Friday, December 01, 2023


Politics – November 2023 – Hamas-Israel War 

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Bring Him Home via @YouTube

Can you imagine what life like for the hostages in Hamas tunnels?

Can you imagine how their families feel?

Koolulam like a prayer bring them home

Israel should do whatever it can to bring home ALL the kidnapped hostages held by Hamas. 

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

Any country that can assist in bringing these men, women and children home should do so now.

Sceptics argue that it is impossible to uproot Hamas. I do not know. I do know that this can be a short-term solution. It cannot be THE solution. The solution remains to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Not many people were familiar with al-Qaeda prior September 11. ISIS came about following the war in Iraq. Even if Israel destroys Hamas, without resolving the conflict another extreme organisation, with a different name, will appear. 

Therefore, the Israeli government MUST engage with the PLO and Arab countries, in a sincere effort to find a solution to a 150-year old conflict. Human life is more important than land, and sovereignty on land is not that important if there is peace. See Denmark and Sweden. They fought for hundreds of years, shed a lot of blood, and see their relationships now. I have crossed the border between the two countries multiple times without a passport. True, you may argue that the Danish and Swedish cultures are not very different, and that the Israeli and Palestinian cultures are quite different. I think that most Palestinians in the West Bank resemble Israeli-Palestinians in many ways. As we learned to live with the Israeli-Palestinians, we can also learn to live with the West Bank Palestinians. 

Reflections on Last Newsletter

Hamas-Israel War

Calling terrorism by name


Bring Them Home Now … My TVP World Interview

My year in Sweden has come to an end

New Publication: “The Harm in Hate Speech and in Holocaust Denial”

Abraham Accords – Trade

Innovation: Identifying lung cancer

My Three Favourite Books This Year

Penn Visit

Israel Studies on American Campuses 

Gem of the Month: The Barnes Museum

Did you know?

Monthly Poems

Light Side

Reflections on Last Newsletter

Hi Professor Cohen-Almagor,

How are you? I hope this email finds you safe and well.

This is a fan-made list I've compiled of documentaries, films, and TV series, touching on themes of equality, justice, and peace, between Israel and Palestine.

I highly recommend them:

I thought you may find it interesting? I think it could help all those keen on the Middle East to watch such works. Please feel free to share it.

I hope we can stay in touch.

Salaam, shalom from Madrid,


Urgent Call to Action for 200 Hostages in the Israel-Hamas Conflict

Hamas-Israel War, Times of Israel, NOV 10, 2023


7 October is one of the bloodiest days in Jewish history, excluding the Holocaust. It is a day that many generations will remember with sadness and horror. Israel should note this day on its calendar as a Memorial Day.

7 October was a game changer for Israel, for Hamas, for Gaza and for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The reality after the horrific 7 October attack has changed dramatically.

What did Hamas have in mind?

Hamas, and Iran, thought Israel is fragmented, weak, torn apart from the inside; that Israel lacks unity and therefore there was an opportunity to catch the country in its weak, fragile moment, seize the opportunity and inflict pain. I suspect Hamas did not know that 7 October will be a field day for them. They thought that they will face a strong opposition but enjoyed the opportunity that was presented for them to drive forces forward almost with no opposition into Israeli villages and kibbutzim. Ecstatic by their achievement, they brutally slaughter any Jew they saw, as they were instructed, and took hundreds of people with them back to Gaza as human shields. They knew Israel would not sit quietly in response. They thought the human shields, that include children and babies, will take the sting out of the Israeli attack.

Their brutal success in murdering Jews and non-Jews with gusto shocked the Israeli nation and people all over the world. While Israel is unified in its national grief, it is also unified in its resolve. We understood that we could not afford living next to Hamas. All the talks about the benefits of having Gaza ruled by Hamas, of dividing the Palestinian people and ruling them, of having Hamas under check, proved wrong. The concept had broken on 7 October. That erroneous concept was replaced with another concept: Take Hamas out. Destroy them. Bring their end.

