Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wannsee II

Pres. Ahmedinejad of Iran visited Damascus to meet with his ally Pres. Assad of Syria and his clients Khaled Mashaal, Head of Hamas and Sheikh Nasrullah, Head of Hizbollah. This was what can only be termed a "war council", a meeting of the most virulent anti-Israel and anti-Western forces in the Middle East to plan strategy. Making no pretense about their intentions, Ahmedinejad said he looked forward to a Middle East "without Zionists," in other words they intend to destroy Israel and all the Jews in it, and Assad said that Israel is "capable of aggression at any point." In other words we are prepared to start a war when we decide to.

Remember, Hitler accused the Jews of starting the war against Germany and he was planning to take over the world while accusing the Jews of doing so. Similarly Ahmedinejad and his allies stoop to the same lows, while lambasting American "colonialism", he plans to take over as much of the Middle East as possible. This combination of Muslim theology, Shi'ite expansionism and Persian nationalism is a potent mixture, and with allies in strategically located places, he realizes that he cannot wait forever.

This is their strategy, announce the development of nuclear weapons, that he would fully be prepared to use. Then anticipate an Israeli attack and using this as an excuse, attack Israel. But, since Iran does not control the air, he will use his assets in Gaza and Lebanon (and possibly Syria) to do the actual attacking, each with their tens of thousands of rockets. Note that the original Iranian route of attack against Israel was going to be through Iraq, but that did not work out (the Iran-Iraq war lasted 8 years). Saddam Hussein for all his faults was an impassable barrier against Iranian expansionism.

One astute observer pointed out that this attack can only be done once, so the timing is crucial. That's because Israel, even more than last time, is likely to decimate Hizbollah and Hamas from the air. So while we are currently having a quiet time, this is the quiet before the storm. While Hamas is keeping a ceasefire in Gaza and the PA has quietened down the forces of terrorism, we must be aware of the danger just ahead and we must prepare accordingly. There has been a war against Israel in every decade since the 1930s. The war in this decade is likely to be more destructive and more costly than the recent ones. Since Hizbollah is in the Lebanese Government and PM Saad Hariri has announced that he stands with Hizbollah, there need be no hesitation on Israel's part in attacking Lebanese assets. Let's hope that Israel is prepared for this onslaught and that we come through it intact.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Israel is not "apartheid"

This week is "Israel apartheid week" on most American University campuses and around the world. Not only is this whole concept of Israel being an "apartheid state" complete nonsense, but the naieve and peurile propaganda only puts the supporters of it in a negative light. This is worse than most former anti-Western propaganda that was put out by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and the anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist propaganda put out by many student organizations over the years, because it has no basis in reality!

The fact is that Israel is no more of an "apartheid state" than the US or current day South Africa. Israel has a minority of 20% Arab citizens. Any visitor to Israel can see for themselves that the Arabs move freely about in Israel, they shop in our stores, they work side-by-side with Jewish Israelis, in restaurants, banks, pharmacies, construction, etc. In fact, apart from the different dress of the women it is very hard to tell the difference. There are also different Arab groups, Christian, Druse, Muslim, and among the Muslims there are those who are well integrated into Israel, such as the village of Abu Ghosh outside Jerusalem and several prosperous villages in the north. So the main accusation that Israel in some way treats its Arab minority as the white minority once treated the black majority in South Africa is sheer nonsense. Also, Israel is a functioning democracy and there are no discriminatory laws in place in Israel.

Several years ago I asked three Arab students in Hebrew University, two were Christian and one Muslim, if a Palestinian State was formed would they prefer to join it or to remain Israelis. All three said the latter, and this is well known to be the general view among Israeli Arabs. So it is very dangerous to generalize from a biased and ignorant perspective.

A second level of criticism of Israel is that it treats the Palestinian Arabs (who are not Israeli citizens) badly, that the Security Fence (the "wall") separates some Palestinians from their land and that at the checkpoints Arabs are mistreated. This is specious propaganda, given that the Security Fence was constructed to prevent suicide bombings in Israel that killed over 200 people and wounded ca. 1,000 in the two years before the fence was constructed. Now the terrorist murders are down to almost zero, so the Security Fence works! Also, the Netanyahu Government has removed ca. 150 checkpoints from the West Bank, making the movement of Palestinians much easier. Further, there is a group of Israelis called "Machsom Watch" (machsom is a checkpoint in Hebrew) who regularly watch the checkpoints and report any mistreatment of Palestinians by the IDF guards. They don't have too much to do because there are few such incidents. Also, at the checkpoints they regularly catch Arab youths and women trying to pass thru with knifes and explosives. So the checkpoints work too. That is why there is so little terrorism today and certainly hundreds of Israeli lives have been saved. If there were no terrorism there would be no fence and no checkpoints!

Here is a test case. The Arab village of Ghajar is on the northern border and Israel captured the village in 1967, and the villagers becamse Israeli citizesn in 1981. As a result of the withdrawal from Lebanon it was agreed that Israel would relinquish the northern half of the village to Lebanon. But, there is a hitch, because the villagers don't want the village to be divided and they don't want to be returned to Lebanon, they consider themselves Syrian but they want to remain in Israel and to be Israeli citizens. So there is a problem because according to international humanitarian law, Israel cannot force the people of Ghajar to return to Lebanon, but Lebanon demands the area back. What to do? Until now there is a stalemate, but the salient fact is that the Arabs in Ghajar apparently don't agree with the students on campuses that Israel is an apartheid state!

It is a core belief that "the truth will out." It is unfortunate that some otherwise uninformed and naieve students will be taken in by these completely propagandistic and lying claims about Israel. If you don't believe me come and see for yourself!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jewish Heritage Sites

PM Netanyahu in a speech at Tel Hai a few days ago announced a new Israeli Government initiative to upgrade the Jewish Heritage Sites (JHS) around Israel. He wants to ensure that the youth and the people of Israel, as well as many visitors, can see the ancient connections that we Jews have with our homeland. Yes, in Israel you can visit beautiful beaches, you can tour amazing cities and see wonderful natural sights. But, the real reason we are all here is our indelible ties to this Land and finally an Israeli Government is going to emphasize that!

You might think that in Israel this would not be controversial, but in Israel everything is controversial. The left is attacking this policy because they say that it is "right-wing" and feeds into the interests of the "settlers" that reinforces the Jewish link to the Land. Since they do not feel this link so strongly they don't want others to feel it either. Speaking as a non-religious person I strongly support this move, we must know why we are here in this specific place.

