threshold to 4%. This part of the Bill received the support of 64 MKs. Opposition Member of Knesset (MKs) from Meretz (the civil rights party), United Torah Judaism, Arab parties and several MKs from the Labour party took the Knesset podium and protested against the “anti-democratic” bill.

Since 1987 I have written on democracy and its inherent problems, speaking in favour of its obligation to defend itself. In elucidating the theory of Democracy on the Defensive, I explained that the very principles that underline democracy might undermine its existence.

Democracy is founded on the idea of liberty. But if we allow limitless liberty to each and every person to pursue what she perceives to be her conception of the good, the result would be anarchy.

Democracy is built on the idea of tolerance. But if we tolerate violent, coercive and anti-democratic groups in society, this might bring about the destruction of the democratic order.

Democracy is built on the idea of participation. Indeed, the idea of participation is so important that many call present-day democracy “participatory democracy”. The citizens should exercise their potential ability to influence the decision-making process, while the government, on its part, should encourage individuals and groups to take part in civic life. But if each and every citizen will swamp the government with everyday demands, organize constant demonstrations, pickets and rallies then the government would find it difficult to function.

Democracy is built on the idea of representation. Each citizen is to have an equal vote to influence the outcomes of the legislative process; each citizen alienates his right for political decision-making and gives authority to few delegates to manage the civic life in the way they see best. These representatives are chosen by the people to decide for them, ideally according to the lines prescribed in their political platform. This elections process is the mechanism that gives effect to the difference between democratic and non-democratic modes of representation. While decision-making processes should aspire to take into account as many interests as possible, there is no obligation to consider each and every interest in society. This would be nearly impossible, or impossible. Democracy should aspire to ensure adequate representation but it is not obligated to represent each and every view.

Thus, there is a tension between each and every democratic principle. A good government has to find the right balance between each and every principle, and in the interplay between the principles.

I have argued for years that Israel should increase the entry threshold to the Knesset to 4 or 5 percent. This in order to ensure better governance capabilities. I have argued this also when I was active in the Meretz Party. I cannot say that I gained many supporters within my party for that view... But I sincerely believe this is the right thing to do. The Knesset has far too many parties. As a result, many governments did not complete their terms. Fragile coalitions, tempting deals, blackmailing efforts, partisan interests -- all these factors have undermined Israeli governance.

A good government is one that does not distort the representative system in favour of the majority; that ensures and protects an adequate proportional representation of minorities. Nothing but a false show of democracy is possible without it. John Stuart Mill said: "In a really equal democracy, every or any section would be represented, not disproportionately, but proportionately". This can be done also with fewer parties represented in the Knesset. The United States has two major parties. The United Kingdom has three. They are not less democratic than Israel, and their governance abilities are far more efficient. The decision to raise the entry threshold to the Knesset to 4% is correct and will contribute to a stronger, better-functioning Israeli democracy.

Sam Lehman-Wilzig notes that the new law also has provisions to prevent artificial parties from breaking apart right after elections into their “original” constituent small parties.

Proposal for Parliamentary Democracy

Mixed semi-presidential system, where the president is elected by first past the post and the legislature is elected by proportional representation.

The leader of the majority party within the legislature who is elected within his party by its members is then formally asked by the president to become the prime minister.

It incorporates bicameral chambers, one fully elected, one half elected by the legislature and half appointed by the president advised by the prime minister and cabinet.

The threshold will be 4% of the votes so as to have a more stable parliament comprised of parties that are able to pass this significant bar. At the same time, this will be a multi-party system as it can be expected that more than two or three parties will be able to pass this threshold.

The fully elected chamber will house the elected representatives from the state regions. The second chamber’s role will be to scrutinize bills effectively.

Consensual politics will be facilitated and encouraged via proportional representation. The legislature will have the ability to express vote of no confidence in the prime minister. It will be a committee-based debating chamber similar to the American system.

The legislature will also be able to place a basic vote of no confidence in the president, facilitating accountability and control also on the president.

The president will be responsible for foreign policy and for the appointment of senior judges and ambassadors. He is also responsible for defence decisions, upon the advice of the prime minister and the cabinet.

The prime minister will be responsible for domestic and economic policy.[1]

As in Britain, members of the executive will be questioned regularly on their policies.

The judiciary will be completely independent, assigned as a court of appeals, as a constitutional court, and as a check against corruption allegations.

