Sunday, September 25, 2022

 Politics – September 2022 Shana Tova U’Mevorechet


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.

Shana Tova

Mikhail Gorbachev – End of an Era

Reflections on Last Newsletter

The MESC Annual Lecture

Trade between Israel and Its Regional Neighbors

Israeli Demography

Don’t Say You Did Not Know

Will PM Truss Relocate the British Embassy to Jerusalem?

Two State Solution?

Alarming Popularity of Kahanism in Israel

AIS Annual Conference

Writing Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Critical Study of Peace Mediation, Facilitation and Negotiations between Israel and the PLO (New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

Professor Anita Shapira Evening Celebration

The SHABAC Affair

New article: Raphael Cohen-Almagor, “Why Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism?”, Philosophia Symposium (published online 20 June 2022).

Did you know?

Gem of the Month: Tel Aviv

Gem of the Month: Lake Kinneret
Gem of the Month: Ramat Hagolan and Mount Hermon
Gem of the Month: Shlomo Artzi
Gem of the Month: Oxford

Restaurant: Nissan Restaurant

Hotel: Europa Hotel

Thank you!

Movie of the Month: The Duke

Monthly Poem

At Oxford Conference

Light Side


NOTE: I am aware that Gmail does not allow the inclusion of photos and illustrations. This Newsletter is published as a Blog shortly after the Newsletter. All the photos and illustrations are available on Israel: Democracy, Human Rights, Politics and Society,



Shana Tova



Blessing for the New Year

May the sky be blue and clear

And our heart always filled with joyful tear

May peace and tranquillity prevail

Keys for resolving conflict unveil

May we create more than destroy

Making dreams a reality to savour and enjoy

May we all be free of worry

No need to hear or say “I am sorry”

May we have time to delight in museums and parks

And mind to glee when adventure embarks

May we visit in hospital only the maternity ward

And hear our doctor’s concerns only when the other team scored

May we sleep like a log

And captivate listeners like a funny cat or dog

May we surround ourselves with people we love

To enable growth and see all thrive

May we add one true friend to our life

Be with us at moments of strife

May we wish to sing as we wake up with a laugh

Love what we have and our second half

May we know what our loved ones wish and pray

Before a word is uttered, knowing what they want to say

May her lips be welcoming and red

Embrace and ready when you are sad.



תפילה לשנה החדשה

מאת נתן אלתרמן


תן לנו שנה של שקט אמיתי

שנה של לובן הפריחות וירק הדשאים,

שנה של להט אהבות וחום תנור ביתי

ושנדע רק פעם מהו טוב ומה נעים.

שנה ללא קולות שנאה וזעקות השכול,

ללא מראות הדם,ללא הלמות תופי המלחמה,

ללא הפחד המשתק של הנורא מכל,

ללא צחוקו של העתיד אשר נטמן באדמה.

הן לא ביקשנו לנו אוצרות של ממלכות,

לא עושר עילאי ומכוניות פאר,

קורטוב אחד של שקט אמיתי ולובן של פריחות

אשר נוכל בהם בלאט להתהדר.

להתרגש כפעם מריחות הסתיו,

לדהור אל האושר כשריקת רכבת,

לבנות לנו סוכת שלום עכשיו

ולהיות בה ראויים לשבת.


Mikhail Gorbachev – End of an Era


Getty Images


When I think of Gorbachev, I think about Glasnost (openness) and perestroika (reforming), two words that were unknown to me until he arrived on the scene and changed the Soviet Union, Israel and the world at large. In the West, people adored him for ending the cold war, the dismantling of the Soviet Union and for the democratization of Russia. In Russia, the views are far more mixed with more critics than admirers. Gorbachev created rapid changes, lacunas that he was unable to fill with positive elements and orderly governance. The results were chaos, protection, crime and poverty.


