500 Years of Niccolò Machiavelli’s Masterpiece “The Prince” (1513)

December 10, 2013

“The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.” Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince (1513)

December 2013 is dedicated to one of the greatest theorists of politics in history: Niccolò Machiavelli, whose masterpiece ‘The Prince’ came out on December 10, 1513—500 years ago.

In an op-ed in the New York Times John T. Scott (University of California) and Robert Zaretsky (University of Houston), and authors of “The Philosophers’ Quarrel: Rousseau, Hume and the Limits of Human Understanding.”, explore the legacy of ‘The Prince’.

“Yet Machiavelli teaches that in a world where so many are not good, you must learn to be able to not be good. The virtues taught in our secular and religious schools are incompatible with the virtues one must practice to safeguard those same institutions. The power of the lion and the cleverness of the fox: These are the qualities a leader must harness to preserve the republic.

For such a leader, allies are friends when it is in their interest to be. (We can, with difficulty, accept this lesson when embodied by a Charles de Gaulle; we have even greater difficulty when it is taught by, say, Hamid Karzai.) What’s more, Machiavelli says, leaders must at times inspire fear not only in their foes but even in their allies — and even in their own ministers.”

Read full story.

Historian Quentin Skinner on Machiavelli’s “The Prince” (1513)

Earl Shugerman’s Corner: NES AMMIM 2010 – Interfaith Dialogue in Israel

November 25, 2010

Earl Shugerman brings every week a serie of stories about Anglo-Saxon immigrants to Israel. This project is aimed to promote a more realistic view of life in Israel.



Nes Ammim (Hebrew: נֵס עַמִּים‎, lit. Banner of the Nations) is a Christian community in the northern district of Israel.

Nes Ammim (Hebrew: נֵס עַמִּים‎, lit. Banner of the Nations) is a Christian community in the northern district of Israel.


An important fact that people should know about Israel is that roughly twenty percent of Israeli citizens are Muslim, Christian and Druze. The seven million citizens of pre-1967 borders manage to live together in a fairly democratic, but far from perfect society. Many Israelis of all backgrounds are trying to improve our society and its political awareness.

Once a month I participate in a joint prayer meeting with the Focolare. The Focolare is the largest Catholic outreach movement with five million members. The Focolare movement is an international organization based on ideals of unity and universal brotherhood. The movement was founded in Trent Italy 1944 by Chiara Lubich. Chiara was just a teenager when she decided to found the movement. During this period, Italy was occupied by the Allies. Chiara made a choice to stay in Trent to help the wounded and the homeless. Seeing the horrors of war first hand she and her friends had vowed to live a humble life and yet to promote peace and brotherhood throughout the world using Catholicism as their base. However, they have strong connections to different denominations and various faiths. The Focolare movement is present today in 182 nations. Through a network of eighteen branches the Focolare has an impact on both eclectic and secular life. Our meetings are held at Or Hadash Synagogue in Haifa, and hosted by Rabbi Edgar Nof.

Each summer the movement holds local retreats over 100 worldwide, where members and new comers come together to discuss the movement and enhance spirituality. The first such meeting was held in Italy in 1949, while today 200.000 people participate from all over the world. Many of the people who attend are Catholics, but members of other faiths participate as well. I and my fellow congregates from Or Hadash attended this year’s event in Israel. Kibbutz Nes Ammim hosted the activity.

The Nes Amim Christian kibbutz is located between Naharia and Nazareth (all in the area of west Galilee) the home of Mary Magdalene and residence where Jesus was raised. The kibbutz was founded by various Christians from different European backgrounds. The term “Nes Amim” means “banner of nations” it was used in Isaiah 11:10. The theology of “Nes Amim” refers to the need for dialogue between Jews, Christians and all religions.

