Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Politics – December 2011 Happy Festive Season and Happy New Year

Peace pact should be fair and just for all signatories, otherwise its worth is no more than a piece of paper.

Peace is maintained only when its signatories are happy and content with it; only when they have more to gain by peace, and much more to lose if peace is annulled.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.

~Eleanor Roosevelt

Two-State Solution
Reflections on the November 2011 Newsletter
Exchange with UCU General Secretary
A Survey about Nuclear Middle East
Israeli Democracy Is Attacked by Its Own Members of Knesset
Campaigning against Bills to Limit Funding for Israeli Human Rights Groups
Israeli Occupation
Harvesting Organs in China
The Road to Berlin
Hitler and the Mufti of Jerusalem
My New Article
The William Frankel Social Justice Fellowship
Open Journal of Philosophy
New Books
Gems of the Month
Monthly Poem
Life at 50

Two-State Solution

Thanks to all who sent words of encouragement and support. These are most appreciated. It is a long and tiring struggle for a worthy cause.

I established a Facebook page calling for Two-State Solution. You are welcome to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/234214629978119/

In the past few weeks I delivered three lectures calling for a two-state solution at the University of Baltimore Law School, Oxford University, and King’s College, London. I am grateful to Ken Lasson, Ruvi Ziegler and Ahron Bregman for their kind invitations.

I am happy to speak to colleagues and students, spread the word and push the motion forward.

Reflections on the November 2011 Newsletter

From Professor Dr. Jan C. Joerden, from Europa-Universitat Viadrina, Germany:
Dear Rafi,
I am impressed by your brave and wise new campaign, and will support it, as far as I can. Let us hope, that it will succeed in one or the other form as your three foregoing campaigns did. It seems to me an outline of a fair solution (as far as I can see this), and that is, what is needed for Israel and Palestine.
Best regards

From Dr. Yoav Tenenbaum, Tel Aviv University, Israel:
Dear Rafi,

I have just finished reading your latest Newsletter.

As always, it's interesting and thought-provoking.

I liked your review of the new book about J.S. Mill! Incidentally, the cover of the book seems to be singularly beautiful.

Congratulations on your new article!

Should you wish to send it to me, I would be glad to read it.

I liked the exchange you had with the student about Israel being an Apartheid state. It was concise, sharp and to-the-point. Have you read Goldstone's article in which he criticizes the comparison between Israel and South Africa under the Apartheid regime?

I would beg to differ with you regarding your comment about the efforts of the Palestinian Authority to carry out unilateral steps aimed at being accepted in international organizations as a sovereign state.

To begin with, the Zionist Movement didn't try to be accepted in any international organization as a sovereign state prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. The problem is not that the Palestinian Authority wishes to be accepted as a member or associate member of international organizations, but that it wishes to be accepted as a sovereign state, when such a state does not exist in situ.

Secondly, the diplomacy being conducted by the Palestinian Authority in this regard is a clear attempt to achieve concrete results without having to negotiate with Israel. It wants all the benefits without having to pay any price! This is hardly something that either Israel or those interested in a negotiated peace should accept with equanimity.

As regards your new campaign, I wish you, as a friend, the best of luck! I do have my reservations about certain points you raise as part of your campaign, but I embrace your call for a negotiated peace, which is achieved without violence or terror.

Your reference to your late mother was moving.

Thank you for sharing with me your Newsletter!

Best wishes.


Exchange with UCU General Secretary

I belong to one of the largest labour unions in the UK, the University and College Union. This union has a hard core of members who strongly oppose Israel, and every once in a while submit motions to boycott it. I decided to write to my senior official, General Secretary Sally Hunt. Here is the exchange:

21 October 2011

Dear Ms. Hunt

As a UCU member, I wish to protest against the UCU repeated decisions to boycott Israeli academics. I think such a decision is unjust, unfair, and counter-productive. Let me explain.

The decision is unjust because any sweeping decision, by its very nature, cannot do justice. It is one thing to offer a rationale to boycott a certain institution or individual for good reasons. It is quite another thing to simply boycott everyone. I  oppose general boycotts in principle.

The decision is unfair because it is based on a small, committed and vocal group of members who made boycotting of Israel their life’s mission. They exploit the silence, indifference and inactivity of the majority of UCU members to pass their unjust resolution which does not represent the views of many, possibly most members.

The decision is counter-productive because it undermines the objectives that the committed group of members wishes to reach. Boycotting Israeli academics weakens the peace camp in Israel, strengthens the right-wing position that prefers land over peace and over the promotion of human rights, and hardens the hard-liners.

Israeli academia tends to be liberal. Many of its members belong to the peace camp. Many academics are human rights activists. Many oppose the settlements. Many are for a two-state solution, a just settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the splitting of Jerusalem, return to the 1967 Green Line, and finding a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.

I have intimate knowledge with Israeli academia. I have been a professor in two universities in Israel and have good contacts with all Israeli universities. I established the Center for Democratic Studies at the University of Haifa and served as its director. Since 1985, I have been promoting human rights in Israel and for the Palestinians inside and outside of Israel. I received the cooperation and support of many academics in all Israeli institutions. We have been trying to influence government decisions for many years, with some success, most notably during 1990-1993, when Israeli academics including myself pushed for negotiations with the PLO and putting in motion the peace wagon. Boycotting academia will work against the peaceful, constructive and liberal elements in Israeli society and will play into the government's hands. The right-wing governments systematically cut university budgets because they know most academics do not vote for them. Your decision plays into the hands of politicians who are trying to downplay the importance of Israeli academia.

Those who wish to boycott Israel say that Israeli academia is sponsored by the government. This is true. Thus, they deduce, academics are implicit collaborators of discriminatory policies against Palestinians. This claim is as true as the claim that British academics are implicit collaborators in the British government decisions to wage war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Those who wish to boycott Israel blame academics for not being able to influence governmental decisions for the better. Yes, Israeli academics do not have the power they wish to have. But your decision will make them even more powerless. Israeli academics tend to be involved in leftist, peace-seeking politics more than academics in Britain, Canada and the USA, countries I know well. The Israeli government pays attention to its academics to a similar degree that the British government pays attention to its own academics.

Those who wish to boycott Israel undercut academic freedom and betray values we all hold dear: Freedom of expression, tolerance, equality, justice and peace. Sweeping boycott decisions are truly horrible.

Finally, I personally object to sweeping boycotting decisions. But if you insist on boycotting countries, I fail to understand why the UCU singles out Israel time and again. Unfortunately, we live in a world where there is no shortage of injustices and severe human rights violations. How come that of all countries in the world it is only Israel that preoccupies the minds of some UCU vocal members who have little understanding of the situation in Israel? The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Index of Democracy 2010 puts Israel in 37th place out of 167 surveyed countries. This index takes into account, among other things, civil liberties. Granted that Israel has room for improvement, but 130 countries are ranked below Israel. Why don’t you focus your attention on any of those countries for a change? Please see the Index at http://graphics.eiu.com/PDF/Democracy_Index_2010_web.pdf

I hope these words find way to your heart and mind. I am happy to discuss them in person, and to debate any UCU member who promotes this appalling boycott decision. Clearly those who promote an Israeli boycott know very little about the relationship between Israeli academia and government, and have a dubious understanding of the essence of academic freedom.


