Thursday, November 28, 2013

Politics-November 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

French President François Hollande in the Israeli Knesset: Peace will be your greatest victory.

John Kerry: "Some NSA spying went too far".
I wonder what "too far" means...
Apparently short-distance-spying is kosher...

Good News for MESG
MA scholarships in the School of Politics, Philosophy & International Studies
Peace Negotiations
Settlements, More Settlements
Anti-Semitism in the US
French Court Orders Ban on Anti-Semitic Books

Insulin Warnings
Israeli Scientific Innovations
Visitors to the University of Hull
My New Article
Book Review - Yigal Kipnis
New Books
Monthly Poem
Light Side
Monthly Movie – Captain Philips ****1/2 

Good News for MESG

The Hull Middle East Study Group has received further support of £20,000 to promote Middle East studies in the University.

We are now trying to raise £15,000 for the organization of an international peace conference with leading decision-makers in May 2015. All help is much appreciated.

MA scholarships in the School of Politics, Philosophy & International Studies

To celebrate the University's research successes, the University of Hull is offering 3 MA scholarships of £10,000 each in the School of Politics, Philosophy & International Studies.

The scholarships are for students applying for an MA in International Politics, with an emphasis on Middle Eastern Studies.

Closing date for applications: 11 January 2014. Interviews will be held in February 2014. Successful applicants will be informed of the award by 29th March 2013. Scholarships will start in September 2014.

For inquiries contact: Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Chair in Politics
School of Politics, Philosophy and International Studies 
The University of Hull           
Cottingham Road
Hull, HU6 7RX
United Kingdom       
T: +0044 (0)1482 465024
F: +0044 (0)1482 466208

Peace Negotiations

Up until now, representatives of Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have met fifteen times. Upon Israel’s request, most of the meetings revolved around security issues. There were also some discussions on borders and water.

According to Israeli media, Israel’s starting point on borders is that the future Palestinian state will be within the Separating Barrier (known also as The Fence, or The Wall) and that there will be Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley. This is less than what Israel has offered to the Palestinians since Oslo, September 2013. No one has any illusions that this would lead to peace.

The Palestinians remain party to the negotiations due to American requests. Martin Indyk, an experience peace negotiator, fully realizes that this is a non-starter. The writing on the wall is very clear.

Settlements, More Settlements

Peace is a precious commodity. It demands sacrifices. The peace process has continuously failed because Arafat turned a blind eye on terrorism, because Hamas believes in terror as a way to resolve the conflict, and because Israel is determined not to pay the price for peace and continues the settlement building unabated.
On October 30, 2013 Israel announced plans to build hundreds of new settlement homes on land that the Palestinians want for a future state, hours after it released a group of Palestinian prisoners from its jails.
Israel's Interior Ministry said 1,500 housing units will be built in Ramat Shlomo, a settlement for mainly Ultra-Orthodox Jews established in East Jerusalem in 1995.
In a bid to appease right-wing coalition members angered by the amnesty for 26 Palestinian inmates, government officials had said that housing projects would be part of settlements that Israel plans to keep in any peace deal.
Israel counts Ramat Shlomo as part of its Jerusalem municipality and says the city will remain its eternal, indivisible capital.
The Palestinian Authority announced that it was “seriously studying” filing immediate complaints against Israel with international courts and forums in a bid to halt construction in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods.

Anti-Semitism in the US

The Anti-Defamation League published a survey on indicating that 12% of Americans hold deeply anti-Semitic opinions.

A significant percentage, 26%, held the age-old attitude that Jews are responsible for the killing of Jesus Christ.

French Court Orders Ban on Anti-Semitic Books

A court near Paris has ordered the withdrawal from distribution of five books for anti-Semitic content.

“The Anthology of Quotes against Jews, Judaism and Zionism” by Paul-Eric Blanrue was ordered to be withdrawn from sale within a month by the court.

Other books banned for distribution include historic anti-Semitic texts such as “La France Juive” by Edouard Drumont and “The International Jew” by Henry Ford.

