Saturday, December 24, 2022

 Politics – December 2022 Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Festive New Year!

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

The Olof Palme Guest Professorship 

Israel Is Heading to Difficult Time

Disgraceful and Worrisome Legislation

Settlements, Annexation and Expected Violence

The Ideal of Democracy in a Jewish State Is in Jeopardy, New York Times 

New article: Raphael Cohen-Almagor, “The Responsibility of the Education System in Combatting Bullying and Cyberbullying”, Albany Law Journal of Science & Technology, Vol. 32.3 (2022): 279-297. 

Review of Daniel Bar-Tal and Amiram Raviv, Comfort Zone of a Society in Conflict

Best books on multiculturalism and the role of culture in our lives


Israel to build WHO’s first digital health center


Mondial 2022


Did you know?

Monthly Poem

Light Side 

Reflections on Last Newsletter

Tom Vaughan wrote from France:

The Land

Let’s pretend that the war

could be over, and peace

reigned even if only

this evening. O please

pick up your anger

and soak it with mine

in six large barrels

of miracle wine

and then let us dance

like lovers, as though

this land’s many meanings

didn’t all signal no

and we could make ploughshares

out of our swords

and translate the past

into one shared world

though tomorrow the daybreak

would scatter the night

and we would both stumble

into the light

where smooth olives glisten

in the warm sun

like belts of bright bullets

ripe for a gun.

Professor Stephen Newman wrote from Toronto:

Hi Rafi,

I agree with everything you say in your assessment of the recent election in Israel.  I have my doubts that mainstream Jewish organizations in North America will respond with the same degree of alarm, much less pressure Netanyahu to rein in the more extreme elements of his coalition.  There seems to be too great a reluctance to utter even mild criticism of Israel for fear it will give aid and comfort to Israel's enemies around the world. 

A friend of mine, a colleague at the university, offers a more optimistic view of things.  He, too, is not happy with the election results.  But he gives Netanyahu credit for being a savvy Machiavellian who knows better than to give the extreme right everything it wants.  While a theocratic turn would please the extreme right, it would antagonize the rest of the country and alienate many of Israel's supporters in Europe and North America.  My friend thinks these considerations will cause Netanyahu to pursue a more moderate path.

As I said, I am more inclined to side with you in this debate.  I find Netanyahu to be an opportunist, someone more interested in power (and saving his own hide) than in preserving Israeli democracy.  Hence, I'm inclined to think he will do what he determines to be in his own best interests.  Moreover, any concessions to the extreme right will inevitably normalize an agenda that until now was consigned to the margins of Israeli politics.  This is what has happened in the US and several European states with the rise of right-wing populism and the embrace of authoritarian-minded leaders by significant portions of the electorate. 

This isn't to say that democracy will collapse overnight in Israel or the United States or France.  But the electoral success of the extreme right, which gives it access to the halls of government, cannot but legitimize its point of view.  And this moves public opinion in an unhealthy direction.  Down the road, a majority of persons might be willing to approve measures that today are found to be repugnant. 



Dr Allan Jacobs wrote from New York:

The success of the far Right is distressing. Netanyahu played with fire. Israel and Jews worldwide will be burned.


I’ve said for decades (since Ford pardoned Nixon) that mature nations don’t put former leaders in prison. It leads to retaliation. Worse, it means that officeholders are more motivated to do bad things to hold on to their offices. 


People like Nixon, Olmert, Trump, and Netanyahu should be banned from politics if convicted, but no more. 


Current events in the US and Israel confirm my intuition. 



The Olof Palme Guest Professorship 

Next month I will be heading to Sweden as the 2023 Olof Palme Guest Professorship.

The Professorship was established by the Swedish Riksdag in 1987 in memory of Sweden’s former prime minister, Olof Palme. Every year, the Swedish Research Council issues a call and Swedish universities compete by nominating internationally prominent researchers in areas of importance for the understanding of peace in a broad context – areas to which Olof Palme had a life-long commitment. The research may cover areas such as international politics, peace and conflict research and the comparison of social institutions. 

