Monday, December 31, 2018

Politics – December 2018 – In Memory of Ralph Halbert (1930–2018), Amos Oz (1939-2018), Ceri Peach (1939-2018) and Yigal Bashan (1950-2018)


I have been a political activist for 60 years. Now it is time not to retire, but to pass on my experience and what I had accumulated to the younger generation, to take it from here on. What do I foresee for the future? I do not predict the future. The unexpected can be expected, at least in this part of the world. I know what I want to happen, but I do not know what will happen. I can only say that the current course we are in is dangerous to Israel, dangerous to the region and dangerous to the world.

~ Amos Oz (November 30, 2018)

Two-state is the solution. Any other so-called solution is more violent and bloody.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

In Memoriam: Ralph Halbert (1930 – 2018)

In Memoriam: Amos Oz (1939-2018)

In Memoriam: Ceri Peach (1939-2018)

In Memoriam: Yigal Bashan (1950-2018)

Reflections on Last Newsletter


Mid-East Economy

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Australia Recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Israel Expanding Settlements

Annexation Plans

Benny Gantz

Police Recommends Indicting Prime Minister Netanyahu

Election Polls

UCL Distinguished Visiting Professorship

My New Article - “The Oslo Peace Process: Interview with Joel Singer”, Israel Affairs (published online 24 August 2018). DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2018.1505687

My book review of:
- Tijana Milosevic, Protecting Children Online? Cyberbullying Policies of Social Media Companies (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT University Press, 2017), Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books (October 2018),

Gem of the Month - Edinburgh

Movie of the Month - PETERLOO

Monthly Poems - Sing

Light Side - Time


In Memoriam: Ralph Halbert (1930 – 2018)

E:\Files\Photos\Ralph Halbert.jpg

I was deeply saddened to hear about the death of Ralph Halbert. A very special man.

I first met Ralph and his wife Roz in Israel in the mid-1990s, at the Israeli-Canadian Studies Conference that was held at the Hebrew University.  The relationships between Canada and Israel was of immense importance to Ralph and Roz. Since 1977, they co-sponsored with the Government of Canada the Programme of Canadian Studies. Ralph was the President of the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University and he invested much of his time and money to establish connections between the two countries. The Programme of Canadian Studies was headed by the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Professor Nehemia Levzion (who later became “my boss” at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute). In 1981, Professor Arie Shachar, director of the university's Institute of Urban and Regional Studies, replaced him in this position and di extraordinary job in promoting the programme. In 1995, the status of the programme was elevated to the Halbert Centre for Canadian Studies. The Centre’s activities focus on research, publications, public lectures, visiting professors program, courses in Canadian Studies, Library Resources, and Conferences.

I participated in many of the Centre’s programs as Canada is one of the countries I have been researching for many years. We met in Jerusalem and in Ralph’s hometown Toronto and kept in touch up until his death. Ralph was an unusual businessman. He was always kind and polite, engaged, engaging and genuinely interested in research. Ralph attended the conferences that he sponsored, set in the sessions, listened and made remarks. I wish all businesspeople would have Ralph´s capacity to listen.

Ralph cared about his family, business, Judaism, Canada and Israel. He was a long-term supporter of the United Jewish Appeal and of The Beth Tzedek Synagogue in Toronto. His academic babies were The University of Toronto and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Ralph invested a lot of his time and personal wealth to establish relationships between the two institutions, to establish centers of learning of Judaism and Israel in Toronto, and to establish centers of Canadian studies in Jerusalem. He felt very much at home in both places, knew the key people and was a loyal servant of both institutions, promoting their best interests in Canada and in Israel. There are not many people who have promoted relationships between Canada and Israel to the extent that Ralph did.