The book’s publishing house and well-known far-Rightist Alain Soral were ordered to pay a fine of 8,000 Euros to the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA) who brought the case to the court.

Read the full article at Le Point:

Insulin Warnings

I am getting consistent warnings about the use of insulin, with increasing evidence that it results in internal bleeding. I wish to raise caution about the use of this medication.

Always inquire about its potential side-effects and the availability of alternative medication. Sometimes insulin is unavoidable for specific conditions. Then make sure that the prescription of insulin does not contradict other medications you take, and that it is indeed the most suitable medication for your condition.

Israeli Scientific Innovations

You can watch some of the recent Israeli exciting health innovations on

Visitors to the University of Hull

MESG - 'The Peace Process -- where to?'

The Middle East Study Group (MESG) will host His Excellency Ambassador Professor Manuel Hassassian, Palestinian Authority Ambassador to the UK, who will speak on "The Peace Process -- where to?".

Born in Jerusalem, Ambassador Hassassian pursued his higher education in the USA, lectured at Bethlehem University and became the University Executive Vice President. He also served as the President of the Rectors' Conference of the Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education, and President of the Palestinian-European-American Cooperation in Education (PEACE) program.

Wednesday 20 November, 16:00
Wilberforce LT12

RSVP: Marianne Lewsley-Stier,

Is it legitimate to ban hate speech?

Professor Eric Barendt

The legitimacy of hate speech bans is one of the hardest questions for liberal democracies to resolve. Can extreme hate speech be restricted without interfering with free political discourse?

Eric Barendt, Emeritus Professor of Law, UCL, is an internationally renowned expert on media law. He was Goodman Professor of Media Law at UCL from 1990 until 2010. Before coming to UCL, he lectured law at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. Professor Barendt is the author of many important books and articles on media law, the laws of libel and privacy, and freedom of expression, most notably Freedom of Speech (2nd edition: Oxford University Press, 2005). His most recent book is Academic Freedom and the Law (Hart, 2010). Professor Barendt is also the editor of the Journal of Media Law.

Thursday 21 November, 16:00-18:00
Wilberforce LT12

RSVP: Marianne Lewsley-Stier,

MESG - “The Arab Spring and Its Impact on the Middle East and World Order”

The Middle East Study Group (MESG) will host former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Dan Meridor, who will speak on “The Arab Spring and Its Impact on the Middle East and World Order”.

Born in Jerusalem, Mr Meridor has had a distinguished career in Israeli politics. Among his many duties he was Minister of Finance, Minister of Justice, Minister of Intelligence, Minister in charge of strategic affairs, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Knesset, and Secretary of the Cabinet.

Wednesday 18 December, 16:00
Wilberforce LT 29

RSVP: Marianne Lewsley-Stier,

My New Article

"In Internet's Way: Radical, Terrorist Islamists on the Free Highway", International Journal of Cyber Warfare and Terrorism, Vol. 2(3) (2012), pp. 39-58. The article was published in September 2013.

The article is opened with definitions of terms utilized throughout the article. Terrorism is defined as the threat or employment of violence against noncombatant targets for political, religious, or ideological purposes by sub-national groups and/or clandestine individuals who are willing to justify all means to achieve their goals. Terrorist conduct is designed to attract attention to the terrorist’s cause and to spread fear and anxiety among wide circles of the targeted population. Subsequently I analyse how terrorists use the Internet, and what can be done to counter their activities. The Internet is used to disseminate information, for propaganda, indoctrination, networking, psychological warfare, socialization, motivation, fund raising, spreading tactics, recruitment, planning activities and coordination. As the Internet became a major arena for modern terrorists, we need to devise appropriate methods to forestall their activities and establish security.

Keywords: al-Qaeda, terror, jihad, e-jihad, encryption, counter-terrorism

The article is available on my personal website,

Part of this article was published on The Jerusalem Post

Book Review - Yigal Kipnis

Yigal Kipnis, 1973, The Way to War (Or Yehuda: Dvir, 2012, Hebrew), 365 pp. 94 NIS. DANACODE 1-0006719.

