Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Politics – May 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

Peace should be Israel’s strategy.

If peace is not achieved, Israel is doomed to experience cycle upon cycle of violence.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

May 5, 2016: Holocaust Remembrance Day. Israel remembers the six million Jews who were murdered by an evil regime because of their inherent sin: being Jewish. And on that day, terrorists in Gaza reminded us that some things do not change. In each and every generation, there are people who wish to destroy us because they cannot reconcile to the fact that we exist.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have no limits: Shelling Israel on Holocaust Day. Cynicism at its worse.

Reflections on April Newsletter
Marvels of Israeli Politics
Fighting BDS
Maj. Gen. Yair Golan
Good News: Israelis Are Happy
Good News: Moovit at the Rio Olympic and Paralympics Games
Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the University of Hull - 2016
Guest Article: Jagdish N. Singh, US must up the ante of nuclear security   
Honor Conference
Association of Israel Studies Conference
My New Article - “Parameters for Two State Solution”
New Newspaper Article - Against BDS
Book Celebration - Confronting the Internet's Dark Side: Moral and Social Responsibility on the Free Highway
New Book
Gem of the month - Galway
Gem of the month – Cliffs of Moher
Gem of the month - Manchester
Hillel Steiner
68 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Israel
Monthly Poems

Light Side

Reflections on April Newsletter

Contrary to (most) newspaper headlines, the Supreme Court actually APPROVED all the details of the gas deal except for one: it said that only the Knesset and not the Government can "freeze" the financial elements of the deal for 10 years, so that the government must get Knesset approval. It gave the Government a YEAR to get Knesset approval.

Why, then, is there a general impression that this was a major loss for the government? Two main, albeit paradoxical, reasons: 1- Most Israeli media do not like the present government, so that they are more than happy to trumpet the government’s “loss” at the Court; 2- Over the past several years Israel’s right-wing government has been on a campaign to paint the Supreme Court as a “liberal” stronghold, so that instead of admitting that they had indeed over-reached constitutionally, they chose to attack the Court as if it was once again getting involved in politics. Strange bedfellows, the media and PM Netanyahu.

For those of your readers who might not be aware of the intricate and complex history of this historic gas agreement, two things should be noted. First, for decades no serious oil company in the world was willing to spend lots of money searching for oil/gas in Israel (mainly because they did not believe there was any), so that when Noble Energy and partners came around, the government was all too willing to give it a very attractive deal — which the opponents of the agreement are dead set against, after the fact. Second, the reason that the present government has not succeeded in getting Knesset legislation on this issue is that two ministers have recused themselves from voting because of personal connections to those involved with Noble Energy — a “noble” act on their part. With the government’s minimum majority of 61 in the Knesset, losing two votes means that PM Netanyahu will find it very hard to get a majority. However, given the huge (negative) consequences of losing the agreement — at least from PM Netanyahu’s perspective — he will probably find a way to get it done within the year.

The bottom line: the Court’s decision was purely “Constitutional” (i.e. government decisions cannot “lock in” future Knessets — only the Knesset itself can do that through legislation) and did not negate the financial-economic aspects of the gas agreement; the government is correct that if past governments signed a deal, then it would set a very bad precedent for future investors to renege now; the opponents are right that from a purely economic perspective it is not a good deal for the Israeli citizen. Indeed, a gigantic mess — but that does not mean that anyone is exclusively at fault or that the issue is done. Far from it.

All the best,

Prof. Sam Lehman-Wilzig
School of Communication
Bar-Ilan University

Rafi - Another key to happy life, one which I like very much, is by the Indian philosopher Ramana Maharshi:  “Your own self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world.”   - Art

Art Hobson, Emeritus Professor of Physics, U Arkansas.  

Marvels of Israeli Politics

Netanyahu has wished to enlarge his coalition from the start. He was unhappy with the slight majority in the Knesset. This is why he left some ministries vacant in the hope to lure potential parties.

France is pushing to convene a peace conference in the hope to restart negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Herzog, leader of the Zionist Camp, is interested in this initiative and for its sake he was willing to enter the coalition. He embarked on talks with Netanyahu. Then Avigdor Lieberman, who has been attacking Netanyahu day in day out, suddenly became also interested. After short negotiations, Netanyahu kicked the out-of-favour Yaalon from the Ministry of Defence, made Lieberman the new Defence Minister, bolstered his coalition to a more solid 67 MKs, leaving Herzog pitiful in the eyes of all, especially in the eyes of his own party members. Netanyahu maneuvered skilfully, showing everyone who is the boss and is now pushing the government to an even more extreme right wing doctrine. The marvels of Israeli politics.

