Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Politics – July 2016 – In Memory of Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)

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"Today we bear witness to humanity's capacity for deliberate cruelty and evil. May we ever remember this painful truth about ourselves, and may it strengthen our commitment to never again allow such darkness to prevail."

You can gauge the viability of a democracy by how it treats its minorities.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

“Times have changed, and France is going to have to live with terrorism”.

~French Prime Minister Manuel Valls

We should not learn to live with terrorism; we should not accept terror as part of our lives because terror is the negation of life. We cannot “get used” to terror. This is impossible. We must fight terror with all our might. Show the terrorists that what they are doing is vile and utterly unacceptable. We need to defeat terror, and we will. We shall overcome.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Reflections on June Newsletter
Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)
Hilary Clinton
Israel and Turkey Restore Relationships
Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Incitement to Terror
US Accuses Israel of Systematically Seizing Palestinian Land
EU to Back Mideast Peace Push with ‘Unprecedented’ Support
Jeremy Corbyn
PM Theresa May
Canada Green Party
Guest Article – Professor Art Hobson
Another Israeli Exit
My New Article
Book Review
Book Recommendation
Movie Recommendation
Monthly Poems
Gem of the Month – St. Catherine’s College, Oxford

Euro 2016

Light Side

Reflections on June Newsletter

Dr Ruvi Ziegler referred to two interviews he has granted recently:

* TV interview to i24News ('the World this week') on Friday (24th June) on the results of the referendum. The video is available here: http://www.i24news.tv/en/tv/replay/twtw/x4ifxob (from minute 7.10).
*  TV interview to Israel Broadcasting Agency’s principal news programme on the occasion of World Refugee Day (20th June), discussing the refugee crisis in Europe; the EU-Turkey agreement; the predicament of asylum seekers in Israel; and the state of Palestine refugees. The video is available here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiJSgV-zpd8&feature=youtu.be

Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)
Published in The Jerusalem Post, 3 July 2016,

Like many across the globe, I mourned the death of Elie Wiesel, the man who could explain the unexplainable, who touched the hearts of millions by his wisdom and sensitivity.

During the 1980s I met Elie Wiesel in my capacity as one of the founders and later Chairperson of “The Second Generation to the Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance” Organization in Israel. Mr Wiesel took keen interest in our work and encouraged us to do what he considered a sacred mission to educate the Israeli youth about the horrors of the Holocaust. Mr Wiesel was a compassionate supporter of the State of Israel who loved the country and its people with all his heart. He involved himself with all possible issues that concerned the Holocaust. This is not an easy task. There was certain sadness about him. Even when Elie smiled, while it was a warm smile it was also with a touch of sadness as he was carrying in his mind the constant memories of his personal loss, and what he saw during those dark days of humanity, when he was forced to live in the basement of civilization.

Mr Wiesel had a sharp mind, and a gifted pen. He was an excellent and passionate orator. When Wiesel spoke, people listened.  This is when his quiet charisma would erupt, and he would captivate large audiences with his penetrating voice. Sad and compassionate, this is how I remember Elie Wiesel.

Mr Wiesel dedicated his life to tell the story of the Holocaust so that people understand what happened there, so that they remember, so that such atrocities will not reoccur. And when genocides happened in the world, in Bosnia, in Cambodia, in Rwanda, in Darfur, Elie Wiesel was there to denounce, to raise awareness, to garner public opinion in order to exert pressure on influential decision-makers to put a stop to genocide. Elie Wiesel was a relentless proponent of life, living in the large, overwhelming shadow of death.

Elie Wiesel wrote dozens of books, starting with Night, a memoir based on his experiences in the death camps. Wiesel wrote incisively: “Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed,” Mr. Wiesel wrote. “Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God himself. Never.”

"For the survivor who chooses to testify”, Wiesel said, “it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living”.

"To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time."

