Monday, October 28, 2019

Politics – October 2019 - In Memoriam: Meir Shamgar (13 August 1925 - 18 October 2019)

Photo: Wikipedia

Reflections on the Last Newsletter

Israeli Population

PM Future

Israel Is Ranked 20th Economy in the World

Good News - Virgin Atlantic began Tel Aviv - London flights

Good News - British Retailer Tesco Partners with No-Checkout Shopping Startup Trigo 

New Article: “The Role of the Patient’s Family, Surrogate and Guardian at the End of Life”, European Journal for Person Centered Healthcare, Vol. 7, Issue 3 (2019): 454-465.

Did You Know?

Movie of the Month - Hotel Mumbai (2019) *****

Monthly Song

Light Side

In Memoriam: Meir Shamgar (13 August 1925 - 18 October 2019)

I am deeply saddened by the death of Israel’s legal giant Meir Shamgar, a noble, wise and most knowledgeable doer. A mensch. 

Shamgar’s life encapsulates the story of the State of Israel. He was born as Meron (Meir) Sternberg in 1925 in Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland, and grew up in this “Free City” where the majority of people were Germans. Things changed for the worse when the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933. In 1938, Shamgar’s parents decided to leave. At that time, this was still possible. The destination was Palestine. The Sternberg family arrived in Haifa in 1939. Young Meron felt that he came home. This was the right place for him.

In Israel Meron preferred to be called Meir. As he grew up in a revisionist home and in Danzig was active in the Beitar movement, when school mates suggested to him to join the Ezel underground, Meir had no hesitations. In 1944, Sternberg was arrested for anti-British activity and was sent to a detention centre in Eritrea. There he started to study law via correspondence with the University of London. Years later, Shamgar told me that he had ambivalent view of the British. On the one hand, he hated them. They deprived him of liberty and exiled him to Africa, away from his family and home. On the other hand, they enabled him to study what he always wished to study, law, and equipped him with a life-long profession in which he excelled. The fact that he was a prisoner did not make any difference to the university authorities. They were fair. Exams were the same exams as the exams in London. Grades were unbiased. Shamgar appreciated this quality in the British.

In July 1948, Sternberg and his fellow prisoners were freed. They returned to the newly founded State of Israel. Meir joined the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a military prosecutor. Joining the army was a dream come true. The IDF provided structure and hierarchy, security and opportunities for Sternberg, who later changed his name to Shamgar (Shamgar ben Anat is a biblical figure, see Judges 3:31), to progress in the legal profession. In the army, he met his first wife Geula Naveh. They got married in 1955. In 1956, he was appointed Deputy Military Advocate General, and became Military Advocate General in 1961.  This is the top legal official in the Israel Defense Forces. In this role, Shamgar’s qualities were recognized not only by the military elite but also by the political elite: Straight as a die; pedantic and thorough; hard working; decisive and fair; centralist who takes responsibility; a person who does not cut corners and who speaks his mind; honest, measured, and focused; a trustworthy commander who leads by example. In the ever-expanding army tasked to secure Israeli borders during turbulent times, Shamgar had the ability to identify loopholes and then devise mechanisms to close them. His criticisms were always constructive. For him, law was a law even when it concerned generals. 

In 1963, Shamgar laid the groundwork for the legal infrastructure of Israel in the event that it will occupy the West Bank and Gaza. Some argue that this shows that Israel had long planned the occupation of these territories. In one of our conversations I raised this issue with Shamgar and he denied that this was the case. He explained that as the head of the military legal apparatus he saw to himself to prepare for any development. The documentation he prepared were “drawer plans”, not operative plans. He wished to ascertain that the military is prepared for any scenario that might develop. 

In 1968, Shamgar who loved to serve in the army received an offer he could not have refused. Minister of Justice, Yaacov Shimshon Shapira, wished to nominate him as Legal Advisor to the Government. Shamgar now had an opportunity to influence the civil system to the same extent that he influenced the military. He did not wish to open a private practice. This was an attractive proposition to continue serving the country and to make a difference. Shamgar accepted the offer and left the army.

