Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

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Islamism and the US Administration's campaign against "violent extremism"

Islamism and the US Administration's campaign against "violent extremism" Categories: Islamic Extremism, Updates    

US President Barack Obama and his Administration have come under fire from numerous sources for their refusal to identify the Islamist ideology that motivates groups like Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda - especially in the wake of the Summit on Violent Extremism he convened last week - instead insisting, in President Obama's words, that "there is no one profile of a violent extremist or terrorist. Around the world, and in the United States, inexcusable acts of violence have been committed against people of different faiths, by people of different faiths, which is, of course, betrayal of all of our faiths." Below, we include some of the more informative critiques of the Administration's stance on this issue. (An op-ed based on Obama's speech is here, a similar op-ed from US Secretary of State John Kerry is here.)

The Last Word: In the Spirit of Gus Dur

The Last Word: In the Spirit of Gus Dur Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Asia, Interfaith Dialogue, Israel    

On a sunny mid-winter's afternoon in Jerusalem, a group of travellers stopped a passerby and asked for the direction of Mecca. After a brief, friendly exchange, the men and women began afternoon prayers - in Yad Vashem, Israel's Museum and Monument to the victims of the Nazis' genocide. Later, those same people, most of whom began the day with only a cursory idea about Jews, European history or Nazism, participated in a dignified, emotional wreath laying ceremony in Yad Vashem's Hall of Remembrance.

Essay: Media Malfunctions

Essay: Media Malfunctions Author: Matti Friedman Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia    

The question we must ask, as observers of the world, is why this conflict has come over time to draw more attention than any other, and why it is presented as it is. How have the doings in a country that constitutes 0.01% of the world's surface become the focus of angst, loathing, and condemnation more than any other? We must ask how Israelis and Palestinians have become the stylised symbol of conflict, of strong and weak, the parallel bars upon which the intellectual Olympians of the West perform their tricks...

Print edition
Social Media Hatewave

Social Media Hatewave Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Holocaust/ War Crimes    

Many people may have thought that Holocaust denial had been relegated to the dustbins of history - discredited by historical evidence, academics, court cases and the testimonies of survivors. However, on the internet, it is alive and even flourishing, especially on social media. It is now increasingly common on mainstream Australian websites and social media platforms.

Nine insights into the current Mideast turmoil

Nine insights into the current Mideast turmoil Author: Ehud Yaari Categories: Islamic Extremism, Middle East    

We are witnessing the struggle to define Islam in the modern age. This is the most crucial battle raging today in the world and the most important divide on the global landscape. It's a clash between a forward leaning tolerant enlightened reading of the holy texts, and the medieval fundamentalist and jihadist ideology offered by the likes of the IS, and in a partially similar way by some of the Shi'ites such as the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies Hezbollah. Will Islam be a guide to life, or a ritual of death?

Why Gaza languishes

Why Gaza languishes Author: Neri Zilber Categories: Palestinians    

Over five months after last summer's Gaza conflict ended, reconstruction of the territory has effectively ground to a halt, with the UN-designed postwar framework failing to move beyond its first phase. While recent statements by some international officials have put the onus on the donor community for failing to deliver on pledges, the reality is that continued divisions between Hamas and Fatah are the primary obstacle.

Who’s Who in the Israeli election Categories: Israel    

Though Israeli voters will be casting their ballots on March 17 for party lists, they'll doubtless have the men and women at the top of those parties' lists in mind. So here's an opportunity to get to know the party leaders a little better...

Election 2015: Bibi and Buji's Coalition Worries

Election 2015: Bibi and Buji's Coalition Worries Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Israel    

Back when it arrived unscheduled in December, many expected Israel's 20th general election to focus on domestic issues.

Triggered by the finance minister's dismissal and animated by a 6.5% climb in housing prices during the outgoing government's brief incumbency, many braced for an election dominated by prices, budgets, welfare and jobs.

In practice, the economy has been elbowed aside by a diplomatic row in Washington over a proposed address to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu.

Europa Europa: Twitter Fever Author: Douglas Davis Categories: Antisemitism, Europe    

My belated entry to the Twitter-sphere was prompted by a late-night BBC political chat show which featured a highly articulate Muslim apologist. She argued passionately that, by abusing free speech, Charlie Hebdo had itself incited the attack which killed eight of the magazine's staffers. My tweet to the programme's host expressed surprise that the killing of four Jews in a related attack at the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris had been forgotten so soon.

I was unprepared for the swift response that my tweet elicited from "Porky Scratchings", who urged the television host to ignore the Jews... "Not the bloody Jews," he/she wrote. "It's always about the Jews. They just seek publicity."

Scribblings: A failure of basic moral logic

Scribblings: A failure of basic moral logic Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Antisemitism, Europe, Terrorism    

British Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles recently made an important point about the surge in antisemitic attacks which has been documented in Britain over the past two years: "These pernicious crimes have been accompanied by a creeping cultural acceptance of antisemitic attitudes and behaviour." Noting a series of antisemitic incidents which were ostensibly claimed to be related to Israel, he added, "These acts of antisemitism were almost casual."