In 1986, he was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for his role in speaking out against violence, repression and racism. “Wiesel is a messenger to mankind,” the Nobel citation said. “His message is one of peace, atonement and human dignity. His belief that the forces fighting evil in the world can be victorious is a hard-won belief.”
When accepting it, he said: "Whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation, take sides.

"Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

Elie Wiesel, a warm, compassionate human rights activist. The world needs many people like you to stand against evil. May your soul rest in peace that you so deserve. I will miss you.

Hillary Clinton

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Hillary Clinton personally asked her adviser, former Under-Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, to ensure that the Democratic Party’s platform remained pro-Israel. “I had very direct instructions from Secretary Clinton that there would be clarity about this issue and there would be no space,” Sherman said, asserting that “continuing to secure our bond with Israel” was important to the United States’ position in the region and in fighting ISIS.


In his speech at the Democratic National Convention, Bill Clinton recalled how his wife introduced an Israeli-developed educational program in Arkansas, which later spread nationwide. “Hillary told me about a preschool program developed in Israel called HIPPY, Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters,” Bill Clinton recounted. “The idea was to teach low-income parents, even those that couldn’t read, to be their children’s first teachers. Now, 20 years of research has shown how well this program works to improve readiness for school and academic achievement.”

HIPPY was founded by Aviva Lombard in 1969 in order to help North African and Middle Eastern Jews assimilate into Israeli society. HIPPY works to nurture and advance parents’ confidence in teaching their children to “strengthen the child’s cognitive and early literacy skills, social/emotional and physical development,” in order to prepare children for school, especially those from low social-economic background.

Israel and Turkey Restore Relationships

Remember the Marmara? Remember the little stupid chair insult orchestrated by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon? On June 27, 2016, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel and Turkey reached an agreement to restore relations, following six years of strained ties. Netanyahu explained that his goal is to “create centers of stability in this unstable and stormy region.” He continued, “We are doing so with our close neighbors, Arab countries. We are doing so with Greece and Cyprus. We are doing so with Russia. We are also doing so with Turkey.”

The restoration of relationships is much needed by both countries who are suffering from increased isolation and have common enemies, first and foremost Iran. The policies of the Israeli and Turkish leaders evoke concern in the world and in their own respective countries. The opposition forces are growing in both Israel and Turkey as both leaders resort to more repressive means to sustain their respective regimes. This is done on a larger anti-democratic scale in Turkey but as reflected often on this blog, the Israeli government is increasingly intolerant toward what it deems to be “enemies”, including NGOs and human rights organizations.

Relations between Turkey and Israel deteriorated in 2010 following the IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara, a ship carrying Turkish activists who were leading a flotilla trying to reach Gaza. The ship refused to obey to IDF commands to dock at the port of Ashdod, and the passengers on the Marmara attacked the Israeli commandos sent to intercept the boats, forcing the IDF to respond. The incident resulted in the deaths of ten Turkish activists. Several IDF soldiers were also injured.

Under the new agreement, Israel and Turkey will restore full diplomatic relations. Israel will establish a fund worth $20 million for the families of those killed in the Marmara incident, and Turkey agreed to pass legislation that offers legal protection for IDF soldiers from criminal and civilian claims. Israel will still maintain its restrictions on the imports and exports going to and from the Gaza Strip, a measure that Israel uses to prevent the smuggling of weapons and illicit materials into the Strip. Turkey will send humanitarian assistance to Gaza via the Israeli port of Ashdod. Turkish officials also agreed not to block Israeli involvement in international forums, such as NATO. Additionally, Turkey committed to preventing Hamas operatives from orchestrating attacks on Israelis from Turkey.

Netanyahu heralded the economic opportunities that normalization with Turkey could offer, saying: “This agreement opens the way to cooperation on economic and energy matters, including the gas issue. Gas is so important and contains the possibility of strengthening the Israeli economy and state coffers with vast capital.” On Israel’s large, offshore natural gas field, Leviathan, Netanyahu stated that it “could supply both the Egyptian market that we intend to work with and also the Turkish market as well as the supply of gas through Turkey to Europe, and this is a strategic issue for the State of Israel.”

Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu’s true calling is the foreign ministry. This job suits him most. He is eloquent, intelligent, diplomatic, knows how to conduct himself in presidential corridors, and he (and Sarah his wife) adores travelling. He had done very well on this job. The problem is that he also loves power and in Israel power lies first and foremost with the prime minister.

Israel does not have a foreign minister for a good reason. Mr Netanyahu is keeping this job for himself. This is his baby. He has decided he can enjoy both worlds, having his true love – the foreign office, and power, at the same time. This serves him well. Does it serve the best interests of Israel? I wonder. The foreign ministry is a demanding portfolio that needs a full time minister.

But one does not argue with success, and when a good word is required, I would be the first to say it. Netanyahu is doing very well in his role as a part-time foreign minister. Just imagine how well he would do as a full-time foreign minister.

I have mentioned the restoration of relationships with Turkey, a very important regional power. In a previous newsletter I have highlighted the warm relationships between Israel and India, the warmest ever in the history of the relations between the two countries. Netanyahu is investing in Israel’s relationships with two of important neighbours, Egypt and Jordan. Israel needs to keep the peace with both countries, and to maintain secure borders with them. On July 10, 2016, Netanyahu hosted the Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry in Jerusalem.

This was the first visit by a high-level Egyptian official in nine years. Its aim was to promote a regional peace conference in Cairo. Indeed, ties between Israel and Egypt have greatly improved in the past few years. IDF deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan said at a news conference in April that the two countries have an “unprecedented level of cooperation” concerning the sharing of intelligence on terrorist groups like Hamas and ISIS’s Sinai affiliate. Israel has allowed the Egyptian army to technically break the 1979 peace treaty by operating in the eastern and northern parts of Sinai against ISIS.

Speaking to the National Security College in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu told students that Arab states have begun to realize that their real enemy isn’t Israel, but rather the growing radicalism preached by ISIS and other terrorist organizations. He also said that Arab world’s growing acceptance of Israel could help lead to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. This is very true. The normalization of advancing relations with the Arab world could help to advance peace — a more sober, stable and better-backed peace — between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians would not like to be the last party in the Arab world to fight Israel.

Netanyahu also embarked on a diplomatic tour of four African countries, whose leaders hailed the “the opening of a new era in relations between Israel and the countries of Africa” and heaped praise upon Israel as a model for proper economic, agricultural, and security practices. Netanyahu reportedly held a meeting with the president of Somalia, the first-ever high-level contact between the two countries.

Source: The Tower.org

Incitement to Terror

The Palestinian Authority continues to incite to terror and the results are bloody. This month we witnessed more stabbings, more killings. President Abbas’s advisor Sultan Abu Al-Einein called Palestinians: “Every place you find an Israeli - cut off his head.” A Palestinian terrorist stabbed 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel to death while she was sleeping in her bedroom. How much hatred one can one have to do such a thing?

The ongoing wave of terror attacks that began last fall has been fueled by relentless incitement. Palestinian officials have refused to condemn the attacks. Thus far, 39 civilians have been murdered. The attacks take place across the country and in the West Bank. Terrorism aims to terrorize and thus it has no rules, no boundaries, no morals. The only rule that guides terrorism is to break all rules.


US Accuses Israel of Systematically Seizing Palestinian Land

Netanyahu can’t wait to see Obama out of the White House. The tensions between the two are growing as the president is coming to the last phase of his term in office. On July 5, 2016, the State Department said plans for new homes in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank raise questions about Israel’s commitment to peace. This following the Israeli government decision to start the construction of 800 housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

According to the plan, 560 new units will be built in Ma’ale Adumim, a West Bank settlement to the east of the capital, 140 homes were approved for the Jewish East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot and 100 for the Har Homa neighborhood, in southeastern Jerusalem.

