Saturday, February 27, 2016



Politics – February 2016


Support is sought to facilitate the work of the Middle East Study Group. Information at http://www2.hull.ac.uk/fass/mestudygroup/informationfordonors.aspx




Stabbings continue on a lower scale. On February 8, 2016, the Israeli Cabinet issued a permit for further 30,000 Palestinians from the West Bank to work in Israel. They will add to the 58,000 Palestinians who already have permits to work in Israel. It is assumed that at least 50,000 other Palestinians are working in Israel unofficially without a permit.


In this Blog I publish disturbing news about anti-Semitism in my alma mater Oxford University. I welcome comments and reflections about your own personal experiences. I wonder whether the situation is different in North America and other parts of Europe. This is an extremely important and sensitive matter that needs to be addressed. Evil needs to be confronted. Silence is not a solution. History has taught us this. Never again!


Reflections on January Newsletter
Antonin Gregory Scalia (March 11, 1936 – February 13, 2016)
Sad Precedent: Israeli Prime Minister to Jail
Terrorist Profile
Israel-India Relationships


Anti-Semitism A Major Problem in UK Universities, says former co-chair of Oxford University Labour Club


Shunning Israeli Goods in the UK to Become Criminal Offence for Public Bodies and Student Unions


The Future of Online Relationships
My New Article
New Books
Book Review
Movie - Spotlight
Gem of the Month - Antwerp
Gem of the Month – Tel Aviv
Monthly Poems
Short Story

Light Side


Reflections on January Newsletter


Art Hobson wrote from the USA:


Rafi - 


Thanks for publishing the perceptive “Six steps to defeat ISIS,” by Israeli General Giora Eiland.  He notes that defeating ISIS must be the West's main goal in the struggles involving Iraq and Syria, and that in order to do this the U.S. must (1) cooperate militarily with Russia, (2) press Turkey to stop assisting ISIS and instead take up arms against ISIS, and (3) support the Kurds in their battle against ISIS.   It seems to me that these suggestions also imply the U.S. should stop supporting regime change in Syria.  The U.S. should instead work with Syria, Russia, the Kurds, Iran, and hopefully also Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations, to defeat ISIS.  By supporting regime change in Syria, the U.S. is making the same mistake it made when it invaded Iraq and defeated Saddam Hussein’s regime.  If Assad goes, he will only be replaced by additional chaos and terror in Syria.  It’s time for us to end the Syrian civil war by ending our support for Assad’s opposition.  The civil war was a mistake from the start.   The civil war has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and driven millions of refugees from their homelands, destabilizing not only the entire Middle East but Europe as well.  


Peace - Art


Art Hobson, Emeritus Professor of Physics, U Arkansas.  
Coming: Tales of the Quantum  Oxford University Press, June 2016.


Abraham Silverman wrote from Canada:


Re Six steps to defeat ISIS. I believe that there is only one step required to defeat ISIS and its ability to recruit young Islamists. 300,000 boots on the ground from the 65 nations that Obama claims are a part of his coalition, with American Military Technology, 10 minutes later ISIS and Assad are history and 4 million refugees can go home. And just like Germany and Japan after their defeat and to this day, the Americans and their partners maintain a strong presence in Syria and Iraq for the next 75 years.


PS. May have to do the same in Libya and Yemen.


Antonin Gregory Scalia (March 11, 1936 – February 13, 2016)


Justice Scalia was a legal giant. You can agree with him; you can disagree with him. But even if you disagree, appreciation is granted for his original thinking, for standing on his principled opinions, for his reasoning and his wit. The United States lost one of its most original and creative legal thinkers.




I met Scalia once not long after September 11, 2001 at a conference held at the Hebrew University Law School. We sat for lunch together. I asked him about the Patriot Act that was passed not long before. Scalia spoke of the need to pass the Act. I asked him whether the criticisms of the Act were unjustified. He answered it was politically motivated. He said two things: First, most Americans do not care whether the government sees it necessary to interfere with some private affairs. Scalia mentioned inspecting library cards. He asked me: Do you think the average American cares whether someone looks at the list of books he borrowed? Nobody cares. Americans believe that the promotion of security necessitates taking such measures. Thus the criticism will die out.  


