Monday, May 17, 2021

 Politics – Bloody May 2021


May 2021 has been a month of human suffering. May 2021 exhibited lack of leadership. With different leadership, many of the things we have witnessed would not have taking place. It has been too eventful, much too eventful month in Israel.

The Question

Israel and Hamas are bitter rivals. The question is not why they are fighting. There are plenty of reasons to explain this. While Israel and Hamas are bitter foes, they do not fight all the time. The question is why they are fighting NOW.

Such an event is the culmination of decision-making processes of leaders who wish to heat things up, and circumstances.


It was Ramadan, the holy Muslim month, when Muslims all around the world fast between dawn and sunset. Muslims eat only after sunset. This is not easy to do. The lives of Muslims during the month are not usual. Those who can try to sleep during the day. Muslims fast, pray and dedicate themselves to their religion. Fasting is designed to teach self-discipline and reminds people of the suffering of the poor. It is a time for self-reflection, prayer, spending time with family and friends and doing good deeds. Helping people in need is especially appreciated more than in any other period of time.

Ramadan is a very sensitive period. It is certainly not a time for provocation. However, analysts have argued that both Hamas and Israeli leaders had an interest to stir the pot.


It has been 15 years since the last parliamentary election took place, and 16 years since the last presidential election. The Palestinian Authority is not exactly a model for a democracy and a well-functioning regime. The Palestinians are disillusioned with the situation. Recently Israel has signed normalisation treaties with four Arab countries while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is far from being solved. Israel is striving to strike similar agreements with other Arab and Muslim countries. The Palestinian issue is pushed down and out of the agenda. The Palestinians feel neglected and more isolated. Polls showed that the Palestinians think that their leadership is old, corrupt and incapable to find answers to their plight. Like many people in Israel, the Palestinians also are yearning for change. They have waited to make a statement for a long time. The majority of them wanted election in the West Bank. Elections were scheduled for May 22, 2021. But in late April President Abu Mazan postponed them. It is sensible to think that this move was done because he thought Fatah might lose the elections. One may also think that Israel was not exactly disappointed with this decision. Some argue that Israel had put pressure on Abu Mazen to do just that.


When you have weak and uninspiring leadership, lacuna is created. This lacuna needs to be filled. Leadership crisis lacuna is usually filled by people who seize the moment, step in and fill the lacuna. In this case by Hamas that is far more energetic and connected with the people. The way that Hamas fills the lacuna has been negative: Sparking violence against the occupier Israel. Not self-reflection but channelling all the frustration, resentment and anger against the bitter foe. 

Israeli provocations

Israel did not help. Instead of respecting Ramadan, Israeli leaders took several steps that up the ante. They decided to ban gatherings near Al-Aqsa Mosque where Palestinians traditionally congregate before and after prayers, meet families and friends and spend Ramadan together. This angered thousands of Palestinians. 

As if this is not bad enough, they allowed anti-Arab activities in East Jerusalem, orchestrated by far-right Israelis. The Kahanist Itamar Ben-Gvir, now Member of Knesset, was all smiles when he set an “office” at Sheikh Jarrah, protected by the police and videoed from every angle. Why at Sheikh Jarrah? Because since the beginning of 2020, Israeli courts have ordered the eviction of 13 Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah.

Sheikh Jarrah 

The plight of the residents of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem who received eviction orders was one of the triggers that sparked violence in the West Bank and Gaza. The residents appealed to the Israel Supreme Court and await a decision on this complex legal matter (see ttps:// Meanwhile brutal confrontations between angry Palestinians and the police were unavoidable. 

The Roman Goddess of justice Justitia embodies the spirit of moral order and fair judgement. She is depicted carrying scales and a sword while she is wearing a blindfold. Justice needs to be non-discriminatory. It should be applied evenly notwithstanding the nationality, religion or any other attribute of the petitioners. Judges need to balance issues on the scales of justice and to mete out justice in accordance with the law and the principles of natural justice aiming to promote and safeguard basic human rights for all. I hope the Supreme Court will devise a sensible and just solution to the residents of Sheikh Jarrah.

Rocket terror

Hamas decided this was the time to show its rocket capabilities. It fired rockets from Gaza on its neighbouring towns and ON JERUSALEM. Later, it expanded the targets to other towns and cities at the heart of Israel. No sovereign country allows the infliction of such harm on civilians. Unsurprisingly, the Israeli government decided to retaliate forcefully. 