What has made the policy more controversial is that Netanyahu added two sites that are on the West Bank to the list of JHS, The Tomb of the Patriarchs at the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem. I have visited the former, and it is really an impressive site, but many do not go there because of the intermittant violence from the Palestinians. The PA have officially protested Netanyahu placing these two sites on this list, since they say that they are Muslim sites of worship and they threaten to start a new intifada and Hamas in Gaza have threatened to start a new war. The US and EU are also on record as opposing the inclusion of these Jewish sites in an Israeli renovation plan!

But, this is pure hypocrisy, since for 700 years (!) Jews (and Christians) were not allowed by the Muslim authorities to enter the edifice built above the Cave of Machpelah. Remember that these sites were sacred to Jews for 4,000 years before the Muslims came on the scene and conquered them. Then Jews were allowed only up to the third step at the entrance to pray. Since 1967, these arrangements were changed, a new open entrance was added and the building has a Mosque and Synagogues and Muslims and Jews are allowed to pray inside at agreed specified times. In other words, the site is shared, it is not exclusively used by one side or the other. When pressed about this, the Palestinian spokeman would not guarantee that if the site were under Muslim control Jews would still be allowed to worship there. They would like to return to the archaic and discriminatory practices of the past.

I am glad that the Israeli Government has decided on this new policy and that the two sites on the West Bank are included. Let us throw open these sites for all to visit and see the history of our people in its Land forever.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Assassinate Osama

As far as we know Osama bin Laden is hiding out in a cave on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, or at least that's what we believe. But, if we believe it, it probably isn't true. He probably was spirited away in the guise of a woman in a full chador to a pleasant exile in an affluent Gulf State, where he shaved off his beard and is posing as a businessman living in a discrete luxury hotel probably in Dubai, where he can have electronic contact with his disciples around the world, without raising attention.

Now let's say that he is tracked on one of his outings by a foreign intelligence service, whose suspicions are aroused by his intermittent contact with certain unsavoury Islamic characters. Further information from a paid informant confirms his identity. An emergency Security Committee meeting is held at the White House and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is in favor of blasting the hotel with a cruise missile, but the President says "hold on, that might cause civilian casualties." "So what," says the military expert, "we're at war with him and his followers, we have lost hundreds of men searching for him, and we can't let him get away again as we did last time we had him." "No," says the President, "I'm in charge, and I have decided that it is immoral and illegal to blast a whole hotel just to kill one enemy, even if it is their leader."

"I have a suggestion," pipes in the Head of the CIA, "why not send in a team to positively identify him and then assassinate him and that way we'll avoid all the civilian casualties." "I don't know," says the Head of the JCS, "they might be detected, or they might fail to kill him and he'll get away again." "Are you forgetting that we must give him the benefit of the doubt, he might not be Osama at all, it might be a case of mistaken identity. In that case we must err on the side of caution, and so as President I have decided that we should send in a team. But, we must give our team cover, so that they won't be suspected." "I know," says the Head of the CIA, "let's contact the Israelis, they know how to deal with fake passports."

All right now, hands up all Americans who on reading the second paragraph immediately said "No, don't do that, blast them to hell!" Well, I suppose, ironically that there is some similarity between Israel under Netanyahu and the US under Obama after all. Israel clearly took great risks in sending in a large team to kill the arch terrorist al-Mabhouh rather than sending in a drone and blasting the hotel. Noone gives them credit for that! Wouldn't the US (and the Europeans) be glad if they could do the same thing to Osama.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Journey to another planet

I woke this morning glad that I could see the familiar patterns of objects in my bedroom and glad that I could hear the sound of my wife calling that breakfast is ready. I woke this morning profoundly grateful.

Monday evening we went on a trip with our Hebrew ulpan to a performance entitled "Not by bread alone" by a theater group called "na laga'at" or in English "please touch." This is a unique troupe consisting of deaf-blind actors. They are located in a renovated warehouse at the Jaffa Port and their facility includes a theater and a restaurant. The theater itself is conventional, but when you enter you see ten people standing on the stage behind a gauzy screen, each one kneading dough at a table. They seem unaware of the audience's presence and then, of course, you realize that they are blind and/or deaf.

The play is started when a "normal" person dressed all in black beats a drum. The actors can feel the vibration and this tells them to start the action. Also, throughout the performance these "translators" guide the performers about the stage and translate by sign or touch language their "words" to each other. These are then also flashed on a screen, in Hebrew, English and Russian, for the audience to understand.

An actor stands and introduces himself, he talks in a distorted voice, he is blind and deaf. Without the screen translation it would be impossible to understand him. The other tableau and actions are choreographed in a sequence each started by a drum beat. The actors share their thoughts with us, simple hopes and dreams. One says if only she could wake and see the faces of her children, one wants to see her son return from the army, another dreams of walking unaided in the rain and another would like to go on a fishing trip. For each of them to simply go out of their home is a dangerous adventure, and they can never see the people just sitting in the park or hear the children at play.

This was a touching and moving experience, held together by the baking of the bread in ovens on stage and the expressed dreams and wishes of the actors. Yet, I had some troubling thoughts. I doubt whether this kind of play could be initiated in the US, since the actors are definitely exploiting their disabilities to obtain sympathy and to make money, and this might be considered a higher form of begging in a human rights environment that is both aggressive and assertive. On the other hand, the performances are somewhat artless, probably expressing their actual real wishes and desires, and as such lack the kind of drama that we usually associate with a stage performance, or am I being insensitive. After the show, the audience shared the bread that the actors had baked and then we ate at the adjacent restaurant where the waiters are also deaf.

This was a unique glimpse into another planet, one that coexists with ours, but nevertheless is experientially distinct. A journey to another planet whose existence we would prefer to ignore. It is said that a society can be judged by the way that it treats its least fortunate members. It is probably a truism that such a theater could not exist anywhere else in the world except Israel.

Monday, February 22, 2010


"Mishagoyim" was my mother-in-law's comment on the winter Olympics from Vancouver, when she watched men and women shooting down ice tubes on a tray, skiing downhill at suicidal speeds, and jumping off high hills, for what? The word is a Yiddish amalgamation of "meshuggeneh goyim" or "crazy non-Jews." Not many Jews doing that! But Israel reopresented at Vancouver by the Zaretskys who are a couple from Russia in ice dancing and currently they are in tenth place in the competition. The Israeli Olympic team also includes another skier. We are not much of a winter country.