Nes Ammim 2009 was a successful and memorable experience. It was the first time in history that Jews, Muslims, and Christians from both sides of our borders participated in the convention. We were blessed be chosen as the first Jewish attendees. This year the attending participants came from very diverse backgrounds. There were individuals from Ramala, Ra’anana, Haifa, Jerusalem and even Egypt. There were also participants from Italy, Brazil and Uruguay, who traveled half way around the world to attend the occasion. The convention’s program was similar to last year’s. The three hundred participants were divided into several small groups to enjoy spiritual, artistic, and social activity. There were art classes, drama exhibitions, knitting instruction, meditation, and of course the beloved hiking trails and swimming pools. Nes Ammim hosts a church, a synagogue, and mosque. Many of us attended each other’s weekly prayers.

The three hundred individuals that attended Nes Ammim had their own beliefs, values, goals, and lifestyles. These diversities are a reflection of life in Israel and Palestine. That is the reason that this type of activity should continue in growing numbers, and that the world should be aware of them. I firmly believe that the people of this region can be an example to the rest of the world that the ploughshare can indeed replace the sword.

About the author: Earl Shugerman is a retired American Government public relations specialist,  currently spokesman in Haifa for The Jewish Agency and a writer specializing in interfaith relations. He has worked together with the Catholic and Southern Baptist Movements, the Reformed Jewish Movement and Muslim groups in interfaith activities.

Forza Repubblica Italiana: Celebration of Italy’s freedom from Nazism by The United States of America

October 27, 2010

“I am constantly amazed by man’s inhumanity to man.” Primo Levi

Despite the fact that Fascist Italy had been one of the key Axis powers, the Allies, especially the Americans, were treated as liberators when they entered Rome. This was in part because of the German occupation. Source: U.S. Army.

Despite the fact that Fascist Italy had been one of the key Axis powers, the Allies, especially the Americans, were treated as liberators when they entered Rome. This was in part because of the German occupation. Source: U.S. Army.

A testimony by Guest Author Marcelo F. Antunes

This celebration is performed by Italians dressed with uniforms of US Soldiers and Marines supported by real Jeep’s and armored cars and it is held every year at September 1st at the Capri Island at the Napoli Gulf.

It happened twice, first the real thing at September 1st, 1996 as can be seen printed in the pictures, then recently a closed friend let me use his slides scanner and I started to digitalize all my slides & negatives taken at all my previous trips around the world.

Hotel - Ana Capri

Hotel – Ana Capri

It seemed to me that I did enter a time capsule as several facts already forgotten came to my mind live again. This is one of those reminds that must be revived again as freedom be it from a physical slavery or mind slaved standpoint is always a quest to be realized.

I came to Ana Capri for a timely vacation with my wife Thereza and we arrived there exactly at August 30th when we were notified by the hotel concierge that next day starting at the night fall an yearly celebration known as “Settembrata” was going to take place and we were invited to participate – we were the only Hotel guests – as this is a celebration that only Ana Capri citizens were allowed to enroll.

We decided to do it and at the fall of the celebration day we received tickets for it and it started by a continuous people lane where all of them received flowers, banners as it started moving with all people singing local songs amidst narrow streets all decorated.

First stop was for a cup of wine and some appetizers – “entrés” – with a round dance after it following through the streets to the next stop for a “primo piatto” also with a glass of wine then … “secondo piatto”, … till we reached a small square where we spotted several US Soldiers – as we firstly imagine – with the American Flag – yet singing in Italian!

We asked our feast fellows about such an incredible fact when we knew that was a celebration of Italy WW II freedom granted by the Allies, specially the American Army, Navy and Air Force. Then following though the streets, squares and gardens, lots of Soldiers, Marines, Jeeps, Armored cars, etc., where met with songs, flowers, speeches and whatsoever might be realized about.

A real big party. Only people that can think, knows how to be grateful for a freedom! I haven’t yet returned to see if the celebration repeats at the very same day!

I hope it could help in support of US Soldiers, Marines and Pilots in the eternal fight against ignorance, slavery and to all democracy enemies as well. There is another essay at my site helping in the understand about our individual and collective war towards a more Just and Righteous World. It can be downloaded here.

