Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

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Letter: Apology falls short Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

In her belated apology for the use of photos of dead children from the Syrian conflict to represent purported Israeli slaughter in Gaza (29 August), Sonja Karkar of Australians for Palestine claims the statistics alone tell the story. There is no question that large numbers of civilians, including children, have been killed in Gaza, and this is a tragedy. However, the oft-quoted statistics are also very dubious. They come from Gaza health authorities, under the control of Hamas, which has a clear interest in exaggerating the civilian numbers, and are passed on to UN agencies.

Three experienced journalists critique media coverage of Gaza

Three experienced journalists critique media coverage of Gaza Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

There has been much criticism of the media's performance during the recent Gaza conflict (where, happily, the ceasefire agreed to on Tuesday seems to be holding.) Examples from AIJAC include the Australian piece by Gabrielle Debinski, Tzvi Fleischer and Or Avi-Guy last month and Israeli academic Eytan Gilboa's piece in the latest edition of the Australia-Israel Review. This Update features detailed critiques of aspects of the media's performance by three senior, experienced journalists who appear to be in a good position to know what they are talking about - including two former Middle East correspondents for major international wire services. 

Some maps of Gaza, based on UN data, that everyone should see Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

On August 15, OCHA- the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, released its 100-page report called the “Gaza Crisis Atlas.” Its key findings should be essential reading for anyone interested in what happened in Gaza. While it seems doubtful that this is what was intended by OCHA – which has a reputation for pro-Palestinian activism – the data the UN supplies destroys a lot of myths and misconceptions about Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

AIR
The prospects of the latest Gaza ceasefire

The prospects of the latest Gaza ceasefire Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

A new Gaza ceasefire, brokered by Egypt, came into effect last night at 7:00pm Israel time. Unlike all previous ceasefire, this one is indefinite in duration and many commentators are treating it as likely ending the Gaza conflict for the time being - although of course Hamas has broken numerous previous ceasefires. It is being celebrated in Gaza as a supposed victory. This Update deals with the terms of the ceasefire, evaluations of why Hamas agreed to a deal which looks very similar to previous offers they turned down, and what might happen from here.

Letter: Ignoring the facts on Israel-Palestine issue Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

David Rothkopf is deluding himself if he thinks that it is only Israeli intransigence that has prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state ("A High Price", Review, August 22).

An in-depth report by Ben Birnbaum in the New Republic on the recent failure of US Secretary of State John Kerry's peace initiative showed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to accept the US formula of a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 boundaries with minor, mutually agreed, land swaps.

The strange justice of William Schabas and the UNHRC

The strange justice of William Schabas and the UNHRC Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Terrorism, United Nations, Updates    

Many people, both within Israel and around the world, were unsurprised when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) announced that it was launching a formal investigation into "possible war crimes" committed by Israel during Operation Protective Edge, which was launched on July 8 in response to incessant rocket fire from Hamas in the Gaza Strip into Israeli cities.

It did so in a resolution passed on July 23 which never mentions Hamas but declares Israel guilty, stating that the council "condemns in the strongest terms the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations" in the occupied territories...

The Last Word: Health Report
On sale in a Sydney Islamic bookshop

The Last Word: Health Report Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

When Sheikh Tajeddine El Hilaly delivered a public address in Sydney in 1988 accusing Jews of unimaginable evils, responses came loudly and clearly. Government leaders, senior bureaucrats, journalists and religious figures had no hesitation in declaring his speech repulsive, repugnant and unacceptable.

While he had his apologists, better known for their antagonism towards Jews than for their concern with the reputation or welfare of Muslims, the overwhelming reaction was to assert that he had embarrassed himself and his office as a religious leader.

Updates

Media Microscope: "F" for Fairfax Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

The perception that Fairfax's metropolitan newspapers and associated websites were glaringly biased against Israel over the course of the Gaza war to date has left many of their pro-Israel readers annoyed.

