Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Politics – February 2018 – In Memory of Moshe Negbi (1949-2018)

“There was nothing, there is nothing, there will be nothing”.
~Benjamin Netanyahu

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”.
~Donald J. Trump

"In the discussion I asked as to what was the problem? Why must I be persuaded to resign? Have I done anything wrong and of course the officials couldn't provide [evidence of] what I have done”.
~Jacob Zuma

Greatness is measured by what one does for others not by what one does for oneself
~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

The big story in Israel this month concerns police decision to indict PM Netanyahu. For more than a year, the police have gathered evidence against the PM, aiming to consolidate a strong body of proof in the various affairs in which he is involved. Netanyahu dismissed all those investigations by his repeated mantra: “There was nothing, there is nothing, there will be nothing”. Netanyahu repeated the mantra also on February 13, 2018, immediately after the police announced its decision. Well, the police think there is something in two separate affairs. In both the prime minister is charged for committing crimes of “bribery, fraud, and breach of trust”. One (Case 1000) concerns gifts that the PM and his wife Sarah received from two international billionaires, the mega producer and media magnate Arnon Milchan and the Australian businessman James Packer. Both of them saw it to themselves to care for the Netanyahu’s lavish life style which the PM salary cannot pay easily. Mr Netanyahu likes expensive cigars. Ms Netanyahu loves pink champagne and jewellery. The police said Netanyahu had accepted gifts valued at 750,000 shekels (£150,000, $208,300) from Hollywood man Milchan, and 250,000 shekels (or £51,000, $70,822) from Packer. In return, Netanyahu had helped Milchan with US visa matters and Israeli tax breaks.

The second case, known as Case 2000, relates to a secret deal between Netanyahu and the proprietor of a leading Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth Noni Mozes in which Netanyahu allegedly requested positive coverage in exchange for damaging Yedioth competitor, the freesheet Israel Hayom. The police statement said: "What was discussed was the assistance of Mr. Mozes to Netanyahu in establishing his stature as Prime Minister through positive coverage in Yedioth Ahronoth that, in return for the Prime Minister assisting Mr. Mozes in advancing economic interests of Yedioth Ahronoth by an initiative to block the strengthening of Israel Hayom".

Netanyahu established Israel Hayom with the help of his good friend, another American billionaire, Sheldon Gary Adelson, the most influential behind-the-scene person in Israeli politics, to undermine Yedioth Ahronoth after Mozes refused to serve as a mouthpiece for Netanyahu and even dared to criticize him from time to time. Tired of all the fighting that reduced the circulation of Yedioth and risked Mozes’s wealth, the Yedioth proprietor tried to strike a deal with the PM: You help me to return to my glory days as Israel’s No. 1 newspaper; I will provide you with a favourable coverage that will help you remain in office until the day you, Mr. Netanyahu, decide to retire.

Police said both Milchan and Mozes could be charged with bribery.

PM Netanyahu and his wife Sarah Netanyahu are involved in other shady affairs. I will bring the details as the legal battle for justice continues.

Moshe Negbi (1949-2018)
Reflections on Last Newsletter
Right and Wrong
Good News – Saudi Arabia Allows Airspace for Flights to Israel
Good News – David Grossman Receives The Israel Prize
Escalation in the North
Guest Article – On Human Rights and ‘Relocation’ of Thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese Asylum Seekers
Peace Summit at Hull
Polish Holocaust Law
Did You Know? NY Times Reported Possible Nazi Purge of Jews in Poland on September 13, 1939
Did You Know? IBM in Service of Nazi Germany
Did You Know? Standard Oil Supplied Oil to the Luftwaffe
Did You Know? Hugo Boss was the Manufacture of Nazi Uniforms
Top Ten Countries with the Highest Population
My New Article
Book Review - Free Speech after 9/11 by Katharine Gelber
Gem of the Month - Cambridge
Gem of the Month – Cambridge Union Debate
Gem of the Month – Limmud Manchester
Monthly Poems

Light Side

Moshe Negbi (1949-2018)

With the death of Moshe, the world is poorer.

Sounds grand. I know. Grand but still true. I am not saying this about any loss. I say it about dear Moshe. A tower of goodness, of dignity and of integrity, of truth and of courage, of kindness and of virtue. A model to follow. One of Israel´s best citizens. A wonderful husband and father. A kind and good friend.

