Monday, 20 December 2010


After three days of Heathrow closure, I rang Putin to ask him how Moscow airports manage to stay open despite Russian winters.

Putin started with a few not very friendly remarks about baby cameron. "You see, this is not a job for Cameron," he said, “we used to have similar problems in Moscow until one year, I sent the army to clear the snow at the airports. Ah, yes, also important, I told army to bury the directors of the airports under the snow.”

I asked him what happened to them “If you lie under more than two thousand tons of snow not much happens anymore.” Those directors were sorted, he explained, and since then, the new directors know better than to work “the English way.”

Drastic as always but he may be right. Unfortunately, all we will get are lots of explanations and no action. They will blame it on the weather, wrong kind of snow, unfriendly wind etc. No one will pay the price. No one will lose their job for screwing things up.

BAA, the owners of Heathrow, should lose their contract. If Cameron, doesn’t sort it – so should he.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Rabbis vs. Rabies

Many years ago, my mother told me the joke about a man who wrote to a medical help column and asked, “what is rabbis and what can you do against it”, to which the response was “rabbis are a kind of Jewish priests and there is nothing you can do against them.”

Last week several dozen rabbis on the public payroll as municipal rabbis in Israel issued a religious ruling barring Jews from selling or renting homes to non-Jews.

It’s not a joke. A poll has revealed that 55% of Israel’s Jewish population support the rabbis’ position.

Dinner with(out) Julian Assange

Several days ago, at dinner with friends in London, I was asked what I thought Julian Assange of Wikileaks motivation was.

To me, his motivation is not the issue. There are several players in this story:

22-year-old private Bradley Manning who as an intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq has – it has been reported - managed to access, download and export 250,000 classified State Department documents. He has been incarcerated without trial in apparently inhumane conditions at a US Marine base in Virginia.

Julian Assange who runs Wikileaks and has not been accused of anything other than some unconnected rape charges. Assange’s supporters - and there is a growing number of those - firmly believe that these are trumped up charges. Some even suggest that the Swedish women, who had sex with Assange before going to the police, work for the CIA.

The newspapers that print the leaks and probably increase their circulation and profits as a result are just net gainers. I am glad that it’s the Guardian and not one of the Murdoch papers.

And the real culprits? What interests me is not Assange's motivation but why we have not heard about the imprisonment of the real culprits? Are they in a cell so deep that no one can reach them? Or have they already been secretly executed?

Why was it possible for a junior, very junior soldier stationed in Iraq to have access to so much classified material that in no way could have been relevant to whatever his work was? Why was secret material downloadable? Why is it possible to transfer secret documents to external systems? Who created the programs that were meant to prevent that? What were the specifications? Who was in charge?

I actually believe that civil servants should be able to correspond without thinking that everything they say or write will be available to the general public. It is neither the soldier who stole the documents nor anyone who makes them available that are responsible to ensure the safety of this system. Those whose responsibility it was have betrayed the confidence entrusted to them by their country. These are the people who should be in the solitary confinement cells.

This, of course, will not happen. They are – in all likelihood - all chums and I expect that the Head of the emotionally named Department for Homeland Security, the enormous apparatus that has evidently failed in securing the Homeland continues to play golf with the director of the FBI, the head of computer and system security of the State Department and the CEO of the company that supplies the clever programs that allowed all this happen.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Fires in Israel

41 people have died, more than 13,000 evacuated from their homes, villages and a kibbutz completely ruined and forests still burning in the Carmel Mountain area of Israel because of a blazing fire that Israel’s evidently bankrupt fire-fighting system does not seem to be able to contain.

Israel on Fire I

Various countries are coming to Israel’s aid, sending fire fighting planes, other equipment and material. Bulgaria has even sent a team of 100 to help.

Lately, Israel is rightly preoccupied with the notion that it is being delegitimized in the world. Israeli politicians should not mistake humanitarian aid for political support.

Israel on Fire II

How would Israel have reacted had the fires in the Carmel been the result of a Hezbollah attack? Fortunately, that is not the case – otherwise we would have had a full-blown war in the Middle East.

How much death and misery would the world have been spared had the attack on the twin towers in New York been just an attack of a madman or the same damage caused by an earthquake? No Iraq war, no Afghanistan war and a weaker Iran and this is just for starters.

Israel on Fire III

Two years ago, ultra-religious Israeli Member of Parliament Mr Benizri explained that an earthquake that had taken place at the time was God's punishment for gay sex.

Now Benizri (like quite a few of the other ultra-orthodox party leaders) is in jail for corruption. I wonder whether his experience in jail has changed his mind about the evils of homosexuality or has he added the fires in the Carmel Mountains to the catalogue of God's wrathful acts?

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Timeline of Corruption

Monday Three days before the football world governing body FIFA meets to decide the venue for the 2018 World Cup, Panorama, the British television programme, airs a report about alleged large scale corruption at FIFA. British Prime Minister David Cameron criticises the BBC for jeopardising British chances of winning the nomination for the 2018 World Cup.

Wednesday Wikileaks documents report that Putin’s Russia is so corrupt that it is in reality a “mafia state”. Putin denies.

Wednesday Putin announces that he will not go to Zurich to attend the FIFA meeting, “as a sign of respect to the Committee’s members. They must have an opportunity to work calmly, without any pressure from anyone.” Now, there's a friendly gesture. All those people saying nasty things about Putin. How unfair.

Thursday FIFA announces that Russia will be the venue for the 2018 World Cup. Of the twenty-two votes in the FIFA Executive Committee only two went for Britain. Having failed in their attempts to lobby FIFA Board members, David Cameron, David Beckham and Prince William return to London with their respective tails between their legs.

