Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Politics – November 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

Recent visit to Basel reminded me that there is only a slight difference in the Hebrew wording between hose and chose yet immense difference in substance.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor


On November 24, 2016, a wave of fires in various regions engulfed Israel. The fighting against the fire lasted days. The Israeli government asserts that many of the fires were set by individuals. The police arrested dozens of suspects. Is this a new form of terrorism? Terror is not the answer. The only thing that it is likely to yield is more violence. Non-violent methods are far more effective to enhance the Palestinian cause and bring an end to the occupation. I am so very sorry that the Palestinians are failing to realize this for so many years.

For several days (November 24-27, 2016), firefighters fought 630 fires (!!) in Haifa, Jerusalem, Neve Shalom, Atlit, Zichron Yaakov, Dolev, Halamish, Beit Meir, the Galilee and the West Bank. The dry weather made the fighting long and difficult as the fire spread to nearby forests. 133 people suffered injuries, of them one person is in a critical condition. Tens of thousands people were evacuated. Hundreds of people lost their homes and places of work. In Haifa alone, 527 homes were destroyed. The silver lining in this tragedy is the help Israel received from its neighbours as well as from other countries. The Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Croatia sent fire fighters and planes to assist the country in need. The USA and Russia provided large airplanes to fight against the raging fires. Standing by your neighbour in its difficult hours is not taken for granted in the Middle East. Thank you!

This video clip was filmed by Arabs,

Reflections on October Newsletter
The French Peace Initiative
Donald Trump
Lt Col A.S.
Israel’s Unemployment Rate Dropped to 4.5%
Representatives of the Baha’i Religion Accused Iran of “ongoing efforts to destroy the Baha’i community”
MESG Program 2016 – 2017
Have You Heard of Liberland?
The Web of Life
My New Article
New Book
Book Recommendation - Eric Barendt, Anonymous Speech
Monthly Poems
Gem of the Month –  Switzerland
Do You Know?

Light Side

Reflections on October Newsletter

Dozens of people communicated with me about my personal reflections on Shimon Peres. All comments were positive, expressing deep appreciation of Peres. Some of the people who wrote to me had the occasion to meet with him and they clearly treasure the encounters. Here is one message, from Professor Moshe Fischer and his wife Greta who wrote from Venice:

Dear Rafi,

thanks for the mails and interesting materials; we also were of course very sad about shimon Peres' lost also due to the fact that we were pro-Peres faction in his conflict with Rabin...I personally considered Peres a real and thorough politician with a well fundamental background.

Best wishes for New Year, shana tova, gmar hatima tova (retro-actively) and Hag sameakh,
Moshe and Greta

The French Peace Initiative

In recent months, France has taken the lead on peace negotiations with little success and until now inability to push the peace wagon forward. On November 7, 2016, the Israeli government officially rejected the French invitation to convene a peace conference in Paris later this year, stating that peace will only come through bilateral negotiations with the Palestinians. The Prime Minister’s Office said: “Israel’s position to promote the peace process and reach an agreement will only come through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority... Promoting such a conference will make advancing the peace process much less likely since it will allow Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] and the Palestinian Authority to continue avoiding the decision to enter into direct negotiations without preconditions.”

The Palestinian Authority has repeatedly rejected Israeli offers of bilateral talks, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas have not discussed the issue since 2010. Under the terms of the Oslo II Accords signed in 1995, the Israelis and Palestinians agreed that “[n]either side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.” The Palestinians seek to circumvent the Oslo process to pursue a unilateral bid for statehood through the United Nations and other international fora. Since 2005, the PA and Abbas have been engaged in a campaign they call “Palestine 194”. They attempt to gain recognition as the 194th member of the United Nations without a negotiated peace settlement.

Donald Trump

9/11 did not bring the news I wished for. No. I am not depressed. Just anxious. After all, Trump said so many disturbing things that any sensible person should feel anxious. If Trump the president will behave like Trump the contender, we all should have many concerns. At this point, there is little to convince me that this person can transform. People find it difficult to change especially as they are getting older. Successful and ego maniacs like Trump see no reason to transform. After all, he has been very successful until now. So why should he?