As a student at Tel Aviv University, doing my first steps as a student of Israeli democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, I read and reread Moshe´s books. I read his columns in the newspapers, and listened to his radio talk show which is a model of democratic broadcasting. When I returned to Israel from Oxford in 1991 and started to work at The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute I met Moshe and a strong bond began to form. We shared the same worldview, same concerns and worries, same hopes for the future of Israel.

Moshe and I could talk for hours. Politics. Media. Free speech. Democracy. Culture. Families. The justice system. We talked nonstop until it was time for us to move to other duties. Moshe invited me to take part in his radio show and I accepted his invitations whenever I could. I was honoured to participate in what I perceived the best talk show on Israeli radio. By far, Din U´Dvarim was THE iconic talk show on Israeli affairs.

Moshe cared about everything. He was an inherently good man, a mensch. An avid reader he had encyclopaedic knowledge of Israeli law and media. He was always honest, true to himself and to others, a bastion of justice, often an island to himself, a lighthouse in depressing darkness. Moshe was totally incorruptible. He continued to raise his clear voice also when he knew that people will not forgive him for saying the truth in their faces. Moshe was for justice for all, notwithstanding one´s race, religion, nationalism, gender, sexual preference, or any other irrelevant factor. Moshe cared about people qua people.

Moshe was a social-democrat, a human rights activist, a feminist, a liberal, and a humanist. Moshe was a pure soul. He continued to believe in the goodness of others when there was little to cling on for evidence. He remained hopeful when darkness loomed. He continued to fight for justice for all until his last day.

Moshe fought for Israeli democracy, for freedom of speech and of the press, for freedom of religion and from religion, for minorities and refugees, for guest workers and prostitutes, for gay people and trans genders, for the Supreme Court and for just law. Moshe was always there to fight for the weak, to give a voice to the voiceless, to shine and speak the undefeatable truth when everyone else choose silence.

Moshe paid a price for his bravery. Many did not like his firm stance for justice. When they failed to corrupt him, they tried to silence him and to push him aside. They had some success but Moshe continued to speak his mind in his quiet, direct and wise voice. Moshe was a model to follow.

Moshe started to work in the broadcasting Authority in 1969. He also wrote for various newspapers, and taught at the Hebrew University and other departments of communication. He worked hard in several places to enable good living for his wife Irit and their three children. Moshe was modest, honest, brave, direct, kind, caring and loving. He was a true professional and a person of great integrity. This is why I feel that we are all impoverished to continue living without his wise and enlightened presence.

I lost a friend. Israel lost his foremost knight for justice. Who will take his place?

Dear Moshe. Your memory and legacy will live with me forever. I love you dearly.

לזכרו של משה האהוב

האיש ההוא
שלמה ארצי
מילים: נתן יונתן
לחן: שלמה ארצי
קיימים 4 ביצועים נוספים לשיר זה

איפה ישנם עוד אנשים כמו האיש ההוא
אשר היה כערבות הבוכיות.

למרגלות ההר נולד
ליד הנחל.
בחורף שר בין ערבות בוכיות.
בקיץ בין אורות בצעי המים
לחמו שילח על פני הנחל לדגה.
מקני הסוף כרת לו עפיפון
וכשהיה לאיש
מגבעולי הערבות הבוכיות נטה סוכה,
מאבן המבצר האפורה בנה לו בית,
על מי הנחל טחנה הקים,
זרע שדות.
שלח הונו על פני הים באניות סוחר.
אך יש אשר יניח כלי מלאכתו,
ויהיה פתאום לאיש אחר.

איפה ישנם עוד אנשים כמו האיש ההוא
אשר היה כערבות הבוכיות.

למרגלות ההר נולד, ליד הנחל
יידוד פזור נפש על ההר או בבכאים.
ובנופלו בבוקר לא עבות אחד על אדמתו,
יקנו לו אחוזת עולם,
ליד אמות המים השקטות.
איפה ישנם עוד אנשים כמו האיש ההוא
אשר היה כערבות הבוכיות.
וכמו מבצר עתיק היה בסוף הדרך.

איפה ישנם עוד אנשים כמו האיש ההוא
אשר היה כערבות הבוכיות.

MOSHE NEGBI (1949-2018)
Jerusalem Post JANUARY 29, 2018 20:54

Moshe cared about everything. He was an inherently good man, a mensch.

Reflections on Last Newsletter

Thanks to all who took the time to share with me their own stories from India. This vast, enchanting and magnificent country has touched the lives of many in various ways. It seems people like many aspects of India, dislike other aspects, but none remains indifferent.