Raphael Cohen-Almagor

24 November 2011

Dear Professor Cohen-Almagor

Thank you very much for your letter of 21 October 2011. Apologies for the delay in responding.

I am very grateful to you for taking the time to set out your views so cogently and clearly. I have always expressed my public opposition to proposal for an academic boycott of Israel.

However, I am so very pleased to have the opportunity to correct a fundamental misunderstanding, which is probably at least in part due to mis-reporting in the press and on the Internet.

It is true that the case for an academic boycott of Israel has been debated at our annual conferences. It is also true that there is a group within the union which has been vociferous in its support of such a policy. We are a democratic organisation and one with a very strong commitment to freedom of speech and debate. I therefore would, of course, defend the right of members to raise and freely discuss the boycott issue and Israel/Palestine in general.

We, like many unions, support the TUC position on the issue of a wider consumer boycott.

However, let me be absolutely clear: the UCU has never taken a decision to boycott Israeli academics. It is not our policy.

I hope that this explanation will reassure you and thank you again for your letter.

Yours sincerely

Sally Hunt
General Secretary

A Survey about Nuclear Middle East

On December 1, 2011, Ynet published a survey conducted by the Saban Center that shows 65% of Israeli Jews willing to give up nuclear weapons if Iran waives its own program. They prefer to see nuclear-free Middle East. In contrast, some 19% of respondents said they want both countries to have nuclear capabilities.

Some two thirds of respondents said the government must promote a comprehensive peace plan, based on 1967 borders, with a demilitarized Palestinian state. Some 71% said they agreed with a definition of Israel as "the homeland of the Jewish people and all its citizens."

The survey also indicated that the Israeli public is split over pursuing a military option regarding Iran. 43% of Israeli Jewish respondents said they support a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, while 41% opposed it. Among the Israeli Arab public, 68% opposed military action while only 4% supported it.

Asked whether they believed Tehran had an intention to develop nuclear weapons,
90% of Israeli Jews responded affirmatively, while only 47% of Israeli Arabs thought the same.

Among the Israeli Arab population, 48% believed that a nuclear Iran will have negative influence on the Middle East, compared with only 17% that said it will have a positive affect.

At least 54% of Israeli Jews held a positive view of President Obama, while only 39% expressed a negative view. However, 39% of respondents also said they were disappointed with Obama's policy in the Middle East, while 22% said they were encouraged by it and 35% expressed no stance.

Source: Yitzhak Benhorin, “'We'll give up nukes if Iran does same'”, Ynet (December 1, 2011), http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4155677,00.html

Israeli Democracy Is Attacked by Its Own Members of Knesset

A wave of anti-democratic legislation by very active right-wing MKs threatens to undermine Israel’s liberal democracy even further. Read and judge for yourself.

Upcoming Proposed Legislation (Bill Sponsors)
1. “Amendment to Non-Profit Organizations Law” Bill (MK Ofir Akunis, Likud, and MK Faina Kirshenbaum, Yisrael Beitenu)

This new bill, also known as the NGO Bill, is a combination of past proposals by MKs Akunis and Kirschenbaum to limit foreign government donations to non-profit organizations in Israel.

The combined bill divides non-profit organizations into three categories with different standards for taxation and capping contributions: 1) Organizations that reject Israel’s right to exist, call for boycotts of the State or call on IDF soldiers to refuse orders may not receive any funding from foreign governments; 2) Organizations defined by the Knesset Finance Committee as political will have to pay a 45% tax on such donations, unless the Committee decides to waive the tax following a hearing; 3) Non-political organizations that receive State funding will be tax-exempt and may receive unlimited donations from foreign governments.

Status: The Knesset Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the original two bills by a majority of 11 to 5 on November 13th, 2011. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein called the original bills unconstitutional and said they violate, “the concept of legal proportionality, and infringe on basic legal cornerstones such as freedom of assembly, free speech and equality before the law.” At that point Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indefinitely postponed additional votes on the legislation and asked MKs Akunis and Kirshenbaum to revise their separate bills, resulting in the current bill. US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague have expressed concern over the new bill. The Ministerial Committee for Legislation was due to vote on this new bill in the coming days but following criticism from the Attorney General and others, this vote has been postponed.

2. “Basic Law: Jewish State” Bill (MK Avi Dichter, Kadima):

The original Jewish State bill would have enshrined in Israel’s Basic Laws a definition of the country as a Jewish State and the homeland of the Jewish people. The bill aimed to elevate Hebrew to the only formal language of Israel whereas Arabic would have become a language with “special status” in the country but no longer an official language. The bill would have granted “constitutional status to State symbols, national holidays, the flag and the national anthem,” made democracy subordinate to the Jewish character of the State in certain circumstances and included a reference to Jewish religious law as the inspiration for the State legislature. The original bill garnered 42 (of 61 necessary) signatures. Due to opposition and after Kadima enforced party discipline against the bill, MK Avi Dichter withdrew his proposal on November 14th, 2011.

The new, reformulated bill, similar to the original that was withdrawn in November, would enshrine in Israel’s Basic Laws a definition of the country as a Jewish State and the homeland of the Jewish people. The new version still makes Israel’s democracy subordinate to its Jewish character but does so in less explicit terms. The bill characterizes Arabic as “a language of the State” with Hebrew remaining as the only official language. References to Jewish religious law serving as inspiration for the legislature have been removed in the current version.

Status: The vote on the new bill is expected to be postponed for the next two months. If the bill passes it will become Israel's eighth basic law.

3. “Knesset Vetting for Supreme Court Candidates” Bill
(MK Zeev Elkin, Likud, and MK Yariv Levin, Likud)

The bill, part of a series of bills also known as Judicial Selection Reforms, gives the Knesset Constitution Committee the right to vet, support or nix any Supreme Court appointment and its president through hearings at the Knesset's Constitution Committee. The bill will give the Knesset further powers to influence the composition of the Supreme Court, seeing that the “right” judges with the literarily right worldview will be nominated.

Status: The bill had been postponed at the time of writing.

4. “Nakba” Bill (MK Alex Miller, Yisrael Beitenu): The Nakba Bill, officially titled “Budget Principles Law (Amendment 39) – Reducing Budgetary Support for Activities Contrary to the Principles of the State,” enables a committee of the Ministry of Finance to fine municipalities, public institutions, or publicly supported organizations if they believe these bodies oppose the interpretation of the term “Jewish and democratic State,” express feelings of mourning related to the Israeli Independence Day or the Nakba, or violate the symbols of the State.

