Friday, September 27, 2019

Politics – September 2019 – Israeli Elections - In Memoriam: Daniel Callahan (1930–2019) - Shana Tova Umeusheret

This was a very busy month for Israel and for me. In Israel, elections that may prove very important, especially if the country will change leadership and direction. For me, I was on a research and lecture tour in Scandinavia and North America. Most of it was dedicated to my research on the failed peace process between Israel and the PLO. I conducted 13 interviews with policy makers, negotiators and facilitators and conducted research in relevant archives. I learned a lot. I am grateful to The Israel Institute for enabling me this important and fascinating research.
I also thank dozens of people in Stockholm, Oslo and Washington who opened their doors to me, hosted me in many generous ways that I only wish I could reciprocate, and provided kind assistance that made this trip memorable and important.

The past month I had two interviews for the BBC, delivered three lectures in Oslo, Washington and London, and published a new article.

Authoritarianism and democracy are in contradiction. Trump in the USA, Johnson in Great Britain, and Netanyahu in Israel are learning.

Ever wondered why the allies did not bomb #Auschwitz ? DC #Holocaust Museum exhibit Americans and the Holocaust sheds light. Never Again!

Ever wondered why the allies did not bomb #Auschwitz ? DC #Holocaust Museum exhibit Americans and the Holocaust sheds light. Never Again!

I am told #BorisJohnsonPM was a good paper editor. Possibly this is his most fitting calling

#Iran is called 'carpet makers' because of its attention to the most intricate details of the Middle East

Reflections on the Last Newsletter

Your Advice and Suggestions

Israel Elections September 2019

Headline of the Month

New article: “Lessons from the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Talks: An Interview with Aharon Barak”, Israel Studies Review, Vol. 34, Issue 2 (Autumn 2019): 1–32.

In Memoriam: Daniel Callahan (1930–2019)

Novel: Georgia Hunter, We Were the Lucky Ones

Gem of the Month – Stockholm Gamla Stan and archipelago

Gem of the Month – The Nobel Prize Peace Institute

Gem of the Month – Woodrow Wilson Center

Gem of the Month – Library of Congress

Gem of the Month - National Symphony Orchestra

Monthly Poem - Happy New Year 

Light Side – Etgar Keret

Reflections on the Last Newsletter

Dear Rafi,

I hope all is well on your side – in site of the looming Brexit (but who knows what will happen)!

Just a quick comment on the economic data by Yoram Ettinger (“The Ettinger Report”) which you referred to in your last newsletter. Considering these indicators, Israel’s economic performance in the last ten years has been stellar indeed. But it should also be mentioned that these indicators (as is usually the case) do not consider the growing income inequalities that have marked Israel’s economic development in the last decades.

In 2013, Israel had the fifth-highest inequality among OECD countries, after Chile, Mexico, Turkey and the US, and second among Western countries, after the US. In 2018, it ranked 8th on the list. Israel has also a very high rate of relative poverty – defined by the OECD as the share of people having less income than half the national median income. Relative poverty affects in particular the Jewish Orthodox communities and the Arab citizens of Israel. As I stress in my book Israel under Siege, these data are even more startling if we take Israel’s “beginnings” into account – the rather egalitarian and socialist-oriented society, which are perhaps best symbolized by the kibbutz.

There is a general tendency among economists to move away from purely macro-economic indicators (GDP, GDP per capita etc.) and to also consider the distribution of wealth. In this regard, Israel’s economic development is more problematic. At any event, I believe that these data are important to mention as well.

All best,


Raffaella A. Del Sarto
Associate Professor of Middle East Studies
SAIS Europe
 The Johns Hopkins University

Your Advice and Suggestions

During the past few years I conducted some 50 interviews with Israeli, Palestinian, American, British, Swedish and Norwegian decision-makers and negotiators about the peace process between Israel and the PLO; people who participated in Oslo, Stockholm, Camp David, Taba and in the Olmert-Abu Mazen negotiations (Olmert). These are politicians, decision-makers and diplomats from Israel, the PA, USA, UK, Stockholm and Norway. 

Until now I have gathered more than 700 pages of interviewees’ texts and have written 150 draft pages of the book. The book is based, in the main, on archives and these interviews. The interviews are historical documents of great significance. The majority of them were not published.

