Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Politics – December 2017 – In Memory of Jack Hayward

Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel.

May people have the wisdom to discern the issues that are not within their control and make the most of the possibilities they have within reach.

Trust is one of the most difficult things to mend once it is broken.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

  • Reflections on My Newsletters
  • In Memory: Jack Hayward
  • Stop the Genocide in Burma
  • Halleluiah: President Trump Declares Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital, Says He Will Initiate Relocation of Embassy
  • Israel joins USAID’s Power Africa energy development program
  • Muslim Coalition Against Terror
  • The Trump Effect
  • Middle East Study Group (MESG) Ambassador Forum
  • Glasgow Friends of Israel
  • My New Article
  • Novel – Jodi Picoult, Small Great Things
  • Gem of the Month – Glasgow
  • Did you know?
  • Visit to India
  • Monthly Poems
  • Light Side - Shaike Ofir
  • Happy Chanukah and Christmas
  • Happy New Year 2018!
  • Reflections on My Newsletters

Thanks to those who congratulated my wife and son for their achievements. This is very nice of you.

Dr Jagdish Singh from India quoted from my blog in writing his piece for Power Politics (December 2017):

Let’s fight slavery ! Do you think slavery is an issue of the past? No, it is still alive and kicking. Noted British Professor of Politics Raphael Cohen-Almagor says, "There are various estimates about the number of slaves in the world today. There are no exact numbers. Approximately, 40- 50 million people are subjected to women, child and organ trafficking, forced labour, and forced soldiering. The powerful people exploit the vulnerable and use them, making profit at their expense, subjecting them to harassment, abuse, threats, poor living conditions and torture. The estimated number of slaves in the UK is 13,000." He suggests, " The first step to fight slavery is to promote awareness of its existence. Slavery – past and present -- should be taught at all schools, primary and high schools, making it a mandatory subject. When there is awareness, more people will protest against it. This will prompt politicians to assert influence, allocate resources and reduce its numbers. We need decent politicians to put the issue on their agenda, to instruct police that they should allocate manpower to fight against it, to work with business to ascertain that they are not involved in slavery." Cohen-Almagor laments, "Many powerful people benefit from slavery. They have an interest to keep it quiet, under the carpet. Many UK companies publish a tender in Asia or Africa and then pick the cheapest option, not enquiring about their suppliers’ business model. There is need to promote Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)."

Following the exchanges on the Israeli occupation, I wish to refer you to some articles written by Professor Sir Adam Roberts, former President of the British Academy. https://www.politics.ox.ac.uk/associates/adam-roberts.html

Resistance to Military Occupation: An Enduring Problem in International Law, part of a Symposium on Revisiting Israel’s Settlements in American Journal of International Law, e-supplement, AJIL Unbound, vol. 111, May 2017, pp. 45–50.

 Prolonged Military Occupation: The Israeli-occupied Territories since 1967American Journal of International Law, Washington DC, vol. 84, no. 1, January 1990, pp. 44-103.

In Memory: Jack Hayward

The University of Hull lost one of its most loyal servants. The Department of Politics lost one of its pillars and the Middle East Study Group lost one of its founding members: Jack Hayward.

Jack taught in the department from 1973 until 1992. He then became a professor of French politics at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. After his retirement, Jack returned to Hull as a research professor. Jack remained loyal and interested in the department until he died. His office is now empty and cold.

Jack was one of the reasons I came to Hull. Although French politics is hardly my field, Jack was a renowned scholar of whom I heard while in Israel. He had many notable contributions to the field, including his many books and articles and his many notable capacities in the British Academy, British Political Science Association, including serving as Editor of the Association’s flagship journal Political Studies. During those years the Department of Politics was ranked among the 3-4 most important departments in Britain.

When I arrived in Hull in February 2007, Jack took an immediate interest in me. He welcomed me with stretched arms and showed keen interest to help in whatever way he could. We used to have luncheons at Staff House, where he told me about his rich life.