Thursday Putin flies out to Zurich to thank the FIFA Board.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Better Late than Never (I)

In a recent TV interview, Barbara Bush, George W Bush’s mother, when asked what she thought of Sarah Palin, said “I sat next to her once, thought she was very beautiful…and I think she’s very happy in Alaska. And I hope she’ll stay there.”

I, of course, fully agree with Barbara Bush’s wish that the world be spared this Alaskan punishment that super conservative Americans are trying to inflict on us. I just wonder why Mrs Bush lacked this insight in 2000. Why did she not advise her son to stay in Texas?

Capitalism or Shame on Steve Jobs

I have much admiration for Steve Jobs, the man leading Apple to turn out their beautiful and impressive products. I was even willing to overlook the fact that they come not only with high price tags but also with annoying usage limitations. Fortunately, there are plenty of creative minds to find ways and means of overcoming many of the Apple restrictions.

It has now been announced that Apple is going into a joint venture with the Murdoch media conglomerate to produce a digital only newspaper for its iPad. Successful capitalism can be ugly but even Jobs should know that there are some people you do not go to bed with. Helping the Murdoch empire get even bigger is wrong. Shame on you – Steve Jobs.

Hackers of the World Unite!

Better Late than Never (II)

There are probably more prostitutes that have read Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church than there are prostitutes who have waited for the papal approval to start using condoms. And yet, better late than never.

The Pope started out by talking of male prostitutes – where contraception is not an issue anyway. The Vatican has widened the approval to include female prostitutes. By talking of prostitutes, the Pope really circumvented the contraception issue but the floodgates have probably been opened now.

Fewer and fewer Catholics in the developed world observed the Church’s teaching on contraception and what the Church was left with were poor people in third world countries dying from AIDS because their bishops told them not to use condoms. At long last, the Pope has understood how scandalous this state of affairs was. Thank God?

Sunday, 14 November 2010


Has it ever occurred to you that during all those years in which the Catholic Church persecuted and burned those she called “witches”, all she did was to set the competition’s stalls ablaze.

Think of Aldi firebombing all Lidl stores or Tesco setting all Sainsbury stores to fire. Exorcism is the brand name of the Catholic Church's own witchcraft product. Nobody else was permitted to compete.

Business, apparently, is booming and this weekend, in Baltimore, the Catholic Church has held a workshop for bishops and priests in the USA to train them as exorcists. To help us recognise those in need of exorcism, Bishop Paprocki, the organiser of the workshop, has described some of the classic signs of possession by a demon, “speaking in a language the person has never learned; extraordinary shows of strength; a sudden aversion to spiritual things like holy water or the name of God; and severe sleeplessness, lack of appetite and cutting, scratching and biting the skin.”

Writing books (or reading them) that call for the dismantling of the Church is evidently no proof of possession by the devil. You can safely order a copy of Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church for your best friends.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Hedonistic Tel Aviv

During my recent stay in Tel-Aviv, I noticed the rather new phenomenon of tourists who come from Europe for a few days or a long weekend just to enjoy the fun. In the past, non-Jewish tourists mainly came to visit Israel’s historical, archaeological and religious sites and Diaspora Jews came to visit family and the Jewish homeland. Lately, however, Tel-Aviv that has no archaeological or historical significance has become a different kind of a travel destination. Situated on the Mediterranean it enjoys a long and clean beach. With its abundance of good restaurants, bars, clubs and vibrant nightlife, Tel-Aviv seems never to go to sleep. It is in a 24/7 party mode. Rothschild Boulevard is safer, more fun and not as touristy as Barcelona’s Ramblas. People are friendly, approachable and open-minded and are likely to speak your language. The weather (except for the very hot summer months) is good. Theatre is in Hebrew but there is plenty of good classical music on offer.

As an Israeli, I could not avoid thinking about the morality of this hedonistic bubble in a society that sends its sons to police occupied territories. Should not stop you from going there. See for yourself!


At lunch with friends in Tel Aviv, as our argument grew more heated, my host said to me, “I hope that you are not talking like this when you are abroad, causing damage to Israel’s reputation in the UK.” “No”, I was able to reassure him, “there is no need for me to do so; damaging Israel’s reputation is adequately taken care of by the Israeli government.”

Several days later, this time at dinner with friends, I spoke about the possible effect of external pressure on Israel. If one considers Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories to be illegal why not boycott their produce? Or, would not the application of serious financial pressure on Israel make Israelis rethink their support of governments that are trying to widen their hold on the Occupied Territories? The reaction of one of my friends was that for an Israeli to support a boycott of any kind amounts to treason, adding that there were laws dealing with treason.

Most of my friends object to Israel’s settlements in the Occupied Territories and support a withdrawal from the territories within a framework of a peace agreement. They do not support any of the right wing parties that currently rule the country. However, there is a general discomfort with what in German is referred to as Nestbeschmutzer, one who soils his own nest. In today’s global world with open media, internet and travel, the notion of keeping criticism “secret” is rather unrealistic. Yet, even those who criticise their country internally shy away from criticising their country abroad.

I, too, would prefer Israel to act morally out of conviction and driven by its values rather than under external pressure. BUT, if the only way to get Israel to change tracks and get out of the mess it has got itself into since 1967 is for the USA and Europe to apply strong pressure, then such pressure should be applied. Sooner rather than later.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Geld oder Sex

I recently received the following email from a friend in Germany:

After reading your blogs on Dinners in Germany it occurs to me, that you should invest time in considering whom you will dine with. It amuses me to read about the weirdoes you always seem to run into; it disturbs me to think that your friends may believe you don’t know any at least semi-normal people in Germany.

SO this is what happened at the next dinner: I made the mistake of asking the friend I sat next to whether she read my blogs. Nein, she said and told me that she does not read my blogs because she was “really not interested in either the Vatican or Israel... in fact nobody is interested in Israel.” I should write about Geld oder Sex to get her attention, she said.