Marcelo F. Antunes

Photos: © Marcelo F. Antunes

The Legacy of Niccolò Machiavelli: The Common Sense in Politics

October 15, 2010

„The first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.“ Niccolò Machiavelli

„Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance.” Hannah Arendt

Historians Hannah Holborn Gray, Roger D. Masters, Mark Musa, Robert Hariman, Henry Kissinger, Gary Hart and Donald Kagan recalled Niccolò Machiavelli, the founder of modern politics.

Historian Quentin Skinner on Machiavelli’s The Prince (1513)

World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder calls on Pope Benedict XVI to clarify Vatican’s stance on Pius XII

January 17, 2010


Pope Benedict & Ronald S. Lauder

Pope Benedict & Ronald S. Lauder

The following opinion article by World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder was published by the leading Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on the eve of Pope Benedict’s visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome.

Time for a few illuminating words

By Ronald S. Lauder

When a Catholic bishop visits the main synagogue in his diocese it is first and foremost a mark of friendship and an expression of the good relationship between the two local religious communities. Things are somewhat different when such a visit occurs in Rome, as the Bishop of Rome is also pontiff of the Catholic Church, representing more than a billion Catholics world-wide.

It is therefore important to Jews around the world what Pope Benedict XVI has to say this Sunday in Rome’s main synagogue on the Jewish-Catholic relationship and on a number of sensitive issues has already caused a sensation during his pontificate thus far.

Benedict XVI has often emphasized how important good relations to Judaism are to him. Through his trips to Israel, to Auschwitz, and his visits to synagogues in Cologne and New York, he has proved that he is sincere.

The German-born Pope has always been an outstanding theologian and a sharp-witted thinker. And yet, sometimes we see another Benedict, one who surprises us with decisions that – even for the well-meaning amongst us – are difficult to comprehend.

We Jews are generally very sensitive folk; some would say over-sensitive – although history has given us enough reason to be vigilant, given that anti-Semitism was very widespread and deeply rooted in the higher echelons of the Christian churches until a few decades ago.

Moreover, we Jews are an emotional people, and in public life we don’t always judge a statement or a decision made by the Pope by purely rational or intellectual criteria which perhaps are the hallmarks of a theological seminary. We pay close attention to gestures and symbols, especially from a Pope of German origin.

And we are quick to interpret his decisions in a certain way, even when they do not appear entirely obvious to us, because we always fear that others will deliberately interpret them in a way that one could regard as offensive to us.

All of this wouldn’t matter much had not dissent and controversies between our religions often served as justification for exclusion, persecution, and even violence. We need to make sure that we overcome former divisions and do not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Certain reasoning and decision-making by the Pope that is perfectly logical within the framework of Catholic theology and teaching can have a completely different meaning for the outside world (the same also applies to Jewish thinking), hence the need to explain and communicate these decisions in a comprehensible fashion.

When the Pope allows the use of the Good Friday Prayer of the old Tridentine liturgy, which calls for Jews to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Savior of all men, some of us are deeply hurt.

When the Pope decides to lift the excommunication of bishops of the ultra-conservative and anti-Semitic Society of St. Pius X, among them a notorious Holocaust denier, we are upset.

When we have the impression that the beatification process of Pope Pius XII is being rushed through before all the documentation kept by the Vatican on this pontificate is revealed, many of us are disturbed. During that Pope’s pontificate, six million Jews in Europe were murdered by the Nazis, and there is an on-going debate about whether Pius XII really did all in his power to save at least some of them.

Holocaust survivors in particular feel upset when “heroic virtues” are accorded to Pius XII, even though that may make perfect sense within the inner-Catholic framework and may have nothing to do with his actions during World War II. To be clear: is it neither up to us Jews, nor to other outsiders, to decide who should be declared a hero or a saint of the Catholic Church. I also do not presume to be in a position to render a final judgment on Pius’ actions – or inaction – during World War II.