May 10, 2021: On the first day of the escalation, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad fired some 250 rockets on Israel, injuring at least 31 Israelis. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, Israeli airstrikes in retaliation to the rockets killed at least 20 people in Gaza.

On May 11, 2021, Hamas had fired over 130 rockets towards Tel Aviv in response to an Israeli air strike that had flattened a well-known tower block plus houses, offices and residential flats. One woman was killed in Rishon LeZion and about 40 civilians were injured. The range of the rockets is wide and it covers large parts of the country. 

By May 15, 2021, the death toll was 122 Palestinians in Gaza and 9 in Israel. 

It is estimated that the rocket stockpile in Gaza is between 15,000-20,000. In five days, the terrorists fired some 2,300 rockets on Israeli cities and towns. About half of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system. 


On May 13, reports said that the U.S. deputy assistant secretary for Israeli-Palestinian affairs, Hady Amr, was scheduled to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials in an effort to end the fighting in Gaza. His efforts, presumably, were unsuccessful. President Biden was answerable to Israel’s request to strike Hamas hard in an effort to destroy much of its rocket capabilities. Yet again, the “politics of numbers” come into play.  


Another cause for worry is the reaction of Israeli-Palestinians/Arabs. This round of violence brought Israeli-Palestinians to the streets. In Lod, there were riots and clashes between Arab residents and the police. Lod is a mixed city where Arabs and Jews have been residing for a very long time. The riots were on a very large scale. Clashes between Arabs and Jews took place also in other mixed cities. The Jewish-Arab co-existence in Israel is severely rattled. 

The Abraham Accords 

The Abraham Accords face a challenge. Both the UAE and Bahrain condemned the eruption of violence around the al-Aqsa mosque during which 200 Palestinians and 17 Israeli police officers were wounded, as well as Israel’s eviction orders of dozens of Palestinians out of their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. Social media in both countries saw a surge of hashtags in support of their Arab compatriots in the Jerusalem neighborhood. Morocco’s foreign minister condemned the “hateful” rhetoric and actions of the far-right Jewish groups involved in the violence in Jerusalem. 

Tragedy on Mount Meron 

Tragedy on Mount Meron, where some 150 people died and hundreds were injured due to poor organisation and shortage of thinking as to what might happen when thousands of people are condensed into a limited space. This was the nation’s deadliest peacetime tragedy. In politics, Netanyahu continues with his attempts to save himself and his government while standing trial. 


Other than that, Israel today looks very much like Israel pre-COVID. Resumption of what I call “normal life”. In the United Kingdom, life is very different. The majority of the population did not receive the second jab; hence, life is very restricted. We all like to be in the post-COVID era. I certainly miss going out and about, meeting people, enjoying culture, and travelling the world. I am worried that PM Johnson opens pubs and restaurants before the population is fully vaccinated. I fear yet another spike.

Reflections on Last Newsletter

UN Expresses Concern for Possible War Crimes

Did Israel Enter the Post-Netanyahu Era?

Join Dr. David Rutstein: From Displacement to Distinction: How the Bahá’í Faith came to have its world headquarters in Israel


Israel and Pfizer

Call for Papers: Post-Pandemic Politics: Perspectives and Possibilities

Invitation to my Talk: "Arafat, Barak and Clinton at Camp David: Clashes of Characters and Conduct", Centre for Leadership, Ethics and Organisation in conjunction with the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice

Research on COVID19: Hospitals became safe from meltdown once 50% of over-60s were vaccinated, even with highly infectious variants

Israel-UAE Relationships

Google-Tel Aviv University Partnership

Job Opportunities in Hi-Tech

Interview about My New Book: Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Did You Know? 

My New Article: “Tolerating Racism and Hate Speech: A Critique of C.E. Baker’s ‘Almost’ Absolutism”, in Mitja Sardoc (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Toleration (Cham: Palgrave, 2021).

