Friday, August 28, 2015

Politics – August 2015

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

The buck stops here
~Harry S. Truman

Wars should not replace words. They are the last resort after the failure of words.
~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

This was a bloody month. An Orthodox Jew stabbed people in a gay parade in Jerusalem. A 16-year-old girl died as a result of her wounds. Settlers set a Palestinian home on fire. The result was that a baby was burnt to death. In the name of religion, people are doing awful things with burning eyes and zeal to kill. They forget that God created people, all people, in his image.

God’s ways are certainly mysterious.

Evil from the North, Yet Again
Winner for Netanyahu !
Tel Aviv
My New Article
Interview to Bioedge – Euthanasia in Belgium
Sir Nicholas Winton
Bar Mitzvah
On Friendship
New Books
Movie – Million Bullets in October
Silver Medal for Israel in World Championships in Beijing
A Note on Literature
Monthly Poems
Gem of the Month – London
Farewell Jon Stewart

Light Side – Did you know?


People ask me time and again what I think about the Iran deal. I do not have a coherent view because I do not have all the details. I have some thoughts which I am happy to share with you:

One of the lessons I learned is that we need to listen carefully to what our enemies say. I believe them.

When my enemy announces that it is intent to destroy my country, I believe my enemy.

When my enemy supplements words with deeds – facilitating terror against me all over the world, and develops nuclear ambitions, this makes me very worried.

The prime responsibility of leaders to their country is to see that their citizens are safe and secure.

Leaders cannot and should not sleep well at night when they know that a nuclear threat is hovering above their heads. They should take steps to eliminate this threat.

It is very difficult to stop countries like Iran from achieving nuclear capabilities if they wish to have it. Iran has the ability to reach such a capability if its leaders wish to have it.

The sanctions imposed on Iran until now did not stop Iran from its ambitions. They made the lives of Iranians more difficult. They hurt the Iranian economy. They made Iran a world pariah. But the zeal to assert its sovereignty and to pursue nuclear capability was not eroded.

I do not think further sanctions would have stopped Iran from pursuing such ambitions. Iran has the manpower, economic capabilities, and the right connections with existing nuclear power to achieve its aims, if indeed a nuclear bomb is the aim.

Leaders must be aware of their frailties and weaknesses.

Heavy meddling in affairs of other countries does not necessarily bring stability. See Afghanistan and Iraq as recent examples.

I respect leaders who do not play with human lives, and who do not rush to send soldiers to deadly missions.

The economy of peace may be as expensive as the economy of war. However, while economy of peace is constructive, economy of war is destructive.

It should never be easier for leaders to make war than to make peace. War is a terrible thing indeed.

I’d rather be a pacifist if I could afford it. At the same time, in the Middle East pacifism is a luxury we cannot afford. I am not a pacifist. In the face of evil, sometimes there is no other alternative but war in order to prevent a greater evil. War, however, is always an act of last resort, after exhausting all other alternatives, including diplomacy. War might be needed only after diplomacy has failed.

Iran won’t be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the region. Israel was the first to do this. I wrote in the past that the Israeli opaque nuclear policy served its purpose. Israeli interests will be better served while cooperating with the community of nations on this issue.

It is likely that more nations in the region will pursue nuclear capabilities. Iran is a threat not only to Israel. Saudi Arabia has already announced its intentions. I suspect nuclear proliferation is a reality.

Israel’s greatest ally is the United States. This should continue to be the case. The great American nation and tiny Israel share vital interests and values.

Israel needs the USA far more than the USA needs Israel. Israeli leaders should not have any doubts about this. For the time being, the USA is irreplaceable.

At this junction, the western world better have Iran on its side rather than on the opposite side. The Middle East is in an increasing mess. We do not know the future of Iraq, Syria and Palestine. The webs of terror expand and grow. Lebanon, Yemen and Afghanistan are among the countries that are in a continued state of instability.

I do not know:

How real is the threat?

Whether Iran wants to have a nuclear bomb.

Whether the Lausanne deal is good in the long term.