I intend to be at Lund University until November 2023. Do let me know if you happen to come my way.

In-Person | Book Launch: The Republic, Secularism and Security



A UCL Centre for Ethics and Law to celebrate the publication of Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor’s new book

10 January 2023, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm


Event Open to All

Organiser: UCL Laws


The Republic, Secularism and Security: France versus the Burqa and the Niqab (SpringerBriefs in Political Science)

This will be an in-person event starting at 6pm and followed by a drinks reception at the UCL Laws Faculty on 10 January 2023, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm at Bentham House (4-8 Endsleigh Gardens, London, WC1H 0EG)


The event will be chaired by Catherine Audard is the Chair and co-founder of the Forum for European Philosophy.


About the Book Launch

This book analyses French cultural policies in the face of what the French government perceives as a challenge to its Republican secular raison d'être. It makes general arguments about France’s changing identity and specific arguments about the burqa and niqab ban. The book further 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.


The book argues that while this 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. It shows how 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 book raises various important questions, such as: Is the burqa and niqab ban socially just? Does it reasonably balance the preservation of societal values and freedom of conscience? What are the true motives behind the ban? Has the discourse changed in the age of COVID-19, when all people are required to wear a mask in the public space?


The Speakers

Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor completed his DPhil in Political Theory at St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, where he worked with Geoffrey Marshall, Wilfrid Knapp and Isaiah Berlin. He is now Professor of Politics, University of Hull and Global Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC. Raphael taught, inter alia, at Oxford (UK), Jerusalem, Haifa (Israel), UCLA, Johns Hopkins (USA) and Nirma University (India). He was twice a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Distinguished Visiting Professor, Faculty of Laws, University College London. In 2023 he will be The Olof Palme Guest Professor, Lund University, Sweden.

Raphael is the founder of Israel’s “Second Generation to the Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance” Organization, The University of Haifa Center for Democratic Studies, The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute Medical Ethics Think-tank, and The University of Hull Middle East Study Centre. Raphael has published more than 300 articles and books in the fields of politics, law, philosophy, media ethics, medical ethics, human rights, sociology and history. His main books are: The Boundaries of Liberty and Tolerance (1994), The Right to Die with Dignity (2001), Speech, Media and Ethics (2001, 2005), Euthanasia in The Netherlands (2004), The Scope of Tolerance (2006, 2007), The Democratic Catch (2007), Confronting the Internet's Dark Side (2015), and Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism (2021). He Is now working on Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Critical Study of Peace Mediation, Facilitation and Negotiations between Israel and the PLO (forthcoming).


Catherine Audard is the Chair and co-founder of the Forum for European Philosophy. She was educated at the Ecole Normale Supérieure and la Sorbonne in Paris. She has been teaching in Paris where she was a Directeur de programme at the Collège international de Philosophie between 1991 and 1998. She is now a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics where she teaches moral and political philosophy as well as continental philosophy.

Her current concerns are moral issues in political theory, conceptions of citizenship in France, multiculturalism and deliberative democracy. She has published numerous articles on liberalism and Republicanism, citizenship and theories of justice in various journals and collections. She has also published numerous translations into French, in particular John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice.

Her latest book, published in French, is on the history of liberalism:Qu’est-ce que le liberalisme? Ethique. Politique. Societe. Paris, Gallimard, 2009.


Israel Is Heading to Difficult Time

On November 27, the Kahanist Itamar Ben Gvir stated that security forces’ open-fire regulations should be relaxed to permit them to shoot anyone holding stones or Molotov cocktails representing a potential threat. Current rules are more stringent, requiring the threat to be immediate and serious. “Whoever holds a Molotov cocktail needs to be shot,” Ben Gvir told Army Radio. “What does ‘hold’ mean? A stone is murderous. A Molotov cocktail is meant to murder. “I’m not saying they should be shot in the head, but at least shoot them in the leg,” he added, confirming that he plans to advance the policy point in the next government. 

Ben Gvir also said such rules should only apply to those who “hate Israel,” indicating he did not want to loosen regulations in the case of settler extremists who clash with police.

