Monday, December 22, 2008

Politics – December 2008

People are so preoccupied with the pursuit of happiness that they ignore their little everyday blessings. Raphael Cohen-Almagor

We are not giving you the advice to start smiling at everyone you meet in New York. That would be dangerous. James H. Fowler, co-author of a study that found that happiness is contagious (from NY Times).

State of Human Rights Report 2008 - The Iranian Threat - Labour Primaries - Likud Primaries - Kadima Primaries - Index of Peace and War - The Middle Class is Shrinking in Israel - BBC - USINPAC Petition - My Inaugural Lecture - Israel Law Review - New Article - New Book - New Movie - Joke of the Month

State of Human Rights Report 2008

JERUSALEM - December 4, 2008 - To mark 60 years since the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948, the Association for Human Rights in Israel (ACRI) has dedicated its annual "State of Human Rights Report" to evaluating Israel's respect for the Declaration's various tenets. Though the Declaration is not binding, it has served as the basis for many subsequent laws, treaties, and conventions relating to human rights the world over.
Below are highlights from ACRI's "State of Human Rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories Report 2008." As Israel's leading human rights organization, ACRI has fought to preserve the rights of all for 36 years and boasts a long list of achievements in protecting and promoting the full spectrum of rights and liberties in Israel and the Occupied Territories. These accomplishments are detailed in the report.

The Right to Equality:
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." (Article 1)."Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." (Article 2(1))

Women's Rights:
· The representation of women in senior academic posts is 10% lower than the average in Europe and the more senior the post, the lower representation. · Conversely, in the judiciary, women constitute a majority of 51%, the same proportion as their representation in the overall population; equality between the genders is also preserved among judges and the duties they perform.
Rights of Arab Citizens of Israel:
Though Arabs citizens are a national indigenous minority entitled to full equality, they have been subjected to systemic and institutional discrimination in all aspects of life since the establishment of the State.
· Whereas Arabs in Israel account for 20% of the population, the area of jurisdiction of all Arab authorities consists of only 2.5% of the area of Israel.
· Social and institutional barriers have prevented Arab citizens from acquiring land or leasing it in more than 80% of the country.
· Mixed towns: 90,000 Arab citizens of the State live in mixed towns - Ramle, Lod, Acco, Haifa, and Yaffo. Vast discrepancies in infrastructure, maintenance, and services between Arab and Jewish neighborhoods in the same town is abundantly clear; sometimes there are even walls separating the Arab and Jewish populations.
Rights of the Disabled:
· The average income of people with disabilities is less than 70% of the average income of people without disabilities.
· A survey of employers conducted in 2007 revealed that 85% of Israeli managers do not employ people with disabilities and 23% state that they do not want to hire workers with disabilities.
The Ethiopian Community in Israel:
The Ethiopian community encounters widespread discrimination among members of the public and on the part of institutions. An examination of government policies reveals no lack of good intentions, but still, not enough has been achieved to help this community fully realize its rights.
· More than 72% of children of Ethiopian origin have grown up in poverty.
· The rate of high school graduates among students of Ethiopian origin is 39.14% compared with 63.8% among the overall Jewish population.
· 65% of Israelis of Ethiopian origin are known to the Social Welfare authorities.
Civil and Political Rights
Security and Human Rights:
"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile." (Article 9)· The Incarceration of Unlawful Combatants Law (2002), amended to be more stringent in August 2008, allows for holding a person indefinitely in administrative detention if there is a “reasonable basis to assume” - based on secret evidence - that he took part in hostile activity against the State of Israel “directly or indirectly”, or that he is a member of a militia carrying out hostile activity. On 11 June, 2008 - in one of the harshest decisions in recent years - Israel’s Supreme Court affirmed the legality of some provisions of this law, including holding a person for 14 days without judicial review.
· The Entry into Israel Law (1952) allows the State to detain individuals who are in Israel unlawfully for purposes of expelling them. The proposed Prevention of Infiltration Law, which passed its first reading in the Knesset in May 2008, would allow for arbitrary and extended administrative detention without adequate judicial review or proper legal proceedings.

The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age:
"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation." (Article 12)Technological developments in the last 20 years have made the right to privacy more vulnerable than ever.
· In June 2008, the Communication Data Law, nicknamed the "Big Brother Law," came into effect. The Law allows the police and investigative authorities in Israel to obtain from cellular telephone companies and Internet providers personal information about anybody - information about their location, the names of people they contacted from their phone, Internet sites they surf, people with whom they corresponded by email, etc.
· In October 2008, another dangerous bill passed its first reading in the Knesset - to set up a biometric database to include the fingerprints and facial features of Israeli citizens and residents. Biometric information of this nature cannot be altered or substituted; if it falls into the wrong hands or is used for unauthorized purposes, irreversible damage may be caused.
· Over the last few years, the Ministry of Health has been building a "National Medical Registry." With the realization of this project, doctors, emergency room staff, and a number of other functionaries will be able to access, with a keystroke, the medical information of every resident, even if most of it is irrelevant to the required medical treatment.

Freedom of Expression and the Internet:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." (Article 19)
The Internet is an open and democratic arena for the exchange of opinions and information that also provides a platform for weak and silenced voices in society. Yet, threats against freedom of expression have proliferated in this arena.
· In March 2008, the Knesset Committee discussed a bill requiring Internet site operators to be held responsible for the responses of Internet surfers (the "Talkback Law"), effectively allowing them to censor readers' comments based on a number of criteria unrelated to the ethics of the comments.
· In February 2008, the first law of its kind in Israel, censoring the Internet, passed its first reading. The bill, which would filter Internet content, seeks to restrict Internet access to adults. Although it is intended to serve worthy ends - the protection of minors from harmful Internet content -, a central censorship apparatus directed by the government is extreme and dangerous.
Freedom of Information
In 1998, the Knesset passed the Freedom of Information Law initiated by a coalition of organizations including ACRI. According to the Movement for Freedom of Information, which monitors the implementation of the Law, not one ministry in the Israeli government fully implements the Law, and only a few ministries implement it satisfactorily.

Freedom of Movement
"Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State." (Article 13)·
In September 2008 approximately 65% of the main routes leading into the 18 most populated Palestinian towns in the West Bank are either blocked or controlled by IDF checkpoints, according to OCHA (the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).
· OCHA also reports that 415 kilometers of the Separation Barrier (some 57% of the planned route) have been completed, and 79% of it - 329 kilometers - was built within the West Bank, separating Palestinians from their land and creating enclaves with no territorial contiguity in which Palestinian communities remain isolated from each other and the rest of the West Bank.

Social and Economic Rights
"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control." (Article 25)Over the past 30 years, Israel has moved from being one of the most egalitarian countries in the Western world in terms of income distribution to the least egalitarian Western country, with the exception of the United States. At the same time, many basic social services have been privatized - specifically education and health.
· In 2006/2007, 420,000 families were poor - 20.5% of the families in Israel - and the incidence of poverty among children was 35.9%, or 805,000 children.
· The number of "working poor" families has increased dramatically: The incidence of poverty among families with one breadwinner rose from 17.6% in 2002 to 23.9% in 2006/07. A report by an inter-ministerial committee in March 2008 noted that the level of nutritional insecurity is troubling.
Residents of East Jerusalem and the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev suffer most acutely from abject poverty and lack of social services:
· In 2006, 67% of the Palestinian families in East Jerusalem and 77.2% of East Jerusalem children lived in poverty, compared with 21% of the city's Jewish families and 39.1% of the city's Jewish children.
· Tens of thousands of people live in 39 unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev without clean water, electric, sewage, and telephone infrastructures, or paved roadways, and suffer from severe shortages in educational, health, welfare, and sanitation services.

The full version of ACRI's State of Human Rights Report 2008 in available at; To receive a hard copy of the report, please send your postal address to Mirah Curzer at For more information on specific topics or to schedule an interview, contact Melanie Takefman ++972-528606023 or

The Iranian Threat

Israel cannot afford to take lightly threats of mass destruction. We take the words of our enemies very seriously, for very good reasons. Israel learnt that words lead to actions, and that it should rely first and foremost on itself. On December 12, 2008 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made yet another verbal assault on Israel, saying it would soon "fade away from the earth."
"The crimes being committed by the Zionist regime are happening because it is aware that it has reached the end of the line and will soon fade away from the earth". He said world powers have become increasingly hesitant to show further support for Israel, which he said had lost direction.