Second, Scalia said that Democrats would have behaved no differently. Securing the American people is a need shared across the aisle. He said that if a Democrat president will be elected, he would not change a thing. He would confirm the Patriot Act and do whatever is needed to bolster American security.


The New York Times published an excellent piece about Justice Scalia:
Antonin Scalia, Justice on the Supreme Court, Dies at 79
FEB. 13, 2016
NY Times


Sad Precedent: Israeli Prime Minister to Jail


A few years ago, a sad precedent was set when Israel's president was sent to jail. On February 15, 2016, another sad precedent was set when Israel's former prime minister was sent to jail. Ehud Olmert will serve one year and seven months following his conviction for accepting a bribe in the Holyland Affair, and for obstructing investigations in the same affair and in the Telansky Affair.


I think there is little disputing that Olmert was the worst prime minister in the history of modern Israel. In less than three years (2006-2009), Olmert opened two wars and brought Israeli politics to a new low point with his direct involvement in corruption affairs that were part of his long political career. Olmert’s legacy does not add positively to the office of the prime minister.


Terrorist Profile


An analysis conducted by the IDF about the recent wave of terror shows:


About half of the 219 terrorists who committed the 228 attacks over the past five months were under 20 years of age, while 11 percent were women.


80 percent (174) of terrorists were from the West Bank, 16 percent (36) came from Jerusalem, and the others came from within the Green Line.


An analysis of the data indicates several reasons for the recent outbreak of terrorism, including the lack of a political horizon, the feeling that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's era has come to an end, and a sense of alienation of the Palestinian public from the Palestinian Authority.

But the most interesting finding from the report is the rise of the younger generation, the one that did not experience the first intifada and barely remembers the second one. It is a generation that got tired of family hierarchy, the occupation, and its leaders. It is a generation that is defiant toward parents and adheres to human rights. The new Palestinian, officials say, is not worried about the IDF's punitive measures or its nightly arrest raids.


Women appear to play an important role in the escalation. A look at the individual incidents shows that these women's distress and personal motives were the catalysts for carrying out the attacks. Their feelings of stress and personal frustration with their parents, combined with the basic hostility they feel toward Israel, have created fertile ground for terrorist attacks.

In addition to the emotional and personal processes that the Palestinian women and the rest of the terrorists went through, Hamas' television stations and social media activity also helped inspire them to carry out attacks. The popularity of Hamas’ Al-Aqsa Brigades and the incitement that permeates the internet encouraged the women to emulate the acts glorified there.


Source: Yossi Yehoshua, “11% of terrorists in current wave of violence were women”, Ynet (17 February 2016), http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4766959,00.html


Israel-India Relationship


The relationship between Israel and India has never been better. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are on the same wavelength. More Indian businessmen are coming to Israel while Israelis are increasing their involvement in Indian markets. These are very good developments for both countries. It is a warm blossoming Spring.


The Times of India reported that India’s Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS), a government body headed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and responsible for military procurements, is ready for a final vote on India-Israel defense contracts and projects totaling $3 billion.


The three pacts “should be cleared by the CCS within a month or so,” according to a source within India’s Ministry of Defense. Prime Minister Modi will be visiting Israel for the first time later this year, at which time the final contracts ought to be ready for signature.


The three deals include the acquisition of 164 ‘Lightning-4’ targeting pods–targeting designation tools used by ground-attack aircraft—for Indian Air Force fighter jets such as the Sukhoi-30MMKIs,  and an undisclosed number of Spice 250 precision guided bombs with a standoff range of 100 kilometers (62 miles).


Furthermore, progress has been made in negotiations over the procurement of 321 ‘Spike’ anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) systems, along with 8,356 missiles.


Source: http://thediplomat.com/2016/02/revealed-india-close-to-signing-3-billion-defense-deal-with-israel/


Anti-Semitism A Major Problem in UK Universities, says former co-chair of Oxford University Labour Club


The row over anti-Semitism within the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) has intensified, with the Labour party announcing an investigation amid claims by a former OULC co-chair that the problem affects campuses across the country.


Mounting allegations of anti-Jewish behaviour by senior figures at the club, ranging from supporting attacks on Israel to targeting a Jewish student for abuse, have promoted the Labour party’s student wing to investigate the claims.