In Israel, Gorbachev is very much appreciated. He lifted the iron curtain and allowed Jewish immigration to Israel and to other parts of the world. Some 850,000 Jews came to Israel and made great impact on the country in all fields: politics, culture, sociology, economy, the arts. In a population of 9 million people, the effect is massive. 


History is largely shaped by courageous leaders who take advantage of circumstances presented before them. Great leaders are those who have the ability to assess complicated situations, consolidate efforts for addressing challenges, and fathom when words alone will not suffice.


Great people like Gorbachev are those who make great effort to achieve innovative ideas against great opposition and great forces, and succeed in the shaping of history.

Leadership requires daring, and Gorbachev dared. The world is shaped by those who dare.


Gorbachev identified long-term and short-term goals, not confused between the two, and did not sacrifice the former for the latter.


The most accomplished leaders do not need to go to war in order to achieve their aims. Contrary to common wisdom, dreamers can affect reality


See also Colin Shindler-Gorbachev’s place in the heart of our people, The Jewish Chronicle, August 31, 2022's-place-in-the-heart-of-our-people-2dLCRAFaozCzRhQrNsRt4R

The former Soviet Union leader transformed the place of Jews in Russia — and let them leave

Reflections on Last Newsletter

I was asked to provide more information about the Supreme Court decision that authorized the appropriation Palestinian land in West Bank’s Mitzpeh Kramim 2022, please seeבית-המשפט-העליון-פסק-היישוב-מצפה-כרמים/

Exchange with Sir Tom Phillips:

T: Rafi, your possible solution to the Ukraine conflict represents selling out the Ukrainians and handing Putin a win! A disaster. 

It is a fundamental point of disagreement. I do not understand how you can contemplate thus rewarding the aggressor. Yes saving lives is always desirable, but not at the cost of betraying our values and encouraging other aggressors to think the international community will at the end of the day accept such major violations of international law. Nothing is simple, I know, but there is a black and white element to Russia’s invasion of a sovereign and independent state which Russia itself has recognised as such. We must provide robust support to Ukraine until something is on the table they are freely willing to negotiate. If we think anyone should go, it should be Putin not Zelensky. T

R: Thank you, Tom. I very much appreciate your view. I also like Putin to go. How likely this is?

My suggestion is for the Ukrainians to consider, them and only them. The aim is to stop destruction and bloodshed and move towards a possible solution. I find it hard to see any solution when Zelensky is still in power.



T: I still don't understand your logic! You seem to want a peace or at least a ceasefire on - essentially - Putin's terms. Unacceptable. Why should Zelensky pay the price of Putin's aggression? He is a democratically elected leader. Aren't you at risk of being perilously close to saying that Churchill should go so Hitler can negotiate with Halifax? But of course historical parallels are never exact!


I agree that there doesn't seem to be an exit route from the conflict at the moment. But my sad (from a humanitarian point of view) conclusion is that the 'right' thing to do is to support Zelensky and Ukraine to the maximum we can, until there is an as yet unforeseeable moment of opportunity for some kind for diplomacy. But not on Putin's terms.




R: I do not think the comparison with Churchill is correct. I do not think Putin is Hitler.

Let’s focus on what we agree upon:

Putin is an unjust aggressor;

Russia is stronger than Ukraine and can exact a lot of suffering on Ukraine, for a very long time;

The war is dragging for many months;

No one knows when and how it will end;

Putin is unlikely to give up with no gains. He needs to show his people that the war was, somehow, justified;


What is, then, the least price that Ukraine can pay to end this aggression?

Zelensky has curved his name in Ukrainian history. He may feel that his chapter has ended and now it is time to move to the next chapter in history, where it is doable to negotiate with Russia to find a solution. In the negotiations all possible solutions can be put on the table, economic and others.

The idea I put forward does not involve coercion, removing Zelensky. It is about Ukrainian realisation what is the best way forward to end the conflict. Zelensky and his government may reach the conclusion that the way forward may involve another leader.