Source: Time of Israel

Disgraceful and Worrisome Legislation

The Knesset approved the first reading of the Ministerial Qualifications Law, which allows Shas chairman Aryeh Deri to be appointed a minister despite his recent conviction on tax offenses and gives Religious Zionist Party chairman Bezalel Smotrich powers over the civil administration in Judea and Samaria (West Bank). The bill is a merger between two private bills - one deals with the qualifications of ministers, and the other concerns the appointment of an additional minister in a government ministry. 

Smotrich will oversee a new, independent office within the Defense Ministry to oversee building in areas of the West Bank fully controlled by Israel, known as Area C. An ardent settlement supporter, Smotrich has pushed to annex parts of the West Bank, which is home to about 500,000 Jewish settlers and almost 3 million Palestinians.

The legislation passed by a vote of 63 in favor and 52 against. The bill will return to committee debate before being approved for its second and third readings, often conducted together. After they pass their third readings, bills become laws.

Source: Time of Israel

Settlements, Annexation and Expected Violence

Netanyahu agreed to authorize West Bank settler outposts as part of an agreement he reached with the far-right Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionist Party. The agreement includes a cabinet decision within 60 days from the time the government is sworn in that would authorize the outposts, which the Israeli Right refers to as the young settlements. There are some 100 West Bank settlements, and the RZP notice did not explain how many would be authorized, but the campaign for the outposts has focused on some 70 fledgling communities. 

Do not say you did not know.

If you care about justice and peace; if you care about the future of Israel, time to act is now. 

Israel is isolating itself from its friends in the United States, Europe, the Arab world and other parts of the world.

The Ideal of Democracy in a Jewish State Is in Jeopardy, New York Times 

(Dec. 17, 2022)

I wish to share with you segments of the NYT editorial:

the far-right government that will soon take power, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, marks a qualitative and alarming break with all the other governments in Israel’s 75-year history. While Mr. Netanyahu clearly has the support of the Israeli electorate, his coalition’s victory was narrow and cannot be seen as a broad mandate to make concessions to ultrareligious and ultranationalist parties that are putting the ideal of a democratic Jewish state in jeopardy.

This board has been a strong supporter of Israel and a two-state solution for many years, and we remain committed to that support. Antisemitism is on the rise around the globe, and at least some of the criticism of Israel is the result of such hatred.

Mr. Netanyahu’s government, however, is a significant threat to the future of Israel — its direction, its security and even the idea of a Jewish homeland. For one, the government’s posture could make it militarily and politically impossible for a two-state solution to ever emerge. Rather than accept this outcome, the Biden administration should do everything it can to express its support for a society governed by equal rights and the rule of law in Israel, as it does in countries all over the world. That would be an act of friendship, consistent with the deep bond between the two nations.

Mr. Netanyahu’s comeback as prime minister, a year and a half after he was ousted from office, can’t be divorced from the corruption allegations that have followed him. He is now doing everything he can to stay in power, by catering to the demands of the most extreme elements of Israeli politics. The new cabinet he is forming includes radical far-right parties that have called for, among other things, expanding and legalizing settlements in a way that would effectively render a Palestinian state in the West Bank impossible; changing the status quo on the Temple Mount, an action that risks provoking a new round of Arab-Israeli violence; and undermining the authority of the Israeli Supreme Court, thus freeing the Knesset, the Israeli legislature, to do whatever it wants, with little judicial restraint.

Ministers in the new government are set to include figures such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, who was convicted in Israel in 2007 for incitement to racism and supporting a Jewish terrorist organization. He will probably be minister of national security. Bezalel Smotrich, who has long supported outright annexation of the West Bank, is expected to be named the next finance minister, with additional authority over the administration of the West Bank. For the deputy in the prime minister’s office in charge of Jewish identity, Mr. Netanyahu is expected to name Avi Maoz, who once described himself as a “proud homophobe.”

