Sunday, April 18, 2021

 Politics – April 2021



Netanyahu: No justice minister means no justice. No justice is good. For whom?




Analysis of the 2021 Elections in Israel


Invitation: Noam Chomsky


Recording: The Ambassador Forum


For the second year in a row, an Israeli wins the Abel Prize


Tripping Stone: Lina Jacobi-Mathias


Sunil Murlidhar Shastri: Tea with Prince Philip


Did You Know? 


New Books: Two Books by Alan Brener

New Books: Yoav J. Tenembaum - Turning Points in the History of International Relations, 1908-2008


Monthly Poems


Monthly TV Series: Shtisel


Light Side




Analysis of the 2021 Elections in Israel


The Netanyahu Phenomenon

Yesh Atid

The Future

Beyond Netanyahu, substantive issues


  • Netanyahu received 52 endorsements from the Likud (30), Shas (9), United Torah Judaism (7) and the Religious Zionists (6).

  • Netanyahu needs a coalition of 61 people, preferably more.

  • Yair Lapid received 45 endorsements from Yesh Atid (17), Blue and White (8), Labour (7), Yisrael Beitenu (7) and Meretz (6). 

  • Lapid has reportedly offered to go second in the rotation deal, despite the fact that his party won 17 seats in the election, while Yamina only earned 7. Amazing!

  • But Lapid is holding firm against one of Bennett's key demands that he be given veto powers over legislation that counters his right-wing views. 

Likud went down by 6 seats compared to the last elections. 

Gideon Saar received six seats.

  • The Yamina representatives decided to endorse their own leader, Naftali Bennett, with their seven seats.   

  • Three parties, representing 16 seats, abstained from endorsing any candidate. Gideon Saar’s New Hope, with 6 seats, appealed to Rivlin to intervene and persuade Lapid and Bennett to reach an understanding to unseat Netanyahu. 

  • Rivlin said it would be inappropriate for him to intervene in the political process.  

  • Rivlin was absolutely right. Saar’s tactics is rather peculiar. We know he does not want Netanyahu in power. But he relies on many Likud voters who would not like to be associated with Arab parties. Saar is thinking long term instead of short term. He is for many more years in politics and thinks strategically how to posit himself in future elections.

  • Perhaps he is hoping that Netanyahu will fail, and then in order to prevent going to fifth elections he will join Lapid coalition.

  • The two Arab parties, the Joint List (6) and Raam (4), told the president that they were unable to recommend any candidate. Earlier in the day Ahmad Tibi, who heads the Ta'al party (part of the Joint List), which holds two mandates, said that if Saar had recommended Lapid to form the government, he would have done the same. 

  • If that had happened, Lapid would have secured 53 recommendations compared to the Netanyahu’s 52. 


  • Mansur Abbas, the leader of Raam, who was before the elections the darling of Israeli politics, lost his charm as the Religious Zionists announced that in no possible script they will be in coalition with Raam.

  • At least, Netanyahu did not attack the Arabs as he did before. This time, he did not say that they are a fifth column.

  • The courting after Abbas stopped as his choices became limited: either go with Lapid, or with no one.

  • At least until if and when Smotrich of the Religious Zionists agrees to Raam.

  • The fragmentation in the Arab vote did not help them. In the 2020 elections, the Joint Arab List had a record high of 15 seats. In this election, the dis-United List, achieved 6 seats. Raam 4 seats. Many Israeli-Arabs stayed at home. Loss of 5 seats.

  • Compare the Arab considerable loss to the stability of other parties: Shas (9) as in previous elections; United Torah Judaism (7) as in previous elections; Yisrael Beitenu (7) as in previous elections;

  • Yamina increased its power by one seat, from 6 to 7.

Worryingly, the Religious Zionist Party, of Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, received 6 seats.

I have been following Ben-Gvir since he was a 16-year-old follower of Meir Kahane.

Netanyahu has had good reasons to court Ben-Gvir.

On the other hand, Labour got 7 seats and Meretz 6 seats.

In 2020 elections, labour-Meretz-Gesher got 7 seats.

