Thursday, July 25, 2019


Politics – July 2019 – In Memory of Ora Namir (1930-2019)

Love is the supreme goal of human yearning.
~Viktor E. Frankl


Election slogan: is Bibi corrupt?
Give him time to focus on his legal affairs.


~Raphael Cohen-Almagor


Ehud Barak has returned to politics. His main drive is to oust Mr Netanyahu from the prime minister office. Yes, it is personal. It is also a step of national importance. Thinking strategically, he tried to unite the left: his new party, Labour and MERETZ. At the time of writing, he saw some success. He merged with Meretz, and two Labour MKs, including Stav Shafir, joined as well. The new party is called The Democratic Camp. Pity that the new/old Labour leader, Amir Peretz, did not join. Peretz merged with Orly Levy-Abuksis. This is a good move but insufficient to significantly change the balance of power. 

Netanyahu has been zigzagging in accordance to polls. He declared new elections and then tried to revoke them upon realising that his chances to comprise a coalition are slimmer as a result of the new developments. He is trying to unite the parties right of the Likud. Personal rivalries and egos stand on the way.

Avigdor Lieberman’s gambit proved itself, for the time being, as his party is projected to be the fourth largest in the next Knesset, after Likud, Blue and White, and the United Arab Party. The Arab parties reunited after learning the lessons of the last elections.

I wish Boris Johnson all the good luck in the world. I do not have high hopes. Boris: Please, please, surprise me !!

Johnson receives very positive coverage in the Israeli media, noting his days as a kibbutz volunteer and his support of Israel. Johnson volunteered in Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi, north of the Sea of Galilee, in the 1980s.

Johnson sacked more than half of Theresa May’s cabinet and replaced them with Brexiters and those who were loyal to him during his campaign. 

Jacob Rees-Mogg, chair of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, which led calls for May to be deposed, is the new leader of the House of Commons. Jeremy Hunt, Johnson’s main rival for the leadership, turned down a demotion from foreign secretary to defence secretary and chose to return to the backbenches.





In Memory: Ora Namir (1930-2019)

Ora Namir

I was saddened to hear about the death of former politician and diplomat Ora Namir.

I met Ora Namir in 1980, after joining the Labour Party. Our first meeting was at a home gathering near my home in Tel Aviv. Namir came to speak about her ideas on education and welfare to Labour potential supporters. I had a few thoughts about education as a recent graduate of the Israeli education system which I was happy to share. She later invited me to her home to explain my ideas in more detail. We were neighbours. Both of us lived in Berri Street, a few buildings apart. She was courteous and listened carefully to my suggestions. She then led the Labour Party Education Committee and held the file on all education matters. She also headed the Knesset Education Committee.

After that meeting, Namir asked me to put my ideas on paper and to send the paper to her, which I did. We corresponded for a while and I followed her career. At a time when people had to pick a camp, Peres or Rabin, Namir chose Rabin and was rewarded for her loyalty. Namir held the posts of Environment Minister during Yitzhak Rabin's government, and later served as Labour and Social Welfare Minister. When she felt that she was unable to progress further in politics, she decided to resign from the Knesset to became ambassador to China and Mongolia during the 1990s. I was told she was a very good ambassador.

Namir was a thoughtful and calculated woman, a doer who liked to learn and then do. At a time when not many women jumped into the muddy political water, she paved a way for herself and for other women. I appreciated her strong will, determination and social conscience. She enjoyed helping others. 

I kept seeing her in our neighbourhood from time to time. Last I saw her in the local supermarket a few years ago, when I did shopping for my mum and she did hers with the help of another woman. Namir and my mum were born in the same year, 1930. Namir remained an example to follow. An impressive woman.

Ora Namir: May you rest in peace alongside the people you loved and cared about.