The next day, the papers reported that the Italian authorities had sequestered money transfers from the Vatican bank on suspicion of money laundering. I daren’t call this friend to find out whether writing about tthe Vatican bank counts as Vatican or as money.

Date for your Diary - 18 December

Centre for Inquiry UK and South Place Ethical Society present

The Root Causes of The Holocaust

What caused the Holocaust? What was the role of the Enlightenment? What role did religion play in causing, or trying to halt, the Holocaust?

Prof. A.C. Grayling

Prof. Jonathan Glover (King’s College)

Dr David Ranan (author of Double Cross)

11am-2pm, Sat. December 18th, 2010

Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL

10.30-11.00 Registration

11.00-12.00 Jonathan Glover

12.00-1.00 David Ranan

1.00-2.00 A.C. Grayling

Tickets: £10 on the door. To book in advance go to, hit button “support cfiuk” and follow instructions. Credit and debit cards welcome. Include names of those coming, phone number, return address, etc.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Israeli politicians in Their Morass

A former Israeli Minister of Justice, and currently chairman of the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, Tzachi Hanegbi, was convicted of perjury by an Israeli court. The prosecution failed to convince the court that Hengbi was guilty of nepotism and cronyism. In a bid to improve his standing in the party, when he was serving as environment minister, he allegedly appointed 50 Likud Central Committee members or their relatives to civil service jobs.

In passing Hanegbi’s sentence the court will have to decide whether this offence of perjury involves moral turpitude. The court’s decision is critical, as moral turpitude would bar Hanegbi from future ministerial posts. Indeed, so worried is Hangebi that he has arranged for an unheard of line of character witnesses. They include Prime Minister Netanyahu, Minister of Defence Barak, Head of the Mossad Dagan, former President Navon, the current Speaker of the Knesset as well as two previous speakers of Israel’s parliament. Hanegbi’s lawyers have also produced letters from a couple of writers, a couple of generals and Israel’s ambassador to the UN. This veritable who’s who is THE club everyone seems to want to belong to.

Let us hope that the court will disregard this unappetising swamp.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Pope’s Latest non-Confession

On the plane from Rome to Edinburgh, the Pope today referred to the sexual abuse of minors.

As usual, popes speak of other people’s sins and occasionally – such as in this case - of mistakes made by the Church. The Pope has yet again, failed to confess to the Church’s crime: the crime of systematically covering up sexual abuse. This cover up operation lasted many many years and was only uncovered by external pressure and against the will of a shouting and kicking Catholic Church.

Here is what the Pope said:

Paedophilia was an "illness" whose sufferers had lost their free will. "It is difficult to understand how this perversion of the priestly mission was possible". He had learnt of the recent cases with sadness: "Sadness also that the church authorities were not sufficiently vigilant and insufficiently speedy and decisive in taking the necessary measures".

The first priority was to help the victims recover from the trauma they had undergone "and rediscover too their faith in the message of Christ".

Monday, 13 September 2010

Was Marx Right?

Florida Pastor Terry Jones repeatedly told journalists that he was willing to meet the Iman [sic]. In response to the question whether he thought that Jesus Christ would have told him to burn the Qur’an, Jones confirmed: “Absolutely, I think, Jesus would not run around burning books but I think he would burn this one.” The Imam did not want to meet Pastor Jones who had flown to New York especially.

An American Christian preacher held the world to ransom and in the name of freedom of religion - of which the USA is so proud - they were all shitting in their pants. The American President - aware of the fact that one out every five Americans believed him to be a clandestine Muslim –tread on eggs instead of sending his FBI to stop this farce. The world’s media went along for the ride or better said, they were the producers of this show.

Could anyone but the devil have invented religion?

Israel’s Foremost Writer Has to Assure Israelis of His Allegiance

In his interview with the BBC, Israeli author David Grossman was asked whether he had ever considered leaving Israel. The question was asked in the context of Grossman’s book To the End of the Land. His response was: “I considered it and there are always temptations for it and I know when I will leave Israel – this is when Israel will stop being a democracy.”

Asked whether that was possible, Grossman said “It’s possible everywhere and as long as we are stuck in this war situation, it is a growing temptation for fundamentalism, fanaticism, and all the bad things that can bring about the stopping of democracy. But, I hope that I will stay in Israel because I deeply believe that for a Jewish person Israel is the most significant place to be and to implement our culture and our history and I think that part of the tragedy of the Jewish individual and the Jewish collective is that we have never really felt at home in the world and now we have Israel for 62 years and yet it is not the home it was meant to be. I want a home, I want Israel as a home, I want to have something, …a solidity of existence, we never felt the solidity of existence.”

It did not take long and Israel’s foremost writer had to defend himself on Israeli television. Grossman found himself explaining that he had been quoted out of context and that leaving Israel is anathema to everything he believes in.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Pope and I

The Pope is coming to Britain and I have been asked (alas, not by him) to give a talk about Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church.

My talk will take place on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 7:00 pm at the Conway Hall, 25 Red Lon Square, London WC1R 4RL

David Grossman’s To the End of the Land Now Available in English

A year ago, I recommended David Grossman’s To the End of the Land. At the time it had not yet come out in English. The English translation has finally arrived and I urge you to get it and read it.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Make War, Not Love – Catholic Church Style

Fondling choirboys was not Father Chesney’s poison, he evidently needed stronger stuff.

It has been reported that this Roman Catholic priest was no less than “ the IRA's director of operations in South Derry and was alleged to have been directly involved in the bombings and other terrorist incidents”. It happened in 1972 and Chesney is conveniently dead.

Note the collusion of Church and State in this outrage. Father Chesney was quickly moved to a new parish, conveniently near his old hometown, but across the border, in the Republic of Ireland, safely outside the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland.