The Netanyahu Phenomenon

The mess in Israeli politics is happening because Netanyahu wishes to evade justice.

He wishes to get himself immunity by passing a special law in the Knesset.

Outsiders may fail to understand the Netanyahu appeal and the Israeli public fascination with Bibi. It is not rational. Often it is emotional. Some people are incapable but to vote Bibi. It does not matter that:

  • their personal condition might be poor,

  • the Likud government care far more about the welfare of 10 rich families than about the welfare of 22% of the population who are below poverty line

  • Bibi is indicted by the Legal Advisor to the Government;

  • The police, following a thorough investigation, one of the most thorough in the history of investigations since the establishment of Israel, recommended that Bibi will stand trial; 

  • Bibi has associated Israel with some of the worse populist anti-democratic governments of the world and has no qualms to strike deals with Ben-Gvir and Abbas.

When they come to vote, they vote Bibi or King Bibi, as they love to call him. 

Security was, is and will remain the prime consideration when people go to the polls. 

Netanyahu was able to provide most Israelis with security. Israel votes Likud.

Peace is a yearning, a hope, a value. Security is a must.

Netanyahu provides security, and he signed the Abraham Accords with Bahrain, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Morocco and Sudan.

Netanyahu is well liked by the upper middle classes.

Also many in the middle classes vote Likud.

Many Israelis appreciated the way that he handled the COVID 19 crisis.

Israel, unlike many other countries, seems to be able to return to normal life.

Netanyahu was able to destroy his main contender.

In the 2020 elections, Likud received 36 seats and Blue and White, with Benny Gantz, 33 seats.

Now Gantz has 8 seats. Less than Lapid’s Yesh Atid.

Very few people think now that Gantz is made of the PM material.

He played chicken with Netanyahu and blinked first.

The Israeli population does not believe that anyone else should lead the country.

The second largest party has only 17 seats, huge margin from the Likud with 30 seats.

Netanyahu has been successful in undermining Lapid’s leadership.

Loyalty pays.

Netanyahu established a bond with the religious parties.

He has been loyal to them. They have been loyal to him.

46 people in the Knesset are committed to him.

This is solid.

Yesh Atid

Captured the Israeli centre of the political map.

To a large part, replaced Labour.

The Yesh Atid party was founded in 2012 by the popular journalist Yair Lapid.

The party was formed “to represent the Israeli middle class, people who serve in the army, who work and pay taxes, and fail to finish the month”.

Lapid appeals to the secular middle class.

At the heart of the Yesh Atid party's ideological concept are changing the priorities of the State of Israel, fighting government corruption, maintaining equality in the burden, rights and obligations of the country's citizens, reducing the cost of living, increasing labor force participation, promoting education, caring for the underprivileged, healing the health system, reducing governmental systems and striving for a political settlement.

Lapid proved his voters that:

He is loyal to his political platform;

He is more capable to lead than three generals: Benny Gantz, Gabi Ashkenazi and Bogi Yaalon, the latter two are not in the Knesset.


The rule of law, and the independence of the judiciary are important to him.

Lapid cares about basic human rights, state and religion.

Showed opposition to the continued control of the ultra-Orthodox budget and their differentiation in frameworks without core studies.

Lapid is able to communicate effectively with the wide public, especially with young voters.

Lapid is eloquent, considerate, brave and stubborn.

His experience as a journalist is an asset. Good communicator.

He knows how to choose worthy people around him.

Lapid is not obsessive about power. 

In the 2019 elections, he agreed that Gantz will lead the Blue-and-White List.

In 2021, he offered rotation to Bennet.

The Future

Netanyahu received the mandate to form a new government.

He starts with 52 endorsements.

Where can he get the 9 missing seats?

Yamina, 7 seats.

Saar, 6 seats

Raam, 4 seats, support from outside.

MKs defecting from Blue and White.

Netanyahu worked with three of the people who decide hit fate: Bennett and Lieberman were his close assistants; Saar was a senior member of his party.

I do not think he will be able to lure people from Labour as he did before.

Labour under Merav Michaeli is more ideological, more anti-Netanyahu, less pragmatic, more socialist, more peace, two-state solution.

