Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

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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.

Media Microscope: A media "seizure" Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

An AFP story claimed Israel was seizing "400 hectares of Palestinian land in the Bethlehem area in the occupied West Bank" and stated that it was part of "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policy of settlement expansion on land the Palestinians claim for a future state," Adelaide Advertiser (Sept. 3).

Both statements are dubious. Israel has not seized any land - it determined that the land is not privately owned and is therefore public land, nothing more.

AIR
Essay: Moral Defence

Essay: Moral Defence Author: Asa Kasher Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

I first heard air raid sirens during Israel's 1948 War of Independence, and I heard them most recently in August, during Operation Protective Edge. In 1948, an Egyptian plane dropped bombs on the centre of Rishon Lezion, where I then lived; more recently the threat took the familiar form of rockets launched by Hamas from the Gaza Strip and intercepted by the Iron Dome system far above my head in another town near Tel Aviv.

The Appeal of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia

The Appeal of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia Author: Giora Eliraz Categories: Asia, Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Terrorism    

A pivotal doctrinal slogan proclaimed by the militants of the Islamic State (IS) - formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) - is re-establishment of a Caliphate (Khilafah) that binds together lands inhabited by Muslims under unified political rule, based on Sharia Islamic law. For this purpose, the ISIS declared itself in June 2014 as Islamic Caliphate; its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as Caliph, and changed its name.

Israel's New Northern Exposure

Israel's New Northern Exposure Author: Andrew J. Tabler Categories: Islamic Extremism, Israel, Syria, Terrorism    

While the world focuses on the Islamic State's advances in Iraq and Syria, the Syrian war is spilling over into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. On Aug. 28, Syrian rebel groups, led by al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, captured the old border city of Quneitra from the Syrian army and Iranian-backed National Defence Forces.

Israel and the rise of ISIS Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Syria    

It is a landscape with which Jewish history is all too familiar. Here, in the flatlands abutting the Tigris and Euphrates, Jacob fell for Rachel, Jonah warned of approaching calamity, and Ezekiel saw a valley of bones come to life, as 26 centuries of intensive Jewish creation, crowned by the Talmud, unfolded.

Now, however, as its Islamist secessionists unsettle the Middle East and bewilder the entire world, Iraq seems to concern the rest of the world more than it concerns the Jewish state.

Updates
Back to Iraq

Back to Iraq Author: Oded Eran Categories: America, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Syria    

President Obama's Sept. 10 address to the American nation regarding the new US strategy against ISIS leaves many issues unclear, chief among them, what underlies the change in US policy regarding the extremist organisation. Both Obama's speech and public statements by senior American officials offer a variety of reasons for this shift in posture.

AIR New Zealand: Peculiar election leads to stunning victory

AIR New Zealand: Peculiar election leads to stunning victory Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Australasia    

Impassioned speeches, heated debates, jovial neighbourhood walkabouts, the peddling of grand dreams for the future... National elections tend to be rousing times, full of hope and opportunity.

They also tend to focus the attention of the community on broader social issues, along with the challenges facing the economy and the country. The resulting dialogue - which is often the only time many issues are publicly debated - is a useful and important part of New Zealand's democratic system.

Scribblings: Bring Gaza to the West Bank?

Scribblings: Bring Gaza to the West Bank? Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

An increasing number of people seem to have a very simple - perhaps simplistic is a better word - prescription for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

It is not the negotiated two-state peace deal favoured by both sides of Australian politics, almost all Western governments, and both the Israeli public and successive Israeli governments over the last 15 years.

After the Gaza conflict: The view from Israel

After the Gaza conflict: The view from Israel Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

I arrived at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport at the end of August, less than 48 hours after Gaza's rulers Hamas accepted an open-ended ceasefire effectively ending a two-month long conflict with Israel.

Along with the signs giving directions to passport control and baggage claim were signs indicating the nearest bomb shelters - a reminder of rocket attacks that briefly led to the suspension of most flights to and from Israel.

For the first time, Israelis realised that Hamas' rockets not only posed a terror threat, but could physically isolate Israel.

43 out of tens of thousands in 8200

43 out of tens of thousands in 8200 Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

The international media has been abuzz with stories about the petition letter signed by 43 reservists of the elite IDF intelligence unit 8200 on September 12. The letter, which is addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF General Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz and Military Intelligence Director, Major General Aviv Kochavi, states that the reservists refuse to continue service in the elite intelligence division, citing mistreatment and "extortion" of Palestinians under Israeli surveillance as the driving force behind their "moral" stance.