The issue with Trump is more about his personality than his ideology, which is also disconcerting. He is a polarizing figure, a controversial leader, anything but diplomat or politician. Trump has the charm of a bull in Pamplona.

I am afraid that the world would become a far worse and violent place. What is more likely with Trump? Law and Order, or Chaos and Mayhem?

I'd be surprised if Trump and Putin will get along well. They are too much of the same kind, based on similar materials, with similar personal traits, compassion, passion and ambitions.

The media in Israel discussed two issues. His wish to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the possibility to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem. I sincerely hope Trump will do both.

I have been reading the NYT on a daily basis. What a slap on the face for the newspaper. I do not recall such a considerable investment, such a dedicated campaign for any presidential candidate in the past years as the NYT did for Clinton. A humbling disappointment. The NYT is not influential as it wishes to be. It seems the paper preaches to the already convinced.

The more I knew about Donald Trump, the less I wanted to know. Now we are all forced to know.

Lt Col A.S.

My university had sent me to take part in a conference at Warwick University, where I met Lt Col A.S. He quickly bragged that he is about to receive a job in the new Trump administration. I congratulated him and wished him success. Later, during dinner, I shared with him some of my concerns and asked him questions as to what to expect from the new administration.

A.S. said that he does not expect Trump to support a two state solution. From the people Trump has nominated, it does not seem that two-state is the solution that the incoming administration will push and promote. I asked what the plan is and he honestly told me that he does not know, and that he suspects there is no plan yet. There is nothing waiting in a drawer to be salvaged. This will be discussed later. It seems that the Netanyahu government will enjoy American backing on this front.

Lt Col A.S. thinks that a wall will be built to separate the USA from Mexico. The question who will pay for it is less important. There will be a wall, similar to the one built by Israel to separate the country from the West Bank.

The Obama care will be scrapped. It is not popular among the American public. The plan is too costly, inefficient, unjustified and it failed to achieve its aims.

Restrictions on immigration will be introduced, especially regarding Muslim immigration to the USA.

Lt Col A.S. thinks that Trump will strike a deal with Putin, creating zones of influence. Both sides do not wish to fight. Both understand that they should be reckoned with. They will find a modus vivendi in the same way that President Reagan did. Incidentally, Reagan is the model to follow on many issues. The name of the popular president is mentioned time and again.

ISIS in Iraq will be crushed. The USA and Russia will resolve Syria together. Trump will not engage the army. As is the case presently, special operations units will be involved to crush America's enemies with the help of local forces.

Lt Col A.S. then said that the Russians did not hack Clinton. The NSA did. According to him, the entire security apparatus of the United States did not wish to see Clinton in the White House. Clinton has been hostile to the army and to security at large. This explains why the CIA broke the email enquiry at a crucial point during the election campaign.

I asked about China. Lt Col A.S. said "early days".

I voiced concerns that Mr Trump is ill-equipped to serve as president of the USA. Lt Col A.S. is not concerned at all. In his opinion, a person who has built many buildings, who runs an international, multi-million companies can run the presidency. He asked me: "Don't you think so?" I said "No".

American economy will be boosted by a comprehensive reforms geared to decrease unemployment, creating new jobs, and working at the strengths of the American market. Lt Col A.S. is certain that this will be Trump's forte.

I asked Lt Col A.S. what he thinks about Trump's expressions about women. Lt Col A.S. dismissed my concern in two words: "men talk".

Lt Col A.S. had spent more than thirty years of his life in the army. I asked what he thinks about Trump's insulting words to the father of American veteran. Lt Col A.S. said that the father misinterpreted the constitution and that he offended Trump.
?! ?! ?!

Most disturbing were his views of Ms Clinton. Although I did not ask about Ms Clinton, many of his answers somehow related to her. For instance, I asked about Trump's association with the KKK and the far right. Lt Col A.S. answered that Trump disassociated himself from the KKK, and that Clinton was endorsed by the radical right.  Trump is much better than Clinton. Clinton is a crook. Clinton should never be part of any American administration. Clinton is stupid. Hilary and Bill Clinton used the Clinton Foundation to raise money to run their own affairs. There will be a Congress Inquiry about the Clinton Foundation. Hilary had a private server at home because she wanted to have control of all matters, state and private. I agreed with Lt Col A.S. that mixing private and public emails on a private server was a colossal mistake.