  • Netanyahu has 28 days to present a government (he can request a 14-day extension at the president’s discretion).  

  • I think Netanyahu has a good chance to succeed.

  • If Bibi fails, the president can either ask a second person to try or send the mandate back to the Knesset, giving parliament 21 days to agree on a candidate.

Maybe then Bennet and Saar will join Lapid.

Saar loves to see the downfall of Netanyahu.

Bennet likes to be prime minister.

  • If the second candidate fails, then the mandate automatically returns to the Knesset for the 21-day period. 

  • If no candidate can garner the requisite support, the Knesset automatically disbands, and another election will be held.

Other option:

  • Rotation premiership

You need to be a fool to agree to be second, after Netanyahu.

See Gantz.

In parallel to the political process, Netanyahu’s trial continues.

This is Netanyahu’s main priority.

If he fails to comprise a coalition, he may opt for the presidency.

Beyond Netanyahu, substantive issues

The composition of Israeli politics should evoke concern for human rights, women’s rights, minority rights, state and religion

Likud (30), Shas (9), United Torah Judaism (7), Religious Zionists (6), Yamina (7), New Hope (6) = 65 people who support the status quo.

Sad to see that the Mafdal was replaced by Kahanists and religious zealots of the Religious Zionists.

Of them, Shas (9), United Torah Judaism (7), Religious Zionists (6) = 22 are anti-democratic; support theocracy to replace democracy.

On the other hand, first Reform rabbi in the Knesset, Gilad Kariv, who was the rabbi in my son’s Bar Mitzvah.

Gilad has an Everest to climb.

He is one of the most hated people in the Knesset.

Two state solution:

Likud (30), Shas (9), United Torah Judaism (7), Religious Zionists (6), Yamina (7), New Hope (6) = 65 people who, prima facie, oppose two state solution.

Lieberman party (7) unclear.

48 support two state solution: Yesh Atid (17), Blue and White (8), Labour (7), Meretz (6), and the two Arab parties (10).

You can hear and see my lecture on the 2021 elections at

Invitation: Noam Chomsky

Wednesday 21 April 2021, 6.00pm – 8.00pm

A Moment of Peril and Challenge

Professor Noam Chomsky

The University of Arizona and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Chair and Discussant: Professor Glenn Burgess

Link to register:


We are living at a unique moment in human history, facing a confluence of threats to survival of organized human society.  The focus of attention is on the pandemic. Unless we heed its lessons, others will follow, probably more severe. But it is the least of the crises we face. It will be overcome, at terrible and needless cost.  The grim effects of human heating of the earth will not be overcome. They are in place.  We can act to prevent irreversible damage, but time is short.  We have lived under the shadow of nuclear war for 75 years.  The threat, always severe, it growing steadily.  We know how to avert it, but instead it is being escalated.  The Middle East is one of the most critical flash points where solutions are at hand, but are barely even discussed.  These are only the most terrifying of the threats that confront the current generation, the first in human history with the responsibility to determine whether civilization will survive – and the last, unless it provides a decisive answer.


Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist. His research revolutionized the field of linguistics by treating language as a uniquely human, biologically based cognitive capacity. Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science.

Chomsky has been one of the US most prominent public intellectuals. Since the Vietnam War, Chomsky has been a prolific critic of American politics and foreign policy, a fierce critic of capitalism and a staunch defender of freedom of speech and of the press. 

Chomsky is a Laureate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and is the author of more than 150 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media. Ideologically, he aligns with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism.

Professor Glenn Burgess

Glenn Burgess is Professor of History at the University of Hull, where he has also served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor 2014-2019. He was educated at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and the University of Cambridge. Professor Burgess has written extensively on the history of 16th and 17th century political thought and has just finished a book on George Orwell and intellectual freedom.