Israel Affairs, Vol. 19, No. 3 (2013), pp. 580-582.

Previous research on the Yom Kippur War tended to emphasise the wrong intelligence concept that mislead the decision-makers in Israel and had blinded their eyes. This fascinating new book reiterates this conclusion but adds another factor that for Kipnis is no less important: diplomatic misconception.
The book is based on archival research in Israel and the United States. It provides ample evidence that the war drums were loud and clear, yet a day before the outbreak of the war, on 5 October 1973, the Israeli decision-makers thought that the likelihood for war was low (pp. 216-229). They all ignored the clear signs:
·         The Egyptian army was in a battle positions; artillery and tanks were mobilized to the Suez Canal; anti-aircraft weaponry was intensified; equipment to pass the Canal was brought forward;
·         The Syrian army was in a battle positions; artillery and tanks were mobilized.
·         Families of the Soviet “advisors” left Egypt.
·         Ashraf Marwan, Israel’s moll inside President Sadat’s chamber, met with the Head of Mossad Zvi Zamir on 5 October 1973, and warned that war was likely to start the day after.
·         King Hussein flew to Tel Aviv twice during the months leading to war and warned Israel that Syria and Egypt were coordinating a massive attack on Israel.
Why, then, Israel ignored those clear signs? Why its leaders misread the picture and thought there was low likelihood for war?
Kipnis poses this question and attempts in this book to provide answers. His thesis is that Israel relied heavily on Ashraf Marwan to warn them in time, and on US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to use his leverage and engage with the Egyptians in order to find a political solution. This over-reliance on Marwan and Kissinger had failed Israel. When push came to shove, both failed to deliver.

Why did Israel rely so heavily on Marwan?
Marwan married Gamal Abdel Nasser’s daughter, Mona. He was well connected to the Egyptian elite and was made Chief of Staff to Anwar Sadat. Marwan was the one who contacted the Mossad in 1969, not vice versa, a fact that should evoke suspicion. Indeed, it did (p. 256), but Marwan delivered high quality documents that had shed important light on Egypt’s decision-making processes -- military and political -- that he was able to convince even the most suspicious people in Israel of his credibility.
In April 1973, Marwan warned the Mossad that Egypt and Syria would launch a surprise attack against Israel on 15 May; it proved a false warning, and Israel lost $35 million while under the subsequent heightened state of alert. Marwan again met with Zamir on the eve of the Yom Kippur War, warning that Egypt and Syria were once again preparing to attack at sunset (p. 266). This warning was somewhat correct: The Egyptians actually attacked around 2:00 p.m., giving them four "head start" hours.

Why did Israel rely so heavily on Kissinger?
Kissinger maintained close contacts with Prime Minster Meir. He served Israeli interests by engaging with Egypt and delaying political processes, as Meir asked. Kissinger is quoted saying that due to him the political processes were frozen for twenty months (p. 112).
Kissinger had troubled relations with Secretary of State Rogers. They did not see eye to eye. In the battle between the two, Kissinger gained the upper hand. Rogers left the State Department in September 1973 and Kissinger replaced him as he wanted. According to Kipnis, Kissinger asked Meir for assistance in receiving the Congress approval for his nomination. Meir was happy to comply (p. 130). After the nomination, Kissinger surprised Simha Dinitz, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, by asking who Israel preferred to be nominated as his assistant for Middle East affairs (p. 145). The relationships between Kissinger and Israel were that close.
Thus, the Israeli leaders believed they had a loyal and powerful friend in the White House, someone who would rush to help in case of need. However, they failed to realize that powerful as Kissinger was, he was not the sole actor; there were other objective factors that Israel had to take into consideration.
In June 1973, President Sadat realized that the diplomatic arena was just a facade, that Israel was not interested to engage in genuine peace negotiations, and that Kissinger did not play with honest, impartial cards (p. 135). Then he had set his lot on violence.
The Israeli trio, known as “Golda’s Kitchenette”, which consisted of Prime Minister Golda Meir, Defence Minister Moshe Dayan, and Meir’s close advisor Yisrael Galilee, did not wish to engage in peace talks because they did not wish to pay the price. They did not want to return Sinai to the Egyptians. Their tactics was to delay, buy time, and create facts on the ground. In September 1973, the Israeli government approved the decision to build the town of Yamit in north Sinai. Thus, they heard and understood Sadat’s clear signs to engage in peace talks but were not interested (p. 199).
As both Marwan and Kissinger were positioned in strategic points of influence and delivered so skilfully, the trio thought that in crisis time Marwan will provide an adequate warning, and Kissinger will swiftly intervene to avert danger (p. 169). The trio relied on the IDF to win the war if required. They were self-assured, complacent and cocky. The air battle of 13 September 1973 between the Israeli and the Syrian air-forces that ended with 13 MiGs on the ground against one Israeli Mirage down only increased Israel’s self-confidence (p. 173). Israel thought that Syria would never attack alone, and that Sadat would exhaust the diplomatic avenue before going to war. But whereas Sadat reached the conclusion that that avenue was exhausted without achievements, somehow PM Meir and Defence Minister Dayan believed that there was still room for diplomatic maneavours (pp. 180, 198, 224). In other words, Israel failed to read the map, failed to understand Sadat, failed to see that he grasped Israel’s delaying tactics and decided to put Israel to the test.

