Thursday, January 19, 2017

Politics – January 2017 – In Memory of Joyce Appleby

Joyce Appleby (April 9, 1929 - December 23, 2016)

I was very saddened to receive the news about the death of Joyce Appleby. Joyce was a beautiful human being. I will greatly miss her.

Joyce was a great scholar and a good friend. She earned a B.A. at Stanford, an M.A. at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Ph.D. at Claremont Graduate University. She began teaching at San Diego State University in 1967. In 1981, she was appointed Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles, a position she held until retirement in 2001. In 1990-1991, she served as the Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford University where she was a fellow of Queen's College. 

Her first book, Ideology and Economic Thought in Seventeenth-Century England, won the 1978 Berkshire Prize. Joyce was best known for her studies of capitalism and of Thomas Jefferson. Capitalism and a new social order: the Republican vision of the 1790s, was published in 1984. Without resolution: the Jeffersonian tension in American nationalism: an inaugural lecture delivered before the University of Oxford on 25 April 1991, was published by Clarendon Press in 1991. Appleby’s long-lasting interest in the interacting economic and intellectual history of the American revolutionary era led to the writing of Liberalism and Republicanism in Historical Perspective, published in 1992. A year later, Joyce was the recipient the Distinguished Professor Award of The College of Letters and Science. Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans was published in 2000.
Joyce has also written a presidential biography of Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson, New York: Times Books, 2003) and edited a collection of extracts from autobiographies from the early nineteenth century, Recollections of the Early Republic. After retirement, she published in 2004 A Restless Past contains a collection of presidential addresses and essays. In 2010, The Relentless Revolution; A History of Capitalism was published. Joyce was 84 when her final book, Shores of Knowledge: New World Discoveries and the Scientific Imagination, was published.

Joyce’s illustrious career included service in respected and influential positions. She served as president of the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and the Society for the History of the Early Republic. As co-founder of the History News Service, she initiated a program for facilitating historians' writing op-ed essays for newspapers. Her opeds regularly appear in the Los Angeles Times.

I came to know Joyce through my good friend, Jack Pole, who had the tendency to make connections between his friends. In our meetings, Jack mentioned Joyce quite frequently. When I arrived at UCLA in 1999, Joyce was expecting my arrival. We met soon thereafter and made good connection, as Jack had anticipated.

Joyce knew of my abiding interest in the Holocaust, my obsession. She organized a lovely lunch at her home for Saul Friedlander and me, taking the back seat and listening to (mostly) the two of us talking. The discussion lingered into late afternoon. It was a memorable long lunch arranged masterfully by Joyce.

In 2000, after completing my book The Right to Die with Dignity (published in 2001), I erupted into writing Euthanasia in the Netherlands. I wrote this book furiously. For six months I sat from morning till late at night and wrote this delicate book. Once completed, I was unsure what to do with the new manuscript that developed so rapidly. Much of my scholarship has used interviews. I have published articles that were based on interviews but I have never written a book whose backbone was comprised of interviews. I was not sure whether it was interesting enough, compelling enough, to merit publication on its own right. I needed advice.

As I explain in a recent essay that tells the story, Joyce was a seasoned historian and intellectual who knew very little about medical ethics. She was a friend who enjoyed my trust and utmost appreciation. With her wealth of experience, she was a perfect referee to advise whether the manuscript merits publication as a book. I asked her whether she would be willing to read and candidly voice her opinion. She instantly agreed and said that she was about to travel during the weekend. If I could bring the manuscript to her home, she would take it with her and read it on the flights. The following Monday I received a phone call. It was Joyce who suggested meeting for lunch. She opened the discussion by saying: “You have a book”. I recall her reassuring smile. If the critical Joyce found it engaging and interesting, experts in the field would certainly find interest. Euthanasia in the Netherlands was published in 2004. Joyce was the first to receive a copy. She was delighted.