The famous Indian hospitality, the celebration of colours, the rich culture, spirituality and beautiful places make India a special place.


I understand that Gujarat and Rajasthan are both under the spell of Hindu ideology and views about Muslims might be different in other parts of India.

My dear Rafi,

I am sure you will understand that people are bound to feel strongly about some of the things you say about India. I do not know anyone who denies the Holocaust or think that it includes swimming pools. I would like you to point to some hard evidence otherwise the country is unjustly and dishonourably stigmatised. Secondly, your remarks about Muslims are unfair. They occupy important positions in different areas of life including President of India. Their representation could of course be increased but it would be utterly wrong to diminish the significance of what has been achieved. Third, I am a little surprised about your description of what happened at the panel discussion at Nirma as I do not see this degree of fear anywhere in the academia. Fourth, the conspiracy theories about the Jews are not unique to India. If anything they are much less popular. Finally, your remarks on the Indian sense of time are somewhat misleading.

I say all this not in order to defend India but rather to set the record straight at least in some respects. It is important not to approach India with the attitude of a superior foreigner lecturing natives on how to conduct themselves. 

With kind regards.

Bhikhu Parekh

Dear Bhikhu

I can assure you that these are genuine impressions, based on views and opinions expressed by Indians (not foreigners) about India and about other matters (i.e. the Holocaust). Conspiracy theories and queries about the Holocaust were raised by students who receive much of their information from the Internet -- social media and bogus websites. I know this because I enquired about their sources. Unfortunately, it was not the first time for me to hear curious views and conspiracy theories. As you rightly note, these are quite popular also in other countries. These tend to attract young people. As we mature, many of us develop more doubts and the attraction of simplified, black and white theories, become dim.

Reflections on the status of Muslims in society were voiced by many people, especially by concerned Indian citizens who are clearly unhappy with the way Muslims are treated in society. I also heard vile expressions against Muslims by very distinguished professors, which disturbed me a great deal.

With my best wishes

Hi Rafi

Previously, I have written to you on serious matters but your paragraph “Jews” reminded me of a joke and this may amuse your readers.

In Germany, in 1939 two Jews are sitting on a park bench reading their newspapers. The Jewish newspaper which Hymie is reading is full of potential disasters and foreboding. To his horror, Hymie notices that Maishie is reading Der Sturmer.

“How on earth can you read the propaganda of those evil men?” asks Hymie. Replies Maishie “In your paper, the Jews are threatened with a terrible future. They are likely to be oppressed by a horrendous regime and in fear of their lives. In my paper, they write that Jews control the press, hold all the levers of the economy and generally run the world. I find this much more pleasant reading”

Best wishes

Tim Friedman

Dear Rafi

I think it is important to remember that Trump`s declaration that the US recognizes that Jerusalem is the Capitol City of Israel did not at any time use the words United or Unified City. I think that it was intentional and in fact Trump has said since that Israel and the Palestinian would have to decide the final status. He also said clearly that Israel will have to give something in return. 

I believe that this declaration and the move of the Embassy brings a new and welcome dynamics to the conversation. It is a departure from the same old discussions and it is a new approach. I also can`t imagine that putting financial pressures on the Palestinians to come to the table is a bad thing. And as far as the world community, Israel has never been treated failure in International Forums and terrorism in Israel is still an almost daily problem. So nothing will change because of Trump`s declaration. 

And I was delighted that you made reference to the Palestinians refusal to accept that Israel is the National Home of the Jewish people. And there lies the crux of this entire dispute. Until the Palestinians and the Muslim world including the 2 Nations that Israel has peace treaties with, Egypt and Jordan utter this truth a 2 State or any other solution that ends in a peace treaty will not be possible. It is only the acceptance of this undeniable fact said loudly and clearly that can finally bring peace between Jews and Muslims.  

Abe Silverman
Edmonton Canada 

Dear Rafi,

As always I enjoy these newsletters.  I am not quite sure I agree though that museums 'celebrate and commemorate war'.  Rather I see them as a memorial to those who fought, and an opportunity to explore the reasons they had to go to war, what rights and freedoms they were trying to protect.  Situations like combat bring out the best and the worst of human experience and that should be acknowledged.  Ideally soldiers, like parents, are there to put themselves out of a job.

Martin mentioned, in a talk he gave some years ago at the India International Center in Delhi, that the percentage of Muslims in India was the same as the percentage of Arabs in Israel.  It was quite a new fact for those who attended his talk, who were under the assumption, I think, that Arabs far outnumber Jews in Israel.