In a statement regarding the club, which includes Ed and David Miliband among its former members, a Labour party spokeswoman said: “Labour Students have launched an immediate investigation and the Labour party welcomes and supports this action.”


The row reflects a wider problem, according to David Klemperer, a former co-chair of OULC. “Anti-Semitism is a major problem in Britain, with increasing numbers of anti-Semitic incidents reported,” he said.


It is a particular problem on campus, where Jewish students often feel “threatened and vulnerable,” and have “insufficient support” from student unions, claimed the undergraduate at St John’s College, who served as a co-chair last year.


The row which has engulfed OULC was sparked by the resignation of Alex Chalmers, a co-chair of the club, on 15 February - after the club decided to support an Israel Apartheid Week.


Many members “have some kind of problem with Jews,” claimed Mr Chalmers in a posting in Facebook. He also referred to “senior members of the club expressing their 'solidarity' with Hamas and explicitly defending their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians.”


In a statement, the Oxford University Jewish Society (Oxford JSoc) said: “We are grateful that Alex Chalmers has made the statement that he did and has brought the issue of anti-semitism to the fore in a way that Jewish students have so far been denied.”


One club member was “formally disciplined by their college for organising a group of students to allegedly harass a Jewish student and to shout ‘filthy Zionist’ whenever they saw her,” according to a statement by Oxford JSoc.


And an OULC member “argued that Hamas was justified in its policy of killing Jewish civilians and claimed that all Jews were legitimate targets.”


In a statement, the OULC’s executive committee said: “The comments detailed in JSoc’s statement last night indicate a shocking pattern of hateful and racist behaviour by some Club members, and it’s of the highest priority that this be dealt with swiftly and lastingly.”


I welcome comments and reflections about your own personal experiences. This is an extremely important and sensitive matter that needs to be addressed. Silence is not a solution. History has taught us this. Never again!


Source: Jonathan Owen, “Anti-Semitism A Major Problem in UK Universities, says former co-chair of Oxford University Labour Club”, The Independent (17 February 2016),




Shunning Israeli Goods in the UK to Become Criminal Offence for Public Bodies and Student Unions


Local councils, public bodies and university student unions are to be banned by law from boycotting “unethical” companies.


Under the plan all publicly funded institutions will lose the freedom to refuse to buy goods and services from companies involved in the arms trade, fossil fuels, tobacco products or Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.


Any public bodies that continue to pursue boycotts will face “severe penalties”, ministers said.


Senior government sources said they were cracking down on town-hall boycotts because they “undermined good community relations, poisoned and polarised debate and fuelled anti-Semitism”.


But critics said the move amounted to a “gross attack on democratic freedoms”. A spokesman for the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “The Government’s decision to ban councils and other public bodies from divesting from trade or investments they regard as unethical is an attack on local democracy.


“People have the right to elect local representatives able to make decisions free of central government political control. That includes withdrawal of investments or procurement on ethical and human rights grounds.


In 2014 Leicester City Council passed a policy to boycott goods produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank while the Scottish Government published a procurement notice to Scottish councils which “strongly discourages trade and investment from illegal settlements”.


Under the new rules all contracting authorities including local councils, quangos and universities which receive the majority of their funding from the Government will lose the freedom to take ethical decisions about whom they purchase goods and services from. The only exemption will be UK-wide sanctions decided by the Government in Westminster. Government sources said the ban could also apply to student union boycotts but added this was a “grey area”.


A spokeswoman for the National Union of Students said they were “concerned by any external pressure that could prevent student unions taking decisions on any issue that affects the students they represent.”


Amnesty International’s UK economic relations programme director Peter Frankental condemned the move, warning it could encourage human rights violations. The Conservatives have been accused of turning a blind eye to Israeli human rights abuses in the past.


“All public bodies should assess the social and environment impacts of any company with whom they choose to enter into business relationships,” he said.
“Where’s the incentive for companies to ensure there are no human rights violations such as slavery in their supply chains, when public bodies cannot hold them to account by refusing to award them contracts?


“Not only would it be a bad reflection on public bodies to contract with rogue companies, but it would also be bad for responsible businesses that are at risk of being undercut by those that have poor practices.”


Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, condemned this move as “a gross attack on our democratic freedoms and the independence of public bodies from Government interference”. “As if it is not enough that the UK Government has failed to act when the Israeli government has bombed and killed thousands of Palestinian civilians and stolen their homes and land, the Government is now trying to impose its inaction on all other public bodies,” he said.


