Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

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Messages of support for Australia from Israel

Messages of support for Australia from Israel Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Terrorism, Updates    

Australia has received condolences from around the world, including from Israelis, who deeply understand the pain and tragedy of terrorist attacks.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, "I would like to send my condolences to Australian PM Tony Abbott and to the Australian people over the loss of innocent life" and added, "International Islamic terrorism knows no borders; therefore, the struggle against it must be global."


The Media and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict/Implications of the death of Ziad Abu Ein

The Media and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict/Implications of the death of Ziad Abu Ein Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update features a major new article from veteran journalist Matti Friedman - who worked for more than five years for the Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press - on the sources of media mistakes and incomplete or slanted reporting on Israeli-Palestinian issues. Following up on an earlier piece on the biases and prejudices he witnessed there, he paints a larger picture of an international press corps in Israel which forms a distinct subculture "a certain uniformity of attitude, behavior, and even dress" and this subculture insists the Israel story is "a story of Jewish moral failure" and nothing should be published which detracts from this view.

Evidence mounts that Hamas is profiting from aid being sent to rebuild Gaza
Image tweeted by Hazem Balousha

Evidence mounts that Hamas is profiting from aid being sent to rebuild Gaza Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Foreign donors have pledged around US$5.4 billion for the reconstruction in the Gaza Strip. Yet Hamas still controls the Strip, and therefore has control over the supplies that come into Gaza. Many are concerned that the cement and other building supplies that Gaza receives for its reconstruction will again be diverted to enable Hamas to restore its tunnels that are built to smuggle goods/weapons, and to attack Israelis. Raising new alarm bells are reports that Hamas is stealing medicines and taxing all goods that enter Gaza

Letter to The Age/SMH: Home demolitions Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

In Australia, a major purpose for imposing lengthy jail terms is to deter would-be criminals. But what if the would-be perpetrator intended to die in their attack, in the belief that they would go straight to paradise? What if they murdered in the knowledge they would become a hero in their community, they may even have streets named after them, and their family would be exceedingly generously compensated for their loss?

Not Child's Play: The role of teens in recent Palestinian unrest
Example of current incitement against Israel.

Not Child's Play: The role of teens in recent Palestinian unrest Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Israel, Media/ Academia, NGOs, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Over the past few years some in the media, most notably the Australian's Middle East correspondent John Lyons, have waged a high profile campaign accusing Israel of arresting, intimidating, harassing, and imprisoning hundreds of innocent Palestinian children each year, presumably for non-existent or minor crimes.

Yet, a series of reports, looking at violent protests in Jerusalem over the past few months is offering clear evidence they are primarily the handiwork of hundreds of teens, some as young as 12, from five or six Palestinian neighbourhoods. Moreover, this clearly shows a well-organised campaign of Palestinian minors being recruited, incited or serving in the front lines of conflict with Israel.

Israel has always been a “Jewish State” - and there is nothing unusual or undemocratic about that

Israel has always been a “Jewish State” - and there is nothing unusual or undemocratic about that Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Updates    

The debate over Israel's controversial nation-state bill has ignited commentary regarding the legitimacy of Israel being both a Jewish and democratic state. A common argument being made is that Israel defining itself as either a Jewish State, or in the words of Cabinet decision "The nation-state of the Jewish people" is inherently undemocratic or even racist - and the consideration of this bill proves Israel is becoming an undemocratic society. However, the reality is that since its inception Israel has been defined as both a democratic and Jewish State, according to both Israeli law and international law.

UNRWA employees incite terrorism - while their salaries are paid by Western donors

UNRWA employees incite terrorism - while their salaries are paid by Western donors Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Following recent terror attacks in Israel including the brutal murder of five people at a Har Nof synagogue in west Jerusalem, attention has been drawn to Palestinian incitement that includes fabrications, such as that the al Aqsa Mosque is under threat of Jewish "desecration" (see previous blog post). Many may be surprised to hear that even more extreme incitement is coming from several staff members, some in influential roles, who work at a UN agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, an organisation funded by Western countries including Australia.

Israel's controversial proposal for a "Basic Law: Israel– the National State of the Jewish People"

Israel's controversial proposal for a "Basic Law: Israel– the National State of the Jewish People" Categories: Israel, Updates    

Much is being written about a controversial Israeli cabinet decision on Sunday to send to the Knesset a "Basic Law" - that is a special law with constitutional status in Israel - that will enshrine into law Israel's existing identity as the "nation-state of the Jewish people." (A first vote on the bill in Israel's Knesset is now scheduled for next Wednesday) Moreover, much of what is being written, both in Israel and internationally, including in Australia, appears to be riddled with factual inaccuracies  and contradictions about key elements of the proposal. This Update is intended to provide background and analysis on what the cabinet decision actually means, the history of the proposal, and why there are both strong supporters and strong opponents of it in Israel. 