Fighting BDS

Good News from NYU

A Statement by President Andrew Hamilton on the Grad Union Boycott Vote
April 25, 2016
"A boycott of Israeli academics and institutions is contrary to our core principles of academic freedom, antithetical to the free exchange of ideas, and at odds with the University's position on this matter, as well as the position of GSOC's parent union. NYU will not be closing its academic program in Tel Aviv, and divestment from Israeli-related investments is not under consideration. And to be clear: whatever 'pledges' union members may or may not have taken does not free them from their responsibilities as employees of NYU, which rejects this boycott."


My two main media sources in Britain are the BBC and The Independent. Twitter brought to my attention an article published in November about “What people eat for breakfast around the world”. The tweet caught my eye because Israeli breakfast appeared in the tweet. I normally don’t read articles about food but as it is about Israel I clicked the link, curious to know what the paper has to say about Israeli breakfast. I thought it was nice that the paper decided to include Israel in a story about what people eat around the world. The world is large, with 200 countries.

So Israeli breakfast appears at the top of the story but without a description, followed by breakfast meals from other countries. I wonder how many people know this is an Israeli breakfast.

The photo evoked memories. After the death of my father, there was a prolonged period of time when my mum used to have breakfast in one of the many coffee shops in Tel Aviv with her sister Clara and sister-in-law Betty. Every once in a while, my wife and I joined to enjoy the company and food. This period seems so long ago. A different era.

Maj. Gen. Yair Golan

Israeli soldiers are brave not only in the battlefield but also in expressing very unpopular opinions that the prime minister dislikes. It takes some guts.

On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, deputy chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, No. 2 man in the army and the person who until recently (see his speech below) was the likely successor of the present chief of staff, gave a thunder speech that rocked Israeli politics and society. Golan said:

[The Holocaust] must make us think deeply about the responsibility of leadership, the quality of society, and it must lead us to fundamental thinking about how we, here and now, treat the stranger, the orphan and the widow, and all who are like them.

If there is one thing that frightens me about the memory of the Holocaust, it is identifying the revolting trends that occurred in Europe as a whole, and in Germany in particular, some 70, 80 and 90 years ago, and finding evidence of those trends here, among us, in 2016.

There is nothing easier than to hate those who are different; there is nothing easier than to sow fear and terror; there is nothing easier than to behave like animals, conform and be self-righteous. It is worthwhile, and even necessary, for Holocaust Remembrance Day to be a day of national soul searching. And in our national soul searching we must include phenomena that are very disturbing.

We have brave soldiers. I dispute the timing of the speech, eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, but I identify with the content. I have observed the anti-democratic tendencies in Israeli politics and society time and again on this Blog.

Good News: Israelis Are Happy

Despite all the challenges and troubles, Israelis are happy. Israel has been ranked the 11th happiest country in the world in the recently released worldwide happiness index.  


Good News: Moovit at the Rio Olympic and Paralympics Games

The Israeli public-transportation app Moovit will help steer visitors to and from the various competition venues at the Rio Olympic and Paralympics Games this summer in Brazil. Users will get real-time information in 35 languages regarding the routes and timetables for transportation by bus, train, subway, light rail, ferry and cable car, according to a report from JTA and Rio’s tourism website. Moovit, a widely used and fast-growing app backed by the VC firm of Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary, has mapped 50 kilometers (31 miles) of new lines ahead of the Rio Olympics. “Our city advances in the use of technology through this partnership, which will allow not only the Olympic spectators but also the whole population to access a multimodal travel planner with real-time information,” said Rio de Janeiro Secretary of Transportation Rafael Picciani. People with visual impairment will be able to use the app via audible keystrokes.

“Contributing to the Olympic Games is directly connected to our commitment to leverage the experience of users when using public transport,” Moovit CEO Nir Erez said. “It’s the perfect opportunity to contribute to Rio by helping solve one of the city’s biggest challenges.”

Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the University of Hull - 2016

In my MA seminar on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, after introducing the main hurdles to peace, I divided the class to two groups: Israel and Palestine. I asked them to solve the conflict.

I advised them to start with the relatively easy issues and progress to the more difficult ones. The exercise was slotted for two-hour class. We decided to have a follow-up of two more hours the following week.

