Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

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Sanctions relief and Iran's regional ambitions

Sanctions relief and Iran's regional ambitions Categories: International Security, Iran, Middle East, Updates    

In what seems a major breach of the sanctions on Iran, Mahan Airlines, which is associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, has reportedly received nine commercial airliners, via an Iraqi front company. (A good comment on what this says about the state of the sanctions comes from Jonathan Tobin.) Meanwhile, two heads of state from the Gulf Cooperation Council are apparently boycotting a summit called by US President Obama because they perceive that the US is not willing to do enough to counter Iranian regional aggression. This Update deals with both aspects of the road to an Iranian nuclear deal - the state and future of sanctions, and the likely effect of such a deal on Iran's regional efforts to subvert neighbouring states and sponsor terror groups.

UN Gaza incident report lacks transparency, clarity

UN Gaza incident report lacks transparency, clarity Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

On April 27, the United Nations released a summary of a report by a Board of Inquiry (BOI) into ten different incidents that occurred at UN facilities in the Gaza Strip during the 50-day Gaza War last year. There has been much superficial media coverage surrounding this report.

In this blog post, AIJAC looks deeper into the report, which for the first time officially confirms that Palestinian militants have been using UN schools for weapons storage, as command and control centres and even as rocket launch pads. On the other hand, other parts of the report dealing with damage, injuries and deaths incurred at UN shelters blame Israel for all incidents without backing such accusations up with publicly verifiable evidence or fully taking into account extenuating circumstances.

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Israel's new narrow coalition government

Israel's new narrow coalition government Categories: Israel, Updates    

As readers are probably aware, on Wednesday night, incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu succeeded in forming a narrow, one-seat majority coalition, just beating a constitutional deadline by an hour or two, following his March election win. This Update explains the make-up of this new government, what deals were made to get it formed, and its implications both in terms of stability and Israel's diplomatic stance.

Factsheet: Myths and Facts about the growth of Israel’s West Bank settlements

Factsheet: Myths and Facts about the growth of Israel’s West Bank settlements Categories: Israel, Reference, Updates    

A frequently repeated talking point on the Middle East is that Israeli building in settlements in the West Bank is supposedly taking up more and more land and making Palestinian statehood unviable...

These sorts of claims are based on a series of fundamental misunderstandings about the nature, scope and rate of Israeli building in West Bank settlements... This “fact sheet” presents some basic evidence to allow the discussion of Israeli settlements to take place on a factual and informed basis.

Israeli coalition takes shape/ Iran's foreign policy goals

Israeli coalition takes shape/ Iran's foreign policy goals Categories: Iran, Israel, Updates    

This Update leads with analysis of recent news from the negotiations to assemble a new government in Israel following the March 17 election. With the negotiations scheduled to finish by May 7, Washington Institute expert David Makovsky notes that a narrow centre-right coalition appears to be taking shape (Netanyahu has just signed agreements with two key coalition partners) - despite some rumours over recent weeks that a national unity government might be being considered and discussed. Makovsky corrects those who assume that this will mean right-wing policies on settlements and other issues related to the Palestinians, and identifies a number of other policies on which there are likely to be fissures within any such government.

Israel and its Arab allies

Israel and its Arab allies Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

As the Middle East erupts in sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia powers and terrorist groups threaten state borders and security, increasingly Israel's Arab neighbours - and especially the younger generation - appear to be realising that Israel is not the biggest threat in the region and that it could even be seen as an ally.

Israel in the frontline in Nepal

Israel in the frontline in Nepal Author: Anthony Orkin Categories: Asia, Israel, Updates    

In times of humanitarian crises anywhere in the world, Israel has developed a reputation of having unique expertise in offering much-needed assistance - particularly in terms of search and rescue and emergency medicine - more quickly than anyone else. This was exemplified by the fact that, as of Monday, Israel had sent more emergency personnel to earthquake-ravaged Nepal than any other country.

Media Microscope: Dealing with it Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

The P5+1's preliminary deal with Iran over the latter's nuclear program certainly kicked off a chain reaction of discussion and coverage in the media.

Australian Financial Review International Editor Tony Walker's analysis on April 2 backed the deal because "anything that limits Iran's ‘breakout' ability to construct a bomb within a short time-frame... is surely worth the effort." Even if it's a bad deal ripe for cheating?


The Last Word: Thought for Food

The Last Word: Thought for Food Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism    

I admit it. I helped facilitate a situation where consumers can know the ingredients of food products which they are considering purchasing.

The genesis of this campaign, which for some was apparently nefarious, came at a meeting held in NSW Parliament House on issues relating to anti-discrimination.