But, Israel won the gold medal for assassinations, that's much more important. I'd give Mossad 10 points for execution, 8 for achievement, and 2 for follow through. Having the mugshots of your assassination team on the news and in the internet cannot be considered a great success. Nevertheless is sends the message, that Israel knows the moves of the bad guys and can deal with them wherever they are. Mabhouh was a wanted war criminal having killed two IDF soldiers, was the arms procurer of Hamas from Iran and was presumably on his way there. The fact that Dubai was his stopover does not make them totally innocent, even though they claimed not to know his whereabouts.

I have written to the Head of Mossad, Haim G. to offer myself as a prime example of a British Israeli, prepared to give my passport and myself to the cause. However, it seems that I am not up to their standard of derring-do, also they have little call for passports with the name "Cohen." I am surprised that no Arab country has accused Shachar Pe'er, who was playing in the Dubai Tennis Open during the time of the Mabhouh incident, of being involved in it. She might have been the organizer of the assassination, even though she managed to get into the semi-finals, where she lost to Venus Williams. Stranger claims have been made by the genuflecting anti-Israel forces.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

First People

Since semantics is important It occured to me that we Jews should be referred to as "the First People." This is how Canada solved the problem of how to refer to the indigenous tribes who inhabited the land that they stole, by calling them the "first peoples." In the US they were first erroneously called Indians, based on Columbus's claim that he had reached the "Indies" by sailing west. Then they were referred to as "American Indians" in an attempt to correct this misnomer, and finally, they came to be called "native Americans" as opposed to the millions of immigrants from all over the world who poured into the "empty land."

There is little dispute that the Jews have the oldest civilization in the world, that has remained in continuous existence for nearly 6,000 years (we are currently in year 5770 of the Jewish calendar). Many other very ancient civilizations have died out in the intervening period, such as the ancient Egyptians (replaced first by Christianity and then by Islam), the Babylonians, the Romans. Indian Hindu civilization considers itself to be ca. 4,000 years old, and Japanese civilization is a mere ca. 2,000 years old (actually the Japanese are now known to have originated from Taiwan), and so on.

As the progenitor of the monotheistic tradition that encompasses Christianity and Islam, the Jews can be considered to be the founding civilization of ca. 2.4 billion people world-wide. Of course, many Christians and Muslims hate to admit their religion's basis in Judaism, particulalry it's ethics, but it is a fact. Jesus himself and most of the early Christians were practising Jews, it was mainly Peter who later spread the belief to non-Jews through Rome, and it was the Emperor Constantine who codified that religion into what we now know as Christianity (originally the Byzantine or Greek Orthodox tradition). Hence we have what has been called "Judeo-Christian civilization." Mohammed the Arabic prophet, as described in the Koran, met many Jews who inhabited the peninsula that later came to be called Arabia, and derived much of his religious ideology, and also much of his prehistory, from them. Thus, the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are sacred to Muslims, although they tend to overlook that.

In order to get away from the onerous connotations of the complex word "Jew" that originally meant an inhabitant of Judea, including its more recent racist associations, I suggest that a more respectable title, that suggests the ancient lineage and founding character of this people, that they be referred to in future as "The First People"!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Iran first!

An edited version of this letter was published in the Jerusalem Post on 18/2/10


I am writing to support the contention of Tawfik Hamid of "Iran first" ("Iranian defeat first, Israel-Arab peace later," Feb 15). Why has Pres. Abbas not been able to restart negotiations with PM Netanyahu and why has he erected preconditions that prevent talks occuring, even with massive US pressure on him? The answer is because half of the Palestinian people in Gaza are under the control of the Islamist organization Hamas, that is supported, armed and trained by the Iranian National Guard. And Pres Abbas fears that any agreement with Israel will lead to his downfall and the takeover of the West Bank by Hamas. That is why the Obama Administration's policy on the Israel-Arab conflict has failed and that is why they now have to "Quick, look busy" according to Barry Rubin's analysis (Feb 15).

And why has the new Lebanese Government under PM Saad Hariri not been able to exercise its sovereignty freely, because of the power of Hizbollah that is a controlled by the Iranian regime and armed through Syria. That is why Syria cannot make peace with Israel ("Syria must be a top priority," Alon Ben-Meir, Feb 15), unless the control of Iran is first removed from its throat.

[It seems clear that the actor that prevents progress in the Israel-Arab conflict through its two proxies Hamas and Hizbollah is Iran and not other Arab actors. With a nuclear weapon, the whole Middle East will be under threat until Iran is taken care of, preferably by means of sanctions, but if necessary by military means. So the reality of the situation in the Middle East is "Iran first," and it is a pity that the Obama Administration has wasted so much time on his futile "engagement" policy. The world has learned the terrible lesson that "appeasement" does not work.]

Jack Cohen

This was in response to the article:

Thursday, February 18, 2010


A tide of Islamization is flooding Europe, including Britain. The signs of it are everywhere, thousands of women in chadors, ritual killings of women, demonstrations with placards calling for death to Jews and infidels, blatant undemocratic interference in the usual processes of free speech, including the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister at Oxford University and the Israeli Ambassador at a London College.

Then there are the violent attacks, there was "7/7" when 52 people were killed and 700 injured, there was the copy-cat attack 2 weeks later that luckily failed and the discovery of a cache of bombs. Then there was the shoe-bomber, and the liquid explosives plan for trans-Atlantic planes that was exposed in time but could have killed 1,000 people, and the failed car-bomb attack on London and the successful attack on Glasgow airport, and the so-called underwear bomber, who had a non-detectable plastic explosive, that has caused a major change in airport security.

It's probably true that the vast majority of the Muslim population (say 90%) is kind and peaceful, but let's say that out of ca. 1.5 million Muslims in the UK, all it takes is 10% of them to be prepared to support these activities and that makes an army of ca. 150,000 people! According to public reports the British intelligence agencies are watching ca. 8,000 people belonging to ca. 500 groups. Let's say that if only 10% of these groups send a car bomb into the center of 50 cities in the UK, then that's war, but what can the British Government do about it.