5. “Acceptance to Communities” Bill (MK David Rotem, Yisrael Beitenu, MK Yisrael Hasson and MK Shai Hermesh, Kadima): Otherwise known as the ‘Misgav Bill’ and an amendment to the Cooperative Societies Ordinance (Amendment No. 8), this bill institutionalizes recent practices by communal villages in which the villages’ admissions committees can reject applicants if their residency would damage the social-cultural fabric of the community including in communities devoid of any special, defining social characteristic. This bill will affect villages of up to 400 family units in the Negev and Galilee.

Update: The High Court of Justice has issued an Order Nisi following two separate petitions filed against the Acceptance to Communities Law and has required the government and the Knesset to explain why this law should not be disqualified on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. The petitions will be brought before an extended panel of nine High Court Justices.

6. “Loyalty Oath” Bill: (Minister of Justice Yaakov Neeman, Independent): An amendment to the Citizenship Law which would require every non-Jew who wants to become an Israeli citizen to swear a loyalty oath to Israel “as a Jewish and democratic State.”

Status: On October 11th, 2010 the bill was approved by the government. On October 18th, 2010 Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered Minister of Justice Yaakov Neeman to extend Cabinet-level debate on the bill in order to apply the loyalty oath to Jewish immigrants who seek citizenship.

The bill will be discussed throughout the Winter session.

7. “Limiting the Right to Petition the High Court” Bill (MK Yariv Levin, Likud, and MK Danny Danon, Likud)

An amendment to the Basic Law, Justice – section 15, the bill aims to limit public petitioners to the High Court by baring certain types of non-profit organizations from petitioning the court including those that are not the principle injured party in the case. The bill also stipulates that the public petitioner must be an organization that operates in Israel. The petitioning party will be obliged to present a summary of the donations that it has received for a period of up to three years prior to the petition. This bill is aimed to exclude international human rights organizations.

Status: Israel’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation unanimously voted against backing the bill on November 27th, 2011.


Campaigning against Bills to Limit Funding for Israeli Human Rights Groups

The Israeli government has decided to freeze or postpone considering the Bills that were intended to restrict funding to Israeli human rights and social justice groups. This followed a concerted campaign both within Israel and internationally.

The New Israel Fund (NIF), an organization for the promotion of human rights, peace and tolerance, mobilised to thwart two anti-democratic bills, which seek to limit funding to Israel’s human rights organisations and NGOs from foreign governments and other state entities [mainly US, UK and Europe].

In Israel, NIF and its flagship grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) composed a ten-point paper to MKs, the media and opinion shapers. This set out our concerns that the Bill would damage Israel’s democracy and Israel’s image. NIF also issued a press release condemning the bill.

At the same time, NIF Israel swiftly mobilised a social networking campaign. A sarcastic ad was posted on its "Don't Remain Silent" Facebook page (in Hebrew) immediately after the Bills received the initial ministerial committee approval. The ad said, "Congratulations to the Israeli government on joining the exclusive club that restricts international funding of NGOs: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Belarus and China”.
Thousands of British and other supporters of NIF from around the world emailed the Prime Minister asking that the legislation be shelved.
Before proceeding to the full Knesset for their first readings, the Bills were presented once again to the Ministerial Committee. Amid criticism from President Shimon Peres, leading members of Likud and opposition MKs, the British Ambassador Matthew Gould and the US State Department, as well as public pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to postpone the Bills.

Israeli Occupation

Like Old Cato, I repeatedly say that the Israeli occupation must stop the sooner the better. Occupation is inhumane, discriminatory, harmful and appalling. Israelis who live in denial, refusing to recognize the harms that the occupation entails, always astonish me. The following clip records a few moments at the QALANDIA CHECKPOINT. Every day, thousands of Palestinians  - workers, students, teachers, people who seek medical assistance, and others – are required to pass Qalandia to enter East Jerusalem which for them is the centre of their daily lives. The scenes are dreadful and inexcusable.

Granted that Israel needs to protect its citizens. Security is high on its agenda. In the past, some Palestinians from the occupied territories entered Israel for terrorist purposes and innocent civilians lost their lives. Qalandia is a particularly sensitive point of entry as it is very busy; but surely there are ways to avoid those disgraceful scenes. Palestinians can be allotted different hours of the day to enter Jerusalem; Palestinians who pass through the checkpoint on a daily basis for work or education purposes should be treated differently; different treatment for children; more soldiers to process entries. The checkpoint should be more humane and friendly. After all, the vast majority of the people who pass through Qalandia are not terrorists. Why should they be treated like this?

The occupation needs to stop.

Harvesting Organs in China

I am returning to a subject discussed in the past as there are new details. China has admitted that it harvests organs from condemned prisoners, but very little information about the practice has emerged in the press. Executed prisoners are believed to account for two-thirds of all transplants, although the government apparently wants to promote a voluntary scheme.

Who are these prisoners? Even less information is available about this, although the Falun Gong, a persecuted indigenous group, claims that its members are being killed for their organs.

A frightening article in the Weekly Standard sheds some light on the situation. Investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann interviewed several Uighur refugees now living in the West who had witnessed the process of organ transplantation. They tell stories of ghastly abuses of political prisoners.

The Uighur ethnic minority live in Xinjiang, the vast, arid Western province of China. They are not Chinese but Turkic; most are Muslims and a few have joined terrorist groups. To smother the possibility of revolt, the government has been encouraging Han Chinese to migrate there. In the 1990s there were riots which resulted in hundreds of deaths and arrests. "When it comes to the first organ harvesting of political prisoners, Xinjiang was ground zero," says Gutmann.

From what they told him, it appears that prisoners are injected with an anticoagulant. Then they are dispatched with a bullet in the right side of the chest. This leaves them unconscious but still alive. Organs are quickly removed, without anaesthetic, to ensure that they are fresh. They are immediately transplanted to patients, who appear to be mostly Communist Party officials.

Although most articles on the topic have depicted the prisoners as hardened criminals, Gutmann interviewed an Uighur policeman who told him that organs were harvested from young men arrested in political demonstrations. In the late 1990s, a young Uighur doctor was told "harvesting political prisoners was normal. A growing export. High volume. The military hospitals are leading the way."

When political unrest died down in Xinjiang, harvesting organs from Falun Gong started. "By my estimate up to three million Falun Gong practitioners would pass through the Chinese corrections system. Approximately 65,000 would be harvested, hearts still beating, before the 2008 Olympics. An unspecified, significantly smaller, number of House Christians and Tibetans likely met the same fate. By Holocaust standards these are piddling numbers, so let's be clear: China is not the land of the final solution. But it is the land of the expedient solution."

After riots in 2009, harvesting from Uighur political prisoners has resumed. Gutmann concludes: "China, a state rapidly approaching superpower status, has not just committed human rights abuses--that's old news--but has, for over a decade, perverted the most trusted area of human expertise into performing what is, in the legal parlance of human rights, targeted elimination of a specific group."


