Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

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Essay: Recognising Two Tragedies
Yemenite Jews evacuating to Israel

Essay: Recognising Two Tragedies Author: Edy Cohen Categories: Antisemitism, International Jewry, Israel, Middle East    

No one can deny the Palestinian refugee problem, but it is equally blind to deny the plight of the Jewish refugees. With the creation of the State of Israel and in the decades afterwards, hundreds of thousands of Jews who had lived peacefully in the Arab nations for centuries were expelled from their home countries. Having failed in 1948 to destroy the new State of Israel, Arab rulers took revenge on the Jews who lived in the nations they controlled. These Jews, faced with official persecution, mob violence, pogroms and the confiscation of their property, fled these countries, most of them to Israel. 

Behind the News- July 2016 Categories: Holocaust/ War Crimes, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestinians, Turkey, United Nations    

Israel has reportedly received an abundance of strategic information about Hamas' tunnel building operation, thanks to the June 14 defection of senior Hamas member Bassam Mahmoud Baraka with his family, as well as the arrest of a 17-year-old Gazan tunnel worker in May.

To combat the growing tunnel threat, Israel says it plans to build a concrete wall extending tens of metres underground around Gaza. The wall would cost NIS 2.2 billion (approx. A$760 million).

Asia Watch: Crossing a line Author: Michael Shannon Categories: Asia, Islamic Extremism    

The Islamic month of Ramadan is meant to be a period of physical sacrifice (fasting) in order to achieve deeper religiosity, but all too often it highlights excess. Indonesia and Malaysia may be far from Islam's Middle Eastern heartland, but are increasingly subject to its influences.

Print edition
Israel's Missile Defence Race

Israel's Missile Defence Race Author: Rachel Kaye Categories: Israel    

The newest component of Israel's active defence network - the David's Sling Weapons System - has been delivered to the Israeli Air Force ahead of full deployment later this year. David's Sling will act as a middle tier within Israel's multi-layer missile defence network, operating above the Iron Dome system and below the Arrow-2 (and, ultimately, the Arrow-3, which looks likely to commence operations by the end of 2016).

Deconstruction Zone: After Orlando
Orlando killer Omar Mateen

Deconstruction Zone: After Orlando Author: David Harris Categories: Islamic Extremism, Terrorism    

As the horrific events in Orlando unfolded on June 12, all Americans of good will reacted with horror and dismay... once again, we have witnessed a horrendous terrorist attack motivated, in part or in whole, by radical Islamic ideology. The killer was known to the FBI, and made clear his sympathy for Islamic State.

Analysing the deal to normalise Turkish-Israeli relations

Analysing the deal to normalise Turkish-Israeli relations Categories: Israel, Turkey, Updates    

Today's Update looks at the significance of the deal announced between Israel and Turkey to re-establish full diplomatic relations which have been in the doldrums since the deaths of Turkish citizens in the Mavi Marmara naval incident in 2010 when a flotilla tried to breach Israel's naval blockade of Gaza and Israeli commandos enforcing it were violently attacked.

The Last Word: Family ties
Judaica on display in Kaifeng

The Last Word: Family ties Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: China, Interfaith Dialogue, International Jewry, Israel    

It was mid-afternoon, mid-Ramadan. Other than one sleeping traveller, and a handful of workers, the mosque complex in Kaifeng, Central China, was deserted. It was an eerily quiet place in an otherwise bustling, noisy city.

I had come to the mosque with an energetic, enthusiastic member of one of the Jewish families which had thrived in that city for centuries.

The Kaifeng synagogue, which had served a community tracing its roots to the first millennia CE, had been destroyed by floodwaters nearly two centuries ago.

Europa Europa: Paris' unintended consequences

Europa Europa: Paris' unintended consequences Author: Douglas Davis Categories: Europe, Israel, Palestinians    

Pity Francois Hollande. The French President's country is beset by terrorism, his overseas military missions - in Libya, Mali and Syria - are in tatters, his labour unions are in full revolt, while his personal popularity ratings are at a record low of 13%. How to placate his domestic Muslim population, divert attention from his rioting workers, burnish his own diminished standing and restore la gloire de la France? As the floodwaters of the Seine threatened to drown the French capital and ISIS promised to wreck the Euro 2016 football tournament, the answer became obvious: convene a Middle East peace conference. And then compound the charade by not inviting the major protagonists, Israel and the Palestinians.