Israel’s Future 1

I was asked whether I am hopeful about the new peace initiative and prospects. My candid answer is very reserved. For such a momentous achievement of resolving a deep, entrenched conflict, three things are absolutely essential:

  • An Israeli leader who is committed to bring peace to his people and is willing to pay the necessary price;
  • A Palestinian leader who is committed to bring peace to his people and is willing to pay the necessary price;
  • Shared belief by both leaders that the time is ripe for peace. By “time is ripe” it is meant that both leaders believe that enough blood was shed, that they need to seize the moment because things might worsen for their people, and that they have the ability to lead their respective people to accept the peace agreement and change reality for the better.

I am unable to say that each and every one of the three preconditions is present today. I am sorry for this sober assessment. I am truly, very sorry.

Bill Requiring Referendum on Ceding Land Passes First Knesset Reading

On July 31, 2013, the Knesset gave initial approval to a government-backed bill that would enhance the status of existing legislation providing for a referendum over any future decision on Israel’s part to give up its sovereign territory.

What does this tell you? Does it tell you that the government is committed to “land-for-peace” formula? Does it tell you that the government is willing to pay the price for peace?

Most Israelis Object to Withdrawing to Pre-1967 Borders

A new poll shows the extent to which the Israeli stance has hardened in recent years. The combination of right-wing government, right-wing popular media, not reassuring withdrawal from Gaza and the establishment of Hamastan, and general mistrust in every Palestinian have made quite an impact on Israeli society.

Most Israelis would oppose any peace deal with the Palestinians that involved withdrawing to pre-1967 ceasefire lines, even if land-swaps were agreed to accommodate Jewish settlements.

The survey by the liberal Israeli Democracy Institute (IDI) showed 65.6 percent of those questioned did not expect to see a deal in talks between Israel and the Palestinians within a year.

Even if the Israeli government managed to defy sceptics and secure an accord, the poll suggested it would struggle to sell it to its people.

Of the 602 people questioned, 55.5 percent said they were against Israel agreeing to the 1967 lines, even if there were land-swaps which would enable some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to remain part of Israel.

Among Israel's majority Jewish population, opposition to such an agreement was 63 percent, while among Israeli Arabs only 15 percent objected to such a deal.

Some 67 percent of all Israelis said they would also oppose Palestinian demands for a return of an even a small number of refugees who either fled or were driven away when Israel was created in 1948. They were also against compensating the refugees or their descendants financially.

On one of the other issues facing negotiators, the question of whether Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem should become part of a Palestinian state, some 50 percent of Israeli Jews said they were against the idea.

Only 55 percent of Israeli Arabs were in favor, fewer than might be expected, suggesting Arab residents of East Jerusalem did not want to lose advantages of living under Israeli government control, such as health and national insurance benefits.

German Magnate Berthold Beitz, who saved Jews in WWII, dies


Berthold Beitz and his wife, both seen here in 1995, hid Jewish workers in their home during WW II ; Photo: BBC

Berthold Beitz, a leading German industrialist who saved hundreds of Jews during World War II, has died aged 99.

Berthold Beitz headed the ThyssenKrupp corporation, one of the world's largest steel producers. Mr Beitz was internationally recognised for saving Jews in occupied Poland from being transferred to Nazi death camps. The magnate was also credited with playing a key role in Germany's post-war reconstruction.

During the war, Mr Beitz managed an oil field in occupied Poland. Between 1942 and 1944, he rescued hundreds of Jewish oil field workers from trains destined for the Belzec death camp. He and his wife also hid Jewish children in their home: "Together with his wife, he set an impressive example of courage and humanity by saving hundreds of persecuted Jews from the SS, risking his own life in the process".

Mr Beitz received numerous honours for his bravery. In 2000, both he and his wife were awarded the Leon-Baeck prize, the highest award by Germany's Central Council of Jews.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has described Mr Beitz as one of the country's most distinguished businessmen and applauded his "brave and exemplary support for Jewish workers during World War II".

Mr Beitz was considered instrumental in helping to revive the German steel trade and expand into foreign markets after the war.

In the 1950s, he joined the Krupp steel company, which had been heavily involved in armaments production during the war. He ran the company for six decades.

Israel’s Future 2

In the London 2012 Olympics, Israeli athletes manifested Pierre de Coubertin’s statement: The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.