Jack was born in China to a Jewish family. A classic story of the wandering Jews, his father was a British subject born in India and his mother was born in Iraq. When the Japanese invaded South-East Asia, they captured approximately 50,000 prisoners of war, as well as thousands of civilians, many of whom were British subjects. As a boy in 1943, Jack was interned with his parents near Shanghai. This was a difficult experience as the Japanese were not known as kind wardens. It is estimated that around 1,000 died in captivity. Many years later, the British government decided to compensate those who survived the ordeal but only those with close blood-links to the UK. Jack, who arrived to the United Kingdom after the War and who lived in the UK ever since, was denied. Jack was insulted when he was told he was ineligible.

"The Japanese did not inquire whether I had a blood-link to the United Kingdom. Had the British government at the time alerted them to the fact that I was a third-class British subject who didn't deserve to be put in incarceration because they were not real Britons, it might have been of some interest to my family." In his direct language, Jack complained to the Ministry of Defence that after some debate decided to send him a token check. Jack refused to receive it. In a letter to Veterans Agency, Ministry of Defence, Jack wrote:

  I have now received the unsolicited cheque for £500 (returned herewith) forecast in your letter of 25 October. 
  No doubt badly advised by his officials, Mr Touhig (to whom I wrote about this matter) instead of belatedly discharging in full the debt of honour incurred by the errors made by his predecessors, has chosen to fob off people in my situation with a desirory "tangible" expression of regret for the maladministration identified by the Ombudsman.
  Would you confirm receipt of this £500 cheque which I categorically reject. Money is not the measure of all things, least of all when matters of national and personal honour are at issue.
  My rejection of this gesture is motivated by the fact that it is an evasion of the main and reiterated issue: an official apology for the insult to those who suffered internment as British subjects and have arbitrarily been denied this recognition. Persistence in this discreditable conduct is unworthy and unforgivable and I will not appear to countenance it by accepting the sum offered. 
3 November 2005

Jack told me this story, among many others. He wrote his autobiography including an elaborated chapter about his life prior arrival to the United Kingdom. I hope that this book will be published. Jack unfolded his life journey: his Jewishness, his family that was divided because of religious sentiments, his rich career. Jack had a most fascinating life.

Jack built his life with his own hands, motivation and will power. He was a liberal individualist who believed in liberty, equality, fraternity, the values of the French Revolution as well in justice, knowledge and reason. Jack was a thoughtful and caring man. He was passionate, direct, conscientious, responsible and a wonderful colleague.

When I established the Middle East Study Group in 2008, Jack was among the founders. He joined as an interested individual, not as a scholar in Middle Eastern studies. Jack was genuinely interested in Israel and the Jewish people. He was very curious to understand Israeli politics. As a Zionist, he was deeply concerned about the destiny of the Home of the Jewish people, and deeply troubled by the Israeli government whose policies toward the Palestinian people he had hardly appreciated. As a just person, he was troubled by the occupation. As a Jew, he felt that Israeli leaders lead Israel in the wrong direction. Injustice is not sustainable in the long run.

Jack was a curious scholar, an intellectual and a humble towering figure who led by example. His heart and mouth were the same. If he said he would do something, he would do it. If he appreciated something, he would show it. Similarly, if he did not appreciate something, he would say it. When it came to academic matters, I never heard the word NO from Jack. He was supportive and attentive, a most wonderful colleague to have. A true blessing.

In 2008, when I returned from the United States and engaged in writing my book Confronting the Internet's Dark Side I asked Jack whether he would be willing to read and comment on a draft of the manuscript. Jack humbly said that this was not his field but if I wish him to read it as a lay scholar, he would do it. Jack read the book cover to cover, making notes on the entire manuscript. Then he thanked me for providing him with an opportunity to learn about the Internet.

Jack loved classical music. We exchanged notes on music. He would sit at home, put one of his records or the radio and listen to music. He knew about music more than the radio broadcasters and would complain about their limited selection of music.

Jack cared mostly about three countries: Britain, where he lived; France, a country he studied, loved and criticised; and Israel, the land of the Jewish people. We could have discussed these three countries for hours.

Jack was not a believer. He was a cultural Jew. He could have been a great friend of the Reform Movement were he to find a welcoming community. The values of the Reform movement - tolerance, justice, pluralism and peace, were close to his heart.