Guest Article: Yoav J. Tenembaum - The National Interest

New Book: Shalom Lappin, Deep Learning and Linguistic Representation

New Book: Paul Beckett, Labour Rights and the Catholic Church:

Monthly Poem

Light Side

Reflections on Last Newsletter

Some readers told me that they are unable to see the photos. You can see them on my Blog:

ISRAEL: Democracy, Human Rights, Politics and Society (

Dozens of people wrote to me, expressing gratitude for organizing the Chomsky lecture. The great majority of them enjoyed the lecture and expressed agreement with the main arguments. Chomsky was mostly critical of the United States, Israel and Egypt, in this order. Whether you agree with him or not, the lecture and Q&A were interesting and thought-provoking. Chomsky is a phenomenon. At the age of 92, not only that he remains engaged and interested with many issues; but he is also well informed, reading the relevant literature and contributing to many debates across the globe. 

Prof. Chomsky did a tour de jour of a number of issues that challenge the Middle East and the world at large, bringing together his immense expertise on issues that are relevant to all of us. 

If you missed Noam Chomsky’s talk or you wish to hear it again, please click

Here are some reflections:

Dear Rafi

Noam Chomsky has a wonderful grasp of the perils and challenges today; it was great to hear him articulate them so clearly and convincingly.

He has come a long way since I first read his work 60 years ago!

All best wishes



It was fun listening to the great man at the beginning, but one always knew he would end up blaming Israel for all problems. And he did.





Just to say – thanks for hosting this event. I thought it was really terrific.


To have a speaker of his calibre and extraordinary position ‘at’ the UoH must have been quite a feat to pull off. Many congratulations!





Very many thanks to Rafi and colleagues for putting this on.  Huge privilege to hear him - for the first time in my case.  Format of the event was just right.



Thankyou for opening up Noam’s seminar online, it was a really excellent and thought-provoking presentation from someone with such a long view.


Best wishes,



Dear Rafi,


Wonderful of you to arrange for this Noam Chomsky presentation and discussion.  It has been some time since I last heard him, and it is remarkable how he continues to be informed, insightful, critical, and seemingly with an inexhaustible memory for details and argument.


With thanks, David


UN Expresses Concern for Possible War Crimes

The UN human rights commissioner has warned both the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian armed groups that air strikes and rocket attacks on densely populated civilian areas - as well as the use of live ammunition by Israeli security forces against protesters - may amount to war crimes.


The commissioner Michelle Bachelet, called for an independent investigation into all allegations of violations of international law, and appealed for a de-escalation of the violence.


"Over the past 10 days, the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel has deteriorated at an alarming rate," she said.


"The situation in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem, triggered by threats of forced evictions of Palestinian families; the heavy presence of Israeli Security Forces and violence around the al Aqsa mosque during Ramadan; the severe escalation of attacks from and on Gaza; and the shocking incitement to racial hatred and violence in Israel have all led to vicious attacks and mounting casualties in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in Israel," added Bachelet.


Israel-Gaza: Tower housing foreign media destroyed in air strike - BBC News

Did Israel Enter the Post-Netanyahu Era?

Netanyahu never missed the opportunity to form a government when such an opportunity was presented to him. 2021 was a turning point. He was unable to strike deals with his partners and had to announce failure. Has he lost his magic? Or we are to witness more original tricks?

For the time being, President Rivlin gave the mandate to form a government to Yair Lapid. His father would have been very proud. Lapid will work with Bennett, Saar, Gantz, Liberman, Labour, Meretz and the Arab parties to form a coalition. Mansour Abbas, the leader of the Islamic Raam Party, wrote to the president that he would “cooperate positively with anyone who is entrusted with forming a government, that is to say the person that receives the most number of recommendations”.


When the violence erupted Mansour Abbas, who holds the balance of power in the Knesset, announced that he was suspending his talks with the various parties in the so-called "change coalition" bloc. He also said that he will resume negotiations while quiet is restored. 


However, on May 13, 2021, Naftali Bennett has announced he will no longer seek an alternative government to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Bennett is facing pressure not only from Netanyahu but also from members of his own party. Security always trumps any other consideration in Israel. Will Bennett give up the chance of becoming prime minister?


If Lapid fails, the mandate will return to the Knesset for any MK to present the support of 61 MKs within 21 days. If no candidate gets the required number of signatures, the Knesset will automatically dissolve and a fifth election will be held.


Lapid asked rhetorically: How come that always violence erupt exactly when it is convenient to the prime minister? Liberman suggested that Netanyahu will continue the military operation as long as Lapid has an opportunity to comprise a coalition. 