The Israeli delegation was comprised of 37 athletes who returned home empty handed, with no medals, despite the high hopes. Israel has competed at the Olympic Games since 1952 and won 7 medals, in total. We are not known for our athleticism.


Compare the all-time Israeli record to the record of one Baltimore man, Michael Phelps.

Brains is a different story altogether. Here lies Israel’s strength and future. This year, the young Israeli delegation to the Mathematics Olympics (High School) returned with six medals. Israel was ranked 13th of 103 delegations.


 Israeli delegation to the Mathematics Olympics, Haaretz


               In the last Physics Olympics, Israel won 5 medals. In the Chemistry Olympics, Israel won 4 medals. In the Computer Science Olympics, Israel won 4 medals.


               Congratulations to the winners! Go from strength to strength and lead Israeli society to a better future!





               Is it mere coincidence that Michael Phelps is an American?

Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism - 4th International Conference
Raphael Cohen-Almagor[2]

I published this in Sharnoff’s Global Views,

I was happy to take part in the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, convened by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Professor Yehuda Bauer argued that Jews cannot fight anti-Semitism on their own. Jews must have allies. Jews need Muslims, Christians, non-believers and others who oppose racism of all kind. Indeed, there is little doubt in my mind that it is in the interest of the Jewish lobby to cooperate with others who fight hate and bigotry: Moslems who fight Islamophobia, gay people who fight gay bashing, other minorities who fight discrimination.

Mufti Dr Abduljalil Sajid of Brighton Islamic Mission, the UK, said that the state of Israel should be protected. Those who oppose its existence are anti-Semitic. Muslims and Jews should fight together any form of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. We need to expose ignorance which opposes both religions. With dialogue we will promote love and understanding. Let there be respect for the other, love in our lives. 

In his recorded address to conference participants, Prime Minister Netanyahu conflated anti-Semitism and any critique of Israel. I beg to differ: criticism of specific Israeli policies should not been seen as anti-Semitism. One who criticizes the occupation, or the settlements, is not necessarily anti-Semitic. There are many Israelis and Jews who disagree with the present government policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians that pays mere lip-service to two-state solution with zero commitment to pay the necessary price for peace.

In the English mainstream media, so it was argued, there is an increase in anti-Semitic tropes. Professor Bauer criticized the politicians, saying that they are in the ivory tower while academics are on the ground doing the fighting. Academics, I may add, need help especially from teachers and media professionals. Combating anti-Semitism should be conducted in multiple spheres:

  • Education in primary and high schools;
  • Increase awareness of the problem via the mainstream media. The international effort may include establishing commercial TV stations in the most relevant languages including Urdu, Farsi, Pashto and Arabic to fight against incitement of hatred, bigotry and terrorism.
  • As for the Internet, time and again participants emphasized the necessity to work with the gatekeepers. ISPs need to balance freedom of expression and social responsibility. Merely writing an ethical code of conduct is not enough. They need to abide by their own code of conduct. This requires them to be proactive in order to prevent abuse.

More than anything, what is needed is a coordinated effort, speaking in one voice, negotiating with the major ISPs under one umbrella organization, evoking their awareness to the challenges and problems, and requesting the same substantive changes. At present multiple actors are involved, each comes with its own agenda, each puts forward its own proposals. Sometimes the proposals conflict. Thus the ISPs remain non-responsive. It is easier, and cheaper, for them simply to do nothing, saying that they could not feasibly satisfy all demands. One voice, one mission, a unified effort, will make a powerful plea that major ISPs could no longer ignore.

Frankly, this was my hope from this global forum. I was hoping that there will be “someone” who will make order, and put things together. This hope should materialize one way or another.

At the end of the day, social responsibility is good for the community and also for business. The gatekeepers should take responsibility for what they are hosting and promoting. Without access, the face of modern terrorism and modern crime will be forced to change, yet again. Hopefully it will change to something less dangerous.