Some people want revenge. I am not a vengeful person and the issue for me is not revenge. Revenge is a very bad guide for decision-making process. Blind vengeance would only yield more violence and gore. The issue is self-defence.

Israel fights this war because it has a fundamental right to defend itself against those vowing to see its destruction.

Hamas is the new Haman. Hamas leaders vow to bring on Israel many 7 October-like attacks. Israel vows not to let this happen. Those who live by the sword die by the sword.

Nor does Israel fight to keep Netanyahu in office, or to oust him. This war is partly because of his failed so-called “leadership”. But soldiers do not fight for him. It is not all about Netanyahu. Soldiers fight for the security of their country, and in support of their friends and commanders. Again, Israel, like any nation, has the right to defend itself.

I did not support a ground operation, dreading the bloody ramifications of such an operation. I supported a monitored siege on Gaza, controlling what was going in and out from Gaza, with measured incursions into Gaza and securing a deal for the release of the hostages.

I support a deal. Freeing all the Hostages in exchange for letting equal number of Hamas people travel to Iran.

Israel should do whatever it can to bring home the hostages held by Hamas. It is its duty and the decent, right thing to do. Any country and organisation that can assist in bringing these men, women and children home should do so now. This includes Qatar, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and the United Nations.

The war may last a long time. Israeli leaders should think about the day after. Law of physics holds that lacunas must be filled. In the absence of the eradicated Hamas, someone needs to hold the reigns. Israel should think carefully who they want to see in power: the PLO, a coalition of countries, Israel or an international organisation. Without planning, Hamas might be replaced by another terrorist organisation and Israel will face a Hamas twin, or worse.

Israeli leaders should also understand that the root cause for this brutal war is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This convoluted, long and bloody conflict that has costed many thousands of lives will continue to hunt Israel if its leaders will continue to prioritise land over human life, and continued occupation over normalisation and reconciliation with the Palestinians. If we do not learn to live together, we will continue to die together. The last serious attempt to seek peace was done by Prime Minister Olmert in 2008. Since then, Israel has been stalling for time. 7 October is a loud wake-up call to be proactive in securing accommodation and in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Raphael Cohen-Almagor completed his Doctorate in Political Theory at the University of Oxford. He is Professor of Politics and Director of the Centre of Middle East Studies at the University of Hull (UK), Olof Palme Visiting Professor at Lund University, Global Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC (USA), and associate research fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI). 

The 2023 Olof Palme visiting professorship is awarded to an internationally prominent researcher focused on topics important to the pursuit of peace in a broad context within the areas of social sciences, humanities, theology and science of law.

Calling terrorism by name, The Times of Israel, 17 November 2023 

Raphael Cohen-Almagor

CJ arrived at earth from another galaxy to visit the US and the UK. CJ acquaint itself with the two countries by reading the BBC, The Guardian, the New York Times and the Washington Post. People asked CJ of its first impressions. CJ replied that it was impressed by the standard of living, diversity and innovation. It did not like to read about wars and that it was surprised that terrorism does not exist on earth.

Indeed, if you read only these four very important media outlets, the word terror is not mentioned. Hamas that committed one of the most atrocious terror attacks in history is called 'militant' and its terrorists are named 'gunmen' and, astonishingly, 'fighters'.

I asked senior BBC editors why they don’t call a spade a spade. Their answer was that there is no agreed international definition of terrorism (this, unfortunately, is true), the term is controversial and contested, that one's terrorist is another's freedom fighter, and that they do not wish to alienate any segment of their broad audience across the world.

I reminded the BBC editors that the BBC Charter speaks of sustaining citizenship and civil society. Accordingly, BBC reporters do not need to feel obliged to be neutral as between justice and injustice, between compassion and cruelty. Being a constitutional creation of Parliament, the BBC could not and should not be impartial towards crude violence against innocent civilians.