The Iranian threat is not only a threat to Israel. It is a threat to the entire free world. A nuclear Iran would destabilize the Middle East and would lead to nuclear armament of other nations. Putting such a weapon in the hands of totalitarian nations is a risky business indeed, as they do not care about their people according to the accepted norms in the Western world, and their willingness to make great sacrifices in the present for achieving future plans is greater than what any democracy would find tolerable.

Labour Primaries

On December 4, 2008 the Labour Party held its primaries to decide the list for the 18th Knesset. Here are the results for the first ten spots:

1. MK Ehud Barak (did not compete)
2. MK Isaac Herzog - 24,788
3. MK Ophir Pines-Paz - 24,336
4. MK Avishai Braverman - 22,801
5. MK Shelley Yachimovich - 19,650
6. MK Matan Vilnai - 18,494
7. MK Eitan Cabel – (secured seat. He is the party general secretary)
8. MK Benjamin Ben-Eliezer - 17,912
9. MK Yuli Tamir - 15,869
10. MK Amir Peretz - 16,881

Whoowwww!!! What a refreshing list!!! So many new and promising faces to rejuvenate and energize the failed party. All the first ten seats will go, yet again, to the same team that brought the once-upon-a-time glorious party to its present condition, down on its knees. Add to this list the people who compete locally, and the picture is even gloomier as there is no true leader there either. Lessons are learned slowly and painfully. Eventually, there will be change, but not in the upcoming elections. I hope before the Labour Party completely evaporates.

After the results were announced, Labour Party Chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak told cheering faction members: "Today, Labor has a winning party, the best party." Sure. Of course. To the same extent that it proved to be a winning combination for the past recent years.

Likud Primaries

While the Labour Party needed to change in order to salvage the upcoming elections, the Likud does not. Bibi is doing quite all right, thank you very much. All he needs to do is to avoid the inherent temptation he has to open his mouth. When he speaks, things go wrong for him as then his persona pops out and reminds us of his personality, his ideas, his drives. When he is quiet, he allows others to make mistakes and retain his position as the main contender for the prime minister's office.

A few days after the Labour primaries, the Likud held its own show of democracy. Here it will not suffice to tell you who are the first ten candidates, although surely the majority of these will be ministers if Benjamin Netanyahu is elected to head the country. Although the Likud did not undergo significant change, it had its fair share of new faces. More than it wanted. I guess the following have all a chance to serve in the Knesset:

1.) MK Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud Chairman)
2.) MK Gideon Sa'ar (head of Likud faction in the Knesset), a very good parliamentarian, lawyer by profession; served in the office of Legal Advisor to the Government. He is a sensible and responsible man.
3.) MK Gilad Erdan, very energetic parliamentarian. Has a strong zeal to succeed. Unsure whether he knows his boundaries. Hawk.
4.) MK Reuven Rivlin, former Knesset Speaker. A very likeable guy, with hawkish opinions.
5.) Benny Begin - yes he decided to return to politics, possibly was bored with his life. The Likud voters did not forget this major "prince" and gave him a nice welcoming party, straight into fifth place which may secure him a ministerial office. There is not much love between him and Bibi, but they appreciate one another, and need each other. Begin is a hawk, though I presume that like his father he knows the virtues of pragmatism.
6.) MK Moshe Kahlon. He was voted no. 1 in the last primaries. Apparently a nice man.
7.) MK Silvan Shalom, sliding slowly down the scale. He knows that. Bibi calms him down.
8.) Moshe Ya'alon, former Army Chief of Staff, made a nice entry into political life. A hawk who will do his best to jeopardize any possible peace agreement. He trusts the Palestinians to the same extent that I trust a frightened snake.
9.) MK Yuval Steinitz - his strong alliance with Bibi continues to pay off. The former philosophy lecturer of the University of Haifa is doing well in political life. He must be disappointed, as he aimed higher. He will continue to sit very close to Bibi, his lifeline. He does what Bibi tells him to do.
10.) Leah Ness, obviously has good contacts with Likud supporters.
11.) MK Yisrael Katz, hawk
12.) MK Yuli Edelstein, hawk
13.) MK Limor Livnat, opportunist hawk, one of the most unpleasant people in politics.
14.) MK Haim Katz, a labour unionist; hawk
15.) Yossi Peled, former IDF general. Made a good entry into political life. I wish him luck. He is a sensible person.
16.) MK Michael Eitan, one of the best parliamentarians in the Knesset. Nice to see that he is able to retain his seat for so many years. People appreciate his hard work. A pragmatic and sensible person.
17.) Dan Meridor, like the senior prince Benny Begin, Dan decided to jump back into political life. It is good to have such people around. Dan is a decent parliamentarian, a wise man who has contributed a lot, and will in the future. A pragmatic and sensible person.
18.) Tzipi Hotoveli, obviously has good contacts with Likud supporters.
19.) Gila Gamliel - sad that she returned to politics. Did not miss her a bit. An opportunist.
20.) Moshe Feiglin, THE HAWK. The troublemaker. The most radical element in this right-wing party. Feiglin opposes peace talks with the Palestinians, encourages non-Jews to leave the country and advocates recapturing the Gaza Strip. In the past he was involved in illegal activities in “Zu Artzenu” (“This is Our Land”) movement which he established to counter any peace initiatives, at that time the Oslo Accords. I am sorry to see him here. More importantly, Bibi was not only sorry but took practical steps. He organized a petition to move Feiglin from the 20th place on the party ticket to 36th. The petition was submitted by Ofir Akonis, no. 28 on the Likud list and a Bibi loyalist, who argued that since female candidates fared relatively well, places on the ticket secured for women should be allocated to regional representatives. The result was that Feiglin, who ran on the national list, was effectively pushed down 16 places.

The Likud might have won some votes were Feiglin to remain in his place. On the other hand, the Likud might have lost others. Bibi did not wish to take chances. His list is hawkish enough. Until the elections, he will do his best to hide Feiglin and to keep him away from the limelight. He is too extreme even for Bibi’s taste, an achievement in itself. Kadima and Labour, on the other hand, will not miss an opportunity to attack Likud for its hawkish list, including Feiglin.
Two good men, former general Uzi Dayan and former Chief of Police Assaf Hefetz, did not enjoy the support they hoped for. They were elected to 42nd and 38th places respectively.
Opinion polls released in early December showed that the Likud would win 35 of parliament's 120 seats, compared with 26 for Kadima, led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
With this list, the Likud will be an obstacle to peace. If Obama will put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict high on his priorities, and Bibi will be elected to the prime minister's office, I see only one direction: Conflict between the two.

Kadima Primaries

The third major party with a good chance to be part of the next government held its primaries on December 17, 2008. The first two places were automatically allotted to Tzipi Livni and Shaul Mofaz. There were no great surprises. The experienced politicians secured their positions.

Third came Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and fourth MK Tzachi Hanegbi, who has still to fight to clear his name of all kinds of allegations. Finance Minister Roni Bar-On, Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Boim, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, MK Ruhama Avraham-Balila, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, and MK Marina Solodkin round out Kadima's top ten. No great news but I assume Kadima thinks no news is good news.

Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon made a last moment decision to run and was elected to the 17th position. He is contemplating his future in politics. It might be a good idea for him to take time-off from politics, as did Benny Begin and Dan Meridor, and return when people start to miss his qualities. He is a very competent politician.

And while Kadima was holding its primaries in Tel Aviv, rockets fell in the Negev. A few people were injured but luckily no one was killed. The IDF retaliated from the air attacking yet again terrorist targets in Gaza. “Normal” life in Israel.

Index of Peace and War

The November Index of Peace and War checked the public’s positions on two central issues: the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the Arab Peace Initiative. On the first issue, the findings of the War and Peace Index show a solid majority among the Jewish public of 58% (vs. 36%) who support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and a slightly larger majority (61% vs. 35%) who see the Palestinians’ claim to an independent state of their own as justified. Moreover, a clear majority, though a bit smaller—53% compared to 38%—also say that in the framework of a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Israel could allow itself to agree to an independent Palestinian state’s creation.