Reflections on Last Newsletter

Red Alert

Argentina May Finally Designate Hezbollah A Terror Organization 

“Deal of the Century”

Netanyahu: No Eviction of Settlements


The Israeli army and the military rabbinate will allow Reform and Conservatives rabbis to conduct military funerals 

First Arab Chairman of an Israeli Bank  


“Place de J√©rusalem” Plaza Was Inaugurated in Paris

Palestinian Authority Is Liable for Civil Damages 

Zubin Mehta Retires


Israel Minister of Education Makes the Headlines, for All Wrong Reasons


Corbyn, Labour and Antisemitism


Revolting Alcohol Problem in Britain


Ehud Barak's Boss


Modesty of A Woman 


My New Article: “Racism and hate speech – A critique of Scanlon’s Contractual Theory,” First Amendment Studies (2019), DOI: 10.1080/21689725.2019.1601579


New Books

Gem of the Month - Lake Kinneret

Gem of the Month – Tel Aviv

Gem of the Month - The Givatron

Gem of the Month - Keren Peles and friends
Gem of the Month – London

Gem of the Month – London Bridge at night

Gem of the Month – Paris 

Gem of the Month – Paris Opera House

Gem of the Month – Paris Sainte-Chapelle

Gem of the Month – 14 July Fireworks, Paris

Monthly Poems

 

Light Side 

 



Reflections on Last Newsletter



Stephen Kaplitt shared his most recent well-written and well-argued article:



Hi Rafi

I don’t know whether you or your readers would be interested but a definitive book about the Leeds Jewish community has recently been published covering its beginnings up to the present day.

Leeds is the third biggest Jewish community in the UK and many who now live miles away may well be interested if they or their ancestors had connections with the city.

It is edited by Prof Derek Fraser and details are contained on the attached flyer (which also notifies the reader about a talk which the editor is giving to a meeting of The Leeds Council of Christians and Jews).

I gather that they have currently sold more copies to those living away from Leeds and a significant number in the USA!  

Best wishes

Tim Friedman
Leeds


Red Alert



The country’s deputy foreign minister said Iran would take additional steps over the limits of the accord in 60-day intervals unless it receives sanctions relief.


Argentina May Finally Designate Hezbollah A Terror Organization 

Argentina's government is planning on designating the Lebanese-based Hezbollah group as a terror organization for its role in the terror attacks against the Israeli embassy and the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. "We are evaluating different possibilities. One of them is to pass a decree," said sources in the Ministry of Security and the Financial Intelligence Unit. The two entities have been tasked by President Mauricio Macri to find the "most rapid" solution to achieve the goal of including the Iranian-backed group in the list of terror organizations. However, "We do not have a majority in Parliament, and it would take too long to pass a law there," highly-placed sources in the Argentinian government explained to La Nacion 



“Deal of the Century”


As expected, the deal aims to buy Palestinian national aspirations with money. It won’t work. If at all, the Palestinians will accept the money but won’t forego their aspirations. People wish to be free of coercion and occupation. This includes you and me. This also includes the Palestinians.


Netanyahu: No Eviction of Settlements


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that he will not allow evictions of any communities, presumably referring in part to the evacuation of West Bank settlements as part of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Netanyahu made the statement at an event at the settlement of Revava marking the 40th anniversary of the Samaria regional council in the West Bank. “I personally commit to this, and the commitment has no expiration date. We will not let any community or town in the Land of Israel be evicted, neither Jewish nor Arab. We don’t forcibly evict people. We’re done with this nonsense. Israel under my leadership will not repeat the mistakes of the past,” he said, referring to the 2005 evacuation of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip under the leadership of PM Sharon. 


The Israeli army and the military rabbinate will allow Reform and Conservatives rabbis to conduct military funerals 


A welcome change in army policies. Since the establishment of the State, Orthodoxy has monopoly on all personal affairs. The Israeli army and the military rabbinate have now decided to allow Reform and Conservatives rabbis to conduct military funerals, including nonreligious burials, in military cemeteries. The state informed the Supreme Court of the new policy during a hearing on a petition on the matter filed by Hiddush, a nonprofit organization that supports religious freedom and equality. The state will publish the change to IDF regulations within two months, a government lawyer told the Supreme Court. Under the new regulations, a military representative will be obligated to inform the family of the fallen soldier of the possibility of a military funeral that corresponds to their lifestyle and beliefs. In addition, the family will be allowed to make changes in the funeral ceremony.


