Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

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Charlie Hebdo, French laws against hate speech, and 18C

Charlie Hebdo, French laws against hate speech, and 18C Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Europe, Updates    

The Paris shootings saw millions march in the streets defending freedom including freedom of speech. However, in Australia the debate appears to have been hijacked by some who argue that in Australia, one cannot say "Je suis Charlie" in defence of freedom of speech while supporting section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.  However, before such proponents claim that 18C means that Australia does not have free speech, perhaps they should have a closer look at the legal situation in France, which has considerably tougher laws against hate speech than Australia - yet Charlie Hebdo was able to operate just fine in that legal environment.

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Is Hamas searching for a new home after Qatar reportedly asked it to leave?
Ahmet Davuto─člu greets Khaled Meshaal

Is Hamas searching for a new home after Qatar reportedly asked it to leave? Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Middle East, Turkey, Updates    

Qatar had been shunned by Egypt and the Gulf States for its support of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates declared a terrorist organisation. However, last month Qatar decided to mend its relationship with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and is now expected to decrease its public support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, including in Al Jazeera coverage.

The Charlie Hebdo Massacre and France's Islamism problem

The Charlie Hebdo Massacre and France's Islamism problem Categories: Europe, Islamic Extremism, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update is devoted to just a few of the most interesting of the many comments being made around the world in the wake of the horrifying massacre of 12 people at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, with victims including not only the editor, but several well-known French cartoonists and other journalists. (An eyewitness account from journalist Claire Berlinski, who happened by chance to arrive on the scene in the immediate aftermath, is here.)

Statement on Jordanian-sponsored UN Security Council vote to set a deadline for Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines

Statement on Jordanian-sponsored UN Security Council vote to set a deadline for Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Jordan, Media Releases, Palestinians, United Nations    

AIJAC very much welcomes Australia's vote against the proposed Jordanian-sponsored UN Security Council resolution last week because that proposal was a clear step backward for the the long-standing bipartisan Australian policy goal of a negotiated two-state Israeli-Palestinian peace...

Settlement spin: A tale of two stories

Settlement spin: A tale of two stories Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

When it comes to stories in the international media reporting data about Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the subcontracting by reporters of their research to the left-wing NGO and anti-settlement lobby group Peace Now has been routine. But can Peace Now be trusted to provide reporters with a fair and impartial reading of the actual settlement data?

A comparison of two recent news items may provide the answer.

Hamas removed from EU list of terror groups, temporarily?

Hamas removed from EU list of terror groups, temporarily? Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

On Wednesday, the General Court of the European Union (EU) in Luxembourg accepted a petition by Hamas to remove the group from the EU's list of terrorist organisations.  The Court emphasised that its judgment was based on legal technical and procedural reasons, arguing the reasons given for Hamas' designation were based on media and internet reports and not considered analysis by "competent authorities".

Overseas comment on Martin Place and lone wolf terror/ UNSC ructions

Overseas comment on Martin Place and lone wolf terror/ UNSC ructions Categories: Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, United Nations, Updates    

With the extensive focus in Australia on the Martin Place attack on a Lindt coffee shop in Sydney by disgruntled Iranian immigrant and self-styled Sheik Man Haron Monis, this Update features some overseas comment on the incident - as well as what it says about the growing problem of "lone wolf" violence inspired by calls for individual attacks from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It also includes some analysis of the intense diplomacy this week over a Palestinian plan to put forward a UN Security Council Resolution demanding Israel unilaterally withdraw to the pre-1967 armistice lines within two years.

The Last Word: Religion and Conflict
Jeremy Jones (right) at the 5th World Peace Forum

The Last Word: Religion and Conflict Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Asia, Interfaith Dialogue    

The words were delivered in a matter of fact manner. The speakers were calm, rational, authentic and authoritative.
The information the two men shared was spine-chilling. Both were from the Central African Republic. One Christian, one Muslim, each committed to their faith and to the well-being of their faith communities.

Talking about violence, destruction of religious institutions, mass murder and lawlessness. But talking together.
The venue was the 5th World Peace Forum in Jakarta, an impressive event assembled by the huge Indonesian Muslim group Muhammadiyah, the Malaysian Cheng Ho Multicultural Trust and the Centre for Dialogue and Cooperation among Civilisations (CDCC).

The Software of Coexistence

The Software of Coexistence Author: Yehonathan Tommer Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

If Muhammad can't come to the mountain, then the mountain must come to Muhammad. And that's exactly what Smadar Nehab and Sami Saadi set out to do when they established Tsofen (Compass) in Nazareth eight years ago. Tsofen is an Arab-Jewish NGO promoting job placement solutions for young unemployed Israeli Arab software engineers who graduated from Israeli universities.

Eyewitness to the Mideast Collapse

Eyewitness to the Mideast Collapse Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Egypt, International Security, Iran, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Middle East    

Dr. Jonathan Spyer is a Middle East analyst who has repeatedly travelled to Syria and Iraq to understand the complex network of jihadist groups currently fighting there. He was recently in Australia and New Zealand as a guest of AIJAC.

