Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Australasia

YOU ARE IN: Home Page > Topics > Australasia

Media Microscope: "F" for Fairfax Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

The perception that Fairfax's metropolitan newspapers and associated websites were glaringly biased against Israel over the course of the Gaza war to date has left many of their pro-Israel readers annoyed.

A significant factor in this irritiation was the reporting of Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard, whose work appeared to focus largely on civilian deaths and injuries in Gaza, frequently seemed to suggest that most were deliberate, and appeared to uncritically accept Palestinian statistics and claims when reporting.

The Last Word: Health Report

The Last Word: Health Report Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

When Sheikh Tajeddine El Hilaly delivered a public address in Sydney in 1988 accusing Jews of unimaginable evils, responses came loudly and clearly. Government leaders, senior bureaucrats, journalists and religious figures had no hesitation in declaring his speech repulsive, repugnant and unacceptable.

While he had his apologists, better known for their antagonism towards Jews than for their concern with the reputation or welfare of Muslims, the overwhelming reaction was to assert that he had embarrassed himself and his office as a religious leader.

AIR
AIJAC response to the Canberra Declaration on Gaza

AIJAC response to the Canberra Declaration on Gaza Author: AIJAC Categories: Australasia, Documents, Israel, Media Releases, Middle East, Palestinians, Terrorism, United Nations    

71 current and five former members of Australian Federal and State parliaments, mostly Labor and Greens, but also Malcolm Fraser and some independents, have signed what they call the "Canberra Declaration on Gaza" (the Declaration), calling on "all Australian politicians to condemn the ongoing Israeli military bombardment and invasion of Gaza."

A link to the Declaration is here. The Declaration reflects a one-sided and misguided view of the current conflict in Gaza, and of the Israeli/Palestinian situation in general. This document explains why.

Updates
The Last Word: Propagation of Poison

The Last Word: Propagation of Poison Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Europe, Israel    

In a march through Sydney streets which I had the misfortune to encounter, I saw children waving banners which both accused Jews of being as bad as Nazis and implying the Nazis were not so bad after all, observed Greens and Labor Party activists associating with placards and slogans supporting Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, witnessed a Christian clergyman and self-described Jews walking in front of placards asserting that Islam will one day triumph over all non-believers and heard vocal calls for an existential battle which would end Jews once and for all.

Editorial: Rhetoric and Reality Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians    

The June 25 announcement by Palestinian delegation to Australia head Izzat Abdulhadi that there would be no trade sanctions imposed by Arab and Muslim countries on Australia over the Government's position of refraining from referring to east Jerusalem as "Occupied" was both anticlimactic and to be expected.

The Last Word: Oy, Jerusalem Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Israel    

Some years ago, I read an article in a major Australian broadsheet which described, in some detail, the alleged nefarious influence I exercised personally, and on behalf of Jewish Australians, over the Parliamentary Labor Party...

Needless to say, the references to me and my lobby were the result of inventions by the columnist, but they evaded fact-checking or even common sense review as they fitted in with a particularly pernicious, but not uncommon, political narrative.

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'.

Australia's Jerusalem stance welcomed in Israel, Washington, mostly ignored in Arab world

Australia's Jerusalem stance welcomed in Israel, Washington, mostly ignored in Arab world Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

Attorney General George Brandis' and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's recent terminological clarification - that the Abbott Government would not refer to east Jerusalem with any pejorative descriptor, and explicitly not "Occupied East Jerusalem" - was welcomed in the Israeli press but drew limited attention elsewhere, including, tellingly, in most Arab and Muslim countries.

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.

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.

AIJAC welcomes government decision to refrain from using word "occupied" in referring to east Jerusalem

AIJAC welcomes government decision to refrain from using word "occupied" in referring to east Jerusalem Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media Releases    

AIJAC today welcomed the Australian Government's decision, announced by Attorney-General George Brandis on Wednesday, to refrain from using the pejorative and unhelpful word "occupied" to refer to east Jerusalem. It called on all sincere supporters of a genuine two-state outcome to likewise support using terminology which does not prejudge the outcome of negotiations and thus encourages compromise and serious diplomatic engagement between the parties.

AIR

Media Microscope: Carr's Ride Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

On balance, most commentators rejected the accusation Bob Carr made in his published diary of his stint as Australian Foreign Minister - alleging that Melbourne's Jewish leadership, in particular AIJAC, exercised an "unhealthy" influence on Prime Minister Julia Gillard regarding Australia's Israel-Palestinian policy.

The Last Word: Source-ry

The Last Word: Source-ry Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Israel    

Reading the reviews and commentaries of the recent publication by the Foreign Minister in the government which was ejected by voters at the 2013 Federal election, then Senator Bob Carr, I note one common assumption seems to be that the writer was telling the truth, or something close to it, in his accounts of meetings, discussions and processes.

Having been personally present at some discussions recounted in the book, and having spoken to quite a number of parliamentarians and others who feature with varying degrees of prominence, I can state with some confidence that the subjective interpretations of events by the former Senator do not accord with the interpretations of just about everyone else in a position to comment.

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.

Updates

Submission on Freedom of Speech (Repeal of S.18C) Bill 2014 Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Media Releases, Monographs/ Submissions    

This document constitutes the submission by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) to Attorney-General George Brandis regarding proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA)...

AIJAC maintains that the provisions of Part IIA of the RDA have worked effectively for nearly 20 years, and that there is not a compelling reason for repeal or wholesale reform. 

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.

Editorial: Upsetting the balance Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia    

For almost two decades, the provisions of Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) have largely been working effectively to balance freedom of speech with protecting Australian citizens against racial vilification.

Unfortunately, as written, the language of the exposure draft of the Freedom of Speech Bill 2014 (FSB) - released by Attorney-General George Brandis on March 25 and intended to replace those provisions of the RDA - threatens to destabilise that delicate balance and roll back the progress that Australia has made in combatting racism and bigotry in our society.

The Last Word: Don't strip away our Rights Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia    

Not one, but three wide-ranging inquiries. Not one, but a body of court cases and judgements. Not one, but hundreds of resolved complaints. But only one, potentially disastrous draft piece of legislation.

The debate over the Federal Government's move to repeal existing laws designed to give victims of racism in Australia some recourse has generated tremendous heat, but little light.

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.

Statement on former Foreign Minister Carr's recent comments Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media Releases    

AIJAC has had good relations with former Foreign Minister Bob Carr over many years and are puzzled and disappointed by his strange claims that Australian foreign policy under the previous government was under the sway of the "extraordinary influence" of a Melbourne based pro-Israel lobby - apparently a reference primarily to AIJAC. It is frankly sad when an elected official imagines that disagreement with their policy position must stem from malicious influences.

An antisemitic answer to the question: How long is a piece of string?

An antisemitic answer to the question: How long is a piece of string? Author: Allon Lee Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, United Kingdom, Updates    

A report last week by Barak Ben-Shem in the Times of Israel analysed an outbreak of antisemitic comments that followed an application by Jews to the local council in the small English town of Bushey, seeking permission to establish an "eruv". It recalled a similar occurrence in the Sydney suburb of St. Ives in 2010.

Palestinian propaganda's "free kick" in Australian Parliament

Palestinian propaganda's "free kick" in Australian Parliament Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

In remarks in federal Parliament on Monday, South Australian MP Tony Zappia, citing an unspecified report, claimed that "two teenage Palestinian soccer players were allegedly shot in the feet [by Israeli troops] to prevent them from ever playing soccer again."
In referencing this incident, Zappia stumbled across one of the most egregious and vile cases of anti-Israel propaganda in recent months, yet one which is most easily disprovable.

Exposure draft of the Freedom of Speech (Repeal of S. 18C) Bill 2014: Initial Analysis

Exposure draft of the Freedom of Speech (Repeal of S. 18C) Bill 2014: Initial Analysis Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Updates    

Federal Attorney-General George Brandis has released an exposure draft of his proposed changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which currently forbids doing an act done because of someone's ethnicity which is reasonably likely to 'offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate' that person, as well as section 18D, which provides public interest exemptions to 18C. The government has opened the draft to community consultation and called for submissions. Here is AIJAC's initial analysis of the legal implications of the exposure draft.

Statement on government's "exposure draft" of proposed changes to 18C

Statement on government's "exposure draft" of proposed changes to 18C Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Far Right, Media Releases, Updates    

AIJAC is disappointed by the exposure draft of the Freedom of Speech (Repeal of S. 18C) Bill 2014 released by Attorney-General George Brandis today. In his bid to balance freedom of speech with the right of Australian citizens to go about their lives with dignity and free from racial harassment and vilification, it is our view that the Attorney-General has gone too far and failed to adequately safeguard the latter important rights and values...

AIR
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.

Four Corners producer gets it wrong again on antisemitic comments

Four Corners producer gets it wrong again on antisemitic comments Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Media/ Academia    

On Saturday, the Weekend Australian ran an op-ed by Julie Nathan from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. Nathan's piece concerned vicious anti-Jewish bigotry which has appeared on the Facebook page of ABC's Four Corners in the discussions surrounding the 'Stone Cold Justice' episode by the Australian's Middle East Correspondent John Lyons. ... Nathan detailed a number of comments on the page which were overtly and indisputably antisemitic ...

In response, the Executive Producer of Four Corners, Sue Spencer, wrote into the Australian on Monday to say just how offended she had been -- not by the racist material published on her page, but by Nathan's article exposing it. ... Given that Spencer chose to categorically deny any lax moderating on behalf of the ABC, it would perhaps have occurred to her to make sure that the comments which Nathan mentioned were no longer on the Facebook page. Not so, it appears. ...

Updates

Editorial: Sense and Sensationalism Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

Last year, the Australian's Middle East correspondent John Lyons interviewed Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor on camera over the treatment of Palestinian minors arrested by the Israel Defence Forces for violent crime.

Asked about a critical report on the subject by UNICEF in March 2013, Palmor answered: "I have to say one thing that may come as a surprise to you. UNICEF did not write this report by themselves. They were assisted all along by Israeli lawyers, from the Military Attorney General, from the Ministry of Justice, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by Israeli civil servants who deal with this issue day by day and who want the situation to improve with the help of UNICEF."

Red Hot Injustice

Red Hot Injustice Author: Jamie Hyams and Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

The ABC's Four Corners, together with the Australian newspaper's Middle East correspondent John Lyons, produced a story, "Stone Cold Justice" about the alleged Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian minors it arrests in the West Bank. Their basic thesis is that Israel has a new policy of arresting Palestinian children in the West Bank in the middle of the night, then torturing them to create a culture of fear and to gather information to use against Palestinian non-violent resistance. This is categorically untrue.

Abbreviated version - Red Hot Injustice

Abbreviated version - Red Hot Injustice Author: Jamie Hyams and Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

This analysis is a shortened summary of a much longer and more detailed critique of the ABC Four Corners program in question - complete with full sourcing for all claims made in it - available on the AIJAC website. We urge anyone interested in the subject to view the full critique at www.aijac.org.au/news/article/red-hot-injustice

The ABC's "Four Corners", together with the Australian newspaper's Middle East correspondent John Lyons, produced a story, "Stone Cold Justice" about the alleged Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian minors it arrests in the West Bank. Their basic thesis is that Israel has a new policy of arresting Palestinian children in the West Bank in the middle of the night, then torturing them to create a culture of fear and to gather information to use against Palestinian non-violent resistance. This is categorically untrue.

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...

"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.

Statement on Four Corners/The Australian report

Statement on Four Corners/The Australian report Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media Releases, Media/ Academia    

AIJAC is appalled by the intellectually weak and fundamentally misleading collaboration between the ABC and the Australian, "Stone Cold Justice", which aired on the February 10 edition of "4Corners".

The basic claim in this unbalanced and misleading quasi-documentary is that Israel has a new policy of deliberately targetting Palestinian children for judicial abuse and to intimidate them into acting against their own friends and families. Viewers were expected to abandon critical faculties and accept that every word spoken by Palestinians was true, despite a long documented history of Palestinian distortions and fabrications against Israel, and that every counter claim by Israelis should be dismissed. 

Woodside-Leviathan deal moves ahead in a milestone for Australia-Israel ties

Woodside-Leviathan deal moves ahead in a milestone for Australia-Israel ties Author: Michael Thurin Categories: Australasia, Israel, Updates    

AIJAC has previously reported on the proposed purchased by Australia's Woodside Petroleum of a share in Israel's Leviathan gas field development.

Finally after months of protracted negotiations, partners in Leviathan signing a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Woodside last Thursday, making it more likely than ever that the deal will go ahead. If it does, it will be a major milestone in Israeli-Australia relations, backed by governments on both sides.

Here is what you need to know about the deal and its implications.

Four Corners "Stone Cold Justice" - links to useful sources

Four Corners "Stone Cold Justice" - links to useful sources Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

On February 10 ABC "Four Corners" broadcast an episode titled "Stone Cold Justice", in cooperation with John Lyons from the Australian, which looked at Israel's policies regarding the treatment of Palestinian minors arrested in the West Bank.

While the episode raises important issues regarding the treatment of Palestinian minors, the ABC's report failed to provide adequate background and its approach was sensationalised and one-sided. In addition, Israel has already publicly committed to changing its practices as a UNICEF report in October 2013 confirmed, which the program only mentioned in passing.

We recommend that those interested in the problems with the ABC Four Corners report read the following sources...

Israeli home education system helps Australia's Indigenous children

Israeli home education system helps Australia's Indigenous children Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Israel, Updates    

The Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY), an Israeli designed early learning program which has been operating in Australia, federally funded and under licence by the Brotherhood of St. Laurence since 1998, is back in the news.

The federal government has announced its latest expansion of the program, which has been making strides in improving the education of Indigenous children.

Editorial: Honouring Sharon's Legacy Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians    

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who passed away on January 11, will surely be remembered as one of Israel's greatest military and political leaders.

This is not because he was universally beloved - he was not - nor because his judgement was necessarily always superior - on the contrary, his various missteps are a matter of record.

Rather, Sharon earned his place in Israel's pantheon of leaders as a battle-tested man of action whose vigorous defence of Jewish national rights was only superseded by his desire for a lasting peace.

