Sunday, October 29, 2023


Politics – October 2023 ISRAEL- HAMAS WAR

People resort to violence when they lose their patience. Often, however, violence proves to be an unsuccessful shortcut for reaching viable solutions.

Violence is often the refuge of incompetent leaders seeking wrong shortcuts.

Gaza understands: 7 October was a sea change. Whatever was will no longer be. 7 October was a dark day in the history of the Jewish people and in the history of the Palestinian people.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor

War Diary

On Shabbat, 7 October, Hamas launched a coordinated attack on Israel. 50 years after the Yom Kippur War, Israel was surprised yet again. Its normally reputable security orgnisations failed to see what is coming. Hundreds of armed terrorists penetrated Israel on foot, by air and by sea and murdered people who stood on their way. Hamas took more than 100 Israelis with them to Gaza as hostages.

On 8 October, the news were that more than 600 Israelis were killed and more than 2,100 were wounded. Friends lost loved ones. This war might be a game changer. Gaza will suffer greatly for this attack. The main thing that violence successfully does is breed more violence.

Hamas leaders won’t evade responsibility. Israel will exact heavy price, aiming to put an end to Hamas rule in Gaza.

ISIS. Al Qaeda. Hamas. Same fate. Same faith.

Netanyahu is interested in expanding his coalition, bringing into it saner and more experienced people with whom he could share the heavy burden of conducting a full fledge war. Gantz seems to be interested in entering such a coalition. I believe that his main drive is his sense of responsibility. He does not trust the present government. I can understand him.

On 10 October, the death toll rose to 900 and it is estimated that at least 150 Israelis were taken hostage to different location in the Gaza Strip. My heart goes to the kidnapped and their families. 

On 11 October, Israel counted 1200 deaths and the death toll continues to rise. Ground operation is imminent. Israel aims at destroying Hamas.

Signs of the times: Despite the colossal failures of the SHABAC, of the IDF and of the government, no one takes responsibility. If they won’t take responsibility themselves, they will be forced to take responsibility in the future. 

Benny Ganz joined the government and will be in the war cabinet. Another former Chief of Staff, Gadi Eisenkot, will participate in the deliberations. 

The Middle East Study Centre (MESC) hosted Ambassador Karim Haggag, a career Egyptian diplomat with over 25 years of service in Egypt’s diplomatic corps. Haggag is currently a Professor of Practice at the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP) and Director of the Middle East Studies Center at the American University in Cairo, and a non-resident fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School of Government. I asked him whether Egypt will open its border to refugees from Gaza. His answer was NO. He explained that the first concern of the Egyptian government is its own security and safety and it will not do anything that might put these considerations at risk.

On 12 October, the death toll is 1300 Israelis. The number continues to rise. 

13 October. The IDF asked Gazans to move away from the north of the Gaza Strip as its forces are preparing for a grand ground operation. Hamas ordered the Gazans not to do so. 

Prime Minister material. Leader by example: Yair Golan. Read in Hebrew or translate his brave story on 7 October 2023, one of the darkest days in Jewish history.

On 16 October, Israel reported that Hamas captured 199 hostages, including eight Germans, five US nationals, and two Mexican nationals.

The Washington Post reported that the death tolls in the Israel-Gaza conflict have increased. Hamas has killed at least 1,400 people in Israel. Israeli strikes have killed at least 2,778 people in Gaza.

On 18 October President Biden visited Israel to show his support and to coordinate future activities with the Israeli government. A day later, British prime minister Sunak arrived for the same purpose. The trip alliance USA-UK-Israel is strong.

On 19 October, Defence Minister Gallant ordered the evacuation of the northern town of Kiryat Shemona, with over 20,000 inhabitants. This in case Hezbollah decides to open a massive rocket fire on Israel.    

On 20 October, Israel reported that at least 1,400 people in Israel have been killed and more than 4,500 injured since the unprecedented cross-border Hamas attack on Oct. 7. Hamas is also holding at least 203 hostages. Palestinian officials said 3,785 people in Gaza have been killed and more than 12,400 wounded in strikes. 

The ground campaign is delayed or cancelled. We do not know yet. Some of the reservists who were called were discharged. For the time being, Israel prefers to continue with air attack and to impose a well-controlled siege on Gaza, allowing some humanitarian relief to the Gazans. I presume and hope Israel also seeks to release (some of) the hostages.

23 October: Approximately 750,000 Gazan residents are moving to safer grounds in southern Gaza.

Until now, Hamas had freed four stages. Some 200 others are still in their captivity. Leaders of the world should not rest until we see all of them return to their families. This should be a shared human concern.  