Kipnis highlights the objective factors that influenced the Israeli decision-making process:
a)     There were only three major decision-makers in Israel (p. 161). Prime Minister Meir trusted Dayan on military issues. Galilee had more experience and insights into military affairs then Meir but he allowed Dayan to have the last word. As all humans are prone to err, it is unwise to place such responsibility on one human being, even on a great military personality of the stature of Moshe Dayan. Dayan, like many leaders, had great confidence in himself, and little confidence or appreciation of others. He liked to talk and to decide far more than he liked to listen and to act in concert with others (pp. 197-198, 208, 222). Meir’s little kitchenette of three people suited him just well. He was quite happy to take upon himself many responsibilities, but he did not take into account the possibility of making a mistake. He, with many others, learned the hard way. Israel lost some 2,650 soldiers.
b)      Kissinger was appointed Secretary of State on 21 September 1973. During the crucial days before the outbreak of the war, he was preoccupied with initial preparations for his big role. After all, he was US Secretary of State, not Israel’s.
c)      Elections were due in Israel on 30 October 1973. All Israeli politicians entered a pre-election phase, fighting for their political careers (p. 157). They were preoccupied with internal affairs and war did not suit their plans. Thus, they conveniently assumed that Sadat will wait until a new government would assume office in Jerusalem. They were sure that Sadat won’t open war prior the elections and wait to see whether there would be personal changes in the Israeli government which might make exploring the diplomatic option viable. Sadat, however, did not wish to wait. He understood that Israeli leaders were preoccupied with elections and made the most of their predicament.
d)      And there was the dubious role of Marwan. He warned Israel a few times before that war was imminent (p. 259). When you cry Wolf several times with no wolf, your credibility is eroding. The Crying Wolf tactics worked wonderfully for the Egyptians. Marwan, in every warning, added the proviso that Sadat might rethink and cancel everything. He said the same thing also on 5 October (p. 260). The decision-makers did not wish to call the reserves yet again, separating thousands of men from their families and their work places, just to realize it was, yet again, a false alarm. They were convinced that in any event the IDF had the ability to destroy the Egyptian and Syrian armies swiftly as it did in 1967.

Kipnis’ meticulous analysis provides fascinating insights and valuable information on the Israeli decision-making process leading to the 1973 War, on the relationships between some of the key leaders, and on the relationships between Israel and the United States. This book is rich with data, important and engaging. It is a must read for scholars, students, and policy makers who wish to understand the pitfalls leading to 6 October 1973, when 500 Israeli soldiers had to face 80,000 Egyptian soldiers.

I thank Yigal Kipnis for a copy of his book.

The book was recently (2013) published also in English.

New Books

Dona J. Stewart (ed.), The Middle East Today: Political, Geographical and Cultural Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2013), 2 ed.