Middle East Study Centre (MESC)

The MESC Annual Lecture

19 October 2022, 18:00-20:00 LONDON TIME

Dr Yossi Beilin

Former Israeli Minister of Justice; Member, MESC

Prospects For a Palestinian-Israeli Peace Agreement

Chair: Professor Glenn Burgess

Discussant: Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Link to register:

The Palestinians are worried about a situation in which the world may come to terms with a one state reality, under a Jewish rule, in which the Palestinians have a partial autonomy on 40% of the West Bank. Jews in Israel are worried of becoming a non-democratic state, if one state reality happens. 

The solution to the old conflict was suggested in 1937 by the Peel commission: a division of the land between two states. Since then, no more reasonable solution has been offered to the parties.

For any Israeli government, the biggest challenge to implement it, is the need to evacuate more than 100,000 settlers from the area which will become the Palestinian State. For the Palestinians, the lack of reference to the roots of the conflict (mainly to the Naqba), is a major problem.

The "Holy Land Confederation" is suggested as a facilitator to the implementation of the 2SS. It suggests that the settlers who will find themselves to the east of the future border will be allowed to remain in their homes as Israeli citizens and Palestinian permanent residents. The same number of Palestinian citizens will be allowed in Israel, in the same status.

The root causes of the conflict will be referred to by a joint narrative. A draft of such narrative is offered as part of a joint Palestinian-Israeli document on the "Holy Land Confederation" (  . The document was submitted recently, by the Palestinian and the Israeli authors, to the UN Secretary General.

A person in a suit smiling

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Dr. Yossi Beilin is the head of the steering committee of the Geneva initiative in Israel and is the Chair of "Hillel Israel". In his private life he is a president of a business consultancy in Tel Aviv, "Beilink".


In the context of the Israeli- Palestinian relations, Beilin initiated the Oslo Process in 1992, the "Beilin-Abu Mazen agreement" in (1993-1995), and the Geneva Initiative (2001-2003). During 2020-2022, he led an Israeli group which negotiated with a Palestinian group, led by JD Hiba Husseini, the Holy Land Confederation ( ) it is a model for a Two State Solution, under a joint umbrella, inspired by the principles of the European Union.


Beilin was Israeli Minister of Justice and served as deputy minister and as a minister in four governments in Israel between 1988-2001. Between 1984 and 1986 he was the Israeli Cabinet Secretary, and between 1986 and 1988 he served as the Political Director General of the Foreign Ministry. He was elected to the Knesset in 1988 and resigned 20 years later. For many years he represented the Labour Party. In 2003, Dr Beilin joined the Meretz Party and was its leader between 2004-2008.


Before joining politics, Beilin completed his academic degrees, including his PhD (1981), at Tel-Aviv University, where he also taught political science for 13 years. During 2020, Dr Beilin was a visiting professor at NYU Taub Center.


Dr Beilin published 14 books and hundreds of articles. His books in English are the following:

Israel: A Concise Political History, Palgrave Macmillan, 1993

Touching Peace: From the Oslo Accord to a Final Agreement, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999

His Brother’s Keeper: Israel and Diaspora Jewry in the Twenty-first Century, Schocken Books, 2000.

The Path to Geneva: The Quest for a Permanent Agreement, 1996-2004, RDV Books, 2004.

Birthright: The True Story, CreateSpace, 2011.

Date: 19 October 2022, 18:00-20:00 LONDON TIME

Please register directly with the online platform:

All are welcome to attend

Trade between Israel and Its Regional Neighbors


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Israeli Demography


Jewish people make up less than 47% of all those living west of the Jordan River, an Israeli demographer warned, claiming that most of the Israeli population is unaware of the democratic peril the country is sliding into by possibly becoming a ruling minority in the area. Arnon Soffer, a professor of geography at Haifa University, told Army Radio that in addition to the Jewish and Arab populations, he reached his figures by considering the hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish people residing in Israel who are not citizens. According to Soffer, there are 7.45 million Jews, along with 7.53 million Arab Israelis and Palestinians, living in what he termed the Land of Israel, meaning Israel plus the West Bank and Gaza Strip. According to Israel’s official Central Bureau of Statistics, at the end of 2021, 9.449 million people live in Israel (including Israelis in West Bank settlements). Of those, 6.982 million (74%) are Jewish, 1.99 million (21%) are Arab, and 472,000 (5%) are neither.