The poll asked about the upcoming elections: “Which government, in your opinion, will succeed in advancing the peace process while safeguarding Israel’s interests in the context of negotiations with the different Arab actors?” The choice presented this time was between a government headed by Ehud Barak, by Binyamin Netanyahu, or by Tzipi Livni. The answers show this order of preferences: 35% thought a Netanyahu-led government was the one that would best succeed in advancing the peace process while safeguarding Israel’s security interests, 25% thought so regarding a Livni-led government, and only 6% opted for a Barak-headed government as the one that would best succeed in fulfilling this task. Among the rest, 15% said all the possibilities were “the same” in their eyes and 20% responded that they did not know or had no clear position on the matter. This distribution indicates that each of the candidates has a potential basis to alter his or her status one way or the other, though the situation of Netanyahu and of Livni is much better than that of Barak.
I thank Eppie Yaar for sending the Index to me.

The Middle Class is Shrinking in Israel

The Marxist forecast regarding the advancement of capitalism in advanced countries is coming true in Israel: The gap between the rich and poor is constantly widening; the middle class is shrinking; people are becoming poorer while they are working; alienation is growing. This does not mean that I forecast a socialist revolution. Religion, nationalism and patriotism are still very strong, much stronger than class consciousness.

A new study of the Adva Center for Policy Analysis found that Ashkenazi Israelis earn around 40 percent more than their Sephardi counterparts. The study documents what many Israeli felt so well during the past decade: The number of Israelis receiving minimum wage or less grew by 22 percent in the past ten years, from 28.8 percent of workers in 1988 to 35.1 last year. The middle class also continued to shrink, from 33 percent of all households to 27.7 percent. The decade was marked by decreasing equality and justice in Israeli society.
"On the one hand, the government boosted the business sector by transferring pension savings from public to private management, and through tax reductions to corporations and the rich," it said. "On the other hand, the government took steps to undermine some of the most basic socio-economic arrangements including the social safety net, the education system and the public health and housing systems."
The past decade saw significant economic growth, particularly in the last five years, but while growth in Israel was 40 percent for the period, in the United States it stood at 60 percent or even more.
Growth in Israel was centered in the banking sector, as well as insurance and pension funds, and the high-tech industry, which grew by 47 percent. Traditional industry grew just 6 percent over the entire decade. This does not concern most Israelis.
The report notes that one of the most significant expressions of income inequality is the reduction of the middle class. As said, the share of total household income held by the three middle deciles went down to 27.7 percent. More than half of the households pushed out of those middle deciles - 57 percent - dropped to one of the lower deciles.
The government also contributed to income inequality in the past decade, the report stated, by cutting child programs, unemployment benefits and other social welfare services.

Source: Ruth Sinai, “Report: In Israel, Ashkenazis earn 40 percent more than Sephardis”, Haaretz (December 14, 2008).


It was a bit strange to watch the BBC coverage of the terror attack in Mumbai. The news presenters in London referred to the terrorists as “terrorists”; while the reporters in Mumbai referred to them as “militants”. Are they receiving different orders about the wording? If you are far from London, you must refrain from using the “problematic”, “contested” word “terrorist” because one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, blah blah blah, and all the crap that someone coined without too much thinking, and others who find thinking altogether too challenging. A person who kills innocent civilians for political purposes is a terrorist. There is no washing machine to clean this.

USINPAC Petition

I was asked by the US-Indian Political Action Committee to post the following:

I wanted to request you to help us in spreading the message about a petition which we have recently launched. It is important to get massive participation on this petition to demonstrate to the US Congress and the administration the anger, pain, and desire for action on the issue of terror camps in Pakistan that is being felt by the Indian American community. Please visit the link:

USINPAC needs your support to implement a rapid response to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. USINPAC's action plan includes working with several key Members of Congress to develop an effective response from the US, supporting a Congressional Resolution condemning the attacks, supporting US-India counter-terrorism legislation, and organizing a Congressional Briefing on the origins of the terrorist attacks and the best way for the US to proceed. May I please request you to sign the petition and forward it to as many people you know.

My Inaugural Lecture

You are all invited to my lecture. Would love to see you.

On behalf of the University - The Vice-Chancellor has pleasure in inviting

to attend the Inaugural Lecture entitled

An internet’s way: terrorism, hate, child pornography and crime-facilitating speech on the free highway

to be given by - Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor

in the Middleton Hall at the University on Monday 2 February 2009 Commencing at 6.00 pm

The Lecture will be followed by a wine reception in the artcafé, Middleton Hall (to be advised)

RSVP: Ms. Pam DOCHERTY, Department of Politics and International Studies
Cottingham Road, Hull HU6 7RX
Tel: 01482 - 466085 ; Email:

Israel Law Review

The last issue of the journal, Vol. 41, is a special issue on law, human rights and the occupation. I recommend reading, or at least browsing:

Forty Years after 1967: Reappraising the Role and Limits of the Legal Discourse on Occupation in the Israeli-Palestinian Context

Introduction ........................................................................ Yuval Shany 6

Occupied Zone—a Zone of Reasonableness ........Martti Koskenniemi 13

Rules and Standards in the Application
of International Humanitarian Law ............................... Amichai Cohen 41

Binary Law Meets Complex Reality:
The Occupation of Gaza Debate ........................................ Yuval Shany 68

Human Rights, Israel,
and the Political Realities of Occupation .....................Grant T. Harris 87

Maintaining Law and Order
during Occupation:
Breaking the Normative Chains .................................. Kenneth Watkin 175

Illegal Occupation
and Its Consequences ........................................................... Yaël Ronen 201

The Jus Ad Bellum/Jus In Bello Distinction
and the Law of Occupation ...............................................Rotem Giladi 246
Suspending Sovereignty:
Reassessing the Interlocking of Occupation,
Failed and Fragile State, Responsibility
to Protect, and International Trusteeship
(Lessons from Lebanon) ................................................. Noemi Gal-Or 302

Enforcement of Occupation Law
in Domestic Courts:
Issues and Opportunities ...............................................Tristan Ferraro 331

New Article

“Dignity, Compassion, Care and Safety Valves at the End-of-Life”, Israel Law Review, Vol. 41, Nos. 1 & 2 (2008), pp. 358-393.

This is an extensive critical review of Euthanasia in International and Comparative Perspective. My Review is divided into five parts. First, I outline the book’s strengths. I proceed by speaking of the need for clear and cohesive terminology. I then discuss end-of-life decision-making in some of the countries: Belgium, The Netherlands, and the State of Oregon in the United States, all allow PAS. Belgium and The Netherlands also allow euthanasia. I also discuss Israel’s Dying Patient Law, enacted by the Knesset on December 5, 2005. Finally, I make some suggestions for improvement, including a detailed proposal for PAS which I conceive to be the best policy when balancing one against the other the autonomy of the patient, on the one hand, and the safeguards against abuse when life might be considered too lightly, on the other. Indeed, the main difference between euthanasia and PAS is that in euthanasia, it is the physician who makes the final act of taking a patient’s life, whereas in PAS it is the patient who takes his or her life. In euthanasia, the physician has control over the process. In PAS, the physician controls the procedure up until the last act. The patient has control over the very act of suicide.

This is another product of my stay at the fabulous Wilson Center. As ever, I’d be delighted to send a copy to interested parties.

New Book

John Griffiths, Heleen Weyers, and Maurice Adams, Euthanasia and Law in Europe (Oxford: Hart, 2008),

This book is a successor to J Griffiths, A Bood and H Weyers, Euthanasia and Law in the Netherlands (Amsterdam University Press 1998) which was widely praised for its thoroughness, clarity, and accuracy. I used this book when I wrote my own Euthanasia in the Netherlands (2004) and interviewed Griffiths in his Groningen home. The new book emphasises recent legal developments and new research, and has been expanded to include a full treatment of Belgium, where since 2002 euthanasia has also become legal. The book also includes descriptions written by local specialists of the legal situation and what is known about actual practice in a number of other European countries (England and Wales, France, Italy, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland).
The book strives for as complete and dispassionate a description of the situation as possible. It covers in detail:
- the substantive law applicable to euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, withholding and withdrawing treatment, use of pain relief in potentially lethal doses, palliative and terminal sedation, and termination of life without a request (in particular in the case of newborn babies);
-the process of legal development that has led to the current state of the law; -the system of legal control and its operation in practice; -the results of empirical research concerning actual medical practice.A concluding part deals with some general questions that arise out of the material presented: Is the legalisation of euthanasia an example of the decline of law or should it, on the contrary, be seen as part and parcel of the increasing juridification of the doctor-patient relationship? Does the Dutch experience with legalised euthanasia support the idea of a 'slippery slope' toward a situation in which life - especially of the more vulnerable members of society - is less effectively protected? Is it possible to explain and to predict when a society will decide to legalise euthanasia?

