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Showing posts from December, 2012

Why the UN General Assembly could create Israel but can't create Palestine.

In 1947 the UN General Assembly voted to partition what was then the British Mandate of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. As a result Israel came into being.  The Arabs rejected the decision and no Arab state was created.
In late 2012 the General Assembly voted that "Palestine" be granted non-member observer status.  Why didn't they create a member state?

Basically the only body in the UN that can take any binding decisions  is the Security Council and the five permanent members  can veto any decisions they don't like. The other ten members are taken in turn from the various regions. As  members of the council they can put things on the agenda for discussion.

In 2011 Lebanon was briefly chair of the council and proposed that the council accept the Palestinians as a state.  The Security Council referred the issue to its membership committee for investigation and the membership committee came back with inconclusive results since the Palestinians failed to meet…

Making peace by statistics: Professor Maoz

A fascinating article by Professor Ze'ev Maoz in Yediot Ahronot today (in Hebrew), suggests Israel might be addicted to war. Apparently Maoz ran a statistical analysis of wars over the last couple of hundred years and found that the same states were involved in most of them. For obvious reasons the Germans, Italians and Japanese gave up warfare but the British, Russians and Americans still love it and among small states,the Turks, Greeks and Israelis were ranked highly along with Egypt, Iraq and Iran.  Israel came out as the most war-prone small country in the world since 1948.
Wow I thought, that's interesting.  But then I remembered that I attended a lecture by Maoz at Tel Aviv University around the year 2,000 and that he was running these statistics even then. In that lecture he had found that countries with nuclear weapons were far less likely to go to war: In other words Nukes had indirectly kept the peace. I remember thinking great so what do we do with that.  If I remem…

Air-raid sirens in Tel Aviv

The recent mini-war with Gaza caused a few air-raid sirens in Tel Aviv. The first caught me and the kids in the playground next to our apartment block. It's a popular playground and it was very busy.
The siren went off and there was a second when everyone looked stunned and then everybody in the playground scattered - except me who stood there wondering how seriously I should take this thing.
As luck would have it, my partner was just returning from the shops at that moment. "Come on" she said, "We have 90 seconds to take cover". So we scooped up the girls and ran over to our block, pausing to collect a man and his crying daughter, who had taken cover behind the local Likud branch, a tiny building next to our building.  We told them to join us in our stairwell.

The stairwell turned out to be packed.  There were various people who happened to be passing along and most of our neighbors. Its an old building and we have no "security rooms" which are now b…

What I'm reading

I'm trying a book diary... Feels like a primary school exercise.

May 2013 -

April 2013 - Righteous Victims by Benny Morris.  The most comprehensive account of the Middle East conflict, but I think it loses it a bit after Sadat comes to Jerusalem and the conclusion was a bit weak.


January 2013 - The Chosen Few - Eckstein and Botticini - An amazing book about Jewish demographics between the first century CE and the 15th century.  The authors argue that in the second century the Rabbinical leaders of the Jews took a decision to make literacy compulsory, even ordering that illiterate Jews be boycotted.  As a result there was a massive movement of Jews into Christianity (which made no such demands) while the structure of Jewish occupations switched to a focus on trade, manufacture, money lending and other occupations where literacy was an advantage. In particular there was a massive movement of Jews out of agriculture.
a lot of the material they use is based on the Cairo Geniza.


26 Dec…