AIR
Naftali Bennett: Israel's pivot to Asia

Naftali Bennett: Israel's pivot to Asia Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Asia, Australasia, Israel    

Go East. That's the catchphrase Naftali Bennett, Israel's Economics and Commerce Minister has chosen for his new initiative to shift Israel's strategic and trade focus away from its traditional Western European orientation and towards Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Oceania.

Lee Rhiannon's sin of omission

Lee Rhiannon's sin of omission Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Palestinians, Updates    

Greens spokesperson for Animal Welfare Senator Lee Rhiannon has never missed an opportunity to name countries that import live Australian cattle, especially when cases of abuse arise, and often right in the headline of her media releases and tweets.

It's more than a little curious then, that when the abuse case occurred in the Gaza Strip, as what happened in the most recent incident reported in the Australian press on Thursday, Senator Rhiannon not only omitted the location where the abuse took place in the headline, but conspicuously failed to mention it once in her entire 277-word media release, on her Facebook page, or in any of her tweets on the subject that we've seen - despite the fact that she called the abuse "the worst we've seen yet".

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.

Updates
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.

Myths and Facts about 18C

Myths and Facts about 18C Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia    

There has been much comment over the past month on section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act - the Federal law against racial vilification. The provision makes conduct unlawful when it is done "because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin" of a person or group of persons, and it is reasonably likely to "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate" that person or group. Attorney-General George Brandis recently announced that one of his first acts as Attorney-General would be to alter the provision by at least removing the words "offend" and "insult", as well as potentially making other unspecified changes.

Media Microscope: Polonium and Bolognium Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

A Swiss lab's finding of elevated levels of the radioactive element polonium-210 in samples taken from Yasser Arafat's body suggesting he might have been poisoned - released days before the ninth anniversary of his death - proved to be media gold. It also served as a good promo for al-Jazeera, which was responsible for running with and to an extent, creating, this story.

The Last Word: Far from Incidental

The Last Word: Far from Incidental Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

With millions of interactions between Jewish and other Australians each day, it is perhaps unsurprising, although disappointing, that some of them are unpleasant - or worse.

We may live in a country without institutional antisemitism, but that does not mean there are neither organisations nor individuals with a willingness to harass, vilify and even physically attack Jewish individuals or community property.

Statement on proposed Racial Hatred Act amendents Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Media Releases    

AIJAC's comment to the Australian Financial Review [no link available] and the Guardian Australia on November 8 in response to their enquiring about the reports (November 8) concerning the Government plans to amend the Racial Hatred Act:

"We believe the Federal Racial Hatred Act has, overall, contributed constructively to social cohesion and harmony in Australia...

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."

Interfaith dialogues in Madrid, Kiev, Melbourne and Sydney

Interfaith dialogues in Madrid, Kiev, Melbourne and Sydney Categories: Australasia, Interfaith Dialogue, International Jewry, Media Releases    

Jeremy Jones AM, AIJAC's Director of International and of Community Affairs, participated in four quite different, yet all significant, interfaith events in the last two weeks of October.

The busy period began in Madrid, Spain, where he took part in the International Leadership Council dialogue, in which representatives of the Vatican and World Jewry convene every two years to discuss matters of concern and areas for cooperation.

The Yom Kippur War: Australian controversies of 1973

The Yom Kippur War: Australian controversies of 1973 Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Egypt, Media/ Academia, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

This blog, the last instalment of a three-part series on the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, uses original Australian source material to obtain some insights into the Australian government's controversial response to the war at the time, as well as the persuasive but ultimately futile arguments used by Israel's supporters to convince Canberra to improve its response. Finally, the blog concludes with some observations about how the Australian coverage of the Yom Kippur War can tell us something about the way the Australian media views Israel today.

The Yom Kippur War in Australian editorials and analysis

The Yom Kippur War in Australian editorials and analysis Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: America, Australasia, Egypt, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

In June, AIJAC took a look back at the coverage of the Six Day War of 1967 in two major Australian newspapers, the Age of Melbourne and the Sydney Morning Herald. Now, in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, we open the archives once again to look at the coverage of that war in Australia, this time expanding the scope of our research to include the Australian, as well as touching upon the coverage of the Canberra Times, and the Melbourne Herald.

As a much longer war, there is more to take in, so the retrospective will be split into two parts. This blog will discuss the editorials and some of the in-house analysis of the period, while the second will revisit some of the on-the-spot coverage by the newspapers' foreign correspondents covering the war. Finally, similar to our blog from June, we'll conclude by weighing some of the key contextual facts of the Israeli-Arab conflict that were widely understood by journalists at the time but are largely absent from the narrative in the news today.

AIR

Editorial: The Next Three Years Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia    

The Coalition's decisive victory on September 7 opens a new chapter in Australian politics. The system, for all its flaws and quirks, worked once again. The Australian people were given an opportunity to hear from the parties and the candidates, weigh the pros and cons, and choose their preferred path for the next parliamentary term.

We are pleased to extend congratulations to our new Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his team. Mr. Abbott, himself a long-standing and close friend of both the Australian Jewish community and Israel, will lead a cabinet including many individuals of whom the same can be said. Of course, the outgoing Labor Government could make a similar claim - which says much about Australian politics overall.

The Fate of the Fringe

The Fate of the Fringe Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz & Anthony Orkin Categories: Australasia    

Last month, AIR profiled a number of minor fringe parties running in the federal election. This month, we return to see how they performed. The results and estimated preference flows used in this article are based on the ABC's Senate Election calculator and Australian Electoral Commission websites as of 16 September, with between 70-80% of the vote counted in most states (note: turnout was around 82%).

Media Microscope: Legal Beagles Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

Some media professionals were especially concerned over what potential changes might be made to foreign policy regarding Israel by an incoming federal Liberal/National government.

The day before the federal election, James Carleton reported on how Labor and the Coalition differ on the legality of Israeli settlements, and was very obviously unimpressed with the Coalition's policy.

The Last Word: Shadows of Terror

The Last Word: Shadows of Terror Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Terrorism    

I have a very clear memory of September 11, 2001. Having represented the World Jewish Congress at the NGO Forum preceding the United Nations' now notorious "World Conference Against Racism" in Durban, South Africa, and been on the Australian Government delegation to the UN Conference, the Jewish community asked me to address a community meeting in Sydney...

Waiting to pay after filling my petrol tank at my local service station, I looked up at the television screen near the cash register to see the vision of smoke from the first tower.
A few minutes later I was at home, just as the second plane hit its target, and then joined so many people around the globe transfixed by the unfolding tragic events.

Updates
Tax dollars bring 9/11 "truther" and other extremists to ANU anti-Israel fest

Tax dollars bring 9/11 "truther" and other extremists to ANU anti-Israel fest Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Media/ Academia, Updates    

The Australian National University has come under fire for hosting a conference purporting to focus on "Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories". ... Academics are, no doubt, free to invite whomever they choose to present on any issue and to air any views they see fit. Just because someone is free to take a course of action, however, does not mean that doing so is necessarily the right idea. ... political activism is not an appropriate use of government money...

AIJAC letter to ANU Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Media Releases, Media/ Academia    

On September 4, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) wrote to the Vice-Chancellor and President of the Australian National University Professor Ian Young AO, to raise concerns regarding the one-sided nature of the "Human Rights in Palestine Conference" that runs from 10-12 September.

Viewing Australia's election from Israel and elsewhere

Viewing Australia's election from Israel and elsewhere Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Israel, Updates    

In Australia we have a new government, following the Liberal/National Party's (‘the Coalition') sweeping election victory on September 7. While Australians have been heavily focused on the election campaign, its aftermath, and the effect of the change of government in terms of a number of domestic policy priorities, it is always interesting to see how Australia and our politics is viewed overseas.

Statement: AIJAC congratulates Tony Abbott and the Coalition on election victory, calls for bipartisan approach to Israel

Statement: AIJAC congratulates Tony Abbott and the Coalition on election victory, calls for bipartisan approach to Israel Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Israel, Media Releases    

AIJAC congratulates Tony Abbott and the Coalition on their election victory. Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister-elect Julie Bishop with their colleagues have been exceptional friends of Israel and the Jewish community in Opposition and we look forward to this steadfast support continuing in Government...

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.

Editorial: Showdown in September Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia    

On September 7, Australians will be privileged again to make their democratic choice regarding the country's future direction. That choice also challenges members of Australia's Jewish community, who, like their countrymen, must decide between competing parties and candidates, each coming to the table with persuasive arguments over how they can serve society best - a society of which the Jewish community is an integral part.

The Face-Off

The Face-Off Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, International Security, Iran, Israel    

In keeping with a long-standing pre-election tradition at the AIR, we sent a series of ten policy questions to the campaigns of both Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to help inform our readers as they go to the polls on Sept. 7. The questions - designed to focus on political issues of special concern to the Australian Jewish community - deal with issues including Israel and the peace process, communal education, counter-terrorism and communal security, the Iranian nuclear crisis, multiculturalism, racial hatred laws and the vexed question of asylum seeker policy.

On the Fringe

On the Fringe Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz & Anthony Orkin Categories: Australasia    

Also running in this election are a plethora of minor parties - some of them single-issue lists; some of them attempting to provide a voice for under-represented constituencies; some of them quirky; some of them built around a well-known local identity. However, others represent voices of political extremism.

The Last Word: Fair and Foul

The Last Word: Fair and Foul Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Islamic Extremism    

This year, Sydney's Multicultural Eid Festival and Fair (MEFF) took place for the 29th time.

Tens of thousands of Muslim Australians, and, each year, a growing number of non-Muslim visitors, enjoyed a carnival, musical entertainment, speeches and (halal) food, with booths promoting charities, selling a variety of goods and soliciting support for a range of causes.

Federal, state and local elected officials, representatives of religious, national and ethnic organisations, sporting personalities and television celebrities contributed to the atmosphere in what has become an established feature on Sydney's calendar.

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...

The Biblio File: Faithfully Offensive

The Biblio File: Faithfully Offensive Author: John Levi Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

Jane Caro, explains that she is an atheist and introduces the book by writing how "revealing (it was) to me personally to see what we all agree on" with "grace, humour, civility, flexibility and decency." If only those words were true. It is hardly gracious of Antony Loewenstein to dub the only Jewish State in the world "an occupier and a brute" and write that "mainstream Judaism has largely become, a deformed beast."

The Last Word: There ought to be a law against it

The Last Word: There ought to be a law against it Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

Not that long ago, if you entered the terms "Jew" and "Australia" into one particularly ubiquitous search engine, the first links to appear were to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other antisemitic conspiracy theories.

When the company which ran the search engine was informed, its answer, in summary was "is there a law against it?"

Morality wasn't an issue, defamation of an identifiable section of humanity wasn't an issue, credibility was not an issue - but the law was.

AIR
Statement on Australian asylum-seeker policy

Statement on Australian asylum-seeker policy Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Media Releases    

AIJAC strongly believes in a non-discriminatory, generous and compassionate Australian policy on asylum-seekers but also that these objectives must be balanced, and indeed would be enhanced, by maintaining an orderly and fair process, effectively addressing Australia's genuine border security concerns, and above all, by dramatically reducing the incentives which cause people to place their lives at severe risk in unseaworthy boats supplied by the illegal people-smuggling industry.

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.

Updates
Return to sender

Return to sender Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

A kerfuffle raised by Australian Palestinian activists over Australia Post's recent joint issue stamp with Israel offers a teachable moment about the nature of Palestinian activism Down Under.

The incident offers yet more evidence that there is nothing pro-peace about these activists, who often claim to be acting in support of Palestinian self-determination, but place far more importance on fulfilling their fantasy of delegitimising Israel and erasing the country politically in a way their armed comrades in the Middle East have never succeeded in doing so on a battlefield.

Statement: Return of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister

Statement: Return of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister Categories: Australasia, Media Releases    

Upon the return of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister on June 26, replacing Julia Gillard, AIJAC Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein made the following statement to J-Wire:

"We thank Julia Gillard for her unwavering and principled support for the Australian Jewish community and Israel during her term as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister... We congratulate Kevin Rudd on returning to the leadership of the federal government...

Australian Jewry's unique experience discussed at American Jewish Committee Global Forum

Australian Jewry's unique experience discussed at American Jewish Committee Global Forum Categories: Australasia, International Jewry, Media Releases    

The unique experiences of Jews in Australia, the relationship between Australia and the USA and the global priorities in Australian diplomacy featured in a wide-ranging discussion with H.E. Kim Beazley, Australia's Ambassador to the USA, at a session of the Global Forum of the American Jewish Committee in Washington earlier this month.

More on the Australian Greens and the London Declaration against Antisemitism

More on the Australian Greens and the London Declaration against Antisemitism Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Updates    

Last week, this blog reported the refusal of NSW Greens MLCs David Shoebridge and John Kaye to sign the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism, as well as their self-serving and disingenuous justification for rejecting the document.

It would be remiss of us to leave the story there. ... Especially encouraging was the decision by Jeremy Buckingham--a colleague of Shoebridge and Kaye in the NSW Upper House--to sign the Declaration, and thereby demonstrate that the NSW Greens party is not united against the principles in the Declaration.

Federal Greens Leader Christine Milne also issued a very welcome statement....

The increasing perils of peacekeeping for Australia and others

The increasing perils of peacekeeping for Australia and others Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

The unrest in the Arab world commonly mislabelled as the "Arab Spring" has put a strain on United Nations and other peacekeeping forces in the region.

Peacekeeping troops - in which Australia currently and historically has played a role - have limited options for defence available to them according to their mandate, are intended to observe, liaise and act as a buffer between armies.

However, regional non-state actors filling a vacuum created from the weakened national authority in countries affected by the unrest have been increasingly taking advantage of the limitations of the peacekeepers by opportunistically using them as soft targets, bargaining chips and even human shields.

NSW Greens MPs oppose antisemites who don't mention Israel

NSW Greens MPs oppose antisemites who don't mention Israel Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Updates    

In an extremely positive development in Australian politics, recent weeks have seen hundreds of Australian parliamentarians signing the London Declaration on Antisemitism...

Not all, however, support the Declaration. Two parliamentarians who have vocally opposed signing it are NSW Greens leader David Shoebridge, and his colleague in the NSW Legislative Council, John Kaye--who is Jewish by birth, if not by practice.

The two MLCs have written a post on New Matilda explaining their position. If that piece is a true reflection of their views on the subject, they seem to fundamentally misunderstand the substance of the Declaration.