Between 1968 and 1975 Shamgar served as Legal Advisor to the Government. He reformed the work of this office, made its work structured and streamlined, wrote clear regulations which all legal advisors of government offices had to accept and abide by, scrutinized laws and legal procedures, and provided advice to the prime minister and government ministries. During Shamgar’s time, the Office of Legal Advisor to the Government grew in stature and importance. Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Allon and other senior politicians sought his advice. While not always agreeing with Shamgar, they wished to listen to his measured and thoughtful legal opinions. Shamgar was particularly proud of his decision to allow Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza the possibility to appeal directly to the Supreme Court when they had grievances against the state and the army. He saw this as a basic human right. Humans are humans notwithstanding where they reside. They are entitled to Israeli justice because they are governed by the State of Israel. 

In 1975, Shamgar was appointed to the Supreme Court. There was no question about his suitability for the job. Eight years later, in 1983, his wife Geula passed away as a result of cancer at the age of 50. That same year, Shamgar became President of the Court, a position he held for 12 years until 1995. Shamgar presided over a talented team of justices who worked together in harmony also when there were disagreements between them. He wrote dozens of judgments on a wide range of issues that touched upon all important aspects of the law. At the same time, he dedicated much of his time to secure a new building for the Court. Shamgar thought that the then building of the Court in the Russian Compound was ill-suited to mete out justice. Its structure and location did not fit the needs of the Supreme Court nor its special status. Israel needed to have a distinct and attractive building for this important institution.  

I have heard the story of the building from three people who were involved in this project: First, from Isaiah Berlin and later from Aharon Barak and Shamgar. Under Shamgar’s leadership, an impressive Supreme Court building was built between 1989 and 1992. To my mind, this is one of the most beautiful buildings in Jerusalem. It would be very appropriate to call the building upon Shamgar’s name. In 1996, Shamgar received the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement and Special Contribution to Society.

Shamgar also chaired several official commissions of inquiry, including the one into the 1994 Hebron Tomb of the Patriarchs massacre, the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and the 2000 cancer-stricken naval commandos’ petition against the IDF for ordering them to practice diving in the contaminated Kishon River. Shamgar’s most important project in more recent years was Constitution for Israel. In 2005, following several years of deliberation with many stakeholders, Shamgar presented the Knesset with Constitution by Consensus, an unprecedented document embodying the difficult compromises necessary for a constitutional order. The idea, however, was not materialised and Shamgar continued to raise the need for a constitution in every forum until late in life.

I came to know Shamgar in 1996, after he read my book The Boundaries of Liberty and Tolerance (1994). While he did not accept all my reasoning (I am quite critical of some of his Supreme Court judgements) he appreciated my scholarship. We embarked on exchange of ideas that lasted until 2017. He read many of my books and articles in law and Israel studies. Shamgar was one of my “internal referees” before sending articles for publication, guiding me with his immense knowledge of Israeli law, his wisdom and critical voice in the process of consolidating my own ideas. Shamgar wrote reviews of two of my books, Speech, Media, and Ethics (2001) and The Scope of Tolerance (2006), and was always happy to assist me in my career, providing references and advice when required. I was very privileged to have him in my life.

It is customary to publish a Festschrift when a justice retires from the court. When Shamgar retired, his friends and colleagues organised The Shamgar Book, Essays in Honour of President Meir Shamgar, which is comprised of five volumes (2003). I was asked to contribute a chapter that deals with one or more aspects of Shamgar´s contributions to Israeli law. I gladly accepted the invitation and contributed to this immense project.