Of course, the Jews in Britain and Europe are completely unprepared for this eventuality, they are mainly liberal in their attitudes and they say, well most of them are peaceful, and they don't really mean us harm. Some even strongly support the Muslim/Palestinian program, such as Gerald Kaufman, a Jewish Labor MP. But, that's what the German Jews said about the Germans. Most of them were decent people, but when it came to it the German people threw their backing behind Hitler. Most Muslims in Britain and Europe want to have sharia law and to be governed by a Muslim Government. I don't say this is immediately achievable, but there are thousands of foreign and native-born Muslims who are prepared to die to bring this about. And there is a recognized route of training for them in Pakistan and now Yemen.

You might say that this is unnecessarily alarmist, but I would say that in view of the attacks that have happened that it is being realistic. The Commissioner of Police in Britain said not long ago that it is not a matter of "if" there would be another Islamist attack in the UK, but "when"!

Of course, we in Israel have a somewhat jaundiced view of the situation, as this message attests. We are in the sights of this armed and organized attempt to destroy us, and only the IDF is keeping us alive (those Jews who go out and help the Palestinian enemies are ignorant of history and have no self-respect). I don't say that the Muslim extremists are uniform, far from it, there are Sunni groups, such as Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation, well-organized in the UK) and Al Qaeda, there are Shi'ite groups sent mainly from Iran and Lebanon, and then there are the mosques and houses where these people hide out (this whole program has been well-documented, see for example "The Islamist" by Ed Husayn).

During the 1970's Italy was beset by a bombing and murder campaign by the Red Brigades that consisted of only a few hundred core extremists, who murdered former PM Aldo Moro. But they were supported by rings of less extreme supporters and sympathizers who hid them and kept the campaign going. The Italian Government had to go to war against them until they were finally defeated. But, there are many more Muslims than that now throughout Europe and the struggle is only beginning. The situation is proceeding as the writers of "Eurabia" (Bat Yeor) and "Londonistan" (Melanie Phillips) foresaw.

The situation in America is not as bad yet, since the FBI and the CIA are more active. But, for years aliens were allowed to enter the US and disappear without trace. There are enough Muslim extremist sleeper cells in the US to cause a major insurrection. Remember you read it here on this day!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Failed states

What is a failed state? It is a state that doesn't function, that has no effective government or that is so corrupt or dictatorial that its people live under constant fear and usually the ruler(s) need an external threat to maintain their control.

Some states are obviously failures, such as Haiti and Somalia, that have had no effective government for years. Others include Yemen, which is currently in a civil war and North Korea, that is a so-called communist dictatorship, whose absolute ruler Kim Jong-il is possibly insane, and whose people have been starving for about 20 years while they build nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles.

Others are near failures, such as Lebanon, which has elections based on its secular groups and in which civil war is never far from the surface. Another is Syria, that has been run by the Assad family since Hafez Assad took power back in 1970. Its main business is gun running, from Iran to Lebanon and Gaza. Other examples of such states are Venezuela, that is being run into the ground by Pres. Chavez, and Zimbabwe that is being destroyed by Pres. Mugabe.

Then there are the states that have seemingly effective governments, but are actually in chaos and most of the people teeter on the edge of starvation, these include Pakistan, Ethiopia and several other sub-Saharan African countries. Included in this category is Iran, that is run by Imams who have little idea how to run a modern state and also have little idea of morality. But, in fact, the power in Iran has gradually shifted to the Revolutionary Guards, a point made this week by US Secty of State Clinton. Among these we can also add Afghanistan, that is little more than a region of warlords and armed clans, that the US is trying to save from itself. Also, Iraq, although it has a government and an occupying force, about 50 people are being killed a day by the insurgents. Is this a successful state?

After listing these failed states that actually exist in the world, the question arises, should we be responsible for establishing another one? It is clear that this is what Palestine would be, with no effective government, but clans and armed militias/terrorists that run the show. The current weak President of the PA, Abbas, has overrun his period in office by more than a year, and elections were cancelled, mainly because Hamas refused to participate. With Hamas in control in Gaza, people are suffering because they elected Hamas that refuses to recognize Israel or refrain from using violence, therefore Israel and Egypt are blockading Gaza. Any combination of Hamas and/or Fatah is destined to produce a failed Palestinian State, so why go there?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stories - sources of inspiration

Through the years I wrote many stories with a wide range of subject matter, not all of them of direct Jewish content. I published some of them in my collections “Discovering America” and “Trove” (that are available from I will describe some examples here and explain how I came to write them.

Discovering America: In the information sent to me by Harvard University there was a list of dates of national holidays that I should not arrive on because everything would be closed. So I carefully avoided them and arrived on a convenient day in November. The taxi dropped me at the offices of Harvard Univ. in Cambridge and I was shocked to find them – closed! It turned out to be Columbus Day that was a State Holiday in Mass. I stood in the dark arcade where all the shops were closed and heard some music and talking, that turned out to be the radio station of HU. They sent me to the International Center nearby and there I found a bed. Then as I was undressing a young woman came in and asked me if I’d like to go to a concert with her…..

Bjorn and Julie: This story is based on an interview I did with the first scientist to describe the structure of DNA as a helix, although a single stranded helix. His name was Sven Furberg, and he went to London in 1947, just after WWII, to do a doctorate with the famous physicist J.D. Bernal. In his interview, conducted in Stockholm University he described his experiences during the war as an underground radio operator, when he had to ski high up in the mountains so as not to be caught by the Germans. He also mentioned that he had enjoyed talking to one particular female contact, and that was why he was so eager to go to London. However, his romance did not work out, nevertheless it gave me the idea for this story, “Bjorn and Julie.”

The Grand Tour: This is the true story of how I organized a trip by mini-bus from Cambridge to Israel in 1963 for 10 people. Because of problems that arose, after touring Israel we got to Yugoslavia and then ran out of money. It was the interactions between the people, some of them very unpleasant, that was more fascinating thatnt eh scenery. Then I became ill and collapsed in Salzburg and spent several days in the hospital, not a very pleasant outcome.

Silences: This is based on a true story that one of my best friends told me about how at the age of about 10 he had bad asthma and was sent to a convalescent home in Switzerland. The nurses were German and tended to be very officious and somewhat anti-Semitic. There was a ward of children who had survived the Holocaust and he fell in love with a young girl and asked his parents to adopt her. They told him that they would, but then they took him home, and later they told him that she had died. For a long time afterwards this experience caused him to have nightmares.