New Movie - Changeling (2008).

This film is based on a true story that took place in Los Angeles in the early 20th Century (1928). It tells the story of a devoted mother Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) who was looking for her missing son, Walter. The police, wishing to show some results, produced a boy, convincing him he is Walter, but unsuccessfully convincing the mother, who still insisted that the boy was not her son, and that the police should continue the search after Walter. When she refused to let go, the unscrupulous police captain (Jeffrey T. Donovan) ordered her committed for psychological therapy. To the rescue came a local reverend (John Malkovich) who was pursuing the police for corruption allegations and other illegal activities. Michael Kelly is impressive as the only honest detective who is actually trying to serve justice, not some partisan, ulterior motives.

The story is tragic and painful. The cast is wonderful. Clint Eastwood directs the movie with his usual sensitivity and punctuation. He also composed the beautiful, captivating music. This guy is something else.
This is the best movie I have seen this year. If you are seeking an emotional drama that will penetrate your heart, this one is for you.

Joke of the Month

Abraham has died. His lawyer is standing before the family and reads out Abraham's Last Will and Testament: "To my dear wife Esther, I leave the house, 50 acres of land, and 1 million dollars; To my son, Barry, I leave my Big Lexus and the Jaguar; To my daughter Suzy, I leave my yacht and $250,000; and to my brother-in-law Jeff, who always insisted that health is better than wealth, I leave my sun lamp."

Wishing you and yours a beautiful festive season: Filled with a rainbow of colours, smells, sounds and pleasant memories for years to come.

Merry Christmas, Wonderful Chanukah filled with love and light, and Happy New Year!!


My last communications are available on Earlier posts at my home page: People wishing to subscribe to this Monthly Newsletter are welcome to e-mail me at

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Politics – November 2008

It’s been a long time coming. But tonight, because of what we did on this date, in this election, change has come to America. Barack Obama

The defence of democracy must consist in making anti-democratic experiences too costly for those who try them; much more costly than a democratic compromise.

Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies

This has been a violent month. Rockets in the south. Bombs exploding in Tel Aviv. Nowadays, when bomb explode you don’t know whether this is another terrorist attack, or settling accounts between criminal gangs. This month, Yaacov Alperon, one of the most notorious leaders of a significant criminal family was assassinated as he left the court in Tel Aviv after yet another hearing.

Time is running out. Those who care for the Palestinians and Israel should do something fast to halt the escalation in Gaza. Israel needs to defend its citizens in the towns outside the Gaza Strip. Are you listening Bush, or maybe Obama? Tony Blair? Putin? Anybody? Someone might even say the UN? Involve yourself now before it is too late.

U.S. Elections - Barack Obama - Africa - Municipal Elections in Israel - Israeli Elections' Polls - Project Bluebird - Al Qaeda in Gaza - BBC - Fighting Bigotry and Hate - A Question for Those Who Care - Transparency International Corruption Index - 12 February 2008: Safer Internet Day - THE VICTOR J. GOLDBERG IIE PRIZE FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST - The World in 2025 - Jay Katz: Obituary New Article - New Books - New Human Rights Portal - My New Website - New Movie - Poem of the Month - Conversation of One Married Couple

U.S. Elections

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the last president to serve in office more than eight years (1933-1945). After the Constitutional change with the effect of limiting the service in the White House to two terms, only once was a party able to retain office more than eight consecutive years. This was George H.W. Bush (1989-1993) who followed the exceptional success of Ronald Reagan, one of the most popular presidents in American history (1981-1989).

Americans believe in checks and balances. Notwithstanding which party is in office, after eight years people believe in change. On exactly this platform Obama based his incredible campaign.

On November 4, 2008 the first African-American was elected as the 44th president of the U.S. A young man, with relatively little political experience, possibly the most liberal president in American history, eloquent, most charismatic. His victory was decisive, a landslide. He won 364 electors, more than double of his rival McCain (162).

Obama passed milestone after milestone: Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana and New Mexico. People spontaneously went out to the streets to celebrate with a sense of exhilaration, a new dawn, a new era.

Barack Obama

I was fortunate to be in Washington during the campaign year. I saw Obama three times. He was always eloquent, impressive, with a clear agenda, lucid and articulate. In one word: a leader.
There is nothing mediocre about Obama. His posture, his conduct, his speeches. Therefore I think Obama will not be a mediocre president. Either he will be a great success, or a glorious failure. Nothing in between. This, of course, assuming that the security men and women around him will do their job properly. I assume there is no shortage of people who would like to see him eliminated. Unfortunately, it is a well known American hobby to assassinate presidents. Unfortunately, sometimes, this hobby has spread to other corners of the world.

The challenges ahead are formidable, and Obama is the first to realize this: the economy, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Russia and its neighbours, possibly also China and North Korea. And then there are the wild cards. I presume some international players would like to test the young and inexperienced president. Obama has shown until now that he knows to surround himself with the right people who do whatever is needed to reach the set goal. He is also a listener, a rare quality. There is no doubt that he is able to make tough decisions, but not in haste, not out of gut feelings. I hope Obama will be able to sustain these qualities, and not let power corrupt his judgment, as is often the case. People in power-positions tend to surround themselves with yes-men who tell them what they want to hear, not what they should hear. That is a sure recipe for failure.

Experience is important. Listening to people of experience, and learn from experiences as you go along implementing policies. There should be continuous feedback with reality, with developments, with people.

People in Israel are suspicious of Obama as he has stronger ties with Kenya than he does with Israel. Well, on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict I don’t think Obama will push further than what Olmert declared in his New Year interview, which I quoted at length in my October Newsletter. I do not think that the USA can be a fair broker, or a successful partner in promoting peace in the Middle East if it will only observe the so-called “Israeli interest” in keeping the occupation beating. No peace and tranquility will be achieved this way, as the Bush Jr. administration had proved so forcefully. Peace is a precious commodity and as such it requires a high price from both sides.

United States under W. has alienated itself from many countries in the world, including traditional friends in Europe. The United States needs to regain its position as a respected world leader, one that has empathy and concern for the needs of the others, one that does not force its way notwithstanding the opinions of others. The USA should be first among equals, not first and only. It needs to unify, not divide; to calm, not to engulf; to push for peace, not war. There are fierce challenges and strong enemies who despise liberal values and espouse violence and destruction as “correcting” forces. But surely war should be the last resort, not first, and prudence should have priority over the axe. The world is missing voices of reason that will inspire us to follow tranquil paths and illuminated meeting rooms.


Everyone who has visited Africa could easily discern that if there is a continent that is yet to reach its potential then this is the one. Africa is blessed with natural assets but the people who reside there have to date not made good use of all these vast resources for the improvement of their own well-being. A lot has to be done in cultivating human resources in conjunction with natural resources to make the most of this rich land. Unfortunately, Africa is the neglected continent. No world leader since the Second World War has invested time in attempting to better the lives of Africans. With Obama, things may change in a positive direction.

For the first time, we may have a world leader with genuine concern for Africa and with a sense of direction.

· Obama's Record: As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Barack Obama has fought to focus America's attention on the challenges facing Africa – stopping the genocide in Darfur, passing legislation to promote stability in the Congo and to bring a war criminal to justice in Liberia, mobilizing international pressure for a just government in Zimbabwe, fighting corruption in Kenya, demanding honesty on HIV/AIDS in South Africa, developing a coherent strategy for stabilizing Somalia, and traveling across the continent raising awareness for these critical issues. He has also increased America's focus on the long term challenges of education, poverty reduction, disease, strengthening democratic institutions and spurring sustainable economic development in Africa.
· Stop the Genocide in Darfur: As president, Obama will take immediate steps to end the genocide in Darfur by increasing pressure on the Sudanese and pressure the government to halt the killing and stop impeding the deployment of a robust international force. He and Joe Biden will hold the government in Khartoum accountable for abiding by its commitments under the Comprehensive Peace Accord that ended the 30 year conflict between the north and south. Obama worked with Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) to pass the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act in 2006.
· Fight Poverty: Obama and Joe Biden will double our annual investment in foreign assistance from $25 billion in 2008 to $50 billion by the end of his first term and make the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015, America's goals. They will fully fund debt cancellation for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries in order to provide sustainable debt relief and invest at least $50 billion by 2013 for the global fight against HIV/AIDS, including our fair share of the Global Fund.
· Expand Prosperity: Obama and Biden will expand prosperity by establishing an Add Value to Agriculture Initiative, creating a fund that will extend seed capital and technical assistance to small and medium enterprises, and reforming the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. They will launch the Global Energy and Environment Initiative to ensure African countries have access to low carbon energy technology and can profitably participate in the new global carbon market so as to ensure solid economic development even while the world dramatically reduces its greenhouse gas emissions. They will also strengthen the African Growth and Opportunity Act to ensure that African producers can access the U.S. market and will encourage more American companies to invest on the continent.