What a relief, said Lt Col A.S. Clinton is not in the White House. And then he said:
"Clinton had a deal with the devil".
Me: "Sorry"?
Lt Col A.S.: "She signed a deal with the devil".
Me: "I don't understand".
Lt Col A.S. looked at me.
Me: "Who is the devil?"
Lt Col A.S., in utmost seriousness: "The devil. Satan. The one in the basement."

I was stunned.
Are you?

Lt Col A.S. told me he met with Mr Trump, twice. I asked him how he came to know Mr Trump, and Lt Col A.S. explained "through the media". Lt Col A.S. appears a lot on American television, voicing the "right" views. Trump invited him to meet. Then proudly Lt Col A.S. took out his phone, showing me photos with Trump. Trump has a wall with photos in which he, The Donald, is shown with many people he is proud to be associated with. One of the photos on the Trump wall features The Donald with Lt Col A.S. Lt Col A.S. took a photo of that photo and I was privileged to see it.

After this, I remained speechless. This was the end of our conversation.

Lt Col A.S. was the dinner entertainment. He shared with us his many achievements, including his close association with the Trump administration. The moment he finished his talk, a student stood up, and asked him: "How do you feel serving a neo-Fascist?"
The student threw the question and sat down. Silence in the room.
Lt Col A.S. addressing the student: "Stand up. Let's discuss this".
The student continued to sit.
Lt Col A.S.: "Stand up", raising his voice.
The young student: "I won't stand up. You won't command me".
Lt Col A.S. suddenly realized he is no longer in the army. After a short exchange between the two, the moderator stopped the exchange and after a while the evening has ended, giving us something to talk about for the rest of the conference.

Israel’s Unemployment Rate Dropped to 4.5%

In October 2016, unemployment rate dropped to 4.6%, setting a record for the country’s lowest recorded rate.

The number of Israelis working full-time—meaning more than 35 hours a week—rose by nine percent from September to October. Part-time work dropped by 0.3 percent over the same time period.

Israel achieved its previous low in August, when the rate was 4.6 percent. That was then the lowest rate since Israel adopted the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s formula for calculating unemployment in 1992.

Representatives of the Baha’i Religion Accused Iran of “ongoing efforts to destroy the Baha’i community”

In a 122-page document, the Baha’i International Community outlined the Rouhani administration’s efforts to intensify its “campaign to incite hatred against Baha’is,” including by spreading over 20,000 propaganda pieces in the media.

Since Rouhani took power in 2013, more than 151 Baha’i have been arrested and 388 acts of economic discrimination — including threats, intimidation and the closing of Baha’i-owned businesses — have been documented against members of the faith, according to the report. Thousands of Baha’i have also been denied entry into universities, while 28 have been expelled on the basis of their religion, which has been outlawed by the Islamic Republic.

Bani Dugal, the representative of the Baha’i community to the UN, said that “taken altogether, what we have seen is an overall shift in tactics by the Iranian government, apparently as part of an attempt to conceal from the international community its ongoing efforts to destroy the Baha’i community as a viable entity.”

“The take-away from the report is that international pressure on Iran, whether by the United Nations, the news media, activists or even the general public, remains a critical means of protection against a wider pogrom that targets the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Iran,” Dugal added.

The Baha’i World News Service reported that Farhang Amiri, a member of the faith, was stabbed to death in the Iranian city of Yazd by two men who said they were motivated by his religion. “Such a heinous act is a consequence of a longstanding, systematic effort by the Iranian authorities to encourage hatred and bigotry against Baha’is,” Dugal said.

MESG Program 2016 – 2017

9 November 2016, 16:20, Wilberforce LR29

Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Director, MESG, University of Hull