The British Government may have been right in defusing this matter at a time of great tension between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. However, the Church that did not punish Chsesney and allowed him to continue as a parish priest elsewhere has proven yet again that it should not be trusted.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Who is Obama Praying to? or Why is Obama Praying?

In a bid to quell rumours about Obama’s being a Muslim (18% of All Americans believe that) the White House has issued a press release according to which Obama “prays daily, sometimes in person or over the telephone with a small circle of Christian pastors.” Moreover, we have been reminded by the White House of Obama’s Easter prayer breakfast where he “offered a very personal and candid reflection of what the Resurrection means to him. ”

This is not all: 27% of all Americans have not convinced by the repeated presentation of Obama’s birth certificate and continue to believe that he was not born in the USA. According to the American Constitution someone who was not born in the USA is not eligible to become President. Those 27% clearly believe that Mr Obama has cheated his way into the Presidency. Or, … they could just be plain racists.

Praying to Jesus (or to anyone else), Mr Obama, cannot save these people or anyone else. I sincerely hope that you – our great hope – have more effective means than prayers to govern your country.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Die (katholische) Kirche, die Juden und der Tod

I will talk about the Catholic Church and the Jews at a day of Jewish learning Limmud in Frankfurt, on Sunday, 29 August, at 10:30.

The lecture will be held in German and you can register through Limmud's website if you are interested.

It’s not Nazi Germany but it is McCarthyism

In 1933, Hitler appointed Bernhard Rust as Education Minister. Soon, teachers who were critical of the regime were dismissed, all university professors were required to become members of the Nazi teachers organisation and university lecturers with left wing views were fired.

Israel’s current Minister of Education, Gideon Sa’ar is not a Bernhard Rust but he recently gave his blessing to Im Tirtzu, an Israeli right-wing watchdog that is now threatening Israeli universities with boycott unless they change their “anti-Zionist” curricula.

Already, Ben-Gurion University finds itself defending its status by stating that it “also teaches air force cadets, who would not come if anyone thought we were preaching anti-Zionism here.”

Perhaps someone at the University’s physics department should write a paper about downward spirals.

Paradise or the Girl from Hell

When Mr and Mrs Abergil named their daughter Eden they probably did not consider the meaning of the name. Eden in Hebrew means something refined, delicate. The Garden of Eden is paradise.

This is Eden Abergil's version of paradise. A Paradise that does not ' see anything wrong with Facebook images of Palestinian detainees.'

Unworthy of her name – Let her go to hell.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Just a Dinner Party in Germany

Out of the blue, a friend of mine said that he was uncomfortable with the fact that Israel was patrolling the Persian Gulf with two U-boats that Germany had given to Israel as a present and which Israel had armed with nuclear weapons.

My friend continued and explained that the whole world knows how in 1981, Israel had “started a war with Iraq” to bomb its nuclear reactor and that it was now planning to do the same with 17 nuclear sites in Iran. He added that the Iranians were not stupid and that they had buried their sites deep in the earth and that Israel was mad with its plans to attack Iran with those two small U-Boats.

I blew up. But he was adamant, yes, he said, he knew that those were Israel’s plans and this would not be Israel’s first mistake. Israel, after all had gone into that war in Gaza and a couple of years ago in Lebanon. I explained that I had no idea what Israel’s plans were and that I doubted very much that my friend had any inside information from the depth of Israel’s – probably non-existent – strategic planning. However, I reminded the flabbergasted dinner table – flabbergasted because of my reaction – that unlike Germany or any other country in the world, Israel had enemies that made clear their wish to annihilate it. Iran is one such enemy and that country has now been allowed to become nuclear.

Before Israel allows Iran or anyone else to annihilate it, it will strike. I have no moral qualms about that. My German friend does. Israel is not considering the other six billion inhabitants of the earth, he said. Some Germans are rightly uncomfortable with the fact that Germany had started two world wars. My friend is taking this discomfort a step further: he is terrified by the idea that German U-Boats – be they in Israeli hands- could trigger a third world war. This would be a third world war that could be laid at Germany’s door.

Israel’s irresponsible and immoral conduct vis-à-vis the Palestinians produces more and more anti-Israel sentiment. The willingness to accept a serious threat to Israel’ existence is where such sentiment should not be allowed to go.

2nd Dinner

Two days later, at a different dinner party in Germany, I was lectured to by a German lawyer. This man explained to me how well Israel had done in the last twenty years. Every year – he told me – Israel enlarges the territory that it populates; every year it cultivates more land. To top it all, Israel manages this without waging war.

Choosing who to dine with is an art.

The F.. French, Eggs and Nurses.

The other day, in a small town in the Alsace, I entered a Leclerc store, one of those enormous French hypermarkets, when the cashier called after me to tell me that I had entered the wrong way. It was forbidden to enter by the tills, she said and insisted and made me go back and re-enter through the special entrance aisle.

I wanted to know why and was told “c’est le règle”, this is the rule. I asked why it was the rule and her explanation was “par c’est que”, because.

The cashier may have been just a stupid French girl but her thinking seems to shed light on what is wrong in the European Union. When the precursor to the EU, the European Economic Community, was created, the two main players were France and Germany. France that had twice failed to fight the Germans was afraid that Germany might at some point want to start another war. It wanted to hug Germany into a collaborative structure. Germany, at the time still a pariah, was grateful for anyone who was willing to partner with it. Germany a federative state, allowed France a super-centralised state, to structure the European institutions as it wished.

The result of this marriage of Mr Guilt and Mrs Fear, are bloated and wasteful EU institutions and a constant downpour of directives with which the administration of the European Union makes our lives a misery. Recently, UK hospitals were instructed that they were not permitted to test foreign nurses from European countries to ensure that their standard equals that of British nurses. Would it not be terrible if one such untested nurse would mistakenly poison the originators of this directive? The latest idiocy is a European directive that sets the number of eggs to a carton throughout Europe at ten. Sell twelve eggs in a carton and the EU will fine you.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Israeli Soldiers Rock the Casbah

A short video clip that was aired in YouTube last week has caused much controversy in Israel. The clip shows six Israeli soldiers doing a dance routine in an empty street in Hebron. It was prepared by the soldiers for their farewell celebration at the end of their stint in Hebron. The Israeli army is considering punitive action against the soldiers who participated in the making of the video.