Yet those who view Pius XII and his behavior during that period critically – among them many historians – should be heard before irreversible decisions are taken hastily. Until all papers relating to Pius XII during the crucial period are accessible, the Vatican would be well advised to pause for a moment. Otherwise, even Catholics might have great trouble in recognizing the “heroic virtues” of Pius XII, and the reputation of the present Pope would consequently also suffer some damage.

Despite all these differences in opinion between Catholics and Jews – and it is only normal that they exist – the relationship between Jews and the Vatican is based on a solid foundation. We have managed, since the 1965 Declaration Nostra Aetate, to maintain a dialogue based on mutual trust. This dialogue is much more advanced than that with other Christian denominations, or with Islam.

I harbor no doubts whatever about the positive attitude and open-mindedness of Pope Benedict XVI vis-à-vis the Jews. He is more than welcome in our synagogues and I hope there will be many more such important occasions in the future.

However, on Sunday, when he pays a visit to Rome’s main synagogue on the invitation of the local Jewish community, we would welcome a few illuminating answers to some of the questions I outlined above. That could help dispel some of the irritations of the past months that have unnecessarily strained Jewish-Catholic relations.

Many Jews would recognize that as a small “heroic virtue” of the Pope.

Alan Poseners Kolumne: Papst Benedikt und die deutsche Anti-Israel Lobby

September 3, 2009

Der britisch-deutsche Journalist Alan Posener kommentiert wöchentlich das Zeitgeschehen in Politik, Gesellschaft, Wirtschaft und Kultur für HIRAM7 REVIEW.

Von Alan Posener
Die Welt / Welt am Sonntag  / HIRAM7 REVIEW

Robert Spaemann ist nicht irgendjemand. Der Philosoph ist Vordenker und Nachbeter des gegenwärtigen Papstes. Wenn sich also Spaemann zu Israel äußert, sollte man genau hinhören. Am 25. Juli 2009 veröffentlichte Spaemann einen Beitrag in der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung (FAZ): „Schutz und Gehorsam“. Schon am nächsten Tag war er auf der Website der Deutsch-Arabischen Gesellschaft, der wichtigsten Organisation der deutschen Anti-Israel-Lobby,  nachzulesen.


Robert Spaemann beginnt mit der Feststellung: „Dem Staat Israel ist es in dem mehr als einen halben Jahrhundert seiner Existenz nicht gelungen, als bereichernder, selbstregulierender Teil der Region anerkannt zu werden.“

Das ist zweifellos richtig, und dafür gibt es Gründe, vornehmlich die Tatsache, dass die arabischen Führer kein Interesse an der Art Modernität haben, die Israel der Region seit seiner Gründung vorlebt. Demokratie, Rechtsstaatlichkeit, individuelle Freiheit, intellektuelle Lebendigkeit. (Das Interesse des Vatikans an diesen Errungenschaften der Moderne ist übrigens auch nicht stark ausgeprägt, aber das nur nebenbei.)  Spaemann macht aber Israel dafür verantwortlich, dass die meisten arabischen Staaten bis heute sein Existenzrecht nicht anerkennen: „(Israel) ist immer als Herr aufgetreten.“

Sagen wir es so: eine solche Schuldzuweisung ist zumindest einseitig.

Spaemann geht aber weiter: Israel habe sich nur deshalb ständig als Herr aufspielen können, weil es von den USA eine Schutzgarantie besitze. Wer auch nur elementare Kenntnisse der Geschichte des Nahostkonflikts besitzt, weiß zwar, das dies bis nach dem Sechstagekrieg 1967 keineswegs der Fall war; und dass die Schutzgarantie, die etwa die Bundesrepublik dank Besatzungsstatut und Nato genoss und genießt, viel stärker ist als die völkerrechtlich und militärisch unverbindlichen Erklärungen amerikanischer Präsidenten gegenüber Israel. Aber egal.