Municipal Elections in Israel

On November 11, 2008 municipal elections were held across Israel. The focus of attention was on Jerusalem, where the secular candidate Nir Barkat won over his Haredi rival Meir Porush. This race yet again exposed the deep divide between religious and secular Israelis.
After a tense campaign Barkat won 52 percent of the vote versus 43 percent for Porush. Russian billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak ran a distant third with just 3.6 percent. His home, I should mention, is in Caesarea.
Barkat is a technology investor and former paratroop officer. In his victory speech, he declared himself the mayor of all Jerusalemites, religious and secular, as well as Jewish and Arab residents of the city: "I'm aware of the depth of the challenge and the complexity of the mission. Now is the time to work together for the good of the city".
In Haifa, the present mayor Yona Yahav won and will continue to serve the city for another five years. Yona is a great ambassador of Haifa, who is working day in and day out to promote the city and to enhance its presence in Israel. He is a fantastic mayor and a decent politician, quite a rare quality these days, a quality that I for one certainly appreciate.
The residents of Be'er Sheva, Rishon Letzion and Ashdod ousted some of Israel's longest-serving local leaders .
In Be'er Sheva, veteran mayor Ya'akov Terner lost to his former deputy Rubik Danilovich. The incumbent won just 30 percent of the vote versus an impressive 60 percent for Danilovich.
Dov Tzur beat Rishon Letzion's incumbent mayor, Meir Nitzan, garnering 52 percent of the vote. Nitzan has served as the mayor of Israel's fourth largest city for the past 25 years. This is far too long. The city needs a new person to hold the reins.

Ashdod's current mayor, Zvi Zilker, was defeated by Dr. Yehiel Lasri, who secured 55 percent of the vote. Zilker served 33 years in office, albeit nonconsecutive, and has been the country's longest-serving local leader.

In Tel Aviv Ron Huldai won another five-year term in office. Huldai won 50 percent of the vote as opposed to the 34 percent for Hadash MK Dov Khenin. Huldai has developed Tel Aviv to a great extent, cleaned the streets, refurbished and built in all corners of the city, finished the longest promenade in Israel from the north of Tel Aviv until Jaffa in the south. This is one of the most beautiful promenades you will see on this planet. Huldai deserved another term to continue his good deeds for Israel’s major city. Incumbent mayors were re-elected in Ramat Gan, Bat Yam, Holon, Herzliya, Netanya and Carmiel.
Candidates in Rehovot, Yavneh, Yafiya, Lakiya, Rahat and Givat Ze'ev failed to secure the minimum 40 percent of the vote required for victory, and second election rounds will be held shortly.

As the polls closed at 10:00 P.M. local time, the nationwide voter turnout stood at 40 percent.

Israeli Elections - Polls

Recent polls in Israel show that the Likud, under the leadership of Bibi Netanyahu, is leading the race with six mandates more than Kadima (34), under Tzipi Livni (28). Bibi recruited back into the ranks two "princes", Benny Begin and Dan Meridor; both enjoy personal reputations as "clean", honest and decent politicians, a rare quality nowadays. Kadima secured a second place for former Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz, who now need not compete in the upcoming Kadima primaries. Labour, under the dubious leadership of Ehud Barak, trails way behind with 10 mandates. There is still time to amend the situation, more for Kadima than for Labour. The public clearly does not wish to see Barak in the prime minister's office.

Project Bluebird

On November 17, 2008 the Jerusalem Post reported that Israel and Germany have jointly developed a nuclear missile detection system.
Code-named Project Bluebird, the system is based on the prototype of an aerial infrared sensor designed to identify a nuclear-tipped missile speeding toward a target amid a cluster of decoy missiles.
Military planners work under the assumption that in a nuclear strike, decoy missiles could be launched along with those carrying nuclear warheads to confuse and overwhelm missile defense shields. According to the sources, Project Bluebird is designed to avert such a scenario.
On November 3, Defense News published details of the program and cited a German defense official as confirming its existence. According to the Web site, the system's infrared sensor has already been tested aboard a business jet.
Defense News quoted a Pentagon official as saying that "the escalating Iranian nuclear threat and the possibility that Teheran will one day equip ballistic missiles with decoys and maneuvering warheads" have pushed Jerusalem to seek American backing to deploy the sensor on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). This would make it an operational part of Israel's national missile defense network - the Arrow anti-tactical ballistic missile system.
"The Israelis want an additional sensor in the air, and since Bluebird is only a demonstrator, they want to replace it with an operational sensor on a UAV," said a Pentagon source cited by Defense News.

Al Qaeda in Gaza

On November 17 a Hamas organization called the Army of the Nation, Jerusalem claimed responsibility for firing two rockets at the western Negev and Ashqelon on November 14. According to the announcement, it was the organization's first attack and the rockets were of a type called Abd al-Rashid Ghazi.

The Army of the Nation, Jerusalem was officially established in 2006 after it had been operating in secret for several years previously. It is one of a number of organizations in the Gaza Strip which have affiliated themselves with Al-Qaeda and the global jihad. It regards all Muslims as belonging to the nation of Islam and defines itself as a pure Islamic organization, and therefore does not adopt Palestinian national symbols. The addition of “Jerusalem ” to its name is apparently intended to emphasize its Islamic roots. Organization operatives describe themselves as “Salafit jihadists” who seek to bring the rule of Islam to the entire world. They publicly state that their objective is to kill Jews, Christians and Americans and to die as martyrs for the sake of Allah.

In the year and a half since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, there has been an increase in the volume of political and operational activities carried out by organizations affiliated with the global jihad. That is a function of the Islamization process affecting the residents of the Gaza Strip and of the Al-Qaeda's ideological penetration into the area. Prominent among the organizations are the Army of Islam (which participated in the June 2006 abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit) and an organization calling itself “Fath al-Islam fi Ard al-Ribat,” a terrorist organization operating in Lebanon and a branch of the global jihad. It claimed responsibility for several attacks against Israel carried out from the Gaza Strip, especially rocket and mortar shell fire.

As if we are short of problems, this is a worrying and unwelcome addition to our troubled region. Optimists think that Al Qaeda would clash with the Hamas. I think they live just fine together, thank you. Against both there is a formidable enemy, Israel, which bridges all differences.

Source: Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (November 19, 2008)


Here is common footage of the BBC: A scene from Gaza. A person on a stretcher is rushed into ambulance, surrounded by many men. Voice in the background saying: Israel attacked from the air, killing a Hamas militant. Israel claims this came as a response to firing of rockets from Gaza.

No scenes from Israel. Nothing about the ghost city of Sderot whose citizens living day in, day out, under the threat of continuous barrage of rockets. There is only one victim, only one oppressor. No mentioning that now it is hudna, a supposed period of relaxation which the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad break time and again. No mention that even the Palestinian president, Abu Mazen, denounced time and again the Hamas attacks on Israel so as to allow time for trust-building. Without trust nothing will move forward. Nothing has changed since the last time I lived in England: the picture continues to be one-sided, subjective and misleading.

I wish to see the day when the BBC (or channel 4) decide to do one of their superb documentaries about what do the Gazans realistically want for themselves (not for their grand, grand children; we know the answer to this: One Palestine at the expense of Israel), and how realistically they wish to achieve their ends. This documentary will ask penetrating questions: What do you think about your education system? What do you think about your health system? How do you wish to improve them? What are your priorities in life? Is Israel to blame for all your problems? What is your own share in this situation? What is your responsibility?

No one asks these questions. Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip, providing the Palestinians a golden opportunity to cultivate their autonomy, to invest in their education, agriculture, business, health (Gazans still send their people to Israeli hospitals for complicated procedures, and Israel accepts most of the patients. No one mentions this small, unimportant detail). Instead, the Gazans preferred to invest in violence and terror. Is this the right way for nation-building?