These moves are troubling, and America’s leaders should say so. The Biden administration’s main response so far has been a cautious speech by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the liberal advocacy group J Street on Dec. 4, in which he declared that the United States would deal with Israeli policies, not individuals. This approach understates the potential consequences of the shift in Israeli politics that this government represents. The cabinet about to take charge is not simply another iteration of the unstable, shifting alliances that followed the past four inconclusive elections. Those coalitions, like many before them, often included fringe religious or nationalist parties, but they were usually kept in check by more moderate political parties or even by Mr. Netanyahu over the 15 years he served as prime minister.

All that is now threatened. Right-wing parties have an absolute majority in the Knesset, and Mr. Netanyahu, hoping that the new government will save him from prosecution and potential prison time, is in their power. Among the targets of the new leaders is the Israeli Supreme Court, which, in the absence of a national constitution, has served to weigh government actions against international law and the Israeli state’s own traditions and values. The nationalists would diminish this authority by voting to give themselves the power to override Supreme Court decisions. Not incidentally, they have also proposed eliminating the law under which Mr. Netanyahu faces a possible prison term.

As Thomas L. Friedman, a Times columnist who has closely followed Israeli affairs for four decades, wrote shortly after the election results were known, “We are truly entering a dark tunnel.” While Mr. Netanyahu in the past used the “energy of this illiberal Israeli constituency to win office,” Mr. Friedman wrote, until now, he had never given them this kind of ministerial authority over critical defense and economic portfolios.

New article: Raphael Cohen-Almagor, “The Responsibility of the Education System in Combatting Bullying and Cyberbullying”, Albany Law Journal of Science & Technology, Vol. 32.3 (2022): 279-297. 

This essay argues for a balance that needs to be struck between freedom of expression, on the one hand, and social responsibility, on the other. Section II explains the concept of cyberbullying, while Section III is concerned with the responsibilities of the education system in fighting against bullying and cyberbullying. Some concrete proposals are made to prevent violence and harm against adolescents. It is argued that effective counter-bullying methods can reduce and prevent violence and harm.


“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it." 
~ George Bernard Shaw

Democracy is supposed to allow individuals the opportunity to follow their conception of the good without coercion. In Israel, precedence is given to Judaism over liberalism. It is argued that the reverse should be the case. Religion, Jewish law (Halacha), the Arab-Israeli conflict, the shift to neo-liberal economy and old-fashioned chauvinism have all been instrumental in the creation and the continuation of gender inequality.   Section I explains the Halachic grounds for discrimination against women. Section II argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict advances militaristic agenda that favours men.  Section III analyses the neo-liberal economic structure and the education systems that disadvantage women, while Section IV discusses manifestations of gender discrimination in Israel. Section V details milestones in legislation and Supreme Court rulings that aimed to promote women’s rights and decrease gender discrimination. The article calls for further changes to ensure gender equality, mapping avenues to bring about positive change. Public responsibility towards gender equality must strive for social policy based on legislation and adequate, fair, transparent and comprehensive implementation.

Key words: chauvinism, discrimination, equality, gender, Halacha, Israel, Judaism, military, rights, women

Daniel Bar-Tal and Amiram Raviv, Comfort Zone of a Society in Conflict [In Hebrew.] (Tel Aviv: Steimatzky, 2021), 424 pp. NIS 98 (paperback).

Book review by Raphael Cohen-Almagor

The Israel Studies Review, Vol. 37(3) (2022): 160-164.

Daniel Bar-Tal and Amiram Raviv put a mirror in front of Israeli readers and ask them to reflect deeply. They confront the brute reality of the occupation head on, with no pleasantries that may try to make the ugly reality an acceptable reality. The book does not make a nice read. It is not meant to make a nice read. It shows the occupation as is. Israel continues to control Palestinian life in all vital aspects: civic, economy, and security. Israel behaves like a control-freak, motivated primarily by fear as well as feelings of superiority.

Continue reading at:


Best books on multiculturalism and the role of culture in our lives



By Raphael Cohen-Almagor

I am intrigued by boundaries and by the relationships between different ideologies, or isms. In 1992, I joined the European Project at The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. This was a fascinating group of people from Israel, Palestine and Germany who studied the connections between Europe and the Middle East. Then and there I opened a new field of studies that continues to engage me: multiculturalism. In my books and articles (most recent: The Republic, Secularism and Security: France versus the Burqa and the Niqab. Cham: Springer, 2022), I examine the extent to which democracy may interfere in the cultural affairs of minorities within democracy, how to find a balance between individual rights and group rights, and whether liberalism and multiculturalism are reconcilable. 