Source: Times of Israel

Don’t Say You Did Not Know

When you are the occupier, you can dictate all kinds of rules and regulations. 

Foreign passport holders in the West Bank will be required to report their romantic relationships with Palestinians to Israeli authorities, according to new regulations.

The 97-page Israeli ordinance detailing the new restrictions requires foreign passport holders, including, in some cases, American Palestinian dual citizens, in a romantic relationship with a Palestinian resident of the West Bank to “inform” Israeli security authorities “in writing (at a special e-mail address) within 30 days of the relationship’s start.” Foreigners visiting the West Bank already face intensive screening.

The new restrictions — which also ask applicants to declare if they have land or are inheriting land in the West Bank — would not apply to the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The territory’s two-tiered legal structure treats Jewish Israelis as citizens living under civilian rule while Palestinians are treated as combatants under military rule, subject to night-time military raids, detention and bans on visiting their ancestral lands or accessing certain roads.

The new rules allow 100 professors and 150 students with foreign passports to stay in the West Bank — a substantial blow to Palestinian higher education institutions. They rely on academic collaborations and recruit hundreds of foreign passport-holding students every year. More than 350 European university students and staff studied or worked at Palestinian universities under the Erasmus programan E.U. student exchange program, in 2020, up from just 51 five years earlier.

Source: “New rules make foreign visitors to West Bank declare romantic ties to Palestinians”, Washington Post

By Shira Rubin  and Claire Parker


September 3, 2022

September 6, 2022

I24 News reported that following pressure from US and European officials, Israel issued revised guidelines on the entry of foreign nationals into the West Bank after. The new regulations repeal clauses requiring visitors to inform Israel of their relations with Palestinians. Israel's Defense Ministry body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), removed the requirement that a foreigner who begins a relationship with a West Bank Palestinian after entering the territory must notify Israeli authorities within 30 days. The new rules also allow the extension of visas for foreigners from 90 to 180 days. In addition, COGAT removed quotas for visiting professors and students in Palestinian universities, which were initially set at 100 professors and 150 students. At Washington's Israel also agreed to institute a two-year trial period during which further adjustments can be made to the regulations. Despite the changes and the publication of the revised guidelines, the US government remains concerned.

Will PM Truss Relocate the British Embassy to Jerusalem?

British Prime Minister Liz Truss is considering relocating the U.K. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is Israel's capital. All embassies should be in capitals. They should be in West Jerusalem. Missions should be opened in East Jerusalem for Palestinians.



Two State Solution?

Israeli government advanced a plan to build nearly 500 homes in a new Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem that rights groups say will further sever it from the nearby Palestinian city of Bethlehem and the southern West Bank. The planned Givat HaShaked neighborhood is part of a cluster of Jewish projects on the southern edge of East Jerusalem, many of which have already been built up into full-fledged residential neighborhoods. Critics say they further undermine any hopes for a two-state solution. Ir Amim, an Israeli rights group that closely follows developments in Jerusalem, said the plan for the neighborhood was approved to be deposited for objections, a key step in a bureaucratic process that could continue for months or years before construction begins. 

Source: Ynet

On the other hand, on September 22, 2022, PM Lapid voiced his support for two state solution in a powerful UN speech. This was the first time in many years that an Israeli prime minister raised this possibility.

Alarming Popularity of Kahanism in Israel

Any form of racism is disgusting. I am alarmed by the appeal of Itamar Ben-Gvir, follower of Meir Kahane, both Jewish supremacists.