I am looking for a sponsored sabbatical that would enable me peace to write the book. 

All advice and suggestions are most welcome.

Israel Elections September 2019

Comparison to April 2019 elections:
  • Likud down 4 seats (36, 32)
Despite the merge with Kulanu (4 seats).
Loss of 8 seats.
  • Blue-and-White down 2 seats (35, 33)
  • Shas up 1 seat (8, 9)
  • United Torah Judaism the same (7, 7).
  • Hadash-Ta’al had 6 seats. Ra’am-Balad had 4 seats. The United Party has 13 seats. 
Up by 3 seats.
Very good move for them.
  • United Right had 5 seats. Yamina has 7 seats. 
Good move on their part.
  • Yisrael Beitenu up 3 seat (5, 8).
Lieberman’s gambit paid well. 
  • Labour the same (6, 6). 
Gesher did not make a difference.
  • Meretz the same (5, 5). 
Changed name, added names, no difference. 

Knesset Parties
  • Israel prefers big (bigger) parties.
  • Nine parties:
2 Ultra-religious (Shas, United Torah Judaism)
1 Nationalist-religious (Yamina)
1 Arab
2 centre-left (Labour, Democratic Camp). Better for them to unite.
1 center-right (Likud)
1 center ? (White-and-Blue)
1 nationalist-secular (Yisrael Beitenu)

Two possibilities
  • Blue and White – Likud wide coalition
(64 + )
  • Blue and White narrow coalition (65 seats)

Who holds the keys?

Avigdor Lieberman has served as Minister of National Infrastructure, Minister of Transportation, Minister of Strategic Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister, and Minister of Defence since entering the Knesset in 1999.


  • Nationalist
  • For secular Israel
  • For greater-as-possible Israel
  • For the transfer of Israeli Arabs to a Palestinian state by offering them "economic incentives."

Headline of the Month

Of all the curious headlines that are published daily, this one is the winner:

New article: “Lessons from the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Talks: An Interview with Aharon Barak”, Israel Studies Review, Vol. 34, Issue 2 (Autumn 2019): 1–32.

ABSTRACT: This article is based on an interview conducted in July 2018 with Aharon Barak. In it, Barak reflects on the peace negotiations with Egypt at Camp David during thirteen days in September 1978. While expressing great appreciation for the American negotiating team, first and foremost for President Carter, for bringing the talks to a successful close, Barak considers negotiating with Carter as the toughest experience of his life. According to Barak, who just completed his role as Legal Advisor to the Government (1975-1978) and was appointed to the Supreme Court, the key people in the Israeli delegation were Begin, Dayan and Weitzman while the key players on the Egyptian delegation were Sadat and Osama El-Baz. The negotiations knew ups and downs and had reached the brink of collapse until the Americans proposed that Carter negotiate directly with El-Baz and Barak. Some important insights are deduced for future, successful negotiations.

You can read the article at

I also published an obituary to the person who influenced my thinking in the field of medical ethics more than any other – Daniel Callahan. 

pp 1–5| Cite as
In Memoriam: Daniel Callahan (1930–2019)
  • Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Open Access
First Online: 20 August 2019

