Monday, March 14, 2022

 Politics – March 2022 in Memory of Gabriel (Gabi) Bach (13 March 1927 – 18 February 2022) 

War is a terrible thing. It should be ALWAYS the last resort, after exhausting ALL other alternatives, and it must be waged for JUST reasons via JUST means. 

When leaders send soldiers to war, they should see each and every one of these soldiers as their own sons. Then they should re-reflect and ask themselves: Is this absolutely necessary? Do I have clear aims? Are they justified? Do I have the means to meet the ends? What is my Plan B?


I have been through four wars. Each left a deep scar on me. Leaders who wage wars need to think a thousand time whether they wish to inflict this horror on other people as well as on their own people.



Israel should do whatever it can to bring home Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed as well as the remains of Hadar Golden and Shaul Aaron. 

It is no less than state duty and, of course, the just and decent thing to do.

Reflections on Last Newsletter

In Memory: Gabriel (Gabi) Bach (13 March 1927 – 18 February 2022) 

Israel ranks above Spain, Italy and US for democracy in new global index

MESC events

Invitation to a Talk by Dr. Francesco Motta

Lecture about my book, Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism

New article: «Indivisibilité, Sécurité, Laïcité: The French ban on the burqa and the niqab”, French Politics (19 October 2021).

Book: Gabriel Bach: Attorney, Judge and Gentleman

Do You Know Who Was the Youngest Mother to Give Birth? 

Monthly Poem

Amazing Schubert

Light Side: 

Reflections on Last Newsletter

In Memory: Gabriel (Gabi) Bach (13 March 1927 – 18 February 2022) 

We mourn the death of Justice Gabi Bach, one of the most interesting and pleasant judges I knew on the Supreme Court.

Bach had a fascinating life. He was born in Germany. His parents read the writing on the wall and left Nazi Germany for The Netherlands. However, the Nazis followed the family. The Bach family left for Palestine shortly before the Nazis invaded the Dutch country. Bach’s encounters with the Nazis left sustained impression on Gabi’s life.

Bach studied law at the Hebrew University and at University College London. Bach returned to Israel and served in the Military Advocate General Office and subsequently in the State Attorney's Office. In 1960, he was appointed Deputy Attorney General and served as one of the prosecutors in the Eichmann trial. Bach could speak for hours about the trial. As he was blessed with excellent memory, and this trial was very important to him, years later he could record a great number of details about that trial that shaped Israeli society as well as his career. 

In 1969, Gabi was appointed State Attorney. In 1982, he was appointed to serve on the Supreme Court. He retired from the Court in 1997. For fifteen years, Bach enriched Israeli legal history with many wise decisions. In 1984, Bach chaired the Central Elections Committee. 

I corresponded with Bach for a number of years on issues pertaining to political extremism and freedom of expression. Let me share with you one story. When I served as the Founding Director of the Center for Democratic Studies, University of Haifa, I invited him to deliver a keynote lecture in one of the conferences I organised. Bach delivered an excellent and incisive talk. After the talk, I took him for lunch with two other people. For two hours, the three of us were fascinated by his life story which he unfolded, chapter by chapter. We listened to him with an increased thirst to hear more and more. 

Deputy President (ret.) of the Supreme Court, Justice Professor Elyakim (Ely) Rubinstein, had known Gabi Bach for more than 50 years. In Bach’s funeral, Rubinstein delivered a beautiful eulogy. With Ely’s permission, I translated and wish to quote from his tribute a few sentences:

My generation has seen Gabi Bach as a symbol of public legal service. With all the major cases he handled and the momentous decisions he wrote, I do not recall over the years, that a bad word was ever uttered by any person on Gabi, or that he said a bad word about others. Always kind to people, instills calm in his surroundings, a person who loved others.

There is a correlation between personality and judicial approach. Civility, calm, love of people, openness, moderation and tolerance were the basis of his work, and within it Gabi walked the golden path between the need to protect the citizen from possible arbitrariness of government, and the need to allow government to do its job.

None of us is literally an angel of heaven, but Gabriel Bach was a beautiful man. The eternal young man, special in his qualities, in his style, in his welcoming facial impression - is no more. He left a taste of more. 

Gabi had a sharp mind and a very pleasant personality. A wise and nice man who contributed to Israel in so many ways. I appreciated him greatly. May his memory be a blessing.

Israel ranks above Spain, Italy and US for democracy in new global index

The latest edition of the annual Democracy Index from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) puts Israel in 23rd place in the world league table, out of 167.