After her retirement in 2001, Joyce had moved with her younger son Frank to Taos, NM. She wished to be close to her daughter and her twin children. Joyce wrote to me, saying “We're in the beautiful southern Rockies.  I traded urban excitement for rural calm and fantastic sunsets”.

Joyce and I communicated regularly. She was one of the early subscribers to my monthly blog, and every once in a while sent me her sharp comments. Sometimes she reflected on my views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She thought I should be more critical of the policies of the Israeli government toward the Palestinians. On July 21, 2014, Joyce wrote:

If nations have the right of self-defence, do occupied territories have the right of resistance?  Gaza may not be occupied, but it's not an independent state either. Israel not only limits concrete imports, but determines how much food can be received.   It's a terrible situation with deep-rooted hatred felt on all sides.   My realistic streak tells me that the resolution of hostilities lies in some far off future.

Joyce also read and commented on some of my articles and books, those in the fields of Israeli politics and freedom of expression. The last article she commented on was “Hate and Racist Speech in the United States - A Critique”, In memory of Jack Pole (March 14, 1922-January 30, 2010) (see below). On December 5, 2016, Joyce wrote: “This is a beautifully argued essay, Rafi, and I was touched by your tribute to Jack”. I did not know these will be the last sentences that she will ever write to me. 

Joyce was a member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academic of Arts and Sciences, and the British Academy.

Joyce’s memory will live with me forever.

See also Joyce Appleby,

Dr Valerie Alia

Another friend who died recently is Valerie.

Valerie was professor of communication who fought for human rights and justice, especially of minorities.

May her soul rest in peace.

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

Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; but do not let them master you. Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight.

~ Helen Keller

Reflections on December Newsletter
UN Resolution 2334
John Kerry’s Speech
Relocating US Embassy, and Other Embassies, to Jerusalem
The French Initiative
The Immediate Future
Netanyahu – Mozes Deal

Lebanon Forms Unity Government with Hezbollah

Threats to Israel’s Security
Invitation to My Bioethics Webinar
My Newspaper Article – In Memory of Shimon Peres
My New Article - Hate and Racist Speech in the United States - A Critique
Monthly Poems
Gems of the Month

Light Side

Reflections on November Newsletter

Ambassador Vincent Fean, like yours truly, is a great advocate of two-state solution. He asked me to share with you an article he published recently in the Guardian. You can read it at

My good friend, Dr Jagdish Singh, was touched by my piece on Shimon Peres and has arranged its republication in World Politics. I am grateful to him for this. Until now, dozens of people commented on my reflections. Most of the comments were positive. Peres is missed worldwide. More infra.

Abraham Silverman wrote from Canada:  

My good friend Rafi in his understandable need, that I share, to see Israel live in Peace with its neighbors, has somewhat overstated the Law that was introduced but as of this day Dec 25/16 not been passed in the Knesset as he has stated. I would like to point out that the so called Legalization Law does not grant ownership of Settlement land but "Usage rights" only. It also calls for compensation for all who can show ownership of land that has been settled. All settlements not approved by the Government will be deemed illegal and dismantled. It is important to note that the "Usage" clause clearly is meant to give the Government the ability to dismantle settlements as part of any peace agreement reached with the Palestinians. Let me remind your readers that Israel has already demonstrated their willingness to trade land for peace many times. 

As to the "Two State Solution" given the insurmountable gap between Israel's security needs and the Palestinians demands and the instability in the neighborhood, at this time, in my opinion, dead and buried. So accepting that the status quo is not sustainable let me throw out my idea as a possible alternative. A Confederation much like we have in Canada. We add to Israel the Province of Palestine and the Province of Gaza. Each Province to be given language and cultural rights as Canada gives to Quebec. Equalization payments that will see the populations of Gaza and Palestine brought to the same economic and infrastructure standards as the rest of Israel. A path to citizenship and full rights enjoyed by all Israeli's. A National Defense force, Federal Police force, Health care, Educational curriculum, a Federal Broadcast and Print Standards. And a declaration that Israel is the "National Home of the Jewish People." May not be Democratic but necessary as are many undemocratic laws and declarations in all great Democracies. 