Essay: The UN's Staff Secret
UN Commission chair William Schabas

Essay: The UN's Staff Secret Author: Hillel Neuer Categories: Israel, United Nations    

For more than five years, the question of who exactly authored the UN's 2009 Goldstone Report has been an enduring mystery. The report, written under the auspices of South African Judge Richard Goldstone, was a shocking 500-page indictment of Israel that accused its political and military leadership of deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians during the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, and condemned the Jewish state as a whole for systematic and institutionalised racism, among other atrocities and abominations.

Battle Lines

Battle Lines Author: Jonathan Spyer Categories: Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia    

In the last decade, the Middle East has been living through a political convulsion of historic proportions. Regimes that once appeared immovable have been destroyed or have receded. New forces have risen up and are making war over the ruins.


Will nuclear deal lead to a unity government in Israel?

Will nuclear deal lead to a unity government in Israel? Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Iran, Israel    

Having been told that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu equated Iran's anti-Israeli ploys with a biblical Persian anti-Jewish plot commemorated during the Jewish holiday of Purim, Mohammed Zarif said: "He even distorts his own scripture."

In the Iranian Foreign Minister's narrative, it turned out, "the Persian king saved the Jews," whereas in the Jewish narrative the decree "to destroy, massacre, and exterminate all the Jews" was "issued in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king's signet."

An Iran deal and the test of reality

An Iran deal and the test of reality Author: Yaakov Amidror Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel    

The nuclear framework agreement reached between Iran and world powers, namely the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, on April 2, was defined by US President Barack Obama as an "historic understanding," while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu defined the deal as "bad."


Deal or No Deal?

Deal or No Deal? Author: Amos Yadlin Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel    

The parameters of the future, comprehensive agreement between Iran and the world powers, as made public by the US Administration in early April, highlight the problematic nature of the ostensible agreement between Iran and the P5+1. The coming three months promise continued negotiations that are meant to result in a final agreement that would significantly reduce the danger of the Iranian nuclear program becoming a military program for producing nuclear weapons.


Europa Europa: Wallström in Wonderland

Europa Europa: Wallström in Wonderland Author: Douglas Davis Categories: Europe, Middle East, Saudi Arabia    

Why do bad things happen to good people? It is a question that confounds philosophers and theologians. Now politicians are being confronted with it, too.

First among them is Sweden's Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström. Her good intentions have cost Sweden the good will of a large chunk of the Middle East, broken diplomatic ties and hundreds of millions of dollars in cancelled contracts.

Scribblings: Syria's chlorine bombs and the Iran deal

Scribblings: Syria's chlorine bombs and the Iran deal Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: International Security, Iran, Syria    

On April 16, the UN Security Council (UNSC) held a closed door session to view video footage and hear testimony on the aftermath of an alleged chlorine gas attack on the town of Samin in Northern Syria on March 16. US Representative Amb. Samantha Power said the meeting was "very emotional" in the wake of footage of the deaths of three small children killed in the attack. This attack appears to be yet more irrefutable evidence that Syria's Assad regime is violating undertakings it made in a 2013 deal to give up its chemical weapons and abide by the Chemical Weapons Convention...

Editorial: A Trip to Teheran

Editorial: A Trip to Teheran Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, International Security, Iran    

After her controversial April 18 meetings in Iran, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop revealed that the two sides discussed future co-operation, including intelligence sharing, in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and on asylum seekers, as well as human rights issues.

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Israel at 67 - trailblazing into the future

Israel at 67 - trailblazing into the future Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Updates    

One of the highlights of last week's Israel's Independence Day festivities was the official torch lighting ceremony at Jerusalem's Mt Herzl. Honoured this year were people considered to be innovators and trailblazers in their respective fields.

A labour of enmity: HRW's distorted Jordan Valley report

A labour of enmity: HRW's distorted Jordan Valley report Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

On April 13, Human Rights Watch released a report accusing Israeli farms in the Jordan Valley of exploiting Palestinian children for labour.

It received widespread media reporting, including a one-sided, uncritical and detailed article in the Fairfax newspapers. Yet this story, and the stories written about it, suffer from an increasingly common syndrome affecting NGO reports about Israel - they are political documents where the language of human rights is used to further predetermined political goals, and neither reasonable standards of evidence, nor fairness, nor context are allowed to stand in the way of furthering these goals.

A Magnet for  the Malicious and a Podium for Prejudice
Promoting human rights through dialogue

A Magnet for the Malicious and a Podium for Prejudice Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Op-eds, Updates    

A few years ago, I participated in an ABC Radio panel on the subject of courage in the face of adversity and the compulsion of some remarkable human beings to put concern for others above any interest for self-preservation.

One panellist introduced the Nazi regime's attempts to murder every Jewish child, woman and man on the planet, and recounted a true story of a non-Jewish German who risked everything, and lost everything, in an attempt to save a Jewish person's life.