With all best wishes,
Esther Gilbert, London

Dear Esther

I love museums and visited a fair share of them in India. Staggering amounts of weapons: swords, guns, pistols, cannons, armoury. I am far more interested in efforts to make and maintain peace than in what weapons people use to secure their borders, territories and palaces.

May I publish this exchange?

Shabbat Shalom

Right and Wrong

If a "right" causes so much suffering, repeatedly and agonizingly, maybe it is wrong? My heart goes for the people of Parkland, Florida.

Good News – Saudi Arabia Allows Airspace for Flights to Israel

Saudi Arabia has granted Air India approval to operate direct flights from Delhi to Tel Aviv. This is the first time the Saudis are allowing flights to Israel to use their airspace.

Good News – David Grossman Receives The Israel Prize

One of Israel’s most talented novelists and its foremost public intellectual, David Grossman, was conferred with the highest honour that the State of Israel grants its most capable citizens. Hearty Congratulations and Mazal Tov!!

Grossman has a most sensitive pen, a sound brain and brilliant ability to elucidate problems and offer solutions. His extraordinary talent is worthy of the widest recognition. In the past I said time and again that his novel To the End of the Land is of a Nobel Prize quality. I am hopeful that Grossman’s time will come, soon.

I recently opened a David Grossman Fans Group which you are welcome to join:

Grossman’s books are available at

Escalation in the North

On February 9, 2018, an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace. In retaliation, Israeli military carried out a large scale attack against Iranian targets in Syria. The attacking airplanes faced heavy anti-aircraft counter fire from Syria. One F-16 crashed in northern Israel. One of its pilots has been seriously wounded. 

This is a comfortable arrangement for Iran. The battleground is Syria. The target is Israel while Iran is not affected.

We have a saying in Hebrew: Evil erupts from the north. Israeli leaders should see that the situation does not escalate further. Israel knew enough wars, thank you very much.

Guest Article – On Human Rights and ‘Relocation’ of Thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese Asylum Seekers
By Dr. Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler | Associate Professor in International Refugee Law | Programme Director, LLM in Human Rights, International Law, and Advanced Legal Studies, School of Law, University of Reading

On 1 January 2018, the Israeli government announced plans to indefinitely detain or forcibly ‘relocate’ thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to ‘third countries’ in Sub-Saharan Africa, should they refuse to leave voluntarily (and receive a lump sum payment of USD 3500) by 31 March 2018. Israel’s Population, Immigration, and Border Authority advertised 100 new posts for inspectors to work in the ‘voluntary repatriation programme’ and others to enforce laws against asylum seekers and their employers. At this stage women, the state’s deportation plans exclude children, fathers who financially support minor children, and those who have been recognized as victims of trafficking. Those who submitted their asylum application after 1/1/2018 are subject to deportation.

The deportation plans represent a steady progression of Israel’s asylum policy, and certain parallels can be drawn to relocation/third country agreements pursued by other countries (and supranational organisations such as the EU) when returns to countries of origin are impermissible or impracticable. There are, however, three main features that make the context and content of Israel’s plans particularly troubling and which justify the global attention they have drawn.

First: secrecy and enforcement. Israel alleges that, the (presumably revised) transfer/relocation agreements it has reached no longer require the deportee’s consent. In turn, both Rwanda, and Uganda (the ‘third countries’ earmarked to receive the deported asylum seekers) denied the existence of such agreements. Secret relocation/transfer agreement to a country other than the deportee’s country of nationality is unprecedented, with no prospects of effective legal remedies for its breach.

Second: time and ties. The practice regarding ‘Safe third country’ (STC) agreements assumes that asylum seekers have spent considerably little time in the transferring country, and are unlikely to have established ties to its society. Since the erection of a physical barrier on the Egyptian-Israeli border in 2012, there have been virtually no new arrivals. Hence, the vast majority of Eritrean and Sudanese in Israel have resided there for at least six years, and in some cases closer to a decade, establishing significant ties with Israelis in all walks of life. 