A significant factor in this irritiation was the reporting of Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard, whose work appeared to focus largely on civilian deaths and injuries in Gaza, frequently seemed to suggest that most were deliberate, and appeared to uncritically accept Palestinian statistics and claims when reporting.

The Cine File: Tragedy and Divided Loyalties

The Cine File: Tragedy and Divided Loyalties Author: Sharyn Mittelman & Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Bethlehem is not a typical film about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, its Israeli director Yuval Adler and screenwriter Ali Waked, an Arab journalist, have created a nuanced and complex portrait of divided loyalties that takes it beyond the news headlines.

Praised in some quarters - including an award in Venice, first prize at the Haifa Film Festival and six Ophir Awards (Israel's national film awards) - it has also received criticism from the likes of far-left Israeli columnist Gideon Levy of Haaretz for being too apolitical.

Qatar's dangerous game

Qatar's dangerous game Author: Kobi Michael & Yoel Guzansky Categories: Gulf states, Middle East    

Qatar's support for Hamas and the vehement opposition by Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia to the US attempt to let Qatar play a role in the efforts to achieve a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip have stirred the debate about Qatar's conduct in the regional and international arenas and its position, influence, and ambition. The longstanding support by the tiny and very wealthy emirate for rogue elements in the Middle East and the use it makes of al-Jazeera, its popular and influential broadcasting station, reveal its negative, even dangerous effect on the region's stability and security.

War crimes in Gaza?

War crimes in Gaza? Author: David Knoll Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Riad Malki, the Palestinian Foreign Minister, reportedly has approached International Criminal Court officials in the Hague to discuss "putting Israel in the dock on war crimes charges". The Palestinian plan reportedly is to "join the ICC and set a war crimes investigation in motion to be one of the bargaining chips on the table in Cairo." A strange way to proceed, but given the need to shift the focus away from the real cause of the human suffering in Gaza, an understandable political tactic.

Tunnel Vision

Tunnel Vision Author: Robert Ellenhorn Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Since Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, and the subsequent take over of the strip in a violent coup by Hamas in 2007, Israel has faced an evolving threat from the coastal enclave. For most of that period, Israel's primary security and strategic concern in regards to Gaza was preventing the build-up of Hamas' rocket arsenal and finding suitable defence measures to protect Israeli civilians from the persistent rocket fire emanating from Gaza... However, the most recent bout of Israel-Hamas fighting has indicated that Israel is now confronted with new strategic considerations in regards to Gaza - primarily the threat of Hamas' terror tunnels.

The Media Failure in Gaza Author: Eytan Gilboa Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

The media is the main source of information about damage to infrastructure and casualties, especially civilian. Western media coverage of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza has been marred by an anti-Israeli bias and professional and ethical failures.

Hamas left eyeless in Gaza

Hamas left eyeless in Gaza Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Named by the IDF Operation Protective Edge, successor to Pillar of Defence in 2012 and Cast Lead of 2008-09, the fighting had yet to produce a ceasefire by mid-August - and on the night of 19 August it resumed, when rockets were fired from Gaza several hours ahead of an extended five-day ceasefire's expiration, and Israel responded by bombing Hamas targets. Yet the violence that raged between July 8 and August 7 seems to have peaked while some new military, political, and diplomatic facts were emerging through the scattering battle fog.

Scribblings: The price of a gross over-reaction

Scribblings: The price of a gross over-reaction Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

There have been a lot of costs to the over-the-top reaction among many commentators, activists and political leaders to the undoubtedly tragic situation in Gaza over recent weeks. The inability of so many to view the confronting and emotive images coming out of Gaza with some perspective is something likely to cause a series of severe negative consequences - and not just for Israel.

Editorial: Part of the Problem Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians, United Nations    

While the conflict between Hamas and Israel begins to resemble a protracted war of attrition, the unhelpful and dysfunctional role that most of the United Nations' organs have played in the unfolding drama is becoming clearer. Like so many times before, when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the UN has not been part of the solution, but rather part of the problem.