Middle East Study Group

Research Seminar

Wednesday 19 May 2021, 6.00pm – 8.00pm

From Displacement to Distinction: How the Bahá’í Faith came to have its world headquarters in Israel

Dr. David Rutstein


Bahá’í International Community

Link to register:

Opening words: Professor Stephen Hardy, PhD, LLB, SFHEA, MCIArb, FRSA, Dean of the Faculty of Business, Law and Politics 


In 1868, a small contingent of Persian religious exiles arrived as prisoners to ‘Akko, which was the harshest of penal colonies in the vast Ottoman Empire. Destitute and highly vulnerable - having already endured years of imprisonment, torture and banishment - the group comprising men, women and children, was led by Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of an emerging religion whose followers would become known as Bahá’ís.  Now, 153 years later, ‘Akko and the city of Haifa, a short distance around the bay, are the two cities that comprise the permanent spiritual and administrative center of the Bahá’í Faith, a world-wide independent religion with over 8 million adherents in over 200 countries, the central tenants of which are unity, peace and justice. The Bahá’í Shrines in ‘Akko and Haifa, nominated by the State of Israel and declared UNESCO World Heritage sites, and the spectacular gardens surrounding them, are made available to the public for free, and have attracted millions of domestic and international visitors. This lecture delineates the circumstances that resulted in the exile and eventual arrival of that small band of Bahá’ís in the Holy Land, their impact on the diverse elements assembling in Ottoman and British Mandate Palestine, and the establishment, by their descendants and co-religionists, of the Bahá’í World Centre in what became the State of Israel.


David Rutstein has taken up the responsibilities of Secretary-General of the Bahá’í International Community in October 2019. The Secretary-General is the senior officer acting on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, the international governing council of the Bahá'í community, in the conduct of its external affairs. 

Dr. Rutstein is a senior health executive, public health expert and clinician. In the course of a 36-year career, he created and led innovative clinical, administrative, management, emergency response and executive level teams and organizations. Most recently, he founded SolHEALTH, a non-profit organization working to promote health and prevent disease in diverse populations globally. Prior to SolHEALTH, Dr. Rutstein was the Vice-President for Medical Affairs for United Family Healthcare in China. A retired Rear Admiral in the United States Public Health Service, he served as the Deputy Surgeon General of the United States until 2011. 

He holds a Medical Degree from Brown University and a Master of Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. He completed his Family Medicine residency at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, California and is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. He maintains current medical licenses in California, Maine and Beijing and is the recipient of numerous honors and awards from both the public and private sectors. 

A citizen of the United States, Dr. Rutstein has lived and worked in the United States, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Peoples’ Republic of China. He has been a member of various Bahá’í communities and served on different local and national Bahá'í institutions. He speaks English, Spanish, Pohnpeian, Mandarin, and is learning Hebrew.

Date: Wednesday 19 May 2021, 6.00pm – 8.00pm

Please register directly with the online platform:

All are welcome to attend


By the end of April, 5 million Israelis have now received two Covid vaccinations – 80% of the adult population. According to the Health Ministry, 5,005,418 second doses were now in Israeli arms, accounting for nearly 54% of the total population and more than 80% of the eligible population over the age of 16.

A new study shows that vaccinations have saved some 6,000 Israeli lives. Finally, Israel’s Beilinson hospital has discharged all its 257 mothers, infected while pregnant, now with their healthy babies.

On April 23, Israel recorded no new daily COVID deaths for first time in 10 months.

New Israeli Covid-19 cases have dropped to under 200 a day, allowing the re-opening of all schools, bars, restaurants and indoor gatherings. Israelis no longer need wear masks outdoors in the open air. And UK Minister Michael Gove arrived to explore opening a “green corridor” between the UK and Israel.

Israel and Pfizer

Israel’s demographic diversity, including the country’s large immigrant population, were key in Pfizer’s decision to ship a large quantity of COVID vaccines to the country early on.

In a series of some 30 phone calls between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla this January, Netanyahu convinced Bourla that Israel would be the ideal choice of a “test nation” for the newly developed COVID vaccine.

In addition, Netanyahu noted the distribution of clinics in Israel would make it easier to carry out a rapid mass vaccination program.

But it was Israel’s demographic variety which ultimately won Bourla over, and led him to choose Israel over Estonia. Netanyahu told the Pfizer CEO that Israel “has people from over 100 different countries around the world.”