Date: Wednesday 21 April 2021, 6.00pm – 8.00pm

Please register directly with the online platform:

All are welcome to attend

Recording: The Ambassador Forum


His Excellency Mr Omar Al Nahar

Ambassador of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United Kingdom

Challenges Jordan is Facing Today

You can read the speech and see the recording at



For the second year in a row, an Israeli wins the Abel Prize


Avi Wigderson and Laszlo Lovasz honored with Abel Prize for contributions to theoretical computer science and discrete mathematics; 2nd year in a row that an Israeli has won award



Tripping Stone: Lina Jacobi-Mathias


Professor Thomas Lundmark wrote from Hilversum, The Netherlands:

We are having a ‘tripping stone’ installed in the pavement in front of our house after we learned that Lina Jacobi-Mathias was living in our house when she was deported to Auschwitz. I think that these brass plaques are the most effective monuments I have ever seen.


I am very sad/happy/proud that we can honor her memory in this way. Hilversum used to have a website with names and addresses, but they took the information down because so many people objected: they didn’t want other people to know that Jews had been deported from their addresses! But as for me and my house, we will never forget.



Sunil Murlidhar Shastri: Tea with Prince Philip

Back in September 2000, the late, great Elisabeth Mann Borgese, my friend, philosopher and guide – ‘my mother’ – faxed me a one liner – “Sunil, how about coming with me to Buckingham Palace on 10 October 2000, as an early birthday (mine’s is the 12 October) gift?  Much love, As ever, Elisabeth”.  And I said, yes, please!  EMB, as we called her, had an invitation to meet HRH the Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh for ‘Tea’ at 4:00pm that day.  We were told to submit our identification details, etc. and by early October we had the Rules of Etiquette from the Palace.  A fairly long and exhaustive list of do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that, and so on.  

On the day, EMB’s small entourage met at the Athenaeum for a light lunch.  We were driven to the Palace at 3pm and after the initial identity and security checks, we were ushered into the Chinese Drawing Room in the East Wing of the Buckingham Palace.  This is on the first floor of the Palace to your far right as you stand facing it.  We were met by the Duke’s Equerry a very smart, beautiful woman who was a Squadron Leader with the Red Arrows.  She ran through the rules of etiquettes again.  Speak when you are spoken to.  Offer your hand only if/when he offers his hand.  Don’t hold his hand but don’t try to extricate your hand if he is holding your hand, etc, etc.  We were then offered tea and soft drinks and escorted to the washrooms and generally made to feel at home.

At the appointed hour, the door at the far end of the Room opened and the Diary Secretary entered to announce the Duke.  He was ramrod straight and very smart as we have always seen him.  EMB and the Duke exchanged some pleasantries and then EMB presented him her latest book ‘The Oceanic Circle’.  He too gave his recent writings as Founder President of WWF.  Then before making their customary speeches and ‘Tea’, EMB introduced each one of us to the Duke.  After she told him our names, he had two pretty much standard questions: Are you her family, friend or co-worker and what do you do for a living.  I was halfway along the line-up, very excited and nervous but at least, I wasn’t the first.

So, he comes to me, we shake hands and he asks: Are you EMB’s family or friend or co-worker?  I said, a bit of all three, Your Royal Highness.  What do you do for a living?  I said, I lecture in Marine Policy, Sir.  So, is that natural sciences or social sciences or law or management?  I said, it’s a bit of everything, Sir.  Then he looked at EMB and looked at his equerry and up and down and said, ‘let me think of a scientific joke!’  I could see the equerry’s face going red. At this point, the Duke was holding my hand in both his hands and he exclaimed, I’ve got one!  ‘How do you sex chromosomes?’  I hadn’t a clue so I said, rather sheepishly, how do you sex chromosomes, Sir, and he goes, ‘just pull down their genes!’



Did You Know?


In 2024, Michelin and GM aim to introduce a version of their ‘Uptis’ tyre (unique puncture-proof tyre system) that sufficiently replicates the characteristics of a normal, air-filled tyre.


Michelin says the Uptis tyre, which is made from composite rubber and resin-embedded fibreglass, can “bear a car’s weight at road-going speeds” thanks to material and structure improvements. Previous iterations of airless tyre could not support as much weight, or travel at high-enough speeds.


Airless tyres are already in use in bicycles. No more punctures. Air pumping stations are becoming a thing of the past. The world continues to change.