Spyer told a Melbourne audience that the Middle East faces its greatest change since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, as "borders which had seemed to be permanent between states are fading into irrelevance... and new political forces are on the rise."

Urban Warfare in Gaza and Beyond
IDF urban warfare training facility

Urban Warfare in Gaza and Beyond Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: International Security, Israel    

The third international conference on the Challenges of Warfare in Densely Populated Areas was held on December 2 at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University, in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

This year's conference was held just three months after the conclusion of Operation Protective Edge, the military escalation between Israel and Hamas in Gaza that led to over 2,000 Palestinian deaths (at a combatant/non-combatant ratio hewing close to 1:1 according to ongoing research by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre).

Fraternal Rivals

Fraternal Rivals Author: Jonathan D. Halevi Categories: Iran, Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Palestinians    

The State of the Islamic Caliphate (known as the Islamic State, IS, ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh), which was declared by self-appointed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has fundamentally altered the reality of the Middle East and threatens to reshuffle the geopolitical cards, change the map of existing state borders, and undermine all the Muslim states as separate national entities.

The Power of Personality

The Power of Personality Author: Shmuel Rosner Categories: Israel    

Israelis don't directly vote for PM candidates. In a parliamentary system like ours, one votes for a party - namely, an ideology. But, alas, Israel's parties, except for very few, have little to offer as far as ideology is concerned...

Is she a hawk? Is she a dove? Livni can take her seat in a government headed by Yitzhak Herzog and in one headed by Binyamin Netanyahu. The same is true for Lapid, Kahlon, Lieberman, Shas and United Torah Judaism. The same is true for Herzog himself and for Netanyahu.

Political Tempest

Political Tempest Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Israel    

Autumn ended early for Israelis this year, as winds were ruffling Jerusalem's foliage already in October and by November heavy rains poured down on Tel Aviv. Still, by early December the politicians had stolen winter's thunder, having rushed into an unseasonable election blanketed in a thick fog.

Israel has had 33 cabinets during its 66 years, but its legislatures have on average been almost twice as durable as its governments, ordinarily lasting at least three years, and in seven cases surviving their full prescribed four-year terms.

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Deconstruction Zone: Palestinians must lead the fight to reform UNRWA

Deconstruction Zone: Palestinians must lead the fight to reform UNRWA Author: Bassam Eid Categories: Palestinians, United Nations    

We Palestinians can no longer deny our responsibility for the destiny of our people. For 26 years I have been devoting my life to the mission of defending human rights. I have seen wars and terror. I live in Jerusalem and was brought up in a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) refugee camp in Shuafat, a refugee camp like 58 other UNRWA refugee camps created for the sole purpose of keeping Palestinian Arab people in "temporary" conditions, for 65 years, under the false pretence and specious promise of the "right of return" to pre-1948 villages that do not exist.

As a proud Palestinian, I must take responsibility for what will happen to our people.

UNRWA, to continue its operation, depends on death and the visible suffering of five million Palestinians who continue to wallow in and around UNRWA facilities.

Scribblings: Too Good to Check
BDS victims: Palestinian SodaStream workers

Scribblings: Too Good to Check Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel    

I know a country that is so racist it has public holidays associated with one religious faith, thus excluding and marginalising those who follow other religions or no religion. It is so racist that it has a symbol of one religious faith on its flag. Furthermore, in this country, the main calendar used by government is one that is mostly associated with a specific religious faith. It is so racist it provides special benefits and pensions to individuals who served in the armed forces - thus effectively discriminating against those minorities who are less likely to choose to serve in the armed forces. Plus, this racist country even prohibits interaction with enemy states during wartime, which clearly discriminates against members of the community originating in those enemy states.

Editorial: Back to the Polls Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Twenty-two months into a maximum four-year term, Israelis are going to the polls again on March 17, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dismissed two of his ministers - Justice Minister Tzipi Livni of Hatnua and Finance Minister Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid - and dissolved his governing coalition.

Few Israelis will be happy about voting again so quickly, but Netanyahu stated he could no longer tolerate the destructive criticism of his government from within his own cabinet.

Messages of support for Australia from Israel

Messages of support for Australia from Israel Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Terrorism, Updates    

Australia has received condolences from around the world, including from Israelis, who deeply understand the pain and tragedy of terrorist attacks.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, "I would like to send my condolences to Australian PM Tony Abbott and to the Australian people over the loss of innocent life" and added, "International Islamic terrorism knows no borders; therefore, the struggle against it must be global."


First Person: Time to wake up

First Person: Time to wake up Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Op-eds, Terrorism    

Armed hostage taking is extremely rare in Australia, and armed hostage taking accompanied by a banner that evoked images of Islamic State, al-Qaida or other groups known for their inhumanity, barbarity and callous disregard for morality and decency, is unprecedented.