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Explaining Christian Zionism to Israelis

Posted February 16, 2015 by Anonymous

To many Israelis, the world of Christian Zionism is largely hidden from…

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Never again? We’ll see…

Posted January 28, 2015 by Ted Bird

  The 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is as good a time as any and a better time than most to consider the unsettling resurgence of global anti-Semitism.   It seems unthinkable that within the lifetime of some Holoca…

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Talking tough

Posted November 19, 2014 by Boris

The cupboardly man is talking tough regarding two regions of the world with the potential to blow-up. Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Palestine are flirting with major war and insurrection.

Our PM may think it is low risk to mouth-off to Putin or declare so…

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Israel & Gaza: Tectonic shift in past 24 hours

Posted August 26, 2014 by CuriosityCat
Israel’s embattled prime minister

The Egypt-brokered truce agreement just struck has resulted in two shifts in the underlying political forces in that area.

The first shift is a de facto recognition by Israel of the pan-Palestinian government that Abbas had set in place, as Zvi Bar'elwrites in Haaretz:

But this is just a preliminary agreement. The important agreement will come in another month, when both sides return to Cairo to negotiate over core issues like a port and airport, prisoner releases and Gaza’s reconstruction. Over the coming month, the cease-fire’s stability will be tested, and that is the innovation in yesterday’s agreement: The truce is of unlimited duration. 

Thus for the first time, Israel has agreed to a confidence-building process with the Palestinian government to which Hamas and Islamic Jihad are also parties.

The negotiations won’t be direct, but this is clearly a pan-Palestinian agreement with Israel. 

Thus Israel has not only recognized the Palestinian unity government, but also acknowledged that Gaza and the West Bank can no longer be separated. Without these two facts, neither yesterday’s deal nor those to follow would have any practical meaning. Effectively, Israel has recognized Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups as an inseparable part of the Palestinian polity with which it will also have to conduct broader diplomatic negotiations in the future.

The second major change is that the Israeli cabinet is not united around the truce itself. Some reports suggest that the Israeli prime minister did not call for a vote on the truce from cabinet members because it might not have passed.
This is the take of Attila Somfalvi in Ynet News:

Political rumblings began within the Israeli government Tuesday evening after a long-term ceasefire with Hamas went into effect at 7pm local time and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett called for a Cabinet vote on the decision, citing that ministers hadn’t been consulted about the deal.
According to Bennett, the decision had been made exclusively by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cabinet members were only updated on the decision by telephone.
The Cabinet appeared to be split on the deal, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Interior Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, and Communications Minister Gilad Erdan opposing the decision, and supporting further military action in Gaza.

If the ceasefire does not result in peace, the Israeli prime minister will find his political career under attack. A significant breach of the truce could lead to a new prime minister.
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New program can analyse your personality (and a politician’s)

Posted August 24, 2014 by CuriosityCat
Yair Neuman: Personality Analyzer

Prof. Yair Neuman, a researcher at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has developed such a program, and has used it to analyse the views of President Obama and Hillary Clinton towards Israel:

Neuman’s method, which he describes as augmented intelligence, works with any text of a person’s words – from a speech, interview, essay, or online post. The text is processed by computer software he developed. An expert must interpret the results.
Among other things, Neuman has used the program to profile political leaders and school shooters, to predict behavior on Twitter, and to evaluate online customer reviews.

How does it work? You feed a speech you made into the program, press a button, and voila! results arrive which an expert can interpret:

Built into the program are semantic signatures for dozens of personality dimensions, including the ”Big Five” personality types – extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience – as well as emotional and psychodynamic characteristics. The signature of each dimension is based on a handful of words that describe it in the psychological literature.
For example, the profile of unfriendliness is based on the use of these words: remote, solitary, apathetic, and indifferent. Unfriendliness is a psychodynamic characteristic, meaning it has unconscious causes. This dimension of the program has not been systematically validated.
The semantic signatures of the words from the text are compared to those of the personality dimensions. The more similar the signatures of the words are to that of a dimension, the higher the person in question scores on that dimension of personality.
Neuman says his program does not allow him to profile a person’s entire personality – just how it is expressed in context. A person’s true character, he says, becomes clear only with time.

I can’t wait for the day when any discussion of any politicians views on a topic are accompanied by just such an analysis: politicians’ ability to hide their true feelings will be much more difficult when this happens.

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