Whether nuclear proliferation brings stability or the opposite. Senior scholars and security experts do not speak in one voice on this issue. Nuclear deterrence has worked since 1945 and brought stability during the Cold War and since then.

Whether ISIS is here to stay and growing.

The future of Jordan and the Hashemite Kingdom.

The future of Syria and the Alawite regime.

Whether Iraq will remain in its existing form or split into two or more independent countries.

And this is only a preliminary list of unknowns. Leaders should be very careful in conducting their affairs. In the face of extensive causes for instability, caution and wisdom are of utmost necessity.

Evil from the North, Yet Again

For some time, many people feared there might be harmful spillovers from the Syrian chaos to Israel. On August 20, 2015, rockets were fired on Israel. In response, Israel struck several targets inside Syria.

The Israeli military said it fired artillery shells at several Syrian targets, hours after four rockets were fired into Israel from across the border, hitting northern Israel and sparking several fires.
The army blamed Syrian operatives of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group for the rocket attack and said they were receiving orders and financing from Iran. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad denies the charge.
It was the first time since 1973 that there was deliberate fire from Syria into Israeli territory. It is a sign that Assad is losing control.

Winner for Netanyahu !

Another winner for Netanyahu: Danon for the UN! Such a clever appointment. The right person in the right place. Kudos for creative thinking. (For those not in the know, I am being very sarcastic).

Tel Aviv

On August 3, 2015, public works started to transform Tel Aviv to an even more modern, fast-paced city. Preparing the infrastructure for the light train is said to last six years. I do not envy the people of Tel Aviv during this period but then, I hope, the result will justify the major inconvenience.

My New Article

"First Do No Harm:  Shortening Lives of Patients without Their Explicit Request in Belgium", Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol. 41 (2015): 625–629.

Abstract: The aim of this article is to provide a critical review of one of the most worrying aspects of the euthanasia policy and practice in Belgium – the deliberate shortening of lives of some patients without their explicit voluntary request. Some suggestions designed to improve the situation and prevent abuse are offered.

Keywords: Belgium, end-of-life, euthanasia, abuse, competent patients, consent

As ever, I’d be happy to send the article to interested parties.