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According to the BBC, the Guardian, Washington Post, New York Times and a few other media organisations Israel was attacked by "militants". Shameful. Murdering civilians indiscriminately is terror. News should be accurate. Call a spade a spade. Hamas is a terror organisation whose actions are terrorist and inhuman. Refraining from using the appropriate terms and laundering words serve terror and promote violence in Israel and around the world.

This issue has been my bone of contention with the BBC for the past twenty-five years, e.g. “Media Coverage of Terror: Troubling Episodes and Suggested Guidelines", Canadian Journal of Communication, 30(3) (2005): 383-409.

I criticized the BBC privately and publicly, including in private conversations with BBC senior editors. They insist on pursuing their erroneous policy, claiming they wish to retain their wide audiences. 

To remain morally neutral and objective toward terrorism and to sympathize with terrorist acts is to betray ethics and morality.

BBC, Guardian, Washington Post, New York Times and others who believe that there is no such thing as terror, whose reporters live in La La Land where terror does not exist, have influence on scholars, students and the general public. Their amorality is disturbing especially in dark hours when we must be united in condemning terrorism and violence that only breed more violence.

At the end of the battles, when the dust will settle, a State commission of inquiry will be established to investigate how this failure happened, why Israel was surprised in such a terrible way. Was the failure in collecting intelligence, in reading it, in understanding it or in the decision-making process to avert the Hamas terror attack.

I am the eternal optimist. I always look for a silver lining. Perhaps the war will bring a positive change in Gaza and solve the Hamas problem, paving the way for a peaceful resolution with the PLO.

Thank you to all those who contacted me to voice support and concern. Your words are encouraging and comforting at this time of darkness and grief. 

Reflections on Last Newsletter

7 October 2023

Macron Proposes Anti-ISIS Coalition Against Hamas

Media Interviews

Hamas-Israel War: Views From Wilson Center Experts

Options to Resolve the Israel-Hamas Conflict

Ester Hayuth

The Democratic Catch

The Protest Movement 

Israeli Government

Personality of the Year: Gali Baharav-Miara (up until 7 October)

New article: Raphael Cohen-Almagor (2023) The role of the Arab world in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: interview with Marwan Muasher, Israel Affairs, DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2023.2247639

Did You Know?

Netflix Series: Band of Brothers

Monthly Poem

Light Side

Reflections on Last Newsletter

From Dr David Goldberg, Glasgow:

Since you are in might like to be reacquainted with my website

And also publicise it to your colleagues!

7 October 2023

7 October is one of the darkest days in Jewish history. Excluding the Holocaust, this was a horrific day in historic terms, a day we will never forget for generations to come. The barbaric way the attack was carried out put the Israeli nation in trauma. Israel is united in fear but also in resolve to oust Hamas from Israeli borders. 

After the war, and despite leaders’ likely attempt to evade justice, an Inquiry Committee will be established, and people will be held accountable for the colossal failure in reading, interpreting and stifling Hamas’ intentions and attack. Several heads of the Israeli intelligence told me that they know what Hamas intends to do before their foot soldiers know, that they have spies everywhere, that their phones, offices and homes are bugged. They know everything! Yet they did not know about the 7 October attack. Attack of such a scale takes months, if not years, to prepare, and Israel found itself surprised, again, misreading clear signs. The IDF was unable to secure Israeli border, allowing the terrorists to enter into civilian kibbutzim uninterrupted, facing very little opposition for the most part.

Law in physics: Lacuna is bound to be filled. I hope Israel will be able to eradicate Hamas from Gaza. Then Israel, and the world at large, need to think who will govern the 2 million Gazans. Whether it will be Israel, the Palestinian Authority, other countries, an international organisation or another dedicated body that would be established for this purpose by the international community.


7 October will become a day of mourning and prayer in the Israeli calendar.

Macron Proposes Anti-ISIS Coalition Against Hamas

French President Emmanuel Macron proposed the expansion of the international coalition established in 2014 to fight the Islamic State and al-Qaeda to help Israel fight Hamas. Still, speaking at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Macron gave no details of the potential scope of such an engagement. The international coalition against ISIS includes 86 countries committed to eroding the group's capabilities globally. Elaborating on the international coalition proposed by Macron, a source at the Elysee Palace said after the press conference, "The aim is to draw inspiration from the experience of the international coalition against ISIS and see which aspects can be replicated against Hamas." The statement added, “It will then be up to the partners and in particular Israel to express their needs.

Source: Al-Monitor 

Media Interviews

I granted interviews to the media, including to The Voice of America in Washington DC.

Two-State Solution or One-State Agreement: What are the Options in Palestine’s Path to Statehood?

Hamas-Israel War: Views From Wilson Center Experts

Options to Resolve the Israel-Hamas Conflict

  1. Continued targeted air attacks as Israel does now. This will be a prolonged process with limited results, almost certainly short of eliminating Hamas and bringing it to the verge of extension.