The idea that one person's ‘terrorist’ is another's ‘freedom fighter’ is a bad clichĂ© that cannot be sanctioned. Freedom fighters don't kidnap children, fire rockets on civilian targets and blow-up civilian buses. Terrorist murderers do. Freedom fighters don't set out to capture and slaughter children, women and elderly people. Terrorist murderers do. Freedom fighters don't hold hostage innocent men, women, and children. Terrorist murders do. It is a disgrace that journalists and editors would apply no moral judgment and associate the term ‘freedom’ with acts of terror. Reporters and editors who refrain from calling terror by name employ no moral judgment, thus paying homage to moral relativism. To remain morally neutral and ‘objective’ toward terrorism and to sympathize with terrorist acts is to betray professional responsibility as well as ethics and morality. Objectivity should be rejected in cases presenting ideas sharply opposed to humanity, which sanctify brutality and indiscriminate violence.

Furthermore, by their erroneous policy, these media outlets legitimise terror. Intelligent editors do not have to behave like diplomats and politicians. Indeed, normally they do not. Decent people understand that it is wrong to call those who behead babies, rape women and set civilian homes with their residents on fire 'fighters'. While there is no agreed upon definition of terror, the components of terror are well established. Terror is about the threat and use of violence against civilians for ideological, political or religious reasons. If people, any people - Jews, Muslim, Christian and others - do this, then they are terrorist. Calling terrorism by name is the journalist's professional duty and responsibility. Avoiding using the term when it is warranted is irresponsible, unprofessional and wrong. Journalists have professional and civilian duty to support those who fight terror and enable them to carry their professional duty.

Conversely, attacks against military targets would not be called terrorist. Those who carry such attacks should be rightly called ‘militants’, ‘fighters’ and ‘gunmen’. However, people who aim to kill and maim civilians are terrorists and their actions are morally reprehensible.

The BBC, The Guardian, the New York Times and the Washington Post should reconsider their "world without terrorism" policy. Unfortunately, we do not live in La La Land. Terrorism does exist. We are reminded of its brutal manifestations time and again. These influential media organisations should acknowledge this and not play into the hands of terrorism.


Last March I delivered a closed talk for experts at The Swedish Institute of International Affairs. One participant, from a prestigious research center in Stockholm, asked me about the moderate elements in Hamas as she understood from my lecture that Hamas is a unified organisation, and she begged to differ. I replied that while Hamas is a complex organisation, with diverse ideas, its leadership is committed to three ideas: Political Islam, not recognizing Israel as a legitimate state in the region and hence should be destroyed, and violence as a strategy. The leadership makes the decisions and Hamas, on all its faction, follows those decisions. 

The researcher was not too convinced. I wonder what she thinks now about the moderate elements in Hamas.

Bring Them Home Now… | Raphael Cohen-Almagor

TVP World, 23.11.2023

My year in Sweden has come to an end

My year in Sweden has come to an end. It was a wonderful year. I love Sweden, Lund, Lund University and its people. They have made me a great ambassador for the country, city and university. I like the life-work balance in Sweden. Up until coming to Sweden I used to work 6 days a week. Sweden has persuaded me to move to 5 days a week work, and two days of rest. This way I can devote more time to my lovely family. 

I was very happy that my wife also fell in love with Lund. She, too, enjoyed her time in this lovely city. Lund is calm and tranquil. It has something special about it, similar to another university city I know well – Oxford. We made some new friends here, and I hope these relationships will last and prosper. 

New Publication: “The Harm in Hate Speech and in Holocaust Denial”, in John Steel and Julian Petley (eds.), Freedom of Expression and Censorship (London: Routledge, 2024): 195-207.

This chapter begins by providing a general contextualisation of hate speech and the controversies around it. It then asks two questions: is Holocaust denial a form of hate speech? If the answer is positive, should Holocaust denial be banned?
Section II explains what is hate speech. Section III is concerned with the relationship between hate speech and hate crime. Section IV discusses Holocaust denial, explains why it is a form of hate speech and why it cannot and should not be protected by the Free Speech Principle. Appropriate legislation should be in place to bar it. Countries that suffered from the Nazi terror legislated against Holocaust denial.