The move came in response to the murder of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian while sleeping in her bed on Thursday, and to the shooting of Rabbi Miki Mark and the injuring of his family as they were driving near Hebron a day later.

In the unusually strongly worded statement, spokesman John Kirby said the reports of new construction permits called into question Israel’s commitment to the two-state solution.

“If it's true, this report would be the latest step in what seems to be the systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions and legalization of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution. We oppose steps like these which we believe are counterproductive,” Kirby said. “This action risks entrenching a one state reality and raises serious questions about Israel’s intentions.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was visiting Rwanda, said the US criticism was not unusual, but was not accepted by Israel. The new building was not preventing peace, he said. What was preventing progress was Palestinian incitement against Israel.

Kirby said the US was having “tough discussions” with Israeli leaders over moribund peace efforts with the Palestinians: “We’re going to continue to look for leaders in the region to do what they need to do … to demonstrate leadership to take down the violence, reduce tensions,” he said.

The State Department’s statement followed a similar denunciation from UN chief Ban Ki-Moon a day earlier. Ban said that “settlements are illegal under international law” and called on the Israeli government to “halt and reverse such decisions in the interest of peace and a just final status agreement.”

The UN leader is “deeply disappointed” that Israel’s announcement came days after last week’s release of a key report by the Middle East diplomatic quartet — the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations — that urged Israel to stop building settlements.


EU to Back Mideast Peace Push with ‘Unprecedented’ Support

European Council President Donald Tusk said that the EU will “back up a peace deal with an unprecedented package of cooperation and support to both Israel and the future state of Palestine.”

Tusk said after talks in Brussels with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin that “a lasting peace in the region remains a top priority” for the EU.

EU foreign ministers expressed determination on Monday to throw the bloc’s weight behind Middle East peace moves and a possible international conference before the end of the year. They invited EU agencies to present proposals “including on economic incentives, without delay.”

Source: TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF June 21, 2016,

Jeremy Corbyn

The backbencher made history when he was elected leader of the Labour party in a protest vote of no-confidence in the Labour leadership at that time. Corbyn’s leadership has been contested from the word Go. His leadership, or lack of it, antagonizes not only the public at large but also the majority of Labour MPs. MPs who were happy to join his shadow cabinet have fled in large numbers. Corbyn was a backbencher for many reasons. These reasons meant little to the public when he was a little known entity. But now, every speech, every move is being scrutinized, highlighting the eccentric if not bizarre worldview of the Leftist leader.

Corbyn’s relationships with Israel and more broadly with the Jews are complex and thorny. The man did not hide his dislike of Israel, and his fondness of Israel’s enemy. The past month, Corbyn made an unthoughtful speech (he has many of those) comparing Israel to ISIS. A leader should know how to craft his wording. Corbyn said: “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for the self-styled Islamic State.” Why on earth Corbyn chose to involve Israel while speaking about ISIS is something for his psychologist to explore.

Former Chief Rabbi said that the comparison between Israel and ISIS was “demonization of the highest order, an outrage and unacceptable.”

The ugly face of anti-Semitism is resurfacing time and again since Corbyn came to power. The radical, Trotskyist elements within Labour are known for their anti-Zionism, anti-Israelis and anti-Semitism. Corbyn circle includes many of these people.

For more on Corbyn’s history of anti-Israel activism and association with anti-Semites, read “Western Europe’s Most Powerful Anti-Zionist”, a profile of Corbyn written by Liam Hoare for the October 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine. http://www.thetower.org/article/western-europes-most-powerful-anti-zionist/

Corbyn lost a no-confidence vote from Labour Party MPs 172-40 but has refused to resign. For now. The little known Owen Smith was selected to contest him. I hope Corbyn’s future in Labour leadership will be short. The English have their ways to force people leave.

