Sunday, January 17, 2021

 Politics – January 2021


Trumpism is dangerous: Dangerous to democracy; dangerous to human rights; dangerous to public order; dangerous to civility.

~ Raphael Cohen-Almagor



Disturbing scenes from the USA. The American society is deeply divided. Its democracy in crisis. Healing is required. I hope leaders will find the ways and means to restore peace, law and order.


Incitement is illegal also in the Land of the Free. Only after the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, Facebook and Twitter locked President Trump’s social media accounts. This should have been done a long time ago, and certainly after the elections. 


Words can hurt. Words can wound. Harmful words can lead to harmful actions. Leaders should know better.


On January 7, 2021, Facebook announced that it suspends Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram until Biden’s inauguration. And on January 8, Twitter announced Permanent suspension of @realDonaldTrump. With this, Trump’s main vehicle for incitement has been silenced.


It is time for the leaders of the Great Republican Party to abide by the American Constitution and forego partisan, dangerous anti-democratic politics. During the past four years, they were too often dragged to serve Trump’s partisan interests.


You Need to Listen to this: 

‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor, 


For many years, I am opening my days by browsing the Israeli, British and American media. In the past few weeks I see articles that speak about The End of Trumpism. I afraid these thoughts are premature. Trumpism is the result of many forces, American and individual. Trumpism is fed by Capitalism, Republicanism, Radicalism, Populism plus Trump’s personal traits, first and foremost Narcissism. It will take a lot of Sisyphus efforts to curb the Trump’s impact on American society. And for this to happen, Trump has to be preoccupied with other issues thus minimising and debilitating his harmful impact on American society and the world at large. American society has been fragmented for hundreds of years. The Civil War was the result of a cultural schism, of a different set of values in the North and the South. For many years, the election map has been clearly coloured Red and Blue, with only a few states that have mixed colours. When you have an American president, who is divisive and polarizing like Trump, the division is becoming more vivid. It is in the American interest to invest in unity. Making America Great Again requires, first and foremost, Washingtonian-like efforts towards unity.


Israel is heading to yet another election. This in service of the Prime Minister who wishes to avoid or at least delay his trials. In the past few months, Netanyahu undermined and politically destroyed his major political rival, Benny Gantz. There are many reasons to think that Gantz’s political career is behind him. His party is broken beyond repair. MKs are running from it, trying to secure better homes from which they can continue their political careers. Gantz himself is seeking a solution for himself. Blue-and-White is history, like many such parties that appeared as a promise and quickly disappeared.


The Israeli left continues to suffer from the old, same problem: Chronic lack of leadership. Netanyahu’s efforts to undermine the Israeli left have been very successful. Labour might not pass the electoral threshold. Ben-Gurion’s party legacy is endangered. Real shame. Labour once was my political home. I feel sorry for the party that lost its way and seemed unable to sustain itself.


At some point, the leaders of Labour and Meretz should discuss whether merger would serve their best interest. 


The UK left the EU. Brexit is one of those horrendous decisions that will hunt Britain for a long time. This is David Cameron's legacy.


COVID-19 has been growing and spreading in a rapid pace. In Britain, the rate of daily infections has been 55,000-60,000. Vaccination, on the other hand, is very slow. I hope that the vaccine will prove to be the solution and fulfil all our hopes and prayers.



This Newsletter consists of the usual sections: Reflections, new books, Did you know?, poetry and light side. These are supplemented by information about my new article, the MESG Programme to which you are all invited, and information about a conference inspired by Amos Guiora’s most recent book. 


Reflections on Last Newsletter


MESG 2021 Programme


My new article: “Taking Profound Offence Seriously: Freedom of Speech v. Human Dignity”, Journal of Hate Studies, Vol. 16(1) (2020): 1–11. Journal of Hate Studies (


New Book: Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, Incitement: Anwar al-Awlaki’s Western Jihad (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2020).


Conference: Armies of Enablers


Do Schools Kill Creativity?


Did You Know?


Monthly Poems


Light Side




Reflections on Last Newsletter


I asked my friend Art, a liberal-democrat who is living in Arkansas, how is it for him to live in TrumpLand.


Hi Rafi - 


My comments on living in Trumpland:  


Living in the US state of Arkansas, in the middle of the Old South, is a “mixed bag” for me and my wife.  The state is quite prejudiced against black people, and voted strongly against President Obama.  Two-thirds of Arkansans voted for Trump, one-third for Biden.  There is a strong extremely conservative faction in Arkansas and they are fervent supporters of Trump:  Exit polls indicated that 86% of Trump’s strength in Arkansas came from voters with white evangelical or white “born-again Christian” backgrounds.  There is a deep strain of religious fundamentalism and anti-intellectualism in our entire nation.  It’s hard to change this, because these people are “true believers” in their Christianity and in their political values.  In my opinion, the US is not fit to play its currently-claimed role as “leader of the free world.”  