The Party: This is a true and somewhat tragic story of an Israeli couple; the husband came to work with me as a postdoc in the US. We noticed that his wife was often rude to him, even in public , and we wondered why. Eventually she had a baby and the story starts with her ringing our doorbell late one evening and inviting us to a surprise party. ….

Irons: I noticed them quite often walking around the campus delivering mail. She was a beautiful young woman and he was a tragically crippled young man, It was an effort for him to walk with irons on his legs. I imagined a relationship between them and so I wrote this story….

The Binding: When I was a child my father told me about a murder that had occurred in the East End of London, when a yeshiva student murdered a young Christian girl. He also mentioned that the detective was Irish and it was his intervention that prevented an anti-Semitic backlash. I used this as a basis for this story….

Trove: It is an incredible fact that not one piece of writing of Shakespeare of any of his plays has ever been found. I used this as a basis to imagine the finding of a trove of old manuscripts in a library, and the setting I used was Milton Abbey, a beautiful rural place where I was evacuated as a boy during WWII.

The King of America: Frederick Calvert, Lord Baltimore died only six years before the Declaration of Independence of the USA in 1776 at the age of 40. At the time he was the most senior aristocrat in the American colonies, and was the owner of the Maryland Colony that was soon to become the State of Maryland. His death was very convenient for the republicans because there was a group of monarchists who wanted to rid themselves of the British King, but to appoint an American King in his place. Also fortunately for the republicans, Lord Baltimore had no heir, but did he?....

This was part of my presentation at WIZO-Netanya 3/2/10; for more information go to:

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Noble Savage

In view of the success of the movie "Avatar," I have decided to write a sequel with the title "Abattoir." It will be about a planet called Kishkes where there is a tribe of red dwarfs called the Shochets whose main weapon is the cleaver. They run around in their little white aprons killing every animal in sight.

A group of green environmentalists invade their planet with the intention of stopping their destruction of its species. The Greens try to do a biodiversity catalog of the planet, but the nasty Shochets prevent them. As a result the Greens send one of their own dwarfs in among the Shochets and he tries to find out their plans, but over time he falls in love with a particularly vicious red dwarf, and as a consequence he turns native and tells the Shochets what the Greens plan. This makes the Shochets very mad, so they attack the Greens with their cleavers and almost annihilate them. The Greens are expelled from the planet Kishkes, muttering "we could have brought you civilization," "we wanted you all to have electric cars," "you should stop killing animals and eating them." In reply the Shochets say "we need nothing from you, we are happy here in our own planet killing as many animals as we like, go back to where you came from and tell them to leave us alone."

The moral of both these stories, that of "Avatar" and "Abattoir" is that the myth of the "noble savage" is still alive and well. In his prescient novel "Brave New World," Aldous Huxley famously had his noble savage, John the Savage commit suicide, because he could neither live in the wild world of the reservation nor the controlled futuristic World State that had developed by 2540. However, history and society have changed considerably since Huxley wrote it in 1932, both great ideologies of the nineteenth century, fascism and communism, have been defeated and have faded. Also, the advance in technology has not only conferred great power to central governments, but has also empowered the individual. Huxley could never have envisaged a world in which all totalitarian ideologies (except Islamism) had been conquered and in which everybody has a personal computer (pc) on their desk and can access the internet.

Aside from historical and technical aspects, the moral reaction to colonialism and imperialism has been a reification of the "Noble savage." In fact it is now no longer politically correct (PC) to refer to anyone as a "savage" and relative evaluations of cultures is taboo, each has a different "narrative" that circumvents comparisons. Thus, the savage treatment of the American native peoples, the Australian aborigines, the Maoris of NZ, the Black Africans in North America, in the Congo and South Africa, the decimation of the native people of Siberia, the Caribbean, and of the Incas and other Central and South American peoples, and ultimately the Jews in "civilized" Europe, leaves little scope for ennobling the debased survivors.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

20% enrichment

Why is 20% enrichment, claimed by Pres. Ahmedinejad of Iran, in a speech
commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Iranian revolution, so
significant? While 20% enriched U-235 is the level used for medical
irradiation, it is not sufficient for weapons use, although it is the
step before enrichment to 90% that is used for nuclear weapons.

Natural abundance of U-235 is 1% mixed with the non-radioactive isotope U-
238 at 99%. To enrich the U-235 content from 1% to 20% requires a 20-
fold enrichment, so this is the most difficult step, to go from 20% to
90% requires only a 4.5 fold enrichment, so is easier. That means that
however long it has taken the Iranians to get to 20%, it will take a
fraction of that time for them to get to 90%. That is the cause for
concern! In addition to that, Iran has tested missiles that could deliver
a nuclear warhead if or when they develop it.

Isotopic enrichment is achieved by chemically transforming the uranium
ores into the gaseous substance uranium hexafluouride (UF6) which is then
processed through long centrifuges to allow the heavier isotope U-238 to
collect at the bottom and the lighter isotope U-235 to collect towards
the top. Since the separation is only partial the process must be
repeated many thousands of time. That is why the announcement a few
weeks ago that Iran had completed the operation of a further 300
centrifuges was worrying and was a prelude to the current announcement of
20% enrichment.

From now on we must assume thet the decision has been made by the
bellicose Iranian regime to achieve weapon's grade U-235, which means
that they are scarcely a year or so away from this achievement. However,
to take the actual step is a political decision, but we must assume that
this is what the Iranian regime is in the process of doing. So far the
response of the Obama administration is pathetic, they have done nothing
but talk. Obama has shown no leadership and has not spoken out firmly in
favor of the anti-regime forces in Iran, nor given them any support. He
is too concerned about the image of the US as interfering in the affairs
of other states, even if they are declared enemies. Will he now, before
it is almost too late wake up to the deadly threat that is looming over
all of us.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The NIF and the GR