Abbas' new "peace plan"

Abbas' new "peace plan" Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Last weekend, at a closed session of the Arab League Summit in Turkey, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly announced his plan to move ahead with peace process with Israel, and had it endorsed by the Arab League. While the details have not been publicly announced, they have been leaked in various news reports and reportedly entail a plan that the UN Security Council would make Israel withdraw to the pre-1967 boundaries within three years - or else Israel would be brought before the International Criminal Court and security cooperation with the Palestinians ended - if agreement on a final peace is not reached between the parties during a nine-month negotiating process. The plan has reportedly been rejected by the US Administration. This Update deals with the difficulties of this plan, and the wider problem of Israeli-Palestinian peace making after the Gaza conflict.

A map essential to understanding Israel’s decision to declare 1000 acres of land in the Etzion bloc “state land”

A map essential to understanding Israel’s decision to declare 1000 acres of land in the Etzion bloc “state land” Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Middle East, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

There has been fierce debate and confusion regarding the recent decision of Israel's civil administration to declare 988 acres of land in the West Bank Gush Etzion area as "state land." The decision, announced by the Israeli government on August 31, is reportedly the precursor for the expansion of the small Gva'ot settlement into a much larger town.

Almost immediately after making the pronouncement, the Israeli government came under fire from the US, the EU and the Palestinian Authority, with such condemnations reverberating throughout the international press. Yet, as Dr Tzvi Fleischer highlighted in an AIJAC blog post last week, much of the critique circulating in the press omits essential background information regarding where this land is and what this move actually means.

Welcome to Sderot, a resilient town that won't be bowed

Welcome to Sderot, a resilient town that won't be bowed Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Updates    

A week after Hamas agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire plan, bringing an end to over two months of rocket attacks and drawing to a close Israel's 50-day Operation Protective Edge, life for residents of southern Israel is slowly returning to normal.

On Wednesday, AIJAC Policy Analyst Ahron Shapiro visited the border town of Sderot - which in this escalation, as in previous ones, was the target of massive amounts of rocket and mortar fire from Gaza - surveyed some of the damage caused by the war and spoke to some of the residents about the situation.

AIR
Letter to the UN from two bereaved parents

Letter to the UN from two bereaved parents Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

On August 22, Gila and Doron Tregerman suffered a tragic loss when their four-year old son, Daniel, was killed by a mortar round that allegedly was fired from next to a Gaza school. On September 3, the couple, who live in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, near the Gaza border, wrote an emotional and heartfelt letter to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, calling on the UN to also investigate Hamas for its war crimes committed during the latest conflict. The letter concludes, "We do not seek the people responsible for our Daniel's death. We only wish your response and your voice against this crime and the crime Hamas committed against their own people."

The truth about the Gaza war (hint: it's not what Ruth Pollard tells you)

The truth about the Gaza war (hint: it's not what Ruth Pollard tells you) Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Over the past couple of months, readers of the Fairfax papers the Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Canberra Times have been subjected to Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard's coverage of the Gaza conflict.

In our opinion, her general coverage – especially her feature article in the Saturday August 30 editions of the papers – has been full of misrepresentations, omissions and lack of context. The August 30 article appears intended to portray Israel as the villain, and the party that has come out of the conflict in the worst possible light, as compared to Hamas.

Below is the article, with our comments inserted where relevant.

What should be understood about Israel's controversial decision to zone 1000 acres as state land in the Etzion bloc

What should be understood about Israel's controversial decision to zone 1000 acres as state land in the Etzion bloc Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

On August 31 Israel made a controversial decision, announcing that it would designate around 988 acres of land in the West Bank Gush Etzion region as "state land". According to reports, the decision will pave the way for the expansion of a small existing settlement known as Gva'ot into a much larger town. This has been controversial within Israel, with even Justice Minister Tzipi Livni criticising the move. However, some Australian media coverage of the issue has lacked basic context.

Updates

Letter: Apology falls short Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

In her belated apology for the use of photos of dead children from the Syrian conflict to represent purported Israeli slaughter in Gaza (29 August), Sonja Karkar of Australians for Palestine claims the statistics alone tell the story. There is no question that large numbers of civilians, including children, have been killed in Gaza, and this is a tragedy. However, the oft-quoted statistics are also very dubious. They come from Gaza health authorities, under the control of Hamas, which has a clear interest in exaggerating the civilian numbers, and are passed on to UN agencies.

Three experienced journalists critique media coverage of Gaza

Three experienced journalists critique media coverage of Gaza Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

There has been much criticism of the media's performance during the recent Gaza conflict (where, happily, the ceasefire agreed to on Tuesday seems to be holding.) Examples from AIJAC include the Australian piece by Gabrielle Debinski, Tzvi Fleischer and Or Avi-Guy last month and Israeli academic Eytan Gilboa's piece in the latest edition of the Australia-Israel Review. This Update features detailed critiques of aspects of the media's performance by three senior, experienced journalists who appear to be in a good position to know what they are talking about - including two former Middle East correspondents for major international wire services.