Seeing the light: Hamas' terror tunnels

Seeing the light: Hamas' terror tunnels Author: Glen Falkenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

It takes us a little bit to our childhood fairy tales of demons... [the] environment I live in, the quiet, the green grass, the trees. It's not a pleasant thought that you sit one day on the patio drinking coffee with your wife and a bunch of terrorists will rise from the ground.

Such is the reality for a resident of southern Israel - only a mile from his house, 13 Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel, reaching from the Gaza Strip to his community - with the intention of attacking civilians during the recent conflict.

Gaza fighting resumes, what happens now?

Gaza fighting resumes, what happens now? Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

With Gaza fighting resuming on Tuesday when Hamas fired rockets after 8 days of agreed ceasefires, this Update is devoted to where matters might go from here.

First up is Israeli journalist Shmuel Rosner, who outlines 4 different scenarios about how this round of conflict might proceed and end. Among them are a ceasefire without negotiations, resumption of negotiations and a ceasefire, a renewed campaign of Israeli bombing and other military pressure and an escalation by Israel into a large-scale ground attack.

AIR
Hamas’ failed strategy

Hamas’ failed strategy Author: Glen Falkenstein Categories: Op-eds, Palestinians    

This morning, Israel and Hamas agreed to a 24-hour extension of a five-day truce to negotiate a longer-lasting ceasefire, following weeks of conflict. Israel wants the Gaza Strip to be demilitarised, while Hamas wants unrestricted movement in and out of Gaza, no restrictions on goods coming into the Strip and new construction of sea and airports.

ISIS and the Crisis Across Iraq

ISIS and the Crisis Across Iraq Categories: Iraq, Islamic Extremism    

With a new Gaza ceasefire in place until Monday, and apparently holding, this Update offers some analysis on the other major, but often under-reported, crisis, gripping the Middle East over recent weeks - the recent gains by the terrorist movement ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, now calling itself simply the Islamic State) in Syria, new attacks on Lebanon, but especially its advances in Iraq, where apparent genocide by ISIS against minority communities, especially the small Yazidi sect, led to an American decision to intervene with airstrikes last week. As the Washington Post reports, ISIS now controls territory and resources unmatched by any extremist group in recent history.

Fairfax doubles down on poorly informed and tendentious commentaries

Fairfax doubles down on poorly informed and tendentious commentaries Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Peter George was the ABC's first Middle East correspondent, dating back to the 1980s. Yet by the looks of an op-ed that he wrote and was prominently published on August 6 in Fairfax' flagship papers - The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times, he is still living in the past - refusing to acknowledge the numerous concessions and policy risks Israel has taken since the 1993 Oslo Agreement towards reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians, including under current Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, nor the shift in Israeli views since then, with clear public majorities and all major political parties supporting a two-state resolution.

Instead, George literally rewrites history in his op-ed, bizarrely seeming to blame Netanyahu for the security fence and unfairly portraying him as an impediment to Palestinian statehood.

AIJAC response to the Canberra Declaration on Gaza
Rockets fired from civilian areas in Gaza

AIJAC response to the Canberra Declaration on Gaza Author: AIJAC Categories: Australasia, Documents, Israel, Media Releases, Middle East, Palestinians, Terrorism, United Nations    

71 current and five former members of Australian Federal and State parliaments, mostly Labor and Greens, but also Malcolm Fraser and some independents, have signed what they call the "Canberra Declaration on Gaza" (the Declaration), calling on "all Australian politicians to condemn the ongoing Israeli military bombardment and invasion of Gaza."

A link to the Declaration is here. The Declaration reflects a one-sided and misguided view of the current conflict in Gaza, and of the Israeli/Palestinian situation in general. This document explains why.

Updates
Foreign Press Association condemns Hamas threats to journalists - and vindicates claims intimidation is affecting Gaza coverage

Foreign Press Association condemns Hamas threats to journalists - and vindicates claims intimidation is affecting Gaza coverage Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The Foreign Press Association has issued a strong condemnation of Hamas' harassment of foreign media in Gaza on August 11. It stated, "The FPA protests in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month..."