Aus dieser angeblichen Schutzfunktion der USA lautet Spaemann eine „Gehorsamspflicht“ Israels ab. Es sei nun einmal ein „Grundgesetz des politischen Lebens“: „Wer Schutz gewährt, muss die Bedingungen diktieren können.“ Und das täten die USA nicht, so dass sich Israel beständig „wie ein Halbwüchsiger handeln“ könne, der „nie die Suppe auslöffeln“ müsse, die er sich eingebrockt hat, weil „Papa es schon richten wird.“

Unsereiner dachte naiverweise, zum „Grundgesetz“ des Westens gehöre die Souveränität der Staaten, anders als im Ostblock unseligen Angedenkens. Wir dachten, über Israels Außenpolitik hätten Israels Regierungen zu entscheiden, und über Israels Regierungen die Wähler. Wir dachten, der „Zusammenhang von Schutz und Gehorsam“ sei mit dem Mittelalter verschwunden; und wir fragen uns, ob der Vatikan wirklich jemals bereit gewesen wäre, den Schutz, den ihm Italien und die Nato – also letztlich auch die USA – während des ganzen Kalten Kriegs gewährt haben, mit irgendeiner Form des „Gehorsams“ zu beantworten. Das war zwar der beständige Vorwurf der Kommunisten, die im Papst lediglich eine Propagandapuppe des US-Imperialismus sahen, aber gegen solche Anwürfe hat unsereiner die Päpste stets in Schutz genommen.

Und es ließe sich ohne weiteres nachweisen, dass der Vatikan seine Politik nie von den Interessen Italiens, der Nato oder des Westens diktieren ließ. Aber quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi, so mag Spaemann denken: natürlich gelten „politische Grundgesetze“ nicht für den Stellvertreter Gottes auf Erden. Sondern allenfalls für jene, die durch ihre bloße Existenz jenen Anspruch des Papstes, Gottes Stellvertreter und alleinbevollmächtigter Ausleger seines Willens zu sein, in Frage stellen: sein Volk – die Juden.

Was soll also Washington als Schutzmacht von seinem Mündel Israel laut Spaemann verlangen? Nun, zuerst die übliche Litanei einseitiger Vorleistungen: Stopp des Siedlungsbaus und dann „Beseitigung“ aller bisher gebauten Siedlungen und Beendigung der „Besatzung fremden Territoriums“. Gut, über die Sinnfälligkeit und die Erfolgsaussicht solcher Maßnahmen kann man rational unter Israelfreunden diskutieren.

Aber Spaemann verlangt viel mehr, und gilt es, aufzuhorchen: „Ferner: Israel verzichtet auf die ethnische Selbstdefinition, die jeden Nichtjuden in diesem Staat zum Fremden macht.“ Anders gesagt. Der Judenstaat verschwindet. Besser könnte es die Hamas auch nicht formulieren.

Es ist schon bemerkenswert, was herauskommt, wenn „es“ aus führenden Katholiken wieder einmal spricht. Von Papst Benedikt wäre – gemäß dem „Grundgesetz von Schutz und Gehorsam“ eine klare Zurückweisung solcher Gedankenspiele zu verlangen.

Schließlich kann sich Robert Spaemann solche Kindereien in einer großen Zeitung nur leisten, weil man – zu Recht – davon ausgeht, aus seinem Munde das zu hören, was Benedikt klammheimlich denkt.


Alan Poseners Filmkritik über Inglourious Basterds

Alan Poseners neues Buch: Benedikts Kreuzzug – Der Angriff des Vatikans auf die moderne Gesellschaft

Die in HIRAM7 REVIEW veröffentlichten Essays und Kommentare geben nicht grundsätzlich den Standpunkt der Redaktion wieder.

Happy Invertising Summer!

August 8, 2009


vi auguro una felice estate con un video, che spero possa ispirare la nostra pausa, per rientrare al lavoro con rinnovate energie per affrontare tutto il nuovo che ci aspetta.

Ci vediamo a Settembre per progettare il futuro della comunicazione.


Alexandre Gabriel Levy

New Business Director