Friday, August 04, 2023

 Politics – July 2023 


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

My New Role: President of the Association of Israel Studies (AIS)

58% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Suffer from Symptoms of Depression 

Settlement Record

Overland Trade: Expanding the Global Economic Impact of the Abraham Accords

New article: Should Liberal Democracy Respect Group Rights that Discriminate against Women and Apostates?. Public Governance, Administration and Finances Law Review8(1) (2023): 5-22.

Reprinted Article: “Towards Responsible Journalism: Code of practice, journalist oath and conscience clause”, Ethical Space, Vol. 11, No. 1/2 (2014): 37-43. In: Tom Bradshaw, Sue Joseph, Richard Lance Keeble and Donald Matheson (eds.), Ethical Space: Journal with a difference: Celebrating 20 Years. Vol. 1. (Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk: Abramis academic publishing, 2023): 231-243.

Do You Know whether it is possible to make cars run on water?

Monthly Poem

Light Side 

Reflections on Last Newsletter

Many people wrote to express their appreciation for my obituary of Bob O’Neill. Some knew Bob; others wanted to express sympathy for the loss. I thank you all for taking the time to read and write. I am certain Bob’s memory will be cherished and commemorated by various ways around the globe.

Events in Israel are unprecedented. Israel elected a radical, anti-democratic, inciteful and highly toxic government that is determined to exploit the opportunity that is given to it to transform Israel. Hundreds of thousands of people are protesting each and every day, and the government is continuing with its agenda. Protests are not enough. As many people in this government do not understand how Israel is working, what makes it the thriving society it is, they need to learn this in the hard way. Those opposing the anti-Israeli legislation should strike, bringing the nation into a halt. 

Many of you ask for my opinion. I publish my opinions almost on a daily basis on twitter, reacting to ongoing events. You are welcome to follow me @almagor35,

Let me reflect on a recent development. A few days ago, the Knesset passed the reasonableness bill, the first major legislation in the government’s plan to weaken the judiciary. The bill strips the Supreme Court of the power to declare government decisions unreasonable. Ministers will be able to do whatever they want without being subjected to the scrutiny of the courts. Inter alia, the Supreme Court would not be able to scrutinize government appointments even if the appointees are convicted felons. Immediately after this bill was passed, Knesset members (MKs) of the coalition tabled more legislative proposals. Unashamedly, MKs strive to utilize public resources for personal benefit, enabling them to promote partisan interests, tailor tenders and appoint associates and friends. For them, proper administration and the rule of law are anti-democratic interventions of an arrogant, selected elite (e.g. judges). The brazen and unprecedented reasonableness law as well as the shameless legislative proposals aim at the castration of gatekeepers, the elimination of judicial review, and the abolition of the existing norms of orderly and just administration. For those abusive legislators, the removal of checks and balances and the enabling of the rule of corruption and patronage are legitimate and desired ends.

Greed and the pursuit of partisan interests are not the only engines of the present coalition government. It is also motivated by a religious, autocratic, chauvinistic, Messianic, nationalistic and exclusive ideology where justice means Jewish-halachic justice, not universal justice. The agenda of the religious parties is to transform Israeli democracy into theocracy. Checks and balances that interfere with this agenda need to be removed. The aims are to institute a Jewish state where resources are reserved for the Orthodoxy and others, including secular Jews and of course ethnic minorities, are discriminated against. Israel will annex large parts of the West Bank, provide exorbitant benefits to the settlers, and use violence against the Palestinians of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Since there is no direct political representation for the moderate faction in religious Zionism, its voice receives little resonance. Moderate religious Jews are unable to fight against the trend of appointing Orthodox rabbis, of the “right” and preferred political affiliation, to serve in all rabbinical functions.  Politics took over the elections for the Chief Rabbinate and the main winner is the Shas Party, headed by the convicted felon Aryeh Deri.

My New Role: President of the Association of Israel Studies (AIS)

After two years as VP of The Association for Israel Studies (AIS), in the Annual Conference of the Association that was recently (June 2023) held at New York University, I was elected to serve as the President of The Association for Israel Studies.

The Association for Israel Studies is an international scholarly society, chartered in the U.S., devoted to the academic and professional study of Israel. The Association's membership is composed of scholars from all disciplines in the social sciences and many in the humanities. AIS is open to all individuals who are engaged in, or share an interest in, scholarly inquiry about Israel, the Zionist movement, the Yishuv, and pre-state Palestine more broadly. The Association's membership is composed of scholars from all disciplines in the social sciences and many in the humanities. The Association is committed to academic freedom and freedom of expression.

My prime aim as president is to double the association membership. If you are engaged in the study of any aspect of Israeli society -- past, present and future, please consider joining the Association. I will welcome you with open arms.