Jack’s older brother became Hassidic and tried to coerce young Jack to accept this way of life. The stubborn and opinionated Jack would not have it. He rejected all forms of coercion and moved away from established religion. Jack married a non-Jew and together they raised two children, Alan and Claire, in a home that was free of any religious sentiments (they did have a Christmas tree). But I think this was a reaction more than a thoughtful decision. Jack was connected in many ways to the Jewish people and identified with them until the moment of his death.

A few days before he died, I visited Jack at his home. He told me about his funeral preparations. He instructed his children to play three pieces of music, two of them with clear Jewish connections. “I am a cultural Jew”, Jack explained. “Jewish culture is important to me”. At the same time, he was himself a bit puzzled by his selection, that at the end of the day, although he led un-Jewish life, two of the three musical pieces were Jewish.

I am glad that I had an opportunity to see and converse with Jack last week. When I departed, I knew this was the last time.

Jack died at his home on 8 December 2017. May your soul rest in peace, dear Jack. Shalom.

Stop the Genocide in Burma

Awful news continue to pour from Burma. Since late August, more than 626,000 ethnic Rohingya have fled what seemed to be a systematic campaign of attacks by the Burmese military and local militias in the country's Rakhine state — the most rapid exodus of a community since the Rwandan genocide. An aid group estimated that some 9,000 Rohingya, including 1,000 small children, died between late August and late September. Satellite data showed hundreds of villages burned to the ground, while virtually everyone who escaped to squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh has a horror story to tell.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which warned two years ago that conditions in Burma were ripe for genocide, issued a report in November alongside a local rights group saying there was “mounting evidence” that the Burmese military carried out acts that “represent a genocide of the Rohingya people.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described what befell the Rohingya as “ethnic cleansing,” while various senior U.N. officials have also made similar statements. Yet there has been little genuine action, and not just from the United States.

We must stand against evil. Crimes against certain people are crime against humanity, against all of us. The decent world should wake up and put a stop to these atrocities.

Source: The Washington Post

Halleluiah: President Trump Declares Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital, Says He Will Initiate Relocation of Embassy

December 6, 2017 was a happy day!

As you know, I have called for all countries to recognize reality, recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as the case is, and to relocate all embassies to Jerusalem as capitals are the place for embassies. On December 6, 2017, the USA took this step.

I do not think that this would hamper peace. President Trump in his speech was careful enough to state: “We are not taking a position of any final status issues including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.”
He added that the United States supports “a two-state solution if agree to by both sides.”

I support and call for recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state.

President Donald Trump declared “that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” in a landmark speech at the White House. He noted that in 1995 the Congress, by “an overwhelming bipartisan majority,” adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act, urging the federal government to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, and that the Senate had, just six months ago, “unanimously” reaffirmed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,
“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this is a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace,” Trump continued. “It was 70 years ago that the United States under President Truman recognized the state of Israel.”

Calling it “folly” to continue a policy of signing waivers and refusing to move the embassy that failed to achieve its objective of advancing “the cause of peace,” Trump said, “I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” The president asserted that is a “recognition of reality” and “it is also the right thing to do.”

Trump said he would now instruct the State Department to make the necessary preparations for building an embassy in Jerusalem. While he did not give a timeline for its completion, Trump said that the embassy would be a “magnificent tribute to peace.”

Since its founding, the president said, Jerusalem has been the seat of Israel’s government, where it’s Knesset convenes and where its Supreme Court meets. It is also where its political leaders live and where foreign officials meet Israeli officials.
Trump hailed Jerusalem as not only the “heart” of three great religions, but also as the “heart of one of the world’s most successful democracies” where “Jews, Muslims and Christians and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs.”

Specifically he said, “Jerusalem is today and must remain a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the stations of the cross, and where Muslims worship at Al Aqsa Mosque.”

The president also made clear that his decision on Jerusalem would in no way detract from his efforts “to facilitate a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.”

“We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians,” Trump said.

While Trump acknowledged that there could be disagreements how best to proceed in achieving peace, he expressed confidence that “we will arrive at a peace and a place far greater in understanding and cooperation.” He called for calm, moderation and “the voices of tolerance” to “prevail over the purveyors of hate.”

Trump also said that Vice President Mike Pence would travel to the Middle East “in the coming days” to work with America’s allies to “defeat radicalism.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump’s declaration and said, “The President’s decision is an important step towards peace, for there is no peace that doesn’t include Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, however, said that Trump’s speech, ““is a declaration of withdrawal from the role [the United States] has played in the peace process.”