Media Microscope: The Fading X-Factor Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

And so the Prisoner X story came full circle, with ABC "Foreign Correspondent" reporter Trevor Bormann on May 7 following up on his February 12 expose that Melbourne-born Ben Zygier was Israel's mysterious "Prisoner X".

After the original broadcast, it appeared that Bormann's scoop had been largely superannuated when former Fairfax Middle East correspondent Jason Koutsoukis stepped forward to share his interactions with Zygier in the months leading up to his arrest.

The Last Word: Signing and Maligning

The Last Word: Signing and Maligning Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia    

Amongst the outcomes of that conference was the "London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism", which has attracted many Australian signatories in recent days, including the Prime Minister, every member of the Federal Coalition, and leading NSW State MPs.

In Australia, despite what those gullible enough to believe the insipid public contributions to the public discussion on the subject by Professor Stuart Rees may think, condemning antisemitism has little if any electoral benefits and actually attracts criticism from some on the political left (which once, in the past, trumpeted anti-racism).

Statement on BDS and publicly-funded bodies Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Media Releases, Updates    

An article in Saturday's Australian "Libs to cut funding for anti-Israel activists" (May 25) - discussing recent debates about publicly-funded bodies engaging in Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel - briefly quoted from a longer statement from AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein on the subject. As the brief quote in that piece did not and could not fully represent AIJAC's position, here is AIJAC's statement on the subject in full...

Pro-BDS Facebook page descends into bigot versus bigot hate-fest

Pro-BDS Facebook page descends into bigot versus bigot hate-fest Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Updates    

Earlier this week, AIJAC reported the vile anti-Jewish hate-speech that appeared on the Facebok event page for an anti-Israel rally opposing the opening of a Max Brenner outlet at the University of NSW...

Consequently, the dynamic on the page was transformed ... it seems that the page has been overrun by semi-literate keyboard warriors with axes to grind...

ANZAC day in Israel

ANZAC day in Israel Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Australasia, Israel, Updates    

The ANZAC Day memorial ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery on Mount Scopus, Jerusalem saw an unusually high turnout last week. The respectful, yet modest, annual commemoration traditionally gathers, and caters to, mostly official Australian and New-Zealand representatives and diplomats from their Embassies, expatriates and the occasional tourist from "Down Under".

AIR
'Sue me Jew' part 2: hate-speech off campus and online?

'Sue me Jew' part 2: hate-speech off campus and online? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Media/ Academia, Updates    

On Monday, AIJAC reported on the first two days of vicious anti-Jewish hate-speech on the Facebook page for an anti-Israel rally held this afternoon at the University of New South Wales ('UNSW') to protest the opening of a Max Brenner chocolate shop...

Thankfully, the event saw little identifiable antisemitism -- although those present were likely 'on their best behaviour' due to the significant media presence. Nevertheless, the real story remains the Facebook page. Below is a continuation of yesterday's account...

'Sue me Jew': horrific hate-speech by Australian students on anti-Israel Facebook page

'Sue me Jew': horrific hate-speech by Australian students on anti-Israel Facebook page Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Updates    

Student activism in NSW seems to be taking a dark turn.

For those who follow this blog, it would not be especially surprising to hear that the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel ('BDS') movement is steeped in antisemitism. ...

In recent days, students at the University of New South Wales ('UNSW') have seen perhaps the most publicly explicit example of this phenomenon to rear its ugly head on Australian shores. A bizarre collective of Muslim students, students from the extreme left, prominent Muslim community leader Rebecca Kay, and "Jihad Sheila" Raisah Douglas, have come together...

The Biblio File: Scholarshipwreck Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

Did you know that "the Israel-Palestine conflict" is "the central factor in Islam-West relations"? Not one of a number of factors, not an element of a larger, multi-faceted engagement, but "the" central factor?

Readers of the latest volume in Australia's "Islamic Studies Series" are presented with this "fact" as an attempt to justify a thin book on "Making Australian Foreign Policy in Israel-Palestine" being published as part of its catalogue.

Media Microscope: A week of weak coverage Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

The death of convicted Palestinian terrorist Maysara Abu-Hamdiya from throat cancer in an Israeli jail on April 2 amid Palestinian accusations that he did not receive adequate treatment prompted rocket fire from Gaza and violent demonstrations in the West Bank.

Coverage of these clashes unfortunately followed a familiar pattern of focussing primarily on Palestinian claims against Israel and on Israeli actions against Palestinians.

Updates
The Last Word: Standing Up on the Bus

The Last Word: Standing Up on the Bus Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia    

It was horrible to watch, on an ordinary Sydney bus, on an ordinary day.

A male, chronologically an adult, delivered a racist tirade directed at two other passengers.
A young woman who recorded the incident on her phone told media that the targets of the abuse had done nothing which would have prompted such behaviour. The only trigger for the invective was, it seems, the fact that the victims were of "Korean appearance".

As shocking as the racism itself was the apparent non-response of most of the people on the bus.

Media Microscope: Intelligence Scared Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

The tragic death of Australian-Israeli citizen Ben Zygier continued to play out in the media long past the initial revelations on February 14, and much coverage contained speculation on whether Australian Jews could feel warmly toward Israel and remain loyal to Australia.

Australians for Palestine's graphic prejudice

Australians for Palestine's graphic prejudice Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Updates    

In Australia and elsewhere, proponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions ('BDS') campaign against Israel consistently claim that the campaign is about human rights and has no racial element. ... Yet time and again, leading BDS figures are exposed for supporting various neo-Nazi and/or Islamist thinkers because of what those thinkers say about Jews. ... The degree to which casual antisemitism has become acceptable in the pro-BDS discourse is probably what led to Australians for Palestine ('AfP') deciding that this was an appropriate image to use on their website...

Love letter to Hamas - Paul McGeough's front-page profiles of Khaled Meshal

Love letter to Hamas - Paul McGeough's front-page profiles of Khaled Meshal Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Palestinians, Updates    

The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday dedicated their front pages to a profile of Hamas leader Khaled Meshal - interviewed in Qatar by Fairfax senior journalist Paul McGeough. There were also a number of subsequent articles on Meshal by McGeough over the weekend in those papers.

McGeough's articles over the weekend with photos to match, provided a glorified picture of Meshal - painting him as a resistance leader capable of moderating but also an ‘every man' - a grandfather who plays with his grandchidren, a man who plays table-tennis and goes to the gym. McGeough does not detail Meshal's reported funding and organising of terrorist attacks on innocent Israelis.

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.

Editorial: Compelling Case for a Ban Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, International Security, Terrorism    

The recent announcement by Bulgarian authorities that two Hezbollah agents - including one Australian national - were being sought in connection with the deadly July 2012 Burgas bombing of a bus filled with Israeli tourists should serve as a wake up call for Australia, EU and the wider global community to list all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation.

The justification for a ban is so compelling, the evidence so overwhelming, that it shouldn't be necessary to argue the case for proscribing the group.

Scribblings: HRW - No Facts Required

Scribblings: HRW - No Facts Required Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Australasia, Israel, Middle East    

There is a great deal we don't know or that is pure speculation about the tragic story of Ben Zygier/Prisoner X.

But here is one thing we absolutely do know about this saga - the NGO Human Rights Watch again demonstrated that it does not need any confirmed facts whatsoever to condemn Israel.

The original ABC-TV "Foreign Correspondent" story on Feb. 12 which revealed Ben Zygier as the alleged Prisoner X quoted Bill van Esveld of Human Rights Watch extensively.

AIR New Zealand: Israel votes, NZ Watches

AIR New Zealand: Israel votes, NZ Watches Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Australasia, Israel    

Jumping to hasty assessments can often be a mistake but, sometimes, looking further into those same assessments can lead to interesting discoveries. When first asked to write a column about coverage of the recent Israeli elections in New Zealand I said, without too much thought, "there wasn't much". Yet my research on the topic very quickly showed that assumption was, in fact, not correct.

Myths and Facts about "Prisoner X"

Myths and Facts about "Prisoner X" Author: Isi Leibler Categories: Australasia, Israel    

As a former head of the Australian Jewish community and now resident in Israel, I was bombarded with endless calls from the Israeli and global media soliciting comment on Ben Zygier, the Australian who committed suicide while in solitary confinement in an Israeli prison.

The Last Word: On the Wilders Side

The Last Word: On the Wilders Side Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism    

When it was confirmed that the controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders would be visiting Australia, supporters of Australia's model of cultural diversity considered the most appropriate responses.

Given that Australia has a raft of federal and state laws designed to protect targets of racist demonisation and harassment and, in some constituencies, religious vilification, there was a strong argument that he would either respect our laws or deal with the consequences.

Israel's official statement on "Prisoner X" Categories: Australasia, Israel, Updates    

AIJAC has obviously been following closely the reporting and speculation - both in Australia and Israel - concerning the case of "Prisoner X" who died in 2010 in an Israeli prison, and is alleged to have been Melbourne-born Australian-Israeli dual citizen Ben Zygier.

While we can add little to what is already in the media, and have no wish to further burden the bereaved Zygier family, below in full is the translation prepared by Haaretz of the Israeli government statement on Prisoner X released on Wednesday, which has not yet been published here, and we believe sheds some light on aspects of the case which have not gotten sufficient attention.

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."

AIR
Burgas findings reveal Australian involved and puts EU under pressure to ban Hezbollah

Burgas findings reveal Australian involved and puts EU under pressure to ban Hezbollah Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Europe, Israel, Terrorism, Updates    

Following Bulgaria's findings that Hezbollah was involved in the 18 July 2012 terrorist attack in Burgas that killed six people - five Israeli tourists and a local Bulgarian bus driver, the European Union (EU) is now under increasing pressure to list Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation.

Providing an update on its findings into the investigation of the bus bombing, Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said: "There is data showing the financing and connection between Hezbollah and the two suspects..." and that "the two suspects with Canadian and Australian passports had been living in Lebanon, one since 2006 and the other since 2010."

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's mission "To set Israel on fire"

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's mission "To set Israel on fire" Author: Talia Katz Categories: Australasia, Iran, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

The principle argument being made by opponents of strong action against Iran's nuclear program is that Iran is a "rational" actor, whose regime values survival above all else and a nuclear Iran can be contained just as the Soviet Union was during the Cold War.

Now a new report offers yet more evidence to doubt whether Iran's "rationality" is so obvious and assured. And the report concerns not the loud-mouthed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the man everyone agrees has ultimate control over Iran's nuclear program, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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.

AIJAC Statement: Federal Election date Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Media Releases    

"The scheduling of the Federal Election on Yom Kippur is of course somewhat disappointing, especially for those members of our community - be they politicians, political party members, campaign workers, canvassers, scrutineers or voters - who won't be able to engage on election day as they normally would..."

Updates

Editorial: After the Ballot, the Hard Part Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians    

The ballots have been counted for Israel's 19th Knesset, and Israelis have demonstrated once again why the Middle East's first genuine democracy is still the most mature and successful - a country where every citizen, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion or political persuasion has an equal opportunity to decide the nation's future.

Yes Virginia, there is Antisemitism in Australia

Yes Virginia, there is Antisemitism in Australia Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

For the 12 month period ending September 30, 2012, 543 incidents of "racist violence" (using the definition adopted for more than 20 years by the Federal Government) against Jewish Australians were documented by Jewish organisations in Australia. These incidents included physical assaults, vandalism and harassment. This was a five percent increase over the previous 12 month period, and 42% above the average of the 22 years previously for which I have maintained a national database.

Media Microscope: Hagelian Dialectics Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

US President Barack Obama's nomination of controversial former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as his next Defence-Secretary excited many local America watchers - with pro-Hagel enthusiasts celebrating his views on Israel, Iran, and Iraq while failing to inform readers of his more problematic stances.

Paul McGeough of the Sydney Morning Herald penned a long article comparing pro-Israel voices concerned over Hagel's nomination to the US gun lobby defending its near absolutist pro-gun rights stance in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school massacre.

The Last Word: A Sad Conversation

The Last Word: A Sad Conversation Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Europe, Holocaust/ War Crimes    

In an age of readily accessible documents and analyses, there is simply no excuse for anyone to not know about the Nazis' intentions, the attempted genocide of Jewry, and the bravery of those who opposed them.

The second subject of the tribute was Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat based in Budapest during the Nazi occupation, who at great risk to (and eventual cost of) his own liberty and life, acted as a human being in a time when inhumanity was seemingly all powerful.

AIJAC comments on Carr/Hague AUKMIN 2013 Communique

AIJAC comments on Carr/Hague AUKMIN 2013 Communique Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media Releases, Middle East, Palestinians, United Kingdom, Updates    

On Friday January 18 at the close of the Australia-UK Ministerial Consultations (AUKMIN) conference in Perth, Foreign Minister the Hon Senator Bob Carr and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague released a joint statement on the Middle East peace process, condemning Israel's settlements as "illegal under international law".

AIJAC released the following media statement to the press in response on Friday 18 January.

Leader of Australian Islamist extremist group calls for world conquest through jihad

Leader of Australian Islamist extremist group calls for world conquest through jihad Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

The notorious Islamist organisation Hizb-Ut Tahrir ('HUT') openly avows an ideology whose ultimate goal is to transform the entire world into an Islamic state. Despite being linked to a number of terrorist attacks -- most notably the '7/7 bombings' in London -- the group is generally careful to avoid being portrayed as pro-violence.

For example, the profile of local Australian spokesperson Uthman Badar on ABC's The Drum (for which he is an occasional contributor) describes the group as...

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".

Media Microscope: Tooning Out Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

As mentioned in last month's "Noted and Quoted", on Nov. 21, at the conclusion of the recent Hamas-Israel fighting the Age published a highly provocative cartoon by Michael Leunig which paraphrased German pastor Martin Niemoller's famous epigram ("First they came for the...") to position the Palestinians as today's equivalent of Holocaust victims. It also referred to how "doors would close" and "bitterness and spiteful condemnation" would be applied to those who speak out for the Palestinians.

What followed was a series of bizarre decisions by the Age that threw doubt on that paper's commitment to offer balance on a sensitive issue involving the Holocaust.

The Last Word: Demonstrating Decency

The Last Word: Demonstrating Decency Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia    

On 6 December 1938, an extraordinary event took place in Melbourne.