Interview to Bioedge – Euthanasia in Belgium
‘Foreigners do not understand us’
by Raphael Cohen-Almagor | BioEdge, 1 Aug 2015 |
Raphael Cohen-Almagor, of the University of Hull in the United Kingdom, is a world expert on euthanasia in the Netherlands and Belgium. He recently contributed an article to the Journal of Medical Ethics on one of the most worrying aspects of the euthanasia in Belgium—the deliberate shortening of lives of some patients without their explicit voluntary request. In this interview with BioEdge, he explains some of his concerns.
BioEdge: Are the figures of euthanasia cases rising?
Raphael Cohen-Almagor: Studies have shown a constant increase in registered euthanasia cases, predominantly in the Flemish (the Dutch-Flemish speaking part) of Belgium. Approximately one of seven terminally ill patients dying at home under the care of a general practitioner (GP) expresses a euthanasia request in the last phase of life. The annual figures are constantly rising: 235 in 2003; 495 in 2007; 704 in 2008, and 1,133 in 2011. In 2012, there were 1,432 cases and in 2013, 1,807 euthanasia cases were reported.
Are you sure about the statistics? The trends are confusing. You observe that in 2007 the use of life-ending drugs with the intention to shorten life and without explicit request occurred in 1.8% of deaths but in 2013 it was 1.7% of deaths. So contrary to what you have said, the situation seems to be improving, not getting worse, isn't it?
Research has shown that in 2007 the use of life-ending drugs with the intention to shorten life and without explicit request occurred in 1.8% of deaths and that in 2013 it was 1.7% of deaths. This is a slight improvement.
However, the overall situation is worrying. The enactment of the Euthanasia Act in 2002 was followed by an increase in almost all types of medical end-of-life practices: euthanasia, intensified alleviation of pain, withholding or withdrawing life-prolonging treatment, and continuous and deep sedation until death. The latter practice is especially worrying: In 2007, 14.5% of all deaths in Flanders were the result of continuous deep sedation until death. This is a significant increase compared to the number of cases, 8.2%, six years earlier.
When the Euthanasia Act was legislated, it was designated mainly for competent adults, capable and conscious at the time of their euthanasia request. Evidence has shown that now euthanasia has been stretched to incompetent patients, demented patients, psychiatric patients as well as to patients who are said to be “tired of life”. 
Furthermore, in February 2014, the Belgian parliament voted to extend the euthanasia law to cover children under the age of 18. The law sanctions euthanasia for children with terminal or incurable conditions who are near death, suffering “constant and unbearable pain”, and whose parents and health professionals agree with the decision.
Thus the scope of end-of-life practices has been enlarged far beyond the good intentions of the legislature in 2002.
How do doctors justify involuntary euthanasia? On the basis of relieving suffering? Of saving money? Of sparing the feelings of relatives?
I have raised the question of economic considerations in the decision-making process time and again with Belgian experts. I was repeatedly told that saving money is never the issue. Research indicates that beneficence is often the guiding principle. Physicians wish to ease patients’ suffering and to ensure a relatively comfortable death.
Worryingly, sometimes they give priority to the best interests of the patient’s relatives over and above the patient’s best interest, wishing to alleviate the patient’s “burden” off the shoulders of the next of kin.
You say that “social and peer pressure makes it difficult for those who oppose euthanasia to uphold their position in the liberal culture that has been developing”. Does this mean that it is hard to work as a doctor or nurse in Belgium unless you support euthanasia?
In 2004 I published my book Euthanasia in the Netherlands: The Policy and Practice of Mercy Killing in which I asked Dutch scholars about “culture of death” in their country. My research in Belgium indicates some striking similarities.
As is the case in The Netherlands, the general atmosphere in Belgium is supportive of euthanasia. The Netherlands and Belgium are liberal societies, with strong emphasis on autonomy. The majority of people in both countries support the idea that patients should be able to decide the time of their death with the help and support of the medical profession.
Many people in many countries, myself included, support this idea. However, I do not think that the Dutch and Belgian public are fully aware of the whole picture in implementing the euthanasia policy, and of the many problematic aspects of the euthanasia practice in their respective countries.
In both countries, the establishment view is pro-euthanasia, and one might be harmed if one takes a contrary view. There is pressure on medical professionals to support euthanasia. In both countries, those who are opposed to euthanasia are tagged and dismissed as “religious fundamentalists” who fail to speak truth to reason.
Some Dutch and Belgian scholars and journalists struggle with my critique of the policy and practice of euthanasia as they cannot tag me as a “Catholic fundamentalist” and because I initially supported euthanasia on moral grounds and changed my mind on practical, policy grounds, restricting my plea to physician-assisted suicide. I changed my mind because of the abuse that is recorded in both countries. A fine line distinguishes between moral reasoning and policy making. I am unable to adhere to abstract moral reasoning while ignoring facts.