The New Israel Fund (NIF) is a "progressive" (left-wing) American based
fund that supports like-minded non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in
Israel, including human rights and civil rights organizations. Some of
these take openly anti-Zionist stands, such as B'tselem that continuously
monitors the IDF for actions against civilians, Adalah that gives legal
support to Israeli and Palestinian Arabs to bring cases against the
Israeli Government and the IDF, Machsom Watch, that monitors the actions
of IDF soldiers at check points and brings cases against them, Breaking
the Silence, an organization of anti-war former IDF soldiers, and so on.
The NIF has become a hot issue in Israel for two reasons: 1. Many of the
above Israeli NGO's gave evidence to the Goldstone Commission that
claimed deliberate targeting of civilians and war crimes by the IDF. In
fact B'tselem was the most cited NGO in the Goldstone Report (GR) and the
others were not far behind. 2. Some of the funding of the NIF and hence
of these Israeli NGOs was given by foreign governments, including the EU
and various of its individual members (UK, Spain, Denmark) as well as
American organizations and individuals. So in effect Israeli
organizations were funded by foreign governments to provide damning
evidence against Israel to the GR, much of which is alleged to have been

The issue came to a head when a right-wing youth organization Im tirtzu
("if you will it") put an ad in the Jerusalem Post on January 31showing
Naomi Chazan, the Head of the NIF and a former left-wing (Meretz) MK,
with a horn coming out of her forehead and claiming as fact that the NIF
used foreign funding to support 92% of the false claims of the GR.
Apart from the fact that the ad itself is insulting to Chazan, Im
Tirtzu's spokesman stated that the idea of the horn came from the
translation of the word Keren in Hebrew that means both "fund"
and "horn," so any other interpretation is false. But, Chazan and the NIF
deny the substantive charge that they support NGOs that deliberately gave
knowingly false information to the GR in order to undermine Israel and
the IDF.

Of course, the NIF argues that the human and civil rights NGOs have an
important role to play in democratic societies and that they were merely
doing their jobs. Now a sub-committee has been formed of the Knesset Law
and Justice Committee to investigate the charges that the GR relied
heavily on information supplied by Israeli NGOs and that foreign
governments or sources were used to support their activities. NIF claims
that this is a "witch hunt" and that the subcommittee must investigate
the right wing NGOs too. Both sides say that their activities and
sources of funding are "transparent," but that claim does not seem to be

In the final analysis, this sub-committee's job is to ensure that foreign
governments and organizations are not funding Israel NGOs that act
deliberately against the interests of the Israeli State and its

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The die is cast

By their announcement on February 8 that they are now starting to enrich
uranium to 20% the Iranians have cast the die. They also recently
announced that they have 300 new centrifuges that are for uranium
enrichment. From now on there is no turning back.

While Pres. Ahmedinejad tried to muddy the waters this week by saying
that they would accept "some" of their uranium going abroad for partial
enrichment, the international community was not persuaded to start
further talks on that basis. Now this clear statement of intent leaves
no room for doubt, either the international community, led by a weak US,
inititates tough sanctions against Iran, that are strong enough to cause
them to alter course, or there will have to be military action. We all
wish that it were not so, but continuing statements that we cannot allow
Iran to develop nuclear weapons have not been followed so far by any

It is interesting that PM Netanyahu is going to Moscow for three days of
talks and he seems to be doing Pres. Obama's work, by being a leader of
western interests in trying to persuade Russia to participate in a UN
Security Council resolution to support tough sanctions against Iran.
Since France now holds the Presidency of the SC, and Pres. Sarkozy has
come out in favor of strong sanctions, there is now more chance of them
being passed by the SC. The key player is Russia, since of the 5
permanent members the three western allies, France, the UK and the US,
will support such a resolution. Both Russia and China have large
financial ties with Iran, however, if Russia decides to go along, then it
is unlikely that China will want to be the hold-out, to be isolated from
the rest of the international leadership.

So Netanyahu's visit to Moscow is crucial, if he can persuade Pres.
Medvedev and PM Putin to go along, then maybe we could avoid military
action, and maybe the internal dissension in Iran, with additional tough
sanctions, will allow the time and the impetus to take strong action
against the regime. But, if Russia is not persuaded, then the furture
looks bleak. A question - where is the "leader of the free world" in all
of this?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

PM Fayyad

This letter was published in the Jerusalem Post on 7/2/10 in response to
PA PM Salam Fayyad's speech at the Herzliya Conference last week, that
was reported on the front page of the Jerusalem Post as a very
conciliatory statement.

We welcome the courageous words of PM Salam Fayyad of the PA at the
Herzliya Conference ("Fayyad: we want to live alongside you in peace and
security," Feb 3, 2010), but unfortunately they are less significant than
they appear.
Fayyad tried to justify the insistence of PA Pres. Abbas for a complete
freeze of Israeli building on theWest Bank and Jerusalem as a
precondition to talks resuming, but in fact an Israeli freeze on building
can only result from negotiations. Also, while the PA police are getting
more effective, the economy on the West Bank is improving and movement by
Palestinians is less restricted, all as a result of PM Netanyahu's
policies, there can be no permanent improvement without a negotiated
agreement between Israel and the PA.
Pres. Abbas is apparently afraid that an "end of conflict" agreement will
come out of such negotiations, and he like his predecessor does not want
to go down in history as the Palestinian leader that accepted Israel and
ceased the "armed struggle."
Finally, Fayyad actually represents only about 2% of the Palestinian
Arabs, he is greatly outnumbered by Fatah that controls the West Bank and
Hamas that controls Gaza. So his words while pleasing have little to do
with reality.
Jack Cohen

Recent reports indicate that the Obama Administration's insistence on
restarting negotiations have persuaded Pres. Abbas to drop his
preconditions and to accept "proximity talks" in which Sen. John Mitchell
will at first act as intermediary between the two sides.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Novel - sources of inspiration

I grew up in the East End of London and experienced many incidents of
anti-Semitism. Then I went to Cambridge University and did a PhD in
chemistry, graduating in 1964. In 1963 I organized a trip thru Europe
from London to Israel and back with a group of strange people in a mini-
bus. Then, in 1964 my wife and I moved to Israel for 2 years. We had
many interesting , unusual and exciting experiences during that time.
During the 1970s I started to write short stories about my experiences,
both about the East End, Cambridge and living in Israel. Then I took
some writing courses. Over time, it became clear to me that this writing
was therapeutic in nature, and some of the stories I produced related to
my personal life and they gradually cohered into a novel.