When I decided to edit two volumes that represent the mainstream of Israeli society (Israeli Democracy at the Crossroads and Israeli Institutions at the Crossroads, 2005) to counter and somewhat balance the extensive anti and post-Zionist literature about Israel I asked Shamgar to contribute a chapter on one of the subjects of which he was an expert, including the Supreme Court and the Office of the Legal Advisor to the Government. Shamgar opted to write about his ¨baby¨ at that time: The Need For A Constitution.  Shamgar wrote that “The most perfect way to safeguard in Israel rights and duties, obligations and limitations, prescriptions and norms is by defining them clearly in written form and in this context, in a written and comprehensive constitution.”

Because Shamgar was in many junctions of Israel’s history, we had fascinating discussions about many of the affairs in which he was involved and I gained important insights into decision-making processes. We discussed freedom of expression, human rights, international law, disqualification of political parties, administrative detentions, Palestinian rights, women rights, state and religion, multiculturalism, the SHABAC affair, Arab-Israeli wars, active adjudication, separation of powers, Israeli democracy and many other issues. Shamgar was candid and helpful. He was always calm and calculated, measured in his speech, articulate and clear. I saw him in his frustrations, for instance when the prime minister did not adopt his ideas about the need for constitution. I never saw Shamgar angry. He would say with half a smile, “what can you do”, and move on.

During the past decade our conversations became more personal. We met at the Supreme Court and also at his home. With Geula, Meir had three children: Anat, born in 1958; Ram, born 1960, and Dan, born in 1964. His second wife was Judge Michal Rubinstein.

He told me chapters of his life, not in a methodological way but as he saw them relevant to our conversations. His stories were fascinating and I told him time and again: “You need to write your autobiography”. Shamgar just smiled. And then one day he said: “I am doing this now, and you will receive a copy”. Shamgar never failed to abide by the obligations he took upon himself. He would say ‘No’ when he saw it appropriate. But when he said ‘Yes’ you knew he will do what he had promised. Shamgar’s fascinating autobiography was published in 2015.

Shamgar and I shared passions for music and for travel. He loved jazz and used to attend the annual Red Sea Jazz Festival, and he enjoyed travelling the world with a group of friends, exploring places that most tourists do not visit. We used to compare notes from our respective travels, reminiscing about places, smells, tastes and views. In these conversations, Shamgar enjoyed to be carried away in his memories, speaking about life outside the realm of law.

Shamgar was a noble man in his posture, walk and talk. Tall and impressive, measured and thoughtful he raised immense contributions to Israeli law and society. He represented much of what is good and valuable in Israeli society. He would be greatly missed by many who were fortunate to know him. His legacy, I trust, will live on for many generations to come. 

This article appeared in part in The Jerusalem Post 
OCTOBER 24, 2019 20:35

Reflections on the Last Newsletter

I have been asked time and again for information about Israel’s king maker Avigdor Lieberman. Here are segments of an article published by the journalist Ben Kaspit that sheds some light on this man.

Ma'ariv – October 11, 2019

Liberman: If I’m Offered an Alternating Premiership I’ll Tell Them to Go to Hell

By Ben Caspit
  • Q: When did you first meet Binyamin Netanyahu?
  • Liberman: “In 1988, immediately after he returned to Israel from the UN. One of the senior officials at the Likud’s Jerusalem branch who’s a mutual friend of ours, Shlomo (Momo) Halevy, made the introduction. Incidentally, Momo is Maj. Gen. Hertzi Halevy’s father.”
  • Q: Was the chemistry immediate? The two of you are binary opposites. He’s a Sabra and you’re an immigrant; he speaks English and you speak Russian; he’s part of the elite and you’re from the periphery; he’s from Rehavia and you’re a settler.
  • “There was good chemistry. Things developed from there.”
  • Q: When did you decide that you were going to make the transition from being a close and trusted personal aide, the leader’s right-hand man, into a leader in your own right?
  • “I didn’t plan that. In December 1997 I left the Prime Minister’s Office. I went into business. At the end of 1998 I was in Budapest, having dinner with friends at the Intercontinental on the Danube. Ruhama (Avraham, who was Prime Minister Netanyahu’s secretary—B.C.) called and told me that the government was about to fall and that we were headed to elections. I said, Okay, I’ll return to Israel immediately. Tell Bibi that I’m at his service, anything he needs. I was well-connected in the Likud.”
  • Q: And what happened?
  • “I returned. I told the guys that I wanted to be integrated, to be given a job on the [campaign] team. They told me that Netanyahu doesn’t want me on the team. ‘He views you as being an electoral liability,’ they said to me. I said to myself, an electoral liability? Me? So I’ll teach him a lesson [Liberman used a crude idiom]. You know, when people annoy me, I act spitefully. I established Yisrael Beiteinu in January 1999, just four months before the elections. We ran against an existing Russian party, Sharansky’s Yisrael Baaliyah. We won four seats. That’s how it began.”