First Arab Chairman of an Israeli Bank 


Samer Haj Yehia
Bank Leumi, Israel’s largest bank by market capitalization, has appointed Samer Haj Yehia as its Chairman of the Board of Directors. He becomes the first Arab chairman at an Israeli lender and is also on the board of both Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital and Israel’s Strauss Group.




“Place de J√©rusalem” Plaza Was Inaugurated in Paris


Anne Hidalgo
The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, is a true friend of Israel. I met her in Jerusalem a few years ago and was impressed by her energy, positivity and warm sentiments to the State of Israel. The plaza, located at the intersection of Rue de Courcelles and Boulevard of Reims in the central 17th Arrondissement, is also the site of the future European Center of Judaism (ECJ), which is currently under construction.




Palestinian Authority Is Liable for Civil Damages 

The Jerusalem District Court ruled that the Palestinian Authority is liable for civil damages for a series of terror attacks carried out during the Second Intifada (2000-2005). The unprecedented decision was obtained by Shurat Hadin on behalf of eight victims' families. As the case moves forward to its next stage, the PA could be responsible for compensating the families with a maximum of $1 billion in damages. Some of the attacks involve Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but the court, based on the evidence presented, still held the PA liable.

I think this is an excellent ruling. The PA has been supporting, even today, families of terrorists who carried vicious attacks against innocent civilians. This needs to be stopped.


Zubin Mehta Retires

Zubin Mehta
Israel’s legendary conductor Zubin Mehta steps down from his post as music director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) and prepares to be honored at Tel Aviv’s “Philharmonic in the Park” concert on July 13.

Mehta, 83, made his first of many guest appearance with the IPO in 1961 and has served as its musical director since 1977. An outstanding, world-renowned, multiple-award-winning conductor, he will retire from the IPO in October 2019.

In 1981, Mehta was crowned “Music Director for Life.” A native of India, Mehta was named Honorary Citizen of Tel Aviv-Jaffa in 1986 in recognition of the special contributions he has made to the city.

At the Israel Prize ceremony in 1991, he was awarded in recognition of his unique devotion to Israel and to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.


Mehta has been an integral part of my life. I have seen him conducting many times in Israel and the USA and considers him one of the best conductors in the world. Israel owes him a big Thank You!




Israel Minister of Education Makes the Headlines, for All Wrong Reasons


Minister Rafi Peretz said that he supports gay conversion therapy and that he has used the practice to help homosexual youth. A few weeks ago, Peretz during a Cabinet meeting on July 1 called intermarriage a "Second Holocaust." In another interview, Peretz said he wants to “extend Israeli sovereignty to all of Judea and Samaria.” He vowed to secure Palestinians’ rights, but said “they won’t have a right to vote.” Asked whether this does not constitute apartheid, Peretz didn’t rule out the option that it is. “We live in a very complex reality in Israeli society and in the State of Israel, and we’ll have to find the solutions,” he added. “Where sovereignty will be, whether it applies on people or on land.”


Corbyn, Labour and Antisemitism


Many people ask me whether I believe that Corbyn is an anti-Semite. Fathom published a most comprehensive report which you can read and judge for yourself:




Revolting Alcohol Problem in Britain


Since arriving to Britain, my attitude to beer consumption grew bitter and bitter. I find it revolting that people feel good about themselves and others by getting drunk. I am disturbed to see so many people drinking themselves to unconsciousness. I find it disgusting to see so many people who prefer to go to the pub with their mates and spend hours drinking instead of spending time with their families. I saw people go to the local pub at 6 pm and stay there until it closes, drinking 5 to 11 pints of beer in one evening. In London, pint of beer costs £4-£5. I am staggered to hear people planning to get drunk during the coming weekend. All this is foreign to my mind and ears.


This disturbing culture has drastic implications on the economy and on public health. A new report reveals confounding cost to NHS of alcohol abuse. One in 10 people in a hospital bed are alcohol-dependent and one in five are harming themselves by drinking.

pub culture

Hospitals are struggling to cope with the numbers of people whose heavy drinking habits land them in A&E or mental health units, but while the NHS estimates that the cost of treatment runs to £3.5bn a year, the figures for the numbers of patients affected have been largely anecdotal.