You might be interested in the information and photos about WWII:

The Road to Berlin

British television is the best I know. Its documentaries are simply superb, well-researched, invested and compelling. Presently I am watching the Yesterday channel The Road to Berlin, describing WWII battles up until the Nazi welcomed defeat. Fascinating. The series integrates original footages, photographs, well-invested reconstruction of events, and interviews with WWII soldiers on both sides of the bloody theatres. After the D-Day landing in Normandy, it took the allies quite some time to break the German line. The cracking of the enigma code was instrumental in hitting German targets from the air. The British and American pressed a folk movement in two fronts. The Falaise battle was decisive in the allies’ victory. The dissolution of the German Army Group B was a catastrophe as great, in terms of the western front, as Stalingrad had been for Germany in the east. The German Seventh Army was destroyed and the Fifth Panzer Army was in little better shape. During the campaign, 50,000 Germans escaped from Normandy. The Falaise battle claimed at least 15,000 German lives as well as nearly all their vehicles, guns, and tanks. Another 50,000 men surrendered or were captured, adding to Germany’s total of 400,000 men killed or captured since D-Day. The Germans lost 22,000 combat vehicles in Normandy, including tanks.

The Allies had paid a price for their victory: since D-Day, 209,703 Allied soldiers had been killed, wounded, or captured—125,847 Americans. For this terrible toll the Allies and the world it was no longer a matter of if Nazi Germany would fall, but when. The road to Paris was now open and the allied advanced into German territory.
The program succinctly tells the tensions between Hitler and his commanding general, Günther von Kluge, which after the failed assassination on Hitler’s life (July 20, 1944) resulted in von Kluge’s dismissal from command. von Kluge committed suicide shortly thereafter. For some reason, von Kluge’s role in the assassination plot is not mentioned.

Hitler and the Mufti of Jerusalem
This is a short video on the connections between the two of the biggest anti-Semites ever to walk this planet:

The William Frankel Social Justice Fellowship

Applications for the The William Frankel Social Justice Fellowship are now open.

The Fellowship is a 10 month internship programme in Israel for a post-university young Jewish activist. It provides an opportunity to intern with a social change organisation in Israel and to be immersed in Israel’s vibrant civil society.
The Fellowship seeks to nurture and secure the future generation of social change leaders within the UK community. It was established to honour the life of the late William Frankel, the former editor of the Jewish Chronicle, with his many accomplishments and his steadfast commitment to human rights and social justice.
Please click here for more information and to download an application form.

Open Journal of Philosophy

It is my pleasure to tell you that Vol.1 No.2 issue of OJPP, has now been published online: www.scirp.org/journal/ojpp.

To enhance the visibility and attract high-quality papers to the journal, we cordially invite you to recommend this journal to your colleagues, friends and your affiliation by accessing the following links,

Any proposal for publishing a special issue in this journal is welcome.

Meanwhile, if you have any comments and/or suggestions, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards.

OJPP Editorial Assistant
Scientific Research Publishing, USA. 

New Books

Amos N. Guiora, Homeland Security (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2011).

Amos is certainly qualified to write on homeland security. From 1997 to 2001 he served as the legal advisor to the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command, and in 2007-2008 he served as the legal advisor to the US Congress-mandated task force charged with developing America’s homeland security strategy.

Guiora explains the essence of homeland security and US vulnerability. In 2009 alone, the US had spent nearly $42.8 billion on homeland security. Guiora suggests a more effective cost-benefit spending by prioritizing risks, threats and dangers. He also stresses the importance of international cooperation and intelligence gathering. While focusing on the US in the main, Guiora also includes valuable reflections on Canada, Israel and the UK. Creating a coordinated international security plan and running international training and simulation exercises would benefit all parties concerned.

In assessing risks, Guiora argues that racial profiling has not worked, regardless of whether used in the criminal paradigm or in the fight against terrorism. The confluence between crime and terrorism is a major concern, especially drug-related crime that in the US manifested itself in cross-border violence of Mexican gangs. Another major concern is religious incitement of clergymen calling and recruiting their followers for jihad.

Guiora suggests stifling terrorism financing, the true lifeblood of the violent conduct. He rightly says that while there are plenty of foot-soldiers, only a small number of people act as financers of terrorism, thus they have a much greater overall impact on terrorism. International cooperation and cooperation between the public and the private sectors are the keys for effective counterterrorism campaigns. Drawing from the experiences of other countries and cultures facing similar threats significantly enhances developing an effective homeland security policy.

This timely book, in the fields of security studies and law, would benefit both experts and scholars. It is informative, thoughtful and policy-oriented.

Congratulations to Amos and thanks for sending me a copy of this noteworthy book.

Gems of the Month

1. Paul McCartney

As a teenager, the Beatles played a huge place in my life. I listened to their songs, sang them (badly) and danced them to the best of my abilities (not bad, I am told). Until today I love their music. My favourite among the four was always Paul McCartney and for years I looked for an opportunity to see him live in concert. The opportunity presented itself this month. Finally I saw Sir Paul, a legend already in his life time, singing some of his best songs from The Beatles and Wings live on stage. McCartney gave a 2h 50 minutes performance, showing that he has the zeal for old-fashioned rock and that he loves and appreciates his audience.  Young and old, people came from as far as Argentina and South Korea to see one of the most talented musicians that has ever walked our planet. It was, in a word, awesome!

2. Tommy Emmanuel

I saw Tommy Emmanuel performing last year in Toronto. When I heard that he is visiting Hull, I quickly booked tickets and saw yet another wonderful concert of this gifted guitarist. Emmanuel is a master of the guitar, able to extract sounds that very few in the world are capable of. This concert was quite different from the Toronto concert as he played a tribute to the Beatles, playing a few of their songs. Emmanuel also played something for Christmas from his new Christmas album which was quite delightful, and share with us some beautiful life stories. Go and see if you can. I recommend wholeheartedly.

Monthly Poem

I think awhile of Love, and while I think, 
Love is to me a world,
Sole meat and sweetest drink,
And close connecting link
Tween heaven and earth.

I only know it is, not how or why,
My greatest happiness;
However hard I try,
Not if I were to die,
Can I explain.

I fain would ask my friend how it can be,
But when the time arrives,
Then Love is more lovely
Than anything to me,
And so I'm dumb.

For if the truth were known, Love cannot speak,
But only thinks and does;
Though surely out 'twill leak
Without the help of Greek,
Or any tongue.

A man may love the truth and practise it,
Beauty he may admire,
And goodness not omit,
As much as may befit
To reverence.