  • Q: You don’t own a smartphone, do you?
  • “That’s right. I don’t have Gmail or any other email either. And I don’t have WhatsApp. I don’t know how to send a text message.”
  • He wasn’t kidding. He has an ancient and stupid Nokia cellphone, one that only allows him to read a regular text message. He doesn’t know how to respond. If he needs to reach someone, he simply phones them. Just like in the good old days.
  • Q: Don’t you feel like a dinosaur from the previous millennium?
  • “No. Listen, none of that interests me. I see how people become enslaved to that. My children can’t live without it. They walk around with that thing all the time. They lead their entire lives on it. Their entire contact with the outer world is through it. Their diaries, bank accounts, photo albums. I’m not there. When my kids come to visit, the smartphones get left in their rooms. They don’t get placed on the dinner table.”

  • Yvet Levovich Liberman was born in Kishinev 61 years ago, the only child of Esther and Lev Liberman. “I grew up in a very Zionist household,” he said. “Everything was infused with Zionism. I didn’t go to kindergarten until I was three years old. I was raised at home by my mother, father and neighbors. We spoke Yiddish and subsequently Russian as well.”

  • Q: Yiddish is useful for negotiations with the Haredim.
  • “Of course. Listen, in the coalition negotiations in 1996 Yiddish helped me in my relationship with Porush, even with Deri.”
  • Q: Deri speaks Yiddish?
  • “He doesn’t speak, but he understands.”
  • Q: How long have you been a right winger?
  • “My father was a Beitar activist in Romania. When the Nazis rose to power, some of the Jews of Bucharest fled to Serbia and Moldova, which is where I was born.”

  • He immigrated to Israel at the age of 20, did a brief stint of military service not far from the place he now lives (at the military governor’s office in Hebron), and subsequently performed reserve duty in an artillery unit.
  • Q: When did you get into politics?
  • “The first moment I became a student at Hebrew University. I was drawn to politics. Tzahi Hanegbi and Yisrael Katz were already in the Likud’s student group. On the other side was Azmi Bishara.”
  • Q: Is the story about how you used chains to hit Arab demonstrators true?
  • “It’s all true. That was the stormiest political period ever on campus.”
  • Q: Who led? Tzahi and Yisrael, or you?
  • “They began. I joined them later on.”
  • Q: Were you really a bouncer at bars?
  • “Yes. That was a job that helped me earn a living. The university cafeteria on Givat Ram was turned into a student’ disco-bar named Shablul on weekends. I was the security guard and the usher and the worker who arranged everything. Ella (his wife) was the cook. We used to come on Friday afternoon, set things up, turn the cafeteria into a discotheque, bring the drinks, and then we’d wash and rearrange everything by Saturday morning. That lasted us for the whole week.”
  • Q: If I were to show the young security guard from back then what’s become of him, would he be surprised?
  • “I don’t know. I never dreamed that I’d get to be everything I’ve gotten to be. That I’d be foreign minister and defense minister and so on. But man plans and God laughs and does as he pleases. That’s the beauty of our country.”
  • Q: I was standing by your side when you spoke about Israel being the land of endless opportunity back in 1996, and I could see that you became emotional. Are you even capable of being emotional?
  • “You can’t never be emotional, but in Israeli politics you’re better off keeping your feelings to yourself.”
  • Q: Are you capable of shedding a tear? At one of your children’s weddings, at the birth of a grandchild?
  • “I’m not macho, but no, I tend not to shed tears.”
  • Q: Can you recall the last time that happened to you?
  • “I actually remember it quite well. Listen, I’m an only child. I was very close to my parents. They had me at a relatively advanced age, after a lot of effort.”
  • Q: Does that mean that you were a spoiled child?
  • “I wasn’t spoiled, but I was very close to my father and mother. Listen, until their dying day I used to speak with them every day. In the morning and in the evening. Every day, my entire life. I wouldn’t go to bed without speaking with them, no matter what was happening and where I was. In America, in Seoul, in Tokyo. There wasn’t a single day that I didn’t speak with them in the morning and the evening. When they passed away, that was very hard for me. When my mother was in intensive care, I think that was in 2013, I had to make an important trip to Basel. I deliberated. I spoke with the doctors. They told me that there was time, that I could go. So I went. She died while I was in Basel. That’s where I received word. And I can’t forgive myself for that.”