Further details:

58% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Suffer from Symptoms of Depression 

A whopping 58% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip suffer from symptoms of depression, and 7% show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, a survey by the World Bank found. Depression was more common among Gazans, with 71% exhibiting symptoms, compared to 50% of West Bank residents. But West Bank residents were more likely to show signs of PTSD. The survey attributed these mental health problems in part to economic distress and lack of employment prospects. The World Bank billed the survey as a pioneering effort to determine the cumulative effects on the mental health of exposure to conflict and poor living conditions, including movement restrictions. But the impact of trauma is exacerbated by economic distress, high unemployment, and the lack of job prospects, the researchers said. At the end of 2022, the Palestinian unemployment rate stood at 24% – 45% in Gaza and 13% in the West Bank. But among young Palestinians, the rate soared to 70%.

Source: Haaretz

Settlement Record

With the most recent settlement approvals, 2023 has emerged as the highest year on record in terms of settlement units approved – with a total of 13,082 settlement units green-lit in just the first six months of the year. The previous annual record was the approval of 12,159 units in 2020 during the presidency of Donald Trump. Only 4,427 housing units were advanced in all of 2022.

Overland Trade: Expanding the Global Economic Impact of the Abraham Accords

The Abraham Accords have ushered in a new era for world trade. Prior to the signing of the Accords in 2020, there was little to no trade between Israel and most of the Arab world. But as a result of the peace and normalization treaties, the Abraham Accords member countries annulled their boycotts of Israel. Since then, we have seen trade between these countries and Israel grow at an impressive rate. Similarly, trade between Israel and its legacy peace partners, Egypt and Jordan, has dramatically increased as a result of the positive momentum created by the Abraham Accords.
Yet despite the progress made, the trade numbers between Israel and its Abraham Accords partners are far below what they could or should be. One of the highest potential areas where commerce can be increased is through the expansion of an overland trade route linking Israel’s ports to those of the Gulf. This route could be particularly valuable for heavy or bulky cargo such as vehicles, which are generally not sent by air, or for perishable goods such as produce and pharmaceuticals, which cannot be sent via the lengthy sea route.  
Throughout the years of the Arab boycott of Israel, countries in Europe that wanted to send goods from the Mediterranean to the Gulf were forced to do so through trade routes that were often lengthy, costly and risky. For example, they would ship through the Port of Beirut, passing through Hezbollah-controlled territory, and then travel eastwards to Damascus, the site of civil war and instability for over a decade. Alternatively, these shipments were sent through the Suez Canal, utilizing slow and costly sea routes that often came close to the Yemeni coastline, another area plagued by war and instability.
As a result of the Abraham Accords, the boycott laws in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were abolished. Countries in Europe can now ship products through Israel’s ports to the Gulf, utilizing an overland route that can connect Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan to the GCC. This is good news for many European exporters.
However, without improving Israel’s overland border crossings and related infrastructure, the trade numbers between Israel and the other Abraham Accords countries will not reach their full potential. As an example, UAE-Israel trade numbers are still significantly below those for the UAE’s trade with Iran.
In order to enhance and expand overland trade, the following steps can be taken:

  1. Upgrade the infrastructure at the Israel-Jordan ‘Jordan River Border Crossing’. This would include building a third bridge at the site (there are currently two.) AAPI estimates that such a bridge would cost approximately $20 million and would lead to an annual increase in the value of goods utilizing the crossing of $1.21 billion.

  2. Improve the infrastructure at the Israel-Egypt ‘Nitzana Border Crossing’, where 60% of the goods crossing from Egypt into Israel are destined for Gaza or the Palestinian Authority.

  3. Ensure that the hours and the personnel at both of these crossings are expanded, in order to alleviate the backlog of trucks, which often wait long hours and even days to cross the border.

  4. Encourage Jordan to allow, on a permanent basis, the transfer of goods in shipping containers from Israel to Jordan. Current Jordanian policy generally requires goods arriving at the Jordan River crossing to be unpacked from Israeli trucks, and then reloaded onto Jordanian trucks, a time-consuming and costly process. Smart containers could be used to help alleviate potential security concerns.

  5. Israel and Morocco should immediately begin negotiations toward a free trade agreement, like the agreement signed between Israel and the UAE and the agreement which awaits signature between Israel and Bahrain. These trade agreements would help facilitate the creation of a free trade zone between Abraham Accords countries. This would make it easier for Accords member nations to trade amongst themselves and with other partners, including the United States. The United States’ existing free trade agreements with Israel, Bahrain, Morocco and Jordan could be utilized for establishing such a common free trade area.