I have written extensively about the threat of Kahanism to Israeli democracy, most notably

The Boundaries of Liberty and Tolerance: The Struggle Against Kahanism in Israel (Gainesville, FL: The University Press of Florida, 1994).

AIS Annual Conference

I serve as Vice President of the Association of Israel Studies (AIS). In this capacity, I wish to secure a venue for our annual conference in 2024. In 2023, we will meet at New York. In 2024, I want the conference to take place in my alma mater, Tel Aviv University. For this purpose, I met with Vice Rector Eyal Zisser. We had a good meeting and I hope that in 2024 hundreds of people will come to Tel Aviv for the AIS annual conference. It will feel right and good.

Writing Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Critical Study of Peace Mediation, Facilitation and Negotiations between Israel and the PLO (New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

As I told you in my last Newsletter, I am looking for a place where I can sit and write my most important book so far, based on 80 + in-depth interviews with people from eight countries who were involved in the peace process. I asked for suggestions and my good friend, Asa Kasher, raised the idea of the INSS at Tel Aviv.

For me, this book is far more than just an academic matter. I spoke with Eyal Zisser about the possibility of INSS affiliation that enable me to write my book. INSS would be an ideal place, with many experts whom I could consult during the writing. I hope this could materialize.


Professor Anita Shapira Evening Celebration

I was happy to be present at an evening celebrating the life and work of Professor Anita Shapira, Tel Aviv historian of Zionism and Israel prize Laureate. I deeply appreciate Professor Shapira’s scholarship, and teach from some of her books. I was happy to be among people who love and appreciate her.

The highlights of the evening were an interview with Anita Shapira, and the music intervals featuring a wonderful singer, Adi Cohen. Cohen has a great voice, and she sings effortlessly. It was first time for me to see her performing, and it was a surprising, beautiful treat. See her singing “Shallow”:

The SHABAC Affair

For the last few years, with the cooperation and support of former Attorney General of Israel, Justice Professor Itzhak Zamir, I am conducting research on the SHABAC Affair, arguably the most serious scandal in the history of modern Israel. The research is based on interviews with people who were directly involved in the affair: The Legal Advisor to the Government; Heads of SHABAC; Presidents and Justices of the Supreme Court; ministers in the government, and the Prime Minister Military Advisor at that time. 

I participated in The sixth Kinneret Conference for Army-Social Researchers in Israel where, for the first time, I presented the fruits of my research. I convened a panel on The SHABAC affair: insights and lessons learned. The panel included three people I like and appreciate:

Major General and former Head of the SHABAC Ami Ayalon; 

Author of the Israel Defence Ethics Code and Israel Prize Laureate (the highest honour in Israel), Professor Asa Kasher, and 

a leading jurist, Professor Ariel Bendor. Bendor was Dean of The Haifa Law School, and Dean of Graduate Studies, Bar-Ilan University. 

Before the panel, I interviewed Ami Ayalon for my research on the SHABAC affair, arguably the most troubling affair in Israel’s history as many of the democratic gate keepers failed to do their job. Luckily, a few determined people withstood the pressure and relentlessly uncovered the truth and unmasked those who were responsible for the murder of captives and for a corrupt cover-up.

New article: Raphael Cohen-Almagor, “Why Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism?”, Philosophia Symposium (published online 20 June 2022).

I have been wrestling with questions pertaining to culture, religion and identity from a very young age. We are all products of our upbringing and mine was infused with a mosaic of conceptions, colours, smells and tastes. I grew up in a home where liberalism and socialism, secularism and Jewish Orthodoxy, Zionism and universalism were meshed together in an intriguing way that forced me to think hard about my identity and about who I wish to be in this world. At home, the languages I heard were Hebrew and Bulgarian. The cuisine was Balkan/Middle Eastern. I was exposed to art from the west, east and the Middle East. My education was Liberal-Zionist. I loved reading the Bible and also the classic and Jewish novelists and poets. My grandparents were born in Bulgaria, Turkey, Palestine and Poland. Three of them were secular while one, who was for me a role model, was an Orthodox-Jew.

