Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

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The Last word: Violence and Silence

The Last word: Violence and Silence Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

Since October 1989, I have maintained a database of anti-Jewish incidents of "racist violence", using the definition produced by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, which began its database in 2013 and has released the results of its first year-to-year comparison, noted increased reports of antisemitic assault, telephone calls, graffiti and miscellaneous activity and decreases in street harassment and abusive emails. The ECAJ noted an overall increase of 35% from 2013 to 2014, which is consistent with the data I have drawn from wider sources.

Media Microscope: Carr-nivale Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

On November 8, the Australian ran an op-ed from former Foreign Minister Bob Carr announcing his new role as patron of the Labor Friends of Palestine, wherein he argued, ad nauseum, that Israel is becoming apartheid-like and that settlements are what is preventing a two-state solution.

Spouting arrant nonsense, Carr claimed that, "settlements have doubled in the past 54 months alone."

Essay: Evil without Banality

Essay: Evil without Banality Author: Saul Austerlitz Categories: Holocaust/ War Crimes    

In 2006, a prominent Israeli psychiatrist named Dr. Nathaniel Laor received a telephone call from American real estate mogul and philanthropist Leon Charney. Laor, a professor at both Tel Aviv University and at Yale's Child Study Centre, was told that a friend of Charney's knew a man who had come into possession of a remarkable trove of papers... A near-complete record of the personal life of one of the most infamous Nazi war criminals had been in the State of Israel, unbeknownst to anyone, for decades.

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Jerusalem syndrome

Jerusalem syndrome Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

The Temple Mount, arguably monotheism's most active volcano, is smoking again.

The hilltop where a universalistic King Solomon built, as he saw it, a shrine whose tenant would be God and whose pilgrims would be "all the people of the world," returned in October to its more familiar role as a source of division - witnessing and also igniting violence, agony, and strife.

After Obama

After Obama Author: Robert Satloff Categories: America, Iran, Israel, Middle East    

Even God, it seems, is tired of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute - and the never-ending standoff between US President Barack Obama and Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu. When a third intifada threatened to erupt recently following Israel's temporary closure of Muslim prayer at the al-Aqsa Mosque in response to stone-throwing against Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall below, Palestinian leaders called for a "day of rage," and Israel dispatched more than 1,000 riot police to prepare for the worst.

Faction and Fiction in Iran negotiations

Faction and Fiction in Iran negotiations Author: Michael Rubin Categories: International Security, Iran    

In 1998, against the backdrop of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's "Dialogue of Civilisations," there was great optimism about the potential for a thaw in US-Iranian relations among many of the same circles that express it now. And then, just as now, some in the US business community wanted to rush into the Iranian market, figuring all that was left for some sort of grand rapprochement was to dot the i's and cross the t's. It was against this backdrop that a group of American businessmen, travelling at the invitation of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, flew to Teheran in order to combine meetings with tourism.

Deal or No Deal?

Deal or No Deal? Author: Lenny Ben-David Categories: International Security, Iran    

November 24 is seen as a critical date in the negotiations between Iran and UN Security Council's permanent members (the "P5+1" the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China plus Germany) on the fates of Iran's nuclear enterprise and the economic sanctions imposed on the recalcitrant and bellicose Islamic Republic.

Despite Vice President Biden's resolute vow to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program, Iranian leaders adamantly pledge to maintain their rogue efforts. 

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Editorial: The Eleventh Hour Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran    

As this edition of the Australia/Israel Review went to press, negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran over Iran's nuclear program were continuing in Vienna ahead of a November 24 deadline, with little sign that a deal is imminent - certainly not one that would end the program altogether and dismantle Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile infrastructure.

It is nearly impossible to overstate the seriousness of the situation. 

The Jerusalem tinderbox in the wake of the Har Nof attack

The Jerusalem tinderbox in the wake of the Har Nof attack Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Much is being written about the potentially explosive situation in Jerusalem in the wake of the bloody synagogue terror attack in the west Jerusalem neighbourhood of Har Nof on Tuesday, which left four rabbis and a Druze policeman dead. This Update features some particularly insightful contributions.

The first comes from noted Israeli author and intellectual Yossi Klein Halevi (who recently visited Australia). Halevi begins by comparing the reaction to the latest attack - cheered by large segments of Palestinian society - with the reaction in Israel to the comparable actions of the Jewish mass murderer Baruch Goldstein...

The Fictional basis of Carr’s Palestine pivot

The Fictional basis of Carr’s Palestine pivot Author: Gabrielle Debinski and Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Updates    

In a speech to the Australian Friends of Palestine Association, reproduced in part in the Australian, Bob Carr justifies his pivot on the Middle East by referring to "apartheid," one of many factual and wholly irrational errors in the claims he has made against Israel as part of his push for Australia to support unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.

Mahmoud Abbas and the Jerusalem disturbances

Mahmoud Abbas and the Jerusalem disturbances Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update contains material providing additional background to and analysis of the ongoing clashes in Jerusalem, which have led to several terror attacks, and left more Israelis dead from terrorism in the last month than in the past two years. The unrest has ostensibly been tied to claims about a supposed "threat" to the Temple Mount, holy to both Jews and Muslims, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock. A good general summary of the situation was provided by Jamie Hyams in a blog earlier this week - this Update provides supplemental historical context and more up to date political analysis and background.

US Mideast Policy and the Congressional Elections

US Mideast Policy and the Congressional Elections Categories: America, Israel, Middle East, Updates    

This Update features comment on how last week's US Congressional election - which saw the Republicans gain control of the Senate to add to their majority in the House of Representatives and made other major political gains - may affect US Middle East policy up until Nov. 2016, when a successor to US President Barack Obama will be elected.