“In the case of any negative reactions to the vaccine, there will be lots of precise medical information about the correlation, whatever there may be, between background and the effect of the vaccine.”

Call for Papers: Post-Pandemic Politics: Perspectives and Possibilities

The Editors of Public Governance, Administration and Finances Law Review are inviting contributions to their online conference Post-Pandemic Politics: Perspectives and Possibilities (30th June 2021) to approximate some post-Covid-related political dilemmas. The deadline for abstract submission is 31st May 2021. Be sure to check out the full call at: 

Prominent scientists say the transformation of Israel from a COVID-19 hotspot to a vaccination success story underlines that any developed country can subdue the virus.

They estimate that a relatively small number of vaccinations are needed to take a country out of crisis mode. The moment that half of the population aged 60-plus is inoculated, authorities can expect a dramatic drop in cases and hospitals are safe from being overwhelmed, they conclude.

Invitation to my Talk: "Arafat, Barak and Clinton at Camp David: Clashes of Characters and Conduct", Centre for Leadership, Ethics and Organisation in conjunction with the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice

Chair: Dr Joanne Murphy Date: Wednesday 2nd June @ 4.30 pm - Via Zoom 

The Centre for Leadership, Ethics and Organisation in conjunction with the Mitchell Institute invite you to attend a seminar by Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor, DPhil, St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford; Professor and Chair of Politics and Founding Director of the Middle East Study Group, University of Hull. The discussion will focus on all three parties: Israel, the PLO and the USA being responsible for the summit failure. This paper holds that convening the Camp David summit was ill-timed and ill-prepared. Israel and the PLO were not fully resolved to end the conflict and to sign a peace treaty. The parties – Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the USA - came to the summit unprepared, with impossibly wide gaps between the sides. The negotiators were not familiar with details of possible solutions to problems. In the focus of analysis are the three leaders: Ehud Barak, Yasser Arafat and Bill Clinton. The paper focuses on their conduct they were the first among equals and much was dependent on them. It is argued that all three of them made crucial mistakes that undermined the talks and brought about the summit’s inevitable failure. The analysis exposes inherent problems in the search for peace in the Middle East: the bad design and timing of the Camp David summit, the asymmetric power relationship between the negotiating sides, the poor human relationships, the yearning for public consensus at the expense of reaching results, the unbalanced mediation role of the USA, perceived to be biased by all three sides (Israel, PA and the USA itself), and the lack of leadership.

Research on COVID19: Hospitals became safe from meltdown once 50% of over-60s were vaccinated, even with highly infectious variants

Prominent scientists say the transformation of Israel from a COVID-19 hotspot to a vaccination success story underlines that any developed country can subdue the virus.

They estimate that a relatively small number of vaccinations are needed to take a country out of crisis mode. The moment that half of the population aged 60-plus is inoculated, authorities can expect a dramatic drop in cases and hospitals are safe from being overwhelmed, they conclude.

The B.1.1.7 variant is 45% more transmissible than the wild-type strain in Israel

Active surveillance markedly reduces the transmission of B.1.1.7 in nursing homes

Prioritized vaccination prevents B.1.1.7-associated infections in the elderly

Proactive surveillance, combined with prioritized vaccination, is achievable.

Source: BNT162b2 vaccination effectively prevents the rapid rise of SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 in high-risk populations in Israel

Israel-UAE Relationships

Israel and the UAE signed a bilateral accord to tackle pandemics, cybersecurity and data protection. The agreement will also see the enactment of large-scale joint economic and health-related projects. Minister Yuli Edelstein said it would "bolster Israel's healthcare system".

Google-Tel Aviv University Partnership

I am very proud that my alma mater Tel Aviv University is collaborating with Google on state-of-the-art AI research.

A new program to promote AI-related multidisciplinary research for the benefit of society was recently launched in a joint effort by Google and Tel Aviv University (TAU).

The program aims to support research and collaborations in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence that can advance humanity by addressing focal social issues on the global agenda.

Ten winners were announced for the three-year program out of 27 proposals submitted in response to the joint call for proposals by TAU and Google.

Seven of the 10 winning projects are supported by Google. The grant winners, whose projects address different aspects of ‘AI for Social Good’ include researchers from a wide range of disciplines: Zoology (Faculty of Life Sciences), Electrical Engineering, Economics, Statistics, Communication Disorders, Biblical Studies, Earth Sciences and Computer Science, Sociology and Anthropology and more.