Scribblings: The Gaza "siege" myth lives on
Humanitarian supplies entering Gaza

Scribblings: The Gaza "siege" myth lives on Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Palestinians    

Perhaps on some level it isn't surprising that it still happens - though, on another, it is nonetheless shocking, because it is so easily disproven. I'm speaking about how Hamas and other Palestinian groups like to present Israel's blockade of military items into Gaza as a "siege" - and too many people who should know better are happy to go along. 

Justice for Holocaust Survivors Before It's Too Late
Reinhold Hanning, former Auschwitz guard

Justice for Holocaust Survivors Before It's Too Late Author: Aaron Torop Categories: Australasia, Europe, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Updates    

June brought two developments of note to the Australian Holocaust survivor community. First, we express our deep sadness at the passing of Masha Zeleznikow, the 89-year-old Holocaust survivor and founder of Café Scheherazade in Melbourne, known for helping Holocaust survivors and other refugees. The second development is the conviction of Reinhold Hanning, a former Auschwitz guard, in Germany.

Editorial: Talking about Islamist terrorism Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: America, Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Terrorism    

Facing losses on the battlefield, ISIS has been changing its outlook regarding recruits from Western countries. Weeks before the June 12 terror attack that killed 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub, carried out in the name of ISIS, Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani urged aspiring Western jihadists to carry out attacks close to home. He said, "the smallest action you do in their heartland is better and more enduring to us than what you would if you were with us."

Politically right, but very wrong

Politically right, but very wrong Author: Glen Falkenstein & Gareth Narunsky Categories: Australasia, Far Right, Immigration/ Multiculturalism    

There are a number of far-right parties to be wary of in the 2016 federal election - including some whose radical views are not obvious or widely recognised. Populist anti-immigration and anti-multiculturalism minor parties have long been a persistent but largely marginal feature of Australian politics - excepting the rise of Pauline Hanson's One Nation in 1996. In recent years, these sorts of parties have increasingly focused the majority of their distasteful hardline policy positions on the Muslim community and Islam.

The Greens and Israel

The Greens and Israel Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Israel    

Pre-election polling and analysis suggests the Australian Greens party is likely to pick up one or more lower house seats this election - on top of retaining the seat of Melbourne. This gives it the potential to not only hold the balance of power in the Senate, but if a hung parliament results from this election, also determine who forms government - with very significant leverage over the minority government thus formed.

It is therefore worth reviewing the Greens' official position and record on Israeli-Palestinian issues. 

Minor Key

Minor Key Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel    

The Nick Xenophon Team (NXT), having secured more Senate primary votes in South Australia than the ALP at the 2013 election, will likely achieve three or even four Senate seats there this time. Running candidates in all SA electorates, it is also slightly favoured to gain the lower house seat of Mayo, where candidate Rebekha Sharkie is leading incumbent Liberal Jamie Briggs in the polls, and may be a threat in other SA seats. It also has Senate candidates in all other states.

The awful Israeli-Hezbollah conflict to come

The awful Israeli-Hezbollah conflict to come Author: Willy Stern Categories: Israel, Lebanon    

Hezbollah has a nasty collection of more than 130,000 rockets, missiles, and mortars aimed at Israel. This is a bigger arsenal than all NATO countries (except the United States) combined. Why, a reasonable person might wonder, does Hezbollah need an offensive arsenal bigger than that of all Western Europe?

Terror Wave subsides amid worrying signs in Palestinian society/ Discrediting ISIS Categories: Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update features some pieces on some worrying developments in Palestinian society - even as the current wave of knife violence seems to be subsiding overall (notwithstanding the Tel Aviv Sarona market attack earlier this month). Plus, following up on the last Update on the aftermath of Orlando, it also includes an important piece on his to discredit ISIS from veteran American Middle East mediator Amb. Dennis Ross.

McNeill twists story about Egyptian border with Gaza to blame Israel
Erez Crossing facility between Israel and Gaza

McNeill twists story about Egyptian border with Gaza to blame Israel Author: Allon Lee Categories: Egypt, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, United Nations    

It's been a while, but ABC TV "7.30" on Wednesday witnessed the full-blown reappearance of Sophie McNeill the advocacy journalist, in a story entitled "Rafah border crossing opens to sick Gazans seeking medical treatment in Egypt."