The Roots of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The aim of this lecture is to explain the roots of the conflict. It will trace it since the establishment of the Zionist movement in 10th Century Europe, the wave of immigration to Palestine, the creation of the Yishuv, the Jewish settlements and their relationships with the local Arab population. I will also discuss the complex situation during the British mandate, leading to the UN Partition Plan in November 1947 which increased the tensions between the two sides and led to the war which the Jews call War of Independence and the Palestinians call The Naqba (The Catastrophe). It will be argued that the conflict is so bloody and protracted because both the Arabs and the Jews have legitimate and justified claims on a small piece of land which they are unable to share jointly, and also unable to divide in a way that is acceptable to both.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor received his DPhil in political theory from Oxford University (1992). He is Professor/Chair in Politics, and Director of Research, School of Law and Politics, University of Hull. He published extensively in the fields of political science, philosophy, law and ethics. Among his more recent books are The Right to Die with Dignity (2001), Speech, Media and Ethics (2001, 2005), The Scope of Tolerance (2006, 2007) and Confronting the Internet's Dark Side (2015). Web: http://www.hull.ac.uk/rca. Blog: http://almagor.blogspot.com

7 December 2016, 16:20, Lecture Theatre 12, Wilberforce Building

Professor Sammy Smooha
University of Haifa and SOAS

The Challenge of National Minorities to Ethnic Majority Hegemony: A Comparative Perspective
The lecture discusses the response of national minorities in Israel, Estonia, Slovakia, Macedonia, and Northern Ireland, to the hegemony of the ethnic majorities in these states. All these countries see themselves as Western and democratic and at the same time the exclusive homeland and property of their ethnic majorities. The inherent contradiction in their structure raises many questions, including how these deeply divided societies keep internal peace and stability, whether or not the acquiescence of their minorities is fragile and temporary, if their regimes are sustainable and resilient, and how the domestic conflict impacts the region and is impacted by it.

C:\Users\user\Documents\Pictures\#2 Sammy\Sammy - Pictures\Sammy Photos for Use\Smooha Current  Photo.JPG

Dr. Sammy Smooha is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Haifa. He served as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and President of the Israeli Sociological Society and won the 2008 Israel Prize for Sociology. Smooha studies Israeli society, with a focus on ethnic relations, in comparative perspective. He has published widely on the internal divisions and conflicts in Israel, and has authored and edited several books on Arab and Jewish relations. He is the Israel Institute Visiting Professor at the University of London-SOAS for the academic year 2016-17.

15 February 2017, 16:20, Wilberforce Lecture Theatre 29

Dr Jacob Eriksson
York University

The limitations and possibilities of US mediation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the 2007 Annapolis Conference and the OlmertAbbas negotiations

Although the USA is the most prominent third-party mediator of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as Malley and Agha (2009) argue, they have achieved relatively little success. This paper will use the 2007 Annapolis Conference and the resulting Olmert-Abbas negotiations in 2008 as a case study to argue that American mediation should follow a broadly similar model in the future, although with some important adjustments. Analysis of the historical record suggests that an overt US presence at the negotiating table diverts attention from the parties themselves and creates unrealistic expectations given their power. Like the Madrid Conference in 1991 and the ensuing Oslo process, Annapolis and the Olmert-Abu Mazen negotiations shows the strengths and limits of US mediation. The US undoubtedly has a role to play in the resolution of the conflict, but it is a role best limited to organisation and sponsorship of conferences, mobilisation of political support, and ensuring accountability by enforcing the implementation of agreements reached. The coercive strategy that the US is best suited to pursue cannot produce the concessions required for lasting peace in an identity-based conflict. These must come from within the parties themselves, built on mutual understanding and a move away from the zero-sum nature of such conflicts.

Dr Jacob Eriksson is the Al Tajir Lecturer in Post-war Recovery Studies in the Department of Politics at the University of York. He holds BA and MA degrees from the War Studies Department at King's College London, and a PhD from the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS). Jacob’s research focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, conflict resolution and mediation, and the wider Arab-Israeli conflict. He has contributed to edited collections in these fields, and his first book, Small-state Mediation in International Conflicts: Diplomacy and Negotiation in Israel-Palestine was published by IB Tauris in 2015. His broader research interests include Middle Eastern politics and security, particularly in the context of post-war recovery.

15 March 2017, 16:20, Lecture Theatre 29, Wilberforce Building

His Excellency Mr. Abdurrahman Bilgic
Turkish Embassy
Turkey's Role in the Changing Middle East

Ambassador Abdurrahman Bilgiç was born in 1963 in Adıyaman. He graduated from Ankara University, Faculty of Political Science, Department of International Relations in 1985.