I was saddened to learn about the death of Daniel Callahan, one of the forefathers of the field of medical ethics, a thinker and a doer who influenced thousands of scholars all over the world. Callahan influenced my medical ethics scholarship more than any other scholar. Open image in new window
A prolific author, Callahan published 47 books and some 800 articles and blogs. Just 2 days shy of his 89th birthday, right up to the end of his life, he continued to publish 7–8 articles a year. Dan’s greatest satisfaction was to sit at his desk and to wrestle with ideas and articulate them in a way that is accessible to the public at large. When he took vacations, it was only for the purpose of increasing the pace of his writing. When one of his children was asked what his father does during vacations, the answer was “typing”.
Dan was not only a creative thinker who strove to identify challenges and suggest possible solutions but also a successful visionary doer. In 1969, together with his friend and neighbor Willard Gaylin he co-founded the Hastings Center, which became one of the world’s most important centers of medical ethics. Callahan served as the center’s director from 1969 to 1983, president from 1984 to 1996, and president emeritus. Dan was very proud of his creation. He thought that the shelf life of his extensive writing would be much shorter than the life of the center. Unlike many philosophers, he never wanted just to philosophize nor did he want to pursue a standard academic career. His audience was much larger. Dan wanted to influence societies. He wanted to change things in a way that would benefit the world. He strove to do this in various ways: advising, consulting, teaching, granting media interviews, facilitating, organizing, providing forums for deliberation, and helping other scientists, but his greatest love was writing. Dan was delighted to see the success of his books. Very few academics have sold the number of book copies that Dan sold.
In recognition of his many achievements, Callahan was an elected member of the American National Academy of Medicine and a member of the American National Academy of Social Science. His scholarship was practical and policy-oriented. The Hastings Center was the spearhead that facilitated scholarship and became a beacon of practical learning. Hastings provided a place for scholars to develop. The Hastings Center Report established itself as one of the world’s leading medical ethics journals. The Report served as a vehicle to disseminate many of Dan’s ideas. Dan was loyal to his home journal and was very happy and proud to watch its growing importance and stature through the years.
In March 2019, the Hastings Center celebrated its 50th anniversary and Dan wrote “Making Sense of A Life” to note the occasion. This is a very personal piece in which Dan reflected on his own life. In the draft he sent me, Dan wrote:
Taken as a whole, my life has been happy and successful. I had supportive and loving parents in Washington, DC, where I grew up. I had the advantage of education at Yale and Harvard. I served three safe years in the army as the Korean War wound down. I got married to a perfect wife, Sidney, and we had seven children, one of whom died. I am glad we had those children (in the famous baby boom era) even though we became active in support of contraception [1].
In his 40s, Dan had a very busy life. He was running the center as a full-time job, did research, wrote intensively, and fathered his children. At the top of his research concerns was end-of-life care. Callahan later explained that “complaints about care for the dying had mounted during the 1960s, fueled by technological progress in sustaining life, by too many patients abandoned by physicians as they lay dying, by a lack of patient choice on how their lives should end, and by woefully inadequate pain management” [2].
We first met in 1994 when I was a Visiting Fellow at Hastings. Dan and I discussed his ideas, articulated in his books The Troubled Dream of Life (1993), What Kind of Life (1990), and Setting Limits (1987) as well as the two books that I was writing at that time: The Right to Die with Dignity (2001) and Euthanasia in the Netherlands (2004). Dan firmly believed in setting limits on the use of medical technology, applying utilitarian philosophy in justification. We had lengthy conversations about utilitarianism, justice, and allocation of resources. He and I did not always agree about the essence of what is beneficial to society, but there was never a doubt about Dan’s intentions. Dan wanted to do good. He was not happy with my description of him as “utilitarian” for putting a crude age limit on allocation of resources; still, after some thought, he conceded that it was unavoidable to be utilitarian if you involve yourself in policy matters. Callahan described himself as a communitarian [3].
Elderly people during the last year of their lives consume close to $100,000. Callahan thought this is unreasonable. He was deeply troubled by the fact that 10% of the population—mainly the elderly—consumes about 65% of health care expenditures, primarily on expensive chronic illnesses and end-of-life costs. He thought this is unfair to the 90% of the population. At the same time, in a recent phone conversation he argued that the lines are fuzzy and if otherwise healthy elderly person requires resources, s/he should get these resources.
Callahan was a staunch opponent of euthanasia and of physician-assisted suicide (PAS). He said time and again that these practices are outside the role of medicine, that they would corrupt medicine, and would lead to abuse. More people will die prematurely. In March 1999, I visited the Hastings Center in New York for the second time. I was startled when Dan told me that “there is a culture of death in the Netherlands.” Culture of death, no less. This was an unequivocal condemnation of the Dutch policy and practice of euthanasia. During our conversations, Callahan voiced repeated concerns about the situation in the Netherlands that results in premature death of many patients. Dan told me that he met with the Dutch Minister of Health who expressed a wish that the Dutch legislators enact a law that would enable terminating life without patients’ consent. Dan also vehemently opposed the Dutch proposal of instituting an off-the-counter death pill. Dan thought, quite rightly, that people who suffer from transient depression, e.g., due to a nasty divorce, or loss of a job, might opt to take the pill. Later, per our conversations, I titled one of my articles “’Culture of Death’ in the Netherlands: Dutch Perspectives” [4]. Dan was not surprised to hear that a similar culture is prevailing in Belgium, and that there as well patients’ lives are shortened prematurely. He provided constructive comments on an article I wrote in this regard [5].
During my 1999 visit to the Hastings Center I was still writing my book The Right to Die with Dignity, [6] focusing on the issue of allocation of healthcare resources as well as working on a paper that criticized Callahan’s utilitarian approach. Once I completed the first draft, I asked Dan whether he would be willing to comment on the draft paper. He agreed, and the following day, at 08:30 am, I received a phone call. “Would you like to come to my office to discuss?,” he asked. I came to his office, where he returned the paper to me, full with comments in bright red. We had a long conversation that was stopped only because he had to go to the airport.