Under efforts by then Secretary of State John Kerry to achieve a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians in 2014, it was Abbas who rejected all major compromises suggested by the Americans.

The Palestinians continue the same old mistakes. Instead of using Trump’s recognition as a lever to promote their cause of seeing Jerusalem as their capital, they negate and condemn the decision. Instead of engaging in negotiations to say: What do we gain from this? What can you give us? they are combative against Trump. By this they play into the hands of Netanyahu and his government. Not wise.

Instead of seeing Trump’s announcement as the end of their hopes and demands for East Jerusalem as a capital of a future independent Palestinian state, they should see it as a start of their own hopes to find a compromise on Jerusalem.

The Palestinian condemnation and negation only reinforces the view of many Israelis that there is little to be gained by negotiating with the Palestinians. They continue to miss opportunities and have no idea how to turn a lemon to lemonade. They do not even think in these terms.
Saeb Erekat, known for his quick tongue, said: “I think President Trump tonight disqualified the United States of America to play any role in any peace process”, not realizing that if the Palestinians exclude the USA from the peace process as long as Trump is in office, then the consequences would be especially harsh for the Palestinians. They have far more to lose than the Israelis. Being the weaker side, peace is first and foremost a Palestinian interest.

For many years, I have been supporting the decision to move the American embassy and all other embassies to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel. The capital is not Tel Aviv. Embassies should be in the state capital. I always found the debate somewhat hypocritical. The United States, the United Kingdom and other countries have missions in charge of Palestinian affairs in East Jerusalem. They can have Embassies in charge of their relationships with Israel in West Jerusalem. This move won’t undermine the idea of two-state solution that speaks of dividing Jerusalem not only de facto but also de jure. The city is already divided. Go to Jerusalem and witness the separate Palestinian neighbourhoods. They look very different compared to the Jewish neighbourhoods.
According to the vision of two-state solution, East Jerusalem will be the capital of Palestine. West Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel. Alternatively, Jerusalem will be declared an international area, holy and respected by all religions, and jointly administered by Israel and Palestine, or by the international community at large. With good will and innovative mind, a solution can be found.

The Glasgow Herald published a piece of mine which reflects these ideas on 9 December 2017.

Israel joins USAID’s Power Africa energy development program

Israel officially joined a US-led initiative to connect millions of Africans to electricity, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailing the “growing partnership” between the Jewish state and its neighboring continent.

Israel and the US signed a memorandum of understanding that sees Israel join the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Power Africa initiative, an international program that aims to connect 60 million households in Africa to the electric grid by 2030.

Israeli energy firms will receive various tools provided by Power Africa for electricity generation projects on the continent, including increased access to government officials, monetary grants, contacts with financing entities, professional and legal advice and feasibility surveys.

Some 600 million people, or 70 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa are without electricity. Power Africa, one of the biggest private-public development programs ever launched in the world, started its activities in 2013 with the aim of addressing poverty in Africa by adding more than 30,000 megawatts (MW) of cleaner, more efficient electricity generation capacity and 60 million new home and business connections.

Muslim Coalition Against Terror

Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has vowed terrorists will be pursued until they are “wiped off the face of the earth” in the first meeting of a new Arab alliance designed to defeat extremism.

Iran is not included in the group. Syria and Iraq, whose governments have close connections to Tehran, are also not part of the alliance. Interestingly, Lebanon is included.
While the alliance officially includes Qatar, the target of a six-month boycott led by Saudi Arabia, organisers in Riyadh said no Qatari officials were present.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Uganda, Somalia, Mauritania, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen and Turkey: if you are serious about fighting terrorism, first thing: Close the Madrasas that teach and spout hatred and violence!  

The Trump Effect

In recent years, the democratic pendulum has been tilting to the right. Voting for right-wing governments is in fashion, and Trump’s win in the USA strengthens this trend.

Billionaire conservative Sebastian Piñera won Chile’s presidency. Piñera governed Chile from 2010 to 2014, a term sandwiched in between two spells by Michele Bachelet, a popular center-left leader. But this time, captalizing on splits within the Chilean center-left, Piñera secured a comfortable victory.