  • Betrayal. Period.
  • During Netanyahu’s first term in office between 1996 and 1999, Israel was run by three people: Prime Minister Netanyahu; the director general of the Prime Minister’s Office and his right-hand man, Liberman; and Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri. On Fridays they used to order in food from Mahane Yehuda to the Prime Minister’s Bureau and would talk and plan. A political alliance that became a personal friendship that lasted for years in which they cooperated extensively with one another. That is all over. Everyone knows about the collision course between Yvet and Bibi. They are less aware of the falling out between Liberman and Deri.
  • Q: What happened between you and Aryeh?
  • “In politics you can fight, argue—that’s natural. When it’s all over you can forgive as well. Political players come with different sets of interests and different worldviews. That isn’t betrayal. From my perspective, what Aryeh did to me qualifies as betrayal. Period. There’s no way back from that.”
  • Q: Is it as bad as all that? You’ve known your share of crises and fights, and you’ve always been able to work things out afterwards.
  • “Not anymore. Here we’re talking about real betrayal, on a personal level, regardless of politics.”

  • Q: And what happened with Bibi? You were historic allies. Inseparable. Now people say that you’ve sworn to bring him down.
  • “As opposed to what people say, I don’t hate Netanyahu and I haven’t taken an oath and I don’t have any desire to ‘destroy him.’ That isn’t the issue. I merely want to survive and to advance my agenda. Bibi’s problem is that the moment your view or approach is different from his, and conflicts with his interests, you immediately get turned into a personal enemy. You’re immediately accused of hating the prime minister, of being a leftist, of trying to bring him down. People ignore the facts. It’s almost illegal to have different opinions or views from his, without being cast as an enemy of the people. What are you going to do: the facts show that a chasm divides us. He voted in favor of disengagement; I voted again. He advanced the Shalit deal; I was opposed. He advanced an apology to Turkey; I was opposed. I can go on like that for a lot longer.”
  • Q: Yes, but that hasn’t stopped him from calling you a leftist.
  • “The death penalty for terrorists too. He signed a bill with me but then torpedoed it. So our views are fundamentally different. Beyond that, he’s only acted to try to trip me up the entire time. They don’t understand that everyone has the things that are dear to him. They can’t paint me into a corner and every time do that all over again. Take the Defense Ministry. Before I entered the Defense Ministry he knew exactly what my objectives were. We’d spoke about it. That’s what I came for: to instate order in the Gaza Strip. To renew targeted killing operations. Look, today they arrested the terror cell that murdered Rina Shnerb. I remember that an hour after the terror attack in which she was murdered Hamas celebrated in Gaza and praised the act. That was on a Friday. On Saturday there were riots on the border fence. On Sunday the Qatari envoy entered with the protection payments. They move about Gaza freely. Netanyahu has given them immunity. They praise the murder of Jews and aren’t afraid. They do that openly and know that Netanyahu has given the order not to carry out targeted killing operations. The very same thing applies to the death penalty. The situation that was created was that Liberman is incapable of delivering the goods either on Gaza or on the death penalty.”
  • Liberman continued: “The same is true of matters of religion and state. After all, you know that that’s important to me. You can’t not give me anything. If I have six issues, can’t a compromise be reached on two or three of them? They went behind my back to close the minimarkets. They froze the yeshiva student’s military draft bill after it was approved in its first reading. They deliberately blocked that so that I wouldn’t have the achievement of the draft. The same thing in conversion, public transportation and civil marriage. All were blocked. There was a major debate about conversion and the decision was made to form a committee. I agreed. It was headed by Moshe Nissim. He’s not Jew-hater, but an Orthodox Jew who is accepted by everyone. People say that I hate the Haredim, but Nissim is a man in consensus. I said to him [Netanyahu], you appointed Moshe Nissim. Let’s adopt his recommendations. I said that in advance as well. A year passed and the recommendations weren’t adopted. Just so as to ensure I wouldn’t have an achievement. So, on the one hand, he maneuvers you into a corner and, on the other, he’s surprised when we won’t go with him. I’ve had 20 messengers stop by in the past few days with the message that the Haredim are now willing to pass the military draft bill. Now? Why weren’t you willing to do that in time?”
  • Q: But that would still be an achievement for you. Why not go for it?
  • “Now we’re in a different place. We’re well beyond that.” […]