Dan was a true intellectual who was willing to engage in debates and listen to counter ideas. Much of our debate related to Dan’s proposal to set age limits to allocation of resources. In his books, Setting Limits and The Troubled Dream of Life, he proposed criteria for what he termed “acceptable death,” thinking that age 80 was an important dividing line. Thus, for instance, bypass operations for patients aged 80 and over poses an ethical and financial problem. Callahan asked: even if we agree that each person should have access to a decent level of health care, does this mean that the government must provide at the tax payer’s expense every technological development that science may bring, at any cost? Callahan’s answered this question, which to him seemed purely rhetorical, in the negative [78].
In February 2019, I wrote to Dan, reminding him of this paper and expressed an interest to know whether his views had changed since then. He asked me to send him the paper, published in 2002 [9], and a few days later Dan wrote to me:
Rafi: I have had a chance to read your paper. It has been about 25 years since I began writing my book on aging. One reason I did so, though not mentioned directly in the book, was that the US government was then projecting intolerable future costs in treating and caring for the old. One response was simply to keep raising taxes to pay for it. The other was to find a way to control those costs apart from explicit rationing. The policy ultimately chosen was that of copayments and deductibles often called out-of-pocket costs. That is, government support for some level of care accompanied by forcing people pay for the rest. I am old enough to qualify for the government care (Medicare), but I also pay $250 a month for expenses not supported by Medicare. For millions of people, their out-of-care costs are much higher, particularly if they need expensive drugs.
As for my paper, I would not write it that way now. I now favor reduction of out-of-pocket costs for the old as well as more government control over elder costs.
Dan sent me a draft paper titled “Trumping Drug Costs” [10] in which he wrote about the damaging feature of out-of-pocket costs for the elderly. Most distressingly, so he noted, two sets of figures cast a shadow over the future. Retirement savings, which should be rising, have remained stagnant since 2000. Most families, including those close to retirement, have little savings, some $17,000 in 2013, down from $36,000 in 2007. Dan, who always tried to discern future patterns and find solutions, concluded that with many families already suffering bankruptcies from out-of-pocket costs–their numbers and health care cost rising—a real disaster could emerge in a few decades.
In his 2016 book, The Five Horsemen of the Modern World: Climate, Food, Water, Disease, and Obesity, Callahan explored the social, ethical, economic, and political aspects of these critical global challenges. In this wide-ranging book, Callahan noted that obesity, anthropogenic climate change, degenerative diseases, ecological degradation, and global famine are often the unintended consequences of unchecked industrial growth, insatiable eating habits, and technologically extended life spans. Only through well-crafted political, regulatory, industrial, and cultural counterstrategies can we change enough minds to check these threats [11].
The combination of increasingly longer lives and technological advances have all of us in their grip. It certainly caught up with Dan. Callahan reflected a lot on the questions of age, medical progress, and cost. Medical progress kept him alive beyond the age 80. He candidly wrote that he found himself “in an odd position, personally up to my neck with the mixed benefits of medical progress. From a social perspective, I can see little benefit from longer lives, including my own, and much harm looking down the demographic road” [12]. Dan seemed to be troubled by the question of why he willingly accepted all the “medical wizardry” which kept him alive beyond his age limit. The best answer he could give was “a basic biological instinct for life. One part of this instinct is to stay alive when possible, even if that life has many miseries” [13].
Until his last day, Callahan continued to be deeply troubled by the technology that enables longevity at a high cost that, for him, was unreasonable. Setting Limits is the title of his 1987 book, and the issue is repeated throughout his writings. Much of his work relates to the meaning and impact of medical progress. Callahan wrote: “It is medical progress that has brought us great benefits, some harms, and plentiful knotty dilemmas with each new development” [14]. His thought always far-reaching and expansive, in a piece titled “Aging: Drawing a Map for the Future,” Callahan voiced concerns that in 2100 there will be 11.2 billion people on the planet of whom 3.1 billion would be 60 years and older [15]. In his 2017 book, Taming the Beloved Beast, Callahan weighed the ethical arguments for and against limiting the use of medical technologies, arguing that reining in health care costs requires us to change entrenched values about progress and technological innovation, that the cost crisis is as great as that of the uninsured, and that only a government-regulated universal health care system can offer the hope of managing technology and making it affordable for all [16]. Callahan called for comprehensive planning to deal with the enormous challenges that lie ahead, including populated planet, global warming, dementia, and growing healthcare costs. He wrote unequivocally that all research efforts to radically extend life expectancy should be abandoned. Adding long-living elderly will help no one [17].
In a draft paper, “The Health Care Show Down,” [18] Callahan argued that it is not prudent to think that it will be possible in the years ahead to devise an ideal or perfect health care system. The number of elderly people will rapidly continue to grow, and the technological ways to keep them alive longer will grow as well. Even with great public support for affordable universal care, as is the case in Europe, countries are “stumbling and gasping.” Economically sustainable health care and solving all needs, is certain to remain an elusive goal but, Dan ends on an optimistic note, progress is possible.
Throughout the years, Dan and I had extensive correspondence. Dan was a member of my unofficial peer-review panel that I use before sending articles for publication. Dan kindly read and commented on many of my draft publications. I benefited greatly from his astute and sharp comments. I could not have asked for a better, more knowledgeable, and wiser referee.
During the past year, when Dan told me that he had spent most of his time at home and was suffering from arthritis in his hands which inhibited typing letters and therefore he would welcome phone conversations with me, I used to call him every few weeks to have a chat on recent events as well as about his and my own publications. We discussed his health, medical ethics, developments in the field, politics, media events, family, and anything else that came to our minds. A few weeks before his death, in May 2019, he sent me his last communication, writing in his usual style:
Rafi: … You might be interested in a project I have started at the Hastings Center. It is to stimulate their work on global warming and bioethics. On June 3–4, we will bring together global warming efforts and people in various universities who teach courses on the two subjects. I am attaching here the agenda for the meeting and the list of participants.
His wife, Sidney, confirmed that Dan took part in what was the last event he organized.
My dear Dan, relentless doer and most thoughtful scholar: May you rest in peace. You will continue to do good wherever you are.
Open Access
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Callahan D (2019) Making sense of A Life, draft.Google Scholar