Third: Israel’s dysfunctional asylum system. Israel defines 35 thousand Eritreans and Sudanese (mostly from Darfur) as ‘infiltrators’ that illegally crossed its border from Egypt. In contrast, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees maintains that “the protection needs of the majority of Eritreans and Sudanese [in Israel]…are akin to the protection needs of refugees’ and that UNHCR ‘considers them to be in a refugee-like situation”. in EU member states, in the third quarter of 2017, recognition rates of Eritrean and Sudanese as refugees and/or beneficiaries of subsidiary protection were 90% and 60%, respectively. In Israel, only 10 Eritreans and one Sudanese were recognised as refugees: fewer than 0.1% of applicants, based partly on the state’s extremely narrow interpretation of the refugee convention. This interpretation – in respect of deserters from Eritrea’s effectively indefinite conscripted military service – was rejected by a court of appeal in Jerusalem on 15 February 2018.

Peace Summit at Hull

On February 22, 2018, I held another peace summit in my MA class. Half were Israelis. Half Palestinians. I embodied the USA.

I opened the summit by welcoming the participants and explicitly setting the agenda: The aim is to reach a peace agreement on the basis of two state solution.

I invited the Palestinian delegation to make its opening statement. The Palestinians highlighted the problem of Ariel, suggested that the Old City of Jerusalem will be under UN administration with representatives of Israel and Palestine. They suggested joint police force under UN supervision; unrestricted access to holly places; archeological excavation should be allowed for both sides; solving the refugee problem in Israel and in other countries, and the importance of food supply to all Palestinians.

The Israeli delegation acknowledged the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people; spoke of the importance of water for both nations; stressed the issue of security, and the need to control of Hamas.

Both delegations agreed on two state solution. Israel stressed that Hamas should recognise Israel. It said that it is in Israel’s interest that Palestine will be sovereign.

I steered the discussion to the less complicated issues, wishing them to be resolved first.

Palestine wishes to have some control over water. Can't be that all sources of water will be under Israeli control.

Israel agrees on the issue of water. Israel is willing to share desalinization of water plants with Palestine. Both sides agree to establish a special committee of experts to determine Palestinian water needs and to see that these needs are met. Sovereignty requires control over water.

Both sides agree to establish a joint company  - Israeli and Palestinian, to ensure flow to electricity to Palestine. The company will have a slight majority of 51 percent to Israel; workers will be Israeli and Palestinian, ensuring full electricity to Palestine 24 hour a day, 365 days of the year.
Israel declares that it wishes to make Palestinian conditions better. Israel is willing to review the restrictions currently imposed on resources permitted into Palestine and to see that living conditions are improved.

Construction material
Israel is willing to lift restrictions on construction material but Palestine needs to ensure that this material will not be used for terror tunnels.

Possibly building plans should be authorized in the first instance only in the West Bank, not Gaza. The decision is left in the hands of PLO,.
Naval Harbour in Gaza
Palestine wishes to have an international harbour in Gaza. Palestine proposes that the UN will inspect the cargo before coming to Gaza in order to ensure that it does not endanger Israel’s security.

Israel does not trust the UN. Instead it suggests that the USA will inspect the cargo that comes to Gaza. Israel recognises the Palestinian need for a harbour. This inspection will be for ten years and then reviewed.
Palestine is not comfortable with the USA. It was agreed to bring this issue before a UN committee to determine which neutral countries will send inspectors, possibly United Kingdom, France, Japan and Australia. Palestine will commit in writing not to exploit the harbour for terror.

Israel agrees to increase the fishing zone allowed for Gazan fishermen to 20 nautical miles, as stipulated in the Oslo Accords.

Joint Economic Ventures
Both sides agree to joint economic ventures. Israel has an interest to see Palestinian economy developing with the help of other countries. It wishes to have a share in this development. After long argument it is decided that Palestine is sovereign to decide on its economic partners. Israel and Israeli companies may submit offers for open tenders and these will be considered in accordance with their attractiveness. Palestine appreciates Israeli interest in developing Palestinian ventures. 

Release of Prisoners
Release of prisoners in stages. In the first instance, Palestine will return the Israeli prisoners and bodies while Israel will release 500 of its prisoners, in accordance with a list prepared by Israel per the severity of offence. Prisoners who committed lighter offences will be released first. With time, as trust between the two countries built, Israel will release all Palestinian prisoners from jail with the exception of a small number of mass murderers.

Mutual recognition
Israel recognizes Palestine as the land of the Palestinian people. Palestine recognizes Israel as the land of the Jewish people.

Both sides agree to overhaul their respective education curricula to deliver a message of peace in both countries. Israel agrees that, in the first instance, this will take place in the West Bank and later, building on good will and trust, the overhauling of education curricula will be implemented also in Gaza.