At present, Benny Gantz is trying to put together a coalition. Lieberman publicly urges him to include Likud in this coalition and voices opposition to narrow coalition with him, the center-left parties and support of the Arab party. 
I am also asked time and again about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. Colin Shindler’s piece, “Ideological myopia has delivered hate in the Labour party”, The Jewish Chronicle (20 October 2019), sheds some light. Colin Shindler argues that any understanding of antisemitism on the left must start with anti-Zionism and how it evolved alongside the rise and fall of the USSR, decolonisation and Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

Israeli Population

There are now over 9 million people living in Israel, the Central Bureau of Statistics says ahead of the Jewish new year. Israel’s population now stands at 9.092 million and will top 10 million by 2024, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. The population grew by 2.1 percent from the eve of Rosh Hashanah last year, when it stood at 8.42 million. The CBS says 74.2% of the population is Jewish, 21% Arab and 4.8% other.

During the 1970s, Israeli population was 3 million. Amazing.

PM Future

As you know, I have deep interest in Israel, the United Kingdom and the USA. In these countries, many people just can’t wait to see new leaders in charge. I have been asked time and again about the future of Mr Netanyahu.

Israel state prosecution has decided to charge two of the PM Netanyahu’s alleged co-conspirators with bribery. Ms. Liat Ben-Ari, the lead prosecutor in the corruption cases involving Netanyahu, and her department conveyed to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit a document refuting the claims of the two — media moguls Shaul Elovitch and Arnon Mozes. Both men had their own pretrial hearings with state prosecutors, but could not convince them to drop the bribery charges against them.

On October 26, 2019, journalist Raviv Drucker dedicated his TV program “Hamakor” (“The Source”) shown on TV Channel 13 to the secret meetings between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth proprietor Arnon Mozes. In these meetings, each party is trying to push the other to do something and, in return, receive something. Netanyahu wished to reduce the flames of criticisms against him on the pages of the daily newspaper. Mozes wanted a law that would restrict the activities of its main daily rival, Israel Hayom. Series of meetings were held between the two. Still unclear (at least to me) how many years these two were meeting, how many meetings were held, and what kind of agreements they reached in the past. The recordings that were played on “Hamakor” were of the last few meetings. They were recorded by Netanyahu apparently without Mozes’ knowledge. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said to Mozes: “If you take me down, I’ll come after you with everything I’ve got… It will become my life’s mission.” On the tape, Netanyahu is heard also telling Mozes: “There shall be no situation in which I’m under attack,” and that “The reports you write, they’re all biased,” to which Mozes replied, “I’m telling you, bring me a writer.” 