Israel’s tech industry suffers from a chronic employee shortage, report warns - CTech (

Job Opportunities in Hi-Tech

Israel's tech industry currently numbers 334,000 employees, constituting nearly 10% of all Israeli employees. Local universities and colleges have significantly increased the number of computer science graduates from 4,200 to 6,200 per year. However, although the number of computer science graduates has increased nearly 50% since 2019, there are still currently 13,000 vacant tech positions in Israel.

Both Intel and Nvidia recently announced their intention of recruiting around 1,000 additional engineers in Israel in the coming year, with eToro, who recently announced it was going public via a SPAC merger at a $10.5 billion valuation, also looking to recruit around 500 new employees this year, 250 of them in Israel. eToro currently employs 1,200 people, 800 of them in Israel.,7340,L-3905770,00.html

Interview about My New Book: Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

I was invited to speak about my book, Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Critical Study of Peace Mediation, Facilitation and Negotiations between Israel and the PLO (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). Part 1 of a three-part interview conducted by the Australian radio station, The Israel Connexion, can be accessed at

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.

My New Article: “Tolerating Racism and Hate Speech: A Critique of C.E. Baker’s ‘Almost’ Absolutism”, in Mitja Sardoc (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Toleration (Cham: Palgrave, 2021).


(PDF) The Palgrave Handbook of Toleration pp 1-24| Cite as Tolerating Racism and Hate Speech: A Critique of Keywords Autonomy Baker Balancing Freedom of expression Hate Mill Gratitude is expressed to (

This chapter takes issue with C.E. Baker’s stance that the Free Speech Principle should protect even the most harmful and vile expression because such protection would promote individual self-government, enhance personal autonomy, and promote critical thinking. It is argued that a balance needs to be struck between these goods and the impact of the speech in question on its target group. The protection of free speech cannot be offered in isolation from its wider consequences, not only those that affect the speaker but also those that affect those whom the speaker intended to influence. Furthermore, the content of the speech should be evaluated on its face value. Incitement and grave offenses, morally on a par with physical harm, should be excluded from the Free Speech Principle.

Guest Article: Yoav J. Tenembaum - The National Interest


The article is about the Russo-Georgian War of 2008 as a turning point in Russian foreign policy and the history of international relations.


It is based on Yoav’s recently-published book, Turning Points in the History of International Relations, 1908-2008.

New Book: Shalom Lappin, Deep Learning and Linguistic Representation

“This book is a very timely synthesis of classical linguistics that the author has worked in for several decades and the modern revolution in NLP enabled by Deep Learning. It also asks provocative foundational questions about whether traditional grammars are the most suitable representations of linguistic structure or if we need to go beyond them”.

-- Devdatt Dubhashi, Professor, Chalmers University

“Deep neural networks are having a tremendous impact on applied natural language processing. In this clearly written book, Shalom Lappin tackles the novel and exciting question of what are their implications for theories of language acquisition, representation and usage. This will be enlightening reading for anybody interested in language from the perspectives of theoretical linguistics, cognitive science, AI and the philosophy of science”.

-- Marco Baroni, ICREA Research Professor, Facebook AI Research Scientist

The application of deep learning methods to problems in natural language processing has generated significant progress across a wide range of natural language processing tasks. For some of these applications, deep learning models now approach or surpass human performance. While the success of this approach has transformed the engineering methods of machine learning in artificial intelligence, the significance of these achievements for the modelling of human learning and representation remains unclear.

Deep Learning and Linguistic Representation looks at the application of a variety of deep learning systems to several cognitively interesting NLP tasks. It also considers the extent to which this work illuminates our understanding of the way in which humans acquire and represent linguistic knowledge.

Key Features:

  • Combines an introduction to deep learning in AI and NLP with current research on Deep Neural Networks in computational linguistics. 

  • Is self-contained and suitable for teaching in computer science, AI, and cognitive science courses; it does not assume extensive technical training in these areas.

  • Provides a compact guide to work on state of the art systems that are producing a revolution across a range of difficult natural language tasks.

New Book: Paul Beckett, Labour Rights and the Catholic Church:
The International Labour Organisation, the Holy See and Catholic Social Teaching


Labour Rights and the Catholic Church by lawyer and international human rights specialist Paul Beckett is the first published study of its kind in decades. It is a book which will advance scholarship and break new ground on labour rights.