Callahan D. End-of-life care: a philosophical or management problem? J Law Med Ethics (Summer). 2011;39:114–20. Scholar

Callahan D, Symons X. Interview: Daniel Callahan on communitarian bioethics. BioEdge. 2015. Accessed 14 Aug 2019.

Cohen-Almagor R. ‘Culture of Death’ in the Netherlands: Dutch perspectives. Issues Law Med (Fall). 2001;17(2):167–79. See also Euthanasia in the Netherlands: The Policy and Practice of Mercy Killing. Dordrecht: Springer-Kluwer, 2004.Google Scholar

Cohen-Almagor R. First do no harm: intentionally shortening lives of patients without their explicit request in Belgium. J Med Ethics. 2015;41:625–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Cohen-Almagor R. The right to die with dignity: an argument in ethics, medicine, and law. Piscataway: Rutgers University Press; 2001.Google Scholar

Callahan D. Setting limits. NY: Simon and Schuster; 1987.Google Scholar

Callahan D. The troubled dream of life. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press; 2000.Google Scholar

Cohen-Almagor R. A critique of Callahan’s utilitarian approach to resource allocations in health care. Issues Law Med (Fall). 2002;17(3):247–61.Google Scholar

Callahan D (2018) Trumping drug costs, draft paper.Google Scholar

Callahan D. The five horsemen of the modern world: climate, food, water, disease, and obesity. New York: Columbia University Press; 2016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Callahan D. Where has it gone? Writing, loss, and old age. Perspect Biol Med. 2017;60(4):500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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Callahan D. Aging: drawing a map for the future, p S83;2018.Google Scholar

Callahan D (2019) The health care show down, draft paper.Google Scholar
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Cohen-Almagor, R. Pain and Therapy (2019).
  • First Online20 August 2019

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Novel: Georgia Hunter, We Were the Lucky Ones

This book tells the story of one Jewish family during WWII. Each chapter speaks about one family member along time line that begins in 1939 and ends after the war. The book follows what happened to each family member during the war. 