“This makes it clear where this Government stands on international law and human rights. Despite the Government admitting that Israel’s occupation and denial of Palestinian rights is plain wrong and illegal, when it comes to it they will insulate Israel from the consequences of its own actions. It seems that for this UK Government, whatever crimes against international law Israel commits, having a military ally trumps the rights of their own citizens and institutions in this country to support human rights.”


Source: Oliver Wright, “Israel boycott ban: Shunning Israeli goods to become criminal offence for public bodies and student unions”, The Independent (14 February 2016), http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/israel-boycott-local-councils-public-bodies-and-student-unions-to-be-banned-from-shunning-israeli-a6874006.html

The Future of Online Relationships


http://www.cambridgeblog.org/2015/12/the-future-of-online-relationships/
Online Romance. Photo: Don Hankins via Creative Commons


In the 4th part of our cyberpsychology roundtable discussions we asked our 4 authors what role has the internet played in modern day social relationships and what does the future hold for generations that are growing up online?


Participants: 
Patricia Wallace, the author of The Psychology of The Internet
John Suler, the author of The Psychology of the Digital Age
Kent Norman, the author of Cyberpsychology
Raphael Cohen-Almagor, the author of Confronting the Internet’s Dark Side


Patricia Wallace:
For thousands of years, human social relationships were constrained by geography.  People built strong ties with tribe members, and typically chose a life partner who lived within nearby.


In our own century, social relations still also mostly rely on opportunities to meet and become acquainted, because the people attend the same school, work in the same building, or attend the same community functions.  Maintaining social relationship also benefit from nearness; if friends move away, contact usually dwindles along with any emotional attachments.


Although these simple principles still apply, they are far less powerful in determining the patterns of social relationships.


Now, social networks help make it much easier to maintain ties and to build new ones with friends of friends, regardless of location.   The shift is especially evident for singles who participate in online dating sites and can scroll through hundreds or thousands of profiles, seeking that special partner. The choices and possibilities are mind-boggling, a feature that brings both pros and cons.


For the digital natives, the Internet’s support for connectedness is so familiar that they marvel at anyone who doesn’t actually send text messages. But the dependence has its downsides, with young people feeling less able to navigate face-to-face conversations, or meet new people in person.


Strange as it seems, many of my students recognize this failing and are seeking advice about how to have a “real” conversation, one without mobile phone distractions.  The psychology of the Internet and its role in social relationships will continue to evolve, and I predict the young people who are growing up online will adjust and adapt, blending their online worlds with their face-to-face contacts in new ways that draw on the best of both.  Of the many disruptive innovations the Internet has wrought, the challenge to geographic limits on social relations is a certainly a key one.


John Suler:
We are learning some good lessons about the unhealthy use of social media. Playing to the crowd to get more “likes” is a dead end. Little tidbits posted about yourself works well to keep people updated, but not so well for developing a friendship.


Displaying only an idealized version of yourself does not actually impress anyone – in fact, people might feel envious, bad about themselves, or just plain bored with you. Multitasking your friends, family, and colleagues in-person and online turns you into a jack-of-all-trades in your most important relationships, and a master of none.


Instead, we and the generations growing up with the Internet will learn how to enrich our relationships by communicating via writing, images and talking, via synchronous and asynchronous methods, and whether we are near or far or on-the-go.


The biggest lesson we will learn is that socializing online offers many fun, convenient, and interesting possibilities, but it is no substitute for being in-person. As the famous psychotherapist Fritz Perls used to say, “Be here now.”


Do you and your companions really want to be texting on and off throughout your dinner at a nice restaurant?


Do you really want to be distracted by taking selfies as you blow out the candles on your birthday cake, or do you just want to focus on your wish?


I once spoke with people who felt totally devoted to the rich meaning they found in their online lifestyles, especially how they could share their souls with companions in a text relationship. Curious, I asked them, “If you had to choose between spending the rest of your life relating to people only online or only in-person, what would you do?”


Most fell silent, but one said, “I’d stay online”….
Would you?