The book explores the extent of parallelism and cross-influence between Catholic Social Teaching and the work of the world’s oldest human rights institution, the International Labour Organisation.


It shows how the principles of workers’ rights in Catholic social teaching played a seminal role as a moral force in the formation and development of the International Labour Organisation, and how in turn the principles formed and promoted by that organisation have influenced and enriched Catholic social teaching itself to become part of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.


This book has been written during the Covid-19 Crisis. Disproportionate numbers of dead amongst the poor, the imposition of unreasonable working demands on those lucky enough to come out of it still having a job, massively increased long-term unemployment and social distress have become the ‘new normal’, with no end in sight. Despite global instances of self-sacrifice and common accord, in financial terms it is becoming apparent that only the fittest may survive.

The comparisons with the year in which the International Labour Organisation was founded, countries weakened by war, wracked with influenza and ruined financially, have now become almost clichéd. In a time long passed, when our present was his distant future, Pope Leo XIII wrote: “It is not rash to conjecture the future from the past. Age gives way to age, but the events of one century are wonderfully like those of another.” (Rerum novarum s 59)

Paul Beckett comments: “Researching and writing the book has been a difficult row to hoe, turning over land left fallow for the best part of a century. My wish for its readers is that it provoke and console in equal measure.”

Labour Rights and the Catholic Church is intended to appeal to lay, professional and academic alike, be they researchers and academics working in the areas of international human rights, theology, comparative philosophy, history or social and political studies.

Publication due April 2021, from Routledge Books 


About the author

Paul Beckett has forty years’ experience both as an international commercial lawyer and as a human rights defender. He graduated from Worcester College, Oxford in 1978 with First Class honours in Jurisprudence. He also completed a Master of Studies in International Human Rights Law at New College, Oxford in 2014. Both a legal practitioner and an academic - a "pracademic" - he has been widely published, and is often invited to take an active part in conferences, seminars and broadcasts. Married, with two grown sons, he lives and works in the Isle of Man.

Monthly Poems

"It was an April morning: fresh and clear"

It was an April morning: fresh and clear
The Rivulet, delighting in its strength,
Ran with a young man's speed; and yet the voice
Of waters which the winter had supplied
Was softened down into a vernal tone.
The spirit of enjoyment and desire,
And hopes and wishes, from all living things
Went circling, like a multitude of sounds.
The budding groves seemed eager to urge on
The steps of June; as if their various hues
Were only hindrances that stood between
Them and their object: but, meanwhile, prevailed
Such an entire contentment in the air
That every naked ash, and tardy tree
Yet leafless, showed as if the countenance
With which it looked on this delightful day
Were native to the summer.--Up the brook
I roamed in the confusion of my heart,
Alive to all things and forgetting all.
At length I to a sudden turning came
In this continuous glen, where down a rock
The Stream, so ardent in its course before,
Sent forth such sallies of glad sound, that all
Which I till then had heard, appeared the voice
Of common pleasure: beast and bird, the lamb,
The shepherd's dog, the linnet and the thrush
Vied with this waterfall, and made a song,
Which, while I listened, seemed like the wild growth
Or like some natural produce of the air,
That could not cease to be. Green leaves were here;
But 'twas the foliage of the rocks--the birch,
The yew, the holly, and the bright green thorn,
With hanging islands of resplendent furze:
And, on a summit, distant a short space,
By any who should look beyond the dell,
A single mountain-cottage might be seen.
I gazed and gazed, and to myself I said,
"Our thoughts at least are ours; and this wild nook,
My EMMA, I will dedicate to thee."
----Soon did the spot become my other home,
My dwelling, and my out-of-doors abode.
And, of the Shepherds who have seen me there,
To whom I sometimes in our idle talk
Have told this fancy, two or three, perhaps,
Years after we are gone and in our graves,
When they have cause to speak of this wild place,
May call it by the name of EMMA'S DELL.

William Wordsworth

Light Side

Snail with an attitude

A guy is sitting at home when he hears a knock at the door. He opens the door and sees a snail on the porch. He picks up the snail and throws it as far as he can. Three years later there’s a knock on the door. He opens it and sees the same snail. The snail says: ‘What the hell was that all about?’

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Peace and Good Health to you all


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

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