Ambassador Bilgiç entered the Foreign Service in 1986. He served in the Turkish Embassies in Tripoli and Canberra and in the Turkish Consulate in Deventer. He acted as Director General at the Directorate General for Press and Information of the Prime Ministry between 2003 and 2005. He was Consul General in Munich at the Turkish Consulate General in Munich between 2005 and 2007. He has also worked in different political departments in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He was promoted to the rank of Ambassador in 2011 and served as Ambassador of Turkey to Japan.
Between 2011 and 2014, Ambassador Bilgiç held the position of Deputy Undersecretary in the Prime Ministry.

On 1 July 2014 he became the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Ambassador Bilgiç is married and is the father of two children. He speaks English.

22 March, 16:00, 16:20, Lecture Theatre 15, Wilberforce Building

Sir Vincent Fean
Former British Ambassador to Libya

Britain’s ambivalent relationship with Libya, a country of contradictions

Under the Ottoman Empire, Libya was formed of three provinces – west, east and south. Italy invaded in 1912. British and Commonwealth troops evicted the Italian colonisers from Libya in 1943. Britain acquired the UN Mandate to bring Libya to independence in 1952, and stuck around until the Arab Nationalist Colonel Qadhafi ousted the King of Libya in 1969.

The troubled British relationship with Qadhafi included his extensive support for the IRA and a 15 year break in relations 1984-99, sparked by the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan Embassy in 1984, and ending after Qadhafi paid compensation for the Lockerbie bombing and sent two Libyan suspects for trial. Prime Ministers Blair, Brown and Cameron each had a different approach to Qadhafi’s Libya.

British/French air strikes helped to disable Qadhafi’s armed forces in 2011, when he threatened mass killings in Benghazi, and contributed to his fall.

2011 to the present
Initial Libyan euphoria at the fall of the dictator has evaporated as Libyan militias and warlords fought for money and power, with an Islamic State presence in the lawless country. People smuggling across the Mediterranean to Libya (and Malta) is lucrative. The international community’s continuing search for Libyan political consensus has failed several times. Some blame Britain and her allies for not disarming the militias after the Revolution.
Arab states have intervened, supporting Libyan factions and increasing division.

The future
Libya needs to reunite if she is to survive economically and politically. Her only source of income – oil and gas – makes Libya dependent on world markets. International investors need stability and the rule of law to be restored if they are to resume long-term investment in the country. Neither is there, now.

Whatever comes, Britain has strategic interests in Libya, on Europe’s doorstep – and many Libyan young people will want to learn English, completing  their education here. They may seek to shape their own future drawing on their experience of the British health and education systems and other institutions. It is in Britain’s interest to help.

Born in Burnley, Lancashire, in 1952, Vincent Fean joined the Diplomatic Service straight from Sheffield University, where he studied French and German. He learned Arabic in Britain and Lebanon thanks to the Foreign Office, and was posted to Iraq, Syria, Brussels (EU), France, Malta, Libya and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Jerusalem). He was Ambassador to Libya (2006-10), witnessing the 40th anniversary of Colonel Qadhafi’s coup bringing him to power. He left before the 2011 Revolution, to go to Jerusalem as Consul-General. Now retired, Vincent chairs the Libyan British Business Council, a body with over 60 companies as members focused on trade with Libya and two-way investment.

Have You Heard of Liberland?

In Vaduz (a city with a far exotic name that it deserves) I met with Andreas Kohl Martinez. He told me of his efforts, together with a small group of activists, to claim unclaimed territory between Serbia and Croatia to establish the Free Republic of Liberland. Andreas is an autodidact who has studied at home. He understands money and the Internet. Now this young man wishes to use his skills to establish a country via diplomatic means. According to him, Serbia has no interest in this territory that is triple the size of Monaco. Compared with Lichtenstein, this is a sizeable territory. However, Croatia is putting hurdles and is not willing to legitimize this venture. Andreas says that Guatemala may be the first country to recognize Liberland and that Lichtenstein is also willing to listen.

You can read about Liberland at Www.liberland.org

The Web of Life

I contributed to the Input Magazine (Chicago) “The Web of Life”, https://medium.com/input-magazine/https-medium-com-input-magazine-the-web-of-life-eebf163571d6#.30nxy73bv

Long and interesting article.