This short video is just innocent fun. The only scandal is the fact that Israeli parents continue to send their sons to secure the illegal and immoral Jewish settlement of Hebron and the ultra right-wing settlers who were allowed to move into Arab Hebron after the Six-Day War.

British Ambassador to Lebanon: Cow – not Pig

The British ambassador to Lebanon, a woman named Frances Guy, referred to the late Ayatollah Hussein Fadlallah, a staunchly anti-American cleric who was mentor to the militant Hezbollah in Lebanon as a decent man whose death was sad news, adding, "the world needs more men like him".

An Israeli spokesman diplomatically responded, "Sheikh Fadlallah was behind hostage-taking, suicide bombings and other sorts of wanton violence, but Ambassador Guy said he was a man of peace, and Ambassador Guy is an honourable woman."

Not being bound by diplomatic niceties, I would have said that she is a pig but that would have made her unacceptable to her Hezbollah friends, and we would not want that. Cow?

Foreign Secretary Hague should fire her without delay.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Can They Talk Without Guns?

According to the Israeli press: Israel will not hesitate to use force to protect its gas fields from being claimed by Lebanon, Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau warned this week in an interview with Bloomberg News.

Is Israeli cabinet members’ version of “penis envy” “gun envy”?

What next? Will Israel’s Minister of Health threaten to send the Israeli army to countries that sue Teva (the Israeli generic drug manufacturer) for infringement of patent rights?

When will they ever learn?

Friday, 11 June 2010

The Pope’s Latest Non Apology

Earlier today, the Pope has come out with yet another expression of regret on the subject of sexual abuse.

Has he finally managed to get it right?

Again, the Pope spoke of “… sins of priests came to light — particularly the abuse of the little ones,” adding that “in admitting men to priestly ministry and in their formation we will do everything we can to weigh the authenticity of their vocation…”

The Pope has still not accepted that he is answerable for the COVER UP by the Church, popes, cardinals and bishops. He continues to go on about the wrong kind of priests who found their way into the Church.

Will he ever? I do not think so.

King Cameron's Gold

On his first visit to Afghanistan, David Cameron, the new British Prime Minister arrived with money for his troops. Just like kings used to in the old days, Cameron came to the front to hand out coin-filled purses to the warriors.

Just in case they had not understood who their benefactor was, King Cameron clarified that the soldiers’ pay rise would be backdated to – surprise surprise -the day on which he was elected. Cameron’s advisers will doubtlessly remind the soldiers and their families of this benevolent act of our new king in five years’ time, before the next elections.

Until then, the happy soldiers will be expected to fight with greater enthusiasm.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Sissinghurst and the Vatican

Visiting Vita Sackville-West's Sissinghurst to enjoy the flowers in the magnificent gardens is like visiting the Vatican museum in order to enjoy the art.

In both places what you see is mainly hordes of people.

Should all those people not be somewhere else? working perhaps?


More about Israel, the Turkish boat and Gaza:

The whole world has turned against Israel following its seizing of a Turkish boat heading for Gaza. Israel itself is divided between those who are angry with the government for the failed operation and those who think a biased world should not be permitted to dictate to Israel in matters of national security.

1. My heart does not bleed for the death of knife wielding men on a Turkish boat who attacked Israeli soldiers. They were nasty men who knew what they were getting themselves into.

2. The international media that describes a Turkish boat with men armed with knives and whips, as a “peace convoy” either does not know what it is saying or is just plain biased.

3. The Western world has a growing problem with an ever more fundamentalist Turkey. Fortunately, Europe did not succumb to the pressure and grant them EU membership.

HOWEVER, Israeli public opinion that cries out against a hostile world believing that the problem lies only in Israel’s poor public relations suggests pure blindness.

Contributing to this blindness is the fact that for 43 years, ever since the 1967 War, the international community let Israel get away with its land-grabbing policies. Most Israelis were either born or immigrated to the country after 1967. They take the Occupied Territories for granted. They even take occupation for granted. Changing their states of mind will be hard.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Ship of Fools - But Who Are the Fools?

In attacking the boats that were trying to make their way to Gaza, Israel has managed to be morally wrong as well as a bungling failure.

I am intrigued by the fact that very few voices - if any - to stop Israel from this folly, were heard before it all went pear- shaped. Especially in Israel, where everyone now seems – rightly – to attack the government for “Operation Sky Winds”, the sane minority was not really heard in this matter.

One reason for this lack of opposition is that Israel’s sane minority is rather small. Any opposition to the right-wing majority’s militancy is dubbed as “leftist” in a country in which “leftist” has become a dirty word. A country in which those who have the courage and energy to stand up against the government agenda are referred to as “anarchists”, “traitors” and “fifth column”. Most succumb and have retreated to live in their “bubble”.

A second reason is that many of Israel’s “left wingers” themselves are too busy with “right or wrong my country” whilst forgetting the need to ensure the first part of the well known saying “my country, may it always be right”.

If Israel does not want to lose more important battles, its sane minority must save it from continued acts of immorality and folly. Immorality does not always equate to recklessness but with time it very often leads to it. That is where you lose your battles. In this battle, Israel lost on the public opinion front. The nasty and evil Hamas won with their wits without even having to fire a shot. Israel must choose its battles more wisely – it cannot afford to lose the important ones.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Cosmetics Do Not Cure Cancer

Israel is like a person who has cancer who – instead of going for treatment to try and get rid of his tumour – goes for a facial and a haircut and expects everyone to admire his beauty. He then gets annoyed when his friends suggest that he should see a doctor.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that Bibi Natanyahu’s best friend and supporter in the USA is cosmetics heir Ron Lauder.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Israel - The Problem and The Solution

The Problem

The BBC and a Japanese newspaper recently conducted a joint opinion poll to establish which countries are considered to be a positive influence in the world. 30,000 respondents in 33 countries were polled.