Ralph graduated from the University of Toronto in 1954. He took personal interest to build the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies. In 2012, Ralph furthered his support of Jewish Studies scholarship by establishing the Ralph & Roslyn Halbert Fund for the Centre for Jewish Studies to support the exchange of ideas in the areas of classical Judaism, Jewish thought and philosophy, Jewish history and modern Jewish culture.
Ralph and Roz also supported scholars through the Roz and Ralph Halbert Professor of Innovation at the Munk School’s Innovation Policy Lab. Of the professorship, Ralph said in 2013, “We know that countries that lead in innovation become world leaders in every sphere and sector of study from business to the sciences. It is said that creativity is thinking up new things; innovation is doing new things. With a foundation of innovation at U of T, today’s generation will increase Canada’s capacity to be competitive, and realize advances for society across the spectrum.”

Of the professorship, Ralph said in 2013, “We know that countries that lead in innovation become world leaders in every sphere and sector of study from business to the sciences. It is said that creativity is thinking up new things; innovation is doing new things. With a foundation of innovation at U of T, today’s generation will increase Canada’s capacity to be competitive, and realize advances for society across the spectrum.”

Ralph was very interested in Israeli politics. He subscribed to my monthly blog until near his death, when his secretary told me that Ralph no longer comes to office and reads his mail. When we met, we spent hours discussing Israeli politics, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and prospects of peace. As a man of peace, Ralph was yearning for cessation of hostilities, and for peace and tranquillity for the people of Israel.

Ralph was gentle, warm and genuine. He was always welcoming and supportive, interested and interesting, a true mensch who wanted to do good and to contribute to the communities in which he lived and to which he felt at home – Toronto and Jerusalem. I will miss his annual Shana Tova, our exchanges and our discussions.

Ralph is survived by Roz, his wife of 65 years, and their loving children, grand-children and great-grand-children. Yehi Zichro Baruch (Of blessed memory)..

May you rest in peace, dear Ralph. You will continue to live with me forever.

In Memoriam: Amos Oz (1939-2018)

Amos Oz was a giant literary mensch. He was one of my favourite Israeli authors who had tremendous impact on modern Israeli literature. But more than that he was a public intellectual who tried to influence Israel´s public and political life to build a society that is just, humane, in the spirit of social democracy. Oz wanted Israel to be  a country that cares for its poor, for its minorities, and for its neighbours. Amos Oz was a person who was true to his ideals, who lived the life he preached and was a role model to many. He was humane and conscientious liberal; modest, caring and passionate individual; bold, thoughtful and articulate writer and orator, an inspirational peace-loving activist, a man who encapsulated the essence of humane Zionism.

In my mind, Amos Oz was an integral part of an impressive trio that includes him as well as A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman. Three brilliant writers and public intellectuals; three caring and passionate individuals who have been devoting their lives to forge not only a modern and authentic Israeli literature but also a compassionate, decent and just Israeli identity and society. Now the trio has been broken. One of its essential ribs and organs is missing. The three are good friends. I am sure Avraham and David will miss Amos in each and every day of their lives.

I met Amos a number of times, first during the 1980s in Oxford, where his daughter Fania studied. Fania did her DPhil in History while I was doing my DPhil in Politics. Amos came with his wife Nily a number of times to visit their daughter. Later I met him on flights, various universities including Ben-Gurion, where he lectured, and at the University of Haifa, which used to be my home, and at the Israel Book Fair at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. We had some correspondence during the years, last time when I invited him to receive the Wilberforce Freedom Medal. I was able to persuade the Lord Mayor of Hull to grant Oz the prize. However, for some reason the invitation never materialised. Oz received many other prizes, both national and international including The Israel Prize for Literature, The French Legion of Honour, The Goethe Prize, The Heine Prize, The Abraham Geiger Award, The Jonas Weiss Memorial Award, The Primo Levy Prize, The Jerusalem-Agnon Prize and The Brenner Prize.

In awarding Oz the prestigious Israel Prize in 1998, the judges wrote: “For some 35 years, in his writing he has accompanied the realities of Israeli life and expressed them uniquely as he touches upon the pain and ebullience of the Israeli soul.”