William Cooper, an Indigenous Australian in his late 70s, led a delegation to the German Consulate in Melbourne, to deliver a petition formulated after he heard and read reports of "Kristallnacht" and other anti-Jewish manifestations in Germany.

Despite living his life as a member of a people which suffered enormous deprivation and discrimination due to racism, he took a public stand against the persecution of Jews by the Nazis.

AIR New Zealand: NZ's Vote for Palestinian UN upgrade

AIR New Zealand: NZ's Vote for Palestinian UN upgrade Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Australasia, Palestinians, United Nations    

Questions have been raised by some members of New Zealand's Jewish community over the country's recent vote in favour of the United Nations (UN) resolution that Palestine be given "non-member state" status at the international organisation.

There has been some surprise, and even annoyance, that - under Prime Minister John Key's Israel-friendly government - New Zealand did not abstain on the vote.

John Howard comments on Israel, the Middle East

John Howard comments on Israel, the Middle East Categories: Australasia, Events, Israel, Speeches    

The former Prime Minister John Howard spoke at a dinner in Sydney conferring upon him AIJAC's Distinguished Leadership Award, attended by 280 supporters on November 29.

He was introduced by AIJAC National Chairman Mark Leibler at the function MC'ed by AIJAC's NSW Chairman Barry Smorgon, received his award from Frank Lowy and a vote of thanks from AIJAC Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein.

AIR

The aftermath of the PA UN bid and the debate over Israeli building in settlements Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

This Update deals with the aftermath of the UN vote to upgrade Palestine to "non-member state" status last week, the Israeli response in terms of announcements of preparations to build new housing units in east Jerusalem and settlements, and the strong reaction this decision has promoted from many foreign governments, including Australia's.

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).

Australia’s Woodside Petroleum goes to Israel

Australia’s Woodside Petroleum goes to Israel Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Updates    

Australia's biggest oil and gas firm, Woodside Petroleum has announced it is buying a 30 percent share, valued up to $2.5 billion, in Israel's Leviathan natural gas field.

Israel, a nation once thought to be devoid of natural resources in recent years has found vast amounts of natural gas deep under its Mediterranean waters.  The gas finding may not only make Israel energy self-sufficient for decades but also a world leader in energy exports - including possibly to Europe and Asia.

The Woodside deal also highlights the changing political and economic ramifications of the new gas fields in the East Mediterranean.

Foreign Minister's focus on Israeli settlements "misplaced" and "counter-productive"

Foreign Minister's focus on Israeli settlements "misplaced" and "counter-productive" Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media Releases    

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) today labelled the intense focus on the issue of Israeli settlements by Foreign Minister Bob Carr "misplaced", "disproportionate" and "counter-productive."

AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein AM stated " Foreign Minister Bob Carr's decision to publicly rebuke Israel's Ambassador to Australia based on the contention that construction in settlements constitutes a major obstacle to progress toward a two-state solution is severely misplaced."

Updates
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".

Media Microscope: Media War Winners and Losers Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

Unlike the result of the latest round of intense Hamas-Israel engagement, the winners and losers in Australian media coverage of the conflict were obvious.

After spending a week somewhere in the Gaza Strip, Fairfax Middle East reporter Ruth Pollard appears to have ended her coverage of the war the way she started it - framing reports decidedly tilted with sympathy toward the Palestinian perspective, while openly sceptical of Israeli claims.

Bi-partisan support in Australia for Israel’s right to defend itself from rocket attacks

Bi-partisan support in Australia for Israel’s right to defend itself from rocket attacks Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Australasia, Israel, United Kingdom, Updates    

As ‘Operation Pillar of Defence' enters its third day, rockets have gone from shelling southern Israel to threatening Tel Aviv - placing millions of Israelis in range of rocket attack. To date the Iron Dome missile defence system has intercepted 130 rockets, but some 300 rockets and mortars have landed in Israeli territory and three Israelis have been killed - Itzik Amsalem, Aharon Smadja and Mira Scharf who was pregnant.

In Australia, the Government and Coalition have expressed bi-partisan support for Israel's right to defend itself from rocket attacks fired from the Gaza Strip.

The US, Canada and UK have also expressed their support for Israel and condemned Hamas for the latest escalation.

New Huawei allegations - Iranian partner breaching US sanctions

New Huawei allegations - Iranian partner breaching US sanctions Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, China, Updates    

There are new allegations regarding the Chinese telecommunication company Huawei, with Reuters reporting that an Iranian partner of Huawei, Soda Gostar Persian Vista, last year tried to sell embargoed American antenna equipment to an Iranian firm.

This latest report of breaching US sanctions, may further undermine Huawei's concerted efforts to improve its image in Australia, following an Australian government decision in March this year to block Huawei from bidding on its National Broadband Network (NBN) due to national security risks.

Editorial: Taking Council Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, United Nations    

The successful conclusion of Australia's long-fought efforts to gain a temporary seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC) is very welcome. Congratulations are due to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr, his deputy Richard Marles, and all the professionals who crafted a winning strategy - particularly in Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean - to achieve this emphatic outcome.

Australia's success is well-deserved - as a middle-level, principled, democratic nation and good global citizen, we won the respect and ultimately the support of others internationally, on our own merits and without compromising our values or beliefs.

As the excitement subsides over the victory, there is no time to rest on our laurels. Australia's focus should now be shifting to the question of how to best use its energies at the UN over the next 24 months.

Media Microscope: Bidding Wars Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

Australia's successful UN Security Council campaign garnered much coverage prior to and after the secret ballot on October 18.

Before the vote, a number of commentators pontificated on whether the government's support for Israel at the UN would affect the bid.

AIJAC congratulates Australian Government on emphatic UN Security Council success

AIJAC congratulates Australian Government on emphatic UN Security Council success Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media Releases, United Nations    

The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) today welcomed the election of Australia to a two-year temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council in New York overnight, and congratulated the Australian Government on achieving this outcome.

AIJAC National Chairman Mark Leibler stated, "AIJAC welcomes a successful end to Australia's long-fought efforts to gain a temporary seat on the UN Security Council. We also congratulate the Australian Government - especially Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Foreign Minister Bob Carr, his deputy Richard Marles, and all the professionals who worked diligently to achieve this very happy outcome so emphatically. Our success is well-deserved - as a middle-level, principled, democratic nation and good global citizen, we won the respect and ultimately the support of others internationally, on our own merits and without compromising our support for Israel."

Australian anti-Israel activists must distance themselves from neo-Nazi sympathisers

Australian anti-Israel activists must distance themselves from neo-Nazi sympathisers Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Far Right, NGOs, Updates    

A group supported by a cross-section of Australia's anti-Israel movement has been revealed to be pedalling overt antisemitic propaganda.

On 1 October, Jewish Agency for Israel employee Avi Mayer stumbled across an alarming tweet by the Free Gaza Movement ('FGM'), the principal organisers of the infamous 'Free Gaza Flotilla' in 2010, and several other flotillas to Gaza. The tweet said 'Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews', and linked to...

Huawei: US Congress, Canada backs Australian government claims that Chinese company is a security risk

Huawei: US Congress, Canada backs Australian government claims that Chinese company is a security risk Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Australasia, China, Updates    

In March this year the Australian government decided to block Chinese telecommunications company Huawei from bidding on the National Broadband Network (NBN) due to security risks.  Recently Canada stated its intention to exclude Huawei from helping it build a secure Canadian government communications network, due to security risks. Now a report by the US Congress on Huawei released on October 8 appears to support Australia and Canada's security concerns.

10th Anniversary of the Bali Bombings

10th Anniversary of the Bali Bombings Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Asia, Australasia, Terrorism, Updates    

Today marks ten years since the ‘Bali Bombings', which tragically killed 202 people, including 88 Australians and 38 Indonesians, and injured more than 240.

For many Australians, the memory of the Bali bombings are now part of our collective national consciousness, an acute awareness of the evil of terrorism in its ability to destroy innocent lives indiscriminately - both those who were murdered without reason and those who have been grieving for their loved ones ever since.

Media Microscope: Our APBC - The Activists for Palestine Broadcasting Corporation Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) repeatedly gave a platform to radical anti-Israel political activists during August and September.

Discredited Israeli-born historian-cum-extreme anti-Zionist Ilan Pappe told Geraldine Doogue (ABC Radio National "Breakfast", Sept. 17) that the "mainstream Zionist leadership from the very beginning understood that... they could not have a Jewish state as long as the Palestinians remained in Palestine".

The fact is that the mainstream Zionist leadership accepted and still accepts partitioning the disputed territory into Jewish and Arab states, and did so in 1922 (when Jordan was created), 1937, 1947, 2000, 2008. Moreover, Zionist documents have always discussed the expectation that the Jewish state would have a non-Jewish minority.

AIR
The Last Word: A History of Violence

The Last Word: A History of Violence Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Terrorism    

I look forward to the time when the antisemitic ratbags who claim Islamic authority, together with those who seek to create a wider conflict with all Western society, are clearly and unambiguously told that they have no call on solidarity with co-religionists - and when the prominent voices condemning promoters of conspiracy theories and group defamations include, as a matter of course, the same level of senior Muslim community leaders who condemned Sydney's September skirmishers.

Media Week - And they called it Pappe love; Randa does the rounds

Media Week - And they called it Pappe love; Randa does the rounds Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Anti-Zionist historian Ilan Pappe told Geraldine Doogue on ABC Radio National's "Breakfast" program  (17/9) that the "mainstream Zionist leadership from the very beginning understood that... they could not have a Jewish state as long as the Palestinians remained in Palestine".

The fact is that the mainstream Zionist leadership accepted and still accepts partitioning the disputed territory into Jewish and Arab states - in 1922 (when Jordan was created), 1937, 1947, 2000, and 2008.

Moreover, Zionist documents have always discussed the expectation that the Jewish state would have a non-Jewish minority.

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.

Updates
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.

Editorial: Race Hate and the Law Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia    

Our society is founded on principles of civility, tolerance and the opportunity for all people, regardless of religion or racial or ethnic origins, to contribute to their maximum potential. This is why it is of fundamental concern when Australia's laws against public expressions of racial hatred are being targeted by some for dilution or even repeal.

The federal Racial Hatred Act came into effect in 1996. This law was, and still is, an important response to damaging racist behaviour that frequently targets groups within the Australian community, such as Aborigines, Asians, Jews, Africans, various Muslim communities and others.

The key provisions on racial hatred were incorporated into the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act. Its section 18C now prohibits an action that is "reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of people" and which is done because of their race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, as being a breach of that person or group's civil rights.

Scribblings: Abetting Iran at NAM Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Australasia, Iran, Palestinians    

It is very disappointing to read reports that Australia has announced it plans to send two senior Australian diplomats to Teheran to participate as "guests" in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) conference there from August 26 through 31. This forum is being exploited by the Iranian regime to gain support for its non-existent "right" to enrich uranium, and to erode the increasing isolation Iran has experienced as sanctions mount because of its defiance of the UN Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency over its illegal nuclear weapons program. Moreover, it is highly likely that the conference will be used by the Iranian regime to promote their unconscionable efforts to demand Israel's destruction - following on from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's August 17 claim that "The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumour" which must be "excised," as well as various other antisemitic and Holocaust denying rants.

The Last Word: Crime Without Punishment

The Last Word: Crime Without Punishment Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Immigration/ Multiculturalism    

Tragically, with a series of trials ending without prosecutions, with Nazi murderers avoiding trials due to infirmity or old age, with each and every tactic used to avoid and delay prosecution or extradition, no person who came to Australia has borne punitive consequences.

With the decision in August by the High Court of Australia to prevent extradition to Hungary of Charles Zentai, the eyes of all concerned with the fate of criminals against humanity were turned towards Australia.

Media Week - Low Blows; Acres of coverage; and Small steps and megabytes

Media Week - Low Blows; Acres of coverage; and Small steps and megabytes Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

Anti-Zionist writer Antony Loewenstein advanced his dream of a one-state solution on the Conversation (30/7).

Loewenstein wrote that for Israel the "occupation is a God-given right to populate land", and claimed that the recent Levy Commission had "found that its decades-long occupation of Palestinian land wasn't an occupation at all. The report granted quasi-legal justification for illegally moving Jews into the West Bank."

The report did not endorse unlimited settlement building. It confirmed that legally the West Bank is disputed territory since no sovereign state was established there when the British left in May 1948, and various decisions by international bodies grant Israel legal rights in the West Bank.  And, as the report noted, since 1967 Israel has adopted a "pragmatic approach" in the hope of encouraging peace negotiations about the future of the "the territories".

Film Review: Last Dance

Film Review: Last Dance Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Updates    

Last Dance director David Pulbrook was obviously cognisant that a movie about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict would necessitate negotiating a moral and political minefield. Tellingly, he stressed in numerous interviews that "we were careful not to take sides and worked closely with Palestinian and Jewish communities to ensure a balanced point of view".

He also went to some length to downplay the political significance of the film, telling the Australian Jewish News' Danny Gocs that "[t]he film is more about humanity and motherly love than the politically volatile issue between Israelis and Palestinians."

His efforts to engage with the Jewish and Muslim communities in Australia are laudable, as were his attempts to create a human drama from an inhuman conflict. His characterisation, however, missed the mark...

Media Week - Remembering Shamir; Grave doubts; Over the top

Media Week - Remembering Shamir; Grave doubts; Over the top Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Ruth Pollard in the Age and Sydney Morning Herald (2/7) asserted that former Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir's "most criticised decision...was to undermine the 1987 agreement on Palestine reached by his foreign minister Shimon Peres and Jordan's King Hussein".

Contrary to Pollard's implication, the agreement would not have created an independent Palestine but seen a resumption of Jordanian rule over the West Bank.

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.

Media Microscope: Refugees Revisited Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

For the first time in many years there has recently been an intense media focus on how international aid is spent on the Palestinians and why the number of Palestinian refugees in the world is constantly increasing.

Phillip Adams interviewed United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner General Filippo Grandi, who visited Australia in June. Whilst Grandi was here, the Australian Government agreed to gift UNRWA A$90 million over five years.

One comment by Grandi partly showed how UNWRA helps delay an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He said "To be a refugee, to maintain one's rights as refugees does not mean that you don't have a right to a better life, to better opportunities." If assistance comes wrapped in a promise that you are entitled to maintain your "rights" as a refugee even if you have citizenship in another country, then no realistic peace plan will ever satisfy Palestinian refugee demands.

