Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

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Ben-Gurion goes to Beijing

Ben-Gurion goes to Beijing Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: China, Israel    

Surveying the post-war international system in 1952, Israel's founder David Ben-Gurion wrote that European hegemony was on the decline, and that it stood to be replaced eventually by Asia.

As would happen with many of his varied insights, this one, too, proved prophetic.

The Mind of a Terrorist

The Mind of a Terrorist Author: Matthew Levitt Categories: Europe, Islamic Extremism, Terrorism    

Allow me to paint a picture: The office of the Mayor of the Molenbeek municipality in Brussels sits alongside a picturesque, typically European cobblestone square. Across the square, within plain view of the municipal government, sits the family home of Salah Abdeslam, the Islamic State terrorist who was finally captured on March 18th after evading authorities since the November Paris attacks. Nothing separates the two buildings, but they are a world apart.

Editorial: The Isolation Myth Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Africa, Anti-Zionism, China, Europe, Israel, Middle East    

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigners and their supporters like to claim that Israel is becoming increasingly isolated internationally. Israel's supporters also sometimes express concern that the relentless campaign of misinformation and false blame may be having a detrimental effect on Israel's international standing.

Yet, as is so often the case with Israel, the reality is somewhat different to the perception.

Print edition
Concerns rise over Iranian missiles

Concerns rise over Iranian missiles Categories: Iran, Updates    

Since the completion of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, last July, an ongoing concern has been the continuation of the Iranian ballistic missile program, with provocative missile tests by Iran last October and in March. For instance, last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry visited the region to attempt to mollify Arab state criticism from Arab states of US handling of the Iran nuclear deal, including issues regarding missiles.

This Update features some analyses of the concerns about the missiles and suggestions about what more can be done.

Is the latest Palestinian terror wave ending?

Is the latest Palestinian terror wave ending? Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Israel's Shin Bet internal security service reported to Israel's cabinet on Sunday that there had been a sharp fall in the number of major terror attacks over the past month. This has prompted speculation that the wave of near daily Palestinian terror attacks, often by lone wolves armed with knives or other simple weapons, that has been occurring since last October may be coming to an end. This Update looks at the evidence for this view, and some explanations for the decline now being offered.

Israeli Democracy under threat?/ Abbas under fire for talking to Israelis

Israeli Democracy under threat?/ Abbas under fire for talking to Israelis Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update features an important essay discussing the oft-heard claim - originating primarily from the political extreme left in Israel, but often echoed by commentators abroad - that Israel's democratic institutions are being eroded rapidly by various measures put in place by right-of-centre governments of recent years. It also addresses the recent controversy in Israel over a soldier charged with manslaughter after shooting dead an apparently disarmed terrorist in Hebron, and the significance of the reaction to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas' interview on Israeli television last week.


Noted and Quoted - April 2016 Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

SBS reporter Rena Sarumpaet's report on a series of multiple Palestinian terror attacks carried out on March 8 stated that "this latest flare up is a reminder of how paralysed peace talks are, critics citing a United States distracted by more immediate concerns such as Syria and IS."

This is relativist nonsense that attempts to hold Israel, the US and the Palestinians as equally responsible for both the violence and the lack of peace talks. The Palestinian Authority's (PA) Foreign Minister recently said the PA would "never" again directly negotiate with Israel, rejecting Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu's repeated invitations to enter unconditional peace talks.

Biblio File: A Matter of Definition

Biblio File: A Matter of Definition Author: Robert Fine Categories: Antisemitism    

The word "antisemitism" currently has a strange aura around it. There is a curious reluctance on the part of some people to use it even on occasions when it seems unequivocally appropriate - like, for example, the murder of Jewish children and a Jewish teacher in a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012, committed avowedly "to avenge Palestinian children." The word itself sometimes seems to have an almost uncanny quality - a "killer word" as some cynics have put it, like a nuclear bomb that must never actually be used!

AIR New Zealand: Moving Pictures to Open Doors

AIR New Zealand: Moving Pictures to Open Doors Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Australasia, Israel    

Building bridges with art and culture is a time-honoured tradition. It could be a partnership between musicians from countries in conflict, or a fine art exhibition aiming to break down the gap between different parts of the world. Whatever the form, the arts can serve to create empathy, understanding and identification in situations where it might not otherwise exist.

Don't Be Fooled by Iranian Minister's Charm Offensive

Don't Be Fooled by Iranian Minister's Charm Offensive Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Iran, Op-eds    

Australia recently hosted Iranian Foreign Minister Dr Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Islamic Republic's urbane and seemingly moderate face. However, charm and a lovely accent do not make someone a moderate. In fact analysis of his various comments while here reveals much about the unchanged nature of Iran's brutal expansionist regime, and its hypocrisy.

The Hamas time bomb in Gaza/ Palestinian views on terror

The Hamas time bomb in Gaza/ Palestinian views on terror Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

This Update features two valuable pieces on the situation in Gaza - which looks very likely to deteriorate into another round of conflict in the not too distant future. It also includes an important analysis of the polling data on Palestinian views on the current round of terrorist violence - which also offers bad news about the prospects of a lull in the violence emanating from the West Bank.