But only when these three together meet,
As they always incline,
And make one soul the seat,
And favorite retreat,
Of loveliness;

When under kindred shape, like loves and hates
And a kindred nature,
Proclaim us to be mates,
Exposed to equal fates

And each may other help, and service do,
Drawing Love's bands more tight,
Service he ne'er shall rue
While one and one make two,
And two are one;

In such case only doth man fully prove
Fully as man can do,
What power there is in Love
His inmost soul to move


Two sturdy oaks I mean, which side by side,
Withstand the winter's storm,
And spite of wind and tide,
Grow up the meadow's pride,
For both are strong

Above they barely touch, but undermined
Down to their deepest source,
Admiring you shall find
Their roots are intertwined

Henry David Thoreau

Amazing Acrobatics

If you like acrobatics, this one is for you. Scary stuff.


Life at 50

I have recently celebrated my 50th birthday. Oahuu, I am vintage!, as Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French noted. This observation, and many others, are included in a small book called “Keep Calm, You’re Only 50”. Here are some other statements I liked:

To me, old age is always 15 years older than me.
Bernard M. Baruch

No woman should ever be quite accurate about her. Age. It looks so calculating.
Oscar Wilde

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.
Eleanor Roosevelt

You are only young once, but you can be immature for a lifetime.
John P. Grier

He who laughs, lasts!
Mary Pettibone Poole

One can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.
Edith Wharton

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.
Samuel Ullman

Age does not protect you from love. But love to some extent, protects you from age.
Jeanne Moreau

I thank Lynn and Darren for this little calming and reassuring gem.

Peace, light and love. Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.

Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on http://almagor.blogspot.com/
Earlier posts at my home page:

People wishing to subscribe to this Monthly Newsletter are welcome to e-mail me at r.cohen-almagor@hull.ac.uk
Follow me on Twitter at @almagor35

Friday, December 02, 2011

Politics – November 2011 Launching Two States for Two Nations campaign

Security and peace for Israel and Palestine: Two states for two nations.

Peace is a precious commodity. Like any other precious commodity it is expensive. Those who wish peace should be willing to pay and sacrifice for it.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

~Martin Luther King

I am launching an international peace campaign, calling for a two-state solution. This, I assume, is going to be a long and tiring campaign. It is the right campaign but it has many challenges. Please help in any way you can to promote the idea and to push it forward. I will be unrelenting and consistent, but I surely am aware of my abilities and limitations. All help in any way you see fit is welcomed and appreciated.

I am happy to deliver lectures, and put forward information, speak to anyone you deem pertinent, send letters, use social networking sites to generate awareness of the pressing need for a two-state solution, provoke debate, and raise understanding.

Reflections on my October Newsletter
Ron Arad
My New Campaign
Also on Twitter
The New King’s Clothes Continues
ASMEA Conference
Tunisia and Libya
Muslim Brotherhood
Change in Israel’s Nuclear Ambiguity Policy
Former State President Moshe Katsav to Jail
Human Rights Watch seeks nominees for Hellman/Hammett grants
UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2012 seeks nominations
Washington DC
US Social Justice
Resources on Israeli Economy
David Grossman - To the End of the Land
My New Article, in Memory of Sarah Cohen
New Books
Visit to Hopkins
Monthly Poem
Uplifting Flight Story
Light Side

Reflections on my October Newsletter

Professor Stuart Cohen, Bar-Ilan University, wrote:

The Shalit prisoner exchange was a rational and sensible recognition of the need to reaffirm society's commitment to the welfare of its soldiers. The injunction to “leave no man behind,” which has been internalized by all Western armies, reinforces the mutual commitment that soldiers and their governments make to one another. The obligation of the state is even more pronounced in Israel’s case, as the IDF is a conscript army, in which far from all draft-age youngsters in fact serve.

The need for governments and commanders to cultivate the confidence of their soldiers is especially pronounced in the case of conscript armies. Primarily, this is because of the nature of the circumstances in which conscripts are drafted into service. They do not enlist of their own volition. They are compelled to do so. Certainly, many conscripts consider that obligation to be a duty and a privilege – as, for instance, did the vast majority of conscripts who fought, on all sides, during World War II. Nevertheless, precisely because they are conscripts, they still possess an intrinsic moral right to demand that their governments display particular consideration for their welfare and for the sensitivities of their families. Traditionally, democracies have appreciated the importance of that circumstance, and in so doing have made measurable contributions to the military effectiveness of their forces.

Had Netanyahu's government not agreed to an exchange for Shalit when the opportunity arose, its decision might certainly have assuaged the feelings of the commentators who spout platitudes about the importance of 'national pride'. But it would also have threatened to undermine the confidence in the IDF of the very youngsters who carry the practical burden of guaranteeing Israel's security and of the families who educate their children to shoulder that burden.

Ron Arad

Ron Arad, who was captured by the Amal Lebanese organization in the first Lebanon war, who never returned home, was very much on my mind when campaigning for the release of Gilad Shalit. Channel 2 “Uvda” broadcast a documentary on the Arad family. This moving film reads, for the first time, sections from Ron’s captivity diary while showing video clips photographed by Tami, his wife, and other members of his family. It took the Arad family some time to realize that its interests are different than the interests of the Israeli decision-makers. The Shalit family learnt the lesson. It worked relentlessly, day and night, mobilizing support and pressure on the government to bring Gilad back home.

Ron Arad

Those of you who understand Hebrew can see the TV broadcast at http://www.mouse.co.il/CM.television_articles_item,790,209,64454,.aspx

My New Campaign

On this blog, which started in 2000, I carried three international campaigns: In 2000 I started the Gaza First campaign. In 2003, Prime Minister Sharon announced his Disengagement from the Gaza Strip. The Gaza First campaign was completed when Israel evacuated Gaza in 2005.

In late 2006 I called for early elections in Israel after I lost trust in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the tragic architect of the Israel-Hezbollah War. This campaign ended in February 2009, when Israel held early elections that terminated the Olmert government.

During the past three years I was engaged in a third campaign which called for a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas that would bring Gilad Shalit back home. That campaign was ended last month when Gilad was united with his loving family, and more than 1000 Palestinians were released from Israeli jails.

I am now launching my fourth campaign which is arguably the most difficult of all but like the former three is much needed. This campaign calls for a two state solution. I believe this is the only true option for both Israel and Palestine. I believe it is a just and necessary solution.

To be clear, I am calling for:
The end of all hostilities between Israel and Palestine;
Zero tolerance to violence and terror;
Ceasing incitement on both sides of the Fence;
Overhauling the Israeli and Palestinian education curricula on all levels: Kindergarten, primary school, and high school on all issues the pertain to the Conflict;
The evacuation of all, or almost all settlements situated in the West Bank (94-97% of territory);
Compensating the Palestinians for the part that would remain in Israel;
The end of Israeli occupation of the West Bank;
The re-routing of the Fence along the Green Line;
Jerusalem – What is Palestinian will come under the territory of the new capital Al Kuds. What is Jewish will remain under Israeli sovereignty;
Haram al-Sharif – Palestine will be granted extraterritorial sovereignty over the site under Waqf administration. Jews will enjoy right of access;
The end of the all-encompassing, unjustified blockade of the Gaza Strip. There is a crucial difference between securing Israel’s borders and assuring that no weapons are smuggled into the Gaza Strip and blockading Gaza tout court. Suffocating Gaza is contradictory to Israeli interests;
The 1948 Palestinian refugees will be able to settle in Palestine. Israel will recognize the Nakba and compensate the 1948 refugees and their children (but not grandchildren) for the suffering inflicted on them. Unification of families should be allowed on a limited quota annual scale;
The establishment of a Palestinian State alongside Israel. Palestine is sovereign to decide its capital, like all other sovereign states.