Motion for one minute’s silence unanimously passed in Australian Parliament

Motion for one minute’s silence unanimously passed in Australian Parliament Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Israel, Terrorism, Updates    

A motion calling upon the International Olympic Committee to observe a minute's silence at next month's London Olympics for the 11 Israelis killed in the 1972 Munich massacre, has today been unanimously passed in the House of Representatives.

The motion was moved by Paul Fletcher (Bradfield, Lib.) and seconded by the Josh Frydenberg (Kooyong, Lib.).

AIR
This week in Parliament - Fletcher calls for one minute’s silence at London Olympics, and Danby criticises ABC's alleged media bias on Israel

This week in Parliament - Fletcher calls for one minute’s silence at London Olympics, and Danby criticises ABC's alleged media bias on Israel Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

As discussed in my previous blog post, prominent Australian political leaders, including the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, signed a petition calling for one minute's silence at the London Olympics to honour the victims of the 1972 Munich massacre, joining a growing international chorus on the subject. Now Paul Fletcher (Bradfield, Lib.) on June 19 in the House of Representatives gave notice for a motion on this issue.

Meanwhile on June 18, Michael Danby (Melbourne Ports, ALP) made a speech in the House of Representatives criticising the ABC's alleged media bias, particularly against Israel, as well as the ABC's "laughably labelled ‘complaints procedure'".

Thailand, Israel defence ties highlight Jerusalem's increasing focus on Asia

Thailand, Israel defence ties highlight Jerusalem's increasing focus on Asia Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Asia, Australasia, Israel, Updates    

Ties between Israel and Thailand increased last week following a visit to Israel by Thai Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat, which culminated in the signing of an intelligence pact between the two countries.

According to the report in the print edition of Friday's Bangkok Post, Thai and Israeli defence ministries have signed a non-disclosure agreement over classified information on intelligence, military and security.

"The agreement is part of the two countries' cooperation on security issues. We also agreed to exchange information on anti-terrorism operations,'' Sukumpol told the paper.

According to the story, a Thai military source added that Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak offered his mine-clearing and other military technology to the Thai Defence Ministry to help Thailand cope with ongoing violence in the country's south.

The visit came in the wake of a terror explosion in Bangkok on February 14 which wounded five people. The bombers, reportedly linked to Hezbollah, allegedly intended to attack Israeli diplomats in the city.

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.

Canada joins call for minute's silence to honour victims of Munich massacre

Canada joins call for minute's silence to honour victims of Munich massacre Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Israel, Updates    

Following my previous blog post on the subject, the campaign to have a minute's silence at the upcoming Olympic Games in memory of the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich games 40 years ago appears to be gathering steam internationally.

Senior Australian leaders including both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, and now the Canadian Parliament have joined in the call, despite the International Olympic Committee (IOC) having already rejected an appeal by the Israeli government in May.

Updates
Melbourne protest against Israel Independence function provokes backlash

Melbourne protest against Israel Independence function provokes backlash Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Israel, Updates    

On Tuesday night a belated Israel independence celebration was held at the Windsor Hotel. Students for Palestine decided to target the event, and staged a protest outside the hotel. The protest has been described as ‘ugly', with protestors burning an effigy of the Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu for supporting ‘apartheid' and calls for the destruction of Israel as the protestors chanted "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free."

Despite the noise created by the protest, the celebration continued inside the Windsor with around 300 guests - including leaders in the Jewish community, Premier Baillieu, Leader of the opposition Daniel Andrews, Israeli Ambassador to Australia Yuval Rotem and other diplomats.  In addition, approximately 50 Liberal Party, ALP and Nations Members of Parliament were escorted by the police to the Windsor Hotel through the noisy throng of protestors to attend the event. The police are to be commended for their professionalism and effective crowd control.

The next day speeches were made in the Victorian Parliament affirming support for the State of Israel and praising the police response to the protest.

Israeli defence relationships in Asia... and Australia

Israeli defence relationships in Asia... and Australia Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Asia, Australasia, India, International Security, Israel, Updates    

The influential trade publication Defence Review Asia has reported strong growth for Israeli weapons system sales to a number of Asian and Australasian countries, including right here in Australia.

The story, which was published on Sunday, focused on burgeoning trade between Israel and India, but also looked at deals with Singapore and South Korea, among others.

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

Media Week - BDS is anti-peace; Worrying findings; Sandstorm on the horizon? Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Egypt, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

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".

Australia and the Massacre in Syria

Australia and the Massacre in Syria Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

Following the shocking reports and images of the massacre that occurred in the Syrian village of Haoula on May 25, there has been a chorus of international outrage. The UN reported that 108 people were killed among them 49 children and 34 women, by the Assad regime and pro-Assad militia ‘Shabiha'.

AIJAC welcomes Australia decision on May 29 to expel Syrian Chargé d'Affaires, Jawdat Ali, and another diplomat, from Australia.

Media Microscope: Starved of information

Media Microscope: Starved of information Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

The humanity of Israel's system of administrative detention of Palestinian prisoners was the main interest when Israeli-Palestinian issues were covered in the first two weeks of May.

On May 7, Ruth Pollard wrote in the Age/Sydney Morning Herald that "the number of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails has grown to at least 2,800, human rights groups say... Israel's practice of jailing people without charge - known as administrative detention - is the main issue driving the hunger strikers...About 320 Palestinians are being held in administrative detention in Israeli prisons."

If there were more than 2,800 Palestinian prisoners starving themselves in protest against administrative detention but only 320 of them are actually there on administrative detention charges, what were the crimes of the 2,480 who were convicted or awaiting trial?

"Nakba Day" protest did more than stop traffic

"Nakba Day" protest did more than stop traffic Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Updates    

The recent "Nakba Day" protests in Sydney attracted some controversy due to a ruling by NSW Supreme Court Justice Christine Adamson allowing the protesters to block peak-hour traffic in the centre of Sydney's CBD. Adamson drew particular criticism for likening "Nakba Day" – a Palestinian commemoration of the establishment of Israel ("nabka" meaning "catastrophe" in Arabic) – to Australia Day, Christmas Day and ANZAC Day.

That said, something far more sinister took place at the protest. A video (below), posted anonymously on Youtube, depicts various scenes from the protest set to dramatic music.

Shhh, Australia is resettling Palestinians

Shhh, Australia is resettling Palestinians Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Iraq, Palestinians, Updates    

Even as some Australian Palestinians and their supporters spent Tuesday evening disrupting commuters in Sydney in the course of their Nakba Day protests against Israel, SBS World News ran a segment on the recent resettlement of several dozen Iraqi Palestinian refugees in Australia.

(While the video will only be accessible on the SBS website for the next week, a transcript of the segment has been created for the purposes of this blog and can be referenced here.)

While the segment was framed by the SBS presenters as an opportunity to raise awareness of the issue of Palestinian refugees on the anniversary of Israel's creation, in reality the story had very little to do with Israel.

Israel as a teacher of innovation

Israel as a teacher of innovation Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Israel, Updates    

People from around the world are traveling to Israel to learn from its innovation and economic success.

Israel's President Shimon Peres recently told a visiting Australian delegation that included Financial Services Minister Bill Shorten, that part of the secret to Israel's economic success was that Israel had to use its brainpower to carve out a living, "We had nothing and that was our luck," Peres said. Peres also told the group that he wanted Israel to become "the Silicon Valley of the Middle East."

Media Week - Unbelievable, because it's wrong!; New Blood; Not so popular front

Media Week - Unbelievable, because it's wrong!; New Blood; Not so popular front Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

The Australian's John Lyons (5/5) reported on an Israeli law passed during the Second Intifada in 2003 designed to prevent terrorists exploiting family reunion laws to enter Israel.

This has meant Israeli Arab Taiseer Khatib's wife, Lana, who is from Jenin on the West Bank, can only stay in Israel on a temporary residency visa, something Khatib denounces as "beyond apartheid".

The newspaper offensively headlined the piece Living under the cloud of Israel's cruel apartheid implying this was a statement of fact rather than Taiseer Khatib's opinion. The online edition has since rectified this error.

Australia’s Budget 2012-13: Foreign Aid

Australia’s Budget 2012-13: Foreign Aid Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, United Nations, Updates    

The Australian Budget was announced on May 8, and in order to bring the budget into surplus the Government decided to delay its promise to raise foreign aid spending to 0.5 per cent of gross national income (GNI) by 2015/16, pushing this goal back until 2016-2017.

This blog post looks at highlights from the foreign aid budget, and also considers the case for improving the effectiveness of Australian aid in the Palestinian Territories.

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.

AIR
Now on Air: Lunar TV

Now on Air: Lunar TV Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia    

Readers with long memories will remember the antics of the Citizens' Electoral Council (CEC) - the local followers of convicted American fraudster and conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche, who have mostly disappeared from the headlines over the past decade.

But since January, all that conspiratorial thinking has been on public display every week via free-to-air TV. "CEC Report" is a half-hour show presented by CEC founder and leader Craig Isherwood and CEC Executive Member Robert Barwick broadcasting on Melbourne community station 31.

The show somehow manages to be both soporific and thoroughly alarming. Bland, measured and unassuming, Isherwood and Barwick appear much like most amateur community station TV hosts - except their message is stark raving bonkers.

The Last Word: QandA-ary

The Last Word: QandA-ary Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, International Jewry    

I have known Cardinal George Pell for a number of years, discussed Middle East politics over a kosher meal he arranged for me in his home, worked with him on a range of matters of Catholic-Jewish concern and had any disagreements treated respectfully and graciously. In that light, watching him on ABC television's Monday "Infotainment" program, "Q & A", was not a comfortable experience.

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.

Strange Australian commentary on the UN's controversial "peace plan" for Syria

Strange Australian commentary on the UN's controversial "peace plan" for Syria Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

The Syrian Government's decision to accept UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan has been met with a lot of scepticism to say the least. A number of experts have been predicting that the initiative would only paper-over the Assad regime's continued violence and that there would be negative consequences felt in Syria as a result.

Another by-product of the issue has been some rather strange commentary emerging from Australia. Anthony Billingsley, a lecturer at the University of New South Wales, has written his thoughts about the Annan plan on Australian academic blog site The Conversation. His reasoning is a little difficult to follow – in more than one instance, his assessment of the geopolitics seems either misinformed or contradictory, particularly in regards to the American and Israeli role in the Syrian uprisings (emphasis added)...

Updates
 Iran and the Huawei controversy

Iran and the Huawei controversy Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, China, Iran, Updates    

Recently the Australian media has been focused on news that the Australian government blocked the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from participating in the national broadband network (NBN).

While most commentators are discussing the cyber security concerns, few are raising Huawei's questionable activities in Iran - with reports that Huawei empowered the Iranian regime to track dissidents during the 2009 demonstrations.

Aussie ex-pat brings Murray-Darling spirit to Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians

Aussie ex-pat brings Murray-Darling spirit to Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Israel, Jordan, Palestinians, Updates    

On a family rip back to Australia, Gidon Bromberg, an Australian environmental activist now living in Israel, picked up a copy of Chris Hammer's book The River: A Journey Through The Murray-Darling. Bromberg was inspired by Hammer's description of the process that led to the Federal Government passing legislation in 2007 to protect the river basin; so inspired, in fact, that he decided to bring Hammer to Israel and attempt to replicate the feat and help the long-suffering Jordan River.

Bromberg has written about this in today's Jerusalem Post...

Scribblings: The Media, the Disease and the Cure

Scribblings: The Media, the Disease and the Cure Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

The Finkelstein Inquiry into the Australian media has provoked a great deal of comment in the Australian media, most of it critical. And I share the view of the majority of commentators that the major proposal put forward by Finkelstein - for a government-funded body empowered to make legally enforceable and unappealable rulings on any alleged failure to meet agreed standards by any media outlet (including small blogs) - is, at the least, problematic. Any cure worse than the disease would be a mistake.

The Last Word: RID-ing against Intolerance

The Last Word: RID-ing against Intolerance Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Asia, Australasia, Interfaith Dialogue    

A visit to Semarang, the largest city in Central Java, is in many ways an assault on the senses. The humidity, with searing heat and blustery winds, is unavoidable, as are the blinding colours and the food which comes in two varieties - syrupy sweet or hot and spicy.

My recent trip, to participate as an Australian delegate to the 6th Asia/Pacific Regional Interfaith Dialogue (RID), included assaults, but welcome ones, on two other senses.

Media Microscope: Bombing in the Rocket War Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

During the four days of violence starting on March 9 that saw hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza at southern Israel, the Israeli military's precision responses remarkably managed to limit Palestinian fatalities to 25, of whom 22 were terrorists.

However, coverage of the conflict for the Age and Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) by Ruth Pollard, Fairfax's Middle East correspondent, consisted of two pieces that included glaring factual errors, lacked important background detail and obscured this reality.

Toulouse school's decision to cut security may have implications on Australia

Toulouse school's decision to cut security may have implications on Australia Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Europe, Media/ Academia, Terrorism, Updates    

In this post last month, I argued that the Jewish community in Australia does have the unfortunate need for security at Jewish schools, which remain a target for terrorists, a statement that I later affirmed after the Toulouse attacks. This was to rebut statements made by former Australian Jewish News editor Dan Goldberg, reported in The Age in January - well before the attack in Toulouse - suggesting that the money could be better spent elsewhere:

[Former AJN editor Dan] Goldberg suggested the rising costs of security were helping push up education fees so that ever more money would be spent on protecting ever fewer children...

Terror attack on Jewish school in France a stark reminder of antisemitic threat

Terror attack on Jewish school in France a stark reminder of antisemitic threat Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Europe, Far Right, International Jewry, Islamic Extremism, Terrorism, Updates    

Last month, I wrote in defence of the security concerns of Australia's Jewish community. With a heavy heart, I must note that these concerns have been unfortunately vindicated once again. Last night, a shooting attack outside Ozar Hatorah, a Jewish school in Toulouse, killed much-loved schoolteacher Yonatan Sandler, as well as his two sons -- Aryeh, age five, and Gavriel, age four -- as well as Miriam Monsonego, age seven. Another boy was injured.