Oz's work has been published in 45 languages in 47 countries and enjoyed wide readership. His books include: In the Land of Israel; The Slopes of Lebanon; Touch the Water, Touch the Wind; Black Box; To Know a Woman; My Michael; The Same Sea; Scenes from Village Life and Judas which was his last book, published in 2014.
With his daughter Fania Oz-Salzberger he co-authored Jews and Words, published in 2012. Oz’s autobiography A Tale of Love and Darkness was adapted for the big screen in 2015 and marked the directorial debut of Natalie Portman. The NY Times wrote about his 2004 memoir: “It’s an extraordinary book that will endure as one of the greatest works in modern Hebrew. In many ways, through this memoir, Mr. Oz perfected what he had tried to do again and again in his fiction — to capture the coming together of the personal and the political, with neither of the two elements suffering from the collision”.

Oz was born Amos Klausner in Jerusalem on May 4, 1939, and his early years were spent in an atmosphere that was both scholarly and militant. His father, Yehuda Arieh Klausner, a librarian, and his mother, Fania Mussman, had immigrated from Eastern Europe. They met in Jerusalem. When Amos was 12, his mother committed suicide. Two and a half years after he lost his mother, Amos rebelled and moved to Kibbutz Hulda, swapping his urban bourgeoisie home for socialist, communal life. It was there that he changed his surname to Oz, which means courage in Hebrew. Amos said he “decided to become everything his father was not.” Much of his writing including his autobiography revolve around intimate portraits of Israeli life laced with a sense of loss and melancholy. “Without a wound,” Oz once said, “there is no author.”

In Hulda, Amos met Nily Zuckerman. They married in 1960. She and their three children, Fania, Galia and Daniel, survive him, as do their grandchildren.

Since the late 1970s Oz supported the Peace Now movement. He maintained close relationships with the leaders of the Labour Party who at times sought his wise counsel. Loyal to his uncompromising conscience, Oz continued to speak up his mind also when his views became marginalised as Israel turned more and more to the right and to the extreme right. Oz systematically denounced the occupation. His support for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict led some to brand him no less than “a traitor”, which Amos said he wore "as a badge of honour". In a recent interview to the Washington Post on November 30, 2018, Oz said: If you look at areas where about three-quarters of Israelis live, you see that it is not a country of extremists. The only reason the Israeli people presently oppose a far-reaching compromise with the Palestinians is that they do not want to be suckers. The myth is that we gave the Palestinians Gaza on a silver platter and in return we received missiles; so the public does not want to see this happening also in the West Bank. Oz maintained: There is a perception that two-state solution is dead, and the occupation of the West Bank is something that can no longer be changed. “I lived a very long life and time after time, I saw that almost everything can be changed”. Oz believed that two-state solution is the most just and the least bloody solution, and that reaching it is vital for the future of Israel. He rejected any notion of a one-state solution, saying he was not ready to live as a minority in what would inevitably become an Arab country.

In a 2009 interview with The New York Times, he said he marked the separation between his political and literary writing by using pens with two colors of ink, one blue and the other black, that sat on his desk. “I never mix them up,” he said of the pens. “One is to tell the government to go to hell. The other is to tell stories.”

His final collection of three essays, Dear Zealots, published in 2017,, was written out of a sense of urgency, concern, and a belief that a better future is still possible. It touches on the universal nature of fanaticism and its possible cures; the Jewish roots of humanism and the need for a secular pride in Israel; and the geopolitical standing of Israel in the wider Middle East and internationally. Oz explains why two-state solution is no less than “a question of life and death for the State of Israel”. Wise, provocative, moving and inspiring, these essays like the man himself illuminate the argument over Israeli, Jewish and human existence.

Oz wrote that he was, “afraid of the fanaticism and the violence, which are becoming increasingly prevalent in Israel, and I am also ashamed of them.” But this didn’t get in the way of his love of Israel. “I like being Israeli. I like being a citizen of a country where there are eight and a half million prime ministers, eight and a half million prophets, eight and a half million messiahs. Each of us has our own personal formula for redemption, or at least for a solution. Everyone shouts, and few listen. It’s never boring here.”

Israel lost one of its foremost novelists and public intellectuals, a man I very much appreciated. Yehi Zichro Baruch.