To illustrate the societal pressure on those who object to euthanasia let us consider the following example: Carol is an accomplished medical ethicist. She is opposed to euthanasia. In her university there is an opening for the chair in medical ethics. She submits an application. Her chances to be nominated are slim to none because thecChair serves as a consultant in euthanasia cases referred to her by hospitals affiliated with the respective university. If it is known that the professor objects to euthanasia, then there would be no point in consulting with her on this issue at a time when euthanasia does take place in hospitals.
Hence, it is necessary to fill important posts with like-minded people who will maintain the positive climate towards euthanasia. The only exceptions are Catholic universities.
Do Belgians realize that involuntary euthanasia is common in their country? How about the medical profession and the police?
Many Belgian and Dutch scholars and professionals who have reservations about the policy and practice of euthanasia voice their frustration in trying to raise questions, air doubts, and open debates about recorded problems.
The media on the whole are not interested. I recently granted a long interview to a Belgian daily newspaper and, as far as I know, not a word was published. The criticisms are voiced mainly outside Belgium and The Netherlands. These criticisms are dismissed by advocates of euthanasia because “foreigners do not understand us” and, anyway, “the situation is probably worse in other countries”. In Belgium and in The Netherlands, so the claim goes, “we are conducting our affairs in the open, in a candid and transparent way while no data is available for other countries”.
I have heard these arguments again and again. In fact, the Belgian, like the Dutch, actually do not welcome criticism and are quite conservative in their liberal attitude to euthanasia. Both countries are protective of their systems and believe that their euthanasia policy is correct and just.
Curiously, some of the leading Belgian scholars on euthanasia publish only the facts without any interpretation or reflection. I am yet to hear a convincing argument for this so-called “neutral” approach. I say so-called “neutral” because silence is also a stand.
Belgian (and also Dutch) people pride themselves on their openness, on their ability to discuss and debate life-and-death decisions openly. In this same spirit, they should openly debate the more intricate and problematic aspects of the euthanasia policy while having adequate knowledge about the various end-of-life practices.
The full picture of the data should be disclosed to the public. Transparency is indeed of vital importance in promoting and safeguarding patient’s autonomy at the end-of-life.
Does Belgium offer lessons for other countries which are considering euthanasia or assisted suicide? 
There are many lessons to be learned from Belgium, both positive and negative. Let me mention only some of them, and I start with the positive:
The practice of medicine should be deontological rather than utilitarian. Patient’s autonomy and preferences should be respected as much as possible. The Belgian medical system on the whole manifests that.
Belgian palliative care has been developing and continues to develop. This is a great positive in the Belgian medical system. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines palliative care as the “active, total care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment,” maintaining that control of pain, of other symptoms, and of psychological, social, and spiritual problems, is paramount. The medical staff must examine whether it is possible to prevent or to ease the pain by means of medication and palliative care.
Belgian scholars continue to conduct surveys about the euthanasia practice and produce consecutive reports, also in English. This is certainly a good practice. Other countries should also strive to compile extensive reports of their own end-of-life practices.
The practice of a truly independent second opinion to verify the patient’s diagnosis and his/her voluntary wishes is a good example to follow. The Belgian themselves are still challenged to implement this practice in full for all patients but they are constantly trying to improve.
The insistence that the final act should performed by physicians is correct. The Belgian medical establishment is struggling with this directive as well; sometimes the practice is conducted by nurses, but professionals are aware of the problem and trying to remedy this.
Much of the euthanasia practice of ending life in Belgium and in The Netherlands is dependent on general practitioners. Physicians are increasingly aware of the very powerful role their recommendations can play in people's treatment choices, and of the undue ways their recommendations can influence patients. There is growing understanding of the importance of spending time with patients and having a candid conversation with them; getting patients to talk out loud about their values before making treatment recommendations. Quality care requires investing time and attention, opening and maintaining two-dual way physician-patient communication of listening and advising.
Physicians realise that often this type of conversation will make it easier for physicians to determine what recommendation is most appropriate for a patient and whether the patient is comfortable deciding what to do without receiving a recommendation.