Many things have been happening and I received queries about my position on various issues.

UN Resolution 2334

As a person who opposes the occupation with all my heart, thinking it is vile and unacceptable, and as a staunch supporter of the two-state solution, I think the UN Resolution is right. But it is too little, and it came too late. For years, the USA played a double game: In discussions with Israeli leaders, American leaders voiced their dismay with Israel’s policy on the settlements. But when it came to denouncing them in the UN, the USA always vetoed the suggested resolutions. Until December 23, 2016. Why did the US play the double, insincere game until now?

Reading the Israeli newspapers showed the extent to which Prime Minister Netanyahu has control over the majority of the Israeli media. Excluding Haaretz that refuses to join the chorus, the rest of the media denounced President Obama as the “bad guy” who no less “betrayed” Israel because he ordered its delegation to abstain. Very little was said that ALL other members of the UN Security Council unequivocally supported the resolution. Netanyahu is deluding himself and the Israeli public at large. Slowly but surely, Netanyahu is isolating Israel from the rest of the world. His delusion about his power and abilities is scary. This guy leads Israel to the abyss with his eyes shut wide. He then declared “war” on the rest of the world, calling meetings with ambassadors during Christmas time to reprimand them, is “considering” Israeli relationships with them, saying he will withdraw Israel’s support from the UN. Crazy.

John Kerry’s Speech

Kerry did not say anything new. He and others, including me, have been saying the same things for many years; Two-state solution is the least violent solution of all proposed solutions. All others are either unattainable or more dangerous. The question, however: Why the Obama administration did not make better use of the eight years in office to press for this solution? Why until now Obama always gave his support to the right-wing Israeli government when Netanyahu needed it, knowing full well that this unequivocal support is damaging to the prospects of two-state solution? There are many answers to these questions. The truth is that, by the end of the day, Obama was too scared to hit the nail in the head, to bite the bullet and to do what is required from a world leader to do. You cannot truly pursue peace in the Middle East when you tolerate terror, on the one hand, and tolerate the settlements project, on the other hand. Both are detrimental to two-state solution. Both are detrimental to peace. Excusing terror and settlement betrays the whole process. Obama betrayed the entire process. His was a mockery of moderating peace.

I am saying this with sadness because Israel and Palestine not only wasted eight years but also became more entrenched in their respective positions which are anything but peaceful. With all of Obama’s good intentions, which I do not doubt, the president of the free world was a complete failure on this front. He succumbed to his own partisan calculations and was absent when it mattered.

Relocating US Embassy, and Other Embassies, to Jerusalem

I support this move all-heartedly. Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel. The capital is not Tel Aviv. Embassies should be in Israel’s capital. The entire debate is hypocritical. The United States, the United Kingdom and other countries have missions in charge of Palestinian matters in East Jerusalem. They can have Embassies in charge of their relationships with Israel in West Jerusalem. This move won’t undermine the idea of two-state solution. The idea of two-state solution speaks of dividing Jerusalem not only de facto but also de jure. The city is already divided. Go to Jerusalem and witness the separate Palestinian neighbourhoods. They look very different compared to the Jewish neighbourhoods.

East Jerusalem will be the capital of Palestine. West Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel. Alternatively, Jerusalem will be declared an international area, holy and respected by all religions, and jointly administered by Israel and Palestine, or by the international community at large. With good will and innovative mind, a solution can be found. The problem is that while Israel is rich with innovation, it is short with good will. Palestine also lacks good will. Mistrust undermines the process. Anyway, the embassies should relocate to Jerusalem. It is really about time. Enough hypocrisy.

The French Initiative

I said time and again: I welcome any initiative to push the peace wagon forward. But initiative to which Israel and Palestine are not invited reminds me too much of 1938 Munich Agreement regarding Czechoslovakia. If you decide the fate of another country, have the courtesy to invite it. This is not the way to do this.