In Memoriam: Ceri Peach (1939-2018)

Ceri Peach was born in Bridgend, South Wales, on October 26, 1939. He arrived in Oxford as a geography undergraduate in 1958 and remained in the city until his death. He became a tutorial fellow in geography at St Catherine’s College in 1969 - a role he would hold for 38 years - as well as serving as acting master in 1993-94 and various college officer roles. His main field of research was migration, and the segregation of minority ethnic and religious groups in Britain, America and Western Europe.

I met Ceri at St. Catz High table in my second year at Oxford. As a recipient of the College Post-Graduate Scholarship during the duration of my studies (1987-1991) I received High Table privileges and had the honour to meet the College tutors and many distinguished guests. At the High Table, I had my “favourites”, those whose company I enjoyed during dinner and following drinks. Ceri had a warm and welcoming personality, kind and bright smile and eyes. It was hard not to be enchanted by him. Ceri was a truly lovely person with whom I could converse about many issues, including geography, politics, travels, places in Oxford and in the world, academia and rowing.

When my wife underwent a complicated operation and was unable to climb the steps to our apartment, Ceri generously offered her to stay in his college lodgings until she recuperated and was able to return home. Zehavit and I never forgot this act of generosity. Ceri tried to underestimate what he did for us, saying this “was nothing”.

After retiring in 2007, he was elected to an Emeritus Fellowship at St Catz and in 2016 was awarded a Doctorate of Letters, one of the university's highest academic honours.

Ceri was well loved by his many students and colleagues. He made significant contributions to research, to St Catz and to Oxford University. Humble and kind, knowledgeable and wise, Ceri was a wonderful human being. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

Ceri is survived by wife Susan and children Huw, Guy and Katie.

In Memoriam: Yigal Bashan (1950-2018)

Yigal Bashan, an Israeli artist and singer who provided us with many memorable songs, adults and kids. During the 1970s and 1980s, Bashan was an integral part of the Israeli music scene. He provided some of the hits that were constantly heard on the airwaves.

Bashan was my neighbor for 21 years in Beeri Street in Tel Aviv. I liked him, his wife and their children. Always pleasant, polite and nice. A charming man with a charming family. His music will continue to live with me. Yehi Zichro Baruch.,7340,L-5422545,00.html

Reflections on Last Newsletter

Dear Rafi
A belated Chag Sameach.
In your opinion piece "The Occupation" you make some compelling arguments for the need to end the Occupation. I am trying desperately to understand how this can be achieved. Surly you don't advocate unilateral evacuation of the territories other then the main settlement blocs. I think that we can point to Gaza and conclude that experiment was a dismal failure. A negotiated agreement that that does not give Israel security responsibilities in a Palestinian State in the West Bank of course would lead to another Gaza. Without the Palestinians and Arabs declaring in Arabic and any other additional language that Israel is the Nation State of the Jewish People how will peace ever be possible? As hard as I try I don't see that this will happen in the foreseeable future. And I don't see any daylight between the left and the right in Israel when it comes to Israel's security. So a change of Government will not change the status quo. 
Abe Silverman 
Manager Public Affairs 
B'nai Brith canada   

Dear Abe

You are absolutely right. We need to learn from mistakes. Unilateral withdrawal is not in Israel's interest. Israel should have collaborated with the PA on Gaza.

Best wishes

Next month I will circulate a detailed peace proposal.


In previous blogs I mentioned smell of elections in the air. Netanyahu was unable to operate with his narrow coalition and decided to dissolve the Knesset and ask for the electorate trust for (at least) one more term. Early elections will be held on April 9, 2019.

Mid-East Economy

Israel plans to sign an agreement with Greece and Cyprus next year for the world’s longest natural gas pipeline, known as the East Med. It would export natural gas from Israel to Europe via Greece and could cost as much as $7 billion. The agreement will be formalized next year at a tripartite sixth summit, and will also need approval from the European Commission. US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said his country supports the project and that it was important for regional stability.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

In the past month, the conflict was mostly visible along the Gaza Strip. This month, people died on both sides in the West Bank. Palestinians took arms and launched surprise attacks on soldiers. Soldiers are now prepared for the worse as each and every Palestinian car becomes suspect. There were incidents in which cars stopped near soldiers and then opened fire, surprising the soldiers and killing them before they could respond.