The fact that physicians may not demand a special fee for the performance of euthanasia is appreciated.
Physicians should not be coerced into taking actions that conflict with their conscience. No coercion should be involved in the process. Conscientious objection should be respected.
On the negative side, the major lesson to learn from Belgium, and also The Netherlands, is not to legalize euthanasia. Despite the best intentions and the existing safeguards against abuse (which can be improved) both countries record too many instances of abuse.
The final act should be left in the hands of the patient, not in the hands of the physician. Unfortunately, some physicians are abusing the power given to them; they act paternalistically against the best interests of their patients.
About half of euthanasia cases are not reported. This lack of notification of euthanasia cases is worrying. Research reveals that physicians failed to notify the Federal Control and Evaluation Commission because they “had forgotten”; because they did not label cases that should be labelled euthanasia as such; because they found the procedural requirement of notification “burdensome and not useful”; because they felt euthanasia was a private matter, or because they failed to understand the legal requirements. More need to be done to study the differences between Flanders and Wallonia (Roman Catholic Walloon physicians find it more difficult than their Flemish colleagues to report euthanasia cases) and to clarify the logic of the Euthanasia Act to practitioners, explaining why the procedural requirements of the law are no less important than the substantive requirements.
Curiously, little is known about end-of-life practices in Wallonia. There is an urgent need to know how medical professionals in this region are conducting their affairs.
It is revealing that no physician has been charged for malpractice or abuse of power since the Euthanasia Act was introduced in 2002. The system is very protective of its physicians also when they act independently of the patient’s best interests.
Also worrying is the potential pressure on euthanized patients to donate their organs. The fact that euthanasia donors account for a very significant percentage of all lung donors should not go unnoticed.
Research has shown that there is a grey area in end-of-life care between treatments administered to relieve pain and suffering, and treatments aimed to shorten the life of the patient. Transparency and proper documentation are vital. They may serve as a safeguard against potential abuse. Records should be kept of the timing and doses of the drugs in use, and the physician’s intention at each step. Such documentation may reduce the use of inappropriate doses of medication given in the guise of relieving pain and suffering but actually intended to bring about the death of the patient. As a control mechanism, pharmacists should be required to file a report every time lethal medications are sold and records should be kept about their use.
Looking at the short history of the euthanasia laws, policy and practice, in Belgium and also in the Netherlands may lead us to think that there is something intoxicating about the practice that blinds the eyes of decision-makers, leading them to press forward further end-of-life practices without paying ample attention to caution.
In both countries, one cautionary barrier after the other are removed to allow greater scope for euthanasia. The logic of the 2002 Euthanasia Act that spoke of adults or emancipated minors was undermined in 2014 when the Belgians extended the law to all minors.
Although some patients are euthanized without explicit request (as mentioned, 1.7% of all deaths in 2013) the Belgians are not eager to push for more stringent control mechanisms. Quite the opposite: The scope of tolerance towards the practice of euthanasia is enlarged so that yesterday’s red light becomes obsolete today, and as this one is removed practitioners and law-makers are already debating a further step and other groups (patients who are “tired of life”, children, patients with dementia) to be included within the more liberal euthanasia policy.
This is quite astonishing as human lives are at stake. What is required is a careful study, accumulation of knowledge and data, addressing the above concerns, learning from mistakes and attempting to correct them before rushing like frenzy to introduce more liberal ways to euthanize patients. Haste makes waste.
Raphael Cohen-Almagor (DPhil., St. Catherine’s College, Oxford) is Professor and Chair in Politics at the University of Hull, UK. He was Assoc. Professor at the University of Haifa, Israel; Visiting Professor at UCLA and Johns Hopkins; Fellow, the Hastings Center and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, USA; Visiting Scholar, Vrije Universiteit, The Netherlands. Raphael established the Medical Ethics Think-tank at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute (1995-1998) and was among the drafters of Israel’s The Dying Patient Law (2005). Among his many books are The Right to Die with Dignity (2001),Euthanasia in the Netherlands (2004), Editor, Medical Ethics at the Dawn of the 21st Century (2000), Editor, Moral Dilemmas in Medicine (2002, Hebrew), andConfronting the Internet's Dark Side: Moral and Social Responsibility on the Free Highway (2015). Raphael is now writing a book about end-of-life practices in different countries. Twitter: @almagor35. Web: Blog:  