According to the chilling AFP report, a masked gunman dismounted from a Yamaha scooter and began shooting, hitting Sandler as he tried in vain to sheild his sons. The shooter then chased after Miriam as she ran into the school, grabbing her and killing her at close range...

Australian terror twist following arrest in India for embassy attack

Australian terror twist following arrest in India for embassy attack Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, India, Iran, Terrorism, Updates    

Delhi Police have arrested an Indian journalist, Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi, a Shi'ite with connections to Iran for his alleged role in facilitating the February 13 bombing of an Israeli Embassy car. See previous AIJAC blog post on background on the attack.

Interestingly, reporting on this arrest has featured discussion of a previous alleged plot by Iranian proxies to prepare terror attacks in Australia...

The SMH’s quest to downplay the Iranian nuclear program

The SMH’s quest to downplay the Iranian nuclear program Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, International Security, Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

Seldom has there been such a brazen attempt to pass off pantomime as intelligent debate.

Saturday's edition of the Sydney Morning Herald's (SMH) weekly "The Question" section - which canvasses the opinions of four experts with presumed standing on a specific issue - addressed the topic of "Is the West destined for war with Iran? Deepening distrust is fuelling a new round of sabre-rattling."

A fair enough subject for discussion, however, the range of views left a lot to be desired...

Israel wows Coalition lawmakers

Israel wows Coalition lawmakers Author: Gareth Nurunsky Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media Releases    

SIX federal Coalition MPs who recently returned from Israel said they were full of praise for Israel's achievements, more understanding of its challenges and ready to spread the word.

Bradfield MP Paul Fletcher, Tasmanian Senator David Bushby, Paterson MP Bob Baldwin, South Australian Senator David Fawcett, Brisbane MP Teresa Gambaro and Cowan MP Luke Simpkins all travelled as part of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council's Rambam program.

Media Microscope: Nuclear Reactions Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

The recent international focus on Iran's nuclear ambitions generated a lot of heat and occasionally some light in the Australian media.

A Sydney Morning Herald (February 6) editorial astutely warned "there is simply no precedent for a revolutionary Islamist regime getting its hands on nuclear weapons." But there was no grasp that sanctions need a credible military option too, with the paper insisting "Israeli air strikes will only strengthen Tehran's determination to get the bomb".

An additional SMH editorial (Feb. 20) sensed Iran was holding out "the white flag of negotiation."

World Vision involved in alleged terror links - again

World Vision involved in alleged terror links - again Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, NGOs, Terrorism, Updates    

As has been widely reported, there has been controversy over support by World Vision and AusAID for a Palestinian group with alleged links to a terrorist organisation. While the current complaint is now being investigated by World Vision, it is worth recalling that this is not the first time that World Vision has been accused of making a controversial funding decision in the Palestinian Authority areas.

In the latest complaint, the Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Centre) wrote letters to AusAID and World Vision requesting that they discontinue their support of the Palestinian aid organisation the Union of Agricultural Work Committee, which it alleges is a subsidiary of the terrorist organisation the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine...

AIR
Politicians report on Israel visit

Politicians report on Israel visit Author: Henry Benjamin Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media Releases    

The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council has hosted a meeting in Sydney at which three Australian members of Parliament told of their experiences on a recent visit to Israel.

Liberal Bob Baldwin member for Paterson near Newcastle, Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Shadow Minister for Tourism, Liberal Teresa Gambaro represents Brisbane and is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for International Assistance and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Citizenship and Settlement and Tasmanian Liberal Senator David Bushby spent a week in Israel as guests of the Rambam Program which has in its ten years has hosted more than 500 journalists, politicians, youth leaders, union leaders and clergy on specially guided tours of the Holy Land.

The three politicians formed part of a group of six members of Federal Parliament.

Australia's Jewish community has legitimate security concerns

Australia's Jewish community has legitimate security concerns Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, International Jewry, Terrorism, Updates    

In yesterday's Age, Barney Zwartz has reported on a former editor of the Australian Jewish News questioning the amount that the community spends each year on security.

Goldberg is undoubtedly correct in one regard: the community could benefit from extra funding for education. That said, the unfortunate reality is that the money spent every year on security for the Jewish community goes to countering a very real threat.

For starters...

Media Week - McDonald's harm; Palestinian racing story the pits; Highly speculative speculation Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

The Sydney Morning Herald's Hamish McDonald (Jan. 21) came away from a recent visit to Israel with the view that the country's "old liberality" is being whittled away by the right and the ultra-orthodox.

The latter, he wrote, "are 20 per cent of the population, breeding three times faster than more secular Jews." In fact the ultra-orthodox are 11 per cent of the Jewish population. He also wrote that they "are spilling out into the lands occupied since 1967, whittling down the territory held out to the Palestinians for their future state."

Wrong again. Settlements themselves take up no more than 1-2 per cent of the West Bank, a fact Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accepted as true last November 3 on Arabic Radio As-Shams...

Updates
The Last Word: Prejudice and Promise

The Last Word: Prejudice and Promise Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Media/ Academia    

Cabramatta is one of my favourite suburbs in Sydney. It is colourful without being too boisterous, assertive without being too aggressive.

The substantial Vietnamese-Australian immigrant population has contributed in many ways, devoting industry and passion in efforts to ensure that their children were given every chance to be part of, and succeed in, Australian society.

As the SBS documentary series "Once Upon A Time in Cabramatta", broadcast in January, highlighted, there were quite a few factors militating against the migrants who came to Australia in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

AIR New Zealand: Surprises from a Predictable Election

AIR New Zealand: Surprises from a Predictable Election Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Australasia    

In a year punctuated by dramatic highs (the All Blacks finally winning the Rugby World Cup) and heartbreaking lows (the Christchurch earthquakes, the aftermath of the Pike River mining disaster), New Zealand's general election seemed to creep up and take many Kiwis by surprise. The lowest voter turnout since 1887 and the long-predicted, largely unsurprising election outcome combined to create something of a feeling that the entire event was merely an exercise in checking off a necessary democratic box.

Media Microscope: Unpromising Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

SBS TV showed a four-part drama, "The Promise", from Britain's Channel 4 and France's Canal+ and Arte France, which was characterised by rampant and crudely propagandistic political messages directed against Israel and Jews, selective, distorted portrayals of historical events, and the sanitising of Arab behaviour throughout the past seven decades.

Media Week - Serial Offender; Bad Move; White Wash

Media Week - Serial Offender; Bad Move; White Wash Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

Episode three of "The Promise" (11/12) sees British Mandate soldier Len, who has had his platoon raided and soldiers shot, has been caught in the King David Hotel bombing and has been shot on the street, kidnapped with two colleagues and held in a hole for 15 days, until he is released and his colleagues hanged. He must be the unluckiest soldier in the British army. In the present day, Len's grand-daughter Erin takes a Palestinian to the house, where he very pointedly asks her friend's parents where they are from "originally" and the mother begrudgingly tells him Hungary. She visits Hebron where she hears an Israeli tell a group, "You'll notice most of the streets around here are deserted. It's known as the sterile zone. Why? To make room for 500 Jewish settlers who have no right to be here under international law, almost the entire Palestinian population of Hebron has been moved out." This is a gross exaggeration and ignores the ancient history of Hebron's Jewish community, and its religious significance.

Media Week - Unpromising Start; Solar Flares; Court Out Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

SBS TV is showing a four-part drama, “The Promise”. The series, from Britain’s Channel 4 and France’s Canal+ and Arte France, has been widely criticised for its rampant bias against Jews and Israel. The first episode (27/11) introduced the main character, Erin, an 18-year-old English girl who stays with a rich Israeli family. She has the diary of her grandfather Len who served with the British troops in Palestine immediately after World War II, so the story switches between the British battling the treacherous Jews and the Israelis oppressing the Palestinians.

 

 Australia and US Senate seek tougher sanctions on Iran

Australia and US Senate seek tougher sanctions on Iran Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Australasia, Iran, Updates    

As we noted in a post last week, the EU lat weeked imposed new tougher sanctions on Iran, and today Australia followed suit.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd announced from Lithuania that Australian intends to impose additional sanctions in response to Iran's continuing non-compliance with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on its nuclear program.

Meanwhile, the US Senate has voted unanimously to pass the most stringent economic sanctions against Iran to date. However, the move was opposed to by the Obama administration.

AIJAC welcomes Australian support for further sanctions on Iran

AIJAC welcomes Australian support for further sanctions on Iran Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, International Security, Iran, Media Releases    

AIJAC welcomes the announcement by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd that Australia will be pursuing additional sanctions against Iran, including measures that will "further restrict business with Iran's petroleum and financial sectors."

Hopefully, these measures will, when enacted, bring Australia into line with the international consensus developing, which includes the US, EU and Canada, that, in the wake of the latest IAEA report on Iran's illegal nuclear program, the time has come to bring the maximum diplomatic/economic pressures on the Iranian regime before it is too late.

Gaddafi's Australian Groupies

Gaddafi's Australian Groupies Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Libya    

For those of a certain a generation, they are names from the past that cause equal measure of dread and derision.

They are the Australian cheer squad that relentlessly extolled Colonel Gaddafi's virtues in full view of his tyrannical excesses. Australians from both the extreme left and far right were not exempt from seeking his assistance, guidance and resources and proclaiming his virtues.

 

The Last Word: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Prescription

The Last Word: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Prescription Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

Between 1 October 1989 and 30 September 2011, I have logged incidents of "racist violence" against Jewish Australians and Jewish Australian institutions, including 566 of physical assaults or property damage, and 1,180 incidents of direct harassment and intimidation (mainly of families walking to or from synagogue).

Also recorded were: 679 incidents of telephone abuse and threats; 1,290 individual mailings of anti-Jewish material; 877 incidents of anti-Jewish graffiti; 3,168 examples of unique emails with anti-Jewish content and/or threats; and 664 incidents of other types, including faxes, leaflets, stickers, text messages and posters.

 

Media Week - One-Sided History; Freedom Riders?; Newton's Nonsense

Media Week - One-Sided History; Freedom Riders?; Newton's Nonsense Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Updates    

As part of its "Lost Worlds' series, SBS TV is showing a seven-part series from Britain's Channel 4 titled "The Bible: a History". The second instalment (13/11), "Abraham", was presented by Rageh Omaar, a former BBC journalist now with al-Jazeera. He described Israel as "land the Palestinians have occupied for centuries and which the Jews believe belongs to them." He seeks to cast the Jewish claim to Israel solely in religious terms, neglecting to mention that Jews have occupied the land continuously for thousands of years.

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.

AIR
Media Week - Wild Woolcott; Bedouin Brouhaha; Sober Warning

Media Week - Wild Woolcott; Bedouin Brouhaha; Sober Warning Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

Former DFAT head Richard Woolcott wrote a piece for the Age (11/11) critical of Australia's vote against Palestinian membership of UNESCO. Having spent more than half his article setting out the merits of Australia obtaining a seat on the UN Security Council, he then wrote, "In these circumstances, I find it both surprising and a decisive setback to our election prospects that the Prime Minister decided Australia should vote against the admission of Palestine to UNESCO."

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.

Media Week - Culture Wars; A Grandstanding Seat; Rice Revelations

Media Week - Culture Wars; A Grandstanding Seat; Rice Revelations Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

Writing in the Australian (4/11) in support of the decision by UNESCO to grant membership to the Palestinians, Izzat Abdulhadi, head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, claimed, "Israeli occupation has not seen the protection and preservation of these riches. Israeli occupation has seen deliberate neglect, damage and the ongoing seizure of Palestine's cultural heritage and territory as its own, violently and with impunity, excluding the interests and rights of all others. Yet Australia voted no to Palestinian membership of UNESCO, preferring, it would seem, the theft and destruction of Palestine's and the world's heritage and saying no to peace." By contrast, he claimed, "Palestine is committed to the protection and preservation of these treasures." The track record shows the opposite to be the case.

Media Week - Centre for Conflict; Panning partisan posturing; ‘Imbalanced' article Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

Jake Lynch, Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, criticised his university for holding a research forum between Israelis and Australians. He told Imre Salusinszky, "The university risks sustaining reputational damage if the forum goes ahead. It risks being seen as condoning the complicity by Israeli universities in Israel's breaches of international law and indirectly raises problems with the university's social inclusion policy" (Australian, 25/10). Salusinszky reported that, in a letter to the university's Deputy Vice Chancellor, Lynch "says the forum is contrary to the university's social inclusion policy, which requires it to reach out to students in western Sydney. He says most Muslim students live in the west and feel ‘a sense of resentment and alienation resulting from the predominance of pro-Israeli voices in Australia's political and media discourses'." Lynch, who is also an executive member of the Sydney Peace Foundation, which awards the Sydney Peace Prize, seems to have a very skewed notion of what peace actually entails.

Updates
AIJAC welcomes release of former researcher Ilan Grapel; "victim of judicial kidnapping".

AIJAC welcomes release of former researcher Ilan Grapel; "victim of judicial kidnapping". Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Egypt, Media Releases    

The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council has welcomed the release yesterday by Egypt of Ilan Grapel, who served as a visiting research fellow in its Melbourne office in 2009.

A law student at Emory University in Atlanta, USA, Mr. Grapel travelled to Egypt early this year to volunteer for a charity helping develop civil society there before being arrested in early June amidst allegations he was an Israeli agent. He was held for more than four months without any charges being formally laid against him...

 

Ilan Grapel and AIJAC

Ilan Grapel and AIJAC Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Egypt, Media/ Academia, Updates    

As readers will note from the accompanying media release, AIJAC is very relieved and pleased that Ilan Grapel, a bright young Israeli-American student, has now been released after more than four months of detention in Egypt. Ilan served a 2009 stint in AIJAC's Melbourne's office as a visiting Goldman Fellow, part of a program run by our American partner, the American Jewish Committee...

In honour of the occasion of his release, it seems worth recalling some of the work Ilan did for AIJAC back in 2009...

Meanwhile, there has been some interesting discussion internationally about the motivations for Grapel's arrest and detention by Egypt's interim government, and what it says about where Egypt is going...