New Books: Two Books by Alan Brener

Housing and Financial Stability: Mortgage Lending and Macroprudential Policy in the UK and US


The book addresses the relationship between housing policy, credit and financial instability in the light of the recent global financial crisis, and proposes both short and long-term solutions. Although it is not known where the next crisis will come from, history suggests that it will have credit and property at its source. Thus, it is important that the UK and other countries look more broadly at what should be done in terms of policies, institutions and tools to make the housing market and mortgage lenders more resilient against a future crisis. This book sets out a number of workable proposals. Central to this work are questions relating to the quantitative macroprudential measures, such as loan-to-value (LTV) and debt-to-income (DTI) restrictions, and whether these can be used to any significant extent in western democracies and, if employed, whether they are likely to be effective. In particular, the book questions the political legitimacy of their use and the potential consequences for the institutions, such as central banks, promulgating such policies. Preserving financial stability in very uncertain market conditions is of key importance to central bankers and other regulators, and macroprudential policy is a rapidly growing subject for both legal and economics study.



Strategies for Compliance: Tools, Techniques and Challenges in Financial Services


The author, as a former experienced compliance practitioner and regulator highlights compliance challenges, using examples such as Wells Fargo, whistleblowing in the financial services, issues with corporate governance, and the mis-selling of payment protection insurance in the UK banking sector.  Developing the right ethics and culture is central to ensuring that firms operate compliantly. The book explores strategies for creating compliant cultures and fostering regulatory trust.

Yoav J. Tenembaum - Turning Points in the History of International Relations, 1908-2008






Monthly Poems


Break through the clouds

Wash away shadow of doubt

Make the great opening

Be Prince Charming 

Create the perfect photo

The immaculate whole

Rekindle the passion

Make the impossible possible

Surface the magical 

Turn the imperfect into perfect

Work for peace and tranquillity between people

The Messiah won’t come.


Raphael Almagor



If I had one more day
I would write a love poem
composed of one word
repeated like binary code.

I’ll multiply it by the number
of days that passed 
without saying it to you
and I’ll add the days

when I said it with no words
because I want to say it 
more. And like a bee 
gathering pollen, I’ll collect 

everything ever said 
in one word like a square root
multiplied by the power of ten.
I’ll count even that day

when my anger at you
or for you turned me into 
a stone, and also the days 
when I was away

sending my songs like 
postcards to the lonely,
feeling you in every touch 
of love I gave to the world.

I’ll count all my days,
even the nine months of days 
before I was born, to say  
this exponential, growing “I love you.”



Monthly TV Series: Shtisel



The third season of Shtisel, an Israeli production that was bought by Netflix, is as good as the previous two seasons. My knowledge of the ultra-Orthodox community is limited. For me, the story of the Shtisel family in one of the most religious neighbourhoods of Jerusalem is believable. The story is captivating and the acting is superb. 


One of the stories is about Lifa who does catering for a movie that is filmed in Jerusalem about the Haredi community. Lifa thinks he can make easy money by offering the producer that he will recruit Haredi men for filming after he saw that she was struggling to find trustworthy Hassidim who will come to the shooting as promised. Little did he know how complicated task this was. Finally, he went to the bars and recruited secular people with beards for the job, asking them to dress as Hassidim. 


Was this also the experience of the Shtisel producer?


The script writers took sensitive topics and presented them from the Haredi point of view. The language is so different from the common Israeli language as it is a mix of Hebrew, Yiddish, English, Aramaic, French and possibly other languages, old and new languages all in a fascinating mishmash. Shtisel is simply a joy to watch.



Light Side


I was in in the public restroom
I was barely sitting down when I heard a voice in the other stall:
"Hi, how are you?"
Me: (embarrassed) "Doin' fine!"
Stall: "So what are you up to?"
Me: "Uhhh, I'm like you, just sitting here."
Stall: "Can I come over?"
Me: (attitude) "No, I'm a little busy right now!!"
Stall: "Listen, I'll have to call you back. There's an idiot in the other stall who keeps answering all my questions!

Funny Short Jokes | Kickass Humor

Peace and Good Health to you all




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

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Twitter at @almagor35