The first issue was mutual recognition. Israel recognizes the State of Palestine as the State of the Palestinian people.
The State of Palestine recognizes the State of Israel as the State of the Jewish people.
Both countries will not discriminate against their respective minorities.

The Palestinian delegation contemplated demanding Israel to recognize the State of Palestine as the State of the Palestinian-Muslim people. Israel did not object. The Palestinian delegation reconsidered and abandoned the demand.

Israel will evacuate all the settlements.
Palestine will forego the right of return.
The refugees will settle in the abandoned settlements.
The process will be done in seven stages. Each stage would last a year. It will be agreed that the process will be completed within 7.5 years.

West Bank and Gaza
An elevated bridge will connect the West Bank with Gaza. The bridge will be controlled by Palestine and will be under Palestinian sovereignty.
There will be checkpoints on both sides, administered by peace-keeping forces whose task would be to prevent any smuggling of arms.

East Jerusalem will be the capital of Palestine.
West Jerusalem capital of Israel.
The Jewish Quarter will remain under Israeli sovereignty.

Temple Mount
The sovereign of the Temple Mount will be God.
The holy sites will be maintained by the religious sages. Muslim sites by Muslim sages. Jewish sites by Jewish sages.

Joint security forces will ensure peace on the sites.

Both sides will overhaul their education curricula to ensure that it will reflect reality of peace, tolerance and tranquility.

All schools in Israel and Palestine will teach Hebrew and Arabic. The Palestinians objected at first, saying that Israeli teachers might indoctrinate the Palestinians. It was agreed that Palestinian teachers will educate the Palestinians, and Israeli teachers educate the Israelis. Knowledge of languages was perceived instrumental to a culture of peace.
A very similar dialogue, and resolution took place in another class that was tasked the same peace exercise a few months ago.

Both sides will curb incitement to violence.

Israel will relax restrictions on the transfer of goods into Gaza, making the Gazans more amenable to positive change. The less terror stemming from Gaza, the more goods will be allowed into Gaza. Policy of carrot and stick.

All prisoners who have no blood on their hands will go home.
A few prisoners with blood on their hands will be freed as well. They will stand trial in Palestine for the crimes they committed in Israel. International inspectors will ascertain that the prisoners will serve their time in accordance with the adjudication. If this would work, Israel will release more prisoners.

Israel will establish a desalination plant in Gaza. In the West Bank, once all settlements will be removed, the Palestinians have direct access to the Jordan River water.

On this issue there was no agreement between the sides. Although the Palestinian agreed that Hamas is a problem that needs to be addressed by the Palestinians, they were unwilling to specify the ways by which they will ensure that the monopoly of weapons will be solely in the hands of the Palestinian government.

Thus, the students were unable to sign a peace pact. The Israelis were unwilling to make compromises that might endanger their security and the Palestinians were reluctant to fight Hamas. They said they will invest in including Hamas in the decision-making and the peace process but acknowledged the difficulties as Hamas is yet to recognize Israel.

Guest Article: Jagdish N. Singh, US must up the ante of nuclear security   

At the opening session of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on April 1, American President Barack Obama rightly observed:   “The danger of a terrorist group obtaining and using a nuclear weapon is one of the greatest threats to global security…if these madmen ever got their hands on a nuclear bomb or nuclear material they most certainly would use it to kill as many innocent people as possible… Just the smallest amount of plutonium – about the size of an apple – could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people... It would be a humanitarian, political, economic and environmental catastrophe with global ramifications for decades. It would change our world. So we cannot be complacent. We have to build on our progress” (https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/04/01/remarks-president-obama-and-prime-minister-rutte-opening-session-nuclear

Such materials must be safeguarded against falling into the hands of terror groups. The notorious terror outfit Al-Qaida has long sought nuclear materials. (http://www.globalresearch.ca/al-qaeda-and-isis-are-nuclear-threats-what-about-hillary-clinton/5518054). Another terror outfit Islamic State has already used chemical weapons, including mustard gas, in Syria and Iraq. (ibid). Recently, the Belgian police is said to have discovered that IS conducted surveillance of the home of an officer at a Belgian nuclear site that held large stocks of the highly enriched uranium  (http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/the-need-to-preempt-nuclear-terrorism/article8429672.ece). Given the ideology of these terror groups, one could well imagine the fate of the world if they were able to lay their hands on the nuclear materials.  