Media Week - Shalit editorials; Who to ask; Protestor points Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

The Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange prompted various editorials. The worst, an inaccuracy-riddled effort in the Age (20/10), remarkably expressed the hope that the exchange would "prompt a rethink in Israel" and "be an incentive to renew negotiations". It doubted it would be, continuing, "In part, this is because Mr Netanyahu...refuses to end Jewish settlement activity on Palestinian land." This is clearly untrue, as the recent ten-month moratorium on building of houses in settlements demonstrated. That this did not lead to negotiation shows that Palestinian intransigence, not building within the existing boundaries of settlements is the problem. In addition, the land is not "Palestinian". The borders are to be settled by negotiation. The editorial goes on to advocate that Israel "accept Mr Abbas's conditions for talks." It should urge the Palestinians to talk without preconditions, as the Middle East Quartet proposed. Similarly, the Sydney Morning Herald editorial (20/10) stated, "The Israeli Prime Minister should also be reviewing his stance toward the Palestinian Authority."

Media Week – Shalit editorials; The Price; The Prisoners Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

The Australian (13/10) titled its editorial about the deal to release Gilad Shalit "Upholding a hallowed principle". With typical insight, it concluded, "It is galling to see terrorists released. We take comfort however from Shalit's imminent release from detention, which was against all international norms. We will share his joy when he is reunited with his family. The Israelis emerge with honour, having upheld the principle that human life is sacred and needless suffering cannot be endured. We can only hope that the returning Palestinians will do the same." A Sydney Morning Herald editorial (14/10) also sensitively considered Israel's dilemma, stating "To accede to the demands of any kidnapper is repugnant. It is all the more so when Hamas, which controlled Shalit's fate, has never abandoned the destruction of Israel as its stated aim. Yet equally, to abandon a captured soldier goes against human nature, as well as political good sense and the interest of Israel's defence force." 

Media Week - Fraser Strikes Again; Wakim's Rant; Perspective on Gilo Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

There has once again been a plethora of pieces about the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN. Probably the most misguided was by Malcolm Fraser in the Age (4/10). Dismissing as "thin" the sensible argument that agreement should come through negotiations, he disturbingly claimed that Western opposition to the Palestinian bid was "because of the lock that Israel has over the policies of too many Western countries." His "two major stumbling blocks to peace" were not Palestinian intransigence, but Palestinian division and "the expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank, the daily diminution of what might become Palestine." In fact, building in settlements since 2003 has only been within the existing settlement boundaries, so there has been no diminution of land.

 

Media Week – Statehood Stand-off; ABC's Boycott Boost Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Updates    

The Palestinian unilateral move for the UN to declare them a state again produced a vast array of media comment. The Australian (19/9) featured pieces by Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem and head of the General Delegation of Palestine Izzat Abdulhadi. Abdulhadi gave a history of the peace process that somehow omitted the offers of a Palestinian state and the Palestinian terrorism. Instead, he claimed, "Negotiating in good faith for 19 years, Palestinian people have not achieved freedom and independence in their own state, nor the end of the Israeli occupation."

On ABC Lateline, Palestinian official's veiled rejection of Israel's existence

On ABC Lateline, Palestinian official's veiled rejection of Israel's existence Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

ABC TV Lateline's Ali Moore interviewed Palestinian Authority official Nabil Shaath last night about the PA's UN statehood bid. Shaath , an experienced statesman, gave what on the surface may be perceived as a compelling argument for supporting the statehood bid; however, further analysis reveals inherent problems in his argument.

A key point that Shaath was attempting to put across was the PLO's supposed recognition of Israel:

Up till this minute, Israel have not recognised the right of the Palestinians to a Palestinian state on the border of '67. We still recognise Israel as an Israeli state...

[Post continues]

The Last Word: Bullies, demonisers and slanderers

The Last Word: Bullies, demonisers and slanderers Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia    

In recent weeks there has been a fair bit of attention on the activities of the anti-Israel bullies, demonisers and slanderers (who call themselves BDS for other reasons), who try to stop Australians from purchasing anything from hot chocolate and perfume to padlocks.

The more the boycotters are active, the more they are exposed as ignorant, malicious thugs. Rather than promote tolerance or peace-building, they promote bigotry and stereotyping.

 

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.

New Zealand withdraws from Durban III Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, United Nations, Updates    

New Zealand has decided to withdraw from the Durban III conference to be held on 22 September in New York. The previous two Durban "anti-racism" conferences are known to have been hijacked by antisemitism and anti-zionism, and as noted in a previous blog post, the document released for this conference make it clear that this one is unlikely to be an improvement.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully stated:

"We remain concerned that the commemoration of the 2001 Durban Declaration could re-open the offensive and anti-Semitic debates which undermined the original World Conference. For these reasons, we have decided not to participate".

In addition, Poland is also attempting to distance itself form from Durban III, as it has been reported that Poland does not plan to send an official delegation to participate in Durban III.

(Blog post continues)

Parliament discusses BDS and Durban III

Parliament discusses BDS and Durban III Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Israel, Updates    

For the third time in three months, on September 13, the Senate debated the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. In a fiery debate, the Coalition criticised the Greens for failing to condemn BDS in Parliament.

Senator Ron Boswell, (Queensland, Nationals), moved that Senate:

a) Condemns the intensification of the Global Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions campaign being conducted against Max Brenner chocolate cafes;

b) Rejects this tactic as a way of promoting Palestinian rights; and

c) Agrees with the New South Wales Greens MP Mr Jeremy Buckingham's assertion ‘that the tone and the public perception of the Max Brenner protests may be counterproductive to the cause of peace and human rights in the Middle East'.

(Blog post continues)

Australia reportedly singled out for intimidation at the UN

Australia reportedly singled out for intimidation at the UN Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Australasia, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, United Nations    

With the approaching Palestinian unilateral bid for statehood during the UN session which started this week, diplomats in New York revealed to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that pro-Palestinian pressure is a major factor underlying their countries' decision-making on whether to support or oppose the vote. According to the diplomats quoted by the newspaper, votes on the matter are largely based on countries' attempts to prevent retaliation against them from regional groups sympathetic or loyal to the Palestinian cause. Moreover, Australia was specifically mentioned in the article as a particular target for such efforts.

AIR

Media Week - Five star hotel, one star article; Gymnast for Palestine; Palestinian UN-truths exposed Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Updates    

The Age (27/8) ran a profile by Guardian Middle East correspondent Harriet Sherwood of Gaza's only five-star hotel. Adopting the usual kid gloves on Hamas but iron fist for Israel approach the Guardian excels at, Sherwood blamed the blockade for the hotel's lack of guests: "At times there have been long delays in getting imported supplies through the tightly controlled crossing from Israel into Gaza".

The blockade was co-enforced by Egypt on its shared border with Gaza until recently but the article ran in Britain last month at a time when Egypt had supposedly lifted the blockade. Failure to mention either of these facts, suggests alarming ignorance, partisan bias or both.

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.

 

Media Week – Doug's Diatribe; This is a Moderate?; Durban Planning Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Updates    

On the ABC TV panel show, "Q & A" (22/8), the conversation turned from Israel, to whether an Islamic country could achieve sufficient separation of church and state to become a true democracy. When the question was put to Labor Senator Doug Cameron, he replied, "Look, I think the issue of Israel and Palestine is huge in terms of trying to get world peace. I think Israel have had a massive amount of support from the world community over the years to establish the Israeli state but with that, I think, comes responsibility. And I don't think it's a beacon of democracy to have Operation Cast Lead. I don't think it is a beacon of democracy to use phosphorous bombs on kids. I don't think it is a beacon of democracy to be demolishing infrastructure in Palestine. So I just think we've got to get a bit of balance in this." It appears Cameron was so eager to attack Israel, he didn't care that it was irrelevant to the question.

AIR New Zealand: Suspicious minds Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Australasia, Israel    

Question: Do the following characteristics/actions/behaviours seem suspicious?

Having (and carrying) more than one passport while travelling. Wanting to contact your family and friends in any way possible after being caught up in a natural disaster. Leaving a country (to go home to your family) as soon as possible after being caught up in a natural disaster. Being a citizen of a country whose government representatives check up on its citizens if they are in a foreign country when a disaster occurs. Being a citizen of a country whose government offers a range of assistance to another country after a disaster has occurred.

Answer: Yes, apparently, they do in New Zealand.

Updates
The Last Word: Ten Years After

The Last Word: Ten Years After Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, NGOs, Terrorism    

It was late evening in Sydney.

Not many hours earlier, I had arrived home from South Africa, having participated in the World Conference Against Racism ("Durban I") and the NGO Forum which had preceded it.

The Jewish community in Sydney had asked me to provide a first hand account of the events, given the reports which they had heard of antisemitism, anti-Israel extremism, bullying and thuggery.

So I found myself giving what I had thought was a dry, unemotional recounting of the lows and highs of my previous two weeks.

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.

Greens attacked for their BDS blues

Greens attacked for their BDS blues Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Israel, Updates    

The Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment campaign became a focal point for passionate debate over the last two days as it reared its head in both the Australian Senate and Victorian Parliament.

First, the Greens maintained their 100 per cent success rate of refusing to vote in favour of any resolutions condemning boycotts of Israeli-owned or affiliated companies.

 

Max Brenner protesters' peaceful claims are confected nonsense

Max Brenner protesters' peaceful claims are confected nonsense Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Israel, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

Contradicting local boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) supporters who claimed their actions in preventing customers entering a Max Brenner chocolate store in Melbourne last month were peaceful, a prominent supporter of the campaign has condemned their behaviour as "indefensible" and "pretty stupid".

In an interview with the Australian, the president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, Reverend Jim Barr, warned that heavy-handed tactics which resulted in 19 activists being arrested had backfired.

 

Media Week: Bitter Chocolate; Unsettling introductions; Chill It

Media Week: Bitter Chocolate; Unsettling introductions; Chill It Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Updates    

The Daily Telegraph's Tim Blair commented in the Spectator (July 30) on the motivation of Leftist activists directing their rage at Israeli-owned chocolate shop Max Brenner.

Blair suggested they are obsessed with the chocolatier as a rallying cause in lieu of criticising federal Labor policies identical to those they noisily attacked when the Coalition was in power.

SMH editorial backs unhelpful course Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

On August 9, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) published an editorial "Fence-sitting, but the wisest course", which advocated that Australia abstain on the UN General Assembly resolution that is expected to seek UN recognition of an independent Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines.

The editorial was commenting on news that Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd held different positions on the Palestinian UN bid. According to the Age's Daniel Flitton, Rudd wrote to the Prime Minister suggesting that Australia abstain on the Palestinian UN resolution, while Gillard has declared strong support for Israel. The SMH editorial declared, "we believe Rudd's advice is the sound course".

Abstaining on the resolution is not a "sound course" but rather a counter-productive course. Australia should not merely abstain but should vote against the resolution in the interests of Middle East peace and a two-state solution. Unilateral acts by the Palestinians will not achieve either peace or statehood, but are likely to escalate the conflict.

Hot chocolate too tempting for anti-Israel activists?

Hot chocolate too tempting for anti-Israel activists? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Updates    

In an interesting turn of events, four of the 19 people arrested for engaging in the violent protests against an Israeli-owned cafe in Melbourne have been arrested for breaching their bail condition of not going within 50m of the cafe. As reported by the ABC:

Last month, 19 activists were arrested outside a Max Brenner store after allegedly chaining themselves to furniture. The group was not to go within 50 metres of the company's two two CBD stores. A spokeswoman for BDS says the four protesters were arrested early this morning...

[Post continues]

AIJAC welcomes Victorian Government's request for probe into BDS movement

AIJAC welcomes Victorian Government's request for probe into BDS movement Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media Releases    

AIJAC welcomes the decision of the Government of Victoria to ask the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to investigate whether organisations campaigning for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel have been conducting "secondary boycotts for the purpose of causing substantial loss or damage", in breach of section s45D of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

Media Week: Uni scholars miss the mark; None so blind...; All at sea Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Updates    

ANU PhD scholar Lee Schrader writing in the Canberra Times (22/7) doubted "whether any compromise is possible under the Netanyahu leadership, regardless of regional developments." Schrader's assessment is unduly harsh considering Netanyahu implemented a ten-month unilateral settlements building freeze in 2009 as a gesture towards restarting peace talks. With one month left of the freeze Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas took up the invitation but then only wanted to discuss extending the settlement freeze.

Ruthless terrorist group behind Somali famine

Ruthless terrorist group behind Somali famine Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Africa, Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Somalia, Terrorism, Updates    

The catastrophic drought in East Africa has created an all-but unprecedented humanitarian disaster. Commendably, many world leaders - including Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd - have called for the international community to provide immediate aid relief to the millions who are suffering.

When describing the tragic situation in Somalia, Michel Gabaudan, the president of Refugees International, has made the allegation that the Somali famine is "man-made". Gabaudan provides a pertinent reminder of the recent anarchic history of the war-ravaged nation...

AIR
New Zealand’s Mossad Paranoia

New Zealand’s Mossad Paranoia Author: Geoffrey Levin Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

After New Zealand media outrageously accused an Israeli victim of February's Christchurch earthquake of being a Mossad spy, Prime Minister John Key yesterday publically announce that an investigation demonstrated that neither the victim, Ofer Mizrahi, nor any of his friends, had any involvement in espionage. In a statement on Wednesday, Key said, "Security agencies conducted the investigation and found no evidence that the people were anything other than backpackers." It turns out Mizrahi held two passports, his Israeli and his EU one, rather than the five that a Southland Times article initially alleged. The story quickly spread throughout New Zealand newspapers, and was covered as one of the biggest stories of the week.

Only hours before Key's announcement, Fred Tulett, the journalist behind the initial story, said he was "unshakable in his conviction his facts are accurate."

Another anti-Israel rant by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Another anti-Israel rant by Randa Abdel-Fattah Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Syria, Terrorism, Updates    

On Wednesday, the Sydney Morning Herald featured a rant by Australian-born-Egyptian-Muslim-Palestinian pro-Palestinian activist Randa Abdel-Fattah arguing that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the latters' ongoing suffering stems from Israel supposedly seeking to safeguard the ''purity'' of a Jewish-only state.

The ostensible motivation for her article was a desire to share the numerous experiences of racism she claims to have witnessed when visiting Israel and the West Bank in May. Yet nowhere in the article is she able to recount a single example of the alleged racism because her real motive is to justify her support for a one-state solution.