 The new edition of The Middle East Today provides an accessible and comprehensive introductory textbook for undergraduate students of Middle East Studies, Middle East politics and geography. This updated and revised edition features a host of pedagogical features to assist students with their learning, including; detailed maps and images, case studies on key issues, boxed sections and suggestions for further reading.

The book highlights the current issues facing the Middle East, linking them to the rich political, geographical and cultural history of the region. The author examines the crises and conflicts, both current and potential, likely to dominate the region in coming years.

The second edition has been fully updated and revised to include discussion of such recent events as:
·         the effects of the Arab Spring
·         Turkey’s growing influence in the region
·         the dramatic increase in Iran’s nuclear capabilities
·         Usama bin Laden’s death and declining support for violent extremist movements in the Middle East.
The book has concise article on diverse topics. It can provide background information for undergraduate students. If you are looking for in-depth analysis, look elsewhere.

I thank Routledge for a copy of this book.

Steven Foster, Political Communication (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010).

This is a succinct, very useful book for teaching undergraduate media studies. Although it is mainly concerned with the British media, some parts of it are relevant also to other media.

The book opens with a detailed analysis of political communication today and its impact on parties, pressure groups, and government. It then places media politics within a constitutional context, addressing open government and freedom of expression, freedom of information, privacy, human rights, and the manipulation of the media by government. There are useful chapters on political advertising, spin doctors, media effects and elections, media ownership and media freedom. The book is written in a clear and concise language, clarifies basic terms and key issues and for each and every chapter suggests themes for discussion.

I thank EUP for a copy of this book.

Monthly Poems

Few singers in the world have the powerful voice of Céline Dion. I am a fan of singers with great voices and listening to Dion singing Ne Me Quitte Pas is, quite surprisingly, even more touching and emotional than the original Jacques Brel’s performance.

Dion refused to sing this song for many years as she found it too heavy to bear.


Ne Me Quitte Pas

Ne me quitte pas.
Il faut oublier.
Tout peut s'oublier
Qui s'enfuit deja.
Oublier le temps
Des malentendus
Et le temps perdu
A savoir comment
Oublier ces heures
Qui tuaient parfois
A coups de pourquoi
Le coeur du bonheur.
Ne me quitte pas.
Moi je t'offrirai
Des perles de pluie
Venues de pays
Ou il ne pleut pas.
Je creuserai la terre
Jusqu'apres ma mort
Pour couvrir ton corps
D'or et de lumiere.
Je ferai un domaine
Où l'amour sera roi,
Où l'amour sera loi,
Où tu seras reine.
Ne me quitte pas.
Ne me quitte pas.
Je t'inventerai
Des mots insensés
Que tu comprendras.
Je te parlerai
De ces amants-là
Qui ont vu deux fois
Leurs coeurs s'embraser.
Je te raconterai
L'histoire de ce roi
Mort de n'avoir pas
Pu te rencontrer.
Ne me quitte pas.
On a vu souvent
Rejaillir le feu
De l'ancien volcan
Qu'on croyait trop vieux.
Il est paraît-il
Des terres brûlées
Donnant plus de blé
Qu'un meilleur avril.
Et quand vient le soir,
Pour qu'un ciel flamboie
Le rouge et le noir
Ne s'épousent-ils pas ?
Ne me quitte pas.
Ne me quitte pas.
Je ne veux plus pleurer,
Je ne veux plus parler.
Je me cacherai là
A te regarder
Danser et sourire
Et à t'écouter
Chanter et puis rire.
Laisse-moi devenir
L'ombre de ton ombre,
L'ombre de ta main,
L'ombre de ton chien.
Ne me quitte pas.

