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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"?

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.

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Time for Plan B on Iran's Nukes
Irans' heavy water nuclear reactor at Arak

Time for Plan B on Iran's Nukes Author: Dennis Ross Categories: International Security, Iran    

It is no accident that hardly anyone involved in the Iranian nuclear negotiations has expressed optimism about meeting the November 24 deadline for a comprehensive agreement. The Iranian and US governments are continuing to meet regularly but there are few signs of meaningful progress.

Indeed, the essence of the deal that has always made most sense - a rollback of the Iranian nuclear program in return for a rollback of sanctions - seems increasingly beyond reach.

Grounded in Iraq?

Grounded in Iraq? Author: Jonathan Spyer Categories: Iraq, Middle East, Syria    

The United States and its allies have launched a military campaign whose stated goal is, in the words of US President Barack Obama, to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL) established by Sunni jihadis in a contiguous land area stretching from western Iraq to the Syrian-Turkish border.

As the aerial campaign begins in earnest, many observers are wondering what exactly its tactical and strategic objectives are, and how they will be achieved.

Summer in Paris

Summer in Paris Author: Robert Wistrich Categories: Antisemitism, Europe    

On July 13, the eve of Bastille Day (a national holiday in France), a mob laid siege to the Don Abravanel synagogue in the Eleventh district of Paris. The "protesters," mainly of North African Arab origin, had broken off from a larger demonstration supported by a small band of left-wing allies - Communists, militant anti-Zionist Trotskyists, a few environmentalists, and trade unionists - waving Palestinian flags and chanting "Death to the Jews" (Mort aux Juifs) along with the Islamist battle cry, Allahu Akbar!

Europa Europa: Writing on the Walls Author: Douglas Davis Categories: Antisemitism, Europe    

On a sublime autumn afternoon my bus rumbles towards the Rue des Rosiers. It is the heart of Paris, the heart of the Marais quarter, and also the heart of the Jewish community. Or it was.

As the bus passes the Louvre, a bleak plaster wall is covered with a huge piece of graffiti. It is the detritus of riots a few weeks earlier, ostensibly aimed at supporting Gaza but also trashing synagogues and Jewish shops. The graffiti contains a simple message: "Paris Loves Gaza".

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Scribblings: Reality and Racism Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Islamic Extremism, Israel    

There has been a lot of talk in the media about how Israel is supposedly becoming a more right-wing, less democratic and more "racist" society. Anecdotal evidence cited to support this view usually includes things like controversial Israeli legislative proposals, incidents of racist violence or vandalism, and racially problematic statements by public figures there.

Editorial: Mahmoud Abbas’ folly Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

On October 22, Palestinian terrorist Abd al-Rahman al-Shaloudi ploughed his car into a packed light-rail stop in Jerusalem, murdering newborn Chaya Zisel Baron and Ecuadorian student Karen Yemina Mosquera and injuring eight other Israelis. Al-Shaloudi, who was shot and killed by Israeli police, appears to have been affiliated with Hamas. However what was particularly worrying was the response by official media and senior officials in the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority (PA), led by Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas' Fatah movement published an online tribute describing al-Shaloudi as a "heroic martyr" to be saluted for his "Jerusalem operation, in which settlers in the occupied city of Jerusalem were run over." A senior aide to Abbas, Sultan Abu al-Einein, hailed him as a "heroic Martyr" who was "murdered in cold blood."

This is part of a larger trend.

The Success of Islamist Propaganda

The Success of Islamist Propaganda Categories: Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

In the wake of a series of apparent Islamist "lone wolf" terror attacks in Canada and New York, this Update looks at the sophisticated media strategy that Islamist groups - and especially ISIS - are increasingly employing to further their cause and recruit volunteers and sympathisers. It also looks at Hamas' social media strategy during the recent Gaza conflict.

Moral clarity about Islamic State needs zero tolerance of terrorism

Moral clarity about Islamic State needs zero tolerance of terrorism Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Islamic Extremism, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, Terrorism    

IN Ottawa on Wednesday, a lone gunman rampaged in and around Canada's parliament, killing a Canadian soldier before being killed. Authorities said he was a convert to Islam, radicalised to commit his act of terrorism.