Fighting Bigotry and Hate

On November 14, 2008 the Southern Poverty Law Center won a crushing jury verdict against one of the nation's largest Klan groups for its role in the brutal beating of a teenager at a county fair in rural Kentucky.
The $2.5 million verdict will likely cripple the Imperial Klans of America, which has 16 chapters in eight states.
"The people of Meade County, Kentucky, have spoken loudly and clearly. And what they've said is that ethnic violence has no place in our society, that those who promote hate and violence will be held accountable and made to pay a steep price," said SPLC founder and chief trial attorney Morris Dees, who tried the case. "We look forward to collecting every dime that we can for our client and to putting the Imperial Klans of America out of business."
The SPLC brought the lawsuit on behalf of Jordan Gruver, who was 16 when he was attacked in July 2006.
The jury deliberated for approximately five hours before delivering the verdict against IKA Imperial Wizard Ron Edwards and two former IKA members, Jarred Hensley and Andrew Watkins, both of whom served two years in state prison for assaulting Gruver. The SPLC earlier reached settlements with Watkins and one other Klansman.
The verdict included $1.5 million in compensatory damages — apportioned among Edwards, Hensley and Watkins — and $1 million in punitive damages against Edwards.
The SPLC argued in court that the Edwards and the IKA incited the racial hatred that led to the attack at the Meade County Fair in Brandenburg in July 2006.
Several Klansmen were at the fair on a recruiting mission when they spotted Gruver, who is a U.S. citizen of Panamanian descent. They threw whisky in his face and called him a "spic." Gruver, who stood 5-foot-3 and weighed just 150 pounds at the time, was surrounded, beaten to the ground and kicked by the Klansmen, one of whom was 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds. He was left with a broken jaw and arm, two cracked ribs and multiple cuts. He now suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome and has permanent arm and jaw injuries.
The attack on Gruver is symptomatic of a rising tide of hate and violence directed toward Latinos in the United States. The SPLC has documented a 48 percent rise in the number of hate groups since 2000 — an increase fueled by the anti-immigration furor. Recent FBI statistics show a 40 percent increase in hate crimes targeting Latinos between 2003 and 2007.
During the trial, the SPLC demonstrated how the IKA and Edwards fostered an atmosphere of hate and violence. The IKA's compound in Dawson Springs, Ky., is home to Nordic Fest, an annual music festival that brings together Klansmen, skinheads and members of other violent hate groups.
Former Klansman Kale Kelly testified at the trial that Edwards instructed him to kill Dees during the SPLC's lawsuit against the Aryan Nations in the late 1990s. Kelly said he planned to track Dees in Idaho, where the trial was held, and that Edwards would supply the weapon. But in April 1999, within days of the plot being executed, an FBI undercover operation foiled the plan. Kelly served time in federal prison on weapons charges. Edwards was never charged.
Over the past 25 years, the SPLC has crippled some of the nation's largest and most violent hate groups by helping victims of racial violence sue for monetary damages. Its victories include a $7 million verdict against the United Klans of America in 1987 for the lynching of Michael Donald in Mobile, Ala.; a $12.4 million verdict against the White Aryan Resistance in 1990 for the brutal murder of an Ethiopian student in Portland; and a $6.3 million verdict against the Aryan Nations in 2000 that forced the organization to give up its 20-acre compound in Idaho.

A Question for Those Who Care

Amitai Etzioni is a thoughtful person who has been working for many years to promote peace, mutual understanding, tolerance and security in the world. Infra please find his latest piece:

Public voices that are often raised (frequently for very good reasons!) to criticize many of the policies of the Bush Administration (and Israeli policies in dealing with the Palestinians), are mum about atrocities committed by extremist Muslims. I wonder why we do not hear a peep from these voices when a 13 year old girl is stoned to death for the "sin" of having been raped, as just happened in Somalia. There are good people who are concerned about the pain inflicted on those executed in the United States during the last minutes of their lives by the chemicals they are injected with--a valid concern--but why are these same voices strangely mum when they learn about the particularly prolonged, painful, agonizing death of a child? Nor did I hear from feminists about the special insult that emanates from blaming the victim of rape for having committed a sin. Or, from anybody about the Taliban who behead their countrymen on buses in Afghanistan --countrymen on their way to visit family or start a new job-- to show that they are in control and not the Karzai government, or to make some other such point.
I am told that public intellectuals refrain from criticizing these Somali and Taliban barbarians (I can practically see some of my colleagues raising their eyebrows as high as they go for my use of such a "harsh" word) because they believe that these killers cannot be reached. "Why waste one's breath?" I hear the otherwise silent public intellectuals whispering. In contrast, they say, condemning Americans (and Israelis) may yield some good results.
I do not doubt that this position is half-true. Roundly condemning Bush's policies surely was one factor in bringing us such a dramatic change during the recent presidential election. And one cannot but hope that such criticism will have a similar salutary effect on the forthcoming Israeli elections. But is that a reason to ignore atrocities committed by extremist Muslims?
Nor should one ignore that judging what is right merely by its consequences is a very inadequate measure. If one refrains from doing good or speaking truth to evil (another word that makes some progressives shake in their boots but is here completely appropriate) because it may not have the desired outcomes, half of morality will have to be shut down. In evaluating whether the time is right to raise our moral voices, we ought to take into account intentions, and not just results. Speak up, first of all, because it is the right thing to do. Moreover, consequences typically cannot be anticipated with any degree of assurance anyhow.
Furthermore, it is far from clear that condemning atrocities in no uncertain terms, disregarding who commits them, will have no effect. Yemen, for instance, recently introduced some reforms, in part due to global pressures. When I visited Iran, I found them surprisingly keen to win the approval of outsiders, and one reason Libya came in from the cold was that its support for terrorism was widely condemned. Also, the proper outrage enforces the norms that prevent others from even thinking of going down this horrible course. And, just as our silence discourages moderate Muslims, our furor encourages them to speak up. We may well find some allies among those of the thousand or so spectators to the stoning in Somalia who have already protested. We should let them know they command our support.Finally, clear transnational norms that condemn--and there is never too much reiteration--savage behavior are the foundation for charging those who stone and behead people with crimes against humanity. Such norms make them fair candidates for trial before the International Criminal Court, an institution I do not believe they are looking forward to facing.
There all kinds of outrages committed in many parts. Some claim that we need a sort of economy of moral voices; we cannot criticize all bad acts, because they are so common; that if we so proceed--we will end up debasing our moral currency. Fair enough. However, stoning and beheading innocent people tops the list. If these savage crimes do not make us speak up, in no uncertain terms, what will?
Amitai Etzioni is Professor of International Relations at The George Washington University and author of Security First (Yale, 2007)

Transparency International Corruption Index

Transparency International just published its international index of corruption in the world. The Transparency International CPI measures the perceived levels of public-sector corruption in a given country and is a composite index, drawing on different expert and business surveys. The 2008 CPI scores 180 countries (the same number as the 2007 CPI) on a scale from zero (highly corrupt) to ten (highly clean).

Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden share the highest score at 9.3, followed immediately by Singapore at 9.2. Bringing up the rear is Somalia at 1.0, slightly trailing Iraq and Myanmar at 1.3 and Haiti at 1.4.

While score changes in the Index are not rapid, statistically significant changes are evident in certain countries from the high to the low end of the CPI. Looking at source surveys included in both the 2007 and 2008 Index, significant declines can be seen in the scores of Bulgaria, Burundi, Maldives, Norway and the United Kingdom.

This year’s the Index highlights the strong link between poverty, failed institutions, and graft, as well as the weakness of oversight mechanisms among wealthier countries. The countries deemed least corrupt in 2008 by the Index are Denmark, New Zealand, and Sweden, sharing the highest score at 9.3, and followed immediately by Singapore at 9.2. Bringing up the rear is Somalia at 1.0, slightly trailing Iraq and Myanmar at 1.3, and Haiti at 1.4. Israel is ranked 33, in the company of United Arab Emirates, Botswana and Malta.