Accepting Clinton Parameters. What is Palestinian will come under the territory of the new capital Al Kuds. The Israeli capital includes West Jerusalem and the adjacent Israeli settlements. East Jerusalem settlers will be resettled in other parts of Israel with the help of the USA and other affluent countries.

Israel is willing to evacuate isolated settlements. Special international fund will be established to cater for the resettlement of some 80,000 settlers who will be evacuated.

The five settlement blocs -- Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, Gush Etzion, Modi’in Illit and Ariel -- will remain. Israel will annex these five blocs. Israel will compensate the Palestinians for the territory that will remain in Israel, about 3 percent in the Jordan valley.
Palestine demands provision of roads for their needs. It wishes to use settlers’ roads. Israel concedes to this.

Palestine demands that Israel will stop sending more immigrants to the West Bank. It is agreed that beyond natural growth there won't be further expansion of settlements.

The Holy Basin
The area containing the Old City of Jerusalem and surrounding holy sites will become under the sovereignty of the UN and Israel. Above the ground under the sovereignty of the UN. Below the ground under the sovereignty of Israel. The Wakf will continue to administer the mosques.

Israel acknowledges it has some responsibility for creating the problem. It concedes that the issue needs to be addressed heads on, and is willing to commit to see its resolution.

The resolution of the refugee problem will be done in two stages. First, a thorough canvassing will be conducted in the refugee camps in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria enquiring what the refugees want. They will be given several options: Return to Israel; Return to the West Bank; Return to the Gaza Strip; Emigrate to third countries that would commit to absorbing a certain quota (appeal will be made to countries that receive immigration on a regular basis to participate in this settlement effort); Remain where they are with compensation.

After the canvassing, Israel and Palestine will convene to discuss the results and the next steps. Refugees who sign for all options but the option of returning to Israel will be granted their wish, with the help of the international community. Some countries are willing to assist in absorbing and compensating refugees. In the next stage, Israel and Palestine will discuss the issue of refugees who still wish to return to Israel. Both countries commit to find a solution then.

Both parties agree that Palestine will remain demilitarized. Four unmanned warning Israeli sites inside the territories will be allowed. Security men will come once a month to inspect the computers.

Joint Israeli-Palestinian will patrol the borders.

Zero tolerance to terror. Zealots on both sides of the borders will receive severe punishment.

Israel and Palestine will share information to fight Hamas. 

Israel demands monopoly of power, that all arms in Palestine will be under the sovereignty of the PLO. Palestine could not commit to do this.

Peace pact could not be signed due to this unresolved obstacle.

Polish Holocaust Law

I have been asked: What do you think of this law?

I think this law is problematic. It is problematic because it tries to paint reality in black and white whereas reality is rarely black and white. Reality comprises of many shades of grey with some pink dots. With this law, Poland wishes to project to the world that the Poles were mere victims of the Nazis. This is true, but this is only part of the truth. The complex and more correct depiction of history is one that says: Poland was occupied by Nazi Germany during WWII. Germany exploited Poland for its interests. It exploited the long anti-Semitic history of Poland to help the Nazis get rid of the Jews. Many Polish people resisted Nazi Germany and died fighting the Germans. Many risked their lives helping Jews. To date, Yad Vashem has recognized over 26,500 Righteous Among the Nations – non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Of them, 6,706 were from Poland. But many more Poles helped the Germans in their extermination campaign of the Jews. They collaborated with the execution of the Holocaust because they hated the Jews and/or because of personal gain. Many Polish people improved their quality of life once the Jews were taken out of their vicinity, gaining their property and what the deported Jews had to leave behind.

In a recent conversation with a distinguished Polish professor he told me: 6 million Poles were murdered by the Nazis: 3 million Poles and 3 million Jews. Why did he see it necessary to distinguish between Jews and non-Jews?

Did You Know? NY Times Reported Possible Nazi Purge of Jews in Poland on September 13, 1939

As early as September 1939, the New York Times reported of the Nazi intentions as to how they intend to solve the so-called “Jewish problem”. United States and other nations remained unmoved. They simply did not care.

Here are direct quotes from the NY Times:
“Nazis hint ‘purge’ of Jews in Poland”, The New York Times, September 13, 1939.

3 million population involved. Removal from Europe. Viewed as benefit.