Who am I?

Raphael Cohen-Almagor, DPhil, St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, is Professor of Politics, Founding Director of the Middle East Study Centre, University of Hull; Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Vice President of The Association for Israel Studies. Raphael taught, inter alia, at Oxford (UK), Jerusalem, Haifa (Israel), UCLA, Johns Hopkins (USA) and Nirma University (India). He was twice a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Distinguished Visiting Professor, Faculty of Laws, University College London. A prolific author with more than 300 publications to his name, Raphael has published extensively about culture, religion and ethnic relationships, including Basic Issues in Israeli Democracy (1999 Hebrew); Challenges to Democracy: Essays in Honour and Memory of Isaiah Berlin (2000), and The Republic, Secularism and Security: France versus the Burqa and the Niqab (2022).



Blog: Israel: Democracy, Human Rights, Politics and Society,

I also published...

Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism: Liberalism, Culture and Coercion (New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021). 378 pp.

ISBN 9781108469838

By Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Why I am proud of this book?

This is one of my major books, the product of ten years of research and thinking. Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism addresses three questions: whether multiculturalism is bad for democracy, whether multiculturalism is bad for women, and whether multiculturalism contributes to terrorism. The research was quite challenging, tackling issues such as female circumcision, male circumcision, denial of education to women and children, sanctioning community members who wish to opt out, and discrimination of minorities in France and Israel. The book aims to examine whether liberalism and multiculturalism are reconcilable, and what are the limits of liberal democratic interventions in illiberal affairs of minority cultures within democracy.  It is argued that liberalism and multiculturalism are reconcilable if a fair balance is struck between individual rights and group rights. Just and reasonable multiculturalism can be achieved via mechanisms of deliberate democracy, compromise and, when necessary, coercion. Placing necessary checks on groups that discriminate against vulnerable third parties, the theory of just, reasonable multiculturalism insists on the protection of basic human rights as well as on exit rights for individuals if and when they wish to leave their cultural groups. 

  • Buy at: Amazon




The books I picked & why

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Liberalism, Community, and Culture (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989).

By Will Kymlicka


Why this book?


Studying at Oxford, I was surprised that quite a few of my lecturers, including Ronald Dworkin and Jerry Cohen, hardly ever discussed the importance of culture in our lives. As someone who believes in the motto Know from where you are coming in order to know where you are going, I do not underestimate the power of culture, religion and tradition in shaping communities. My library research discovered the excellent DPhil dissertation that Kymlicka wrote while he was in Oxford. This dissertation was a fresh air for me, accentuating the need to take culture seriously. Kymlicka reshaped his dissertation into this book which I regard has one of his very best books. Kymlicka presents the liberal view about the nature and value of community culture and bridges between liberalism and multiculturalism. I share this view and promote it in my own studies.

Kymlicka and I later cooperated in writing together an essay that was published in two forums. I recently attended a conference that celebrated another of his books, Multicultural Citizenship.

  • Buy at: Amazon



Rethinking Multiculturalism (Houndmills: Palgrave, 2000).

By Bhikhu Parekh




Why this book?


I met Bhikhu Parekh when I arrived at the University of Hull in 2008. Bhikhu and I share many common interests and we interact constantly on a number of projects. Bhikhu Parekh wrote many important books and essays, and Rethinking Multiculturalism is arguably one of the most important books, if not the most important. The book is divided to three parts: historical, theoretical and practical. In this comprehensive and rich work, Parekh critiques Rawls, Raz and Kymlicka and then probes practices that most frequently lead to clashes of intercultural evaluation. Parekh argues that we can understand individual rights also in non-Western ways, so as to ensure that we do not deny non-liberal cultures certain opportunities to promote their own ways of living.