Dr. Jonathan Spyer to speak in Sydney and Melbourne

Dr. Jonathan Spyer to speak in Sydney and Melbourne Categories: Events    

AIJAC is proud to present two speaking appearances by Dr. Jonathan Spyer, Middle East analyst, author and journalist specialising in Israel, Lebanon and Syria; a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Centre in Israel; and Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

The Last word: Violence and Silence

The Last word: Violence and Silence Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

Since October 1989, I have maintained a database of anti-Jewish incidents of "racist violence", using the definition produced by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, which began its database in 2013 and has released the results of its first year-to-year comparison, noted increased reports of antisemitic assault, telephone calls, graffiti and miscellaneous activity and decreases in street harassment and abusive emails. The ECAJ noted an overall increase of 35% from 2013 to 2014, which is consistent with the data I have drawn from wider sources.

Media Microscope: Carr-nivale Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

On November 8, the Australian ran an op-ed from former Foreign Minister Bob Carr announcing his new role as patron of the Labor Friends of Palestine, wherein he argued, ad nauseum, that Israel is becoming apartheid-like and that settlements are what is preventing a two-state solution.

Spouting arrant nonsense, Carr claimed that, "settlements have doubled in the past 54 months alone."

Essay: Evil without Banality

Essay: Evil without Banality Author: Saul Austerlitz Categories: Holocaust/ War Crimes    

In 2006, a prominent Israeli psychiatrist named Dr. Nathaniel Laor received a telephone call from American real estate mogul and philanthropist Leon Charney. Laor, a professor at both Tel Aviv University and at Yale's Child Study Centre, was told that a friend of Charney's knew a man who had come into possession of a remarkable trove of papers... A near-complete record of the personal life of one of the most infamous Nazi war criminals had been in the State of Israel, unbeknownst to anyone, for decades.

Jerusalem syndrome

Jerusalem syndrome Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

The Temple Mount, arguably monotheism's most active volcano, is smoking again.

The hilltop where a universalistic King Solomon built, as he saw it, a shrine whose tenant would be God and whose pilgrims would be "all the people of the world," returned in October to its more familiar role as a source of division - witnessing and also igniting violence, agony, and strife.

After Obama

After Obama Author: Robert Satloff Categories: America, Iran, Israel, Middle East    

Even God, it seems, is tired of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute - and the never-ending standoff between US President Barack Obama and Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu. When a third intifada threatened to erupt recently following Israel's temporary closure of Muslim prayer at the al-Aqsa Mosque in response to stone-throwing against Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall below, Palestinian leaders called for a "day of rage," and Israel dispatched more than 1,000 riot police to prepare for the worst.

Faction and Fiction in Iran negotiations

Faction and Fiction in Iran negotiations Author: Michael Rubin Categories: International Security, Iran    

In 1998, against the backdrop of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's "Dialogue of Civilisations," there was great optimism about the potential for a thaw in US-Iranian relations among many of the same circles that express it now. And then, just as now, some in the US business community wanted to rush into the Iranian market, figuring all that was left for some sort of grand rapprochement was to dot the i's and cross the t's. It was against this backdrop that a group of American businessmen, travelling at the invitation of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, flew to Teheran in order to combine meetings with tourism.

Deal or No Deal?

Deal or No Deal? Author: Lenny Ben-David Categories: International Security, Iran    

November 24 is seen as a critical date in the negotiations between Iran and UN Security Council's permanent members (the "P5+1" the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China plus Germany) on the fates of Iran's nuclear enterprise and the economic sanctions imposed on the recalcitrant and bellicose Islamic Republic.

Despite Vice President Biden's resolute vow to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program, Iranian leaders adamantly pledge to maintain their rogue efforts. 


Editorial: The Eleventh Hour Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran    

As this edition of the Australia/Israel Review went to press, negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran over Iran's nuclear program were continuing in Vienna ahead of a November 24 deadline, with little sign that a deal is imminent - certainly not one that would end the program altogether and dismantle Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile infrastructure.

It is nearly impossible to overstate the seriousness of the situation. 

Revival of demolitions as terror deterrent sparks Israeli debate

Revival of demolitions as terror deterrent sparks Israeli debate Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The Israeli government's decision to demolish the homes of terrorists involved in the recent spate of terror attacks has been strongly criticised in the media.

Opinion on the policy is sharply divided in Israel, and it's true - as many journalists including the Australian Financial Review's Tony Walker here in Australia have noted - that in 2005, then-Chief of Staff (today Defence Minister) Moshe Ya'alon advised then-Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz to end the practice, after a committee established to evaluate the practice concluded that, in the words of Jerusalem Post reporter Margot Dudkevitch "failed to serve as a deterrent."

However, what most international journalists, including Walker, have failed to mention is that the report was not terribly conclusive. The committee actually did find that it worked in some cases - though it was believed its effectiveness was cancelled out by the resentment the policy spawned among other Palestinians.

The Jerusalem tinderbox in the wake of the Har Nof attack

The Jerusalem tinderbox in the wake of the Har Nof attack Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Much is being written about the potentially explosive situation in Jerusalem in the wake of the bloody synagogue terror attack in the west Jerusalem neighbourhood of Har Nof on Tuesday, which left four rabbis and a Druze policeman dead. This Update features some particularly insightful contributions.

The first comes from noted Israeli author and intellectual Yossi Klein Halevi (who recently visited Australia). Halevi begins by comparing the reaction to the latest attack - cheered by large segments of Palestinian society - with the reaction in Israel to the comparable actions of the Jewish mass murderer Baruch Goldstein...