In my early twenties I left home to live with my girlfriend, who later became my wife, whose origins are from Ecuador and Eastern Europe. More colours, smells and tastes entered my home. I felt enriched. I began my higher education at Tel Aviv University and continued studying for my doctorate at Oxford. I was surprised that some of my most influential teachers, including Ronald Dworkin and Jerry Cohen, paid so little attention to religion and culture. The conceptions and prescriptions they offered to address and even cure the ills of the world were universalist in nature, oblivious to culture. I immersed myself in studying Rawlsian philosophy and was puzzled that he, too, seemed to overlook the influence of culture and religion on our lives. In this respect, the writings of two other Oxford scholars, Joseph Raz (1986) and Will Kymlicka (19892000), were more convincing.

I started my serious academic engagement with multiculturalism at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. The year was 1992 and I was invited to take part in The European project that probed European influences on the Middle East, and the Middle Eastern influences on Europe. The research group, composed of Israeli-Jews, Israeli-Arabs and two Germans worked together for three years and produced many papers. I focused my research on the practice of female circumcision in the Middle East and on the clash between Jewish Law (Halacha) and liberalism. I published a few articles during the years but it was Prime Minister David Cameron who drove me to think about writing a book on multiculturalism. In 2011, Prime Minister Cameron (2011) went as far as saying that multiculturalism had failed and that it had fostered extremist ideology and radicalization among British Muslims. PM Cameron (2011) said that under the "doctrine of state multiculturalism,” different cultures have been encouraged to live separate lives, “apart from each other and apart from the mainstream,” and "We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values."

I thought that PM Cameron’s attack on multiculturalism was not only uncalled for but also inflammatory. Those words, uttered by the British prime minister, divided the British society more than it already was. Up until that point, I was used to hearing other attacks on multiculturalism: that it endangers democracy, and that it is bad for women and children, but to say that multiculturalism promotes extremism and terrorism was something that I did not expect. Then I decided it is about time to write a comprehensive book on the themes of liberalism, multiculturalism and tolerance. The main thesis that I put forward is that it is possible to reconcile liberalism and multiculturalism. To show this, while building on scholars who inspired me (including Kant, Mill, Rawls, Kymlicka and Habermas) I developed a theory of just, reasonable multiculturalism according to which it is possible to maintain liberal democracy and, at the same time, enjoy the beauty that the myriad of cultures and religions bring with them. The most difficult question relates to the extent of interference that the liberal state is legitimate to pursue when it is challenged by illiberal cultural practices within liberal society.

The book explores whether the challenges against multiculturalism are justified. I outline the theoretical assumptions underlying a liberal response to threats posed by cultural or religious groups whose norms entail different measures of harm. I do this by examining the importance of cultural, ethnic, national, religious, and ideological norms and beliefs, and what part they play in requiring us to tolerate others out of respect. I proceed by formulating guidelines designed to prescribe boundaries to cultural practices and to safeguard the rights of individuals. Subsequently, I apply them to real life situations.

Did you know?


The Earliest Movie was a two second clip called Roundhay Garden Scene by Louis Lee Prince in Leeds, in 1888.

Source: Awesome Facts book

Gem of the Month: Tel Aviv

My birth city is changing from one visit to another as the Mayor of the city, Huldai (whom I called Herod) is continuously rebuilding the city. The light train project will take some years to complete and, meanwhile, life can be difficult for some of the residents and shop keepers. Ben-Yehuda Street is blocked. At the same time, renovation and building continue. Here is one of the buildings on Hayarkon Street, close to the marvellous beach.

Gem of the Month: Lake Kinneret

Best place to swim on a sunny day.