  2. Adding to the air strikes commando incursions per intelligence aimed at freeing hostages and taking out Hamas terrorists. This involves significant risks to soldiers. While the soldiers are well trained to fight Hamas, the terrorist have the advantage of knowing the territory and the operations will be conducted in a hostile territory. Given Israeli intelligence prior 7 October, one also needs to suspect their capabilities.

  3. Siege on Gaza with limited humanitarian support to prevent starvation and pandemics on mass scale. The demand will be that all Hamas terrorists and their leadership leave Gaza for countries that are willing to take them, like Iran. This scenario is somewhat similar to the siege on Beirut that was resolved when the PLO left for Tunis.

  4. Involving the international community including Egypt, Jordan, Marocco and Saudi Arabia in the crisis, demanding that Hamas leaders and terrorists surrender or leave.

  5. Ground operation. This is the riskiest business and therefore the least favourable. 

Ester Hayuth

The President of the Supreme Court has retired as it is mandated by law. When Justices reached the age 70, they retire. During the past year, Hayuth had to face time and again the Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin, who did his best to undermine her position and the Supreme Court at large. Israel never had such a minister of justice in its history, a person who does all he can to scold the justice system and introduce draconic changes that cannot be described as “just” or “fair” in any meaningful way. Yariv is an anti-justice minister.

Hayuth has three months to write opinions on cases she recently heard, most significantly a judgement on the “reasonableness law,” which restricts the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review over administrative decisions by the government and cabinet ministers. This is a corrupt law. I hope Hayuth will find the courage in her to oppose this anti-democratic law.

The Democratic Catch

In 1994, I published The Boundaries of Liberty and Tolerance (Gainesville, FL: The University Press of Florida, 1994) in which I discussed the problem that democracy faces when it is challenged by anti-democratic forces. In this book I started to formulate the Democratic Catch. I continued with this formulation in my later books, including The Democratic "Catch": Free Speech and Its Limits (Tel Aviv: Maariv Publication House, 2007) (Hebrew). I explained that one of the problems of any political system is that the principles which underlie and characterize it might also, through their application, endanger it and bring about its destruction. Democracy, in its liberal form, is no exception. Moreover, because democracy is a relatively young phenomenon, it lacks experience in dealing with pitfalls involved in the working of the system. This is what I call “The Democratic Catch”.

Any political system - theocratic, liberal, Marxist, Leninist, Maoist etc. - is based on a given set of principles. The working of these principles is designed to promote values, which those systems hold dear. However, these same principles might endanger the very foundations of the political systems. The case is clear when authoritarian systems are pondered over. Any form of government that is based on coercion is objectionable. One can presume that if given the opportunity, the people would rebel against the oppressor and retain their liberty. People would like to live their lives as free human beings, with dignity, free from subjugation, pain and suffering. Thus, we can assume that despots will survive as long as they are successful in upholding and monitoring an efficient machinery of internal police, intelligence agencies, and security offices whose role is to deny freedom, including the freedom from oppression. The very principles of the oppressing system, be it dictatorship (rule of one), oligarchy (rule of few), theocracy (rule of religious sages) or fascism (rule of one who embodies the state) are those that will open the way for its destruction. It has been said that you can do almost anything with bayonets, but one thing you cannot do: sit on them. Sitting on bayonets for a long time will cause you to bleed, and eventually will exhaust your energies and consume your power. The very principles designed to bolster the power of the one, or of the few, at the expense of the many, would lead eventually to the system’s destruction.

While it is clear that the foundations of authoritarian coercion bring about the destruction of the system, the case seems to be different for democracies, where governance is based on liberty and tolerance. Unlike forms of oppression that deny basic human rights, undermine the dignity of the person, and that harm others, liberal democracy sustains and promotes human rights, the dignity of the person, and its motto is not to harm others. Democracy is the only political system that perceives tolerance as a virtue, that embodies a normative stance geared to promote equal respect and self-determination when the latter results in allocation of resources and involves some form of legal coercion. But a close examination of the democratic foundations reveals that in this case too, the very foundations of the system might bring about its destruction.

The Protest Movement 

The protest movement did not disappear. It takes a break. Now there is a war to win, and beating our enemy is more important than the internal rivalry. At the end of the war, the protests against the government will resume with fervor. 

Israeli Government

There is little doubt in my mind that Levin and his cronies will try to change the law, the justice system and Israeli governance when the war dust will settle. The majority of the Israeli people will oppose their attempts. This irresponsible government does not deserve the Israeli people. Its days are numbered.