My wife and I love our nice college town, Fayetteville, home of the University of Arkansas where I am a retired professor of physics.  It is a liberal oasis in a deeply red, formerly “confederate,” state--it fought on the rebel side of the US Civil War of 1861-1865.  Arkansas is an environmentally beautiful state, but we deeply disagree with its politics.   Most people in Fayetteville disagree with the politics of Arkansas.  


My wife and I are deeply disappointed with the social and political values of Arkansas.  We are surprised and disappointed that as many as 47% of US voters voted for Trump.  This indicates a real sickness in our culture.  We have discussed moving to Canada or Europe, where people seem to have more sense, but we also love Fayetteville and our many good friends here.  It would be difficult, in many ways, to leave our country.  Since Biden was, thankfully, elected, we will probably remain here for at least the next four years.  If Trump had been actually elected, we might have chosen to leave.   


Peace - Art



MESG 2021 Programme


We are delighted to secure a host of experts who will enrich our understanding of the Middle East. Mr Fahad Albinali will speak about the Abraham Accords, the normalization accords between Israel and Bahrain, that might have truly historical implications. Mr Albinali’s work focuses on political affairs, outreach, and human rights.


Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert will deliver the Prime Minister Lecture. He will discuss his failed attempt to strike a peace deal with his counterpart, President Abbas. You will have an opportunity to learn first-hand, from the Israeli leader, how he conceived the peace process and his own explanation as to why his efforts did not materialize.


Aaron D. Miller is one of the most knowledgeable and eloquent speakers on the American administration and its foreign policy. He was a peace negotiator for several administrations and knows the ins and outs of the American foreign policy. Between 2003 and 2006 he served as president of Seeds of Peace, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and coexistence.


His Excellency Mr Omar Al Nahar will be our speaker in The Ambassador Forum, representing the views of Jordan and its role in the Middle East. Prior to his position in Lonon, HE Al Nahar served in a number of senior positions, including Head of the Peace Process Negotiations Coordination Bureau, Director of the Political Department and Advisor to the Prime Minister, and Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the Republic of Korea. HE Al Nahar is the second ambassador of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan that the MESG is very pleased to be hosting.


Professor Noam Chomsky is one of America’s most well-known and influential public intellectuals. A prolific writer, he published more than 150 books (!) on linguistics, war, politics, and mass media. His views are always original and provocative. I am certain he will provide sharp insights and much food for thought.


And last but not least, Dr David Rutstein, the Secretary-General of the Bahá’í World Centre, will shed light on the history of the Bahá’í religion, from Iran to Israel. Dr. Rutstein is a senior health executive, public health expert, clinician, a retired Rear Admiral in the United States Public Health Service, and former Deputy Surgeon General of the United States.


Please note the lectures in your diaries.


The weblink for the first lecture:


Wednesday 20th January 2021, 18:00

Mr. Fahad Albinali

Counsellor, Embassy of Bahrain to the United Kingdom

The Normalisation Accord between Bahrain and Israel



Links to the other events will follow.


17 February 2021, 18:00

The Prime Minister Lecture

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

My Quest for Peace: A Personal Account of My Negotiations with President Abbas



3 March 2021, 18:00

Aaron David Miller

Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Gulliver’s Troubles



24 March 2021, 18:00

The Ambassador Forum

His Excellency Mr Omar Al Nahar

Ambassador of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United Kingdom

Challenges Jordan is Facing Today



21 April 2021, 18:00

Professor Noam Chomsky

The University of Arizona and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

A Moment of Peril and Challenge



19 May 2021, 18:00

Dr David Rutstein

Secretary-General, Bahá’í World Centre

From Displacement to Distinction: How the Bahá’í Faith came to have its world headquarters in Israel



My new article: “Taking Profound Offence Seriously: Freedom of Speech v. Human Dignity”, 

Journal of Hate Studies, Vol. 16(1) (2020): 1–11. Journal of Hate Studies (



This study discusses the issue of offence to sensibilities as possible grounds for limiting freedom of expression. This issue is constantly brought to the public agenda, as for example, in the limitation imposed in Israel on the playing of Richard Wagner’s music by Israeli orchestras. The proposed thesis is as follows: The Offence to Sensibilities Argument will take precedence over free expression only in cases where profound and direct damage is inflicted upon the sensibilities of individuals or a target group, undermining their dignity, especially when the speaker’s intentions are to offend the target individual/group under circumstances in which the individual or target group cannot avoid. In every case, it is incumbent upon those who wish to limit expression to examine the content of the expression and its manner, the duration and intensity of the expression, the frequency of the offence, the speaker’s intentions, the circumstances and the likely consequences of the offensive speech. Psychologists should be consulted concerning the severity of each offence.