A major review pulling together the results of 124 previous studies involving 1.6 million hospital inpatients reveals that 20% use alcohol harmfully, for instance by binge drinking, while 10% are dependent on alcohol. Experts say alcohol services in the NHS and the community have been cut, leaving a health service fighting to cope.

“These numbers are shocking: the number of beds used, the cost to the NHS, the sheer number of people suffering as a result of alcohol,” said Dr Richard Piper, the chief executive of Alcohol Change UK, the campaign group behind Dry January.

“As dedicated alcohol treatment services have faced years of swingeing cuts, hospitals are being left to pick up the pieces – but most simply do not have the expertise or capacity to do so, resulting in alcohol problems going untreated and those suffering returning to hospital time and time again.”

The review, led by Dr Emmert Roberts from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London and published in the journal Addiction, calls for all patients admitted to hospital to be screened for their alcohol use and for medical staff to be trained in how to diagnose and treat those abusing alcohol.

Roberts was “super-concerned” by the findings, if not astounded, because he had expected the worst. But his medical colleagues’ reaction was one of shock. “The fact that they are shocked says to me that we are underdiagnosing these people and not providing them with adequate treatment,” he said.

“We must consider whole-population approaches, like minimum unit pricing and restrictions on alcohol marketing, to prevent harm before it happens. We must wake up to the unacceptable levels of suffering that alcohol is causing our society.”

Prof Sir Ian Gilmore, the chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said the figures were worrying. “More than 80 people die of alcohol-related causes across the UK every day, and there are more than 1m alcohol-related hospital admissions every year in England alone. This puts considerable pressure on the NHS, as well as other public services,” he said.

“We are urging the government to prioritise reducing the harm alcohol causes. The government needs to take action and introduce targeted, evidence-based measures, including minimum unit pricing, to raise the price of the cheapest, strongest alcohol products, which would help to tackle the alcohol-related harms people are experiencing.”

The World Cancer Research Fund pointed out that drinking alcohol increases the risk of six types of cancer, including breast and bowel cancer. “We have a social culture in the UK which can be very focused on alcohol,” said Kate Oldridge-Turner, its head of policy.

“We need the government to empower people to drink less by making our daily environments healthier and tackling this drinking culture, as information alone won’t lead to large scale change in behaviours,” she said, echoing the call for minimum unit pricing as well as “better urban planning that gives people more social spaces that do not revolve around alcohol”.

The NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens, said: “Alcohol dependence can devastate families with the NHS often left to pick up the pieces, yet the right support can save lives. The NHS long-term plan will expand specialist alcohol care teams in hospitals across the country to tackle problem drinking and prevent 50,000 admissions over the next five years.”


Source: The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/04/staggering-cost-nhs-alcohol-abuse-report?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0d1YXJkaWFuVG9kYXlVS19XZWVrZGF5cy0xOTA3MDQ%3D&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayUK&CMP=GTUK_email


Ehud Barak's Boss

For Mr Barak, public lectures are a welcome source of income. He allegedly charges $150,000 per lecture. When asked to deliver a lecture for a novel cause, say fighting cancer, for a discounted sum of money, the answer is: My agent does not allow me.


Modesty of A Woman 


On a Friday afternoon in June 2019, a man on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv was giving away free booklets titled Modesty of A Woman. No comparable booklets on Modesty of A Man were offered. 


My New Article: “Racism and hate speech – A critique of Scanlon’s Contractual Theory,” First Amendment Studies (2019), DOI: 10.1080/21689725.2019.1601579

Abstract
The First Amendment is an important value in American liberal polity. Under this value, racism, hate speech and offensive speech are protected speech. This article scrutinizes one of the clear representatives of the American liberal polity - Thomas Scanlon. The paper tracks the developments in his theory over the years. It is argued that Scanlon’s arguments downplay tangible harm that speech might inflict on its target victim audience. Scanlon’s distinction between participant interests, audience interests, and the interests of bystanders is put under close scrutiny. The article criticizes viewpoint neutrality and suggests a balancing approach, further arguing that democracy is required to develop protective mechanisms against harm-facilitating speech as well as profound offences. Both should be taken most seriously.