By the same token, balancing one of these two great values against the other -- freedom of expression and social responsibility -- a further idea is to establish a new browser for liberal democracies called CleaNet ©. Through mechanisms of deliberate democracy, Net-users would agree what constitutes illegitimate expression to be excluded from the browser. CleaNet © will be different from any of the multiple commercial products that offer filtering of Internet and web-based content in several aspects. It will be the result of democratic and open deliberation involving citizens. The decision-making process will involve concerned citizens who will decide together what the future Internet should look like. They will be involved in an ongoing process, offering reasoning and counter-reasoning where everything will be put on the table for discussion. Furthermore, CleaNet © will be more comprehensive than any existing filter. Whereas some filters are designed to help parents ensure that their children will not encounter pornography on the Net (e.g., NetNanny) and others are designed to filter hate (e.g., HateFilter), CleaNet © will be a transparent browser that will provide Net-users with the ability to surf the Internet in a social, friendly environment, free of the anti-social, evil material that is now so prevalent and accessible via the existing browsers.

In addition, CleaNet © will be a pragmatic, fluid tool, sensitive to cultural norms and open to contestation. It is designed by the people, for the people, answering people’s needs and concerns. CleaNet ©  is suggested precisely because no existing filter can achieve the desired outcome of a clean Internet, with full transparency in regards to the relevant considerations and the citizens’ ability to deliberate, exchange ideas and influence cyber surfing. 

Finally, on CleaNet ©, search engines will not keep their ranking algorithms secret. Quite the opposite. They will proudly announce that the ordering of search results is influenced by standards of moral and social responsibility, commitment to preserving and promoting security online and offline, and adherence to liberal principles we hold dear: Liberty, tolerance, human dignity, respect for others, and not harming others.

China to Stop Harvesting Organs from Executed Prisoners

China will begin phasing out a program that allowed the harvesting of organs from prisoners who were executed.

Former deputy health minister Huang Jiefu, who still heads the ministry's organ transplant office, said that in the future, organs would be only be taken from volunteers who submitted their request to be donors through the new national organ donation system, which is called the China Organ Transplant Committee: "I am confident that before long all accredited hospitals will forfeit the use of prisoner organs," Huang said.

There are currently 165 Chinese hospitals that perform transplants. Huang said the first batch of hospitals -- he didn't say how many -- will end the practice of using prisoners' organs following a meeting on the issue this November.

About 300,000 patients are wait-listed each year for an organ in China. Only one in 30 will receive a transplant.

Voluntary donations remain low because many Chinese people follow beliefs that oppose organ removal before burial. Huang said in 2010 there were only 63 cases of voluntary organ donation. This year, the country has averaged 130 donations per month, but it's still not nearly enough to meet demand.

There is also a widespread belief in China that using organ donations from prisoners on death row allows the inmates to redeem themselves for their crimes. China says it is only done with the prisoners' consent. But human rights groups have long been outraged by the practice, and say there's evidence that organs are harvested without consent -- and worse, sometimes when the donor is still alive.

Though Chinese officials had also said in 2007 that they would stop using organs from prisoners, China Daily reported in 2009 that 65 percent of the country's organ donations still came from convicts. The volunteer donor system was established that same year.

The numbers improved only slightly since then: Huang said that at the end of 2012 about 64 percent of organs transplanted in China came from prisoners. So far this year, the number is at 54 percent.

The China Organ Transplant Committee began in 25 provinces and municipalities. About 1,000 organs have been donated, and 3,000 patients have been helped, Huang said. Officials hope they can take the program nationwide by the end of 2013.

Huang gave assurance that all future donations through this program would "meet the commonly accepted ethical standards in the world."

Book Review - Ami Pedahzur and Arie Perliger

Ami Pedahzur and Arie Perliger, Jewish Terrorism in Israel Wars (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), 243 pp.; Price: $20.
ISBN: 978-0-231-15447-5.
Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 25, Issue 3 (2013), pp. 501-503.