Don't leave me
We must forget
All can be forgotten
Which is already fleeing away
To forget the times
Of misunderstanding
And the lost times
To know how
To forget those hours
Which sometimes killed
With blows of "Why?"
The heart of happiness
Don't leave me (4x)
I will offer you
Pearls of rain
Come from lands
Where it doesn't rain
I will dig the earth
Until after my death
To cover your body
With gold and light
I will make a realm
Where Love will be law
Where Love will be king
And you will be queen
Don't leave me (4x)
Don't leave me
I will invent for you
Senseless words
Which you will understand
I will speak to you
Of those lovers
Who have twice seen
Their hearts ignite
I will tell you
The story of that king
Dead of not having
Been able to meet you
Don't leave me (4x)
It has often been seen
For fire to erupt again
From the extinct volcano
That was thought too old
There are, it seems,
Scorched lands
Yielding more wheat
Than the best April
And when the evening comes
For the sky to blaze
Do the red and the black
Not marry?
Don't leave me (4x)
Don't leave me
I will weep no more
I will speak no more
I will hide myself there
To watch you
Dance and smile
And listen to you
Sing and then laugh
Let me become
The shadow of your shadow
The shadow of your hand
The shadow of your dog
Don't leave me
Don't leave me
Don't leave me
Don't leave me

A Calendar of Sonnets: November

This is the treacherous month when autumn days
With summer's voice come bearing summer's gifts.
Beguiled, the pale down-trodden aster lifts
Her head and blooms again. The soft, warm haze
Makes moist once more the sere and dusty ways,
And, creeping through where dead leaves lie in drifts,
The violet returns. Snow noiseless sifts
Ere night, an icy shroud, which morning's rays
Willidly shine upon and slowly melt,
Too late to bid the violet live again.
The treachery, at last, too late, is plain;
Bare are the places where the sweet flowers dwelt.
What joy sufficient hath November felt?
What profit from the violet's day of pain?

Helen Hunt Jackson

Light Side

James changed his job and was required to relocate to another city. As a good Englishman, first thing once he was settled was to visit the local pub. While drinking his favourite beer, he saw a gentleman climbing on one of the tables, beer in his hand, cheerful smile on his face. That man said: 56, and all the pub crowd burst in laughter. Once they relaxed a bit, the gentleman uttered: 87, to which the crowd rolled on the floor with laughter.

James looked around with puzzlement, then asked one of the cheerful guys what’s on earth is going on. The man explained: We, the locals, numbered all the jokes, and we know them by heart. So the guy on the table does not need to repeat the jokes. He simply says the numbers, and we know which joke he has in mind.

James was impressed. It took him over a year to memorize all the local jokes and then, one evening, he climbed on the table, beer in his hand, cheerful smile on his face, and uttered: 45. The crowd was dead silent. James tried again: 66. Nothing. James: 103. Silence.

Baffled, James sat down. After collecting himself he asked one of his mates: What’s happened? Why didn’t you laugh?
To which the mate answered: Some people know to tell jokes; some don’t. You don’t.

Monthly Movie – Captain Philips ****1/2 

Captain Philips is Fantastic. In 2009, U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama was hijacked by a crew of Somali pirates. The movie tells the story, focusing on the ship captain’s ordeal in the hands of his desperate captives who are depicted as having two options in life: to fish or to become criminal. Tom Hanks is one of the greatest ever, a classic actor. He reminds me of Gregory Peck, Cary Grant and Henry Fonda. Hanks has been my favourite actor for the three decades.

The last part of the movie in the life boat is griping, taking you by the balls; you will have difficulty blinking, and breathing. Hanks is in one word, superb. Yet another Oscar performance.

Kudos to the Director Paul Greengrass for his wonderful work. He made the ordeal a vivid experience and gave Hanks one of the best roles of his acting career.

Kudos for the production team (Michael De Luca Productions, Scott Rudin Productions, Translux and Trigger Street Productions) for making this cinematic experience. Not many production companies in the world are able to execute such an expensive and thoughtful production. Attention to detail was meticulous. Hollywood at its best.

If you like dramatic, tense films, based on true stories, and you love cinema, this one for you.

Captain Philips returned to sea a year later.

****/0.5 on Rafi's scale. Rush.

Wishing you the very best for this festive season of warmth, light, friendship and togetherness.

Peace and love.

Yours as ever,


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

People wishing to subscribe to this Monthly Newsletter are welcome to e-mail me at

Follow me on Twitter at @almagor35