Sir Nicholas Winton

I have written about Sir Nicholas’ heroism on this blog before. Some weeks ago I was contacted to join a public campaign to honour him with a stamp. Dozens of thousands of people, including yours truly, have signed and promoted the petition. On August 24, 2015 I was delighted to learn that this just campaign has ended successfully. Here is the official message from the Royal Post:

Now that we have consulted with his family, we are delighted to confirm our intention to feature Sir Nicholas on a stamp as part of a commemorative set, subject to the appropriate approvals, in 2016. The details will be confirmed in due course. 

One of the purposes of Royal Mail stamps is to honour those who have made important contributions to the UK, and every year we consider hundreds of subjects for inclusion. It is clear that Sir Nicholas Winton is a worthy candidate.

Bar Mitzvah

For the past months, our home was filled with Torah singing. Our younger son Roei was preparing for his Bar Mitzvah. His preparations and singing filled my heart with much joy. I recalled my own Bar Mitzvah which took place at my grandad’s synagogue in Tel Aviv and I enjoyed supporting Roei in the process.

Roei is, as far as we know, the only Jewish boy in his school. He was required to study for his Bar Mitzvah with the support of school and friends. We did not take for granted his dedication and investment as he rehearsed for six months, almost on a daily basis, for the big day. It is not easy to live without the support of a Jewish community around you.

We are Reform Jews. We contacted the Manchester Reform Synagogue and became members. Rabbi Reuven (Bobby) Silverman took upon himself to assist Roei in the process. We were invited to the shul to meet Rabbi Silverman, to see the shul, and to watch a Bar Mitzvah on his big day. That boy did a wonderful ceremony which we greatly enjoyed. Rabbi Silverman, Roei and I had Skype sessions during the past months as Roei progressed with his studies and readings.

Roei’s parasha, Deuteronomy 15, is close to my heart, relating to social justice. We had many discussions on the topic and I enjoyed listening to Roei’s thoughts, learning about his values. Roei enjoyed the studies. Some of the issues meant something for him, otherwise he would not have invested to the extent he did. For the first time in his life, he read from the Torah. He agreed with some of the principles, and had difficulties with others. This showed me that he thought about what he was reading. It was a wonderful, heart-warming process. The fact that he did this with no boy at his age to share this special experience is impressive. We gave him all the support we can but I am fully aware how challenging it must have been to go through the motions without peer-group support.

We were very fortunate to have Rabbi Silverman as Roei’s mentor. Warm, compassionate, understanding, knowledge, humane, trustworthy. I could not avoid thinking how fortunate the Reform shul in Manchester is for having Bobby as their spiritual leader. A true asset every synagogue would have liked to have. Bobby was the anchor of the Bar Mitzvah studies.

The ceremony took place on Shabbat, 15 August. A day earlier, on Friday, Roei had his grand rehearsal with Bobby in the shul so he would know exactly what to expect.

Roei gave a wonderful ceremony, reading from the Torah with confidence, delivering his speech beautifully, and leading the way as a true shepherd. Rabbi Silverman touched our hearts with his kindness and singing. It was touching because both Roei and Bobby sang with meaning. Bobby chose to sing Adonei Roei Lo Yechsar, as it was appropriate for Roei and led the ceremony with confidence and inspiration. It was beautiful.

Thank you Bobby. Thank you The Reform Synagogue in Manchester. We are eternally grateful.

On Friendship

Family and friends came from far to be with us in our celebration. In the Kiddush I expressed my gratitude to them by telling the following story:

Two friends returned their souls to the Creator on the same day. Both reached the skies and began to travel until they reached a beautiful golden gate, covered with gems and pearls. They asked the guard: What is this place?
The guard replied: This is heaven.
One of the friends asked: May we enter?
The guard: You may, but your friend won’t.

The friends thanked the guard and continued their travels until they encountered another gate. This gate was simple, made of wood, covered with flowers and fruit. They asked the guard: What is this place?
The guard: This is heaven.
They asked: May we enter?
The guard replied: Of course. You are most welcome.
They asked: Do you know that there is another place that pretends to be Heaven?
The guard: Yes, I do know. That is actually Hell.
Don’t you mind that others are misleading, using deceit to say that Heaven is in another place?
The guard: Not at all. People who are willing to abandon their friends get what they deserve. We would not like to welcome them here.

Friendship is precious. Thank you, dear friends!

New Books

Galia Golan, Israeli Peacemaking Since 1967 (London: Routledge, 2015).

This well-written book provides fine and thoughtful analysis of peace processes between Israel and its neighbours. Inter alia, Golan analyses King Hussein's overtures immediately after the Six-Day War, President Sadat's futile efforts to avoid war in the early 1970s, and the repeated third-party-mediated talks with Syria. She argues that deep-seated mistrust, problems in leadership, and domestic political spoilers contributed to failures even as public opinion and international circumstances may have been favourable to peace.