                The idea behind this book is interesting. Pedahzur and Perliger, who have been studying Israeli extremism and political violence for a number of years, wanted to examine manifestations of Jewish violence from the Second Temple era until today. They analyze the sociological and cultural conditions that contribute to the radicalization of communities and the socialization processes among peers that culminated in manifestations of terrorism. For this purpose, Pedahzur and Perliger created three databases. The first includes information on 309 Jewish terrorist attacks in Palestine/Israel between 1932 and 2008. The second is a biographical database of the 224 people who participated in the terrorist attacks, and the third concerns the ties between members of each Jewish terrorist network (p. xiii).
                Pedahzur and Perliger define terrorism as a phenomenon that involves the use of violence. By this they divert from common definitions that include also the threat of violence. Second, there is a political motive that activates the violence, and there is an intention to strike fear among the targets of terror who are civilians or noncombatants (p. xii).
                The first two chapters did not utilize the three databases as their concern predates 1932 by many years. Chapter 1 reflects on Jewish organized violence in the Second Temple. The Hashmonai family engaged in guerrilla warfare against Hellenistic rule in Israel. Yehuda Hamakabi, who assumed power in 165 B.C.E., secured partial religious autonomy for the Jews and restored the status of the Temple in Jerusalem as the center of spiritual life.
Pedahzur and Perliger then jump forward to more than 100 years after the fall of the Hashmonai kingdom and describe the Sicarians, the first group to systematically engage in terrorism and political assassinations (p. 6). They set the examples for many Jewish extremists from then until now, not hesitating to murder Jews who opposed their ideas. The internal rivalry between different segments of the Jewish population had helped the Romans to crush the Jewish revolt against them in 66-70 C.E and led to the destruction of the Second Temple. The defeat was so disastrous that Jewish Law (Halacha) adopted a specific directive against rebellion that might provoke the anger of the gentiles. Consequently, over the course of nearly 2,000 years of Jewish Diaspora, descendants of these Jews refrained almost entirely from engaging in terrorism (p. 8).
Chapter 2 is concerned with the terrorist activities of the Etzel (Irgun) and the Lehi (acronym for Fighters for the Freedom of Israel, known also as the Stern Gang) against the British Mandate and the local Arabs in Palestine with the aim of achieving Jewish independence. Between 1936 and 1939, the larger organization of the two, Etzel, carried out sixty operations that resulted in the killing of more than 120 Palestinians and the injury of other hundreds of Palestinians (p. 13). Etzel was also engaged in the assassination of British key figures (such as the senior police officer Ralph Carnes) and the bombing of British Mandate symbols, including the King David Hotel in Jerusalem which housed the military command and the Mandatory government secretariat. The Lehi, in turn, was responsible for the assassination of Lord Moyne, the British Minister for Middle East Affairs in Cairo, and of the UN Peace Mediator Count Folke Bernadotte in protest of his diplomatic efforts to modify the plan to partition Palestine into two countries, Arab and Jewish. In their survey, Pedahzur and Perliger failed to mention the political assassinations of Yaacov Yisrael De-Haan, an ultra-Orthodox and anti-Zionist activist in July 1924, and of the Zionist prominent activist, Haim Arlozoroff in June 1933.
                Chapters 3 and 4 examine two strands of terrorism, one emerging from the Gush Emunim (Block of the Faithful) settlement movement after the 1967 Six Day War; the other emerged after Rabbi Meir Kahane’s immigration to Israel in 1971. The first engendered the Jewish Underground after the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace accords in 1979 that resolved to return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, while the quasi-Fascist Kahanist movement produced zealots like Baruch Goldstein who murdered 29 Palestinian worshippers in February 1994, and groups such as Kach, Kahane Is Alive, the Gal Underground, DOV (acronym of Dikuy Bogdim, “Suppression of Traitors”), TNT (“Terrorism Against Terrorism”) network, and the Sicarii (Sikrikim) called after the Sicarians who, as said, were the first to engage in terrorism. Both strands of Jewish violent extremism were comprised mainly of Orthodox zealots who believed that Godly truth lay with them. Members of those illegal elements attacked Palestinians, perceived as the enemies of Israel and rivals over Israel’s small territory. Many of the attacks were meant to avenge the blood of Jewish victims, killed by Palestinians terrorists.
                Chapter 5 investigates how Jewish terrorists who were active during the 1990s integrated elements from previous group. One of them was Yigal Amir who on 4 November 1995 assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin because Rabin was willing to give up Jewish land, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in exchange for peace with the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Amir would not have murdered PM Rabin without an explicit Halachic directive of rabbis he trusted. He had set a dangerous precedent: for the first time in the history of modern Israel, a Jew was prepared to take the life of the prime minister. An important psychological barrier was broken.
Chapter 6 presents the violent groups that emerged in the West Bank following the Palestinian violent uprising of 2000. The Bat Ayin Underground, the Abu Tor Underground, and the hilltops youth operating under different names (“Gilad-Shallhevet Brigade”, “Sword of Gideon”, “Tears of the Widows and the Orphans”) terrorized the lives of their Palestinian neighbours. The idea was to create a highly stressful environment that would motivate the Palestinians to emigrate from the West Bank to other parts of the world where they might feel more comfortable.
                Chapter 7 is a curious one. It reflects upon violent groups and lone-wolves who acted out of revenge against Palestinians and others. However, it also discusses the Meshulam Cult that was not terrorist by nature. Its leader, Rabbi Uzi Meshulam, wanted to force the Israeli establishment to investigate one particular troubling episode in Israel’s early days of establishment: the kidnapping and disappearance of children of Yemenite immigrants. The Meshulam Cult should be outside the scope of this book (Jewish terrorism) and merits a separate discussion on religious/cultural cults in Israel. This chapter also discusses the Lifta Gang which attacked mosques in the Jerusalem vicinity in the early 1980s. This group should have been discussed in Chapter 3.
                Chapter 8 is most interesting as it draws conclusions from the previous discussions on Jewish terrorism in modern Israel. Pedahzur and Perliger note that most terrorists emerged within the framework of religious Zionism; they sought to enforce their illiberal values not only on their own community but on all people who reside in Israel and territories under its rule. The vast majority of the terrorists were young men. At least half of them were unemployed and many of them were in a state of personal crisis. Pedahzur and Perliger argue that in both Jewish and non-Jewish religious terrorism, many perpetrators are driven by some form of Godly grand vision of a new order (p. 165). The justifications of violence are based on a radical interpretation of religious writings. Many terrorists perceive themselves as a vanguard group who will show the right light to the rest of their community. On the way, some do not hesitate attacking moderate elements within their own community who fail to see the light and stand in the way to redemption.
                At the end of the book there are some useful resources: Glossary of important places, organizations, people and historic milestones (pp. 171-173); chronology of attacks and events related to Jewish terrorism from 1948 until 2007 (pp. 175-192), and a detailed Index (pp. 227-243).