Only a fair solution for both sides will be successful. A partial solution, or a solution that favours one side over another would leave the other side frustrated and angry. It won’t work.

Israel is the stronger side. It should adopt prudent policy to secure a solution to this protracted and bloody conflict.

The establishment of a Palestinian State is a Palestinian interest. It is also an Israeli interest.

Also on Twitter

The campaign will be launched also on Twitter, at almagor35@ and I will be relentless, more than ever. We all need this campaign to succeed. Nothing short than the long-term survival of Israel is at stake. Please follow me, and please urge others to join. Anyone who brings ten new followers will get five new tweets, absolutely for free! The offer is limited and short in time, so hurry up!! Do it today!

Please urge others to join my Twitter, almagor35@.

Pushing forward a two state demands enormous effort. The challenges are sturdy and obstinate. Only unified effort may change things for the better. I call upon the politicians on this list to raise the issue and press it forward in their respective governments.
I call upon media professionals to push the motion on their agendas. Please write about the issue promote the campaign detail the plan. I am happy to engage in any forum to explain the two state solution.

I call upon fellow academics to discuss the issue engage in debates explain what is at stake. I will be happy to deliver talks and participate in round tables.

I call upon business people to donate to this campaign and provide me with the necessary infrastructure.

I call upon students to engage in debates and discussions in their respective student unions.

I call upon IT specialists to help disseminate the campaign via social networking sites chat rooms websites blogs and other means at their disposal.

I call upon all others to help in any way you see fit.

The New King’s Clothes Continues
UNESCO accepted the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a full member after the US failed to derail the acceptance. Both the USA and Israel argued that this development undercuts peace negotiations and places unnecessary burdens on the way to renewing negotiations. The move is no less than "tantamount to a rejection of the international community's efforts to advance the peace process".

I read this with a sense of bewilderment and disappointment. What the Palestinian do has little to do with the peace process and far more to do with their efforts to establish a Palestinian State. The joint Israeli-American stance is disappointing because I have a growing sense of déjà vu. Not so long ago, the founders of Israel had launched a similar international campaign to establish a Jewish State. They were rightfully successful despite Arab efforts to stifle their efforts. And now history has put the sides in opposite sides and Israel adopts the same wrong attitude that the Arabs adopted during the 1930s and 1940s. Justice is with the Palestinian side.
A Palestinian State is merely a question of time. The earlier that Israel recognises this and moves to help the Palestinians in their efforts, the better.

Why does Israel object to the UNESCO decision? First, why give something for free if this can be part of the negotiation deal? Second, Israel fears the Palestinians will use international organisations to criticise and undermine Israel's standing in the international community. Why does the US take Israel's side? I suspect the US presidential elections have something to do with this.

In a neighbourhood that is likely to grow hostile to Israel, Israel needs to put The Conflict high on its priority list. The status quo is now working against Israel's best interests. I feel like the little boy who saw his king naked in his brand new clothes. Prime Minister Netanyahu: Wake up! Time is running out.

ASMEA Conference

I was invited to the fourth annual conference of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa in Washington DC. On my panel was Professor Mordechai Nisan who challenged my plea for a two-state solution and offered another alternative. As the geography of the West Bank is narrow, only 35 miles in width, and as religion drives the agenda of non-compromise over this small piece of land, and the facts on the grounds, according to Nisan, are unsolvable --  Jerusalem, Temple Mount, refugees and settlements – Nisan proposed to base a solution on the basis of reality, not wishful thinking. The “Oslo paradigm” should be rejected. Instead Nisan offered another “paradigm”: Jordan as Palestine. Two thirds of Jordanians are Palestinians. They are integrated into Jordanian society. Thus we need to call upon Jordan to reform democracy by the redistribution of power and the redefinition of the Hashemite State. I hasten to think that this proposed solution is no less difficult to implement than the two-state solution. Nisan also has to believe in what he says. Somehow, he lacks conviction. In a private conversation, Nisan implicitly said that he spoke of the Jordanian option as a diversion from the real solution as he believes in Greater Israel, and does not wish to evacuate settlements.

I am fully aware that there is no shortage of political plans: Bibi Netanyahu's to fool the world; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s to obliterate Israel; Azmi Bishara's state of all citizens; The settlers' Eretz Yisrael Hashlema; Hamas’s to slowly undermine Israel's existence; Jordan as Palestine. As all of them are not viable, they do not deserve further discussion unless you, my loyal readers, think otherwise and urge me to provide reasoning for my utter dismissal of them.

The Libyan ambassador to the US, Ali Suleiman Aujali, taught us a lesson in diplomatic hypocrisy. He served the Gaddafi regime for many years and is now condemning the previous regime atrocities which he supported, rationalized and defended.

The Kurdish prime minister, Barham Salih, taught us a lesson in diplomatic maneuvering. He avoided most questions addressed to him, including relationships with Turkey and Iran on the one hand, and with Israel on the other. What he did say was that Kurdistan aims to establish confederation with Iraq. In his careful customary fashion, he avoided answering what will be the fate of the Kurds in Turkey and Iran.

Two Syrian academics and activists spoke about the events that are taking place in Syria. The protesters are young peaceful citizens determined to bring down the Assad dictatorial regime. The focus is on internal concerns. Israel is not a topic for discussion. Professor Amr Al-Azm said that the Syrian people are determined to continue the struggle. He acknowledges that Assad is equally determined to stay. That means a long struggle. NATO will not intervene but the protesters might radicalize their actions. There is no shortage of weapons in the streets, and the protesters may choose to use them in the future. Until now they are cautious not to confront Assad's security forces with violence. Assad on his part resorts to calculated violence. Assad does not pound cities with heavy artillery that might result in heavy scores of casualties.

Professor Maria Stephan asserted that the success of the Syrian uprising depends on broadening the scope of the protests, encompassing different groups and engaging the critical pillars of society in the struggle including the business sector. The Syrian economy is under pressure, and business withdrawal from active role in the Syrian market may play a crucial factor in the struggle. She recalled that disunity in Iran was one of the problems that brought about the failure of the 2009-2010 popular protests.