The book is based on true events that happened to Hunter's family in Poland. It is tense, dramatic, touching and incredible. To survive the Holocaust, people needed imagination, creativity, courage, connections and lots of luck.

I always believed that the Holocaust should be told by focusing on one family. No one is able to comprehend the death of a million people, let alone six million. We can understand horror and heroism via the prism of a few people with whom we could identify. In this Holocaust thriller-like book, Hunter keeps the readers captivating as events unfold in different parts of the world, until justice prevails over evil with a high price that leaves generations wounded and traumatized. 

**** on Rafi's scale

I hope capable producers will make Georgia Hunter's We Were the Lucky Ones into a movie. It will be a powerful tale.

Gem of the Month – Stockholm Gamla Stan and archipelago

Stockholm old town is charming and, as a lover of water, I used the boat system to visit some of the islands in the archipelago. Beautiful site to take a boat at dusk.

Possibly my favourite place in Oslo. Enchanting park more than 200 sculptures by the remarkable Gustav Vigeland (1869–1943) in bronze, granite and cast iron.

Gem of the Month – The Nobel Prize Peace Institute

Inspired visiting the rooms where decisions are made, learning about the work and selection procedure for the Prize. Alfred Nobel should be pleased.

Gem of the Month – Woodrow Wilson Center

It was great to be back at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a place that evokes nice memories under the leadership of Lee Hamilton.

Great people. Great research. Great think tank.

Gem of the Month – Library of Congress

Library of Congress. What a gorgeous contribution to the world science, knowledge and beauty.

Gem of the Month - National Symphony Orchestra

Magical evening at one of my favourite places on earth, The Kennedy Center, with Alan Menken singing his own monumental songs with the help of Patina Miller, Adam Jacobs, Norm Lewis and Megan Hilty.

Menken composed many beautiful songs, 

including “Colors Of The Wind”. I love Vanessa Williams’ singing,

Monthly Poem - Happy New Year 

ABBA from album: Super Trouper (1980)
No more champagne
And the fireworks are through
Here we are, me and you
Feeling lost and feeling blue
It's the end of the party
And the morning seems so grey
So unlike yesterday
Now's the time for us to say...

Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have a vision now and then
Of a world where every neighbour is a friend
Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have our hopes, our will to try
If we don't we might as well lay down and die
You and I

Sometimes I see
How the brave new world arrives
And I see how it thrives
In the ashes of our lives
Oh yes, man is a fool
And he thinks he'll be okay
Dragging on, feet of clay
Never knowing he's astray
Keeps on going anyway...

Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have a vision now and then
Of a world where every neighbour is a friend
Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have our hopes, our will to try
If we don't we might as well lay down and die
You and I

Seems to me now
That the dreams we had before
Are all dead, nothing more
Than confetti on the floor
It's the end of a decade
In another ten years time
Who can say what we'll find
What lies waiting down the line
In the end of eighty-nine...

Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have a vision now and then
Of a world where every neighbour is a friend
Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have our hopes, our will to try
If we don't we might as well lay down and die
You and i 

Light Side – Etgar Keret

In Washington, I was fortunate to be invited to an evening with the Israeli author Etgar Keret. It was an entertaining evening, full of funny-sad stories, candor and personal reflections about Etgar's mother, father, brother, brother's dog and, of course, Etgar himself.

Etgar Keret said that he comes from a lineage of bad soldiers that includes his grandfather and Etgar’s older brother. When he started his service in the IDF, Etgar was moved from one unit to another as no commander wanted to deal with him. In a span of a few months, he served (probably not the right word) in four different units. One of the commanders, a religious Jew, told Etgar that he, of course, believes in God. As a believer, he knows that God creates everything for a purpose. But with Etgar Keret, he fails to understand for what purpose God created him.

Shana Tova Umeusheret

Peace and Love. Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on Israel: Democracy, Human Rights, Politics and Society,

People wishing to subscribe to this Monthly Newsletter are welcome to e-mail me at
Twitter at @almagor35