Germany, Japan, the European Union got the top marks.

The country that was most negatively viewed was Iran at 56 percent, followed by Pakistan at 51 percent and Israel at 50 percent.

The Solution

“Israel, Not What the World Thinks” is the motto of a Hebrew pamphlet that I was handed as I was leaving Tel Aviv airport several weeks ago. Israel’s Ministry of Propaganda is eager to change the general perception of the country. To this end, Israelis are instructed to “first listen, then talk” and to “keep eye contact - your counterparts will notice that you are attentive to them.” Not only humour which "always helps” but photos and maps and personal stories to illustrate one’s case should also be used.

Having mastered these techniques, we are given the ammunition: A list of key moments in Israel's history. Israel - as seen by this government pamphlet - is a cocktail of wars mixed with winning the Eurovision Song Contest and occasional Nobel prizes. These are topped up by the information that “Windows XP”, the Disk-on-Key as well as Cherry tomatoes were invented in Israel.

Can illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories be made good by Israeli professors winning Nobel prizes?

Will people change their minds about Israeli occupation and settlement of Arab territories occupied in 1967 because Dana International won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998 or because an Arab Israeli, Rana Raslan, was made Miss Israel in 1999?

Printing pamphlets is easy.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

The Vatican – The Legionaries of Christ – and I

The Vatican has just announced that the Pope has appointed an envoy to take over and reform the Legionaries of Christ, the conservative order that has been discredited by revelations that its founder, Father Maciel, sexually abused boys and fathered at least one child.

I came across Maciel’s name when I was researching for Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church. Indeed some of Maciel’s “activities” are mentioned in the book.

The following is an excerpt from my diary, May 2007 during my stay in Rome:

At the Piazza delle Cinque Lune, just in front of the Opus Dei university, I approached what at first I thought were two Jesuits; it turned out that they weren’t Jesuits. They were members of The Legionaries of Christ; training to become priests; one was Mexican and the other Brazilian. They were 33 years old, “Just like Jesus”, the Brazilian said. “Try not to die at 33”, I replied. “Yes, there is so much more to do”, was his response.

Wasn’t there some kind of a problem with their founder, Father Maciel, sometime ago, I asked? Surprised that I had heard about it, they responded that it was all untrue. They know, they knew Maciel personally and had lived with him in the same house and "no way could he have done any of the things which are said about him… it is people who object to the Order that he founded who are behind all this.”

I wanted more and suggested we go for a coffee. The Brazilian who did most of the talking told me that they had to return to their house, adding that he would “pray for me”. He gave me his phone number but when I rang he said that he was unable to meet me.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Iranian Erections

This is not s spelling mistake. The Iranian Elections are over. Now it is erections that worry the Iranian rulers.

Earlier this week, Ayatollah Kazim Sadighi, a leading Iranian cleric, warned that women who dressed immodestly disturbed young men and the consequent agitation caused earthquakes.

Those young Iranians evidently enjoy the most powerful orgasms.

Indeed, the Teheran Chief of Police has followed the cleric’s warning with an announcement that too many suntanned women and girls who look like walking mannequins can be seen in Tehran. He added "We are not going to tolerate this situation and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them."

Anyone with personal experience of Iranian sex is invited to comment. If necessary you may choose the anonymous option.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Don't Fire the Pope

The following is from an interview I gave several days ago to an American radio station:

The recent media hype surrounding the Catholic Church includes calls for Pope Benedict to resign. Should he? There are currently two known cases that connect Benedict personally to abuse. As Archbishop of Munich and Freising, he did not prevent the reassignment of a paedophile priest and as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith he acquiesced to the request of an abusive priest and thwarted his defrocking.

Up to now, nothing has come to light that would suggest that Benedict had ever abused anyone or that he knowingly allowed abuse to take place. Indeed, no malice can be ascribed to either Benedict or to most other senior Church figures.

Instead of evil, what we have is total blindness: Blindness to what is important and what is not. In other words, their values were corrupted. Sadly, the brutal end result is the same as if they had been evil.

There is no doubt that Benedict is guilty. He is guilty of being not only part of the machine but also an important, significant and formative part the Catholic Church machine: A machine that had systematically allowed abuse to take place under its auspices. A machine that has a history of acting evilly in other spheres of life too. But Benedict is not guilty of abuse; it is the Catholic Church that is guilty. Therefore it is not a personal resignation that we need but rather a total change in the way this institution operates.

We should ask ourselves what had enabled such corrupt values to thrive in an institution that is all about love and hope, an institution that considers itself to be a lighthouse to humanity. The Pope’s resignation would cause an earthquake within the Catholic Church. Such an earthquake could be helpful. Yet, it might not necessarily produce the change we need. Let there be no doubt, society would have closed this institution had it been secular. Those who run the Catholic Church should be aware of the risk in not making the necessary changes.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Does Netanyahu Have the Balls (for Peace)?

For the first time in many years the US administration is giving Israel a hard time. Even the American friends have grown tired of Israel’s lies.

Will Netanyahu seize this as his opportunity to go down in history as the man who brought peace with the Palestinians?

Nobody likes to give in to pressure, least-of-all extremists and faith-driven right-wingers. Netanyahu’s bloated right-wing cabinet and the coterie surrounding him cannot make one very optimistic. Netanyahu’s brother-in-law is on record with an accusation that Obama is an anti-Semite. Others surrounding Netanyahu say so off-the-record. Even more outrageous to them are Jews in the American administration – such as the two senior Obama advisors, David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel - who do not toe the Israeli line. Are the two on the Mossad’s list? Perhaps for some dirt that could be fed to opponents?