The book is well informed but not immune to repetition and mistakes. For instance, the majority of p. 123 is written elsewhere, and wrong information is provided in p. 143 (Barak was not the only prime minister who was elected by direct elections). While it is a fine book, it is mainly based on secondary sources.

This book competed for the Shapiro Prize for Best Book in Israel Studies, 2015.

Movie – Million Bullets in October

I recommend the documentary Million Bullets in October, about the events leading to the Al Aqsa Intifada of 2000 and the subsequent months. In this documentary, very senior Israeli officials make two arguments:

  1. Arafat did not plan the 2000 Intifada. He was surprised by the eruption of popular violence. In the first instance, he tried to bring calm and reduce the flames.
  2. The IDF did not abide by government decisions. The IDF derailed the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The IDF had its own agenda, led by Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz, which saw the Palestinians as enemies, not partners, and consequently hardened the hand on the Palestinians. The result was more violence, increased tensions, end of cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and scores of casualties on both sides.

You can see the movie, in Hebrew, at

Silver Medal for Israel in World Championships in Beijing

Great achievement for Israel athletics. Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko won the silver medal in the women's triple jumps at the World Championships in Beijing. This was a first-ever Israeli women's medal and the third Israeli medal in the World Championship competitions. Israel has waited 14 years for this third medal.

Knyazyeva-Minenko’s result was 14.78 meters, behind Colombia's Caterine Ibarguen who took the gold with 14.90 meters.

A Note on Literature

Increasingly I notice a regretful phenomenon: novels written in a Hollywood style. Before Novelists wrote novels. Now those who target the popular public want to make the job of script writers redundant. Now more and more authors write books with the aim of easily making them into films. Shame. This ruins literature.

Monthly Poems

Recently I came across this poem:

An Old Woman By the Window

i see her everyday on my way to work
she is there by the wide window of
an old house near the road where i used
to come and go
silver hair in a neat bun
tired wrinkled hands
and chinky eyes that were always
staring at a distance
as if waiting for something
or someone?

and so it goes day by day
she sits by her window with her lonely gaze
i wonder what thoughts are in her tiny head
was she happy in her younger years
or did she loathe life's miseries

were there dreams she still dream or
was she resigned to her fate
were there questions left that haunt her still
is she waiting for the answers?

i will never know
the last time i looked
the window was empty
she sits there no more.

Eloida Capuno

The following poem was published in my poetry book, Voyages. It is written in my native language:

    1. 25 אוקטובר 1982


אדם זקן

  1. ראיתיו פעמים הרבה הולך למכולת

כאילו כל הזמן שבעולם
עם סל אדום
וכלב קטן לבן משתרך אחריו.

עיניו כבויות
ראו הרבה כעת עייפות
עבר גדול מאחוריהן
עתיד מועט בחוריהן.

בודד ושקט
מסלול קבוע של מכולת
וחזרה לטלוויזיה המשכיחה
ולמיטה שתמיד תקבלו מוכנה.

בודד עם כלב קטן ולבן
בלתי מזיק, שקט כבעליו,
אפילו עם אותו שפם.
יום אחד הפסקתי לראותם.

Gem of the Month – London

I love the buzz of this lively city, full of culture, art, food and life. London is my kind of a city.

Farewell Jon Stewart

These were your best bits

  1. Light Side – Did you know?

One of my all-time musical pieces is the Adagio in G Minor. I thought all the time that it was written by Albinoni but recently discovered that might not be the case.

See Who Wrote the Adagio in G Minor? – A Musical Mystery

One of my favourite composers is Mozart. His genius has captivated me. Did you know that when Mozart was 14, he heard Allegri's Miserere for the first time in his life. He was so taken by this piece that he went home, and wrote the entire piece from memory, note for note. Now, this is something! Don’t you think?


Peace and love. I need some vacation.

Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on
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