My New Article


New Book

Leon P. Baradat and John A. Phillips, Political Ideologies (London: Routledge, 2017).

The study of political ideologies keeps changing and there is no better illustration than this text book. In its 12th edition, Political Ideologies includes ideologies that only ten years ago were inconceivable. Conservatism, Communitarianism, Utilitarianism and Anarchism are passé. Here is this book Table of Content:

1. Ideology 2. The Spectrum of Political Attitudes 3. Nationalism 4. The Evolution of Democratic Theory 5. Liberal Democracy, Capitalism, and Beyond 6 The Liberal Democratic Process 7. Anarchism 8. Socialist Theory 9. Applied Socialism 10. Fascism and National Socialism 11. Ideologies in the Developing World 12. Feminism and Environmentalism

Unlike many similar textbooks, this one offers interesting insights into feminism, environmentalism, political Islam, and the recent rise of right-wing nationalism in America and elsewhere. The book is rich with examples and up-to-date historically. It is an asset for second year BA students in political theory.

For the next edition, I suggest adding chapters on multiculturalism and on Liberal Justice. Leninism is important too, otherwise students might make a most unfortunate mix of Marxism, Leninism and Socialism that does little justice to Marx and to socialist ideology.

Book Recommendation – Eric Barendt, Anonymous Speech (Oxford: Hart, 2016).
Another version was published in Ethical Space, Vol. 13, No. 4 (2016), pp. 59-60.

A new book by Eric Barendt is a double celebration: public and personal. Public because Eric is an excellent scholar and a new book from him surely will enrich knowledge and contribute to science. Personal because Eric was my teacher at Oxford, a member of St Catz College, and we have been communicating on issues of mutual interest, including the subject of his new book, for many years.  

Anonymity is both an old and a new phenomenon. In his new book, Professor Barendt addresses the history of anonymity. He discusses varieties of anonymous writing, the different contexts in which people write anonymously or with the use of a pseudonym: novels and literary reviews, newspapers and political periodicals, graffiti (Bansky, p. 49), and now on the Internet. The book criticises the arguments made for a strong constitutional right to anonymous speech, though it agrees that there is a good case for anonymity in some circumstances, notably for whistle-blowing. One chapter examines the general treatment of anonymous speech and writing in English law, while another is devoted to the protection of journalists' anonymous sources, where the law upholds a freedom to communicate anonymously through the media. Barendt notes that it was from the traditional reason of modesty that the three Bronte sisters wrote under pseudonyms (p. 17) and that during the 19th Century newspaper journalism was almost invariably anonymous. A century later, the anonymity practice was gradually relaxed.

Barendt has done a thorough research for the book, studying different legal systems and their treatment of anonymity, including the British, Canadian, German and the American systems. Through the book, he analyses court decisions from various countries as well as decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

Barendt also examines political writings, noting John Locke who was anxious to protect his identity. Locke admitted to authorship only of Two Treatises of Government, A Letter about Toleration and The Reasonableness of Christianity (p. 44). Kierkegaard also was known for using pseudonyms (p. 45).

Barendt presents a balanced view between freedom of expression and other important interests. Time and again he highlights the benefits and hazards of anonymity. Thus, for instance, pseudonyms enable established writers to use a separate author name for a different genre of their work (p. 11). Peer review of scholarly publications is conducted anonymously for good reasons (pp. 51-53). Considering confidentiality of sources, Barendt rightly notes the merits of this journalistic practice but, at the same time, he deliberates several arguments why reliance on anonymous sources may be dangerous (p. 114). The British Medical Association backs the right of physicians to use social networks anonymously for leisure but recommends that they identify themselves when commenting on issues pertaining to their profession (p. 135).

The book also discusses anonymous Internet communication, particularly on social media. Here Barendt analyses the difficulties faced by the victims of threats and defamatory allegations on the Net when the speaker has used a pseudonym. Indeed, anonymity is a growing concern in the age of the Internet. It is a double-edge sword as it can protect human rights activists and other people who wish to do good and who are acting in a hostile environment. But anonymity also serves criminals and terrorists, helping them to abuse the Net in promoting their evil, anti-social doing. Sites like Anonymouse.com offer proxy server, anonymous browser, anonymous web surfing proxy and anonymous email to surf the Net anonymously. Encryption and onion routers like Tor (p. 125) are crypto-assisted anonymity tools: they may enhance your privacy and anonymity but they might also undermine your own security. Social networking is opened to use and abuse. 