In a number of instances, Mozes says he supports Netanyahu’s leadership and indicates he could help ensure Netanyahu remains prime minister, offering him political advice. He also refers to previous coverage by the newspaper which he says helped Netanyahu become prime minister during his first term in 1996.

In the recording, Netanyahu voices a desire to see Naftali Bennett’s nationalist Jewish Home party stay below 15 seats in the coming elections. According to Channel 13, the comment was meant to guide Yedioth’s coverage. Three days later, Ynet (Yedioth online platform) published an article fiercely critical of Bennett.

It seems Netanyahu’s chapter in history is reaching its final pages. Time will tell whether the ending will be sweet, or bitter, for Netanyahu.

Israel Is Ranked 20th Economy in the World
Israel stood firm in 20th place out of 141 economies in the World Economic Forum’s 2019-2020 Global Competitiveness Report, retaining its spot from last year and once again securing the top rank for entrepreneurship and the embrace of disruptive ideas.
Israel also ranked first for categories such as macroeconomic stability – minimizing its national economy’s vulnerability to the impact of any external shocks – companies’ innovative growth, R&D expenditures, and multi-stakeholder collaboration.
The Report says: “The country is an innovation hub, ranking 15th on the Innovation capability pillar thanks to a well-developed ecosystem. Israel spends the most of any country on R&D (4.3% of GDP), and is where entrepreneurial culture is the strongest, the acceptance for entrepreneurial failure the highest, where companies embrace change the most, and where innovative companies grow the fastest. Israel can also rely on a highly-educated workforce, with an average of 13 years of schooling (12th). The country ranks 2nd behind the United States both for its ease of finding workers with the right skills and for the availability of venture capital, which also supports a flourishing and innovative private sector. Despite this context, however, the rate of basic technological adoption (67.6, 45th) is well below the OECD average (73.0). Other areas with room for improvement include institutions, due to persistent security concerns (42nd), burdensome regulation (69th) and low commitment to sustainability (81st). Finally, market efficiency (61.8, 32nd) suffers from a relative lack of competition and barriers to entry.”

Good News - Virgin Atlantic began Tel Aviv - London flights

Virgin Atlantic is a great company. More competition hopefully will reduce prices on this route. 

Good News - British Retailer Tesco Partners with No-Checkout Shopping Startup Trigo 

London-listed British supermarket chain Tesco PLC has partnered with Tel Aviv-based shopping automation startup Trigo Vision Ltd. As part of the agreement, Tesco invested an undisclosed amount in the Israeli startup, and will integrate Trigo’s technology into its app. Customers who use the Tesco app will be able to purchase products without having to use the check-out counter, as their payment will be processed automatically.

New Article: “The Role of the Patient’s Family, Surrogate and Guardian at the End of Life”, European Journal for Person Centered Healthcare, Vol. 7, Issue 3 (2019): 454-465.

The aim of this paper is to explore the intricate issue of the right to die in dignity by focusing on the role of the patient’s family. The paper considers a number of real-life cases. The cases demonstrate the importance of caution in incidents when the best interests of the patient’s family members contradict the best interests of the patient. There is some resemblance between the two American cases: Spring and Wendland. But while in Spring the family was unified in its opinion to stop the patient’s treatment, in Wendland family members expressed contrasting opinions. Two English cases - In Re N and In Re 62-year-old Woman, and a Dutch case concerning Mrs A, highlight the important role of the incompetent patient’s family when members of family are unified in their opinions. These cases lead to conclude, contra Dworkin, that advance directives should be treated with great caution.  

Key words: advance directive; care; compassion; end-of-life; patient’s best interests; patient’s family

Did You Know?