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The Claims of Culture: Equality and diversity in the global era (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 2002).

Seyla Benhabib


Why this book?

Drawing on contemporary cultural politics from Western Europe, Canada, and the United States, Benhabib understands cultures as continually creating, re-creating, and renegotiating the imagined boundaries between "us" and "them." She defends the creation and expansion of deliberative discursive multicultural spaces in liberal democracies, arguing that a legal pluralist model can be a good complement to deliberative and discursive democratic multiculturalism. In her insightful study, Benhabib contends that the Rawlsian model of public reason and the deliberative model of democracy share certain fundamental premises. Both view the legitimation of political power in the examination of the justice of institutions to be a public process, open to all citizens. The idea that justice should be in the public eye, open to scrutiny, examination and reflection is fundamental.

  • Buy at: Amazon



Justice, Gender, and the Politics of Multiculturalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

By Sarah Song




Why this book?


Song’s interdisciplinary work in the fields of politics, law and philosophy explores the tensions that arise when culturally diverse democratic states pursue justice for religious and cultural minorities and justice for women. Much of Justice, Gender, and the Politics of Multiculturalism relates to North America. Song argues that egalitarian justice requires special accommodations for cultural minorities and that gender equality may restrict cultural accommodation. While we need to be sensitive to historical cultural rights, we should also protect basic human rights. Song lucidly and incisively discusses cultural defense in criminal law, aboriginal membership rules and Mormon polygamy, examining the role of intercultural interactions in shaping such cultural conflicts. As I did in my work, Song emphasises intercultural democratic, deliberative dialogue as a means for resolving cultural conflicts.



  • Buy at: Amazon




Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999)

By Susan Moller Okin, Joshua Cohen, Matthew Howard, and Martha C. Nussbaum (eds.)




Why this book?


This is an excellent collection of essays.  Susan Moller Okin and some other world's leading thinkers discuss the tensions between feminism and multiculturalism. This book served for me as a point of departure when I wrote Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism. One of the major criticisms of multiculturalism is that it is bad for women. I examined whether this is necessarily the case, and whether it is possible to resolve the tensions between group rights and individual rights. Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? raises serious concerns as many cultural rites are, indeed, harmful to women. They include polygamy, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, punishing women for being raped, differential access for men and women to health care and education, unequal rights of ownership, assembly, and political participation as well as unequal vulnerability to violence. While as liberals we want to respect the customs of minority cultures, we also do not wish to compromise our commitment to gender equality. 



  • Buy at: Amazon


Israel to build WHO’s first digital health center


Israel’s President Herzog announced that Israel will be working with the WHO to establish and promote the first International center for digital health. Herzog said: “Israel is home to countless trailblazing med-tech and health-tech start-ups, pushing the bounds of human imagination. Together with European and international institutions, we can develop the breakthroughs that will enable people to live healthier and longer lives,” Herzog said. “In this vein, I am happy to announce that Israel will be working with the WHO to establish a cutting-edge center for digital health, bringing top-quality and innovative care to every corner of the world.” 



Mondial 2022


What a treat it was! A wonderful gift for football fans all over the world, especially for people like me who suffer from this bitterly cold winter in Britain. This World Cup warmed my heart. It was a GREAT world cup, the best that I have seen. The quality of some of the games, especially but not only after the group stage, was exceptional. Surprises, ups and downs, were throughout. Who imagined that Germany and Belgium, top 10 world teams, will be ousted in the group stage. Who expected Morocco to reach the semi-finals? Who expected Japan and South Korea to advance from the group stage?


Early on, it was clear that France is the team to beat. It played the most effective football with superb shows of strength. The first 11 are excellent. For me, France was the best team in this world cup. Still, I wanted Argentina to win the Final. For Messi. He is the greatest footballer I have seen. I wanted this stamp of recognition for him. Now we can move on from the debate who is the greatest ever. Messi provided a conclusive answer.


Next Mondial will be expanded, giving hope for Israel, maybe the national team will be able to reach this festive celebration of quality football for the second time in its history.