Priest tells UN: Israel is the "only safe place" for Christians in the Middle East

Priest tells UN: Israel is the "only safe place" for Christians in the Middle East Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Updates    

Today Christians are the most persecuted religious minority in the world, according to a new report by Catholic charity "Aid to the Church in Need". At the launch of the report, Prince Charles commented in a video message, "It is an indescribable tragedy that Christianity is now under such threat in the Middle East, an area where Christians have lived for 2,000 years and across which Islam spread in 700 AD, with people of different faiths living together peaceably for centuries."

At this time of suffering and persecution of Christian communities throughout the Middle East, Israel is the only country in the region where the Christian population is safe and growing. This important point was recently made in a powerful speech in Arabic to the UN Human Rights Council by Father Gabriel Naddaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from Nazareth.

Carr's tall tales on settlement growth just plain false

Carr's tall tales on settlement growth just plain false Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

In his op-ed in the Weekend Australian, "Why I'm now a friend of Palestine rather than Israel" (paywall restricted) the new patron of the Labor Friends of Palestine, former foreign minister Bob Carr, makes the claim that "they [Israel's settlements] have doubled in the past 54 months alone".

This claim appears to be unsubstantiated fiction that may serve no useful purpose except to promote two complete and utter falsehoods: that new settlements are being built; and that housing expansion for Jews in the West Bank is higher than historical averages.

Al-Aqsa, incitement and the car intifada

Al-Aqsa, incitement and the car intifada Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Some say that Israel may be in the grip of a "third intifada". While the first was characterised by civil disobedience, rioting and rock-throwing, and the second by large scale terrorism, most notable suicide bombing, this one has so far featured attacks by drivers ramming their cars into pedestrians, a far more difficult form of attack to prevent. Such an intifada would be disastrous for both Israelis and Palestinians, but at least some of the impetus for it appears to be coming from the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas himself.

Sinai jihadists pledge support to ISIS

Sinai jihadists pledge support to ISIS Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Palestinians, Updates    

Terrorist activity in the Sinai Peninsula has escalated, and recently jihadist groups there have pledged their support to the ‘Islamic State'. In the worst assault in years, two attacks on Egyptian military positions in the Sinai on October 24 killed at least 33 Egyptian soldiers.  In response, Egypt declared a state of emergency, closed its Rafah border crossing with the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip, and decreed that it would demolish 800 homes along the Gaza border, displacing around 10,000 people, to create a 500 metre wide buffer zone with Gaza in order to prevent fighters and weapons streaming into Egypt.

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Joint AIJAC-AJC meetings in Jakarta, Canberra

Joint AIJAC-AJC meetings in Jakarta, Canberra Categories: America, Asia, Australasia, Israel, Media Releases    

David Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) was recently in Australia, Singapore and Indonesia, in a joint visit with, and coordinated by, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), a longtime partner of AJC.

AIJAC's Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein, who organised the Jakarta, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra program, was joined by the Harris led AJC delegation in meetings with senior politicians, and prominent decision and opinion makers in each city.

Sorry, Tony: UNSC 242 says borders are negotiable

Sorry, Tony: UNSC 242 says borders are negotiable Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

Tony Walker's recent column "First Principles in the Middle East" (AFR, October 25 - subscription required) resurrected a specious claim about UN Security Council Resolution 242 - the blueprint passed in November 1967 that created the land-for-peace formula for peace between Israel and its neighbours.

Walker claimed that the "Lack of the definite article ‘the' before the word ‘territories' has been misinterpreted by Israeli propagandists to argue [UNSC 242's call for Israeli withdrawal] does not extend to all territories occupied in 1967."

However, an examination of the stated intent of the resolution's drafters, the newspaper accounts of the time it was written and passed, and expert analysis shows that the real misinterpretation here is by Walker.

The Last Word: Stage Frights

The Last Word: Stage Frights Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Terrorism    

In New York, the Metropolitan Opera began showcasing the opera, "The Death of Klinghoffer", which has rarely been praised on the basis of artistic merit but gained notoriety for promoting a moral equivalence between murderers (in this case, terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Front) and their victim (in this case, wheelchair-bound American Leon Klinghoffer).

Charles Ascher Small and other scholars have outlined some of the intellectual and moral failings of the opera, which begin with the title - why wasn't it accurately dubbed "The Murder", rather than "The Death"?

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Abu Sayyaf - Jihadists or ordinary thugs?

Abu Sayyaf - Jihadists or ordinary thugs? Author: Zachary Abuza Categories: Asia, Islamic Extremism, Terrorism    

The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has returned to the international spotlight following its July pledge of allegiance to ISIS and its 24 September threat to behead a 71-year-old German hostage unless a US$5.6 million ransom was paid and Germany pledged to quit the coalition attacking the Islamic State. Both moves were opportunistic attempts to get back into international media attention following years of decline.

Today, the ASG is a localised kidnap for ransom gang with few if any ties to global terrorism. That's not to write it off: Its resurgence comes at a time when the United States is drawing down its presence in the southern Philippines, and this will give the resilient ASG a new lease on life.

Hebron Diary

Hebron Diary Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories:

"Excuse me, looking for a guide?" While standing in the plaza outside of Hebron's Cave of the Patriarchs - the burial place of Judaism's great patriarchs and matriarchs and its second holiest site, I was approached by a Palestinian man in his early twenties, waving a brochure.

I wasn't really looking for a guide - I had come to the city to independently review the situation and compare it to some of the recent reports I had seen in Australian media.