Left-winger Alejandro Guillier conceded and congratulated his opponent on his win and his return to the presidency after a four-year gap. Voter turnout was low, at 48.5%. It had been thought that a high turnout would favour Mr Guillier.

Millions of Chileans saw Mr. Piñera as best suited to jump-start economic growth and to set the tone for contentious social debates. He had the support of the business community, promising to lower taxes to get the economy growing again. The result also marks the latest shift to the right in a region that until recently was largely governed by leftist leaders who rose to power promising to build more egalitarian societies.

A decade ago, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Uruguay and Venezuela were all governed by left-wing leaders.
But in recent years, conservatives have come to power in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, and Venezuela's "Bolivarian Revolution" has come under severe pressure with anti-government protesters taking to the streets for months. The win by Mr Piñera further consolidates that trend.

Middle East Study Group (MESG) Ambassador Forum

This month we hosted His Excellency Ambassador Peter Ford who was the British Ambassador to Syria. Ford provided a thought-provoking lecture that kept the audience alert for almost two hours. Below are some of Ford’s critical thoughts:

Ambassador Ford thinks the American aimed to oust Assad after finishing the job in Iraq. Syria would have been the next target. The Syrians knew this; therefore they allowed jihadists to pass in their vicinity on their way to weigh war in Iraq.

Up until the Iraq War, relationships between Syria and the UK were warning up. The Syrians complained to Ford: Why do you push us to the hands of the mullahs. We rather be with the West. The Syrians did not wish to become Iran’s partner.

Syria is a mosaic of cultures. The majority consists of secular Sunni, about 70%. The remaining are Shiite, Turkmans, Druze, Alawite.

British government support jihadists who fight against Assad. £200 million in support of jihadi forces.

West double standards. When the west bomb and kill civilians, this is unfortunate results of the war. When Assad does it, he is the heinous leader who kills his own people.

The West is happy to sell weapons to all sides. These weapons are used to kill scores of legitimate target but also of innocent civilians.

Iran has not been involved in terrorist attacks on the west. Such terror is carried by Sunni jihadists. Iran has issues with Israel but not with the west at large.

Syria is now entering the phase of reconstruction. The USA and Britain wish to continue holding sanctions against Syria although these sanctions hurt primarily innocent civilians.

The holy grail of the British foreign office is to achieve stability, but stability is the first casualty if instability is deemed to serve British interests.

Israel is interested to keep the Syrian pot boiling. Israel wishes to see the civil war in Syria continued. Up until now, Israel had launched some 40 attacks on targets inside Syrian territory.

What is needed is withdrawal of all foreign forces from Syria, halting the sanctions against Syria, stabilising the Assad regime. This is what Russia wants. Russia gave the world masterclass in diplomacy.

China does not send troops and get its army involved in international conflict and disputes. The West is far more interventionist.

The Kurds in Syria yearn for autonomy, not for a state. The USA exploited the Kurds for many years, pushing the Kurds to activities that serve American interests but disserve Kurdish interests.


Glasgow Friends of Israel

For the past few years, a group of people – Jews and Christian, gather every Saturday on the main street of Glasgow. They open a stall and promote the Israeli cause. Rain (often) or shine (seldom) they spend their weekends speaking on behalf of Israel, argue against hate, bigotry and BDS, fighting false news and malicious anti-Zionist propaganda, promoting two-state solution, peace and tolerance. I find this admirable.

Imagine that in every major city in the world there will be a group of people who stand with the Israeli flag, speaking for Israel and for peace. What a positive change this could bring to Israel, Palestine and the world at large.

This requires dedication, devotion, courage and unconditional love for Israel. Glasgow Friends of Israel are blessed with these qualities. Kudos to you! Go from strength to strength and be well!

My New Article

This is one of my most important articles: “The Role of Internet Intermediaries in Tackling Terrorism Online”, Fordham Law Review, Vol. 86 (November 2017), pp. 425-453.