The United States, the United Kingdom and France, they  are being friendly to the states such as Saudi Arabia, its Gulf allies and Iran that have backed different terror groups ideologically as well as materially . The approach of the United States, which is supposed to function as the leader of the democratic world and ensure world peace and development is hardly inspiring. The United States administration’s approach towards the fanatically sectarian state of Saudi Arabia offers the best evidence as to how it is not serious about its apparent resolve to keep the terror groups off the dangerous nuclear materials.

Henry Kissinger has long written Saudi Arabia has “tacitly supported terrorist outfits as long as they did not turn hostile to the host government itself.” [See Henry Kissinger, Does America need a foreign policy? (London: Free Press, 2002. p. 293). According to a report (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/dec/05/wikileaks-cables-saudi-terrorist-funding), during her tenure as American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton warned in a leaked classified memo that donors in Saudi Arabia were the ‘most significant source of funding’ to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide, including ‘al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba.’ There are also allegations that the Saudi government has been funding Islamic State fighters. (http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/adding-gloss-to-ties-with-saudi-arabia/article8381771.ece)

However, Washington continues to be friendly to Riyadh. In the post-Second World War landscape the U.S.’s dependence on the Gulf for oil and the fight against Soviet communism had led to a powerful linkage between Washington and Riyadh  (http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/growing-cracks-in-the-ussaudi-alliance/article8510152.ece). The United States continues to follow the same pattern. It provides military and intelligence support to the kingdom for its regional security. According to a study  (http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/rare-consensus-in-us-on-resetting-ties-with-saudi/article8510193.ece), the Obama administration has sold the Saudis military equipment worth $90 billion over the last seven years.  A conservative estimate of this sale is $65 billion which three times higher than what was sold during George W. Bush’s tenure.

The lack of non-seriousness on the part of the US administration is evident also from its recently growing bonhomie with the fanatical Khomeini regime in Tehran.  A lot has been written about the post-Shah Tehran’s involvement in terrorism. The 1983 suicide bombings of the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut are believed to be the handiwork of Iran’s proxy Hezbollah (http://www.islamdaily.org/en/world-issues/middle-east/7704.no-state-sponsors-no-terror.htm). Today there seems to be a near consensus across the enlightened international strategic spectrum on an assessment (http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/addressing-threats-to-national-security-iran ; that with the nuclear accord and the consequent removal of global sanctions on Iran, the Khomeinist regime would grow economically and militarily and  use it in implementing its imperialist agenda through its proxies (http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/7459/iran-relations) in the region and the world  .  

If the United States really wishes to foil the terror groups’ nuclear ambitions or designs, it must review its current policy towards all fanatical sectarian states, particularly, Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two main forces behind most of the terror groups in the world today. It must not gloss over the fundamentals in Riyadh’s or Tehran’s foreign policy behavior.  Saudi Arabia’s very existence in its present fanatical Wahhabi form or Iran’s in the fanatical Khomeninst one depends upon the spread of certain distorted versions of Islam under their leadership in the world.  This means the continued Saudi and Iranian support, overt and covert, to terror groups against the United States (and other democracies).

In conclusion, the US government must be genuinely serious about checkmating the terror groups from grabbing any nukes. It is not only the security of the United States that is at stake owing to its current approach towards Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is rather the security of the Middle East and the world at large. The USA needs to assert its influence or we may witness more Saudi or Iranian -inspired terror, now with the feared nukes, hitting us hard.

Dr Jagdish N. Singh is a senior journalist and researcher based in New Delhi.

Honor Conference

On 19 June 2016 I will speak at the Honor in Changing Society workshop, College of Law and Business, Ramat Gan. The title of my lecture in Israel: “Blasphemy in 19th Century: A Millian Perspective”. Further details at http://top.clb.ac.il/honor/

Association of Israel Studies Conference

I am invited to take part in the annual conference that this year will be in Jerusalem. My talk “Just and Unjust War: A Study of the Israeli Lebanon War of 1982” is scheduled for June 22, 2016, 11:00-12:30.

Further details at https://www.ybz.org.il/_Uploads/dbsAttachedFiles/AIS.pdf

All welcome.

My New Article

Usually I provide you only with an abstract. This time I wish to share with you this short article in full. I have been campaigning for a two-state solution for a number of years and this is another attempt to explain the viability and necessity of this plan endgame.