Abraham Accords – Trade

September Trade Numbers: (Source: Israel Central Bureau of Statistics)

  • Trade between Israel and the United Arab Emirates reached $233.6 million September 2023, constituting a 12.9% increase in trade from September 2022. For the first nine months of 2023, bilateral trade was $2.34 billion, constituting a 28.2% increase in trade from the first nine months of 2022.

  • Trade between Israel and Bahrain reached $300,000 in September 2023, constituting a 78.6% decrease in trade from September 2022. For the first nine months of 2023, bilateral trade was $9.9 million, constituting a 1% decrease in trade from the first nine months of 2022.

  • Trade between Israel and Morocco reached $25.1 million in September 2023, constituting a 422.9% increase in trade from September 2022. For the first nine months of 2023, bilateral trade was $90 million, constituting a 182.1% increase in trade from the first nine months of 2022.

  • Trade between Israel and Egypt reached $31.1 million in September 2023, constituting a 37.6% increase in trade from September 2022. For the first nine months of 2023, bilateral trade was $285.9 million, constituting a 21.8% increase in trade from the first nine months of 2022.

  • Trade between Israel and Jordan reached $31.8 million in September 2023, constituting a 23% decrease in trade from September 2022. For the first nine months of 2023, bilateral trade was $367.7 million, constituting a 7.5% decrease in trade from the first nine months of 2022.

Innovation: Identifying lung cancer

Israel’s Medial EarlySign has partnered US-based Geisinger to identify patients at high risk for respiratory or pulmonary diseases such as lung cancer. Their LungFlag AlgoMarker analyzes data from a patient’s electronic health record to enable early screening.

My Three Favourite Books This Year

I was asked what three books I enjoyed reading most this year.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Book cover of Prophets without Honor: The 2000 Camp David Summit and the End of the Two-State SolutionBook cover of Peter Wallensteen: A Pioneer in Making Peace Researchable: With a Foreword by Jan Eliasson and a  Preface by Raimo Vayrynen

A book cover of a book

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What did I love most about each book?

I’mRaphael Cohen-Almagor Author Of The Republic, Secularism and Security: France versus the Burqa and the Niqab

Raphael Cohen-Almagor


AuthorDoerScholarTeacherPeace and human rights activist

The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 884 authors and super readers for their 3 favorite reads of the year.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

My favorite read in 2023…

Prophets without Honor: The 2000 Camp David Summit and the End of the Two-State Solution

By Shlomo Ben-Ami

Book cover of Prophets without Honor: The 2000 Camp David Summit and the End of the Two-State Solution

Raphael Cohen-AlmagorWhy did I love this book?

I very much enjoyed reading this book as it offers an eloquent account of the Israeli-Palestinian failed peace process written from a very personal perspective of the former Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs.

I have known Ben-Ami for many years, having worked for him at his Tel Aviv Center during the 1990s. I also supported his career in the Labour Party. Ben-Ami is a sharp intellectual who is committed to peace.

Ben-Ami did his best to negotiate between Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Often he came up with innovative ideas designed to break many impasses along the way. However, despite his best efforts, peace remained elusive.

He writes that this book pretends to offer the most nonpartisan, comprehensive, and balanced account by an insider representing one of the parties. Indeed, the most interesting parts of the book (I and II) are those where Ben-Ami was directly involved: The discussions leading to Camp David 2000, the Clinton Parameters, and the Taba peace summit. Part III covers the years 2001-2020, during which Israel evacuated Gaza, Prime Minister Olmert negotiated peace with the Palestinian leader Abbas and Obama’s peace initiative. 

I am using this book for research on a book I am working on.

Explore this book 

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Peter Wallensteen: A Pioneer in Making Peace Researchable: With a Foreword by Jan Eliasson and a Preface by Raimo Vayrynen

By Peter Wallensteen

Book cover of Peter Wallensteen: A Pioneer in Making Peace Researchable: With a Foreword by Jan Eliasson and a  Preface by Raimo Vayrynen

Raphael Cohen-AlmagorWhy did I love this book?