Two-state is the solution. Any other so-called solution is more violent and bloody.

Australia Recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Is this good or bad piece of news? Depends who you ask. The Israeli government was displeased. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Canberra formally recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but reaffirmed his country’s support for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem under a two-state peace deal. Israel’s Foreign Ministry responded tepidly, calling the Australian move “a step in the right direction”. At the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu declined to elaborate. Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said, “To our regret, within this positive news they made a mistake… Israel’s control over [Jerusalem] is eternal. Our sovereignty will not be partitioned nor undermined.”

Israel Expanding Settlements

According to Haáretz, Israel's Civil Administration has approved the construction of 1,451 new housing units in West Bank settlements and advanced plans for the construction of 837 additional units, some in relatively isolated settlements. The council approved 220 housing units in Givat Ze'ev, 180 in Neveh Daniel, 120 in Karmei Tzur, 129 in Avnei Hefetz, 62 in Ma'aleh Mikhmash, 61 in Tzofim, 42 in Alfei Menashe, 55 in Tomer, 18 in Adora, 16 in Metzad and one in Shiloh.

Annexation Plans

Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the advancement of a bill that would authorize more than 60 outposts and settlement neighborhoods built in the West Bank over the last 20 years. According to the legislation, the state would have to decide on how to legalize these outposts within two years. The bill requires the state to provide municipal services, including hooking the outposts up to water and electricity and providing maintenance and garbage removal.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has proposed a “confederation” between parts of the West Bank, Jordan, and Gaza.

“Our plan is to apply Israeli sovereignty on Area C and give the Palestinians living there full citizenship. Areas A and B will be part of a confederation, together with Jordan and Gaza”, she said.

“There’s a large Palestinian population in Jordan and the Palestinians already have a state in Gaza. In the distant future, a confederation of these three entities will be the right way forward,” she added.

Shaked is a member of the nationalist Jewish Home party, led by Naftali Bennett who has been speaking on his so-called “Stability” Plan. Read stability as annexation.

First published in 2012, that plan calls for Israeli annexation of the West Bank’s Area C, where most of the Jewish settlers live. According to the Oslo Accords, Israel has full military and administrative control over Area C, which comprises more than 60 percent of the West Bank’s territory.

According to the plan, the Palestinians who reside in Area C would be offered Israeli citizenship or residency, while those living in areas A and B — which are under full Palestinian or joint Palestinian-Israel control — would govern themselves, though they would not have a sovereign state.

Benny Gantz

Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, established a new party, “Israel Resilience Party” or “Sturdiness for Israel” and will compete in the upcoming 2019 elections. Gantz has emerged as a dark horse candidate as the election campaigns kick off, with polls indicating either the center-left Zionist Union or centrist Yesh Atid could only present a realistic challenge to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud if Gantz were to join their ranks.

Early polls, conducted before Gantz announced his new party, predict him to win 14 seats in the next Knesset. A promising start yet far from constituting a challenge to PM Netanyahu.

Gantz said in the past that solving the conflict with the Palestinians should be the highest priority. “Our number one interest is to find a solution. This is not just a political question of left and right,” Gantz said, in contrast to PM Netanyahu who has long put the nuclear threat from Iran at the forefront of policies. “During my [military] service, I met a leader from a Middle Eastern country and he said: ‘There are 14 million people between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River — a few million Jews and a few million Palestinians — and none of them are going anywhere, and we have to find a way to live together”.

Gantz said he could not agree more.

I could not agree more.

Police Recommends Indicting Prime Minister Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a long shadow of police investigations against him on various issues. The legal Advisor of the Government Avichai Mandelblit is taking his time in making recommendations either because he wishes to be as cautious as possible or because of conflict of interests: he is reluctant to bite the hand that had nominated him to this lofty position.