Gem of the Month: Ramat Hagolan and Mount Hermon

Last time I visited Mount Hermon, it was white, covered with snow. Now it is desert. Not many visitors. We enjoyed the ride up the mountain.

Gem of the Month: Shlomo Artzi

First time in 15 years that I was in Israel when my favourite singer performed. I did not miss the opportunity. Artzi, who is now 74 year-old has the same beautiful voice and the energy to sing many of his hits, non-stop, for two hours, with the support of 2,000 people who join the singing. Beautiful.

Gem of the Month: Oxford

I was invited to deliver two lectures at the EAIS (European Association of Israel Studies) Annual conference at the University of Oxford. Oxford is one of my second homes. I always appreciate the opportunity to return to this special and beautiful city. This time, the city was quieter than usual.

Restaurant: Nissan Restaurant

I recommend Nissan in Majdal Shams. Great hummus and wonderful, delicious Denis on the grill, with warm pitas from the oven. Everything looks good and fresh, and the prices are to be imitated.

Hotel: Europa Hotel

Loved this boutique hotel in Tveria (Tiberias). Beautiful, comfortable rooms and generous breakfast. Everything is working and the service is excellent. You can also read some interesting historical facts about the place. The hotel is located 7 minutes walk from the center. Highly recommended.

Thank you!

Susan Sallon, Itzhak Zamir, Haim Netanel, Aron Mor, Eyal Zisser, Ariel Bendor, Asa Kasher, Ami Ayalon, Itamar Rikover, Ofer Harel, Eyal Katvan, Ori Lev, Mira and Yizhar Nozik, Joanna Dyduch and Artur Skorek. 

Movie of the Month: The Duke

In 1961, Kempton Bunton, a 60-year-old social rebel and reformer who is free-spirited, self-educated and stubborn, together with his son, steal Goya's portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. He did not wish to make a profit but to make a point about the injustices in the English society. Bunton has a captivating character and the story is told with humour and much sympathy to Bunton. The acting of Jim Broadbent as Kempton Bunton
and Helen Mirren as his wife is superb. It is a feel-good, funny film that I enjoyed greatly. Not often that I am lucky to see good movies on flights as most of them are not for me. This one was a very pleasant surprise. 

**** on Rafi’s scale

Monthly Poem

Simultaneously, I have been writing two books of poetry: one in Hebrew; the other in English. The book in Hebrew is titled Old News and now has 60 pages. The book in English is titled Between Love and Death and is now 92 pages long. I wish to publish both books and would very much appreciate pertinent constructive ideas.

Here is my weekly poem.


27 July 2012

Albufeira, Portugal

A person sitting on a bench looking at a large tornado

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For the sun to break through the clouds

The light to wash away shadow of doubt

For the great opening

Prince Charming offering what you cannot refuse

The perfect photo

The immaculate whole

Rekindling passion

For the impossible to happen

The magical to surface

The imperfect turn into a round happiness

For peace and tranquillity between people who think they know one another but never invested the time and attention

For the Messiah to come.

Raphael Almagor

At Oxford Conference

Dinner. Someone says a joke about the Holocaust. I retained poker face. I am asked whether I got the joke. I said NO. I do not GET jokes about the Holocaust. That's a red line. Beyond MY scope of tolerance.

Light Side 

A United States Marine was deployed to Afghanistan. While he was there he received a "Dear John" letter from his girlfriend.
In the letter she explained that she had slept with two guys while he had been gone and she wanted to break up with him.

To add injury to the insult, she said she wanted back the picture of herself that she had given him.

So the Marine did what any squared-away Marine would do. He went around to his buddies and collected all the unwanted photos of women he could find.

In all, he got more than 25 pictures of various women (some with clothes and some without).

He then mailed them to his now-former girlfriend with the following note:

"I don't remember which one you are. Please remove your picture and send the rest back."

Shana Tova, Love, 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