“Parameters for Two State Solution”, Palestine-Israel Journal, Vol. 21, No.2 (2015), pp. 112-119.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor

It is now fashionable to bury the idea of a two-state solution, saying it is no longer practical. However, all who are quick to bury the idea are very slow to propose an alternative, possibly because no alternative exists. What follows is an attempt to delineate the parameters needed to end the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For such a momentous achievement of resolving a deep, entrenched conflict, three things are absolutely essential:
  • An Israeli leader who is committed to bring peace to his/her people and is willing to pay the necessary price;
  • A Palestinian leader who is committed to bring peace to his/her people and is willing to pay the necessary price; and
  • A shared belief by both leaders that the time is ripe for peace. This means both leaders believe that enough blood has been shed, that they need to seize the moment because things might worsen for their people, and that they have the ability to lead their respective people to accept the peace agreement in order to change reality for the better.

   At no given time during the past two decades have these three ingredients coexisted. In 1993 and 2000, Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak were committed to peace and felt that the time was ripe, but it’s debatable whether that commitment and feeling were shared by their Palestinian counterpart, Yasser Arafat. The three leaders did not have the full backing of their people and were either unable or unwilling to instill in their people a sense of urgency and yearning for peace, which must come at a high price. The way to escape the current deadlock is to rely on the Clinton Parameters, the Geneva Accord, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Olmert-Abbas Talks. These documents contain the foundations for resolving all contentious issues.

Applying the Two-State Solution

    To build genuine peace, it’s essential to have trust, good will and mutual security. I believe if there is a will, there is a way. Peace is a precious commodity and, therefore, it requires both parties to pay a high price in order to reach a solution that is agreeable to both sides. The peace deal should be equally attractive to Israel and Palestine. It cannot be one-sided, forced or coerced. Of the possible solutions presently on the table, the two-state solution is the most viable. The “settlement blocs” constitute less than 4% of the West Bank. With goodwill, the two-state solution is viable, certainly more viable than the present situation or any other proposed solution.
    The Palestinians aspire to an independent state within the 1967 borders, with Arab Jerusalem as its capital, and a substantial return of refugees to Israel. The Israelis wish to retain the Jewish character of Israel as the only Jewish state in the world. Both sides wish to enjoy tranquility and security — countries free of violence and terror. Both parties should explicitly accept United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, and begin their full implementation. The endgame will be based on the following parameters:

Sovereignty, Relations and Borders

Palestinian sovereignty — The sovereignty of Palestine shall be declared and respected.

Mutual recognition — Israel shall recognize the State of Palestine. Palestine shall recognize the State of Israel. The joint statement should explicitly say that Palestine is the State of the Palestinian people, and that Israel is the State of the Jewish people.

Mutual diplomatic relations — Israel and Palestine shall immediately establish full diplomatic relationships with each other, installing ambassadors in their respective capitals.

Capitals — Each state shall be free to choose its own capital.

Borders — These shall be reasonable and logical for both sides. Resolving the conflict would give Israel greater international legitimacy to fight terrorism and enable it to deal with the more serious emerging threat from Iran.  
   Israel will withdraw to the Green Line, evacuating settlements and resettling the settlers in other parts of the country. Upon reaching an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, Israel may annex the major settlement blocs — Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, Gush Etzion, Modi’in Illit and Ariel, which account for approximately 70% of the Jewish population in the West Bank and for less than 2% of its size — in a territory exchange equal in size. Border adjustment must be kept to the necessary minimum and must be reciprocal. At the Taba Summit, the Palestinians presented a map in which Israel would annex 3.1% of the West Bank and transfer other territory of the same size to the PA.

Territorial contiguity — A corridor shall connect the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to allow safe and free passage. As long as peace is kept the road will be permanently open and under the sole sovereignty of Palestine. No Israeli checkpoints will be there. Palestinians will not be able to enter Israel from this corridor, nor shall Israelis enter Palestine from the corridor. Palestine will ensure that this safe passage isn’t abused for violent purposes: Such abuse would undermine peace and trust between the two peoples.

Separation barrier — It shall run roughly along the 1967 mutually agreed borders, creating a political reality.

Security — Palestine and Israel shall base their security relations on cooperation, mutual trust, good neighborly relations and the protection of their joint interests. Both Israel and Palestine will take all necessary measures to ascertain that their citizens can live free of fear for their lives. Security is important for both Israelis and Palestinians as the key for peace. The Palestinian state will be non-militarized. This issue was agreed upon in 1995, as were joint Israeli-Palestinian patrols along the Jordan River, the installation of early warning posts, and the establishment of a permanent international observer force to ensure the implementation of the agreed security arrangements.