The Immediate Future

So what will happen in the near future? Trump will be in the White House. He does not pretend to be a fair broker. He supports Israel and F… them! “Them” are the Palestinians, the Arabs. Netanyahu, who was, is and will remain Eretz Yisrael Hashlema person (a person who believes in preserving the whole land of Israel) but who loves power and wishes to be perceived as “pragmatic” in the international arena would allow himself to be bolder with his true inclinations. Netanyahu is already pushed to boldness by his own governmental partners, first and foremost Naftali Bennett who does not have Netanyahu’s restraints. Bennett, unlike Netanyahu, does not play games, is not pragmatic, and says what he wants. He wants to annex the occupied territories. He does acknowledge that this is a complicated matter; thus he aims to do this step by step: first annexing the major bulks of settlements which amount to 20% of the West Bank. Then he will aim to annex Area C which amounts to 52% of the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians with a very small piece of land. They would not like it. Who would? But hey, we are the strong side. We can do it. And with Trump as our guardian, let the Palestinians try to raise their heads. And yes, this is a threat. Bennett is bold and explicit. He does not mince his words.

This vision is certainly bleak for the Palestinians. I think it is also bleak for Israel. I think Israel, with its chosen policies, is destined to live by its sword for many years to come. Not the most pleasing future for its children.

Netanyahu – Mozes Deal

Netanyahu believes the media is the key to power. He wants to control the media, press and digital. While he is able to largely control Israeli television and radio, he has problems in controlling the written press. Haaretz is the newspaper of the left-centre that opposes his policies and will continue to oppose so long as Amos Schocken is the owner. But Haaretz is read by less than 3% of the Israeli population. It is annoying paper for Netanyahu, but not more than that. More problematic for him is Yedioth Ahronoth, which was the most influential newspaper, with the largest circulation.

In order to break Yedioth Ahronoth, Netanyahu recruited his good supporter, Sheldon Adelson, the right-wing American casino magnate, who is very interested to see Israeli politics controlled by like-minded people. Adelson was summoned to the call and in 2007 established a free daily newspaper called Israel Hayom whose purpose is to see that Mr Netanyahu retains power while, on the way, the free paper would break Yedioth Ahronoth. Indeed, since the establishment of the free daily, Yedioth Ahronoth has suffered a substantial drop in its circulation.

The owners of Yedioth Ahronoth, the Mozes family, does not like it. Mozes tried to fight Israel Hayom in every possible way, including so it seems bribery. And the person who Mozes tried to bribe was Mr Netanyahu.

In a wide-reaching investigation by Israel Police of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it was revealed that a tape exists of a conversation in which Netanyahu and media tycoon Arnon Mozes appear to be hammering out a deal that would benefit them both.

That deal may have possibly involved shutting down parts – or even all – of the Israel Hayom newspaper in exchange for favorable coverage of Netanyahu.

In 2014, a bill for the advancement and protection of written journalism in Israel, widely known as the “Israel Hayom bill,” was initiated by MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) and sponsored by members of five other parties. The bill would have made it illegal to widely distribute a full-size newspaper free of charge. In the ensuing political struggle over the bill, Israel Hayom and Netanyahu accused Mozes of orchestrating the bill through Knesset members who, they alleged, were receiving preferential treatment from Yedioth Ahronoth and its popular Ynet website, in exchange for helping him reestablish his predominance in Israeli media through the bill. It has been widely asserted by Israeli pundits that a central motivation for the prime minister’s decision to call an early election in March 2015 was to dissolve a Knesset that was headed toward endangering Adelson’s newspaper through legislation.

And now it is revealed that Netanyahu and Mozes negotiated for many hours a beneficial stinky deal for both. Will this bring the prime minister down?

Source: “Netanyahu's Tape Scandal Explained: Will Secret Negotiations With Adelson’s Media Rival Force Him to Resign?”, Haaretz (January 10, 2017),

Lebanon Forms Unity Government with Hezbollah

On December 28, 2016, Lebanon’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve a national unity government which includes representatives of the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.