Keywords: freedom of expression, Feinberg, harm, offence, Skokie, Wagner



New Book: Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, Incitement: Anwar al-Awlaki’s Western Jihad (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2020).


The definitive account of the career and legacy of the most influential Western exponent of violent jihad.

Anwar al-Awlaki was, according to one of his followers, "the main man who translated jihad into English." By the time he was killed by an American drone strike in 2011, he had become a spiritual leader for thousands of extremists, especially in the United States and Britain, where he aimed to make violent Islamism "as American as apple pie and as British as afternoon tea." Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens draws on extensive research among al-Awlaki's former colleagues, friends, and followers, including interviews with convicted terrorists, to explain how he established his network and why his message resonated with disaffected Muslims in the West.

A native of New Mexico, al-Awlaki rose to prominence in 2001 as the imam of a Virginia mosque attended by three of the 9/11 hijackers. After leaving for Britain in 2002, he began delivering popular lectures and sermons that were increasingly radical and anti-Western. In 2004 he moved to Yemen, where he eventually joined al-Qaeda and oversaw numerous major international terrorist plots. Through live video broadcasts to Western mosques and universities, YouTube, magazines, and other media, he soon became the world's foremost English-speaking recruiter for violent Islamism. One measure of his success is that he has been linked to about a quarter of Islamists convicted of terrorism-related offenses in the United States since 2007.

Despite the extreme nature of these activities, Meleagrou-Hitchens argues that al-Awlaki's strategy and tactics are best understood through traditional social-movement theory. With clarity and verve, he shows how violent fundamentalists are born.


Conference: Armies of Enablers


Deconstructing sexual abuse of athletes and bystanders who perpetuated a culture of turning a blind eye. 

January 29 @ 8:45 am - 5:00 pm.


Join Professor Amos Guiora and the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law for an online conference that will discuss different issues—legal and non-legal alike– germane to examining assaults on athletes, including hearing the voices of the survivors.



The conference will address ethical, legal, legislative, institutional, and medical questions in an effort to better understand the causes of the abuse and examine ways to prevent abuse in the future. The invited panelists represent a broad spectrum of expertise and experience who we are confident can shed important light on the many aspects of this issue and suggest ways to proactively address what has become an epidemic.

Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Photo: Getty

I enjoy listening to TED talks and this is one of the most entertaining that I heard. Sir Ken Robinson makes a plea for an education system that nurtures creativity. As he says, either you grow into it, or you grow out of it.

I understand that this is the most watched TED Talk ever. For all good reasons.


Did You Know?


Back in 1939, American author Ernest Vincent Wright published Gadsby, a 50,000-word novel that doesn't use the letter 'e' once. What's more, it's not the only novel that ditched the letter. Author Georges Perec also wrote the French-language book La Disparition without the letter 'e' in 1969. That's even more astounding when you consider that 'e' is the most commonly used letter in the English (and French!) language.


50 Incredible "Did You Know" Facts That Will Astonish You | Best Life (




Monthly Poems


Existential Train 

Being alone is toxic 

Mind racing

Thoughts chasing

Blue black and red

So many trees

Trying to look beyond them 

Across deep cold seas.

The one who loved with no reservation

Who was there with no qualification

Is a spirit beyond reach

Is it sunset or sunrise 

Meaning of life still surprise

Swimming with the tide

If only could capture.

Raphael Almagor

Reading Edward Thomas in Taba

On phosphorescent greens my sons play golf.

Fat Russians float in scattered swimming pools,

their sleek wives moored at nearby parasols

(it’s cheaper here than Europe, or the Gulf).

Tonight – ‘authentic Bedouin cuisine’,

as cloned in each hotel along the coast;

for now, nothing to do but lie sunkissed

or snorkel in the teeming turquoise zone.

Why did I bring your book?  It seems absurd

to lodge in such a place with such a quiet

lone mind –

so finely tuned you overheard,

in slowly weathered haunts, their sober riot

of deep emotions; the rooted, English words

which fail me in the horrors of the Hyatt.

Tom Vaughan

Published in HappenStance Envoy, 2013


Light Side



Photo: Getty



The MOST Charming Gal Gadot explains #Hebrew slang,

Peace and Good Health to you all




My last communications are available on Israel: Democracy, Human Rights, Politics and Society,

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Twitter at @almagor35