Editorial: Choosing Israel’s Next Government Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel    

While there is clearly much uncertainty about the upcoming election, there are some core policy continuities we can confidently ascribe to the next government - policies that are shared between the centre-left Zionist Camp and centre-right Likud - the two political factions that appear to be the only ones with realistic chances of, separately or jointly, forming the nucleus of the next government.

That government, regardless of who leads it, will continue to support efforts to make genuine, secure, lasting peace with the Palestinians based on a two-state outcome.

Copenhagen, Terror, and Europe's Jews/ New IDF Chief of Staff

Copenhagen, Terror, and Europe's Jews/ New IDF Chief of Staff Categories: Europe, Israel, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update features comment inspired by the terror attack in Copenhagen, Denmark, last weekend - in which an Islamist gunman opened fire at both a synagogue and a pro-free speech gathering at a cafe -  especially in terms of what such targeted terrorism means for Europe's Jewish minority, who are clearly a key target of Islamist radicals. It also includes some information and analysis on the new Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who was sworn in on Monday.

Ehud Ya'ari: Ten insights in ten minutes

Ehud Ya'ari: Ten insights in ten minutes Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Asia, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

Ten insights into the current turmoil in the Middle East in ten minutes - that's what Ehud Ya'ari, one of Israel's top Middle East analysts delivered in his presentation at a public forum held on February 6 by the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok.

The forum, on the topic "Militant Islam and Middle East Turmoil: Lessons From and Implications For Southeast Asia", featured Ya'ari and two other Israeli Middle East experts on the panel - Dr. Jonathan Spyer and Prof. David Menashri - together with top commentators from Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Statement on the terrorist attacks in Denmark

Statement on the terrorist attacks in Denmark Categories: Europe, Media Releases, Terrorism, Updates    

AIJAC expresses its sincere condolences to the victims and their families of the terrorist attacks in Copenhagen on the weekend. The victims of the deadly attacks included documentary filmmaker Finn Noergaard who was killed while attending a discussion at a café on freedom of speech and Dan Uzan, a Jewish volunteer security guard who was killed while guarding a synagogue where around 80 people were celebrating a Bat Mitzvah. Five policeman were also injured in these attacks and we hope for their full recovery.

Why the UN Security Council can't solve the Arab-Israel conflict by itself

Why the UN Security Council can't solve the Arab-Israel conflict by itself Author: Einat Wilf & Shany Mor Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, United Nations    

Australia showed moral leadership in its term on the UN Security Council, most notably when it stood with the US in December and voted against a highly biased and anti-Israel draft resolution put forward by the Arab League, recognising true peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be achieved via direct negotiations.

The path to Palestinian statehood has always passed through reconciliation with Israel - a recognition of both the fact of a Jewish state in the Middle East and the acceptance of its legitimacy.

Print edition
Palestinian human rights and the road to a two-state peace/ Talking about Islamism

Palestinian human rights and the road to a two-state peace/ Talking about Islamism Categories: Islamic Extremism, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update features two comments which focus on human rights and governance in the Palestinian territories, and the relationship between these issues and the quest for a viable and lasting two-state peace. It also includes an important comment from noted American writer and intellectual Paul Berman on language use in the discussion of Islamist ideology.

The injustice of the Greste case should not detract from some hard truths about Al Jazeera

The injustice of the Greste case should not detract from some hard truths about Al Jazeera Author: Allon Lee Categories: Islamic Extremism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Terrorism    

The release from an Egyptian prison of Australian cameraman Peter Greste, who served 400 days in jail and was facing a long sentence for what were clearly preposterous allegations, was of course extremely welcome and long overdue.

Yet just because the actions of the Egyptian government and judicial system have been outrageous and indefensible in this case, does not mean we should be lulled into therefore thinking that Al Jazeera, the employer of Greste, is just an ordinary news organisation like any other.

An Emerging Iran deal?

An Emerging Iran deal? Categories: International Security, Iran, Updates    

US President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are both saying Iran now has to decide to accept or reject their proposals for a final nuclear deal and they do not plan to further extend the interim nuclear deal signed in 2013 - also extended twice. The outlines of what has been offered to Iran are now becoming clearer and have become subject to increasing criticism both in the US and elsewhere - this Update offers some comment on the US's current Iran negotiating strategy and why concerns about the US proposal are so widespread.

Media Week - Mind your language; Long bow, low blow; Security Council sense

Media Week - Mind your language; Long bow, low blow; Security Council sense Author: Allon Lee Categories: Antisemitism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

On Jan. 15, ABC Radio "PM's" Michael Edwards reported on the "different jihadi groups... now staking their claims for responsibility for the Paris attacks", including "Amedy Coulibaly, who held up the Jewish deli, claimed to be acting on behalf of Islamic State."

This sloppy language minimised the crime.

Sinai's Jihadists/ The rise of antisemitism

Sinai's Jihadists/ The rise of antisemitism Categories: Antisemitism, Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Updates    

This Update contains two knowledgeable analysis pieces on the situation in Sinai, where the Egyptian security forces are battling an ISIS-linked group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which carried out a particularly spectacular series of coordinated mortar and truck bomb attacks last Thursday, leaving 33 people dead. It goes on to include another good piece on the rise of European antisemitism, especially in the wake of recent reports suggesting antisemitic attacks in Britain are at the highest ever level.