It has 7.97 points out of a maximum of ten, just behind France (7.99 points) and Britain (8.1 points).

The result makes Israel by far the most democratic country in the Middle East, but also places it ahead of Spain, Portugal, Italy and the United States. 

The world’s most democratic country is Norway, which the EIU awards 9.75 points. China comes in 148th with just 2.21 points and the bottom three are North Korea, Myanmar and Afghanistan.

The EIU has divided countries into several categories, of which the two highest are “full democracy” and “flawed democracy”, according to a 60-item checklist which gives scores for their electoral processes, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture.

Under this system, Israel counts as the region’s only “flawed” democracy, just below the lowest-ranked full democracies. Its score has improved steadily from the 7.28 points awarded in 2006.  Israel’s closest regional rival is Tunisia, ranked 75th in the world, with just 5.99 points.

Iran gets 1.95 points and Syria 1.43. The Palestinian Occupied Territories are fourth in the region, behind only Israel, Tunisia and Morocco.

With 7.85 points, the US is also classed as a flawed democracy, along with France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Italy and the Czech Republic.

MESC events

We were very fortunate to host during the past month two extraordinary speakers: Justice Professor Elyakim Rubinstein and Mr Joel Singer. Both delivered fascinating lectures that received praise and appreciation by many listeners. 

All events are recorded and available on our website:

Invitation to a Talk by Dr. Francesco Motta

Middle East Study Centre (MESC)

Wednesday 9 March 2022, 5:00-7:00pm LONDON TIME

Dr. Francesco Motta

Chief of the Asia Pacific, Middle East and North Africa Branch of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Between a Rock and a Hard Place – the work of the UN promoting human rights in the Middle East

Link to register:

Opening words: Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor, Director, MESC

Chair and Discussant: Professor Glenn Burgess (MESC)

“Human Rights” is a core pillar of the UN Charter and the respect and protection of human rights is considered fundamental to achieving the UN’s primary objective of maintaining international peace and security. This lecture shall outline the evolution of human rights promotion by the United Nations in the context of the Middle East, the tensions that exist within the UN in relation to the promotion and protection of human rights, and the significant challenges that face the UN in promoting human rights throughout the Middle East region.


Francesco Motta is the Chief of the Asia Pacific, Middle East and North Africa Branch of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva. He has two doctoral degrees, one in Law (Aust. National U.) specializing in IHL and the other in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology (U. Sydney). 

Dr Motta has almost 30 years professional experience as a lawyer, Member/Judge of the Refugee Review Tribunal (Australia), legal/policy adviser to the Minister for Immigration (Australia), project manager for UNHCR (Sudan, Egypt and Nepal), legal officer for UNRWA (Palestine), diplomat for the Australian Government (WTO), and as Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (Palestine), senior human rights officer and head of regional office (UNAMA) and Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Director of Human Rights Office of UNAMI (Iraq). He has worked for the United Nations in the field of human rights in the Middle East for the past 20 years.

Dr Motta specializes in IHL/Laws of Armed Conflict and refugee law, particularly the protection of civilians and human rights in armed conflict, new asymmetric conflicts, prevention and early warning, terrorism, and States in transition. He has several publications on IHL, IHRL, and Refugee law.

Chair and Discussant:   Professor Glenn Burgess (MESC)

Date: Wednesday 9 March 2022, 5:00-7:00pm LONDON TIME

Please register directly with the online platform:

All are welcome to attend

Lecture about my book, Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism

Nirma University

New article: «Indivisibilité, Sécurité, Laïcité: The French ban on the burqa and the niqab”, French Politics (19 October 2021).

In France, secularism is celebrated in the public sphere. The paper makes general arguments about France’s changing identity and specific arguments about the burqa and niqab ban. It explains how French history shaped the ideology of secularism and of public civil religion, and how colonial legacy, immigration, fear of terrorism and security needs have led France to adopt the trinity of indivisibilité, sécurité, laïcité while paying homage to the traditional trinity of liberté, égalité, fraternité. While the motto of the French Revolution is still symbolically and politically important, its practical significance as it has been translated to policy implementation has been eroded. The emergence of the new trinity at the expense of the old one is evident when analyzing the debates concerning cultural policies in France in the face of the Islamic garb, the burqa and the niqab, which are perceived as a challenge to France’s national secular raison d'être. The French Republic has attempted to keep public space secular. Is the burqa and niqab ban socially just? Does it reasonably balance the preservation of societal values and freedom of conscience? 