Terrorism and violence — Both sides shall work together to curb violence: zero tolerance in this sphere. Zealots and terrorists, whether Palestinian or Jewish, will receive grave penalties for any violation of peace and tranquility.
Jerusalem and the Holy Sites

Jerusalem — Palestine shall establish the new capital of Al-Quds. Al-Quds will include East Jerusalem and the adjacent Palestinian land and villages. Abu Dis, Al-Izarieh and Al-Sawahreh will be included in the Palestinian capital. The Israeli capital will include West Jerusalem and the adjacent Israeli settlements. To maintain Palestinian contiguity, Israel may be required to give up some of the settlements around Arab Jerusalem.
    The Old City will be granted a special status, open to all faiths under international custodianship. Special arrangements and recognition will honor the importance of the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter for Jews, and similarly special arrangements and recognition will honor the importance of the Islamic and Christian holy places. Israel and Palestine will cooperate to provide municipality services to Old City populations.

Haram al-Sharif — On March 31, 2013, the PA and Jordan signed an agreement entrusting King Abdullah II with the defense of Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. While Jordan may be a party to any agreement concerning the site, a broader arrangement is welcomed. As agreed by Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert, Haram al-Sharif shall be under the control of a five-nation consortium: Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United States. The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf will continue its administration. Jews will enjoy right of access. Excavation for antiquities may be undertaken only with the full agreement of both sides. Similarly, alterations to the historical structures and foundations can be made only upon the consent of both sides.

Water and Fishing Rights

Water — Israel and Palestine shall seek a fair solution that won’t infringe on the rights of either side and will assure the Palestinian people have the required water supply for sustenance and growth.

Fishing — Israel and Palestine shall enjoy fishing rights in their respective territorial waters.

Educational Reforms

Education — Israel and Palestine shall institute a shared curriculum on good neighborly relations, understanding of cultures and religions, and respect for others. This education program will commence at kindergarten and continue through primary and secondary schools. In every age group, vital concepts for understanding one another will be studied. This program is critical for establishing peaceful relationships and trust between the two peoples.

Languages — Starting in primary school, Arabic will be a mandatory language for pupils to study in Jewish schools. Similarly, Hebrew will be a mandatory language for pupils to study in Palestinian schools. Language is the most important bridge between different cultures and nations. Israelis will master Arabic to the same extent that they presently master English. Palestinians will master Hebrew as their second language.   

Incitement — Both sides shall improve the atmosphere by fighting bigotry, racism, incitement and hate on both sides of the fence. This includes a close study of the education curricula in both the PA and Israel. Both sides need to overhaul their textbooks to remove incitement, racism, bigotry and hate against one another. The curricula should reflect a language of peace, tolerance and liberty. Both sides should utilize the media to promote peaceful messages of reconciliation and mutual recognition.

Prisoner Release and the Right of Return

Prisoners — Israel shall release a number of agreed-upon prisoners as an act of goodwill, part of the trust-building process. With time, as trust grows between the two sides, all security prisoners will return home.

Refugees and their right of return — This is a major concern for both Palestine and Israel. For Palestinians, this issue is about their history, justice and fairness. For Israelis, this is a debated issue, where many Israelis are unwilling to claim responsibility for the Palestinian tragedy. Most Israelis object to the right of return because this could mean the end of Zionism. The original refugee population of an estimated 700,000-750,000 has grown to 4,966,664 refugees registered with UNRWA at the end of November 2010. About 40% of the refugees live in Jordan, where they comprise about a third of the population; another 41% are in the West Bank and Gaza, 10% are in Syria, and 9% are in Lebanon. In the West Bank, refugees constitute about one-third of the population, while in Gaza they comprise over 80% of the population.
    Israel and the PA have argued endlessly about this issue as a matter of principle without surveying how many of the refugees and their families actually intend to return to Israel if this option were to be available to them. What needs to be done is twofold:
    First, Israel needs to recognize it shares responsibility with the Palestinians to solve the problem. Israel needs to honestly confront history, refute myths and acknowledge the role it played in the creation of the refugee problem.
   Second, Palestine needs to identify the population, establish the numbers and, after mapping the refugee population, conduct a survey among them that would include the following options:
  • Return to Israel;
  • Return to the West Bank;
  • Return to the Gaza Strip;
  • Emigrate to third countries that would commit to absorbing a certain quota (appeal will be made to countries that receive immigration on a regular basis to participate in this settlement effort); or
  • Remain where they are.
     The 1948 Palestinian refugees will be able to settle in Palestine. The rest of the world will set immigration quotas for absorbing Palestinians who apply for settlement in their designated country of choice. Unification of families will be allowed in Israel on a limited annual quota scale, but massive refugee return to Israel will not be allowed. This dream should be abandoned.
Economics and Commerce

Economic agreements — Israel and Palestine shall consider opportunities for mutual economic cooperation, aiming to capitalize on the potential of both, to optimize resources and coordinate efforts. Israel will help Palestine develop an independent economy and will open doors for Palestine in the Western world and elsewhere. Palestine will pave the way for Israel’s integration into the Middle East as an equal member in the community of neighboring countries. Palestine will help Israel develop economic, industrial, tourist and other relationships with Arab and Muslim countries.