Unfortunately, there is no lack of prejudice and hostility towards Israel. A senior American lecturer of Indian origin told me that the early Zionists ousted Palestinians from their lands during the 19 Century, forced them out by violence. I asked where did he get this information and he indirectly pointed me to Edward Said. A young doctoral student of Georgetown University advised me that there are only 4 Arab MKs in the Israeli parliament. I said that I did not remember the figures, but this sounds very low. Are you sure? He nodded enthusiastically and talked at length about Israel’s discrimination of Arabs, being an apartheid state. I answered that there is most unfortunate and inexcusable discrimination against Arabs, that there is room for improvement, but if he accuses Israel of being an apartheid state, either he does not know Israel or does not understand the essence of apartheid. I also said that I will check how many Arab MKs are presently in the Knesset. I checked. There are 14 MKs. When I told him that, the young student said this is below the Arab percentage in the Israeli population. I hope for him that he conducts his doctoral research somewhat better, and with less prejudice.

I thank ASMEA, Tali Efraty, Jason Harris, Ken Lasson, Nienke Grossman, Mike van Dusen, Marina and Bill Dackman for their kind hospitality.


President Assad continues to massacre his own people and like his former significant others in Egypt and Libya he fails to read the clear warning on the wall and is glued to his chair as there is no tomorrow, as Syria is an island to itself, able to exact any price on the opposition. I hope the international community will prove him wrong a.s.a.p.

This bloodshed needs to stop, now. I call upon the responsible nations to interfere and protect the citizens of Syria. First and foremost, I call upon Turkey to intervene. The present Turkish leadership has shown sensitivity to the plight of Muslim brethren in other parts of the region. As Syria’s neighbor, it now needs to lend a hand to the Syrian people against their brutal dictator.

Tunisia and Libya

Ninety percent of registered voters in Tunisia voted in the October 2011 election, a number unheard of in the Arab world. Tunisia chose Islam in the recent elections. Tunisia’s military played a very important function in protecting polling stations, but did not interfere. According to Marwan Muasher of Carnegie, Ennahda that received about 40 percent of the vote, is a moderate Islamist party that campaigned on a commitment to personal freedom and pluralism. The extent that its activists are able to enshrine these commitments into the constitution that will be written over the next year will go a long way to showing the rest of the Arab world and the international community that political Islam does not necessarily mean a resort to violence, negation of personal rights, or imposition of cultural values on all of society. Muasher thinks it is important to treat political Islam as a legitimate part of the political system that has every right to be included, as long as it does not threaten a commitment to pluralism.

How the results will affect the other Magrab countries  -- Algeria and Morocco – remains to be seen. There is a growing discontent with socialism in Algeria. Libya's new interim leader, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, declared that "Islamic religion is the core of our new government" and promised to revoke Gaddafi’s ban on polygamy. Amazing what is the first order of things in the present Libyan chaos.


The headlines in Israel during the past few weeks were dominated by the news on Iran, and the Israeli possible response to the Iranian nuclear ambitions. First, the headlines prepared for the International Atomic Energy Agency most recent report. It was clear that the report would be critical of Iran, and that the main source behind the headlines was the Israel Prime Minister Office. The report was published and, as expected, is denouncing Iran for pursuing secret activities to develop nuclear devices. Iran, the report said, created computer models of nuclear explosions, continued to enrich uranium five years after the UN Security Council had order it to stop, conducted experiments on nuclear triggers and advanced research on nuclear missiles.

This report should not come as a surprise to thinking people. Why should Iran keep its nuclear plants secret if they are designed strictly for civilian purposes? Why is Iran, one of the largest oil and gas exporters of the world, investing in nuclear reactors? Why did it build the infrastructure to enrich uranium? Why has Iran dispersed its plants in different locations and worked so hard to hide them underground?

The UN Security Council is pushing toward further sanctions on Iran, but these attempts are absolutely futile as both China and Russia object to such sanctions and Iran will be fine as long as these major countries continue to pamper the Iranian economy.

In a recent interview with CNN, Defence Minister Ehud Barak hinted that Israel and the world may reach the limit of their capacity to effectively strike Iran's nuclear facilities within as little as six months. His comments suggest that unless additional international sanctions deter the Iranian nuclear efforts, Israel might opt for a military option while it still can.

Attack on the Iranian nuclear plants will have far-reaching, bloody consequences for the USA, Israel, and Jewish targets in four corners in the world. At the same time, no Israeli prime minister can sleep comfortably knowing that a major country whose leaders are committed to wiping Israel off the map are pursuing the development of nuclear capability. The choice is between two great evils, but the possibility of a nuclear attack on Israel should not be in the cards. If the international community will not mobilize itself to ascertain that Israel’s survival remains intact, then the onus rests squarely with Israeli leaders.

Change in Israel’s Nuclear Ambiguity Policy

For decades, Israel kept an ambiguous nuclear position, declaring that Israel won’t be the one to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East. With powerful friends, Israel was able to stay away from international inspections of its nuclear plants. I think that policy has exhausted itself. I will be surprised if Israel will be able to maintain this policy in years to come. It is difficult to insist that Iran’s plants should be subjected to rigorous inspections, and at the same time exempt itself from a similar scrutiny. Somehow, it does not sound very convincing, or honest.

Muslim Brotherhood

Thomas Friedman was quoted by the Wall Street Journal (November 1, 2011, p. A15) as saying: "I am not in the least bit worried about the Muslim Brotherhoods in Jordan or Egypt hijacking the future... The Muslim Brotherhood would not be a good ruler of Egypt but that point of view also seems to be shared by most Egyptians".

Well, I am very worried. At the time of writing, elections are being held. The conservative estimate of the Brotherhood power in Egypt speaks of 20 percent of the population. The generous estimate is 40 percent. Even with the moderate estimate, 20 percent of 80 million means a lot of people. No sane democratic leader can afford not to be attentive to the wishes and concerns of such segment of the population. Whether or not they will have the most prominent positions in government, the Brotherhood will hold the government by the balls. This is not good news for Israel. I suspect it is not good news for the US either. I am very concerned.

Former State President Moshe Katsav to Jail

On November 10., 2011, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected Katsav’s appeal of his conviction and sentence for rape. The former No. 1 citizen is expected to enter prison on December 7, 2011 to begin a seven-year term. The court’s decision sealed a long and sordid episode that began while Katsav was still president from 2000 to 2007.

Katsav, 65, was convicted in a district court last December of raping an employee — who has been identified only by her first initial, A. — on two occasions while he was minister of tourism in 1998. The court also convicted him of sexually abusing and harassing another woman and of harassing a third while he was head of state.
Katsav has always maintained his innocence, and his defense team insisted that his accuser had lied. He rejected a plea bargain offered to him by the former Legal Advisor to the Government, Menny Mazuz, as he did not wish to admit his guilt. That plea bargain would have spared him a jail sentence.

Katsav resigned from the presidency in disgrace two weeks before his term was to end, amid a public uproar over a deal he had reached with state prosecutors. Under the agreement, the rape charges were to have been dropped in exchange for an admission of guilt to lesser offenses. But during a court hearing in April 2008, Katsav unexpectedly backed out of the plea agreement, saying that he preferred to fight to prove his innocence.