Media Microscope: Welcome to Oz, Dr. Zarif Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Iran, Media/ Academia    

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif's controversial visit to Australia prompted cautious support and stinging criticism of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for extending the invitation and appearing at a joint press conference.

On March 11, the Australian's foreign editor Greg Sheridan wrote, "the Iranian government has absolutely no intention of becoming a responsible player," Bishop risked "her integrity as a political leader through her political embrace of Iran" and noted Iran still spouts "hate-filled, anti-American, anti-Israel and frequently anti-Semitic rhetoric."

Essay: Tale of a “Traitor”

Essay: Tale of a “Traitor” Author: Joshua Muravchik Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

"Similar to a class traitor," is how one BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) activist struggled to explain to another on Twitter the words of Bassem Eid, the Palestinian human rights advocate who has become a forceful voice against the BDS movement. It was not the first time that Eid has been called a traitor or worse, but his history, which is far better known to his Palestinian countrymen than to Westerners, gives the lie to such epithets.

Israel’s gas deal at risk?

Israel’s gas deal at risk? Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Middle East, Updates    

Israel's gas finds in the East Mediterranean could set the stage for the Jewish State to become a regional energy powerhouse, creating new strategic and economic opportunities. However, following an Israeli Supreme Court ruling, that potential appears at risk.

Taking Gaza poverty to the bank

Taking Gaza poverty to the bank Author: Avi Issacharoff Categories: Gulf states, Palestinians    

Muhammad Al-Amadi, a Qatari envoy charged with overseeing the emirate's funding of Gaza's rebuilding, recently inaugurated a new neighbourhood near Khan Younis in the southern Strip, completely paid for by his country. "Hamad City", named in honour of the father of the current ruler of Qatar, constitutes some 1,040 new housing units for Gaza's homeless.

The Hamas Government instituted a lottery in which those who had no home could register to win apartments for free. But that was not what was really going on.

Asia Watch: Pronouncements and Pragmatism

Asia Watch: Pronouncements and Pragmatism Author: Michael Shannon Categories: Asia, Israel, Palestinians    

Fresh from hosting 57 countries over March 13-14 at a special two-day Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit on the Palestinian question, Indonesia's diplomatic foray into the issue was set to be symbolically crowned with the opening of an honorary consulate in Ramallah and meetings with Palestinian leadership. But Israel refused to grant Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi an entry visa from Jordan to the West Bank, because the Minister declined to meet with Israeli officials in Jerusalem.

Lucy in the sky - and down to earth

Lucy in the sky - and down to earth Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

Israeli Arab journalist Lucy Aharish has been shattering glass ceilings all her life and looks certain to continue to do so. Ms. Aharish is an anchor on Israel's Channel 2 with her own interview show and until recently presented the evening edition on i24news. She is notable as the first Israeli Arab to be a news anchor on Hebrew language Israeli television, and last April she was awarded one of Israel's top honours, to light a torch at Israel's Independence Day ceremony.

Print edition
Deconstruction Zone: Laughing at the Veep

Deconstruction Zone: Laughing at the Veep Author: Khaled Abu Toameh Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism    

US Vice President Joe Biden visited Ramallah on March 9, and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and his top officials are laughing their heads off.

Why not laugh? Biden arrived in the region hoping to persuade the Palestinian leaders to issue a "condemnation" of the reign of terror, which they continue to describe as a "popular and peaceful uprising." This in itself reeks of gallows humor.

The Last Word: Labouring against Hate

The Last Word: Labouring against Hate Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Europe, United Kingdom    

It is shocking, but hardly surprising, to read about the way antisemitism is becoming institutional within the leadership of the UK Labour Party. 

For decades, decent people have been in denial, opportunists have made political calculations and bigots who exploited these realities have moved from the sewers and gutters of politics into the centre of the action.

The Truth about Iran's "Moderates"

The Truth about Iran's "Moderates" Author: Reuel Marc Gerecht Categories: Iran    

The new parliament voted in at February's end is composed of - and again the Western nomenclature is far from ideal - radical hardliners, hardliners, conservatives, and a few tepid, nervous reformers. Real reformers, Iranian politicians and intellectuals who want to change radically the governing structure of the Islamic Republic and convert a theocracy into a democracy, were silenced, imprisoned, exiled, murdered, and banned from politics when the pro-democracy Green Movement was stamped out after the fraudulent presidential election in 2009.

Scribblings: Myths and Facts about the "Status Quo"

Scribblings: Myths and Facts about the "Status Quo" Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

What a lot of people seem to know about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict boils down to one word: "occupation". Palestinians are living under occupation, this is seen as the root of the conflict, and ending this situation is seen as synonymous with ending the conflict (never mind that the conflict predates any "occupation")...

Now occupation is of course undesirable, and should be ended with a sustainable two-state resolution as soon as possible. But occupation as such is not the terrible "crime" that Palestinian supporters like to paint it as...

Russia's Retreat?

Russia's Retreat? Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Israel, Russia, Syria    

He did it again. After having caught the world off guard last fall by diving head-on into the Syrian civil war, Russian President Vladimir Putin has now stunned everyone, even his Syrian clients, by announcing a springtime retreat.

The Kremlin's statement, made as the five-year-old war's protagonists prepared for peace talks in Geneva, caps a remarkable display of strategic initiative that Putin is now out to turn into diplomatic profit while others count their losses.