International commerce — Israel and Palestine shall conduct international commerce as they see fit. To develop trust between the two parties, a level of transparency about logs of commerce will be agreed upon and memorandums of understanding will be signed.

Tourism — Israel and Palestine shall coordinate efforts to promote tourism in the region, by collaboration with neighboring countries to facilitate cultural and religious experiences that are unique to this region.

Communication and media — Mutual channels of communication shall be opened on television, radio and the Internet. These media channels will transmit their broadcast in two or three languages: Arabic, Hebrew and possibly also English. Communication and language are important for the development of good neighborly relations.

Termination of the conflict — An official statement shall be issued declaring the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict following the signing of a comprehensive agreement covering all issues and concerns.

International Relations

Four-party permanent team — Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Palestine shall maintain a permanent organization that will meet periodically to discuss concerns and resolve problems amicably. This forum will discuss issues such as the Gaza ports, economic development, water, tourism, security along the Jordan River, security concerns in Sinai, counter-terrorism and counter-radicalism.

International arbitration — Difficult issues that aren’t resolved by direct negotiations shall be delegated to a special arbitration committee. This special committee will have an equal number of Israeli and Palestinian delegates plus an uneven number of international experts. Only experts approved by both parties will be invited to serve on the arbitration committee. The committee will include lawyers, economists, human rights experts and experts on the Middle East. Their resolutions would be final, without being subject to appeal. Both Israel and Palestine will commit to accept the decision of the arbitration committee. One model to follow might be the arbitration committee formed to resolve the Taba dispute between Israel and Egypt.


To resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we need courageous leaders on both sides who will seize the opportunities presented to them and make the most for their peoples. Both Israel and Palestine need peace. Both peoples, like all people, would like to lead their lives in peace and security. Normal lives are lives free of occupation and threats of terror and violence. Both the Israeli and Palestinian people legitimately demand that their respective government bring about such a reality. Peace and security are sine qua non to development, prosperity and long-term survival in a region that is riddled with bloody conflicts and gory, divisive politics.

New Newspaper Article - Against BDS

Raphael Cohen-Almagor and Jagdish N. Singh, "Academic freedom under threat in US," The Sunday Guardian, New Delhi, June 05, 2016

I continue my struggle against boycotting Israel. This is my most recent article, published with Dr Singh in a large Indian paper:

Book Celebration - Confronting the Internet's Dark Side: Moral and Social Responsibility on the Free Highway

Professor Seamus Simpson has invited me to do a book celebration at Salford. As previous book celebrations, it was a fun event. I enjoy speaking about the book and its logic, highlighting timely concerns, aiming to spark thinking and debate. The questions were excellent and I enjoyed meeting Seamus and Michael Goddard. Thank you Seamus and Michael for your kind hospitality.

New Book

The Jihadi Dictionary: The Essential Intel Tool for Military, Law Enforcement, Government and the Concerned Public Paperback – May 9, 2016

The Essential Intel Tool for Military, Law Enforcement, Government and The Concerned Public – What makes the jihadis enact such vicious crimes not only against humanity but also their own people? The Jihadi Dictionary holds the key to getting at the root cause of their confusing, terrifying behavior as it defines and demystifies the unconscious motivations behind their unspeakable actions.

Gem of the month - Galway

Galway, a harbour city which retains portions of the medieval city walls is situated on Ireland’s west coast, where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic. I love the interplay between land and water and Galway is a wonderful example of the enriching beauty of such interplay. It is a charming, picturesque town, one of the top touristic destinations in Ireland, for a good reason. The old town is full of coffee shops, restaurants, funky shops, boutiques and art galleries in the winding lanes of the Latin Quarter. Certainly worth a visit.

Gem of the month – Cliffs of Moher

Magnificent cliffs at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare. They rise 120 metres above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag's Head and reach their maximum height of 214 metres north of O’Brien’s Tower. The Irish developed this area and made it accessible to thousands of tourists who visit the place, appreciating its beauty.