Report from Berlin. September 12. First intimations that a solution of the Jewish problem in Poland is on the German-Polish agenda are revealed in a special report of the official German news bureau. Germany is determined to rid her borders of Jews. The implications of the solution of the Jewish problem in Poland where it carried out on the German model are ominous. Germany and Austria together have a total of 750,000 Jews. The Jewish population of Poland is about 3 million. It is the largest of any European nation and the second largest in the world. The German special report indicates purge of the Jews in Poland. Removal of the Polish Jewish population from the European domain would bring nearer the solution of the Jewish question in Europe. How the removal of Jews from Poland without their extermination is possible the report does not explain.

Did You Know? IBM in Service of Nazi Germany

When Hitler came to power, a central Nazi goal was to identify and destroy Germany's 600,000 Jews. To Nazis, Jews were not just those who practiced Judaism, but those of Jewish blood, regardless of their assimilation, intermarriage, religious activity, or even conversion to Christianity. Only after Jews were identified could they be targeted for asset confiscation, ghettoization, deportation, and ultimately extermination. To search generations of communal, church, and governmental records all across Germany—and later throughout Europe—was a cross-indexing task so monumental, it called for advance computing services that Germany did not have at the time. IBM did.

IBM, primarily through its German subsidiary, made Hitler's program of Jewish destruction a technologic mission the company pursued with chilling success. IBM Germany, using its own staff and equipment, designed, executed, and supplied the indispensable technologic assistance Hitler's Third Reich needed to accomplish what had never been done before—the automation of human destruction. More than 2,000 such multi-machine sets were dispatched throughout Germany, and thousands more throughout German-dominated Europe. Card sorting operations were established in every major concentration camp. People were moved from place to place, systematically worked to death, and their remains cataloged with icy automation.

IBM Germany, known in those days as Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gesellschaft, or Dehomag, did not simply sell the Reich machines and then walk away. IBM's subsidiary, with the knowledge of its New York headquarters, enthusiastically custom-designed the complex devices and specialized applications as an official corporate undertaking. Dehomag's top management was comprised of openly rabid Nazis who were arrested after the war for their Party affiliation. IBM NY always understood—from the outset in 1933—that it was courting and doing business with the upper echelon of the Nazi Party. The company leveraged its Nazi Party connections to continuously enhance its business relationship with Hitler's Reich, in Germany and throughout Nazi-dominated Europe.

Source: IBM and the Holocaust
The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation 

Did You Know? Standard Oil Supplied Oil to the Luftwaffe

The Luftwaffe needed tetraethyl lead gas in order to get their planes off the ground. Standard Oil was one of only three companies that could manufacture that type of fuel. So they did.

The result: German airplanes, flying with American oil, attack American airplanes and American allies. Greed is a bad judge.

When Standard Oil was dissolved as a monopoly, it led to ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP, all of which are still around today.

Did You Know? Hugo Boss was the Manufacture of Nazi Uniforms

In the 1930s, Hugo Boss started making Nazi uniforms. That was a huge boon for Hugo Boss. He got the contract just eight years after founding his company, and that infusion of business helped take the company to another level.

The Nazi uniform manufacturing went so well that Hugo Boss needed to bring in slave laborers in Poland and France to help out at the factory.

Top Ten Countries with the Highest Population

Will China be pleased to see India at the top of the list?

Will India be pleased to top the list?

Growth % Pop
2000 - 2018
Expected Pop.
11.6 %
34.6 %
15.8 %
24.6 %
21.0 %
31.7 %
58.0 %
29.2 %
- 2.1 %
31.1 %
TOP TEN Countries
22.6 %
Rest of the World
29.6 %
25.5 %
NOTES: (1) The Top 10 Most Populated Countries of the World Table was updated in December 31, 2017. (2) Detailed data for individual countries may be found clicking on each country name. (3) Demographic (population) estimates for years 2017, 2050 and 2000 are based mainly on mid-year data from the US Census Bureau website and the United Nations Population Department. (4) The China population data is for the mainland only. (5) Data from the Internet World Stats website may be cited, always giving the due credit and establishing an active link back toInternet World Stats. (6) For definitions, navigation help and methodology, see the Site Surfing Guide. Copyright © 2018, Miniwatts Marketing Group. All rights reserved worldwide.

06 FEB 2018

If you had the power to rid the world of the internet, would you do it?
My assumption, given that you are reading this blog post, is that you are part of the 51.7% of the world that uses the internet. Therefore, I assume that you are aware of its great benefits, as well as the ways in which the internet has been abused for criminal, violent, and anti-social purposes.