The challenge of reining in corruption requires functioning societal and governmental institutions. Poorer countries are plagued by corrupt judiciaries and ineffective parliamentary oversight. Rampant corruption in these countries jeopardizes the global fight against poverty, threatens to derail the UN Millennium Development Goals, and diverts foreign aid from the intended recipients. Transparency International calls for a more focused and coordinated approach by the global donor community to ensure development assistance is designed to strength institutions of governance and oversight in recipient countries, and that aid flows themselves are fortified against abuse and graft.

The full ranking, key findings, descriptions of the survey methodology, and the questionnaire used in compiling the 2008 Corruption Perception Index are available at

12 February 2008 - Safer Internet Day
Let's listen to children: They know how to make the Internet a safer place!

Today, 100 organisations in over 50 countries worldwide celebrate Safer Internet Day. In Brussels a first ever pan-European Youth Forum on Safer Internet is organised by the European Commission with the participation of Meglena Kuneva, the EU's Consumer Commissioner. The purpose is to increase dialogue between children and decision makers on safer Internet issues and to raise awareness of the best ways for protecting minors online. Safer Internet Day is organised under the patronage of the EU's Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.
"Children have been very quick in making the most of online services such as social networking sites and mobile phones. But many still underestimate the hidden risks of using these, from cyber-bullying to sexual grooming online," said EU Commissioner Viviane Reding, responsible for Information Society and Media. "Today, I am calling upon all decision-makers from the public and the private sector to listen and learn from children and to improve awareness strategies and tools for protecting minors. I myself will work on the EU's contribution by proposing, before the end of the month, a new Safer Internet programme for 2009-2013 to allow for a continuation of the valuable work done to help children, parents and teachers in identifying problems for minors online."

Commissioner Meglena Kuneva, the EU's Consumer Commissioner, who represented the European Commission at Safer Internet events in Brussels today, added: "As the EU works to make the Internet and mobile phones safer for children and young people, we need to be sure that we know how they use the technologies and what they themselves think should be done to make them safe. From surveys, it appears that children's use of online technologies and their views on potential problems can be very different from adults' views and knowledge. That is why talking directly to youth – today on Safer Internet Day, but also on the other 364 days of the year – is so important for us."The annual Safer Internet Day takes place for the 5th time this year. To raise awareness of the less obvious online-risks, the Commission is organising a pan-European Youth Forum in Brussels. Thirty 14-17 year-old teenagers who had already taken part in national youth forums in Finland, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Sweden, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Iceland have now been invited to Brussels. The teenagers, who will meet with Commissioner Kuneva, members of the European Parliament and industry representatives today, will identify the 10 most important online Safety Tips from their discussions on:

Risks and precautions when using social networking sites and mobile phones;
Awareness-raising tools and methods.
Safer Internet events organised in the EU at national level this year include:
In Spain, Protegeles, the Spanish awareness centre, will launch a TV advertising spot "Life online is what you make of it", which will also be broadcast in other EU countries.
In Austria, winners of the first Austrian mobile movie competition will participate in a media workshop on the safe use of mobile phones.
In Belgium, a press conference will be organised at 10.30 in Les Halles des Tanneurs in the city center of Brussels with the universities involved in the Teens, Internet, Risks and Opportunities (TIRO) research project, funded by the Belgian Ministry of Science Policy.
In Denmark, the most popular online communities for children and young people will mark Safer Internet Day through virtual celebrations on their portals.
In Poland, a toolkit for parents and children will be launched by a major cable distribution company. This toolkit, translated into 11 European languages, will be launched in several other European countries.

The results of a competition organised worldwide to create internet safety awareness material will be published today, as part of a worldwide blogathon for Safer Internet Day. The competition involved youth from hundreds of school classes and youth clubs. 665 entries in the competition have addressed the theme: "Life online is what you make of IT".

The Safer Internet Day is an annual event organised by the European internet safety network INSAFE, and co-funded by the Commission’s Safer Internet Programme.
Recent Eurostat surveys of households in Europe have covered a number of broader questions related to Internet Safety and a mini qualitative survey conducted by Eurobarometer in 2007 gave some revealing insights into the confident behaviour of children when on line :
( and IP/07/1227).
Further information:

For a full calendar of events for Safer Internet Day and the Blogathon see:

The Victor J. Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace in the Middle East - $10,000 to be awarded to an Arab-Israeli Team Working Together to Advance Peace.

Details at

The Institute of International Education is pleased to announce the call for nominations for the 5th annual Victor J. Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace in the Middle East. The prize recognizes outstanding work being conducted jointly by two individuals, one Arab and one Israeli, working together to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East. The two individuals whose work is judged to be most successful in bringing people together and breaking down the barriers of hatred will share a $10,000 prize.

We would greatly appreciate your assistance in publicizing this Prize to anyone you know who may be eligible, or who may be interested in nominating others.


To be eligible for the Prize, at least one of the nominated individuals must have visited the United States as an alumna/us of any program administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE), or any exchange program funded by any of IIE’s sponsors and administered by another organization. Alumni of the following IIE-administered programs, among others, are encouraged to apply: Fulbright Programs, Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowships, International Visitor Leadership Program (formerly International Visitor Program, or IVP), State Department Middle East Partnership Initiative, Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program, Ford Foundation Global Travel and Learning Fund, and training programs funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Fulbright alumni and alumni of the Israel Arab Scholarship Program whose grants were administered by AMIDEAST are also eligible. Similarly, individuals who came to the United States under funding from the Ford Foundation or as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program are eligible even if they were participating in a program coordinated by another organization.

Nominations may be submitted by the individuals themselves or by a third party. Nominations will be due on March 2, 2009, and the winners will be announced in the spring. A copy of the nomination form can be downloaded at

The World in 2025

The American National Intelligence Council just published an assessment report titled: Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World. Here are some highlights:

The international system—as constructed following the Second World War—will be almost unrecognizable by 2025 owing to the rise of emerging powers, a globalizing economy, an historic transfer of relative wealth and economic power from West to East, and the growing influence of nonstate actors. By 2025, the international system will be a global multipolar one with gaps in national power continuing to narrow between developed and developing countries.

Concurrent with the shift in power among nation-states, the relative power of various nonstate actors—including businesses, tribes, religious organizations, and criminal networks—is increasing. The players are changing, but so too are the scope and breadth of transnational issues important for continued global prosperity. Aging populations in the developed world; growing energy, food, and water constraints; and worries about climate change will limit and diminish what will still be an historically unprecedented age of prosperity.

In terms of size, speed, and directional flow, the transfer of global wealth and economic power now under way—roughly from West to East—is without precedent in modern history. This shift derives from two sources. First, increases in oil and commodity prices have generated windfall profits for the Gulf States and Russia. Second, lower costs combined with government policies have shifted the locus of manufacturing and some service industries to Asia.

Growth projections for Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRICs) indicate they will
collectively match the original G-7’s share of global GDP by 2040-2050. China is poised to have more impact on the world over the next 20 years than any other country. If current trends persist, by 2025 China will have the world’s second largest economy and will be a leading military power. It also could be the largest importer of natural resources and the biggest polluter.

India probably will continue to enjoy relatively rapid economic growth and will strive for a multipolar world in which New Delhi is one of the poles. China and India must decide the extent to which they are willing and capable of playing increasing global roles and how each will relate to the other. Russia has the potential to be richer, more powerful, and more self-assured in 2025 if it invests in human capital, expands and diversifies its economy, and integrates with global markets. On the other hand, Russia could experience a significant decline if it fails to take these steps and oil and gas prices remain in the $50-70 per barrel range. No other countries are projected to rise to the level of China, India, or Russia, and none is likely to match their individual global clout. We expect, however, to see the political and economic power of other countries—such as Indonesia, Iran, and Turkey—increase.

Asia, Africa, and Latin America will account for virtually all population growth over the next 20 years; less than 3 percent of the growth will occur in the West. Europe and Japan will continue to far outdistance the emerging powers of China and India in per capita wealth, but they will struggle to maintain robust growth rates because the size of their working-age populations will decrease. The US will be a partial exception to the aging of populations in the developed world because it will experience higher birth rates and more immigration. The number of migrants seeking to move from disadvantaged to relatively privileged countries is likely to increase.

Prospects for Terrorism, Conflict, and Proliferation
Terrorism, proliferation, and conflict will remain key concerns even as resource issues move up on the international agenda. Terrorism is unlikely to disappear by 2025, but its appeal could diminish if economic growth continues and youth unemployment is mitigated in the Middle East.