I would like to mention that there is a disease or rather a condition
called hypergraphia in which a person is driven to write compulsively.
One person who supposedly had this condition was Vincent Van Gogh who
wrote letters every day, sometimes 2 or 3, to his brother Theo. I don’t
say that I have this condition, only that I felt compelled to write.
The plot of the novel was autobiographical, ostensibly about a Jewish boy
growing up in the East End of London, experiencing powerful incidents of
anti-Semitism, then going to Cambridge University, which many of you will
realize was a great cultural trauma. But, while this is the overt plot,
the underlying story is a tragic personal family secret that I needed to
come to terms with. This involved the death in birth of an elder
brother, still-born two years before me, under particularly difficult
circumstances. My mother was left in labor for 5 days, and when my
father challenged the young Irish woman doctor she made an anti-Semitic
comment to him. This is described in the book, although the incident is
imagined. When I had finally put this novel together and searched for a
suitable name I came up with the title “Amanuensis” which some think is a
difficult and obscure title. An amanuensis is a scribe.

Now I’d like to play a piece of music, it is “Song before sunrise” by
Frederick Delius, a famous English composer. What then is the
connection between this piece of music and my autobiographical novel?
Some years ago I happened to see a beautiful movie entitled “Song of
summer” by Ken Russell, the well-known and often controversial movie
director, known for such films as “The Devils” and “Altered States,” as
well as a series of movies about composers. But, I was particularly
struck by this movie “Song of summer” about Frederick Delius (made in
1968). The story is quite amazing.

Frederick Delius was born in Britain of German parents, but went to
Florida in his teens and ran an Orange Plantation. He took music lessons
and on returning to England showed great promise as a composer. A young
graduate student at Birmingham Music school who had heard and been
impressed by Delius’s early works decided to write his Thesis on him, but
was unable to locate him, it seemed Delius had vanished.

The student, Eric Fenby, eventually found Delius living in a small French
village, but he was paralyzed by syphilis. He was unable to use his
hands or legs and could hardly speak and was going blind. He sat for
days on end staring out at the lovely garden ministered to by his wife
and a German servant. The two men worked out a means of communication and
Delius told Fenby that although he was unable to write he had composed
many works in his head. So Fenby agreed to help Delius write his music
down, he became his amanuensis.

But, he not only wrote the works down, but he took them back to England
and corrected them and had them printed, and then returned for 5 summers
to France to finalize each piece of music. Then he set about having the
music performed and he became not only the chief expert on Delius’s music
but also a well-known conductor.

In the sixth year, Delius was dying and Fenby asked him what was his last
wish and Delius said he would like to see the sunrise from the top of a
mountain. So Fenby took him in a wheelchair on a boat to Norway and
then carried him on his back up to the top of a mountain to see the
sunrise. This is what a true amanuensis is is, not just a mere passive
scribe. I felt symbolically as if I had been carrying the burden of my
dead brother for a long time, and writing this story allowed me to
finally ease the psychological burden.
This talk was presented at WIZO-Netanya, 3/2/10. "Amanuensis" is
available from (search for "Amanuensis Jack Cohen"), also see
PS. This was originally sent last Friday, but many were returned
undelivered, so if this is a duplicate I apologise.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Police brutality

In a tragic case of injustice a 17-year old boy, a new immigrant to
Israel from the US, was arrested by police one evening a few weeks ago in
Karmiel when someone called to say that he was seen in their garden
acting suspiciously. He told the police that he had gone there to
urinate while waiting for a friend nearby. But, the police not only
arrested him, but beat him, and then took him to the police station where
he was further interrogated without family or lawyer and further abused.

The police claimed that he had one gram of marijuana on him, but he
claims that this was planted. But, following a magistrate's hearing he
was then jailed in a maximum security prison near Haifa and put in a cell
with three youth offenders, who beat and raped him repeatedly over the
weekend. No-one came to see how he was or to help him. His condition was
confirmed by a physician after the incident.

The case received no coverage in the Hebrew press, but the Jerusalem Post
revealed the story and this caused a strong reaction. The boy's family
announced that due to his terrible treatment at the hands of the police
they were leaving the country and returning to America. Some human
rights organizations also took up the story and it was said to be typical
of the mistreatment that the police mete out to anybody who comes under
their control. Police brutality is common in Israel and this is not an
isolated case. It should be noted that there are no local police forces
in Israel, all police are controlled from the National Police
headquarters in Jerusalem, and as a result the police tend to be
unresponsive to local concerns. Like police everywhere they tend to take
the law into their own hands.

The new organization Hadar, that has been formed to support the interests
of English speakers in Israel, has taken up the boy's case. They have
written letters to several top Israeli Government officials calling for
an investigation and the indictment of the police officers involved. Gil
Troy, a professor of law at McGill University in Canada, who has written
several editorials on the issue, also contacted MK Yochanan Plesner
(Kadima), a member of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice
Committee. A meeting was arranged between Plesner and the family. As a
member of the Law and Justice Committee, Plesner formally presented the
issue to the Knesset. He posed a parliamentary question to the Minister
of Interior, inquiring about the steps he intends to undertake in order
to determine what happened, punish those involved that broke the law, and
implement laws and procedures that will prevent such horrific situations
from occurring in the future.

Notice: I have been having trouble with my e-mailings. The max no. of addressees on Yahoo is 50, and this became a problem of multiple
mailings, so I switched to G-mail that has a max of 200. However, of the
e-mails I sent out in the last two days 300 came back undelivered. So
now I'm trying bezeqint, and reducing the number again. Remember you can
see the blog at Isblog (