Key words: autonomy, contractualism, Freedom of Speech, hate speech, Meiklejohn, JS Mill, offence, Scanlon 




This book is about Warren and his legacy with special attention to terror. Warren was a District Attorney and a Governor of California before he was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Eisenhower in 1953. As Governor of California, Warren was tough on crime, a fierce proponent of law and order, and a proponent of Japanese internment during WWII, a decision he would later describe as wrong. Guiora describes Warren as ambitious, tough, self-effacing and modest, a master politician or who was able to sway, convince, and cajole. His impact and influence are undeniable and significant.



New Books

Leeds and its Jewish Community: A History Paperback – 29 Mar 2019

by Derek Fraser 

Leeds and its Jewish Community

The book provides a comprehensive history of the third-largest Jewish community in Britain and fills an acknowledged gap in both Jewish and urban historiography. Bringing together the latest research and building on earlier local studies, the book provides an analysis of the special features which shaped the community in Leeds. Organised in three sections, Context, Chronology and Contours, the book demonstrates how Jews have influenced the city and how the city has influenced the community. A small community was transformed by the late Victorian influx of poor migrants from the Russian Empire and within two generations had become successfully integrated into the city's social and economic structure. More than a dozen authors contribute to this definitive history and the editor provides both an introductory and concluding overview which brings the story up to the present day. The book will be of interest to both historians and general readers. 



Gem of the Month - Lake Kinneret

Kinneret (3)

Beautiful views around the lake. I can just sit and watch, drinking its beauty.


Gem of the Month – Tel Aviv

Dizengoff Sq (7)

My second most favourite city in the world. I opened my days swimming in the sea (should be cleaner) and closed them with a walk on the stunning promenade. Every time I come I see developments. Mayor Huldai rebuilt Tzina Dizengoff Square. Here is the result.


I thank Itzhak, Haim, Esther, Ofer, Aharon, Elika and Aharon, Ariel, Mira and Yizhar for their kind hospitality.


Gem of the Month - The Givatron

Givatron (7)

Eretz Israel Hayafa. Beautiful Israel. Songs that have accompanied me all my life. I have been listening to their songs all my life, but it was the first time that I saw this group in concert. I thank Zeev Drori and Kinneret College for arranging this gem. 


Gem of the Month - Keren Peles and friends
Peles and friends (6)

Peles is a talented, funny and capable musician. I love many of her songs and her sense of humour. I am less impressed with her voice. To compensate for her voice, Peles invited three friends to sing with her, including Miri Messika, who is blessed with a great diva voice. I thank Aharon for this real treat that enriched my life. Ninety minutes of joy listening to Peles and her friends.


Gem of the Month – London

London (2)


This is my last month in London. My term at UCL is now completed. I will miss UCL and the great city of London greatly. It has been a wonderful year in my favourite city in the United Kingdom. I look forward to return and enjoy the many marvels that London has to offer.


Gem of the Month – London Bridge at night




Gem of the Month – Paris 

Lovely, enchanting city. Beautiful all round. Great atmosphere. Great food. Great museums. Great gems around you.


Gem of the Month – Paris Opera House

A magnificent building. Certainly worth a visit.










Gem of the Month – Paris Sainte-Chapelle

No comparison to the Mark Chagall windows. Interpret this as you may.


https://www.parisperfect.com/blog/2017/07/sainte-chapelle-stained-glass/


Gem of the Month – 14 July Fireworks, Paris

The longest firework exhibition I witnessed.



















Monthly Poems



Eighty Three Years
6 February 2003
Brussels


Eighty three years
Have waited for love to conquer
Bring him where he wanted.


Eighty three years
This is awfully lot of time
Woke up trembling
Hugged his partner who slept beside him
Listening to her sweet breath.

Raphael Almagor


Light Side



A music duo at a street corner in Paris. I give one the benefit of the doubt that he sings well but he is hopeless in playing the guitar. I give the other the benefit of the doubt that he plays the guitar well but he and singing is like oil and water. On the particular day that I was forced to listen to them, the first played the guitar while the second chose to sing.



Enjoy the summer. Drink lots of water. Take good care.


Peace and Love. Yours as ever,

Rafi

My last communications are available on Israel: Democracy, Human Rights, Politics and Society, http://almagor.blogspot.com

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