Also note that more than two thirds (66%) of the British public think the Labour party should change its leader before the next general election in 2020, a report has revealed. The figure is up from 42 per cent in October 2015 and includes a majority of Labour voters, according to Ipsos MORI’s July Political Monitor. See http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/labour-leadership-jeremy-corbyn-replaced-general-election-angela-eagle-owen-smith-a7136901.html

I cannot see Labour winning the general elections with Corbyn.


In Yorkshire, the Leave campaign was very effective. The vast majority of signposts called upon readers to Leave, Leave Now, Immediately. Do not waste this golden opportunity to return to mother England.

The social groups more likely to vote Leave were: older, working class, less educated, not of an Ethnic minority, professing an English identity, of the ‘objective’ Left (class, education) and of the ‘expressed’ Right (vote, attitude, newspaper readership).

The underdeveloped parts of England voted OUT. In north England, this was felt well. During the second half of the 19th century, and more so during the 20th century, the British government poured money in the south of England, unevenly tilting the economy in favour of the south. (In most countries in the world, it is the north that is developed and the south is underdeveloped; but England, of course, needs to be different). The result is strong resentment of the government in the whole north of England. People who do not live in England think that the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish resent London. This is true. But similar resentment is voiced also in the north of England. Some people here never visited London, and have no intention of visiting London. It does not represent them. Sad, really. This is their capital and they feel no positive connection to it.

Many who voted Leave did this for three reasons: (a) As a protest vote; (b) as an anti-government, anti-London vote. (c) As a vote for change. People are not happy with current state of events. They want change, and they are willing to take the risk that the change will work against them.

Specifically where I live, in Beverley and around, this is farm land. Beverley is surrounded by small and big farms. The farmers are not happy with the way they are instructed by Brussels to work, feeling that these instructions were drafted in France, catered for French farmers. They have continuously voiced their resentment of Brussels policies over the years. They are happy to leave, and to be able to resume doing things their own English way.

PM Cameron made a mistake. He should not have called for this fateful referendum. No one coerced him to do this. For this mistake, it is not only he who paid a price but also Britain, Europe and the world at large.

During the past week in office, Cameron looked relieved. As if it was enough for him. In six years, he grew much older. Now it up to Theresa May to pick the broken glass and make something out of it.

For more analysis, see

PM Theresa May

This was an extraordinary month in the history of Britain. I am an Israeli who is used to a rapid pace of events but this month was exceptional on all accounts, including the very high Israeli standards. Brexit. PM Cameron resigns. He thought he would remain in office for a few months until a successor will be found. Well, it took only days. One by one, all the contenders resigned, eventually leaving us with one: Home Office Minister Theresa May. A breath-taking turn of events.

May is an experienced politician with notable integrity. She is now faced with one of the most complicated jobs in the world. If I were to guess, she will do just fine.

A view to understanding the new PM is offered by the BBC, “Theresa May: Home Office record-breaker”, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36767844

May visited Israel in the summer of 2014 to learn about Israel’s practices in policing, human trafficking, and cyber-security. She spoke there about being moved by her visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, calling the Holocaust “the worst crime in history.”

Former Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom Daniel Taub described PM May as “a long-standing friend of Israel and the Jewish community”.

May entered to 10 Downing Street as prime minister on July 13. The previous evening she and her husband were scheduled to have dinner at the home of the British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. It was Tuesday night, an exceptionally hectic day for May who maintained her long-scheduled appointment. Mirvis said that May “has proved herself to be a friend and champion of our community and of other faith communities who share her values of tolerance and understanding. I wish her every success as Prime Minister and look forward to building upon our warm relationship over the coming years”.

And Labour also wishes to have a new leader. Corbyn fails to get the message; thus his party is pulling out its long knives. Corbyn’s days are numbered.


1984, the Turkish version: Democracy = Dictatorship.

Looks as if Erdogan had a full plan – How to react if and when there is a coup against him. I was puzzled to read that among the first to be arrested were… judges.

