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Hamas' rocket attacks provoked Israel's ground offensive into Gaza Strip

Hamas' rocket attacks provoked Israel's ground offensive into Gaza Strip Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Israel is currently under attack as Hamas and other jihadist groups have fired more than 1600 rockets into its territory this month. The rockets have sent millions of Israeli citizens - Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze - sprinting into bomb shelters. They have as little as 15 seconds to run for cover. It is not a situation any county would tolerate.

Real issue is no peace partner

Real issue is no peace partner Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

ISRAEL has again been forced to defend its civilians against unprovoked and indiscriminate massive rocket and other terror attacks from Hamas, a partner in the new Palestinian unity government, and kindred groups in Gaza...

Israel responded at first with low-intensity raids, stating several times that if the rockets stopped, so would the retaliation.

Hamas instead significantly escalated the rockets, and attempted to infiltrate Israel by tunnel and by sea, forcing Israel to degrade Hamas's ability to continue these attacks.

Hamas rockets beg response

Hamas rockets beg response Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

With confrontation between Israel and the Hamas in the Gaza Strip escalating, it is important to understand the conflict's context. Israel is currently under attack, with over 180 rockets fired into its territory from the Gaza Strip in recent days. The rockets have sent Israelis from central Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, from southern Beersheba to northern Hadera, running into bomb shelters.

AIR

Letter: Foggy thinking on Israel's "occupation" Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Laura Tingle makes the unsubstantiated, ill-informed claim that the Australian Government's articulation of its position on east Jerusalem was a result of the "Israel lobby" switching its "funding allegiance" to the Coalition ("The fog of war rolls from Jerusalem to Canberra", 20 June). This is not simply a fiction, but deeply offensive.

Australia right to stay out of Middle East's semantic games

Australia right to stay out of Middle East's semantic games Author: Mark Leibler Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

In response to the recent controversy over the Australian government's clarification to continue to avoid referring to east Jerusalem as 'occupied', The Age editorialised 'the goal of a two-state solution ... is not helped by pretending Israel is not in control of lands claimed by the Palestinians' (June 20).

No one would disagree that Israel has indeed been 'controlling lands claimed by the Palestinians' - but the word for land controlled by one party but claimed by another is 'disputed' not 'occupied'.

East Jerusalem and semantic rabbit holes

East Jerusalem and semantic rabbit holes Author: Glen Falkenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds    

In Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty told Alice "when I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." Alice retorted: "The question is, whether you can make words mean so many different things."

More than 140 years after Lewis Carroll's masterpiece was published, the meaning and correct use of words continue to be disputed - with the ongoing dispute over east Jerusalem taking a semantic and very public turn earlier this month in the Australian Senate.

Updates

A response to Bob Carr and Gareth Evans in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Commonwealth Attorney-General Senator George Brandis has been attacked from various quarters - including by former ALP Foreign Ministers Bob Carr and Gareth Evans ("Australia hinders progress in Middle East peace process", June 10) - for announcing that the Australian government will no longer refer to east Jerusalem as "occupied".

Pejorative words will not give peace a chance

Pejorative words will not give peace a chance Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Federal Attorney-General Senator George Brandis has been attacked from various quarters - including by Joseph Wakim in these pages (''An occupied land suffers from preoccupied minds'', Times2, June 9, p5) - for announcing that the Australian government will not refer to east Jerusalem as "occupied".

Yet what has been portrayed by detractors as a "radical" step, and as taking sides in the conflict is actually the opposite.

Distortions of "lobby" role Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds    

A response to Jordy Silverstein's article "Broadening the context of Australia's 'Zionist lobby'", published at "The Conversation"

So much has been written about Bob Carr's memoir "Diary of a Foreign Minister", and his claim that the "extreme right-wing" Melbourne-based "Israel lobby" has too much, or 'unhealthy', influence over Australian foreign policy. It is quite astonishing that in the debate, key critical questions have not been raised in the mainstream media. Most curiously, one of these basic questions was - what actually are the "unhealthy" positions of these Jewish organizations?  Absurdly, while some commentators where quick to agree with Carr's premise, rarely they have shown even a minimal understanding or knowledge of this "lobby" whose "influence" they were pooh-poohing...

Letter in response to Haaretz article Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Op-eds    

Contrary to the imputation in Dan Goldberg's April 22 article "At the heart of Australian Jewish community's schism: the 'Israel lobby' debate", in deciding the best way to respond to then NSW Premier Bob Carr's unfortunate decision to present the Sydney Peace Prize to Hanan Ashrawi in 2003, there was no daylight between AIJAC and the other communal representative bodies in either Sydney or Melbourne.

Peace eludes Israel amid unrealistic expectations

Peace eludes Israel amid unrealistic expectations Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Tony Walker is certain Israel's West Bank settlements are illegal. (Out on a limb over settlements, AFR 12-13 April). International law is far less certain. Many eminent experts have argued strongly that the claim they are illegal is based on an incorrect reading of Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention. These include Professor Julius Stone, who was professor of international law at Sydney University for 30 years, and former International Court of Justice president Stephen Schwebel.

Bob Carr - a not so slick operator

Bob Carr - a not so slick operator Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Israel, Lebanon, Op-eds, United Nations    

In his recently released diary and memoir, former foreign minister Bob Carr described his effort to change Australia's vote pattern on the UN General Assembly resolution "Lebanese Oil Slick" in late November 2012, and how he met resistance from then-prime minister Julia Gillard. Controversially, Carr even released private text messages between himself and Gillard on the subject.

Carr's reckless Israel view

Carr's reckless Israel view Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds    

IN his interview on the ABC's 7.30 about his book Diary of a Foreign Minister, and in media yesterday, Bob Carr continues to makes various claims about what he refers to as the "Israel lobby" in Melbourne. From his comments, it is clear he is referring mainly to the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.

In short, he says we wielded "extraordinary influence" over the Office of the Prime Minister when Julia Gillard was prime minister, and expressed an "extreme right-wing Israeli view".

Carr's reckless claims do him no credit.

Bob Carr's 'Israel lobby' claims inaccurate, bizarre

Bob Carr's 'Israel lobby' claims inaccurate, bizarre Author: Mark Leibler Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds    

Bob Carr's interviews on Wednesday on the ABC's 7.30 and Lateline, spruiking the publication of his The Diary of a Foreign Minister, make various claims about what he refers to as the Melbourne "Israel lobby" exercising extraordinary influence over the office of prime minister Julia Gillard.

Referring to a meeting in April 2013, Carr says that I adopted a "how-dare-you" tone. For a former foreign minister to characterise a normal, cordial and frank exchange as potentially intimidatory is not only inaccurate but a little bizarre.

Let's preserve our best legal weapon against racism

Let's preserve our best legal weapon against racism Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Op-eds    

THE frenetic game and tremendous atmosphere at the recent Sydney football derby, with Sydney FC triumphant over the Western Sydney Wanderers, were what I, and many other sports fans, would like to be our final memories of the game.

Instead, the revelations of ­racial and religious abuse directed at a classy and inspirational player, Ali Abbas, have domin­ated post-match discussion.

Racism is, unfortunately, a reality in contemporary Australia. The best means to redress it and provide recourse to the victims of racist intimidation and harassment is currently the subject of vigorous public debate. For more than 18 years, one of the options available to those innocent Australians who have found themselves targeted by bigots and bullies has been Section 18C of the Federal Racial Discrimination Act.

Letter: Two states our vision Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds    

JOHN Lyons ("Distant ‘experts' choose to ignore Israeli realities", 8/3), did not address any of the substantive criticism levelled at his Four Corners program. Instead, he made new unsubstantiated allegations ­directed at critics.

AIJAC has consistently argued that a negotiated two-state settlement is the only path to genuine peace in the narrow strip of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean - thus fulfilling the desire of all parents there to give their children a secure and fulfilling future free from terrorism and war.

Letter: Free speech has some boundaries Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Op-eds    

Your editorial (6/3) correctly states that, "A free and robust exchange of ideas is essential to democracy" and laudably chastises University of Sydney academic Jake Lynch for attempting to stifle any such exchange via his discriminatory boycotts of Israeli academics. However, its call for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs council to also abandon our support for section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was a complete non-sequitur.

Carr's view on settlements is counter-productive

Carr's view on settlements is counter-productive Author: Mark Leibler Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

BOB Carr ("West Bank settlements always illegal", February 11) has accused the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council of directing "a furious effort at trying to block" his "routine criticism" of settlements while he was foreign minister, "as if this were more vital than advocating a two-state solution or opposing boycotts of Israel".

This accusation grossly misrepresents AIJAC's position...

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"Stone Cold Sensationalism" from ABC's Four Corners

"Stone Cold Sensationalism" from ABC's Four Corners Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Op-eds, Palestinians    

The ABC has done it again - this time in the massively promoted "Four Corners" program on Monday about Israeli treatment of children - created together with the Australian's Middle East correspondent John Lyons. Most of the allegations in the program about abuses of Palestinian minors during arrest and interrogation were just that - uncorroborated allegations, with no supporting evidence provided by the ABC or the Australian. While the story claimed that UNICEF "found" the allegations to be true, this is wrong - the UN agency merely "found" that these concerning allegations exist but did not investigate further.

'Moderation' screen hides reality of Iran

'Moderation' screen hides reality of Iran Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Iran, Op-eds    

TO the naive observer, it might seem Iran's relations with the international community are on the right track; under the leadership of an apparently more moderate president, Hassan Rouhani.

An interim action plan regarding Iran's nuclear program was reached and further negotiations are taking place. Yet in the wake of this agreement and Rouhani's larger "charm offensive", most recently at the UN's World Economic Forum in Davos, some appear to be prematurely optimistic that there is already a real change in Iran's problematic international and internal behaviour.

Too many chances for abuse in Iran deal

Too many chances for abuse in Iran deal Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

THE six-month interim nuclear deal reached between Iran and the US-led P5+1 powers - US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany - in Geneva in late November finally came into effect yesterday.

But now the really hard part begins. If the six-month deal does not lead in the end to the kind of agreement that will finally end the years of intense international concern over Iran's nuclear efforts, it will have been worse than useless. Yet there are very good reasons to doubt that it will.

Israel PM's peacemaking efforts should be remembered

Israel PM's peacemaking efforts should be remembered Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Op-eds    

Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli general, Defence Minister and Prime Minister who died earlier this month, was one of the government officials who greeted then-Egyptian President Anwar Sadat on the tarmac during his famous visit to Israel in November 1977.

Sharing a smile and a handshake, Sadat ribbed Sharon, reminding him that he had unsuccessfully tried to catch him when he crossed the Suez Canal during the war of October 1973.

Sharon famously replied, "Now you can catch me as a friend."

Updates
Ariel Sharon, from warrior to peacemaker

Ariel Sharon, from warrior to peacemaker Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Op-eds    

Israel's former prime minister Ariel Sharon passed away on January 11. Debate about his legacy will continue for years.

Views about it have already changed since he became incapacitated eight years ago, as today many on Israel's left praise his decision to dismantle the settlements in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank he had helped sponsor, while on Israel's right, many mourn his ''mistakes'' as Hamas took hold of Gaza and used it to fire rockets into Israel.

There can't be peace without compromise between Israel and the Palestinians

There can't be peace without compromise between Israel and the Palestinians Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

JOSEPH Wakim's metaphor of refugees taking over a home ("Australia must find balance on Palestinians," January 10) is all very nice, but completely irrelevant to the Israeli/Palestinian situation.

It falsely assumes that the Palestinians were there first and the Jews came later and forced them out and that Israel has never offered to share the land nor been subjected to violence.

Want peace in Syria? Work on reconciliation from day one

Want peace in Syria? Work on reconciliation from day one Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Op-eds, Syria    

When outsiders survey the devastation in Syria, reconciliation is probably the last thing that comes to mind. Millions of refugees and internally displaced people are desperate for humanitarian aid. Millions more are caught in the lines of sectarian fire. Who has time to think about such fluffy “feel-good” concepts?

Yet with the Peace Conference for Syria scheduled to take place in Geneva this month, the thorny issue of post-conflict reconciliation must not be ignored.

Bulldozer who guided Israel from centre

Bulldozer who guided Israel from centre Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Op-eds    

THE passing of Ariel Sharon, Israel's first truly centrist prime minister, is a watershed event in Israel's history, as he served in a unique capacity as the pivotal bridge between Israel's founding generation and political landscape and the mature and modern Israel of today.

Anti-abuse laws pose no real threat to freedom of speech

Anti-abuse laws pose no real threat to freedom of speech Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Op-eds    

IT would be difficult to have missed the recent campaign in these pages and elsewhere against section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which makes conduct unlawful where it is done because of someone's race/ethnicity and is reasonably likely to "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate" them.

For those who understand the operation of 18C, this campaign has been somewhat disheartening: 18C's opponents have avoided making legitimate criticisms, instead relying on a number of half-truths and exaggerations to put their case forward.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop is a true supporter of peace in the Middle East

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop is a true supporter of peace in the Middle East Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, United Nations    

Australia's decision to change its position and abstain on two United Nations resolutions regarding settlements and the Geneva Convention was the act of a true supporter of Israeli-Palestinian peace. Explaining the decision to change the vote, a spokesman for Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the shift ''reflected the government's concern that Middle East resolutions should be balanced'' and said: ''The government will not support resolutions which are one-sided and which pre-judge the outcome of final status negotiations between the two sides.''

The reality is that the UN's entrenched biases against Israel - reflecting the imbalance of power between one Jewish state versus 22 Arab states plus 56 majority Muslim states - have rendered it ineffective as a mediator. Arab states have long sought to use the UN to delegitimise Israel and seek an affirmation of the narrative about Israel being a usurper state existing on ''stolen'' Palestinian land.

Flawed pact leaves Iran free to build a nuclear arsenal

Flawed pact leaves Iran free to build a nuclear arsenal Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

US Secretary of State John Kerry has touted the interim agreement over Iran's illegal nuclear program as an achievement that makes the Middle East region safer. If only it were so.

In reality, this dangerously flawed pact normalises relations with a rogue regime, reverses the momentum of years of sanctions and leaves Iran, in six months' time, closer to building nuclear weapons than it is today.

A dangerous deal on Iran

A dangerous deal on Iran Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel, Op-eds    

The world is overwhelmingly united in agreeing on a number of points about the decades-old Iranian nuclear crisis. One is that Iran cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities, in violation of both the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and six legally-binding United Nations Security Council resolutions. Furthermore, it is agreed that a diplomatic deal with Iran is by far the most preferred way to attain this end. And thirdly, everyone agrees, in words used both by United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that "a bad deal is worse than no deal."

Nonetheless, the interim deal reached in Geneva on Sunday appears to be likely to turn out to be just such a "bad deal" - or in the words of Netanyahu, a "historic mistake"

Pause for a rethink will help West

Pause for a rethink will help West Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

US Secretary of State John Kerry and his colleagues among the P5+1 powers who are involved in nuclear negotiations with Iran are in full agreement: striking a bad deal in an attempt to curb Iran's illegal nuclear program would be worse than making no deal at all.

This certainly applies to interim deals reportedly discussed in Geneva last week as much as for a final settlement. The current pause until talks resume next Wednesday offers a golden opportunity for the P5+1 to reassess their latest offer, and it's imperative that they do so, because the interim deal discussed last week appears to have been a bad one.

BDS bigotry undermines peace prospects: Response to Randa Abdel-Fattah

BDS bigotry undermines peace prospects: Response to Randa Abdel-Fattah Author: Daniel Meyerowiz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Media/ Academia, Op-eds    

Does boycotting Israelis make someone racist? Randa Abdel-Fattah says no.

She disagrees with the claim being brought against Associate Professor Jake Lynch of the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) under Australia's racial discrimination laws for engaging in the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel (BDS). According to Abdel-Fattah, the lawsuit is "clearly an external political attack on Australian democratic principles and freedoms." Israel, she says, is "exporting its brand of oppression into Australia."

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ALP, Coalition offer answers to key policy question for the Jewish Community

ALP, Coalition offer answers to key policy question for the Jewish Community Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Op-eds    

The campaign teams of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott revealed some significant differences on aspects of both Middle East and domestic policies in their answers to ten policy questions posed them by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).

The questions and answers - published in the September edition of the Australia/Israel Review - deal with Israel and the peace process, communal education, counter-terrorism and communal security, the Iranian nuclear crisis, racial hatred laws and other issues.

The real obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian peace

The real obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian peace Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

A great deal has been said and misrepresented regarding Israel's recent announcement that it plans to build settlement units.  For example, Amin Saikal wrote in "Peace not on Israel's agenda" (16/8) that it was a "deliberate" attempt to "sabotage ‘current peace talks'".

However, such a response ignores US Secretary of State John Kerry's statement that Israel pre-warned the US and the Palestinians that there would be some building announced during the talks.

Stop the ugly politicking: this is a matter of life and death

Stop the ugly politicking: this is a matter of life and death Author: Mark Leibler Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Op-eds    

It chills me that we have come to a point where we are denying refugees reaching Australian waters any prospect of ever being settled in this country.

When we demonise those who arrive by boat, we simply fuel fear in the community, leaving us all feeling helpless and confused, to say nothing of the mental health effects on the refugees concerned...

Risks aplenty in minefield of Mid-East peace talks

Risks aplenty in minefield of Mid-East peace talks Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

ON Sunday, Israel's cabinet made the agonising decision to authorise the staggered release of 104 Palestinian prisoners - including notorious mass murderers convicted for acts of wanton terror - in order to satisfy a Palestinian precondition for peace talks that began this week in Washington.

The risky move underscores some of the perils accompanying US Secretary of State John Kerry's herculean efforts to reconvene negotiations which have substantively floundered since the Palestinians walked away from a generous, comprehensive peace offer from then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert in late 2008...

 

Updates
Defend those who are bullied

Defend those who are bullied Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Op-eds    

Given the very real harm that victims of racial abuse suffer, it is not appropriate to tell them to just "shut up and take it". Not being offended may not necessarily be a right, but it is certainly not a duty. If we are serious about stamping out racism, we have to attach negative consequences to its promotion. Some of that will be done through civil society, but it also requires laws.

No time for nuclear honeymoon as Iran changes guard

No time for nuclear honeymoon as Iran changes guard Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

In his first press conference following his election as President, Rouhani introduced preconditions for direct Iranian talks with the US - including the easing of sanctions and conceding the core of Iran's position on the nuclear issue before negotiations even begin.

Time has run out for such shenanigans and doubletalk. That's just another reason why calls for some sort of a "grace period" for Rouhani over the nuclear issue must be rejected. While Iran's political machine may have paused for an election, there is no suggestion that its centrifuges have taken a holiday.

Some forms of criticism of Israel can indeed be antisemitic

Some forms of criticism of Israel can indeed be antisemitic Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Antisemitism, Israel, Op-eds    

It is incumbent upon world governments to take a leadership role in rejecting antisemitism in their own countries. That is why parliamentarians from around Australia - from Prime Minister Julia Gillard, members of her government, members of the Opposition and now a growing number of lawmakers down to the state level - deserve praise for recently adding their names to the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism.

Asia ahead in courting hi-tech Israel

Asia ahead in courting hi-tech Israel Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Asia, Israel, Op-eds    

ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent visit to China was revealing. Despite Chinese criticism of alleged Israeli airstrikes on arms shipments in Syria, Beijing arranged a program that strongly hinted it regards Netanyahu as an important visitor.

Opposing radical Islamist terrorism is a moral duty

Opposing radical Islamist terrorism is a moral duty Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Islamic Extremism, Op-eds, Terrorism    

Some are now arguing that terrorism should be accepted as a normal hazard of modern life, like traffic accidents. Others draw false comparisons between terrorist acts and the rampages of mentally ill gunmen tragically endemic in the US. These sentiments fail to acknowledge the unique characteristics and goals of terrorism. Terror attacks are perpetrated by immoral ideologues, not the mentally ill. This is true whether the terrorist is acting alone or as an operative in an organised network.

As the instigator for terrorism, radical Islamism is not the only global actor, but it is a major player, and to deny this is to deny reality.

 

Change drives Israel coalition

Change drives Israel coalition Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: America, Israel, Op-eds    

The new Israeli coalition government - sworn in after weeks of negotiations only two days before the US President' arrival - was indeed an achievement, and one the President should be able to appreciate. Just as Obama was elected on a platform of "hope and change" an appropriate way to describe the new Israeli coalition would be as "the coalition for change".

Obama will have to drive parties hard to achieve progress

Obama will have to drive parties hard to achieve progress Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: America, Israel, Op-eds    

Obama will find many fresh faces in [Netanyahu's] government - and also some new opportunities to push forward towards peace with all of Israel's neighbours, especially the Palestinians. He will also find a government likely very concerned about pressing regional issues - especially the Iranian nuclear threat and the Syrian civil war - but also one interested in achieving the maximum policy co-ordination possible with Washington on these issues.

Jewish disloyalty: The myth that just won't die

Jewish disloyalty: The myth that just won't die Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Israel, Op-eds    

Public debate in Australia has taken on a dark and worrying tone over the past few weeks. Recent revelations about the disturbing circumstances surrounding the death of Australian-Israeli Ben Zygier raised a spectre of racial hatred that most Jewish-Australians had hoped would have been left behind in the middle of the last century.

Obama trip to focus on Iran/Syria

Obama trip to focus on Iran/Syria Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: America, International Security, Iran, Israel, Op-eds, Syria    

North Korea's latest nuclear test has again brought into focus the growing urgency of stopping the nuclear weapons program of another country on the road to nuclear weapons capability - Iran. The rapidly closing window of opportunity to either persuade Iran to change course or, if all else fails, disable its nuclear facilities by force, is the backdrop for US President Barack Obama's visit to Israel next month.

Ban Hezbollah in all its guises or forever be victim to its terror

Ban Hezbollah in all its guises or forever be victim to its terror Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, International Security, Lebanon, Op-eds, Terrorism    

FOLLOWING revelations that an Australian passport holder is a terror suspect in the July 18, 2012, Burgas bus bombing in Bulgaria that killed six people, it is high time all countries, including Australia, banned Hezbollah in its entirety.

Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said in an update on the investigation into the bombing, "There is data showing the financing and connection between Hezbollah and the two suspects . . . What can be established as a well-grounded assumption is that the two persons whose real identity has been determined belonged to the military wing of Hezbollah."

Does the CPACS boycott of Israel pass the 'racism' test?

Does the CPACS boycott of Israel pass the 'racism' test? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Media/ Academia, Op-eds    

Racism is not always as obvious as some would like to believe. There is generally a 'perfectly rational explanation' for each isolated racist incident. The underlying prejudice only becomes apparent when looked at in a broader context.

One such case is policy adopted by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney ('CPACS') of boycotting any ties with Israel and shunning anyone who supports Israel's existence. There have been numerous accusations of racism, especially as the centre has a history of promoting some particularly virulent antisemites, but they are not calling for the slaughter of the 'Christ-killers' just yet, and their explanations for the boycott can sometimes sound reasonable.

Israeli elections: the doomsday merchants proven wrong

Israeli elections: the doomsday merchants proven wrong Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Op-eds    

The dust is settling after the election in Israel, and the efforts to establish a stable coalition are well underway. Prior to the election, concerns were raised in the global media and the blogosphere, about the rise of the so-called ultra-nationalist religious right in Israeli politics.

Doomsday-esque predictions about a right wing coalition dominated by the ruling party Likud-Beitenu along with Ha-Bayit Ha-Yehudi (the Jewish Home) and the ultra-Orthodox parties prematurely eulogised the two-state solution, warning against settlement expansion and supposed Israeli reluctance to negotiate.

AIR
Netanyahu needs friends for action

Netanyahu needs friends for action Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds    

This week's election in Israel has produced a legislature with broad ethnic, gender and ideological diversity, demonstrating yet again the strength and vitality of the Middle East's first genuine democracy.

Under its proportional representation system, no party in Israeli history has ever received enough seats in the 120-member Knesset (Parliament) to govern on its own and negotiations have commenced to determine the make-up of the coalition government.

‘Undecided' voters key to the Knesset

‘Undecided' voters key to the Knesset Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Op-eds    

Predicting the outcome of Israeli elections is always tricky, but especially this year, as we witness a late surge by charismatic businessman Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home party, which is drawing some support away from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud Beitenu list.

Meanwhile, the strength of Centre-left and Left-wing parties has been obscured by the large number of undecided voters - almost one in three, according to a recent poll.

 

Friends and enemies colour BDS ideology

Friends and enemies colour BDS ideology Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Op-eds    

The head of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at the University of Sydney, Associate Professor Jake Lynch, has received a number of high-profile condemnations over his recent decision to refuse to work with Hebrew University of Jerusalem academic Dan Avnon.

This decision, made in accordance with the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel - of which Lynch is a strong supporter - was in spite of Avnon's work, which involves creating a civics program for Jewish and Arab students in Israel in order to work towards reconciliation between the two groups.

On the face of it, Avnon's work is exactly what Lynch purports to encourage, with the Centre's mission being to "focus on the resolution of conflict with a view to attaining just societies" and to "facilitate dialogue between individuals, groups or communities who are concerned with conditions of positive peace".

Updates

Carr's hectoring won't change Middle East Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds    

It is simply not true that Israel is ''continuously expanding Jewish settlements'' and ''creeping towards the de facto creation of a Greater Israel that swallows up the Palestinians and their land'' as Peter Hartcher and many of the Labor figures he spoke to for his story on Australia's vote on the Palestinian bid to be a ''non-member state'' at the UN seem to believe (''Right call sees Israel on the outer'', December 4).

Behind the 'Palestine' vote, a paradox

Behind the 'Palestine' vote, a paradox Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Op-eds, Palestinians, United Nations    

In order to fully understand all the implications of the upgrade of Palestinian status to non-member observer state at the United Nations, it is worthwhile to begin by revisiting their more ambitious first attempt to bring Palestinian UN membership to a vote in the United Nations Security Council last year.

At the time, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the notion of bringing a resolution to the General Assembly naming "Palestine" a "non-member state" as too weak a gesture - not worth the damage such a move would cause the PA, especially regarding US aid.

Palestine's spurious UN bid relied on some unsavoury supporters

Palestine's spurious UN bid relied on some unsavoury supporters Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, Sudan, United Nations    

"Mr President: independence, freedom, the right to self-determination; these are principles that have been enshrined in the United Nations Charter." Those words were spoken by Daffa Alla Elhag Ali Osman, the Sudanese Ambassador to the UN as he introduced the draft resolution at the General Assembly to recognise the non-member state of Palestine.

Nothing could better signify the absolute farce taking place before the representatives of the international community than the government of Sudan pontificating about justice and human rights. As Osman spoke, the government that he represents was busy waging a brutal campaign to deny the Nuba people the rights to independence, freedom and self-determination.

Voting for "lawfare", not Palestinian statehood

Voting for "lawfare", not Palestinian statehood Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Op-eds, Palestinians, United Nations    

It appears that Australia chose to abstain from the UN General Assembly's vote to upgrade the status of the Palestinian delegation from "observer" to "non-member state". This was reportedly due to lobbying from within the Labor Party - particularly by former foreign minister Gareth Evans - to the effect that Australia would be on the "wrong side of history" if it were to "resist the tide of international sentiment now in favour of recognising Palestinian statehood".

Palestine's future lies in negotiations with Israel, not UN

Palestine's future lies in negotiations with Israel, not UN Author: Mark Leibler Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

BARRING a last-minute change of heart, tomorrow the UN General Assembly will vote on upgrading Palestine's representation in the forum to the status of non-member "observer state".

On these pages, former foreign minister Gareth Evans (November 24) encouraged Washington, and by implication Australia, to support the measure.

Evans notes, correctly, that the resolution will certainly pass, given the automatic pro-Palestinian majority in the General Assembly, and that it contains little extreme language.

Yet no matter how you sugar-coat it, this resolution is a poison pill for the peace process. It should not be supported by any country that supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside a secure Israel.

Hamas the real villain in attacks on friends and foe

Hamas the real villain in attacks on friends and foe Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Now the terms of a ceasefire have been agreed upon, Israel hopes this means the rockets from the Gaza Strip will stop, despite the fact rockets have already been fired into Israel from Gaza since the ceasefire came into effect.

But, when a ceasefire was negotiated between Israel and Hamas in 2009, it did not bring an end to rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza. In fact, even before this conflict hundreds of rockets were launched at southern Israel this year alone, disrupting and terrifying the lives of Israelis who had to flee to bomb shelters on a regular basis.

Israel poll misleads Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Op-eds    

As anyone acquainted with Israel and its people can attest, the conclusions of the poll of Israelis reported on in the Herald seem puzzling (''Poll finds Jewish Israeli support for segregation'', October 25). However, detailed scrutiny of the poll data and questions reveals that, in fact, the poll itself is methodologically questionable, and the interpretation being placed on its data even more so.

As in every other country with minorities, social gaps and some discrimination exist in Israel. But the government, high court and civil society are achieving much to reduce both...

Can we force Iran to abandon its nuclear plans?

Can we force Iran to abandon its nuclear plans? Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

Where must we draw the line on Iran's dangerous and illegal nuclear weapons program? At what point should the strongest measures, including military strikes, be implemented in order to derail it?

This is the question at the heart of a subtle yet significant disparity in diplomatic language regarding the Iranian nuclear threat, as the possibility increases that ongoing economic sanctions may be insufficient to cause Iran to abandon its goal of nuclear arms capability.

Carr gives Middle East process a shot in the arm

Carr gives Middle East process a shot in the arm Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

During his recent visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr showed true statesmanship by giving the moribund Middle East peace process a shot in the arm.

Stressing the need to ''bring the two parties together'', Carr met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Jerusalem and Ramallah, nudging the Palestinian Authority back towards the negotiating table and emphasising the need for a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians negotiated directly between themselves.

We still need race hate laws

We still need race hate laws Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Op-eds    

OUR society is founded on civility, tolerance and fair opportunity for all people, regardless of religion, racial or ethnic origins, to achieve their maximum potential.

This is why it is a fundamental concern that Australia's laws against public expressions of racial hatred are being targeted for dilution or even repeal.

Shameful rejection betrays the Olympic ideal

Shameful rejection betrays the Olympic ideal Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Terrorism    

The London Olympic opening ceremony should have commemorated the 40th anniversary of the murder of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes, killed by the Palestinian terrorist group ''Black September'' at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Shamefully it did not. An official Olympic commemoration was rejected despite a global petition to hold a minute's silence at the opening ceremony to remember the Munich victims, a campaign supported by world leaders including Prime Minister Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, and numerous national parliaments, including Australia's.

AIR
Administrative detention: facts and figures

Administrative detention: facts and figures Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

A petition calling on Australian Jews to denounce Israel's administrative detention policy has apparently been circulating for some weeks without attracting much attention. The handful of signatories, including most of the regular anti-Israel crowd, claim that "the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike" highlights the policy - not seeming to have realised that a deal to end the strike had been reached more than a month before the petition was launched.

Obituary: Yitzhak Shamir 1915-2012

Obituary: Yitzhak Shamir 1915-2012 Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds    

The passing of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, aged 96, marks the departure of the last of the founding generation of Jewish leaders who devoted themselves to establishing, nurturing and securing a flourishing Jewish state.

Steadfast, modest, dour, lacking the charisma, wealth and powerful friends of some of Israel's later premiers, he was in some ways the antithesis of a politician. He played a straight bat in his single-minded goal of serving the security and welfare interests of the Jewish state as he saw them, and became one of Israel's longest serving prime ministers.

Israeli music builds bridges

Israeli music builds bridges Author: Andrea Nadel and Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Middle East, Op-eds    

Anti-Israel activists have been sponsoring intense campaigns of intimidation, emotional blackmail and misinformation to encourage prominent musicians to boycott Israel by not performing there, as reported on June 4 ("Stars under fire for concerts in Israel").

These activists claim that they are acting in the name of peace, but in reality what they are actually doing is precisely the opposite. They are participating in a new version of a decades-old effort to reject any co-existence with Israel.

What's even more ludicrous and hypocritical about efforts to culturally boycott Israel is that they ignore a compelling reality of today's Middle East. Even as activists in Western states demand that artists refuse to have any association with Israel, the opposite is actually happening in the Middle East.

There, despite decades of boycotts, people from Turkey to Iran are embracing the works of Israeli musicians in increasing numbers, often at great personal risk.

Why worry about Syria when you can pick on Israel?

Why worry about Syria when you can pick on Israel? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, Syria    

In a famous incident on an episode of ABC's QandA, almost exactly one year ago, comedian Sandy Gutman (aka Austen Tayshus) berated Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon for her defence of the NSW Greens’ decision to adopt a boycott of Israel.

The implementation of this boycott policy in Greens-controlled Marrickville Council had caused a huge PR disaster for the Greens and probably cost them the State seat of Marickville in the then-recent NSW elections. Referring to Rhiannon’s support for the 2010 "flotilla to Gaza", Gutman said to her:

Can I just ask you why you’re so obsessed with Israel? Why not, say, North Korea or China or Somalia or Cuba or any other country… In fact, why don’t you send a flotilla to Syria? Because Syria has now murdered 1100 people of its own citizens. Why aren’t you on – why aren’t you on that flotilla? That’s what I want to understand.

Updates
Only way ahead is through talking

Only way ahead is through talking Author: Sharyn Mittleman Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

In his recent article, Robert Newton of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network offered Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr ("Carr should press Obama on peace for Israel and Palestine", June 4) some poor advice on moving forward with the Israeli-Palestinian Peace negotiations.

Newton suggests that Israel alone is wholly to blame for the current ‘impasse' in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, ignoring the element of Palestinian responsibility for perpetuating the conflict which has been all too apparent in the events of recent months. He neglects to tell readers that Israel has been continually stating that it seeks the "immediate resumption of peace talks without any preconditions whatsoever", but it is the Palestinian Authority that is refusing to talk with Israel, and has been doing so, with a few minor exceptions, over the past three years.

Our misguided boycotters

Our misguided boycotters Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Peter Beinart's call for a boycott of Israelis in the West Bank opposes the policy advice of almost everyone involved in the debate on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Similarly, the choice of my friend and former colleague in AUJS, Liam Getreu, to adopt Beinart's policy has place Liam at-odds with everyone in Australian Jewry bar the handful who fall far enough to the fringe of the political spectrum that they would consider a boycott, but are not quite ready to boycott Israel in its entirety.

Striking prisoners are no Gandhi-esque resisters

Striking prisoners are no Gandhi-esque resisters Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Before the deal that ended it last week, the recent Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike in Israeli prisons was being presented as some kind of grand, Gandhi-esque "resistance" movement, pitting peaceful Palestinian "political prisoners" against cruel Israelis. This is certainly the impression that Randa Abdel-Fattah attempted to give in her recent piece on the subject.

As with many claims in the sadly still-unresolved Arab-Israel conflict, this general narrative is little more than a propaganda exercise, aimed at winning undeserved sympathy for people who are far from innocent.

Professor's irrational criticism of Jews crosses the line

Professor's irrational criticism of Jews crosses the line Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Media/ Academia, Op-eds    

NORWEGIAN professor Johan Galtung, an "off-site lecturer" at the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, recently exposed himself as one who irrationally criticises Jews.

Galtung's previous commentary on Israel was indistinguishable from the general line followed by CPACS and other academics in the dubious "peace and conflict studies" discipline that he is credited with founding.

What's wrong with the 'Black Box' view of terrorism?

What's wrong with the 'Black Box' view of terrorism? Author: Tzvi Fleischer and Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Islamic Extremism, Op-eds, Terrorism    

Rachel Woodlock's latest contribution to the debate about terrorism following the crimes of Mohamed Merah in Toulouse last month is unfortunately a good illustration of the problem we were trying to call attention to in our initial response.

She clearly is very uncomfortable with anyone discussing the extremist ideology that motivates individuals like Merah. Moreover, when the issue is raised, her response appears to be to relate any such discussion to "anti-Muslim stereotyping."

Israel's silence on Syria isn't a conspiracy

Israel's silence on Syria isn't a conspiracy Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Syria    

The question has arisen over Israel's position on the appalling situation in Syria, where the lives of over 9,000 civilians have been claimed in a crackdown on protesters and an insurrection by opposition groups.

Some commentators have unfairly interpreted the Israeli government's comparative silence over the bloodshed compared to other regional and Western countries as cold indifference, others as calculated.

Bizarrely and contradictorily, Israel has been criticised by some commentators for wanting to keep the current government in place and by others for seeking to topple it.

Passover reminds that slavery is not just ancient history

Passover reminds that slavery is not just ancient history Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, International Jewry, Israel, Op-eds, Sudan    

On Friday night, while the Christian world is celebrating Good Friday and the rest of Australia is celebrating a four-day weekend, the Jewish community in Australia will be holding the annual Passover seder, marking the beginning of the week of Passover.

The story of the children of Israel's escape from Egypt is well-known - there was even an animated movie about it - yet Jews are called upon to recount the Exodus each year in its entirety as if it were we who had left slavery in Egypt towards freedom in the Promised Land.

Emanuele Ottolenghi: Iran regime change only hope

Emanuele Ottolenghi: Iran regime change only hope Author: Emanuele Ottolenghi Categories: Iran, Op-eds, Updates    

A cold war will quickly turn into a hot one unless drastic action is taken.

As the drumbeat of war mounts in the Middle East, people wonder if an Iran-Israel war is inevitable.

Iran's rhetoric about wiping Israel off the map continues unabated - as does its quest for nuclear weapons. Israel views the combination of Tehran's relentless rhetoric against the Jewish state with a nuclear weapon as an existential threat...

 

Jihadism, Antisemitism and the truth about the Toulouse murders

Jihadism, Antisemitism and the truth about the Toulouse murders Author: Tzvi Fleischer & Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Antisemitism, Europe, Islamic Extremism, Media/ Academia, Op-eds    

When is a hate crime not a hate crime? Apparently, when a self-proclaimed "Islamic warrior" seeks out an obscure Jewish school, and shoots dead a teacher and three small children simply for being Jews - at least according to some reactions to the massacre that occurred in Toulouse, France on 19 March.

Rather than compromising, Hamas is gaining confidence

Rather than compromising, Hamas is gaining confidence Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Op-eds, Palestinians    

Over the past weekend, over two hundred rockets were fired into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, injuring several people, sending up to a million Israelis to the bomb shelter, and canceling school for approximately 200,000 students. Israeli air strikes targeted the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad - the groups responsible for the rocket attacks - killing 26 Palestinians of whom 22 were terrorists, many hit in the act of firing rockets.

The facts and the hearsay on Israel

The facts and the hearsay on Israel Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, Terrorism    

Terror sponsorship has been around for as long as terrorism.

It's a phenomenon that has been widely recognised, which allows a group to use terrorism as a tool while insulating themselves from direct responsibility. As an added benefit, in some cases it allows for additional logistical possibilities in planning a terror attack.

Naturally, nobody should be fooled: a terror sponsor who provides planning and support for a terror attack is as responsible as those who are sent to pull the trigger.

The problematic Palestinian unity government deal

The problematic Palestinian unity government deal Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Op-eds, Palestinians    

While the fractured rule of the Fatah-dominated PA in the West Bank and the Hamas-led Gaza Strip has been an obstacle to a two-state peace solution with Israel, it does not follow that this move towards Palestinian unification will improve the chances for peace. On the contrary, though the prospect of a functioning Palestinian unity government is by no means assured and indeed looks like being postponed yet again, even if it can be realised, any such government may carry with it dangerous implications...

AIR
Sticks and stones

Sticks and stones Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

The large crash sounded like something very big and heavy had fallen, hard - at least for those of us at the front of the bus. One friend at the back had grabbed his girlfriend and gone for cover, the loud bang and shattering glass made him think of a gunshot. Thankfully, we were not under fire. We were, however, under attack.

We were 13 Australian students on a tour through Arab East Jerusalem, there to learn about the situation in which the local population finds itself. Our bus was a clearly marked tour bus (albeit from an Israeli company) of a kind that is hardly rare in one of the world's most popular cities for tourists. We had nothing at all to identify us as anything other than Western tourists and, at that moment, we were between stops and not even paying much attention to our surroundings. What, then, motivated a local youth with an impressive arm to hurtle rocks at us as we drove past?

Angelic Arabs and murderous Jews add up to televisual propaganda

Angelic Arabs and murderous Jews add up to televisual propaganda Author: Jamie Hyams & Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Op-eds, Palestinians    

PROPAGANDA comes in many forms. The British/French mini-series, The Promise, recently shown over four consecutive Sundays on SBS TV, is a particularly insidious example. It tells the story of a British girl, Erin, just out of school, who stays with the family of her closest friend in Israel during the second intifada.

She has taken the diary of her grandfather Len, who served as a British soldier in mandate Palestine from 1945 to 1948, so the action switches between the British battling the treacherous Jews in the 1940s and the brutal Israelis oppressing the Palestinians today.

Tough targeted sanctions needed against Iran

Tough targeted sanctions needed against Iran Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Op-eds    

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report released in November 2011 provides the strongest evidence to date that Iran has undertaken research and experiments geared towards developing nuclear weapons. And just last week, the IAEA confirmed that Iran was enriching uranium up to 20 percent, a major step toward weapons grade level, at an underground site at ‘Fordow', a once-secret underground site revealed in September 2009 by the US, France and Britain.

Enhancing Israel-Asia relations

Enhancing Israel-Asia relations Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Asia, Israel, Op-eds    

Israeli President Shimon Peres's groundbreaking visit to Vietnam in November with a delegation of more than 60 prominent Israelis, including two government ministers and leading figures in finance, industry, agriculture and defense was a landmark event. The delegation was given a rousing welcome, including a dinner with all the members of the Vietnamese government in which Peres's hosts surprised him with a group of Vietnamese singers who had prepared renditions of Israeli songs in excellent Hebrew.

Updates
New order, same rules

New order, same rules Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Egypt, Libya, Op-eds, Tunisia    

Will the Arab revolutions bring freedom for women? So far the signs are bad.

Many women in post-revolution Egypt, Libya and Tunisia are concerned. During the Arab Spring they played a key part in the protests by taking to the streets, marching and protesting alongside men. As the old order fell, hopes for new-found freedoms and political liberties surged, and women's rights were no exception. Yet some of the new regimes have been quick to reinforce laws and norms limiting these rights, justifying it as a return to values undermined by previous regimes...

Negotiations only way ahead in Israel-Arab conflict

Negotiations only way ahead in Israel-Arab conflict Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Op-eds, Palestinians, United Nations    

One of the many admirable characteristics of the Australian archetype is a propensity for plain speaking.

So it is to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's credit that Australia sent the Palestinian Authority a clear message by voting against admitting the non-existent state of Palestine to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In essence Australia was reaffirming its repeated stance that the only way to end the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is through negotiations.

As it is, the Palestinians will now apply to 16 other UN affiliated bodies for admission on the specious basis of being a state, which they are not yet according to the criteria set out under international law.

Only one path can lead to two states

Only one path can lead to two states Author: Mark Leibler Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, United Nations    

Australians should be proud of the fact that our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have consistently and publicly supported, with bipartisan agreement, a genuine, negotiated two-state resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. This is why Australia wisely voted against the admission of Palestine to UNESCO and why Australia should vote against Palestinian 'statehood' if and when it comes to the United Nations General Assembly.

Hopes and dreams for Israel in the post-Gaddafi era

Hopes and dreams for Israel in the post-Gaddafi era Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Libya, Middle East, Op-eds    

After four decades of tyranny, Colonel Gaddafi, the Clown Prince of brutal dictators, is dead.

Gaddafi's crimes were many and well documented.

At this time we must reflect on his victims and note that at the height of his brutality some on the left and right in Australia supported him.

His passing, however, doesn't mean we should be unconcerned with what comes next in Libya.

 

No progress on peace until Palestinians change stance

No progress on peace until Palestinians change stance Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Speaking to ABC "Lateline" recently, Palestinian Authority (PA) official Nabil Shaath lamented that the Israelis have been "in full occupation of [his] country for years, 62 years." There is a subtle but profound message in that number. Going back 62 years, Israel existed in the territory set by a 1949 armistice agreement with the surrounding Arab countries, within the so-called "Green Line" that now delineates what is internationally recognised indisputably as Israeli sovereign territory.

Until June 1967, the West Bank was occupied and annexed by Jordan and Gaza was placed under military rule by Egypt. That Shaath considers Israel's existence in 1949 as an "occupation" speaks volumes about the true mindset of the PA - for all of the rhetoric about a return to the "pre-1967 borders", even mainstream PA figures consider Israel's existence, even within the 1948 borders, as illegitimate...

 

Appalling way of bigotry and hatred on anti-Semitic path

Appalling way of bigotry and hatred on anti-Semitic path Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Op-eds    

On a dry, hot day in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, Australians attending the United Nations' World Conference Against Racism started planting a ''sea of hands'' to stimulate discussion on the many challenges facing indigenous Australians.

I was one of the people delegated to give ''hands'' to passers-by and encourage them to help build the display, with an overwhelmingly positive response from people from many nationalities who enjoyed the break from the intense and often nasty politicking taking place in the sessions. However, a group of about 10 men and women, with badges identifying them as predominantly coming from ''Palestine'', made audible, contemptuous comments at the fact a ''Jew'' (me) was part of the project and went to advise anyone who would listen to dissociate from the event.

UN Palmer Report: Blockade of Gaza Legal

UN Palmer Report: Blockade of Gaza Legal Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, United Nations    

The release of the United Nation's 'Palmer Report' into last year's flotilla incident aboard the Mavi Marmara has vindicated Israel by finding that its naval blockade of the Gaza strip is legal under international law. Moreover, Israel has the right to enforce that blockade - including in international waters. It has also rebutted many of the false claims and assumptions that have been made about the flotilla incident and about the broader situation in Gaza.

The UN investigative committee headed by former prime minister of New Zealand Sir Geoffrey Palmer, an expert on maritime law, was established by the UN to examine the Israeli raid on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010.

 

A No vote at the UN is a Yes vote for Israeli-Palestinian peace

A No vote at the UN is a Yes vote for Israeli-Palestinian peace Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, United Nations    

Australia should vote against any United Nations resolution that attempts to replace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians as the only route to Palestinian statehood.

If a "Yes" vote produced a Palestinian state that resolved all the issues of borders, refugees, settlements, and Jerusalem, Israel would be the first to support it.

Unfortunately, as it stands, the resolution the Palestinians are seeking absolutely will not help end the conflict and will almost certainly exacerbate it.

 

Boycotters' free expression costs businesses plenty

Boycotters' free expression costs businesses plenty Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Op-eds    

If the boycotters had been peacefully promoting their cause to the public, however concerning their beliefs, they would not have broken any laws. However, this was not the case. They have repeatedly chosen to act riotously and aggressively, screaming hateful slogans, illegally blocking the entrance to Max Brenner, scuffling with police and creating a scene that would deter any reasonable person from entering -- not for political reasons but because any sensible person would tend to steer clear of an aggravated mob clashing with police outside a cafe.

In fact, footage from the protests shows an entirely empty food court in what is normally a busy shopping centre: the boycotters were not only scaring customers away from Max Brenner but from the other shops and restaurants in the area.

To mediate Middle East peace, Obama must first regain trust

To mediate Middle East peace, Obama must first regain trust Author: Geoffrey Levin Categories: America, Israel, Middle East, Op-eds, Palestinians    

It appears that for the first time, neither Arabs nor Israelis trust the President of the United States to advocate their interests. A recent poll by the Arab American Institute has recorded a significant decline in support for Obama's Middle East policies. In all six of the Arab countries surveyed, Obama's ratings were at 10% or less, making Obama's policies less popular than those of George W. Bush or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, largely due to disappointment Obama has failed to keep the promises of his 2009 Cairo Speech in the context of the Arab Spring. In addition, majorities in all six countries surveyed said "Obama's handing of the Palestinian issue had worsened US-Arab relations", and many consider him to be too pro-Israel. Conversely, a May 2011 poll showed only 12% of Israeli Jews believe that President Obama is pro-Israel, while 40% labeled him pro-Palestinian, as many Israelis have grown more suspicious of the American leader.

UN call will not end this crisis

UN call will not end this crisis Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Op-eds, Palestinians, United Nations    

The Palestinian Authority is busily lobbying European nations to support a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state by the United Nations this September. The reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah appears to be targeted towards the same end. As such, it is worth considering what the outcome of such a move would be. Would it create a Palestinian state in accordance with international law? Would it end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

AIR
Gaza flotilla blind to Hamas

Gaza flotilla blind to Hamas Author: Arsen Ostrovsky Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, Turkey    

NEXT week a flotilla carrying so-called activists from various countries under the guise of "humanitarian concern" will set sail for the Gaza Strip, determined to break what they call "the siege of Gaza". Four Australians, including former Greens MLC Sylvia Hale, will be aboard.

This latest anti-Israel provocation comes on the anniversary of last year's ostensibly "humanitarian" flotilla which, likewise, sought to breach Israel's legal naval blockade of Gaza.

During that incident, nine Turkish passengers on board the Mavi Marmara died following a premeditated and vicious attack on Israeli soldiers by a group of shipboard activists.

Last year's flotilla was organised by the Turkish group IHH, which has extensive links to Islamist terror groups, including Hamas. Although IHH has now pulled out of the upcoming flotilla, citing "technical reasons", it has nonetheless been extensively involved in its preparations.

In a press release a few weeks ago, the Australian contingent said their goal was to "break the Israeli blockade of Gaza".

They believe that "Gaza will not be free so long as the Israeli siege destroys the territory's economy".

No, Gaza will not be free so long as Hamas continues to control the Gaza Strip. But then again, there was not a single mention of Hamas in their press release. Why?

 

Where is the compromise, Mr Abbas?

Where is the compromise, Mr Abbas? Author: Arsen Ostrovsky Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

On May 24, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a historic address to a joint meeting of the US Congress, saying he was willing to "make painful compromises", including relinquishing "parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland", in pursuit of peace with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu acknowledged that, "a Palestinian state must be big enough to be viable, independent and prosperous". However, as US President Obama recently noted, the border will have to be different to the 15-kilometre ceasefire line that existed prior to Israel's defensive war of June 1967.

Simply put, Israel cannot return to those indefensible borders.

 

Reality missing in Obama map

Reality missing in Obama map Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: America, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

US President Barack Obama's speech outlining US Middle East policy in the wake of the Arab Spring movements was a watershed, detailing US support for reforms and democratisation.

However, its section on Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts unfortunately weakened several important points with flaws that may impede peace prospects.

 

Gillard shouldn't give our money to terrorists

Gillard shouldn't give our money to terrorists Author: Arsen Ostrovsky Categories: Australasia, Op-eds, Palestinians    

ASKED in July 2009, in the aftermath of the Gaza War, if Australia would deal with the Palestinian government if Hamas were to be included, Julia Gillard was unequivocal in her response: "Hamas obviously is a terrorist organisation that has been engaged in violent actions against the Israeli people, and in order to be part of any process it needs to completely renounce that violence."

So it should stand to reason that following the announcement last week that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah group and rival Hamas had agreed to end their long-standing feud and form a unity government, the Australian government must re-assess its relations with the Palestinian Authority.

But in Tuesday night's budget, it was announced that "Australian aid to the Palestinian territories and Palestinian refugees in surrounding regions will double to around $70 million per annum by 2012-13".

Included within that, is money that will go directly to the PA to "improve its operations and assist in the delivery of services".

 

Updates
The Fatah-Hamas agreement is no "peace pact"

The Fatah-Hamas agreement is no "peace pact" Author: Arsen Ostrovsky Categories: Islamic Extremism, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Professor Amin Saikal's one-sided ode to Hamas, published on The Drum, overlooks one issue - that Hamas is a terrorist organisation which refuse to recognise Israel's right to exist.

Saikal would have us believe that "Hamas has emerged as a pragmatic Islamist movement" and that therefore Israel and the international community should embrace Hamas as a negotiating partner.

If Hamas is pragmatic, then I would not like to imagine what an extremist group looks like. Perhaps a brief reminder as to Hamas's raison d'être is in order.

Hamas - the key to Peace?

Hamas - the key to Peace? Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Islamic Extremism, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, Terrorism    

In Amin Saikal's article "Palestinians' High Hopes" (May 6) he naively describes the Fatah-Hamas unity pact as likely to enhance prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. In fact, the effect is very much likely to be the reverse.

Saikal, like some other analysts, implores Israel to negotiate with Hamas and insists the internationally-designated terrorist group has become "pragmatic." Yet he makes no suggestion that Hamas should be required to amend its Charter to recognise Israel and abide by the pre-conditions for participation in the peace process established by the International Quartet (the UN, US, European Union and Russia) in 2006. Hamas has refused to accept these eminently sensible pre-conditions for a seat at the table, namely: recognition of Israel, renouncing terror and accepting all previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements and obligations.

 

Israel: Celebrating 63 years of independence

Israel: Celebrating 63 years of independence Author: Arsen Ostrovsky Categories: Israel, Op-eds    

On 10 May, that little slither of land, Israel, about one third the size of Tasmania but burdened with decades of unremitting attacks on its very legitimacy and existence, celebrates her 63rd year of independence. There are good reasons why many Australians should celebrate that.

We could talk about the historical bond between our two nations dating back to the ANZACS. A bond that is underpinned by our shared commitment to freedom and democracy, and respect for women's rights, gays, minorities and the rule of law. We could celebrate that we are both thriving multicultural states that have successfully absorbed and integrated millions of refugees and immigrants from around the world.

And it wouldn't hurt to reflect on the irony that Israel's Arab citizens enjoy more rights, freedoms and liberties than do their neighbours in any number of Middle East nations - where they are currently dying while fighting for these very same rights and privileges.

That perhaps explains why despite the sea of violence, uncertainty and uprisings currently gripping the Middle East, Israel continues to be the sole oasis of stability.

 

Bin Laden's bloodied prints have stained the globe Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Islamic Extremism, Op-eds, Terrorism    

OSAMA bin Laden's demise has dealt a severe blow to Islamist terrorism, achieving a measure of justice for its many global victims.

Notorious as the mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks, his bloodied fingerprints stain al-Qaeda-linked terror the world over, from Bali, London, Madrid, Mumbai, Pakistan and Jakarta to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and beyond.

He waged war on thousands of innocent civilians - including many Australians, Jews and Muslims - for an ideology, Islamism, which promotes a religious duty to fight all in order to create a worldwide caliphate based on an idealised version of seventh-century Arabia.

Twitter no more than a tool for taking on tyrants

Twitter no more than a tool for taking on tyrants Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Middle East, Op-eds    

WITH the fall of Hosni Mubarak and Egypt's supposed transition to democracy, the buzz on everyone's lips has been the role of new media in the mass protests. Commentators around Australia and the globe have been heralding the arrival of technology as a cure for any political ailment.

Egypt boils over Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Op-eds    

Egypt has long been the centre of the Arab world. The unrest there could re-draw the map and place all Arab despots at risk. What would replace them is impossible to know. However, at the very least, their fall would grant an immense short-term boost to the forces of Middle East Islamist extremism as represented mainly by Iran and its allies.

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Potholes in Mayor's plan

Potholes in Mayor's plan Author: Anthony Orkin Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Israel, Op-eds    

In addition to dealing with the needs of locals, the majority of Marrickville Councillors have determined that they will dive headlong into complex Middle East issues, in the process contravening Australian foreign policy and undermining all those who are working to promote a better future for Israelis, Palestinians and others.

Co-operation, not collision, with Israel is the only route out for the Palestinian Authority Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

A worrying trend from the Palestinian Diaspora has infiltrated the PA leadership - the idea of cutting ties and cooperation with Israel. This has manifested itself both as an attempt to boycott Israel and thus cut economic and social ties, as well as eschewing negotiations in favour of a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.

Updates

Creativity and realism required for success in Middle East talks Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

YESTERDAY in Washington, President Barack Obama formally launched the resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians after a 19-month hiatus. International expectations for the talks are low because there appear to be a number of factors that make peace breakthroughs seem unlikely. Yet other factors offer room for cautious optimism for modest progress.

Broken dreams in the promised land Author: Bren Carlill Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

EHUD Barak and Yasser Arafat, smiling broadly, jostled before the world's cameras to see who could enter the door last. It was Camp David, the US presidential retreat in Maryland, and the world waited as the Israeli and Palestinian leaders attempted to conclude a permanent peace agreement. This weekend marks 10 years since those talks ended in failure, and when measured against the thousands of lives since needlessly lost, it's hard to remember that people were actually hopeful about their success.

How to Support - and Improve - Israel Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: America, Australasia, International Jewry, Israel, Op-eds    

Julie Szego's column entitled "The Need for a Critical Diaspora" (July 2) placed entirely too much uncritical faith in the arguments of American author and journalist Peter Beinart. She fails to take adequate account of the outcome of the intense and interesting debate that has ensued in America since Beinart's essay, "The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment" was first published in mid-May. In particular, Szego seems unaware that critics have shows that much of the empirical basis of Beinart's key claim is just plain factually wrong.

The Truth about Gaza... and its wider significance Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Middle East, Op-eds, Palestinians    

The tragic events of May 31 - when 9 Turkish blockade runners were killed in a clash with Israeli troops at sea - has focused attention on the current situation in Gaza. Unfortunately, much that is being said about the history and current reality of that unhappy territory is poorly informed. Crowded, resource-poor Gaza has never been a particularly pleasant place to live. Slated to be part of a Palestinian state under the 1947 UN partition plan, when the Arab states followed up their rejection of the plan with a military attack, Gaza ended up under neglectful Egyptian military rule. When Israel captured it in the 1967 war, the area was dirt poor, with unemployment topping 40%, and average GDP per capita around US$150 per year.

Of Blockades and Blockheads Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Why are supposed human rights activists so quick to attack Israel but never make a squeak against the anti-peace Hamas regime that persecutes women, Christians and homosexuals? Why does the Gaza flotilla bloodshed automatically cancel out the moral and legal imperative of maintaining Israel and Egypt's blockade of the Hamas-ruled Strip? These are the two questions that must be answered by those seeking to rollback the internationally sanctioned blockade of the Gaza Strip of materiel that can be used for military purposes. Fuel, medicines, gas, electricity and food have never stopped flowing into Gaza.

Blockade will end when Hamas wants peace Author: Bren Carlill Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

If Israel is forced to lift the blockade, the unintended result will be the death of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. If Hamas "beats" Israel and successfully arms like Hezbollah, ordinary Palestinians will believe violence (the Hamas path) is better than negotiations (the Fatah path). Fatah will either collapse or return to wholesale violence, putting peace efforts back 30 years.

Flotilla sailed for confrontation, not for aid Author: Bren Carlill Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Israel told flotilla organisers the aid could be transferred across the Gaza-Israel land border. (It still will be.) The flotilla could also have co-operated with Egypt or the UN in order to help Palestinians, but refused to do so. Helping Palestinians wasn't its goal, confronting Israel was.

Tales of violence on the high seas lack context

Tales of violence on the high seas lack context Author: Lauren Jones Categories: Islamic Extremism, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, Turkey    

That five of the six boats were taken peaceably indicates that Israel never intended to harm any civilians. Israel was wise enough to film the incident, thereby providing irrefutable evidence that its soldiers were attacked first, and acted in self defence. Fortunately, the violence was confined to one boat and the aid on board the flotilla will reach Gaza in one piece.

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White paper should tackle terrorist television Author: Bren Carlill Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Media/ Academia, Op-eds, Terrorism    

Concern about domestic radicalisation and home-grown terrorism is a big part of the government's white paper on counter-terrorism released last week. So why haven't successive governments banned Hezbollah's television station, al-Manar, from screening in Australia? After all, al-Manar is all about radicalising its viewers.

The legacy of a true friend Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Asia, Israel, Op-eds    

Almost uniquely among Muslim leaders and the heads of Muslim states, Wahid was not reticent about his friendship for Israel and his close ties and desire for even closer ones with the Jewish people.

Time's Up for Iran Sanctions Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

If anyone still had any doubts about Iran's nuclear intentions, these should have been dispelled by last week's revelations in The Times of documents showing Iran experimented with neutron trigger technology. Such technology can only be used in nuclear weaponry.

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Hope of peace in Gaza remains Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: America, Israel, Op-eds    

Is the new Netanyahu Government likely to be headed for a major confrontation with the Obama Administration? The argument often made is that while Barack Obama will push hard for Israeli-Palestinian progress, the supposedly "hard-line" Netanyahu Government does not even support a two-state resolution to the conflict.

Khatami is just as rigid as the rest Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Antisemitism, Iran, Op-eds    

What credibility can Khatami maintain in calling for a dialogue of civilisations when he excludes Israel and Israelis? Or when he argues there is no anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, when under his presidency Iran became a sanctuary for Holocaust revisionists?

Poor Advice Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Op-eds, Palestinians    

In a March 9 Age piece, the ANU's Amin Saikal took it upon himself to advise Barak Obama on Middle East policy. He claimed the Bush Administration's policy had "denied Hamas its right to exercise power as the democratic choice of the Palestinian people." This is untrue.

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Wild and Woollacott Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Op-eds, Palestinians    

A review by Guardian writer Martin Woollacott of Patrick Tyler's book A World of Trouble: America in the Middle East appeared in the "Panorama" section of the February 14 Canberra Times. Tyler strongly criticises US actions in the Middle East and Woollacott, a long time critic of Israel, strongly agrees.

Israel's centrist ground Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds    

Despite campaign rhetoric from all sides, the close result and large number of late deciders demonstrates that there is a lack of clear ideological or policy distinctions between the main parties. A wide consensus has developed in Israeli politics and public opinion on the desirability of a two-state resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

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Iran's the winner if ceasefire fails Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Op-eds, Palestinians    

This latest fighting was part of the region-wide struggle between moderate Arab states on the one side, and Iran and its terrorist proxies on the other. A successful military operation against Hamas, followed by an effective ceasefire, will set back Tehran's regional ambitions and attempts to destabilise the region, and help prospects for a two-state resolution to the conflict.

Hypocrisy and the war in Gaza Author: Bren Carlill Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

There has been a lot of hypocrisy in commentary about the current Hamas-Israeli violence. About 700 Palestinians - mostly Hamas combatants - have died since December 27, which is when most people think this conflict started. More people than that died in a shorter period of time when violence flared in Congo late last year. Where was the blanket coverage or the mass rallies? Are the Congolese less important than Palestinians?

Hamas has absolutely no interest in peace Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Much attention will surely be focused on the tragic incident at the school in Jabaliya, Gaza, which was caused when Israeli forces responded to Hamas mortars being fired from there. But we cannot lose sight of the historical realities that remain important to understanding the current fighting and possible ways forward.

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Gaza: The case for Israel Author: Bren Carlill Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

In warfare, as at any time, civilian deaths are horrible. That some innocent Palestinians have died in recent days in Gaza is tragic, but the blame must be laid fairly and squarely at the feet of Hamas.

Intelligent, politically skilled lady rises in Israel Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds    

A lawyer by training, Livni represents a fresh and promising face in Israeli politics. Importantly, she is untainted by any hint of corruption and her integrity is viewed as an important asset. This should allow her the opportunity to turn the page on the political and personal scandals of the recent past...

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Cast out terror TV Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Lebanon, Media/ Academia, Op-eds, Syria, Terrorism    

HEZBOLLAH'S terrorist television station is once again being beamed into Australia. Al-Manar, translated as "the beacon", has been called more accurately a beacon of hatred and violence. It is to be hoped that the Rudd Government and the Australian Communications and Media Authority are doing everything in their power to block the station.

Preventing a nuclear-armed Iran is the issue Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Op-eds    

IN the nuclear crisis with Iran, the focus of the international community must be to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state, full stop. It is cavalier and dangerous to assume that we can "manage" the threats from a nuclear armed Iran by strategies such as deterrence.

Don't downplay the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

THERE is international consensus that Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions pose a real and significant threat. Since 2003, the UN Security Council has passed three legally binding resolutions calling on Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, while Britain, France and Germany have led negotiations with Iran to bring a halt to its nuclear program.

Myth busting Author: Bren Carlill Categories: Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Op-eds, Palestinians    

It's time to debunk some myths. Israel did not replace or destroy any country. It did not prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. The Palestinian refugee crisis occurred because of the actions of Palestinian and other Arab fighters.

Hard-nosed leader goes soft on Hamas Author: Mark Leibler Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

MALCOLM Fraser's opinion piece in last Saturday's Age was marred by contradictions, factual errors and a naivete about world events inconsistent with the hard-nosed, realistic prime minister I knew in the 1970s and '80s.

Mr Fraser implied that the problem in the Middle East is principally Israeli settlement building, and the main solution is direct Israeli talks with Hamas.

Yet Israel is not building any new West Bank settlements, and has not for many years. The current controversy involves a few hundred apartments within a few existing settlements, taking no additional land. It is absurd to see these few homes as the principal roadblock. After all, Israel withdrew all settlements from Gaza in 2005 and has been rewarded with rocket attacks.

 

Refugee return a poser for Israel Author: Adam Frey Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Conventional wisdom holds that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict now is primarily a matter of borders and "occupation". But as Israelis celebrate their Independence Day and Palestinians' prepare to mourn their naqba ("catastrophe"), it's clear that the shadow of 1948 looms as large as that from 1967.

The time for peace has come Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Next week, Israel will mark the 60th anniversary of its founding. Israel's story in that time has been an amazing and inspiring one, a fact too often forgotten in the debate over terrorism and violence, peace plans and peace processes, accusation and counter-accusation.

Revitalising Multiculturalism under Rudd Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, International Jewry, Op-eds    

Australian Multiculturalism... has been official bipartisan policy, federal and state, for more than 30 years and has helped create and sustain what is one of the most successful multi-ethnic, tolerant, democratic societies in the world. It contributes effectively to our social cohesion, economic prospects and positive profile in our region and beyond.

Much to celebrate in Israel's 60 years Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds    

As recognised in last week's bi-partisan federal parliametnary motion introduced by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Israel's story over the last 60 years has been an amazing and inspiring one. Unfortunately, Israel's critics have used its conflict with the Palestinians to cast doubt on the legitimacy of efforts to celebrate Israel's 60th birthday.

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Terrorism remains the problem Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, Terrorism    

LATE on Thursday night a Palestinian terrorist killed eight Jewish students and wounded 11 others when he unleashed a hail of bullets inside a religious school in Jerusalem. It is the worst terrorist attack in a major Israel city in two years.

No value in blaming only Israel for Middle East problems Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

In the wake of the visit by US President George W. Bush to the Middle East, we have seen many opinion pieces critical of Israel and the United States. Writers such as Jonathan Steele may believe writing pieces like "Pointless flight of a lame-duck President" (Canberra Times, January 14, p9) contributes to Middle East peace. However, by apportioning the blame for the conflict solely to one side Israel they are achieving the exact opposite.

The Sounds of Hate Author: Allon Lee Categories: Antisemitism, Europe, Far Right, Islamic Extremism, Op-eds    

The concern over controversial Croatian rock musician Marko Perkovic’s upcoming Australian tour may surprise some but it is understandable because of the serious allegations surrounding him. Overseas reports claim Perkovic, 42, is openly sympathetic to the World War Two Nazi-collaborationist Ustashe regime, which sent thousands of Jews, gypsies and Serbs to their deaths.

Annapolis critics ignore genuine peace efforts Author: Adam Frey Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

At last month's Annapolis peace conference - attended by more than 40 countries, including 16 members of the Arab League - Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) successfully renewed peace negotiations after years of inactivity. Apparently that is not enough for Antony Loewenstein and Michael Shaik, who labeled the new process a complete failure before the first working groups are even scheduled to meet.

Updates

Nukes or not, Iran remains a threat Author: Bren Carlill Categories: America, Iran, Op-eds    

AMERICAN intelligence agencies believe Iran has halted its nuclear weapons program. Since an Iranian nuclear bomb would risk destabilising the entire Middle East, this sounds like great news. But it's worth looking beyond the headlines.

Chance for Peace Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

THE Annapolis peace conference in the United States marked a hopeful start to a renewed negotiating process between Israel and the Palestinians. Now that Israel and the Palestinians have committed themselves to a two-track process, the tough part begins.

Annapolis: The Devil's in the Details Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

The Annapolis peace conference marked a hopeful start to a renewed negotiating process between Israel and the Palestinians. All of the parties said the right things, and the presence of many moderate Arab and Muslim states at the conference was a welcomed development. And as hard as it was to get everyone to Annapolis in the first place, now the tough part really begins.

Howard's achievements, Rudd's promise Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Op-eds    

The new Rudd Government gives every indication of not only seeking to match, but if possible, even improve on the excellent record of the Howard Government in terms of both willingness to act on Jewish domestic concerns and also Australia's support for Israel's security and peacemaking efforts.

Slow steps to solve Arab-Israeli conflict Author: Bren Carlill Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

The history of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is littered with the corpses of failed talks or quickly failed agreements. They failed, by and large, because adequate preparation wasn’t made in the lead-up to talks or implementation of agreements.

That road does not lead to peace Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

VISITING British-Palestinian intellectual Ghada Karmi referred frequently to Middle East peace in her recent article, ("Israel's power is roadblock to peace in the Middle East", The Age Opinion, 10/10) but also perfectly illustrated one reason why achieving a viable and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace has been so hard.

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Six Days and Forty Years Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Forty years ago this week, Israel scored a stunning six-day military victory against its Arab neighbours. Today, too many remember this event primarily as the start of Israel's "occupation" of Arab land, which is seen as the "root cause" of all subsequent Middle Eastern problems.

Jews portrayed as guilty – again Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Israel, Op-eds    

Forget setting aspirational targets for cutting greenhouse gases. And stop pointing the finger at China and America as the main stumbling blocks for a climate change treaty. Because, according to a prominent British MP, it's actually cold-hearted Israel that's to blame for global warming.

Hold firm over Hamas Author: Bren Carlill Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

THE Palestinian factions have finally agreed to implement the Mecca Accord, which they signed in February. A unity government will be formed within days... Time to stop the boycott, right? Wrong.

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Moderates must not become apologists for radical Islam Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, International Jewry, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Op-eds    

THE Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) cancelled our planned participation in the program of Israeli professor Raphael Israeli after his controversial remarks about Muslim immigration and communities. Characterising Muslim communities as a threat or danger per se is a sentiment we reject and with which we do not wish to be associated.

Terrorism Teheran Style Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: International Jewry, Iran, Op-eds, Terrorism    

YOU know it's not business as usual when prosecutors from one country file a criminal indictment against another country's head of state. But that's precisely what happened late last year when Argentine authorities laid terrorism charges against former Iranian president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani.

The barriers to peace in Middle East Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Op-eds, Palestinians, Syria    

The resurgence of internal Palestinian conflict in recent days sheds some light on the assertion advanced again by the report of the Iraq Study Group in Washington. This claim is that the Israeli/Palestinian question is the "core" of the problems radiating out of the Middle East. Everyone of goodwill wants Israeli-Palestinian peace as quickly as possible. However, the belief that it is the key to the region's problems is not only incorrect, it is counter productive.

Too high a price for peace Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: America, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Op-eds, Syria    

The bipartisan Iraq Survey Group report to US President George Bush makes some reasonable if unsurprising recommendations about military strategy in Iraq, but also two recommendations about wider Middle Eastern policy that are fundamentally flawed.

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Arabs Must Take Some Responsibility Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: Islamic Extremism, Israel, Middle East, Op-eds, Palestinians    

It all comes down to Israel?s occupation of the West Bank. At least that?s what one of the dominant mantras on Middle East politics would have you believe. Former US Secretary of State James Baker made that argument just this last week in Washington. The much anticipated report of Baker?s Iraq Study Group declared: ?the United States cannot achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict.?

Multiculturalism is still the way to go Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, International Jewry, Islamic Extremism, Op-eds    

MULTICULTURALISM has been official bipartisan policy, federal and state, for more than 25 years. It has helped create and sustain what is arguably one of the most successful multi-ethnic, tolerant democratic societies in the world, and is vital for our social cohesion, economic prospects and positive profile in our region and beyond.

The problem of squaring a circle Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Lebanon, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Both Israel and Palestinian politics are currently in a state of flux. The conduct and consequences of the war against Hizbollah have seen a very intense debate in Israel. The future of the current ruling coalition, elected in May, is meanwhile very much up in the air. Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced a couple of weeks ago agreement on the imminent formation of a new Fatah-Hamas unity government. However, continuing disagreements over the government's platform have left him unable to bring it to fruition so far.

Corrupt regimes are the source of extremism and terrorism Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Op-eds, Terrorism    

After five years, we have avoided some of our worst post-9/11 fears. We have seen Bali, Madrid, London, Mumbai, and many smaller attacks by terrorists driven by the same Islamist totalitarian ideology that inspired the September 11 atrocities. But despite some attempts, there has been no successful attack on a similar scale since then. Moreover, the nightmare scenario - a terrorist attack on a major Western city with non-conventional weapons - has not come to pass.

Hezbollah's new battle at home Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: Israel, Lebanon, Op-eds, Syria    

IF LOVE means never having to say you're sorry, that principle should apply with redoubled force when the emotion in question is hate. So when Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah publicly apologised for igniting the recent Lebanese conflict, his boasts of victory over Israel began to ring a tad hollow.

How to stop another war Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Op-eds, Syria    

WITH the smoke still clearing from Lebanon and northern Israel, the crucial question is whether the post-war resolution will remove the sources of the violence. Otherwise, the world will witness a similar round of conflict in another few months or years, with all the suffering that will entail.

Al Jazeera comes to Australia Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Op-eds    

So will Al Jazeera give Australians a new perspective on the Middle East? Joining us now in Sydney to discuss this is Media analyst Dr Adel Iskander who is visiting from the American University in Washington to talk about his latest book, one of the first studies of Al Jazeera, "How the Arab News Network Scooped the World and Changed the Middle East". Also in Sydney, Dr Colin Rubinstein from the Australia-Israel Jewish Affairs Committee, who has been critical of Al Jazeera saying it maintains a consistent anti-Israeli bias in its broadcasts.

A good resolution, but can it be put into lasting effect? Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Op-eds, Syria    

THE principles enunciated in UN Security Council Resolution 1701 on Lebanon, passed on Friday, are a positive step towards a sustainable end to the bloody conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. The overarching problem, unfortunately, is that this resolution appears to lack adequate mechanisms to implement those principles.

Hezbollah stands in way of peace Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Op-eds, Syria    

When the Hezbollah-Israel war began in mid-July, many in the Arab world made some startling comments. "The operations of Israel in Gaza and Lebanon are in the interest of people of Arab countries and the international community," wrote the editor of the Kuwaiti Arab Times. Milder statements in the same vein - blaming Hezbollah for the violence - came from across the Arab world, including the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

Just the facts, Maam Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Media/ Academia, Op-eds    

The proposition that political argument should be built on an accurate factual foundation is neither revolutionary nor controversial. Or so I thought. But Melbourne University Publishing's (MUP) Louise Adler seems to think that factual exactitude is a secondary issue where anti-Israel polemics are concerned. She sidesteps any real mention of the inaccuracies that pervade Loewenstein?s work, dismissing any such complaints as mere manifestations of a malign Zionist conspiracy to demean his book. But in retrospect, Adler's lack of critical judgement on Israel-related topics should come as no surprise.

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War as an extension of politics Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Op-eds, Syria    

General Patton once observed that you don't win wars by dying for your country; you win them by making the other poor bastard die for his. But Hezbollah has turned that pearl of military wisdom on its head. These jihadists are trying to defeat Israel, not by killing Jews, but by engineering a slaughter of the Lebanese populace.

Antony Loewenstein's Reign of Error Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Media/ Academia, Op-eds    

After only a week on the bookstore shelves, it seems that Antony Loewenstein's My Israel Question is undergoing a second print run. This might indicate that the book is going like hotcakes. But according to Neilsen?s Bookscan, which keeps tabs on book sales nationwide, only 318 copies were sold during that period.

Want Mideast Peace? Get the right ceasefire in Lebanon Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Op-eds, Syria    

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, "I genuinely believe the outcome of the present [conflict] and the emergence of a new order that will provide more stability, will help create the necessary environment that will allow me ... to create a new momentum between us and the Palestinians." He added, "We want to separate from the Palestinians. I'm ready to do it." The connection between the conflict in Lebanon and Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations may not seem obvious, but Olmert is right. So it is absolutely crucial that any ceasefire in Lebanon does more than simply halt the immediate bloodshed.

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Autonomy key to peace in Lebanon Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Op-eds, Syria, Terrorism    

IN AN extraordinary statement, the editor of a Kuwaiti newspaper, the Arab Times, argued last week that ``the operations of Israel in Gaza and Lebanon are in the interest of people of Arab countries and the international community''. Milder statements in the same vein, blaming Hezbollah for the violence, have come from across the Arab world, including the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

Bloodbath blurs war truths Author: Bren Carlill Categories: Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Multimedia, Op-eds, Palestinians, Syria    

Amidst the front-page photos of bleeding children, it?s difficult to find clarity regarding the conflict raging in Israel and Lebanon. We all know the spark that set the region alight ? an unprovoked Hizbollah kidnapping of Israeli soldiers under the cover of missiles fired at Israeli cities. This was preceded by a Hamas-led attack from Gaza, which also involved kidnapping and rockets fired. The depressing sight of dead and injured civilians has since helped blur the reasons behind the violence.

Pro-Israel lobby: helping or hindering policy making? Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Iraq, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Op-eds, Palestinians    

TONY JONES: Well, to discuss the role of the pro-Israel lobby and its degree of influence and whether it exists here in the same way as the US, we're joined now by Ted Lapkin, director of policy analysis at the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council. He's in our Melbourne studio. And with me in Sydney is the author of My Israel Question, Antony Loewenstein.

Morally right to kill threats Author: Bren Carlill Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, Terrorism    

THE Arab-Israeli conflict rolls on, confusing as ever. Earlier this month Australian newspapers reported an impending reconciliation referendum for the Palestinian population. But after a family was killed last week on a Gaza beach, apparently by a Hamas mine (though Israel was blamed), the terrorist organisation cancelled a 15-month unilateral ceasefire and resumed attacks against Israel.

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Brewing calamity Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Op-eds    

"The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence." Sound familiar? But these are not the genocidal rantings of crisis-present uttered by Iran's Jew-hater in chief, President Mahmoud Ahmadinajad.

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Israeli politics swings to the centre Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

A WISE man once counselled me to avoid the business of making predictions -- especially if they had anything to do with the future. And as the dust begins to settle from Israel's parliamentary elections, enough surprises have emerged to validate the wisdom of that advice.

Missed chance to right wrongs Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: International Security, Middle East, Op-eds    

IT was a typical UN decision: a triumph of style over substance that aggravates the problem rather than improves it. Last week, the UN voted to abolish its scandal-scarred Commission on Human Rights. But the Human Rights Council created as an alternative constitutes a cure that is worse than the original disease.

Everything but the truth Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, Terrorism    

Last December, I received an invitation to attend a free preview screening of Steven Spielberg's new film, Munich. My shorthand reaction to the movie is that it was worth every penny that I paid to see it. But given Spielberg's moral ambitions for this flick, as well as the splash it is making in the media, I suppose that it deserves something more than mere flippancy and sarcasm.

Shock of Sharon Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds    

IT is still unclear whether Ariel Sharon will survive the serious stroke he suffered, but his life as Israel's Prime Minister would seem to be over.

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Israel's democracy can pass this test Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: Israel, Op-eds    

TOTAL confusion. Only such a phrase can aptly describe the political impact of Ariel Sharon's health crisis. The Israeli Prime Minister's collapse from a massive cerebral haemorrhage injects tremendous uncertainty into a political system that is approaching a general election.