So, what do you think?

My choice is not to go back to a pre-internet time. The internet is an integral part of my life. I use it on a daily basis. I cannot imagine my life without it.

Book Review - Free Speech after 9/11 by Katharine Gelber

Free Speech after 9/11 by Katharine Gelber. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. 193pp., £33.69 (h/c), ISBN 978-019877793, published in Political Studies Review 2018, Vol. 16(1) NP64

This analytical and detailed book surveys the limitations introduced by Australia, United States and United Kingdom on freedom of speech after the terror attack of 9/11, 2001. Gelber analysed 3,969 speeches on the topic of national security from September 2001 to September 2011. The results of this meticulous analysis show strong similarities in the discursive security justifications to limit speech in the three countries. Gelber identified eight common themes elucidated by key agents in the three countries in support of free-speech restrictions: describing the post 9/11 era as a war; describing the relationship between security and liberty in hierarchical terms that privileged security; accentuating the need for a new policy paradigm, for securing freedom and order, for pushing the limits of the law in order to address the looming threat, for ensuring public safety, for  changing our views about freedom,  and for protecting the innocent and law-abiding citizens.

In this quite gloomy book, Gelber also discussed the chilling effects on speech, the government access to private data of ordinary citizens, most of whom have no connection with terrorism, the increased levels of mass surveillance, and the governments’ overreaction manifested by the detention of thousands of people. She concluded that the results of what she called “the new normal” restrictive policy of free speech amounts to a wholesale rewriting of the place that freedom of speech has in these three liberal democracies and a commensurate rewriting of the extent to which speech can be criminalised. This worrying trend has happened in all three countries, including the United States, the Land of the Free.

Gelber is highly critical of the three governments. She does not think that the anti-terror policies have made the countries more secure. Quite the opposite. Gelber thinks that Australia, United States and United Kingdom are now in a more precarious situation and that the cost of undermining free speech is far too high. She ends her book by raising a clear voice for reversing the illiberal policies to the pre-9/11 situation.

Gem of the Month - Cambridge

Clare College

Sheer beauty. It took me some time to admit that Cambridge is more beautiful than Oxford. While Oxford is the eau de cologne, Cambridge is the perfume. Great town. Great university.

I thank Naomi for her kind hospitality.

Gem of the Month – Cambridge Union Debate

I was invited to the Cambridge Union to debate two state solution. It was a long and tough debate. The poll prior the debate showed that most of Union members thought that two state solution is dead. We were able to turn the result. At the end of the debate, the vote was that two state solution is alive. The opposition to the idea that two state solution is dead won by a small margin. Cambridge students realise that no other solution is as viable as is two state solution. Two state solution remains the most just solution, and the least bloody.

Further details:

Gem of the Month – Limmud Manchester

Some 650 people took part in this one-day conference, where I presented my views on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and listened to lectures, including war and peace in Jewish texts; Kubrick, Jewishness and the Holocaust; Struggling with Violent Biblical texts, and IBM, Ford and the Holocaust. I also watched three short films: Rhoda, about a 75 year-old Montreal woman; Shmita, about a male Sargent and his inability to command a group of female soldiers, and The Entertainer, about a forgotten TV star whose forced to make a living by entertaining Bar Mitzvahs. 

My audience, as usual, was engaged and interested. More than twenty people wished to ask questions and I was sorry for not being able to address all of them in the time allotted to me.

As is always the case with Limmud, the buzz was one of learning and fun. Highly recommended to all.

I thank Susan and David, Steff and Howard for their kind hospitality. 

Monthly Poems

30 November 2017

Inspired by David Kennedy

There were no birds in the dusty sky
The breeze stood still when your spirit went to pastures new
There were no trees in blossom
No odor, no dream come true
Leaves were dark when you depart
A ticking clock with nervy sound.

Silence became blue
Words reduced to form
Small, insignificant, meaningless
Like a compass locked in a dark cupboard
A shadow of a woman
In an empty, cold room.

Desolation takes over mind and soul
Voices dim
Questions penetrating void of love
Did you suffer?
What were your last thoughts?
Was there anything to soothe your sadness?

Raphael Cohen-Almagor


Light Side

Is anything good today?

Mrs Cohen and Mrs Levy go to the same restaurant twice a week for the purse forty years to have their chicken soup and meat balls.

The waiter approached them: Mrs Levy, Mrs Cohen, is anything good today?

Peace and Love. Yours as ever,


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