Gem of the month - Manchester

I was invited to deliver a talk about the Israeli Palestinian conflict to a joint session of a number of synagogues in Manchester.

It was great to speak to an audience that understands and cares about the matters. Questions were superb. Knowledgeable and penetrating. That audience seemed incapable to ask easy questions. All questions were poignant, to the point, meant to advance the discussion

I have tried to be as candid and objective as I can about very complex issues. I think the audience appreciated it. Many came to voice their appreciation.

Manchester is clearly undergoing a massive change. The roads at the city centre are often blocked as the road system is reconstructed. I assume it is many million £ project. A massive development is underway.


Went for a stroll at Manchester city centre. Staggering no. of homeless people, many of them young. This should not happen. A decent society should not live with homelessness, should not reconcile with its existence. These people need help. We should find a solution. We have the resources.

Ignoring homeless people is ignoring our humanity. We have the ability to solve it. We are lacking the will. This is appalling. Every year, the number of homeless people is growing. Capitalist rat-race is brutal and the weak are left behind, finding themselves alone. UK can solve homelessness. We are a rich and capable society. This issue is as important as education and health, sports and TV.

Back to humanity now. Otherwise, there will come a time when we won't be able to walk in the town centre because of poverty, drugs and crime. Resolve homelessness.

Hillel Steiner

While in Manchester I met Hillel Steiner. Hillel was my external referee in my viva, my oral doctoral exam at Oxford. this was in 1991. I never saw him since them. We kept in touch via email but our paths did not cross. Now they did and I truly enjoyed the meeting. Hillel is enjoying is retirement with his wife, children, grand children and research.

68 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Israel

Israel celebrated 68 years of independence. Here are some things you probably did not know about Israel:

I thank Bill for sending me this link.

Monthly Poems

On Imagination
THY various works, imperial queen, we see,
How bright their forms! how deck'd with pomp
by thee!
Thy wond'rous acts in beauteous order stand,
And all attest how potent is thine hand.
From Helicon's refulgent heights attend,
Ye sacred choir, and my attempts befriend:
To tell her glories with a faithful tongue,
Ye blooming graces, triumph in my song.
Now here, now there, the roving Fancy flies,
Till some lov'd object strikes her wand'ring eyes,
Whose silken fetters all the senses bind,
And soft captivity involves the mind.
Imagination! who can sing thy force?
Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?
Soaring through air to find the bright abode,
Th' empyreal palace of the thund'ring God,
We on thy pinions can surpass the wind,
And leave the rolling universe behind:
From star to star the mental optics rove,
Measure the skies, and range the realms above.
There in one view we grasp the mighty whole,
Or with new worlds amaze th' unbounded soul.
Though Winter frowns to Fancy's raptur'd eyes
The fields may flourish, and gay scenes arise;
The frozen deeps may break their iron bands,
And bid their waters murmur o'er the sands.
Fair Flora may resume her fragrant reign,
And with her flow'ry riches deck the plain;
Sylvanus may diffuse his honours round,
And all the forest may with leaves be crown'd:
Show'rs may descend, and dews their gems disclose,
And nectar sparkle on the blooming rose.
Such is thy pow'r, nor are thine orders vain,
O thou the leader of the mental train:
In full perfection all thy works are wrought,
And thine the sceptre o'er the realms of thought.
Before thy throne the subject-passions bow,
Of subject-passions sov'reign ruler thou;
At thy command joy rushes on the heart,
And through the glowing veins the spirits dart.
Fancy might now her silken pinions try
To rise from earth, and sweep th' expanse on high:
From Tithon's bed now might Aurora rise,
Her cheeks all glowing with celestial dies,
While a pure stream of light o'erflows the skies.
The monarch of the day I might behold,
And all the mountains tipt with radiant gold,
But I reluctant leave the pleasing views,
Which Fancy dresses to delight the Muse;
Winter austere forbids me to aspire,
And northern tempests damp the rising fire;
They chill the tides of Fancy's flowing sea,
Cease then, my song, cease the unequal lay.

Phillis Wheatley

Light Side

Jerry Seinfeld' meets PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, http://comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com/president-barack-obama-just-tell-him-you-re-the-president

Peace and love.

Yours as ever,


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

People wishing to subscribe to this Monthly Newsletter are welcome to e-mail me at r.cohen-almagor@hull.ac.uk

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