The whole story was shallow and contradictory - and it was clear neither McNeill nor the show's producers were going to allow the facts to interfere with a narrative they wanted to tell. Despite the fact that the story was ostensibly about a rare opening by the Egyptian government of its shared border with Hamas-ruled Gaza, that theme was that the suffering in Gaza is Israel's fault and nobody else's - not Egypt's, not Hamas' and not the Palestinian Authority's. A veneer of balance was offered by speaking to an Israeli spokesperson, but the slant of the story was very clear.


Palestinians Celebrate Terror Attacks- Again
Palestinians celebrate Tel Aviv shooting

Palestinians Celebrate Terror Attacks- Again Author: Aaron Torop Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

As we have reported on this blog in the past, large elements of the Palestinian leadership and much of the Palestinian public routinely celebrate terror attacks. The June 8 shooting in Tel Aviv that killed four is no different. Similar to responses after the Jerusalem bus bombing this past April, many parts of Palestinian society welcomed this most recent attack.

Print edition
Discussing Islamism and anti-LGBT bigotry in the wake of Orlando

Discussing Islamism and anti-LGBT bigotry in the wake of Orlando Categories: America, Islamic Extremism, Terrorism, Updates    

In the wake of the murderous attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which took place on Sunday, and was claimed by ISIS (details on the ISIS claim are dissected here) this Update explores some of the debates that have broken out since: on the link to ISIS and Islamist ideology more generally in the attack and how it should be talked about, and on the connection between Islamism and anti-LGBT bigotry.

AIJAC "profoundly saddened and utterly outraged" by terrorist mass-murder in Orlando

AIJAC "profoundly saddened and utterly outraged" by terrorist mass-murder in Orlando Categories: America, Islamic Extremism, Media Releases, Terrorism    

The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council expresses its profound sadness and utter outrage at the murder of dozens people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida on Sunday.

The terrorist murders in the gay nightclub were reportedly committed by a single gunman, Omar Mateen. Mateen pledged loyalty to the Islamic State and is understood to have also acted out of anti-LGBT bigotry.

The Paris Conference/ Hamas' Mentality

The Paris Conference/ Hamas' Mentality Categories: Europe, Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update deals with analysis of the French-organised international conference on promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace that took place, without either Israeli or Palestinian participation, last weekend. In the end, the conference issued a fairly unremarkable communique re-asserting the importance of advancing a two-state peace - you can read it here. As Herb Keinon of the Jerusalem Post reports, the fairly uncontroversial outcome was the result of intense Israeli and US diplomatic efforts to get France to water down language that Israel would have found much more unpalatable. 

This Update also contains a revealing report from inside Gaza demonstrating the mindset of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists there as they prepare for another round of fighting with Israel  - and Hamas claims responsibility for the murderous terror attack in a Tel Aviv cafe on Wednesday, which left 4 people dead.

Statement on Tel Aviv Terror Attack

Statement on Tel Aviv Terror Attack Categories: Israel, Media Releases, Palestinians, Terrorism    

The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council mourns the four victims of the murderous attack at Tel Aviv's Sarona Market on Wednesday 8 June and joins prayers for the full and speedy recovery of the wounded.

We condemn in the strongest terms this senseless act of terror against innocent victims who were simply dining at a cafe - murdered merely because they were Israeli Jews.

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati – the real face of the Iranian post-election regime

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati – the real face of the Iranian post-election regime Author: Ari Wenig Categories: Iran, Updates    

The results of the parliamentary election in Iran at the end of February have often been represented as a victory for the moderates, reformists, and other supporters of 2013-elected President Hassan Rouhani. And it is true that, according to unofficial election results, Rouhani’s allies look to have gained a plurality in the 290-seat parliament, holding the most sway since 2004 and therefore, in theory, apparently carrying the potential to challenge the influence of the hard-line conservatives, who suffered humiliating losses in the elections. (Never mind that many of the candidates now considered part of the reformist bloc were previously identified as hardliners and only were named as affiliated with the reformist bloc just before the election after most genuine reformists were prevented from running.)