Personality of the Year: Gali Baharav-Miara (up until 7 October)

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The role of the Legal Advisor to the Government in Israel is a tough position. The role constitutes one of the few checks-and-balances in Israel. Gali Baharav-Miara was appointed by Gideon Saar during the Bennet-Lapid government and she was not a familiar name for the public. Slowly, due to the corrupt, illiberal, theocratic and autocratic conduct of the present government, Baharav-Miara proved herself, time and again, as the right person in the right place. Loyal to the law, not to the government, as her role dictates, she tries her best to stand against the legislative blitz that the present radical government has bombarded the public. Many of the laws, she warned, are not constitutional. Baharav-Miara refused to defend the government in the Supreme Court when appeals against those baffling laws are heard. Baharav-Miara is an uncompromising rock, the voice of reason in the cacophony of ridiculous and outrageous chorus of ministers and MKs who, with no shame, or knowledge, advance their partisan, anti-democratic agenda. Baharav-Miara is principled, undeterred and moral. Israel is blessed to have her in this role. For me, Baharav-Miara is the person of the year.

New article: Raphael Cohen-Almagor (2023) The role of the Arab world in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: interview with Marwan Muasher, Israel Affairs, DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2023.2247639


This interview is part of a major research project that is based on interviews and discussions with influential decision-makers, facilitators, mediators and negotiators who were involved in Arab-Israeli peace negotiations over the past three decades, as well as on archival research in Oslo, London, Washington and Jerusalem. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with more than 80 Israeli, Palestinian, American, Swedish, Norwegian, Egyptian, Jordanian, British and United Nations senior officials and peace negotiators. The interviews identify the challenges and obstacles on the road to peace and suggest ways for moving forward. Prior to the interviews, interviewees signed consent forms. The interviews were audiotaped and transcribed, and the text was sent to interviewees for authorisation. The interview with Marwan Muasher – Jordan’s first ambassador to Israel (1995–6), foreign minister (2002–4), and deputy prime minister (2004–5), was held virtually on 25 July 2022.

Did You Know?

Information from your central nervous system travels at up to 268 mph.

From the automatic tasks of regulating breathing and blood pressure to the voluntary efforts needed for muscle movement, the central nervous system puts in a lot of work to maintain the complex mechanisms of the human body. Pace is crucial to keep this system running smoothly — which is why some signals from our body’s command centers can reach a speed of 268 miles per hour. 

In a nutshell, nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord send information through branching nerve fibers known as axons, which release chemicals across microscopic gaps to be picked up by other cells and synthesized by the appropriate areas of the body. The speed of this process varies according to the size and properties of the nerve fiber; bulky A-alpha axons, which can be 20 micrometers in diameter, have the bandwidth to generate the fastest impulses. Additionally, gaps along axons that are covered by a sheath of fats and protein, known as myelin, contain positive sodium ions that keep signals charged for rapid transmission.

So which bodily act necessitates the thickest channels to conduct information at speeds approaching those of the world’s fastest cars? That would be the delicate balance required for proprioception, our ability to sense the movement and positioning of body parts without looking. At the other end of the spectrum are the unmyelinated fibers that relay pain signals at a near-crawl of 1 mile per hour — evidence that our central nervous systems at least attempt to cushion the blow when serving as the bearer of bad news.

Source: Interesting Facts

Netflix Series: Band of Brothers

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I recently watched the 10 chapters of the 2001 Spielberg-Hanks production Band of Brothers that tells the true story of the American 101 Airborne Division, “Easy”, from their preparations for combat in the United States until they reached Germany in late 1944. Easy Company landed on D-Day in Normandy, took part in the bloody battles in Carentan, Bastogne, Foy and Hitler’s Eagle Nest. The series portrays the gruesome realities of war in a very real way, with no mercy on viewers. This is the best series I have ever seen on the horrors of WWII (to be distinguished from the Holocaust). It is for those who are interested in WWII and who are capable to see war movies.

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.

7 October 2023

17 October 2023


Our hearts is heavy

Unified in pain and grief

Coloured in red and black

On a Shabbat morning

When diabolic evils came at the door.

Cry of babies

Screams of terrified mums

Horror of dads

Families watching their loved ones executed

Houses set aflame as monstrous murderers rejoice

And the smell, oh the smell.

Woman in wheelchair taken to dark tunnels

Hatred smirked faces as they enjoy their orgy of destruction

Calling the name of Allah in vein into the abyss

Changing reality, theirs as well

They fail to understand.

We are aching yet strong

We are united in resolve

We shall overcome evil

Because we must.

Raphael Almagor

Light Side

Family matters

It seems I have spent a lifetime of mouthing mechanically, “Say thank you. Sit up straight. Use your napkin. Close your mouth when you chew. Don’t lean back in your chair.” Just when I finally got my husband squared away, the kids came along. —Erma Bombeck, Publishers-Hall Syndicate


Peace and Good Health to you all. Stay alert and safe.


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