And it continues. Academia. Press. People who might criticize him and his policy are silenced.

Turkey was not a model democracy but now it turns into “anything but”, in the name of the people.

Can’t escape recalling George Orwell.


The more I know about Donald Trump, the less I want to know.

I hope this bad wind pass swiftly.

Canada Green Party

What's wrong with the Canadian Green Party? Holocaust denial? Seriously?
See Monika Schaefer, who stood as the Green Party of Canada’s candidate in Alberta in 2006, 2008 and 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0_BZphQ7Qo

Abe Silverman commented:
Elizabeth May, the leader of the extreme left wing Federal Green Party, came out strongly against Monika Schaefer and revoked her membership for her anti-Semitic video. However this does not excuse the Green Party from bringing resolutions to their Convention calling for the Canadian Government to cancel JNF Canada tax exempt status and another resolution supporting BDS. Anti-Semitism is alive and well both from the right and now from the left.
Warm regards

Guest Article – Professor Art Hobson

Excerpted from an article in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; full article at http://physics.uark.edu/hobson/.

Another gratuitous war?  Really?

Fifty-one U.S. State Department diplomats have signed a memo urging war against Bashar Assad's Syria, a nation that, like Iraq before America's invasion, poses no direct threat to us.  The memo's macho talk about bombing Assad's forces provides no clue about what happens after Assad--it's not as though Abraham Lincoln were waiting in the wings.
U.S. support for the Syrian rebels has already broken Syria apart, creating refugees streaming into Europe, threatening to wreck the European Union, and contributing to the recent Brexit.  Will we wreck Europe in our delusional effort to bring liberal democracy to yet another theocratic dictatorship?  It should be obvious by now that liberal democracy is virtually impossible among fundamentalist Islamic nations, and that our attempts at regime change can only make nasty dictatorships worse.  Our only real enemies in the Mideast are Islamic State and other terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda.
Last October, one day after Russian warplanes entered the battle against Islamic State in Syria, Hillary Clinton called for a U.S.-enforced no-fly zone that would protect Syrian civilians.  This would be a declaration of war not only against the Assad government but also against their Russian allies.   By effectively siding with the Sunnis in the religion-based power struggle between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia, this policy if right in tune with the diplomats' memo and poses grave international dangers.   The United States needs to get out of the world's face, bring most troops home, focus militarily only on serious direct threats, and stop trying to fix the entire world.
Art Hobson
Professor Emeritus of Physics
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA

Another Israeli Exit

The California-based multinational networking technology leader Cisco has announced its intent to acquire CloudLock — founded in 2011 by three Israeli military veterans – for $293 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017. CloudLock is a privately held cloud security company based in Massachusetts, with a development center in Tel Aviv. The 150-employee company specializes in cloud access security broker technology, which provides visibility and analytics around user behavior and sensitive data in cloud services. CloudLock CEO Gil Zimmermann blogged: “From the day Ron [Zalkind], Tsahy [Shapsa] and I founded CloudLock we had a grand vision – build the cloud security platform that enables people and businesses to accelerate their goals, securely in the cloud. … Our cloud cybersecurity and CASB platform has been adopted by more than 700 customers with tens of millions of users. … We’ve been recognized as one of the 100 fastest growing privately held companies and as one of the fastest growing security companies in the US by Inc. Magazine.”

My New Article

“Facebook and Holocaust Denial”, Justice, Vol. 57 (2016), pp. 10-16.

Abstract: In this article, I take issue with Facebook’s policy that allows Holocaust denial on its web pages because its directors believe that Holocaust denial is not hateful per se. I aim to show that it is hateful and that Facebook and other networking sites should reconsider their position in line with their own terms of conduct. All Internet providers and web-hosting companies whose terms of service disallow hateful messages on their servers should not host or provide forums for such hate-mongering. This is of paramount importance as Holocaust denial is prevalent in Europe, in the United States, and across Arab and Muslim parts of the world. While some countries, mainly in Europe, prohibit Holocaust denial by law, other countries have no such prohibitions. The question, however, is not only legal. It is also ethical and a matter of social responsibility for Internet service providers (ISP) and Web-Hosting Services (WHS) to decide whether or not they wish to host this kind of hate speech on their servers.