Anonymous proxies like https://zend2.com mask the IP address of Netusers. No logs or other identifying information is kept. Anonymity reduces the number of mutual cues upon which trust may develop. It may further obscure the nature of mutual relations and suggest a diminished sense of responsibility to one another. The anonymity and privacy that the Internet is offering might desensitise people, making some of them devoid of compassion and care, of responsibility and of any sense of accountability. The seeming anonymous nature of the Internet, its wide dissemination and easy use make the Net a perfect platform for hostile venting. Net anonymity is most convenient for spreading malicious unfounded allegations and for backstabbing. Bullies adopt screen names that do not reveal their identities and some of them exploit this anonymity to hurt classmates and other Netusers (p. 135). Trolls send abusive and insulting communications directed at designated targets (p. 123). Stalkers can operate anonymously from the privacy of the home, retrieving information about the victim by using crawlers without venturing into the physical world.

In the final chapter, Anonymous Speech, the Secret Ballot and Campaign Contributions, Barendt compares the universally accepted argument for the secret ballot with the more controversial case for anonymous speech. Here Barendt considers JS Mill's argument against secret voting (p. 158).

This is the first comprehensive study of anonymous speech to examine critically the arguments for and against anonymity. Barendt is an erudite author. The book is well written and astutely reasoned. I highly recommend the book to those who are interested in the complexities and history of anonymity on and off line.

Monthly Poems

On November 5, 1997, my beloved mentor Isaiah Berlin died. Later that year I met our mutual friend, Jerry Cohen, who succeeded Isaiah, and who sat with him until death was near. Jerry told me that Isaiah said: It is such a waste. Isaiah really did not want to die. This sentence prompted me to write:

Farewell Isaiah
16 December 1997

For Isaiah Berlin

It is just a waste, such a waste
He said, sadness in his voice
This incredible voice, loud and clear
That enchanted and fascinated thousands
With its heavy accent and deep warmth.

Eyes burning
Reflecting the mind behind them
Described as the greatest in the United Kingdom
One ad read – the greatest person in the Country
Now lying in bed muscles withdrawn.

The food so loved lost taste and charm
But not the music
Oh the music, always embraces,
Stimulates mind, rejoicing heart
Provides essence to living.

Meagre living, shadows closing in
Light becomes dim, frail
Farewell Isaiah
You kind heart.

Gem of the Month –  Switzerland

I received a grant from The Swiss National Science Foundation which enabled a research and lecture tour in Switzerland. I visited a number of cities and made extensive use of the Swiss transport system.

The Swiss transportation is as punctual as a Swiss clock. All trains arrive at the stations before their schedule time, and they leave the station as promised, on the dot. More astonishingly, all the trams work like clockwork. I am talking on a massive spider network of trams that cover large cities such as Zurich and Basel. In most stops, electronic signposts tell you when the trams will arrive, and they arrive on time. The British transport operators should send some officers to Switzerland to learn a few tricks.

It is not only trams and trains. Swiss people take time seriously, understanding that disrespecting time is disrespecting people. Taxis ordered arrive before time. Meetings start on the dot. I did not have to wait even one single minute beyond the allotted time. People are courteous and efficient.

Of the cities I visited, I liked Zurich the most. This city has a lot to offer. I warmly recommend a visit of a few days in this bustling, lively and interesting city.

I wish to thank David Shaw, Bernice Elger, Anne-Christine Loschnigg, Gil Shidlo, Joel and Anat Weil, Sascha Sproun, Matthias Mahlmann and Bernhard Rütsche for their kind hospitality. 

Do You Know?

What is the significance of this place?

Light Side

A young American blonde man is distraught because he fears his wife is having an affair, so he goes to a gun shop and buys a handgun. The next day he comes home and sure enough he finds his wife in bed with a handsome redhead. He grabs the gun and holds it to his own head. The wife jumps out of bed, begging and pleading with him not to shoot himself. Hysterically the blonde responds to the wife, ''Shut up...you're next!''

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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