Peter Wallensteen is a peace academic and activist who was involved in many initiatives to resolve conflicts. I have been following his extensive scholarship for many years.

This book is his magnum opus. Wallenstein opens this erudite and comprehensive volume with an autobiographical account of his upbringing and what brought him to make peace research the focal point of his life. Part II deals with ethics, the use of sanctions in international relations, peace mediation, and the role of international organisations, especially the United Nations, in settling conflicts. Part III focuses on war while Part IV focuses on peace and on academic diplomacy of the kind Wallensteen was involved.

I find this to be a rich, industrious, and thoughtful book. It is a nice summery of a very impressive career. I regard Peter as one of the leading scholars in the world on peace and conflict resolution. 

Explore this book 

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

From the Ashes of History: Collective Trauma and the Making of International Politics

By Adam B. Lerner

A book cover of a book

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Raphael Cohen-AlmagorWhy did I love this book?

This is the best book in international relations that I read this year. It raises an important contribution to the literature.

In this thoughtful book, Lerner provides a new understanding and application of the "narrative identity approach" in International Relations. Combining theory with applications, Lerner studied the long-term impacts of colonialism on Indian state-building, the Holocaust in Israeli security discourses, and the role of PTSD in reimaging US foreign policy.

The book is wide-ranging, and it uncovers new grounds. It is learned and original, combining an insightful theoretical framework with fascinating case studies. To my mind, Lerner makes a compelling case for viewing historical events through a new perspective. The theoretical framework he offers is interesting and relevant, the analysis is comprehensive and thorough, and the book is clear and coherent. I highly recommend it. 

The Hedley Bull Prize in International Relations jury, of which I was a member, has decided that Adam Lerner's book From the Ashes of History should receive Honourable Mentioning.

Penn Visit

I received the Perry House Fellowship to deliver a lecture at Penn. I spoke about the Oslo Peace Process and enjoyed returning to this wonderful university, meeting colleagues and friends and marveling the Penn campus. Penn is a great institution.

At the same time, I was distressed to know that some of my Jewish colleagues were subjected to antisemitic attacks, to threats and to intimidation. Antisemitism raises its ugly head on American campuses.

The visit to Penn promoted me to write this article:

Israel Studies on American Campuses 

The horrific Hamas attack on 7 October 2023 was a game changer for Israel, Hamas and Gaza. On that fateful morning, hundreds of terrorists went out to Israeli towns, villages and kibbutzim with the aim of murdering as many Israelis as possible, and to kidnap hundreds of civilians and soldiers. The terrorists shamelessly documented their atrocities in videos that quickly went viral. 7 October was the bloodiest day in Israel’s short history and, excluding the Holocaust, one of the bloodiest days in our long Jewish history. 


Israel was quick to respond by launching a war against Hamas in Gaza, aiming to bring about its complete destruction. The war has led to increased attacks on Jews around the world. ADL reported that antisemitic incidents in the United States rose by 388% in slightly over two weeks after the attack by Hamas. Some of the threats and attacks take place in American campuses. Cornell University police opened an investigation of a series of antisemitic threats made against the Jewish community in online posts.  


The Cornell Daily Sun reported threats to shoot Jewish students and encouragement to harm Jews. At Harvard, a coalition of 34 student organizations stated that they hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all the violence, ignoring the Hamas atrocities that sparked the war. I just returned from a visit to the University of Pennsylvania that has experienced an ugly wave of antisemitism that included threatening messages to Jews, swastikas and other hateful antisemitic messages drawn on walls, and videos spewing hateful rhetoric. Those incidents prompted Penn President, M. Elizabeth Magill, to circulate a memo to the Penn community in which she acknowledged the tremendous pain inflicted on Jewish students, faculty, and staff, and stating that a firm action is taken to assure their safety and to discipline hate mongers. 