That day in Jerusalem, a newborn girl was run down and killed in her pram when a vehicle intentionally rammed a crowded tram stop. The Palestinian driver, killed while fleeing, had an extensive ­arrest record for nationalistic violence and familial connections to Hamas. He was glorified on Hamas-affiliated websites as a martyr and a Hamas spokesman said his attack was only "natural".

Statement: The death of Gough Whitlam

Statement: The death of Gough Whitlam Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Media Releases    

Gough Whitlam was a towering figure in Australian political life, who brought Labor back to power after a long period in the political wilderness and, despite his short tenure as PM, made many substantial and significant initiatives and reforms in areas such as education, the arts, the environment, immigration and multiculturalism.

The history books will certainly record the profound effects the Whitlam government had in shaping the Australia both of today and into the future.

No to backburner, yes to a two-track strategy

No to backburner, yes to a two-track strategy Author: Glen Falkenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

Iran's securing nuclear weapons would destabilise a region already suffering from mass upheaval, in addition to having dire security implications for the rest of the world. Multilateral efforts to deter the sadistic actions of ISIS, a crucial priority, seem to have distracted from international efforts to halt Iran's nuclear program. As identified in the recent post by Andrew Nikolic, a nuclear Iran remains a broader strategic priority and potentially worse threat.

US$5.4 Billion Pledged for Gaza

US$5.4 Billion Pledged for Gaza Categories: Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update deals with the international donors conference for Gaza that took place in Cairo on Sunday, and led to pledges of US$5.4 billion in money to be divided equally between Gaza reconstruction and the Palestinian Authority.

We lead with a critique of the likely effects of the conference from veteran Israeli Arab Affairs journalist Khaled Abu Toameh. Toameh argues that despite the promises to funnel the money through the Palestinian Authority (PA), the donors are nonetheless empowering Hamas, which will benefit politically from the money and be able to use its other resources to dig tunnels and rebuild weapons.

The reality TV test

The reality TV test Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

Furore erupted throughout the Arab world last week when the Saudi owned MBC TV network referred to "Israel" on a world map it showed on its popular TV program, Arab Idol, rather than using the name "Palestine". MBC was forced to issue an apology after it identified Israel as the country of origin of two female Arab Israeli contestants, Manal Moussa and Haitham Khalailah, both from villages in northern Israel. Almost immediately, fuming viewers took to social media to air their anger with what they referred to as the Saudi-TV network’s "serious offence."

The two women, aged 24 and 25 respectively, are the first Arab Israelis to ever participate in the singing competition, which launched its new season in mid-September. The reality TV show, based on the original British version of Pop Idol, boasts tens of millions of viewers and reportedly, is the most widely watched program across the entire Arab world.

Efforts to stop a Nuclear Iran coming to a bad end?

Efforts to stop a Nuclear Iran coming to a bad end? Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

This Update is devoted to some increasingly pessimistic prognoses that are appearing for the p5+1 (US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) nuclear talks with Iran that are scheduled to be completed by Nov. 25.

First up is Canadian-American author and columnist David Frum, who congratulates Iran's negotiators, arguing they have convincingly won the encounter with their American and allied counterparts, even though, as of last year, the cards seemed to all be in the Americans' hands as sanctions were having significant negative effects on the Iranian economy.

Givat Hamatos – the origins and significance of yet another settlement controversy

Givat Hamatos – the origins and significance of yet another settlement controversy Author: Gabrielle Debinski and Tzvi Fleischer Categories: America, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Media coverage of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House on October 1, was largely dominated by concurrent statements from the White House and US State Department respectively, denouncing an Israeli decision to persevere with the planning of 2,610 housing units in the Givat Hamatos area in east Jerusalem.

This not only detracted from other important issues but also symbolised of dysfunctional and immune from basic factual reality the debate about Israeli settlements has become internationally.