Kent Norman:
The Internet has been for most college students an additional channel for communication.  But for some, their primary channel.  So it goes without saying that studies have shown that social relationships are largely mediated by the Internet and in the post-PC era, by mobile devices such as tablets, smart phones, and smart watches.


But I believe that for the next generation, social relationships will be further enhanced with virtual reality and augmented reality devices.


Virtual reality goggles will come to the consumer market shortly.  Facebook has acquired Oculus Rift and the consumer version will be released in 2016.  Sony Morpheus for the PlayStation 4 will also be released in 2016, but primarily for gaming. HTC Vive in conjunction with Steam has a release date of November 2015.


These devices will have the potential of connecting people and worlds in a truly immersive experience. Imagine leaving the primitive virtual chat rooms of The Palace and Second Life and being immersed in spaces with your Facebook friends.  You can meet up at a cafĂ© in Paris, a ride in Disney World, or a concert at Woodstock!


But the industry gurus are actually predicting a bigger impact with augmented reality, which will combine the real world with the virtual and will allow users to be mobile.
I know Google Glass was a big failure and the project terminated, but the industry learned a lot about how to develop the next round of devices.


Rather than posting my travel pictures to Facebook, I can bring my friends with me in my AR goggles on my visit to the Parthenon. They will see what I see and I can enjoy their expressions and comments.


Raphael Cohen-Almagor:
The digital age is an age of electronics and gadgets. Many prefer to stay indoors, surrounded by their electronic equipment. Many children nowadays do not go out to play in public spaces. This is due to a growing feel of insecurity, fears, parents’ protectiveness, and the in-house inclinations of today’s generation.


Young and old people make friends online, proud to have many virtual friends whom they will never meet, Netusers from different corners of the world. Because their ability to master technology, many Netusers would like to master their time more effectively. Thus, many people of the younger generation refrain to go to the movies because this activity takes time and is expensive.


Many of my students watch movies online, at their own leisure, having as many breaks as they wish at their leisure.


In the 1990s, one of my friends got married after meeting his future wife online. My wife and I listened to our friends’ love story with some astonishment. They were our only friends who met each other online. More than twenty years later, a substantive number of couples meet online. As many professionals are busy working, they do not have time, or they do not allow themselves time to meet and woo others. The Internet serves many people well.


The meaning of friendship has been changing. Many are proud to have more than one thousand friends on social-networking sites. Often, the online relationships are far less meaningful and demanding than friendship off-line. People invest less in such friendships, and they expect less. But, as said, people can fall in love and form very meaningful relationships online if they choose.


- See more at: http://www.cambridgeblog.org/2015/12/the-future-of-online-relationships/#sthash.DuIumNhJ.dpuf


My New Article


“Israeli Democracy and the Rights of Its Palestinian Citizens”, Ragion Pratica, Vol. 45 (December 2015), pp. 351-368.


The litmus test for assessing the democratization of any given society is the status of its minorities. The more minorities are integrated into society and receive equal treatment, respect and concern, the more light that society would shed unto other nations, serving as an inspiring model to follow. Presently Israel is severely criticized by foes and friends for its treatment of its Palestinians citizens. This criticism is warranted. This paper shows that there is a startling discrepancy between words and deeds: Israeli leaders consistently declare their commitment to egalitarian principles and policies, and they consistently refrain from implementing comprehensive egalitarian policies. It is argued that Israel should strive to accommodate the interests of the Palestinian citizens and grant them equal citizenship rights.


Key words: Israel, Arabs, Palestinians, discrimination, equal rights


The article is available at my website http://www.hull.ac.uk/rca/articles.html


New Books


Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen et al., Understanding Video Games (NY: Routledge, 2016), pp. 273-303.




I think any parent who has young (and not so young) children at home is aware of the significant place video games are playing in the lives of this generation. Many of the games are violent. Some of them are quite disturbing. Literature about the effects of video games on our lives is emerging. It sheds an important light on the fields of game studies, psychology and sociology.


Understanding Video Games is a welcome contribution. This revised and updated third edition of the text highlights changes in the gaming industry, advances in video game scholarship, and recent trends in game design and development. I have adopted the text to my Media, Politics and Ethics course, teaching the part that explains the debate surrounding the effects of violent video games and the impact they may potentially have on our social lives. Is there a direct and discerned link between playing violent video games for long hours and committing violent crimes?


This is an important book which I am happy to recommend.