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

Book Review

Book review, Peace Negotiations in Palestine by Ahmed Qurie.  London: I.B. Tauris, 2015. 330pp., £25.00 (h/b). ISBN 9781780760933
Published in Political Studies Review, Volume 14 issue 3, pp. 494-495

Ahmed Qurie, known also as Abu Ala, served in key positions in the Palestinian leadership, including as prime minister from 2003 to 2006. In this book, the seasoned politician covers the period between 2000 and 2006, highlighting some of the milestones of this period: the second intifada of 2000; the September 11th attack on the USA in 2001 and its repercussions for the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), including the Israeli re-occupation of much of the Palestinian territories; the election of Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) as prime minister in 2003; Qurie’s own period in government; the Israeli evacuation of Gaza; and the 2006 elections which saw the rise of Hamas to political power.
Qurie presents these events from a very personal point of view with no pretension to present a balanced perspective. History is often open to interpretation, and Qurie’s partisan analysis sheds important light on the wide divide between Israel and the Palestinians. The divide is not only about material assets: territories, Jerusalem, holy places, rights of refugees. Rather, the divide also relates to the understanding of important concepts, such as sovereignty, responsibility and peace. This is a sombre book for those who believe that the differences between Israel and the Palestinians can be reconciled in the near future.

Responsibility is an elusive concept and this book is testimony to the extent of its elusiveness. The PA (Palestinian Authority) has created a presidential ‘democratic’ system that fitted Yasser Arafat ‘perfectly’ as he saw himself a leader who had taken ‘all responsibility, privilege and authority into his own hands’ (p. 108), yet the PA was not responsible for Hamas terror (pp. 23-27; 40-52). Nor was the PA responsible for Fatah militant groups that operated ‘independently’ from Fatah (p. 26). The PA demanded statehood and sovereignty although it had lost its grip on the internal Palestinian situation (pp. 37-40) and the Israeli demand from Arafat to ensure a period of tranquillity was unreasonable (p. 46). Holding the PA accountable for terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians was absurd (p. 73), while consultation with Moslim sages about the justification of terror and religious fatwas in support of suicide bombing was legitimate (p. 50).

The book sheds important light on the divisions among the Palestinians themselves. We learn about the strained relationships between Arafat and Abu Mazen (pp. 112, 141-142, 186); between Abu Mazen and Abu Ala (pp. 141-142); between Arafat and his security chief Major General Nasser Yousef (pp. 150-154); and the tensions between Arafat and Abu Ala (pp. 143-156, 178-179) - although Qurie is careful not to disparage his colleagues.

Peace Negotiations in Palestine offers one tendentious truth. People who are not familiar with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during that period of time are therefore advised to check and verify the narrative with other, more objective sources.

University of Hull

Book Recommendation

Gilbert, Martin, The Story of Israel (London: Andre Deutsch, 2008).

Martin Gilbert, the most distinguished British historian, published many books and articles about Israel and the Jewish people.

I recently read this book and was deeply impressed by its design. This is one of the most beautiful history books I have seen. Evidently much thought was invested in its production, collection and presentation of material. The book contains photos, copies of important documents, inserts of envelops with anecdotal, surprising information, maps, posters, letters. It is a very rich, special book for people who love Israel and wish to tell their children the story of Israel in a succinct, loving way. This book was prepared with love and presented to you in such a way that you will be sure to love it and show it to your loved ones.

Movie Recommendation

I recommend the epic love story Palm Trees in the Snow.