Israel’s moral situation is fast deteriorating and for its own good it needs to be forced by the outside world. The alternative is frightful. Let the external force that will lead to change be the US and Europe and not war.

The Israel lobby in the US must be working overtime these days. Netanyahu will be pulling all the levers he can and calling all the favours he is able to. In the past, this has always worked and US Presidents have succumbed to the pressure.

Please, Mr President, do not falter.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

The Pope’s Latest Troubles

Many of my friends in Germany are getting worked as the press publishes daily reports about cover up of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church. The great excitement is whether any dirt would stick to the Pope personally. They have already reached his brother, a regular priest, who has admitted to slapping choirboys. (Not that way) The brother denies having indulged in any spaß with the Spatzen of the renowned Regensburg choir.

Those who have read Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church should not have been surprised. In the conclusion to the chapter on sexual abuse, I wrote:

The unfolding of the sexual abuse culture of the Catholic Church has exposed her as dangerous institution which runs sophisticated cover-up operations to defend the criminal activities of her priests. This secret and authoritarian institution and its hierarchy have, by their conscious policy of hushing up and covering up, become accessories to sexual crimes perpetrated by their clergy.

SO, if you have not yet got the book, GO and BUY it. The easiest way is to order the book through Amazon.

If you already have the book, buy another copy and give it to a friend: The ideal present for Good Friday.

Thank You America

It has taken the US a long time, a very very long time. Left-of-centre Israelis have been praying for US intervention for years. Instead, the USA has permitted Israel to run wild with its settlements in the Occupied Territories. Finally, the Obama administration has told Israel to fuck off.

Israel had gotten used to pissing on its dwindling number of friends with impunity. Announcing new building plans in East Jerusalem during Jo Biden’s Israel visit last week was one outrage too many. Worse even was Israel’s subsequent explanation that they were sorry about the timing of the announcement. They were not sorry about the actual building plans.

Will Netanyahu finally go for peace? Will he bring in new coalition partners instead of his present land grabbing lot? I believe that - like so many others - Israel only understands the language of power. The time has come for the US to use its power.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Jewish Genius

At dinner last night a friend suggested that I should be proud of the very high number of Jews amongst Nobel Prize laureates. Apparently more than twenty per cent of all laureates are Jews. I was not quite sure why I should get brownie points for their achievements. Nevertheless, I went home with a smile and spent a proud night in bed.

My pride did not last long. This morning, I came across the following item in today’s Ha’aretz: Poll: Half of Israeli high schoolers oppose equal rights for Arabs.

So I have forgotten all about my pride and now I am just full of shame. After all, I cannot really see that I have done anything to produce all those Jewish Nobel Prize laureates. But I am responsible for the education of the young generation in my society, in the country that likes to refer to itself as “the only democracy in the Middle East”.

As a further slap in my face, Gavriel Avital, the Chief Scientist of Israel’s Ministry of Education has recently come out with a statement that "If textbooks state explicitly that human beings' origins are to be found with monkeys, I would want students to pursue and grapple with other opinions. There are many people who don't believe the evolutionary account is correct.

Is the problem simply that Avital was once a monkey or is this the way that Israel hopes to produce more geniuses for the Nobel Prize?


Two months ago, on 10 January, I wrote to Wolfgang Mayrhuber, the Chairman of Lufthansa, with a serious complaint. I am still waiting for his response.

Do you know the man? Do you know someone who knows Mayrhuber? I would like to get his fax number or his email address.

Please let me know if you can help.

I don’t just want to give in to this Lufthansa policy of throwing complaints to the bin. Lufthansa should not get away with it.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Praying for Mubarak's Health

Mubarak’s gall bladder operation, earlier today, is likely to heighten the talk about a possible successor. Egypt’s President is said to favour his eldest son for the job. But recently, Mohamed El-Baradei, under whose auspices as head of the IAEA, Iran was able to develop its nuclear capability, has come forward as a potential contestant.

Judging by the increase in the number of veiled women in Egypt over the last fifteen years, the country is becoming more religious-conservative and less secular. El-Baradei says that his ultimate goal is to set Egypt down the path of democratic reform. Is one of El-Baradei's partners in his plans to challenge the present regime the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood?

If so, what kind of an Egypt after such “democratisation”?

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Does Size Matter?

Jewish students in Canada have decided to do their bit to promote Israel.

Have a look at the following Link

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Learning from Experience or Egyptian Entrepreneurship

1. A well-dressed and friendly man approached J and me as we were walking towards the entrance of Cairo’s Egyptian Museum. He introduced himself as a director of the museum, Dr. A, and we chatted for a few minutes. Unfortunately, he said, during prayer time, some tills were unmanned and the museum was now and for another 45 minutes open to groups only. We could walk about in the surrounding streets, he suggested. There was much to see, he said. He recommended a visit to the “government bazaar” that was right opposite the museum. Both his wife and his mother, he added, liked to shop there.

I knew that there was no way out once J heard the word bazaar. The friendly Egyptian showed us where we should cross the very busy road. I actually enjoy negotiating the crazy Cairo traffic but our friend insisted on crossing the road with us. We were, by now, accustomed to the friendliness of the Egyptians although I became somewhat suspicious as he continued to the point of handing us over to the man at the entrance of the shop. The “government bazaar” turned out to be an ordinary souvenir shop that like all such shops in Egypt has a government license.

An hour later, as we made our way to the museum, I suggested to J that not only had this been a ploy to divert us to the store but that there was actually no break in the opening hours of the museum. I was right; J was full of admiration for Egyptian entrepreneurship.