Beginning in 1946, the United States government engaged in research experiments in which more than 5000 uninformed and unconsenting Guatemalan people were intentionally infected with bacteria that caused sexually transmitted diseases. Many have been left untreated to the present day. American scientists intentionally inflicted on people in Guatemala diseases in order to examine the effects of these diseases on humans. The total study population included more than 5,500 Guatemalan prisoners, sex workers, soldiers, children as young as one-year-old, and psychiatric patients, about one-quarter of whom were deliberately infected with syphilis, gonorrhea, or chancroid and all of whom were enrolled in the experiments without their consent.

On October 1, 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama, having been informed of the Guatemala experiments, contacted the president of Guatemala, Álvaro Colom, to apologize for the unethical nature of the research. Likewise, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius issued an apology to the people of Guatemala. The secretaries also called on the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to initiate an intense investigation of Cutler’s documents, the results of which were subsequently released in September 2011. See

The commission’s report revealed that Cutler was concerned about people finding out about the experiments, which he believed could jeopardize the study. He had deliberately withheld information about his unethical studies.

The world's first flying motorcycle is going to be a reality in 2020.

Movie of the Month - Hotel Mumbai (2019) *****

This movie tells the story of the coordinated terror attack on designated targets in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. The attack, which drew widespread media attention, lasted for three days until November 29, 2008. 164 people were murdered, and more than 300 were wounded

The attack was well planned and well executed, carried out by ten young members of Lashkar-e-Taiba who were trained by Pakistani experts in urban fighting, use of weapons and explosives. The terrorists travelled by sea from Karachi, across the Arabian Sea, hijacked the Indian fishing trawler 'Kuber', killed the crew of four, then forced the captain to sail to Mumbai.

The majority of the film is focused on one target for the attacks: the majestic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, a place for the Indian elite and rich tourists who wish to enjoy the very best that India has to offer in terms of luxury, fine dining and most excellent service, where the guest is no less than God. 

The terrorists took over the hotel and shot every person they saw. The Mumbai police had no trained manpower to fight against them. They were waiting for long hours for the special forces to arrive from New Delhi to fight the terrorists down. At the time, India had no dedicated counterterrorism force. The country’s elite National Security Guard (NSG) commandos were in a base just outside New Delhi, with no local presence in or around Mumbai. When the commandos were informed about the attack, they lacked a dedicated aircraft to fly to Mumbai. As a result, they arrived at the scene nine hours after the attack began, by which time the terrorists had not only killed dozens of people but had also taken hostages at the Taj hotel, prolonging the attack for a further two days. Meanwhile, the four terrorists who received direct orders all the time via their mobile phones, continued to hunt down the hotel workers and guests.


The movie tells the story of few of the guests and service people who risked their lives to save their “Gods”. The brave hotel chef Hemant Oberoi and one of his kitchen workers showed leadership, resourcefulness and initiative. They rose to the occasion and saved the lives of dozens of guests. At the same time, the movie also explains the frame of mind of the terrorists, and how they were acting like puppets on a string, continuously receiving direct orders from their handler who kept close watch on them, motivating them to continue killing and to sacrifice their own lives in the process. Nine of the ten terrorists were killed and one of them was captured by the Indian security forces. Later, in November 2012, he was executed.

In July 2019, Pakistani authorities arrested Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the brutal attack.

For 118 minutes, the horror of this notorious terror attack unfolds. The movie takes your breath away. I think I stopped blinking. 

Anthony Maras brilliantly directed this thriller with sensitivity and great skill. The script focuses on a few people, encapsulating the horror. While the terror targets are trying to save themselves and others, the terrorists are callous and brainwashed. There is little humour in the film and when it is expressed, it is expressed by the terrorists who have the time and mind for this. All the actors are excellent: Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Jason Isaacs, Nazanin Boniadi, Dinesh Kumar, and Amriptal Singh. I cannot fault any of them. 

It is rare that I give 5 stars to a movie. This is one of the rare occasions. If you have the stomach for such films, I highly recommend watching.

***** on Rafi’s scale.

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Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade of Pale, live in Denmark 2006. Sublime. Timeless.

Light Side

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Peace and Love. Yours as ever,


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