This paper considers whether Internet Intermediaries should be proactive or reactive in the face of terror. It (1) reflects on the main arguments made by Internet intermediaries to justify their present passive and reactive policies, and (2) provides counter-arguments that endorse proactivity. It is argued that proactive policy is a responsible policy and that, in the long run, it serves the best interests of all stakeholders: Internet intermediaries, Netusers and society at large. The paper endorses Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that takes ethical considerations seriously. It is further argued that Internet intermediaries need to adapt to changing circumstances, where the number of anti-social abusers is growing. If not, then governments out of an obligation to public welfare will need to consider intervention. Indeed, some governments have already stepped in. It is preferable that volunteerism, sense of responsibility and ethics will guide business rather than coercive political interests.

The article is available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=293806

Novel – Jodi Picoult, Small Great Things

Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite novelists. She is blessed with sharp insights and a most sensitive pen; her pen, or keyboard, often penetrates my heart and mind, making me put down her books, think and reflect.

In Small Great Things Picoult tackles racism in the United States. The story is about a devoted nurse who is ordered not to take care of a baby under her care because this baby is the son of a racist family and the nurse, Ruth, is an African American. The baby died soon after birth and the bigots blame Ruth for his death. They take Ruth to trial. Her world collapsed. The person who comes to her aid is a white woman, a lawyer who slowly begins to fathom just how different life is for African-Americans in USA, even today.

This is a book about race relations, about hate and about love, mostly about love: love between a mother and her children; love between sisters; love and friendship between fellow humans. I enjoyed most of the book, about two thirds of it, up to the point where it turned too cheesy. Still, this book touched my heart in many ways and made me think. It may also touch you and bring you to consider the many subtle ways in which racism is manifested today in the United States and in other parts of the western world.

*** on Rafi’s scale.


Gem of the Month – Glasgow

I was invited to speak at the Glasgow Friends of Israel Annual Conference. It is always good to be among people who care about Israel.


It was brutally cold, and even the Christmas light could not warm the air. Friends took me for a tour of Glasgow, which I thoroughly enjoyed as long as we remained in the car.

I thank Vicci, Sammy, Nigel, David and Linda for their kind hospitality.

Did you know?

Did you know that there are 64 Jewish organizations in Glasgow alone?

Visit to India

On 2-21 January 2018 I am invited to teach a seminar at the Institute of Law, Nirma University.

This will be my first visit to India, a country that has fascinated me since young age. I am interested to deliver lectures in other parts of the country, to travel and to promote my acquaintance with the people and culture.

Monthly Poems

Blessing for the New Year

May the sky be blue and clear
And your heart always filled with joyful tear

May peace and tranquillity prevail
Keys for resolving conflict unveil

May you create more than destroy
Making dreams a reality to savour and enjoy

May your mind be free of worry
No need to hear or say “I am sorry”

May you have time to delight in museums and parks
And mind to glee when adventure embarks

May you sleep like a log
And captivate listeners like a funny cat or dog

May you wish to sing as you wake up with a laugh
Love what you have and your second half

May you visit only the maternity ward
And hear your doctor’s concerns when the other team scored

May you surround yourself with people you love
To enable growth and see all thrive

May you add one true friend into your life
Be with you at moments of strife

May you know what your loved ones wish and pray
Before a word is uttered, knowing what they want to say

May her lips be welcoming and red
Embrace and ready when you are sad.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Light Side - Shaike Ofir


Shaike Ofir (in Hebrew), made for all those who remember this funny man:

Shaike was my neighbour in Beeri Street in Tel Aviv. I knew him and his family. His daughter studied in my school, Bar Kochva. I saw him often in the grocery store, the vegetable shop, the bank. I always looked up to him. He was for me a great actor, HaShoter Azulay, a comedian, a person who can make you laugh without uttering a verb. Watching this clip brought back many warm memories of my childhood and youth.

Yonathan Gefen, a funny man on his own right, called Shiake “The funniest person in the history of Israel”, and Israel has known many fine comedians. HaShoter Azulay is certainly one of the best films Israel has produced. It is one of the films I watched a few times, something I rarely do. One time I watched it with one my grandma who did not stop laughing or crying. For a long time, she thanked me for taking her. This is a blessed memory.

Happy Chanukah and Christmas

Wishing you happy festive season of lights and warmth.

Peace and Love. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on http://almagor.blogspot.com/
Earlier posts at my home page: http://hcc.haifa.ac.il/~rca/

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