2. A couple of days later, as we were walking towards the Sultan Hassan and Refa’i mosques, another man approached us. The mosques, he said, were closed to non-prayers in the coming hour. He suggested that we might want to visit another mosque just around the corner. He was a music teacher, he said and was neither a tourist guide nor did he expect us to tip him. He simply enjoyed practicing his English and would gladly accompany us to “his” mosque.

We thanked him for the information but decided not to accompany him. Instead, we continued on our way to the “closed” mosques. The mosques were open to visitors and – not to our surprise - had no prayer breaks at all.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Sins of the Fathers

It has recently been revealed that Bettina, Hermann Goering’s great-niece had herself sterilised so as 'not to pass on the blood of a monster'. This, I believe, is unusual. Many descendants of senior Nazis did not seem to feel uncomfortable enough about their heritage to prevent them from procreating.

Should they have?

Moreover, genetically untainted spouses were found who were not worried about this genetic input. They may even have gotten a kick out of marrying the son or daughter of a Nazi perpetrator.

Are all judges "honourable"?

A man from Gaza who needs surgery that is not available in Gaza has applied to enter Israel in order to be operated in a hospital in East Jerusalem. An Israeli expert has confirmed that surgery is crucial and that the man might suffer irreversible damage unless operated on. Israel denied the man’s request. Israel is worried that the man might use this as an opportunity to join his wife and four children who live in the West Bank.

A senior Israeli judge, Mrs Rachel Barkai, first took time to address the court, the world and posterity and call their attention to Israel’s medical aid effort in Haiti, pointing out that Israel was one of the few countries in the world to grant medical aid to foreign citizens.

The judge then explained "In balancing the values on both sides of the scales - on one hand, the need for medical treatment, and on the other hand, the concern that he will take advantage of his entry permit in order to relocate, the respondents' refusal to permit the petitioner's entry to the territory of the State of Israel does not justify judicial intervention."

Judges have this wonderful arrangement that demands we all refer to them as “honourable”. Has the law allowed for a situation in which a judge is not so honourable? Or is it enough to deny Mrs Rachel Barakai medical assistance should she need it some day?

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Holy Alliances

Two stories that have recently appeared in the press:

Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, has intervened with Israeli President Peres to grant amnesty to an Israeli in jail. Curiously, the Israeli in question is not a member of his own Church but a Jew: ultra-orthodox Shlomo Benizri, a former Israeli cabinet member, is serving a four-year jail sentence for taking bribes and for breach of trust.

Is Theophilus just a particularly nice man or is this somehow connected to the fact that the Greek Orthodox Church owns very much land in Israel (including the land on which the Knesset, Israel’s parliament is built) and that Shas, Benizri’s party, is a very potent power broker in the country?

The Catholic Church has condemned the French government for attempting to prohibit the wearing of Burqas in public. The Church explained that retaliation on Christians in Muslim countries might follow.

File note for future reference: in dealings with the Vatican - blackmail works.

Berlusconi and Israel

I have just received the following email:

Hi David,
Why does Israel, why do Israeli politicians get on with a major crook like Berlusca so well? “He’s our best friend”… Huh???

I remember a similar situation when in June 1974, less than two months before he was forced to resign, President Nixon - a pariah in his own country - visited Israel. It was the first time ever that an American President had made a visit to Israel.

Beggars can’t be choosers.

However, if there is a chance that Israel might listen to Iran-condemning, Jewish-People-hugging Berlusconi then I don’t care about the rest: Berlusconi has suggested to Israel that she ought to give up the Golan and go for peace with Syria and that Israel’s Settlements in the Occupied Territories are an impediment to peace.

Sadly, Israeli politicians are more likely to take Berlusconi’s advice on media control, the joys of power and wealth and perhaps even the advantages of dying one’s hair than give up land for peace.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Avatar vs. Double Cross

The Vatican newspaper and radio station have called the film Avatar simplistic, and criticized it for flirting with modern doctrines that promote the worship of nature as a substitute for religion. L'Osservatore Romano said the movie's plot is unoriginal and its message not new. It faulted Cameron for taking a "bland approach." A few years ago Vatican officials spoke out against The Da Vinci Code.

I am still waiting for my mention in dispatches. Pope Benedict has up to now refrained from attacking Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church. Has he secretly been convinced or is my book still in the pile of books waiting to be read by the Holy Father?

The Pope and Mrs. Robinson

The Pope has just come out with a statement linking the Catholic Church’s opposition to gay marriage to global warming. Both, according to Benedict, are a threat to creation. The Pope has clearly not yet finished reading his copy of Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church.

About a year ago, Protestant Iris Robinson, wife of Northern Ireland’s First Minister and a Member of the UK Parliament, branded homosexuality “an abomination” and urged homosexuals to seek psychiatric help. Robinson, it appears, had it directly from God: “Homosexuality is not natural. My Christian beliefs tell me that it is an abomination and that is very clear. It is an offence to God, an offensive act and something God abhors… I have a lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my office trying to turn homosexuals away from what they are engaged in. I’m happy to put any homosexuals in touch with this gentleman.”

Loathing of homosexuals seems to unite Protestants and Catholics. There must be hope for Ireland, after all.

It now turns out that devout Mrs. Robinson did not read the rest of her Bible. Did she miss class when they taught about adultery? Perhaps she was getting laid at the time. Not only did a 59-year-old Robinson have an affair with a 19-year-old boy, she appears to have paid him for it. The MP and wife of Northern Ireland’s First Minister arranged for two property developers to fund a business for her lover to the tune of £50,000. Greedy on top of it all, Robinson demanded a 10% cut. Lover boy had to give her £5000 in cash-back in return for the money she had organised for him.

As a good Christian she must believe in hell. I wish her all the fires she believes in. She is already getting a taster and is hiding behind a “nervous breakdown”.