Lawmakers voted 87 in favor, four against and one abstention, to approve Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri’s cabinet. He had presented the 30-member cabinet earlier this month, having been asked to form a government by President Michel Aoun, who was elected several weeks previously.

Under long-standing agreements, Lebanon’s positions of power are divided to reflect the country’s complex ethnic mix – the president must be a Maronite Christian, its Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and parliament’s speaker a Shi’ite Muslim.

Hariri’s government also incorporates a wide cross-section of Lebanon’s political and ethnic spectrum, including two members of Hezbollah. Hezbollah’s military wing appears on the European Union and British list of terror organisations.

Hezbollah, sponsored by Iran, is a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and continues to fight alongside his forces in Syria’s bloody civil war.

During the month-long Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hezbollah fired around 4,000 rockets at northern Israel, killing 43 Israeli civilians. It is estimated that Hezbollah now has an arsenal of around 100,000 rockets at its disposal with a range covering all of Israel. Israeli military officials also estimated that there are around 10,000 Hezbollah positions, including infrastructure and armaments, placed within around 200 villages and towns along the Israeli border.

Hezbollah’s inclusion within Hariri’s cabinet will likely strengthen Israel’s assertion that in any future conflict with Hezbollah, Lebanon’s government will be held responsible. As far back as 2014, Israeli ministers warned that Lebanon’s government has a duty to prevent attacks from its territory.

On taking office in November, President Aoun pledged to “release what is left of our lands from the Israeli occupation.” A small piece of land is in dispute. Hezbollah claims that land called Sheba Farms, known in Israel as Har Dov, is Lebanese territory.

Threats to Israel’s Security

Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, former head of Israel’s military intelligence, presented the country’s president with an annual security assessment, which highlights Hezbollah as the country’s most potent threat.

The report details Hezbollah’s long-range missiles, precision missiles, attack and suicide drones, advanced sea-to-air missiles, Russian-manufactured air defenses, and infantry units training to capture Israeli territory in a future conflict.

Other assessments have estimated that Hezbollah has an arsenal of around 100,000 rockets with a range covering all of Israel. Israeli military officials also recently estimated that there are 10,000 Hezbollah positions, including infrastructure and armaments, placed within 200 villages and towns close to the Israeli-Lebanese border.

The report also says that Iran poses the second most serious security threat to Israel. Although the 2015 nuclear deal has given Israel short-term respite, the report says the deal gives Iran time to develop its conventional weapons arsenal which will make Iran a stronger adversary in the mid to long-term.

Hamas is ranked as the third most potent threat to Israel. Although conflict with Hamas has been minimal since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, the report says that Hamas is rebuilding its weapons arsenal and that violent incidents or a socio-economic crisis in Gaza could lead to future conflict with Israel.
Source: BICOM

Invitation to My Bioethics Webinar

Please join me at the bioethics webinar that is free (as long as you register, which is free) and taking place soon: 

            Topic:                                     Should the Euthanasia Act in Belgium Include Children? 
            Date and Time:         Friday, Jan. 27, 2017 at 12:00pm (noon) Central Standard Time

Event Information: Raphael Cohen-Almagor, PhD: Should the Euthanasia Act in Belgium Include Children?

  Registration is required to join this event. If you have not registered, please do so now.

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Date and time:
Friday, January 27, 2017 12:00 pm 
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Change time zone

Friday, January 27, 2017 10:00 am 
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Friday, January 27, 2017 11:00 am
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Friday, January 27, 2017 1:00 pm
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1 hour

Further information at

My Newspaper Article – In Memory of Shimon Peres

Raphael Cohen-Almagor, “A relentless fighter for peace is gone !” in World Politics (January 2017),

My New Article

Hate and Racist Speech in the United States - A Critique

In memory of Jack Pole (March 14, 1922-January 30, 2010)
Friend, intellectual, scholar

Jack Pole

Philosophy and Public Issues, Vol. 6, No. 1 (2016), pp. 77-123,

Because I had many conversations with Jack on free speech issues and the American Constitution, I dedicated this essay to the memory of this wonderful companion. In the company of Jack, hours seemed like short moments. We never lacked things to discuss, analyse and ponder.