Pedahzur and Perliger provide an important, engaging, well-written book on Jewish terrorism. The first of its kind, Jewish Terrorism in Israel sheds a fascinating light on a very timely subject that no doubt will have a few more chapters written to it as the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians continues to exact a bloody price from both societies.
In the next edition it would be useful to analyse the political assassinations of Arlozoroff and De-Haan and to include an alphabetical bibliography. I also suggest rewriting Chapter 7 as it includes episodes that do not fall within the book’s remit of analysis. This chapter should focus on lone-wolves, mentally and not-so mentally competent, who acted against Palestinians due to a twisted sense of “justice”, settling accounts with the shedding of Jewish blood by a vile, indiscriminate killing of Arabs.

I thank Terrorism and Political Violence for a copy of this book.

New Books

Benjamin MacQueen, An Introduction to Middle East Politics (London: Sage, 2013).

If you are teaching a core module on the Middle East for undergraduates, this textbook is one for you to consider.

The book covers:
-Historical Legacies; The Ottoman Empire, WWI, colonialism and the Cold War; nationalism and Islamist politics.
-Authoritarianism in Egypt, Algeria and Syria; political changes in Iran; the politics of oil in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States; Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab States.
-Intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq.
-The recent uprisings in the Arab World, human rights, social movements and social media

Each chapter opens with helpful learning objectives and concludes with study questions, annotated bibliographies and recommendations for further reading. None of the topics is covered in a comprehensive fashion; thus I would not recommend it for post-graduate studies. However, for students who for the first time wish to gain understanding into the complex politics of the Middle East, and to gain insights into its history, this book is a wonderful resource. It is lucid, very accessible to students, with ample photos for students to recognize leaders of different countries, a clear time line, and clarification of concepts and terms.

I enjoyed reading this book and recommend this clearly-written resource.

I thank Safe for sending me a copy of this book.

Adrian Athique, Digital Media and Society (Cambridge: Polity, 2013).

The rise of digital media has been widely regarded as transforming the nature of our social experience in the twenty-first century. The speed with which new forms of connectivity and communication are being incorporated into our everyday lives often gives us little time to stop and consider the social implications of those practices. Nonetheless, it is critically important that we do so, and this sociological introduction to the field of digital technologies is intended to enable a deeper understanding of their prominent role in everyday life.