Book Review


Jeremy Waldron (2014) The Harm in Hate Speech. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 304pp, £13.95 (p/b), ISBN 9780674416864
Political Studies Review, 14, Issue 1 (2016), pp. 108-109.




It is rare to read a book and think: This book is a classic. Its shelf-life is likely to last for many years. This book is such rarity. It is indispensable for anyone who reflects on how liberal democracies should address the challenge of hate speech.
At the outset, Waldron says that his aim is to offer a characterization of hate speech laws, probe how the USA and European countries regulate hate speech (p. 12) and depict hate speech laws in a favourable light (p. 15). Waldron explains that there is a sort of public good of inclusiveness that our society sponsors and that it is committed to. Hate speech undermines this public good, or it makes the task of sustaining it difficult. Hate speech threatens social peace, generating a “sort of slow-acting poison, accumulating here and there, word by word, so that eventually it becomes harder and less natural for even the good-hearted members of the society to play their part in maintaining this public good” (p. 4).
Waldron relies on Immanuel Kant in stressing the significance of human dignity, that we should always perceive people as ends in themselves (p. 219), arguing that hate speech legislation should aim to protect people’s dignity against attack. It protects the targets’ equal status in the community, their entitlement to basic justice and to the fundamentals of their reputation (p. 106). Hate messages undermine the targets’ citizenship, their equal status, and their entitlement to basic justice by associating ethnicity, race or religion with conduct or attributes that disqualify them from being treated as members of society in good standing (p. 5).
American liberals argue that suppression of speech would only drive the controversial views underground. The unimpressed Waldron suggests that maybe it is good that such opinions are driven underground. Unclear what is less damaging: to have bigotry freely aired in public, or to force it outside public debate. Waldron rightly argues that we want to isolate the bigots. He acknowledges that there is a cost involved as transparency is lost (pp. 95-96) but when hate-mongers are forced to go underground, they are denied the oxygen of publicity, legitimacy and acceptability.
In his critique of the First Amendment, Waldron notes (p. 185) that Britain prohibits racial and religious hatred (Public Order Act 1986) and racial discrimination (Race Relations Act 1976). Hate speech laws aim to protect the public good of dignity-based assurance, and to block the construction of the rival public good that hate-mongers and racists are seeking to construct among themselves (p. 95). Are these laws illegitimate?
The Harm in Hate Speech is the best comprehensive book from a liberal perspective on the hotly debated topic of hate speech, written by a legal philosopher who is endorsing hate speech legislation. Waldron makes a powerful argument that will surely provoke and promote exchange, further deliberation and debate. Those who may wish to dismiss his scholarship should invest in articulating their own boundaries of freedom of expression, explain why these boundaries should be acceptable, and at what cost for society. Then, in turn, they should invoke no less powerful reasoning for tolerating the intolerant.


Movie - Spotlight


 Some of you may remember the scandal about the Boston priests who were molesting children under their care. Spotlight tells the story of the Boston Globe reporters who uncovered the story and brought it to world attention against the mounting pressure of the Catholic Church that for years was able to silence the tragedy and allowed it to continue.


Those who teach journalism have another wonderful resource to show to our students. Investigative reporting that is fearless, hard, time-consuming and relentless. Uncover the truth. Bring the story. Help the victims. Serve the public. Fight against evil and corruption.


Spotlight tells an important story. Spotlight is a great movie. I liked everything about it: the story, the way the drama unfolds, the acting. Spotlight is a thoughtful journalistic drama.


Spotlight is the best film I have seen this year. It is a real treat. Enjoy!!


***** on Rafi’s scale. It is rare, and it deserves it.


Gem of the Month - Antwerp


Recently my book took me to Belgium. I enjoyed talking to students at University of Antwerp law school about the dark side of the internet and our Net social responsibility.


I did not have much time but when I had a free hour my legs took me to the water. I cannot resist the smell and sight of water. That’s the dolphin in me.


I thank my gracious host Wim Lemmens for his kind hospitality. I also thank Vivian Liska for organizing a lovely dinner. Thank you!!


With each visit, my liking of Antwerp is growing. It is a bustling, lively city, with some beautiful cultural and architecture gems to appreciate.