On December 2, 2018, the police recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of bribery and corruption. The allegation holds that the PM eased business regulations for the country’s largest telecommunications company in exchange for favorable coverage for him and his wife on Walla, a popular news website owned by the firm. Police have also recommended that media mogul Shaul Elovitch — a close friend of Netanyahu and majority shareholder of Bezeq, the telecoms firm that owns Walla — be indicted for his alleged role in the affair. Elovitch’s wife, Iris, and Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, were also implicated in the case, known as Case 4000. While it is now up to Mr Mandelblit to formally prosecute those involved, the police have ramped up pressure on Netanyahu whose response on all allegations continues to be: There was nothing, there is nothing, there will be nothing. There is a vast conspiracy against him by the opposition parties, the police and anyone who does not like him. They all make those “unfounded allegations”. Netanyahu is a great fan of conspiracy theories when he is at the centre of investigations.

This case is interesting as it involves not only the PM, but also his wife Sarah who sees herself as “the First Lady” and has been heavily involved in Israeli politics without ever been elected by the public, only by her loving husband.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelbilt announced that Netanyahu will not be indicted before the upcoming snap elections and that the elections will have no effect on the ultimate decision. 

Election Polls

Netanyahu's Likud party is expected to receive the most votes in Israel's upcoming election, according to recent polls published by three main television stations. The results came a day after the government announced the election will be held on April 9. Similar results in April would most likely ensure Netanyahu another term as prime minister. The News Company, Channel 10 News and public broadcaster Kan all put Likud at anywhere between 27 and 31 out of 120 Knesset seats, compared to the 30 seats it currently holds.  According to the News Company poll, however, 52 percent of Israelis do not want to see Netanyahu carry on to another term. Only 37 percent of respondents to the Kan poll said Netanyahu is the best candidate for prime minister. 

All other parties receive in the polls less than 15 seats. The Zionist Camp, once upon a time Labour, is predicted to receive less than 10 seats. Ben-Gurion must be rolling in his grave.

UCL Distinguished Visiting Professorship

I am the recipient of UCL Distinguished Visiting Professorship for 2019. During February-August 2019 I will spend most of my time at UCL School of Laws. My prime focus will be on completing my book Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism. I hope to meet with local Londoners and friends who pass in the British capital. Do let me know if you happen to be in London. I would love to meet.

My New Article - “The Oslo Peace Process: Interview with Joel Singer”, Israel Affairs (published online 24 August 2018). DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2018.1505687

Israel Affairs (published online 24 August 2018). DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2018.1505687

This article records my interview with one of the authors of the Oslo Accords: Mr Joel Singer who was brought to the negotiations from Washington at a later stage of the negotiations. The Oslo channel was established by Yossi Beilin, Terje Rød-Larsen and Yoel Hirschfeld who understood Yassir Arafat’s need to initiate a new path for relationships with Israel. At that time, negotiations with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) were illegal. The PLO was regarded as a terrorist organization and the Israeli government refused to officially negotiate with Arafat, although it was clear to them that he was still the most capable person to strike a deal, and the only true representative of the Palestinian people. Bilateral negotiations begun in Washington between Israel and Palestinians who were supposedly independent of the PLO while everyone knew they were not. As mentioned above, these talks led to nowhere. This is Singer’s version of this peace chapter. The article assesses the positive and negative aspects, lessons and implications of the process and of the Oslo Accords.
Keywords: Joel Singer, Yasser Arafat, PLO, Israel, Oslo Accords, peace process

This article makes a fascinating read. Will worth your time.

My book review of:
- Tijana Milosevic, Protecting Children Online? Cyberbullying Policies of Social Media Companies (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT University Press, 2017), Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books (October 2018)

The title of this book is starting: Protecting Children Online? Why the question mark? More fitting, one may argue, would be an exclamation mark. Those who would read the book will not receive a clear idea how to protect children online; instead, they will receive recommendations how not to protect them. Milosevic adopts a liberal, anti-paternalistic approach for addressing the problem. At the outset, she declares that her position is “in strong opposition to overly risk-averse and harm-emphasising approaches” to children’s involvement with technology (p. 24). Milosevic thinks that children building resilience must learn for themselves how to navigate the Internet, learn from their mistakes, and recover from accidents (p. 24). She examines the circumstances under which online risks such as cyberbullying can generate exaggerated concerns over youth’s use of technology and the consequences for different stakeholders. Two reiterated concepts are moral panic and dignity. She warns against moral panic and wishes to promote a culture of dignity which relates to preserving and promoting the dignity of children — those who are bullied as well as the bullies.