Based on the best-selling novel by Luz Gabas, this film is about Spanish colonialism, inter-racial relationships and a greater-than-life love story between a Spanish man and a plantation woman. The movie revolves around their impossible, secret relationships as they developed until they become one. The film shows the beauty of love that can bridge between cultures and that can crystallize despite prejudices and societal barriers.

Kilian is a young man who in 1953 travelled to the island of Fernando Poo to work in a cacao plantation alongside his father and his brother. There he meets a local nurse whose beauty and character touch him, move him, startle him. They connect immediately and allow themselves to fall in love despite great difficulties.
Mario Casas as Kilian and Berta Vázquez as Bisila are the anchors of this enchanting and passionate film. Their presence on the screen is magnetic. It is a long film, 2:45 h long so my advice is to watch it when you are fully alert and have time. Allow yourself to immerse in the love story as it is developing slowly. Enjoy the long shots of the gorgeous scenery. Appreciate the tender and the physical love scenes. Relish the lovely music. Understand that this is a slow, epic film, with many layers to unfold. The last 90 minutes of the film will compensate for the long start.

4 stars on Rafi’s scale.


Monthly Poems

One of my favourite musicians is Yanni. Some time ago, Yanni performed in India. I want to share with you his song “Love Is All”. This is a powerful song, especially written for the Taj Mahal by Yanni. This is in fact his very first song with lyrics. Solos are by Pedro Eustace on the ancient Armenian Duduk, Ramon Stagnaro on the guitar, and the incredible voice is of Vann Johnson.

I trust you would like Yanni’s introduction to this song.

Love Is All
By Yanni

Was raining in my heart
Falling deep inside of me
Drowning in my soul
This silence rushes over me
I am breath against this fire
And I will not turn away
I'm waiting for time to carry me
Like a tempest to the sea
Standing strong
Watching over
Love will keep me believing
through the dark, can you hear me calling
Holding on when I'm dreaming
Love is all, Love is all
Thundering on high
Love was all I knew before I fell
And now the shots of man
Are echoing inside myself
I am breath against this fire
And I will not turn away
I'm waiting for time to carry me
Like a tempest to the sea
Standing strong
Watching over

Gem of the Month – St. Catherine’s College, Oxford

I was fortunate to return to Oxford twice in less than a month. My college organized a gaudy, reunion, of students who matriculated between 1983-1992. It is always good to return to my college, walk the familiar paths and reconnect with my past. Oxford feels like home.

St Catz is, of course, the best college in Oxford without a doubt. I love St. Catz.

Euro 2016

A celebration of football. Best game France v. Germany. Here is my team composed of players from five countries: 2 Germans, 2 Italians, 3 Portuguese, 2 Welsh and 2 French.

Manuel Neuer (Germany)

Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)
Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)
Ashly Williams (Wales)
Jonas Hector (Germany)

João Mário (Portugal)
Renato Sanchez (Portugal)
Paul Pogba (France)

Gareth Bale (Wales)
Christiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Antoine Griezmann (France)

Until the final, Dimitri Payet (France) was included in the team. After the final, Payet was replaced with João Mário who was the engine behind the Portuguese team and deserves much credit for the surprised win. Payet was substituted. Maybe he was shaken by his rough tackle on Ronaldo. Nevertheless, Payet had a great tournament.

Light Side

Medical expenses

A man suffered a serious heart attack and had an open heart bypass surgery.

He awakened from the surgery to find himself in the care of nuns at a Catholic Hospital. As he was recovering, a nun asked him questions regarding how he was going  to pay for his treatment. She asked if he had health insurance. He  replied, in a raspy voice, "No health insurance."

The nun asked if he had money in the bank. He replied, "No money in the  bank."
The nun asked, "Do you have a relative who could help you?" He said, "I only have a spinster sister, who is a nun."

The nun became agitated and announced loudly, "Nuns are not spinsters!
Nuns are married to God."

The patient replied, "Send the bill to my brother-in-law."

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/

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