Gem of the Month – Tel Aviv


I had a good visit to Israel. I met some family and friends. I visited my parents and told them just how much I love and miss them. Two more interviews for my next book on the failed peace process. Two book celebrations of my last book at Bar Ilan University and at IDC Confronting the Internet's Dark Side. Meetings with some senior officials, past and present, on various issues. I also enjoyed Israeli culture, seeing three theatre shows and three musical performance. My greatest passion is theatre. Two of the three were good. The third was most disappointing and worried me. I did not expect to see Israeli right-wing politics, racist and anti-Muslim, on stage at the heart of the Israeli establishment in Tel Aviv.


Tennessee Williams’ classic Glass Menagerie at Beit Lessin is very good. Excellent acting by all. Go. Run. Are you still here?


By contrast, Lost Honour at Hakameri is astonishingly bad. Everything about it: the acting, the setting, the story. I did not expect to see Naftaly Bennet on stage at the heart of Tel Aviv. Stay away. Vote by your legs and may this negative “show” disappear from our lives soon.


I walked in some of my favourite places of my hometown Tel Aviv. The city is continually changing for the better, thanks to its tireless mayor, Ron Huldai, the most capable modern Herod. If all cities were blessed with such leaders, the world would be a far better place.


The picture below encapsulates the changes that Tel Aviv is undergoing. On the right, you see older and newer hotels and one old building that remains from older times. It will change as well. On the right, the beach is undergoing further changes. Mayor Huldai keeps developing, bringing new ideas all the time.




I also visited our second home in Merom Naveh, Ramat Gan. It was a sentimental visit.


I thank Avi, Betty, Yuval, Itzhak, Dan, Gadi, Sam and Jonathan, Noam and Ilana, Mira and Yizhar, Esther, Keren and Meir, Asa, Ariel and Yael, Amnon, Ori and Eyal for their kind hospitality. I greatly cherish your friendship.


Monthly Poems

Old Couple at the Window

by
Emily Strauss


The old fisher couple sit at their kitchen window
on the outer Guernsey coast, sipping their second
cup of Irish tea, on the table a starched white cloth,
a sugar bowl with painted roses, lace in the window—
they listen to the storm rising and watch the puffins
struggle against the gale to return to empty nests
now that autumn has come, I remember them well

they glance at each other, ignoring the wrinkles
and weathered skin, silently confirming their hidden
thoughts— that time has blown away with the tides
though they are still here at the dining table, fingers
almost touching, waiting for winter to force them
under feather quilts where they will warm each other’s
feet and sleep soundly through their long night.

This poem first appeared in Verse-Virtual (July, 2014).



Short Story


A short story told by Yehoram Gaon:




A man rushes to the minor injuries unit in hospital, covered with blood.
"Please, I need to see a nurse as soon as possible. My wife is in another hospital ward and I must be there at nine".
Receptionist: "I'll see what I can do".
A short while later the man sees a nurse.
"Please, do whatever needs to be done quickly. I need to be with my wife at nine".
Nurse: "where is your wife?"
Man: "here, in this hospital in another ward. I must be there at nine".
Nurse: "In what ward is she?"
Man: "my wife is very sick. She is in the dementia ward. I come to be with her every morning at nine".
Nurse: "does she recognise you?"
Man: "I come to be with her, to clean her and to wash her every morning".
Nurse: "I understand, but does she know you are her husband""
Man: "it does not matter".
Nurse: "but if she does not know who are you, why must you be there?"
Man: "because I know who she is".


Light Side



This actually happened to an Englishman in France who was totally drunk.


A French policeman stops the Englishman's car and asks if he has been drinking.
With great difficulty, the Englishman admits that he has been drinking all day, that his daughter got married that morning, and that he drank champagne and a few bottles of wine at the reception, and many single malts scotches thereafter.


Quite upset, the policeman proceeds to alcohol-test (breath test) the Englishman and verifies that he is indeed totally sloshed.


He asks the Englishman if he knows why, under French Law, he is going to be arrested?


The Englishman answers with a bit of humour, "No sir, I do not! But while we're asking questions, do you realize that this is a British car and that my wife is driving . . .. on the other side?"

Peace and love.


Yours as ever,


Rafi


My last communications are available on http://almagor.blogspot.com/
Earlier posts at my home page: http://hcc.haifa.ac.il/~rca/

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