The fundamental theoretical and ethical debates on the sociology of the digital media are presented in accessible summaries, ranging from economy and technology to criminology and sexuality. Key theoretical paradigms are explored through a broad range of contemporary social phenomena – from social networking and virtual lives to the rise of cybercrime and identity theft, from the utopian ideals of virtual democracy to the Orwellian nightmare of the surveillance society, from the free software movement to the implications of online shopping.

As an entry-level pathway for students in sociology, media, communications and cultural studies, the aim of this work is to situate the rise of digital media within the context of a complex and rapidly changing world.

I thank Polity Press for a copy of this book.

Visit to Israel

Next month I am invited to a conference in IDC, Herzliya. I’d be happy to see friends and colleagues during my short visit to the Holy Land.

Gem of the Month – The Lake District

Zehavit’s brother and his family came for a visit and both families travelled to the Lake District, our favourite region in England. We stayed at Coniston and visited other nearby villages. The Lake District is relaxing and picturesque, with stunning views of lakes, green and mountains. We enjoyed hiking and boating, visited some art galleries, refreshed ourselves in multiple coffee shops, and I reread Wordsworth poetry while visiting one of his houses in Grasmere.

We went to explore Lake Coniston. It was a normal summer day in England (i.e., dreary and rainy) but we were not deterred. My daughter Dana took command over our boat like a true skipper!

Monthly Poems
A Jewish Family In A Small Valley Opposite St. Goar, Upon The Rhine
GENIUS of Raphael! if thy wings
Might bear thee to this glen,
With faithful memory left of things
To pencil dear and pen,
Thou would'st forego the neighbouring Rhine,
And all his majesty--
A studious forehead to incline
O'er this poor family.

The Mother--her thou must have seen,
In spirit, ere she came
To dwell these rifted rocks between,
Or found on earth a name;
An image, too, of that sweet Boy,
Thy inspirations give--
Of playfulness, and love, and joy,
Predestined here to live.

Downcast, or shooting glances far,
How beautiful his eyes,
That blend the nature of the star
With that of summer skies!
I speak as if of sense beguiled;
Uncounted months are gone,
Yet am I with the Jewish Child,
That exquisite Saint John.

I see the dark-brown curls, the brow,
The smooth transparent skin,
Refined, as with intent to show
The holiness within;
The grace of parting Infancy
By blushes yet untamed;
Age faithful to the mother's knee,
Nor of her arms ashamed.

Two lovely Sisters, still and sweet
As flowers, stand side by side;
Their soul-subduing looks might cheat
The Christian of his pride:
Such beauty hath the Eternal poured
Upon them not forlorn,
Though of a lineage once abhorred,
Nor yet redeemed from scorn.

Mysterious safeguard, that, in spite
Of poverty and wrong,
Doth here preserve a living light,
From Hebrew fountains sprung;
That gives this ragged group to cast
Around the dell a gleam
Of Palestine, of glory past,
And proud Jerusalem!

William Wordsworth

Light Side

Gotta Love the Irish – Part 1

The Errand

McQuillan walked into a bar and ordered martini after martini, each time removing the olives and placing them in a jar.

When the jar was filled with olives and all the drinks consumed, the Irishman started to leave.

"S'cuse me", said a customer, who was puzzled over what McQuillan had done, "what was that all about?"

"Nothin', said the Irishman, "me wife just sent me out for a jar of olives!"

Peace and love. Continue to enjoy the summer, if you have one. I am so much into the summer mood, with a wonderful month of sunny weather in Israel, California and even Amsterdam that I forgot it is winter in some other parts of the world. An Australian friend reminded me of this geographic reality and I asked forgiveness for my absent-mindedness.

Yours as ever,


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[1] Sam Lehman-Wilzig notes that this is unworkable. In today's "globalized" world, you cannot separate responsibility between foreign and domestic policy -- the two are far too intertwined: economics, trade, immigration etc.

[2] D. Phil., Oxon (1991); Chair and Professor of Politics, Director of the Middle East Study Group, University of Hull,; human rights and peace activist; published extensively in the fields of political science, philosophy, law and ethics. He was Visiting Professor at UCLA (1999-2000), Johns Hopkins (2003-2004), and Fellow, the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars (2007-2008). In 2003-2007 he was the Director of the Center for Democratic Studies, University of Haifa. His most recent book is Public Responsibility in Israel, co-edited with Ori Arbel-Ganz and Asa Kasher (2012, Hebrew). Web: Blog: