Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Media Week - BDS is anti-peace; Worrying findings; Sandstorm on the horizon?

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BDS is anti-peace

In the Australian (25/5) academic Philip Mendes analysed the conceptual and practical flaws underpinning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement noting that it "is a by-product of the second Palestinian intifada and the collapse of the Oslo peace process.... It is essentially war by other means...and intended to coerce Israel into surrendering to Palestinian demands".

The leading Palestinian BDS advocate, Omar Barghouti, advocates the old PLO demand for "a secular democratic state that recognises Jews only as a religious, not national, community".

The BDS campaign's major drawback, Mendes suggested, "is that it offers no strategy for promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace and reconciliation...it is a negative and one-sided campaign aimed at demonising Israeli Jews."

Worrying findings

Writing in the Canberra Times (21/5), ACT Jewish community president Kim Rubenstein shared the disturbing findings from a new report on ACT antisemitism.
 
"Some Canberra examples reflected deep-seated stereotypes of Jews, with one child reporting: ''They threw down some money and I picked it up and they said I passed the Jew test.''... of great concern is the insensitivity and ignorance in relation to Jewish religious and cultural needs... The Jewish children constantly were on the defensive explaining why they don't eat pork.... at Christmas time... I often explain... I celebrate Chanukah...the moment is often followed by discomfort and the cultural temperature drops... The problem of respecting Jewish religious rites was particularly pronounced when it came to chapel attendance at the church schools."

Sandstorm on the horizon?

Heba Morayef, a Human Rights Watch chief researcher, told Lateline (24/5) that Egyptian presidential candidates "want to renegotiate the parts of the Camp David treaty that limit Egyptian military deployment in Sinai because they see this as an inability - as a sovereignty issue. So I think we will see, at least in terms of Camp David, no military confrontation, but definitely a much more pro-Palestinian foreign policy from the Egyptian side. I think a change in Egypt's policy towards Gaza of course because Egypt was fully participating in the humanitarian blockade against Gaza and a different relationship with Hamas moving forward."

Whilst it is refreshing that a Human Rights Watch spokesperson acknowledges the Egyptian support for the Gaza blockade, it is false to suggest it is a "humanitarian blockade". It was aimed at limiting imports with the potential for military purposes - humanitarian goods including fuel, food and medicines were always allowed into Gaza. 

The Australian's (26/5) Greg Sheridan painted a gloomy outlook for Egyptian-Israeli relations whichever candidate wins the Egyptian presidency pointing out that "all the credible candidates except Shafiq want it fundamentally renegotiated and spout vitriolic anti-Israel and anti-Western rhetoric". A credible Pew poll shows "that about two-thirds of Egyptians want sharia law, a similar number regard Israel as an enemy, vastly more Egyptians would prefer a Saudi-style government system to the pluralist democracy of Turkey" [and] deep Egyptian hostility to the US".

Sheridan blamed deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who "deployed paranoid extremism and a focus on imaginary external enemies - the hidden hand of Zionists and the West - and a certain licensed Islamic hatred of other cultures, as the legitimising state ideology."

- Allon Lee

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