Here are my 11 in a very attacking formation that promises many goals, on both sides (-:


Dominik Livakovic. Croatia (how long will he remain in Dinamo Zagreb?)

Jules Olivier Koundé. France (Barcelona bought him just on time)
Nicolás Hernán Gonzalo Otamendi. Argentina (I fail to understand why Pep Guardiola had let him go. His performance was more consistent than that of his team mate, Spurs’ Romero)
Joško Gvardiol. Croatia (how long will he remain in RB Leipzig? I debated between him and Virgil Van Dyke of The Netherlands).
Theo Hernandez. France (slightly better than Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi).

Luka Modrich. Croatia (a single player who affected his national team play more than any other single player in the tournament, including Messi. The barometer of Croatia)
Junya Ito. Japan (Reims is very fortunate to have him. His energy is commendable).
Hakim Ziyech. Morocco (showed just how great player he is, when allowed the freedom on the pitch. Chelsea watched and learned. I debated between him and Antoine Griezmann, France).

Lionel Messi. Argentina (what more can I say about him? THE GOAT. Such joy to watch).
Julián Álvarez. Argentina (Guardiola got him on time. Álvarez is lucky to have such a mentor).
Kylian Mbappé. France (what a dynamo. Already one of the best players in the world, destined to be the very best).


The best of all is, of course, the one and only Lionel Messi. This probably was his last world cup. Finally, Messi clinched his life’s dream.


Contrary to common wisdom, dreamers can affect reality.





Did you know?


Elon Musk expects a brain chip developed by his health tech company to begin human trials in the next six months. Musk plans to get one of the chips himself.


Musk’s Neuralink is developing brain-chip interfaces that could restore a person’s vision, even in those who were born blind, and restore “full body functionality”, including movement and verbal communication, for people with severed spinal cords. The chip interface that targets motor cortex could be tested in humans as soon as six months.


Neuralink has been testing on animals as it awaits approval on clinical trials.

Source: Gloria Oladip, “Musk says brain chip to begin human trials soon – and plans to get one himself”, Guardian (1 December 2022),


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.

Seeking Inspiration

6 December 2013


End of term

Nelson Mandela just died

Marking essays near the station

No music to comfort or cloud, utmost attention

Sipping festive coffee with chestnut flavor

Staring at the pile in front of me

In a nutshell, seeking inspiration.

A couple enters into the backroom

His shirt suggests The Cook Room

Maybe in their conversation

I will find inspiration

Hate to listen, of course, but the space is so small

Discussing plans for Christmas

Enthralling like the essays.

The pile is still ominous

My cell rings to discuss security matters

From boring to worrying

As if not enough Mandela is dead

Need to concentrate and find inspiration

In an essay written by the product of technology

Knows how to text, maybe email, but 2,000 word?

The couple off to shopping and now in background

Three nice ladies in their forties (or fifties), who counts

Happily chatting in Polish, or Russian, or Romanian

Green, red and cream

Giggling all the time, smiling all the time

Bursting into laughter from time to time

So illiterate I am, mad at myself

Can’t understand a word.

Seeking inspiration in this sadness, in this madness

This pile will never end

Better check my cell

Have a break, some solace maybe

Good news, rejuvenate

Rainbow embarks through the clouds

Marvelous bright blender of maple

With blue, orange, yellow and purple.

Do not despair, this essay connects two sentences

Ideas merge, argument is made, making sense

Finding inspiration, sipping chestnut Neto coffee

In a small crowded, obscure, hidden backroom

With three jolly Polish ladies enjoying a busy shopping break

Escaping European bitter cold with short Americano and Dutch cookies

In Italian coffeeshop, little English market town.

Raphael Almagor

Light Side: 

Music that makes me happy:

Lang Lang, Berlin Gala Concert - Lang Lang - Chopin: Waltz No. 1 "Grande valse brillante".


Merry Christmas!! 

Here is the first Christmas card was created in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, who was instrumental in realising Prince Albert's vision for the Royal Albert Hall.,commercial%20Christmas%20card%20in%201843.&text=The%20initial%20print%20run%20was%20for%201000%20cards.

Happy New Year, 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,

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