Thursday, February 04, 2010


It is a myth that multiculturalism includes all ethnic groups equally. The liberal ideal is that all groups accept being equal with all others. But, Islam cannot accept to be equal, Muslims expect to be superior to others, to infidels. They believe that they have the God-given right to convert everyone to their dogma. It is their creed.
Now they are not alone in this, as other creeds are also proselytizing, such as Christianity, and certain forms of Hinduism (Hare Krishna) and Buddhism. But, Judaism does not proselytize, and neither are people persuaded to join the Jewish people. It follows therefore, that the two great monotheistic religions that are derived from Judaism have from their inception tried to replace Judaism, either through conversion or murder of the Jewish people. This has been the ugly fact of history.
Not alone in this have been the ideologies of Fascism, Nazism and Communism. It was not only Hitler's Germany that killed Jews because they were Jews, but Stalin had hundreds of thousands killed too. In the modern post-WWII era, multiculturalism was supposed to overcome these sectarian and religious hatreds. But, frankly it hasn't worked, and it can't work.
The UN is a good example of this in action, where the Arab/Muslim countries support any racist, feudal, anti-Semitic motion that is brought before them. Israel is singled out as the main cause of the world's problems. If this isn't anti-Semitism, what is? And it's not only the rejectionist countries like Iran and Syria, also Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, our supposed friends, equally support outrageous canards. And the UN was supposed to be an example of multiculturalism writ large, each country one vote, except for the formation of blocs of backward dictatorial countries that control the UN agenda.
I feel sympathy for well meaning people who establish clubs, such as football and press clubs, where Jews and Arabs mix and chat and eat together. But, unfortunately it cannot work, because the sense of superiority is so ingrained in the Muslims and the Christians, that they feel it necessary in the end to convert and overcome the Jews.
I have had personal experience with this. One summer when I was a student I spent many hours being the object of a particularly earnest and dedicated fundamentalist Protestant who was trying to save my soul for me. Of course, in a democracy everyone is presumed equal before the law, and everyone has an equal vote. But, in the climate of subcultures that comprise democratic societies Jews are tolerated mainly because the Protestants and Catholics needed to coexist after fighting wars with each other for hundreds of years.
Multiculturalism is supposed to be the antidote to imperialism, colonialism, hatred and war, but in the final analysis it can't work, despite the audacity of hope.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Who are the occupiers?

Some people say that Israel does not deserve to exist, and others who are not so extreme realize the implication of this belief is that over 6 million Jews should be destroyed (again). Nevertheless many people believe that Israel "occupies" the West Bank and call it "Arab Land."

But, in fact Jews have lived all over the world, often before the current "occupiers" of the land. For example, Jews settled in cities founded by the Romans during the Roman Empire, and in fact there were Jews in Cologne and Trier before the Germanic tribes "occupied" the area. Similarly with northern Spain, Jews settled with the Romans in cities such as Girona long before there was such a thing as Spain. In the middle ages Toledo was a mainly Jewish city before the Christians took it over.

Jews once lived throughout the so-called Arabian peninsula, and this is attested to in the Koran, when Mohammed made it a point of forcing Jewish tribes to convert to Islam (or die). There were Jewish kingdoms in Yemen, Morocco and Ethiopia, that were defeated at different times. Islamic Arab forces conquered all of the Middle East from the 700's onwards, and then it magically all became Islamic forever!

In fact, no part of the world originally belonged to any tribe or national group until they conquered it. For example, the Hungarians journeyed from central Asia until they found the land that they liked and occupied it and called it Hungary. The "tribe" that has the most ancient and integral connection to a specific homeland is the Jews. Isn't it bizarre to bar Jews from living in the Jewish homeland? Jews have a legal right to live in what has become called "The West Bank," which like the name "Palestine" is a way of naming the territory to deliberately separate it from its prior Jewish connection. In fact, the term Palestine derives from the Philistines and has no historical connection whatsoever with Arabs. For "West Bank" read Judea and Samaria, and for "Palestine" read Israel!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Israel's long arm?

The assassination of Mahmoud Mabhouh in Dubai on Jan 20 may have repercussions around the world. Whether or not he was murdered by Israeli agents is not known, but it would certainly have been in Israel's interests to remove him from the scene.

Apart from being a founder of the Hamas military wing Izzadin Kassem and having a direct hand in the murder of two IDF soldiers, Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sa'adon in 1989, Mabhouh had apparently become the chief supplier of arms to Hamas in Gaza. He was responsible for the transport of a huge cache of Iranian arms aboard the ship Francop that was intercepted by Israeli paratroopers off Cyprus in 2008 en route from Iran to Lebanon. Mabhouh's visit to Dubai from Damascus, where he normally resides, was no doubt in relation to another arms shipment, and his death robs Hamas of one of their chief operatives in the region.

The Hamas assertion that part of Israeli Security Minister Uzi Landau's delegation visiting Abu Dhabi were involved in the murder of Mabhouh is hardly credible. Landau's visit was surrounded by heavy UAE security and it is highly unlikely that he would have misused the first visit of an Israeli Minister to the UAE to carry out an assassination. Also, Dubai is 120 km from Abu Dhabi and his delegation left one day before the murder. It is more likely that whatever group did murder Mabhouh was sent in specifically for this task. They seem to have carried out their job very professionally, which tends to implicate Israel (Hamas and Hizbollah tend to prefer car bombs).

This is another example of an enemy of Israel being suddenly despatched, as was Imad Mugnieh in Damascus last year by a car bomb. He was the deputy head of Hizbollah and its military planner. Israel denies any involvement in either of these killings. Nevertheless, Hamas and Hizbollah blame Israel, and they have promised retaliation. If this is indeed true it shows the long arm of Israeli retaliation for terrorist activities against Israel.

Since Hamas does not have a comparable worldwide network of agents as does Hizbollah, and since Hizbollah have not so far been able to carry out their threat to avenge the death of Mugnieh, it is considered possible that they will retaliate now for Mabhouh's death. As a result all Israeli Embassies and facilities have been put on alert, and all Jewish institutions have been advised to do the same. Of course, this is without any clear proof that Israel was indeed involved, but who needs proof!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Ida's dance club

"Ida's dance club" is the title of an Israeli short documentary film made last year that we saw at the ESRA (English Speaking Residents' Association) movie club. It tells the story of a group of old people, many of them in their 80's and 90's, who congregate every week at a dance club in the Golden Palace senior home in South Tel Aviv. In 2008 they had a dance competition, and the movie deals with the preparations for the second dance competition in 2009.

The lady that keeps the group going is Ida, who used to be an opera singer. She provides support and encouragement to all and organizes the dance competition. The movie introduces us to several of the individuals who make up the group. One is a flamboyant woman who dresses up in colorful costumes that she makes herself. She lives to dance, and when at the end she is stricken with illness you see how that diminishes her. Another lady comes all the way from Haifa to participate in an activity that completely separates her from her normal life, in which she is dealing with a daughter who is slowly dying from anorexia. Another of the women dancing was 94 years old and quite a character herself.

One of the men confesses that he is gay, and that one of the ladies guessed because he assured her that he had no other interest in her other than dancing. Another man is a Holocaust survivor who was terribly abused by Dr. Mengele in Auschwitz. He was very reluctant to talk about it, but the Producer of the film Yael Shavit, who was present at the showing, told us that he completely broke down after he spoke on camera, but they decided not to include that in the movie.

Overall it was a charming and moving little gem, worth seeing if only for the cast of genuine colorful characters.