It is argued that the burqa and niqab ban is neither just nor reasonable in the eyes of the women and girls who wish to wear the Muslim garb, their families and community, and that paternalism that holds that the ban is for the women’s own good is a poor, coercive excuse. Claims for paternalistic coercion to protect adult women from their own culture when they do not ask for protection are not sufficiently reasonable to receive vindication.

Key words France, burqa, coercion, égalité, fraternité, indivisibilité, laïcité, liberté, niqab, religion, sécurité

Available on

Book: Gabriel Bach: Attorney, Judge and Gentleman

November 1938, Germany. The Bach Family is on the train - leaving Nazi Germany at the very last moment - two weeks before the notorious "Crystal Night" ('Kristallnacht') - which marks the beginning of the first step in the Nazi extermination plan- the massive arrest of Jewish men in Germany. The train is heading towards Holland as a stopover on the family's way to the Land of Israel (then "Palestine"). Once reaching the border, they hear an SS officer shouting their name: “Where is the Bach family? Get off the train now, with your luggage!” All their belongings are scattered on the ground for the search. The train is about to leave…Finally the order comes: "Okay, take your luggage and get out of here!"

Gabriel Bach – a skinny eleven-year-old boy, finds himself standing on the platform with a heavy suitcase. Suddenly, an SS officer appears behind Gabriel and gives him a strong kick, which lifts him and his suitcase from the platform back onto the train. “I will never forget” says Gabriel Bach in his stunning memoir, “the fact that I was literally kicked out of Germany by the Nazis.”

22 years later, in 1960, that boy, now Deputy State Attorney in Israel Gabriel Bach is appointed as the person in charge of the investigation of Adolph Eichmann, the main designer and executioner of the Nazi "Final Solution". Then, In April 1961 he becomes one of the three prosecuting attorneys, representing the State of Israel in one of the most talked about court cases in history, The Eichmann trial, which continues to this day to arouse a lot of interest all over the world.

Since then Gabriel Bach held over the years various high positions in the legal system in Israel. As the State Attorney of Israel and, later on, as Justice of the Supreme Court, he was at the center of many other fascinating public, social and political affairs that stirred up the country, which are described in this biography, enabling the reader to understand central issues that Israeli society has dealt with during its first 50 years.

Yet, of all the chapters in his long career, he regards the privilege he has had to speak in court on behalf of the 6 million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis as the event that has had the most profound impact on him professionally and personally. Over the years he has travelled to many countries to speak in front of various audiences, particularly in Germany, about the Eichmann trial and about genocide and crimes against humanity, guided by a sense of mission to raise consciousness to the Holocaust and its implications.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (31 Mar. 2020)

  • Language ‏ : ‎ English

  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 444 pages

  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8620182336

Do You Know Who Was the Youngest Mother to Give Birth? 

In 1939 in Peru, a five-year-old girl gave birth to a baby. Little Lina Medina suffered from a condition called precocious puberty which caused her to develop way, way too early. And evidently, a very bad man got the wrong idea. Because she was so small, she had to have a C-section delivery. Lina became the youngest mom in medical history that we know about. The father is a mystery, to this day.


Monthly Poem

My Little March Girl
Paul Lawrence Dunbar


Come to the pane, draw the curtain apart,

There she is passing, the girl of my heart;

See where she walks like a queen in the street,

Weather-defying, calm, placid and sweet.

Tripping along with impetuous grace,

Joy of her life beaming out of her face,

Tresses all truant-like, curl upon curl,

Wind-blown and rosy, my little March girl.

Hint of the violet's delicate bloom,

Hint of the rose's pervading perfume!

How can the wind help from kissing her face, —

Wrapping her round in his stormy embrace?

But still serenely she laughs at his rout,

She is the victor who wins in the bout.

So may life's passions about her soul swirl,

Leaving it placid, —my little March girl.

What self-possession looks out of her eyes!

What are the wild winds, and what are the skies,

Frowning and glooming when, brimming with life,

Cometh the little maid ripe for the strife?

Ah! Wind, and bah! Wind, what might have you now?

What can you do with that innocent brow?

Blow, Wind, and grow, Wind, and eddy and swirl,

But bring to me, Wind, —my little March girl.

Amazing Schubert

Schubert’s Trout Quintet, with Jacqueline du Pre, Itzhak Perlman, Pinhas Zukerman, Daniel Barenboim and Zubin Mehta.

A true gem. I thank Dr. Jacques Cory for bringing this to my attention. 

Light Side: 

Peace and Good Health to you all


My last communications with all the photos and illustrations are available on Israel: Democracy, Human Rights, Politics and Society,

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

Twitter at @almagor35