  6. The Abraham Accords countries should work with European partners to identify how Europe can contribute to establishing and expanding such an overland trade route, including in sectors such as vehicles, construction materials, agricultural products and pharmaceuticals. European economies can both greatly contribute to, and benefit from, strengthening ties and trade between Accords member countries.

The opportunities for Abraham Accords trade have not reached their full potential. In fact, they have only scratched the surface. By working together, Accords member nations can expand free trade, advance the overland route, and develop regional connectivity. Once implemented, Israel and its Abraham Accords partners will be able to bring prosperity to their peoples in ways that were previously unimaginable.

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Source: Abraham Accords Peace Institute 

New article: “Should Liberal Democracy Respect Group Rights that Discriminate against Women and Apostates?”. Public Governance, Administration and Finances Law Review8(1) (2023): 5-22.


The paper examines the limits of state interference in proscribing cultural norms by considering gender discrimination, right of people to leave their community free of penalties, denying women appropriate education, and forced or arranged marriages for girls and young women. The discussion opens by reflecting on the discriminatory practices of the Pueblo tribes against their women and analysing an American court case, Santa Clara v. Martinez. It is argued that the severity of rights violations within the minority group, the insufficient dispute-resolution-mechanisms, and the inability of individuals to leave the community if they so desire without penalty justify state intervention to uphold the dissenters’ basic rights. Next, a Canadian case, Hofer v. Hofer, illustrates the problematics of denying reasonable exit right to members who may wish to leave their community. Subsequently, the discussion turns to the issue of arranged and forced marriages of girls and young women. While the latter is coercive the former is not. While forced marriages should be denounced as unjust, arranged marriages can be accepted. Finally, the paper considers denying education to women, arguing that such a denial is unjust and discriminatory.

Keywords: Canada (AG) v. Lavell, culture, education, forced marriages, gender discrimination, Hofer v. Hofer, Pueblo tribes, religion, Santa Clara v. Martinez

Reprinted Article: “Towards Responsible Journalism: Code of practice, journalist oath and conscience clause”, Ethical Space, Vol. 11, No. 1/2 (2014): 37-43. In: Tom Bradshaw, Sue Joseph, Richard Lance Keeble and Donald Matheson (eds.), Ethical Space: Journal with a difference: Celebrating 20 Years. Vol. 1. (Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk: Abramis academic publishing, 2023): 231-243.

This paper draws on the codes of ethics of a wide range of countries to propose an ideal one for a newly constituted press regulatory body in the United Kingdom. It also suggests the adoption of a journalist oath and including a conscience clause in press journalists’ contracts which would protect them from being coerced into doing clearly unethical work. 

Keywords: journalism, trauma, grounded theory, emotional labour, bystander effect, gender, mental health

Do You Know whether it is possible to make cars run on water?

Water is a major source of energy. Fuel is expensive and ecologically unfriendly. Is it possible to have water instead o fuel to run cars?

I asked AI. This is the answer I received:

Water, in its pure form (H2O), is not a viable fuel source for cars. It cannot be burned directly like gasoline or diesel fuel. However, there are technologies that use water as a component in a process that produces hydrogen, which can then be used as a fuel for vehicles.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are a type of vehicle that uses hydrogen gas to generate electricity, powering an electric motor. These vehicles produce water as a byproduct when hydrogen reacts with oxygen from the air. The cost of producing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is significantly higher than traditional internal combustion engine vehicles due to the complexity of the technology involved, the limited infrastructure for hydrogen refueling, and the cost of producing and storing hydrogen.

I hope major companies and universities invest in making this technology viable and less costly.

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.

Trains, planes and cars run fast

11 October 2022


Inspired by Coda

Trains, planes and cars run fast

Cut the air, leave cloud of dust

Know from you are coming

Know where you are going

Overcome fears and seek purpose in doing

Illusions are castles in the air

Obscure reality, lead to despair

How to identify reality

Recognize the odds

Seize opportunities as they open like a beautiful rose.

Fears, smears and empty holes
Making sure not to fall
At times its tempting, at times its cool
Compass remains the guide to stall

Not all that needs to be said is told.

Trains, planes and cars run fast

Sometimes I caught them

At times I missed

Not always I grasped their track

But always remained hopeful

Even in the dark.

I look at life from all sides now

The rights and wrongs

The then and how

What brought me here

What I missed as I frowned

When I erred and what I gained.

I could not have done my little cart

Without your hand, without your heart

I pray each morning for peace of mind

Sometimes its here, at times it hides

Regrets are always inside at sight.

Raphael Almagor

Light Side 

Just desserts

At a party, a young wife admonished her husband, “That’s the fourth time you’ve gone back for ice cream and cake. Doesn’t it embarrass you?”

“Why should it?” answered her spouse. “I keep telling them it’s for you.”

—Selma Glasser, Good Housekeeping

Peace, Love 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