Gem of the Month – Edinburgh

We enjoy exploring the British islands during Christmas and this ear decided to return to Edinburgh, our favourite city in the United Kingdom. The city was buzzing with action and we love the special festive atmosphere.

I thank Grant Stirling for showing me some parts of the cities I did not know. It is always great to explore a city with a local whom knows the place and who tells you how the story of the city is interwoven with his personal story.

The Royal Mile, Edinburgh.

Movie of the Month - PETERLOO

Peterloo is an epic portrayal of the events surrounding the infamous 1819 Peterloo Massacre, where a peaceful pro-democracy rally at St Peter’s Field in Manchester turned into one of the bloodiest and most notorious episodes in British history. This is a sad chapter in the British class struggle that is not much talked about, and it is very revealing. Two of my heroes are JS Mill and Karl Marx. If you are versed with either or both philosophers, you need to see the film. Segments of the philosophers’ books came floating into my brain as I was watching the movie. Peterloo captures the much divided class society that Britain was in the 19 Century, much more class oriented and much more divided than it is today. Mill and Marx wrote at a time when the “Great and the Good” could do more or less whatever they liked with impunity, at the expense of the masses. The masses were looked down with disdain, with no true appreciation for human life. The level of poverty was heart-wrenching and there was one law for the rich and quite another for the poor. People were more and more desperate, and London did not care much about what was happening in the north of England. Their only concern was to maintain order and to collect taxes. Freedom of expression was limited. Democracy as we know it today was not even a dream. Socialism was in the making. Civic and human rights were given and taken arbitrarily, and the courts of justice were mockery of justice.

Mike Leigh sketches the common people in a most realistic manner and for the purpose of dramatization he sketches the “Great and the Good” who decide the commoners’ fate in a caricature-style way. Their callousness regarding the masses is so vile, so unjust, so heartless that it makes you feel blessed for having the good fortune to live in better times. That callous attitude could bring armed men, some on horses, to storm into a civilian crowd and stab without thinking men, women and children with no consequences for the murderers.

The climax of the long film shows British government forces charge into a crowd of over 60,000 that had gathered to demand political reform and protest against rising levels of poverty. Many protesters were killed and hundreds more injured, sparking a nationwide outcry but also further government suppression. The Peterloo Massacre was a defining moment in British democracy which also played a significant role in the founding of The Guardian newspaper.
Featuring Rory Kinnear, Maxine Peake, Neil Bell and Pearce Quigley

****1/2 on Rafi’s scale.

Monthly Poems

At the swimming pool. Loud music in the background. All the songs sound the same. I thought I can compose a similar one. I did while standing in the shower.


I love to sing
Ring the bell, ring
If you wish to join in
There is nothing
Like the joy of people who sing

Come along and sing
No need to think
Life has a meaning
When you sing
So ring the gong, ring
Feel the beat

I know nothing but sing
Oh Dolce Vita
It was a warm sunny day in the Wichita fields
When I received the letter from that woman who I haven’t seen for thirty odd years
Your legs, swing
Rock these bones
Make them shake

You and me keep the tune
We feel over the moon
When we dance and sing
Close to my ear you scream
No other place I rather be
All about you and me

Raphael Almagor

Light Side - Time


    1. Time

    2. A woman hears from her doctor that she has only half a year to live. The doctor advises her to marry a philosopher and to live in South Dakota. The woman asks: "will this cure my illness?" Answer of the doctor: "No, but the half year will seem pretty long."


May I wish you and your loved ones
Year of sweet surprises, blessed routine and new beginnings
Year of enchanting adventures, inner exploration, kindness and tranquility.

Peace and Love to you all

My last communications are available on

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Twitter at @almagor35