This article attempts to explain why the United States is exhibiting the most liberal stand on protecting freedom of expression. It is argued that the American credo is comprised of strong belief in liberty and individuality and of strong anti-government sentiment. The First Amendment is enshrined in its culture and tradition. The protection of political speech is fundamental to the American democracy. As U.S. Constitution strongly protects political speech, it confers protection also on hate speech which is included in the broad definition of political speech. The article advocates that we take the evils of hate speech seriously. It criticizes the American ‘viewpoint-neutrality’ concept and argues that a balance needs to be struck between competing social interests. Freedom of expression is important as is the protection of vulnerable minorities.

Key words: Freedom of expression, First Amendment, hate speech, viewpoint-neutrality

The article is a product of many years of thinking, and more than three years of research. It is available at

Monthly Poems

Flower of Love 

Sweet, I blame you not, for mine the fault was, had I not been made of common 
I had climbed the higher heights unclimbed yet, seen the fuller air, the 
larger day. 

From the wildness of my wasted passion I had struck a better, clearer song, 
Lit some lighter light of freer freedom, battled with some Hydra-headed wrong. 

Had my lips been smitten into music by the kisses that but made them bleed, 
You had walked with Bice and the angels on that verdant and enamelled meed. 

I had trod the road which Dante treading saw the suns of seven circles shine, 
Ay! perchance had seen the heavens opening, as they opened to the Florentine. 

And the mighty nations would have crowned me, who am crownless now and without 
And some orient dawn had found me kneeling on the threshold of the House of 

I had sat within that marble circle where the oldest bard is as the young, 
And the pipe is ever dropping honey, and the lyre's strings are ever strung. 

Keats had lifted up his hymeneal curls from out the poppy-seeded wine, 
With ambrosial mouth had kissed my forehead, clasped the hand of noble love in 

And at springtide, when the apple-blossoms brush the burnished bosom of the 
Two young lovers lying in an orchard would have read the story of our love; 

Would have read the legend of my passion, known the bitter secret of my heart, 
Kissed as we have kissed, but never parted as we two are fated now to part. 

For the crimson flower of our life is eaten by the cankerworm of truth, 
And no hand can gather up the fallen withered petals of the rose of youth. 

Yet I am not sorry that I loved you -ah! what else had I a boy to do? - 
For the hungry teeth of time devour, and the silent-footed years pursue. 

Rudderless, we drift athwart a tempest, and when once the storm of youth is 
Without lyre, without lute or chorus, Death the silent pilot comes at last. 

And within the grave there is no pleasure, for the blindworm battens on the 
And Desire shudders into ashes, and the tree of Passion bears no fruit. 

Ah! what else had I to do but love you? God's own mother was less dear to me, 
And less dear the Cytheraean rising like an argent lily from the sea. 

I have made my choice, have lived my poems, and, though youth is gone in 
wasted days, 
I have found the lover's crown of myrtle better than the poet's crown of bays. 

Oscar Wilde 

Gem of the Month – Edinburgh

If you are thinking about spending your next Christmas in Edinburgh, stop right there. Think no further. It is an excellent choice. Edinburgh is charming and enchanting, and Christmas time is magical. The city is busy, bustling and beautiful. The people are pleasant and welcoming.

The Royal Mile. Castle. Palace. Parliament. Museums. Art Galleries. Shops. Market. Music. Edinburgh is a perfect choice.

Light Side

''My therapist says I have a preoccupation with vengeance. We'll see about that.''         

I rang up British Telecom, I said, ''I want to report a nuisance caller'', he said ''Not you again''.  

The other day I sent my girlfriend a huge pile of snow. I rang her up, I said ''Did you get my drift?''.

I was having dinner with Garry Kasporov (world chess champion) and there was a check tablecloth. It took him two hours to pass me the salt.

Peace and love.

Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on
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