The significance of the Netanyahu-Modi meeting in New York

The significance of the Netanyahu-Modi meeting in New York Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Asia, Israel, Updates    

Israel and India have been gradually developing closer ties since India's formal diplomatic recognition of Israel in 1992. Today Israel is one of the largest military suppliers to India, and Israeli agricultural technologies including drip irrigation are helping feed India's huge population. While trade and investment between Israel and India have flourished, and today is estimated around US$6 billion, (high level political contacts between Israel and India have frequently lagged behind. That is what made Israeli Prime Minister's Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 28 in New York particularly significant.

Some take-out from Julia Gillard’s “My Story”

Some take-out from Julia Gillard’s “My Story” Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Australasia, Updates    

This week former Prime Minister Julia Gillard released her autobiography, My Story - detailing and justifying her experiences and decision-making during her three year and three day term as Prime Minister of Australia. It contains her personal account of Australia's developing relationship with the international community, the government's efforts to secure a seat on the UN Security Council and of her relationships with key government figures, among other things.

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Abbas/Netanyahu Speeches at the UN

Abbas/Netanyahu Speeches at the UN Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Over the past week, both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu spoke at the opening session of the UN General Assembly (their speeches are available in full here and here respectively). Abbas' speech was regarded almost universally in Israel as particularly confrontational - not only accusing Israel of planned "genocide" in Gaza and seeming to justify terrorism, but apparently declaring it "impossible" to return to negotiations -  and was even condemned by the US State Department as "counterproductive" and containing "offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing". Netanayhu's speech - a useful summary of its key points is here -  responded in detail to Abbas on Gaza making it clear Hamas was to blame for the destruction and death in Gaza (and showed a photo of Palestinian kids playing around rocket launchers);  addressed the spread of Islamist extremism in the Middle East while especially warning of the threat of a nuclear Iran; and finally contained a new element - a call for a " “broader rapprochement” between Israel and the wider Arab world which might help faciliate a two-state peace. This Update deals with the implications of both speeches.

Terror apologist Yvonne Ridley given a free ride on the ABC
George Galloway and Yvonne Ridley

Terror apologist Yvonne Ridley given a free ride on the ABC Author: Gabrielle Debinski and Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

On September 26, controversial British Muslim convert and journalist, Yvonne Ridley, delivered an address at a radical Islamic conference in Melbourne. Promoting her ‘speaking tour' in Australia, the contentious Ridley, who converted to Islam in 2003 after she was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, appeared on ABC Radio's "AM" program the following day. Ridley is well-known for her role as a former presenter and current frequent guest on Press TV, the Iranian government's English language station, notorious for its anti-Zionist, anti-Western propaganda, and for her apologetics - sometime sounding almost like justification - for Islamist and Arab terrorism.

Not that you would know any of this from the ABC interview itself.

 Nuclear-armed Iran would pose a far bigger threat than Islamic State

Nuclear-armed Iran would pose a far bigger threat than Islamic State Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Iraq, Op-eds, Terrorism    

The Islamic State is certainly dangerous and must be "degraded and ultimately destroyed", in Obama's words. But nothing could damage long-term regional and wider global stability, and Australian and American interests in the region, more than to allow the fight against the Islamic State to become the distraction that allows Tehran to develop nuclear weapons capabilities or extend its regional sphere of influence...

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Hamas and the welfare of Gazans

Hamas and the welfare of Gazans Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

This Update, dealing with some realities of Gaza post-conflict, and especially Hamas' role in them, leads with an extraordinary collection of testimony from Gazans.

The testimony, collected by British-based Palestinian writer and commentator Mudar Zahran, comes from an impressive variety of anonymous individuals from different walks of life in Gaza explaining their experience of the recent conflict and the general situation of living under Hamas rule.

The Last Word: The Darville in the Detail

The Last Word: The Darville in the Detail Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Terrorism    

Twenty years ago, this writer, academics, media personalities and political and ethnic community leaders were, to use the language of the time, "debating Demidenko" - after the respected Miles Franklin Prize was awarded to a book, purportedly written by an Australian of Ukrainian heritage, which sympathetically portrayed Nazi murderers and their supporters.