After long deliberations, the three-judge panel found no reason to intervene in the conviction or the sentence passed down by the district court since both were well considered and appropriate. “A deep sadness descends on the State of Israel when it is determined that a person who served as a government minister, a deputy prime minister and president perpetrated acts such as those,” the judges wrote in their ruling. “It is a most difficult spectacle to see a man who was once the country’s symbol of state going to jail.” The court found the complainants credible while Katsav was perceived as a blunt liar and manipulator. He did not express any remorse for his vile deeds; instead, he offended and defamed the complainants.

Human Rights Watch seeks nominees for Hellman/Hammett grants

Human Rights Watch is seeking nominees for its Hellman/Hammett grants, which provide support to dozens of writers and activists who are victims of political persecution and are in financial need.

The identity of winners who fear the grant may open them up to further persecution will be protected, according to Human Rights Watch. In addition to using the award to cover costs such as legal and living costs, grant winners often use the money to draw attention to the lack of free expression and other human rights abuses in their countries. More than 700 writers have received financial aid under the grant in the last 22 years, according to Human Rights Watch.

Nominators should provide biographical information about the writer, the circumstances of political persecution and writing or other samples showcasing the individuals work.

The maximum grant awarded to any given writer or advocate is $10,000 and nominations must be submitted by 10 December 2011. More information on the award and nomination forms can be found here and you may contact hhgrants (@) hrw.org.

UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2012 seeks nominations

Do you know an individual, organisation or institution that is defending press freedom? If so, send in your nomination for the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2012 by 15 February 2012.

Named after Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in 1986 after calling for drug traffickers to be brought to justice, the award especially recognises those who defend press freedom at great personal risk.

The winner will receive US $25,000 at a ceremony on World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2012.

Washington DC

I was very happy to return to Washington, a city I bonded with since my first visit in 1985, when I came to DC for a summer school at Georgetown. I went to see the new Martin Luther Memorial, made of white stone.

At the back of the statute, on the surrounding black stone, there are some quotes coined by King Jr. I particularly like Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

US Social Justice

In many cities in the US, tents are in the public squares. Unlike the Israeli tents, it does not seem that these people will leave their tents. Possibly, this is the solution for homelessness. Here is a photo from McPherson Square, in the heart of Washington DC.

Resources on Israeli Economy

If you are interested in Israeli economy, you may find the following of value:

Economic Overview of Israel:

Economic Highlights quarterly newsletter and presentation:

Also, you can subscribe the email distribution list here:

David Grossman - To the End of the Land

Grossman is my favourite novelist. I love and appreciate many of his books, especially To the End of the Land. Thus, when the BBC approached me to participate in the program, I was delighted. Grossman is a sensitive and intelligent man, a model figure to follow, a true mensch. You can listen to his talk at

My New Article


               “Fatal Choices and Flawed Decisions at the End-of-Life: Lessons from Israel”, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Vol. 54, No. 4 (Autumn 2011), pp. 578-594.

In Memory of my Mom, Sarah Cohen (1930-2011)

Sarah Cohen


The article opens by presenting a recent disconcerting event that took place at a rehabilitative nursing home in Tel Aviv. Next I will discuss the Dying Patient Law which came into effect in 2005. I will then move on to probe the double effect doctrine as it is relevant to the case at hand, and the role of the medical profession and of the family in making decisions at the end of life. It is argued that patients who express a wish to die should receive a comprehensive care addressing their physical and mental condition before rushing to provide lethal medication. Medicine is a healing profession, a caring profession. I conclude by offering some guidelines to help practitioners address the intricate questions they face when patients ask to die.

Keywords: Israel Dying Patient Law, nursing home, care, communication, palliation, double effect, family, patient’s best interests

New Books

Dale E. Miller, J.S. Mill (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010).

J.S. Mill is one of my favourite philosophers, hence any new book about Mill is always of interest. I am always eager to learn and see if there is anything new I can learn about Mill, whose writings enchanted me for years, and whom I have been teaching for the past 15 years or so.

Dale Miller has done a good job in presenting Mill to interested students. It is quite an accessible book, written clearly and in a lively prose, with the right balance between quoting directly from Mill and providing some analysis. I would prefer more analysis of complex texts, and more integration between Mill’s writings, probing how Mill had developed, and how later writings sometimes come into conflict with his earlier ones, but this book is not for people who are well versed with Mill. Rather it is for those who are making their first steps knowing Mill, the utilitarian philosopher who continues to inspire not only scholars but also jurists, politicians and economists in all four corners of the world.

I intend to utilize the book in my classes.

I thank Polity Press for sending me a copy.

Visit to Hopkins

I was invited to deliver two lectures in Baltimore and saw to myself to visit Johns Hopkins where I spent the 2003-2004 academic year. It was nice to walk the university paths and to recall pleasant memories. Hopkins is a great university and it looks thriving.

Monthly Poem


The earth that made the rose, 
She also is thy mother, and not I. 
The flame wherewith thy maiden spirit glows 
Was lighted at no hearth that I sit by. 
I am as far below as heaven above thee. 
Were I thine angel, more I could not love thee. 

Bid me defend thee! 
Thy danger over-human strength shall lend me, 
A hand of iron and a heart of steel, 
To strike, to wound, to slay, and not to feel. 
But if you chide me, 
I am a weak, defenceless child beside thee. 

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge 

Uplifting Flight Story

We are all subjected to excessive security measures at airports, and we all like it as lice. Yet, most of us do not argue. We follow what is requested of us, and get over it as soon as we can.

My friend, MLT, is a principled man. When he was boarding his last flight, he had a little flight book in his coat pocket, something to entertain him during the flight. The person at the gate asked him what was in his pocket. “A book”, answered MLT. “You cannot keep the book in your pocket. Put it in your bag”. “Why?”, asked MLT. “Because it is not allowed” was the circular non-answer. Other people would give up. Not MLT. As said, he is a principled man who is not willing to succumb to nonsense. “This is violating my rights”, said MLT, the constitutional law scholar. “This has nothing to do with security. I am unwilling”. Rushed consultation. Crisis. “You won’t be allowed to board”, came the threat. “I will call the police”, replied MLT with a threat of his own.

At the end, the air company representatives (Ryanair, if you must know) gave up! MLT was allowed to board with his pocket book in his pocket. In this age of security obsession, this little victory somehow uplifted my spirit; it might uplift yours too.

Light Side

 An exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor:
She said, "If you were my Husband I'd give you poison".
Churchill: "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

 A Member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the
Gallows or of some unspeakable disease."
"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "on whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

Peace, Security and love.

Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on http://almagor.blogspot.com/
Earlier posts at my home page:

People wishing to subscribe to this Monthly Newsletter are welcome to e-mail me at r.cohen-almagor@hull.ac.uk
Follow me on Twitter at @almagor35