Jews feel insecure. Some try to hide their religious identity for fear that they might be hurt only because of being Jewish, notwithstanding their views about the war. Jewish lecturers and students are concerned that if they were to voice their opinions they might be reprimanded or punished by their colleagues and managers. Academic freedom and freedom of expression are threatened. Public order is threatened. The atmosphere is volatile and sensitive.  


Jewish lecturers and students should feel secure in campuses. One of the keys for their support on campus is having a Chair in Israel Studies. Such chairs are sources of knowledge and expertise. Together with chairs in Jewish studies, these chairs are in the forefront of the struggle for tolerance, against antisemitism and for scholarly engagement with contentious issues. At present, in the United States there are only 23 such chairs. This is a far cry from what is needed to provide an informed discussion about burning issues. As President of The Association for Israel Studies, my role is to support all chairs and centers of Israel Studies, support members of these centers, and work to establish new centers for excellence in major universities, such as Cornell, Harvard and Pennsylvania. Centers for Israel Studies examine Israel’s history, geography, literature, its diverse society and culture, and its complex political and military challenges. Such centers design curricula, offer courses, provide analytical expertise, mentor post-graduate students, organise seminars and conferences, arrange student trips to Israel, host summer schools about Israel, publish about different aspects of Israeli history, society and politics, and host Israeli scholars, writers and artists. These centers are invaluable resource for providing and elucidating scholarly data and knowledge as well as advice to managers, faculty and students about intricate situations involving Israel.  


The 7 October 2023 is a clear reminder of this urgent need to install many more centers for Israel Studies in major campuses. 


Gem of the Month: The Barnes Museum

My second favourite artist is Renoir. I travelled the world and went to museums when I heard they hold his paintings. Many museums are proud to hold one or two Renoir paintings. I knew the Barnes holds some of his paintings. I did not know that the Barnes is the largest private collection of Renoir in the world, with more than 160 of his paintings. What a joy for the eye and heart!

Philadelphia art collector Albert C. Barnes (1872–1951) chartered the Barnes in 1922 to teach people from all walks of life how to look at art. Over three decades, he collected some of the world’s most important impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern paintings, including works by Renoir, CĂ©zanne, Matisse, van Gogh, and Picasso. He displayed them alongside African masks, native American jewelry, Greek antiquities, and decorative metalwork.

Did you know?

At Japan’s dementia cafes, forgotten orders are all part of the service. Here, with each wrong or forgotten order, patrons embrace the mix-ups and chuckle along with their 85-year-old server. That’s the way it goes at the Cafe of Mistaken Orders, which hires elderly people with dementia to work as servers once a month. 

Source: Washington Post.

Monthly Poems

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.

Cry beloved country

15 January 2023


Cry beloved country

As long as it is possible

As long as there is a soul in us

Warn against your destroyers

Protest against those who bring about injustice.

Cry beloved country

Because there is no other country

Those seeking to mine any good plot

The splendor of power is in their hands

Promote dark interests.

Cry beloved country

Stand against narrow politics

Silence serves those who oppress

Provide tools to reverse what was built

Undermine justice, equality, peace, morality.

Our beloved country cries out for its vigil

Young and older come together

Against the fervor of violent and raging rule

Rise up and correct injustice 

Before it is too late.

Raphael Almagor

The Land

Tom Vaughn has revised this poem which I published in the past. Here is the revised poem.

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

and even if dawn

will scatter the night

and send us both stumbling

into the light

where smooth olives glisten

in the warm sun

like belts of bright bullets

ripe for a gun.

Tom Vaughn

Light Side

On the couch

When my brother began his psychiatric practice, his first patient was a particularly good-looking young woman. My brother motioned for her to lie down on the couch, but the woman hesitated until he reassured her that it was part of the therapy procedure. Once on the couch, she smoothed her dress around her legs and began to relax a bit.

“Now then,” he asked, “how did your trouble begin?”

“Just like this,” she said.

—Don Singer, True


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