Economic opportunities for youth and greater political pluralism probably would dissuade some from joining terrorists’ ranks, but others—motivated by a variety of factors, such as a desire for revenge or to become “martyrs”—will continue to turn to violence to pursue their objectives. In the absence of employment opportunities and legal means for political expression, conditions will be ripe for disaffection, growing radicalism, and possible recruitment of youths into terrorist groups. Terrorist groups in 2025 will likely be a combination of descendants of long established groups—that inherit organizational structures, command and control processes, and training procedures necessary to conduct sophisticated attacks—and newly emergent collections of the angry and disenfranchised that become self-radicalized. For those terrorist groups that are active in 2025, the diffusion of technologies and scientific knowledge will place some of the world’s most dangerous capabilities within their reach. One of our greatest concerns continues to be that terrorist or other malevolent groups might acquire and employ biological agents, or less likely, a nuclear device, to create mass casualties.

Although Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons is not inevitable, other countries’ worries about a nuclear-armed Iran could lead states in the region to develop new security arrangements with external powers, acquire additional weapons, and consider pursuing their own nuclear ambitions. It is not clear that the type of stable deterrent relationship that existed between the great powers for most of the Cold War would emerge naturally in the Middle East with a nuclear-weapons capable Iran. Episodes of low-intensity conflict taking place under a nuclear umbrella could lead to an unintended escalation and broader conflict if clear red lines between those states involved are not well established.

A More Complex International System
The trend toward greater diffusion of authority and power that has been occurring for a couple decades is likely to accelerate because of the emergence of new global players, the worsening institutional deficit, potential expansion of regional blocs, and enhanced strength of nonstate actors and networks. The multiplicity of actors on the international scene could add strength—in terms of filling gaps left by aging post-World War II institutions—or further fragment the international system and incapacitate international cooperation. The diversity in type of actor raises the likelihood of fragmentation occurring over the next two decades, particularly given the wide array of transnational challenges facing the international community.

The United States: Less Dominant Power
By 2025 the US will find itself as one of a number of important actors on the world stage, albeit still the most powerful one. Even in the military realm, where the US will continue to possess considerable advantages in 2025, advances by others in science and technology, expanded adoption of irregular warfare tactics by both state and nonstate actors, proliferation of long-range precision weapons, and growing use of cyber warfare attacks increasingly will constrict US freedom of action. A more constrained US role has implications for others and the likelihood of new agenda issues being tackled effectively. Despite the recent rise in anti-Americanism, the US probably will continue to be seen as a much-needed regional balancer in the Middle East and Asia. The US will continue to be expected to play a significant role in using its military power to counter global terrorism. On newer security issues like climate change, US leadership will be widely perceived as critical to leveraging competing and divisive views to find solutions. At the same time, the multiplicity of influential actors and distrust of vast power means less room for the US to call the shots without the support of strong partnerships. Developments in the rest of the world, including internal developments in a number of key states—particularly China and
Russia—are also likely to be crucial determinants of US policy.

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Jay Katz - Obituary

I was saddened to hear about the death of Jay Katz, one of the pioneers of medical ethics and a person who inspired my thinking on various issues.

The following is from the Yale Daily News (November 18, 2008)

Yale Law School professor and ethics expert Jay Katz, who taught at Yale for over five decades and was eminent in the fields of reproductive technology law, died Monday in New Haven. He was 86.

The cause was heart failure, the Law School said in a statement Monday night.

Born in Zwickau, Germany, in 1922, Katz, the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor Emeritus of Law, Medicine and Psychiatry, fled Nazi Germany as a teenager in 1938. He eventually settled in the United States, graduating from the University of Vermont in 1944 and earning his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1949.

After serving as first lieutenant and captain at the U.S. Air Force Hospital at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, Katz came to Yale in 1953, where he was soon named chief resident of the outpatient clinic at the Yale School of Medicine. He began teaching psychiatry at Yale in 1955, and in 1958 was appointed assistant professor of psychiatry and law.

"Jay Katz was one of the most profound influences of my life and career," said law professor Robert Burt LAW '64, a close colleague of Katz. "He was a pioneer in pressing for the rights of patients and the respect for autonomy and choice."

In the 1960s, Katz collaborated with the late Law School professor Joseph Goldstein LAW '52 to produce groundbreaking work in the areas of family law and psychiatry and the law. The Law School statement announcing his death Monday evening described Katz as a "passionate proponent of the concept of truly informed consent."

Katz served on the 1972 national panel that studied and exposed the controversial Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, where the U.S. Public Health Service for four decades conducted a study on 399 black men who were never informed that they had syphilis.

Katz was also a vocal opponent of Nazi experiments and was the first to call for a national board to oversee human experimentation. In 1972 he published "Experimentation with Human Beings," which remains a leading text on human experimentation law and ethics. In 1994, President Bill Clinton LAW '73 appointed Katz a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments.

Law professor Peter Schuck said that Katz's "subtle understanding of the psychodynamics of treatment" helped lawyers and psychiatrists across the country gain a further understanding of physician-patient relations.

Katz is survived by his second wife Marilyn; a son, Daniel; two daughters, Sally LAW '82 and Amy; two stepdaughters, Mary and Emily; a brother, Norman; and four grandchildren.

New Article

“The Right to Die with Dignity: An Argument in Ethics and Law”, Health Law & Policy, Vol. 2, Issue 1 (Spring 2008), pp. 2-8.

This is another product of my stay at the superb Wilson Center. I thank Corrine Parver for arranging this.

New Books

R. G. Frey, Liability and Responsibility (Cambridge: CUP, 2008).

John Mathiason, Internet Governance (London: Routledge, 2008).
Isbn: 978-0-415-77403-1

Patrick Lee Plaisance, Media ethics: key principles for responsible practice (Sage Publications Inc.) 1412956854. 9781412956857. R1-742999. US. 2009. USD 44.95

New Human Rights Portal

A new resource on human rights in Israel was recently published, at present only in Hebrew. The portal contains wealth of information on political, social, economic and civic rights. This is a very useful resource for all who are interested in human rights in Israel.


My New Website

Just launched my new website at Hull. I thank Julius Nganji for all the efforts he has put in the design of the website and in compiling the material.


New Movie

Trans-Siberian 2008 ; Director: Brad Anderson

If you like suspense movies, this one is for you. This is the best suspense movie I have seen in years. It has so many twists and turns that you are left with your mouth open, and your eyes popping out. What will happen next?

Just on the verge of logical.

It’s the first time I came to notice the excellent dramatic qualities of Emily Mortimer. She is a brilliant actress, striking out among a very good cast. She has an incredible array of believable facial impressions; with small movement of the eyes she says more than hundred words.

This film is not for the feeble-hearted.

Poem of the Month: The Last Election/ By John Haines

Suppose there are no returns,
and the candidates, one
by one, drop off in the polls,
as the voters turn away,
each to his inner persuasion.
The frontrunners, the dark horses,
begin to look elsewhere,
and even the President admits
he has nothing new to say;
it is best to be silent now.
No more conventions, no donors,
no more hats in the ring;
no ghost-written speeches,
no promises we always knew
were never meant to be kept.
And something like the truth,
or what we knew by that name-
that for which no corporate
sponsor was ever offered-
takes hold in the public mind.
Each subdued and thoughtful
citizen closes his door, turns
off the news. He opens a book,
speaks quietly to his children,
begins to live once more.

Conversation of One Married Couple

He said to me . . . I don't know why you wear a bra; you've got nothing to put in it.
I said to him . . . You wear pants don't you?
He said to me . . ..... Shall we try swapping positions tonight?
She said . That's a good idea - you stand by the ironing board while I sit on the sofa and fart!
He said to me. ... What have you been doing with all the grocery money I gave you?
I said to him . ....Turn sideways and look in the mirror!
He said to me. ..... Why don't women blink during foreplay?
I said to him .. . They don't have time.
He said to me. . How many men does it take to change a roll of toilet paper?
I said to him .. . We don't know; it has never happened.
He said to me. . Why is it difficult to find men who are sensitive, caring and Good- looking?
I said to him . . . They already have boyfriends.
I said...What do you call a woman who knows where her husband is every night?
He said. . A widow.
He said to me . . Why are married women heavier than single women?
I said to him . . . Single women come home, see what's in the fridge and go to bed. Married women come home, see what's in bed and go to the fridge.

With my very best,

Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on Earlier posts at my home page: People wishing to subscribe to this Monthly Newsletter are welcome to e-mail me at