Media Week - Boycott Precedents; Nuclear Naivety; This is News? Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

In his column in the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph and Adelaide's Advertiser (6/7), Andrew Bolt vented his disgust at the attempted picketing of a Max Brenner shop by pro-Palestinian activists. He wrote, "[In Australia] I never thought I'd see people picketing shops because their owners were Jewish...I've seen pictures of Jewish shops attacked before, of course, but they were in black and white, in another country at another ghastly time."

AIJAC welcomes Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s Visit to Max Brenner; Statements Against Boycott

AIJAC welcomes Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s Visit to Max Brenner; Statements Against Boycott Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Israel, Media Releases    

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Federal MP Mr Michael Danby should be highly commended for their visit yesterday to a branch of Max Brenner in Melbourne, a target of recent anti-Israel protests, where they took a strong stance against the boycott of Jewish and Israeli-owned business. Two weeks ago, Palestinian supporters of the boycott launched a protest outside the café that took a violent turn, leaving three policemen injured and 19 protesters arrested. The Herald-Sun reported Rudd calling the boycott "archaic" and saying, "I went there deliberately to make a point and that is I don't think in 21st century Australia there is a place for the attempted boycott of a Jewish business...I thought we had learned that from history." The Age also reported Rudd stating that: 

"As an individual citizen - that is me, K. Rudd - I am here because I object to the boycotting of Jewish businesses."

 

Updates

A False Linkage: Indonesian slaughterhouses and Kosher killing Author: Geoffrey Levin Categories: Australasia, International Jewry, Media/ Academia, Updates    

As a number of backbench Labor MPs have come out against the recent government decision to lift the suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia, partly on the basis that all animals should be stunned before slaughter, a false linkage has been made by some critics between the images from Indonesia's slaughterhouses and the killing of animals for Kosher consumption.

As noted in a recent post, numerous experts on the welfare of livestock, prominent amongst them Professor Temple Grandin, testify that Kosher slaughter is ethical and painless, with Grandin noting "I have observed that cattle held in an upright restraint device had almost no reaction to correctly done Kosher slaughter that was performed with a special long knife...the cut with the special knife appear to not cause pain" . Grandin concluded "It appears the animal is not aware that its throats has been cut."

 

Victorian Government Investigation into Race Hate Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Updates    

AIJAC welcomes the Victorian Government's decision to undertake an investigation into racist activity in Victoria and to ascertain the extent of racist incidents over the past ten years. The investigation will be conducted by the Victorian Government Multicultural Commission with the assistance of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

Could Australia's closest neighbour be a key to Middle East democracy?

Could Australia's closest neighbour be a key to Middle East democracy? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Egypt, Updates    

Being the country with the world's largest Muslim population, Indonesia's success in transitioning from a dictatorship to a relatively functional democracy over a short period of time arguably makes it the perfect example for the nations in the Middle East now attempting a similar feat. Giora Eliraz, author of Islam in Indonesia: Modernism, Radicalism and the Middle East Dimension certainly thinks so - observing that despite a traditional Arab disdain for South-East Asian Muslims, Egypt has been clandestinely working with the Indonesian authorities on developing a democratic model.

As he points out, Indonesia is perhaps a better partner in democracy building than the more obvious choice, Turkey, as the latter is...

 

Media Week – Threatened Journalists?; Who's a Goose? Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

In the lead up to the flotilla's proposed departure, Israel's Government Press Office wrote to journalists warning that any who sailed on it would be subject to exclusion from Israel for up to ten years, as is anyone who enters Israel or its territorial waters illegally. A June 28 Age editorial, however, made it seem journalists were singled out. It stated, "it is most disappointing that the Israeli government is threatening journalists with reprisals" and referred to it as a "threat to punish journalists." At least the following day, when Israeli PM Netanyahu intervened to ensure that journalists would be exempted from this routine policy, a Jason Koutsoukis article made it clear that was the case. However, the Israeli letter to the journalists should never have been misrepresented as it was, and had Netanyahu not intervened, Age readers may well have remained unaware of the true situation.

Time for another look at banning Hizb-ut-Tahrir?

Time for another look at banning Hizb-ut-Tahrir? Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Europe, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

Concerns about the operations in Australia of radical Islamist group Hizb ut Tahrir's (HT) should be renewed yet again following a conference hosted by the group on July 3, at Lidcombe, which drew about 1000 people. The fundamentalist group called for the establishment of a caliphate stretching from the Middle East to Indonesia.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that at the conference, Muslims in Australia were urged to join the uprisings that have toppled regimes across the Middle East, to renounce moderate forms of the religion and to reject democracy.

Israel jumps in Global Innovation Index

Israel jumps in Global Innovation Index Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Israel, Updates    

Israel has jumped 9 places to number 14 in the 2011 Global Innovation Index (GII). Coming from a rank of 23 last year, Israel flew past Australia - which fell from 18 in 2010 to 21 in 2011 - into the top 15 most innovative countries in the world, blitzing the other Middle East and North Africa (MEA) countries, with number 27, Qatar, being the only other country from the region in the top 30.

The GII is a project led by...

An Australian Hamas operative?

An Australian Hamas operative? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

An Australian man who was arrested in Israel recently has now been formally charged with spying for Hamas, a proscribed terrorist organisation both in Australia and in Israel, and has faced an initial court hearing.

As reported by the ABC:

Eyad Abu Arja was arrested along with his wife when he arrived at Tel Aviv airport in March, and has been in custody ever since.

The Truth about Kosher Slaughter Author: Geoff Levin Categories: Australasia, International Jewry, Updates    

The Sunday Age has recently published two articles, an editorial, and a blog post alleging that Kosher slaughter causes undue pain to animals, advocating legislation that would effectively end the production of kosher meat in Australia.

While the articles repeatedly claimed that unstunned slaughter means an inhumane "up to 20 seconds" of pain for sheep, this conflicts with many expert opinions that confirm that Kosher slaughter is ethical, painless, and humane.

AIR
AusAid, Apheda and BDS - Part 2

AusAid, Apheda and BDS - Part 2 Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Australasia, Palestinians    

An article in last month's AIR entitled "Are Australian Tax Dollars indirectly funding BDS?" looked at revelations from the October 2010 Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee - Budget Supplementary Estimates Committee hearings which suggested that it was possible that Australian tax dollars were funding elements of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel through the federal government's international aid agency, AusAID.

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?

 

For Evans Sake!

For Evans Sake! Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Updates    

Former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans appeared on Jon Faine’s “Conversation Hour” on 774 ABC Melbourne on June 16, giving his take on the Middle East and demonstrating we’re lucky he is no longer in the role.

Updates
Australian Parliament raises concern for arrested student Ilan Grapel

Australian Parliament raises concern for arrested student Ilan Grapel Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Australasia, Egypt, Israel, Updates    

On 22 June, Federal MP Jamie Briggs (Mayo, Lib.) made a speech in the House of Representatives drawing the Parliament's attention to the arrest in Egypt of American-Israeli Ilan Grapel. Mr. Grapel was arrested earlier this month for alleged involvement in espionage and formenting sectarian strife in Egypt. As Mr Briggs rightly points out: "These allegations at best seem far-fetched and when you consider that Mr Grapel is a regular visitor to the Middle East and had entered Egypt under his own name on his own passport [and] was posting daily messages on Facebook, the allegations do raise significant concern."

Mr Briggs also commented: "This is similar, sadly, to the five year anniversary of the detention of Israeli citizen Gilad Shalit, who has been held by Hamas since 2006."

Media Week - BDS Q&A Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Updates    

BDS Q & A

The issue of Marrickville Council's support for the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign against Israel was raised on the ABC TV discussion program "Q & A" (6/6). Greens Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon reaffirmed her support for the campaign, accusing Israel of apartheid. Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said calling Israel apartheid is "an extreme link that doesn't really serve the arguments well." Comedian Sandy Gutman, better known as Austen Tayshus, said, "It's just antisemitic. That's all it is." Asked if he supported the boycott, Fairfax journalist Paul McGeough certainly seemed to do so, saying, "Well, I think it's a very clear way to get the debate about the Middle East going in western communities. It's fantastic in Washington at the moment where you get BDS campaigns outside Joe the Trader and various other shops, in particular about a brand of hummus that comes from Israel... Because it's part of a campaign against Israel to make Israel respond on the two state solution." Despite his being a foreign correspondent, it seems to have escaped McGeough's notice that Israel has been responding on the two-state solution since 1993.

Deconstruction Zone: Festival follies Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

"We need to be wary of the rise of the polemicist. Polemic is different from journalism."

This simple statement from veteran journalist Paul Kelly at a session of the recent Sydney Writers' Festival seems as if it should go without saying. Unfortunately, it served as a rather ominous warning for those attending other sessions at the partially tax-payer funded Festival.

On Israel/Palestine issues, this year's Festival featured two high-profile international guests with important things to say related to the Middle East - Palestinian doctor and writer Izzeldin Abuelaish, who lost three daughters in the 2008-9 Gaza war, and British novelist Howard Jacobson. Both of these figures have very positive messages, promoting a genuine Israeli-Palestinian two-state peace and reconciliation. However, the program and atmosphere of the Festival managed to both prevent their positive views from being fully explored, and constantly pitted them against much more extreme Australian voices.

What's Old is New Again

What's Old is New Again Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

Peace is not made solely through agreements, it is made through both sides accepting each other's legitimacy and working together. BDS and other attacks on Israel's existence have only ever served to vindicate the voices saying that peace and reconciliation are impossibilities. Well-meaning people have been duped by this movement into thinking that they are fighting for human rights. However the policy today is as malicious as the boycott of Jewish settlements was in 1922. For all its carefully-framed rhetoric, its leaders have but one true aim, which they occasionally admit - to end the Jewish state.

The Last Word: The Bullies' Pulpit

The Last Word: The Bullies' Pulpit Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Israel, Palestinians    

Was there ever a time when anti-Israel students felt afraid? Certainly, anti-Zionist fundamentalists, thuggish Israel-bashers and others have been in institutions where they have lost sympathy, debates and votes. But have they ever had to navigate an environment of threats and intimidation?

Have pro-Palestinian, pan-Arab or expansionist Islamist voices been shouted down, physically attacked, bullied or harassed on Australian campuses or in other forums?

I am not talking about anti-Muslim or anti-Arab prejudice, bigotry and racism - which does exist and can have violent manifestations - but thuggish attacks on people seeking to advocate a political position.

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".

 

The Last Word: Open to Scrutiny

The Last Word: Open to Scrutiny Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Islamic Extremism    

While other mosques, together with temples, churches and synagogues, routinely welcome members of the public, a mosque associated with the infamous Sheikh Tajeddin el-Hilaly and an association which has been identified with the controversial and self-contradictory Keysar Trad had more reason than most to display openness and engagement.

The Last Word: The Green Devolution Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Libya    

Gaddafi has had a few supporters who from time to time promoted his "wisdom". In fact, my copy of Jamahiriya: Era of the Masses, which contains Gaddafi's poetry as well as philosophy, was obtained gratis at the now-defunct Sydney bookshop of the pro-Soviet Socialist Party of Australia

AIR

The Last Word: Sea of Blood Libels Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Middle East    

On a balmy summer's day in Sydney recently, a friend who is a respected intellectual figure and religious personality in a significant Muslim-majority country told me some of the contemporary claims about Jews and Israel which he encounters, from leading public figures, on a daily basis.

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.

Updates

AIR New Zealand: Unity leads to Shechita victory Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Australasia    

Communal unity often comes about as a result of a polarising issue, a scandal or a tragedy. For the New Zealand Jewish community, such unity has been evident this year due to the issue of shechita (traditional kosher slaughtering practices) - and the fight against the government’s attempt to ban it.

Editorial: Hate - What's Old is New Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, International Jewry    

Of course, disproportionate hatred of Israel is nothing new - nor are attempts at making parallels of Nazi treatment of Jews with Israeli treatment of Palestinians, however ignorant, offensive and morally bankrupt these attempted parallels are. What is new, and what is making observers increasingly worried, is the mainstreaming of these sentiments over the last few years.

AIR New Zealand: Turning Green? Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Australasia, Israel    

Following the success of the Greens in the recent Australian federal election, it seems timely to review the experience with New Zealand's Green Party over recent years and especially its stance towards Israel and the Jewish community.

AIR

The Lunar Landscape, Post-Election Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Israel, Middle East    

The recent federal election was unlike any other since World War II, and may have changed politics in this country forever. What did not change, however, was the plethora of minor and special interest parties participating. As always, a number of these had policies that would be of concern to the majority of the Jewish community. This article examines both the policies and the electoral performances of these fringe parties.

The Biblio File: Justice, Not Denied

The Biblio File: Justice, Not Denied Author: Lauren Jones Categories: Australasia, Holocaust/ War Crimes, International Jewry    

After 30 years devoted to identifying, hunting down, and lobbying foreign governments to prosecute suspected war criminals, comes a long-awaited memoir by Efraim Zuroff, historian and current Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem. Despite the passage of time, decline in health and advanced age of the alleged Nazi war criminals, Zuroff launched "Operation Last Chance" in 2002, a final attempt to bring remaining war criminals to justice via a system of rewards for verifiable tips about previously unidentified suspects.

Editorial: In the Balance Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Middle East    

The next prime minister of Australia should be whoever can more convincingly promise a stable coalition able to undertake the responsibilities of government more effectively. Overseas and Australian state government experience demonstrates that stable, effective minority government is possible given the proper attitude of seriousness, sobriety and responsibility on the part of all the relevant political actors.

AIR New Zealand: A Tzur Thing Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Australasia, Israel    

When Israel reopened an embassy in Wellington in April this year, it seemed obvious that the new Ambassador, Shemi Tzur, and his staff had a big job in front of them. Almost a decade without on-the-ground representation, as well as some years of troubled diplomatic relations between Israel and New Zealand, meant that Kiwi perceptions of Israel had, in many ways, been quite badly damaged.

Updates

The Last Word: Ideology Above Humanity Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Israel, Palestinians    

What struck me then, and continues to strike me, was their complete lack of concern, sometimes even contempt, for the human beings they claimed to champion and the hatred for the human beings on the other side of the political divide. There was no regard for Palestinians who sought co-existence with Israelis, just uncritical support for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). The idea of institution building, self-determination of individuals or developing any paradigm which could lead to a win-win outcome were simply not on the agenda.

AIJAC welcomes further Australian sanctions on Iran Categories: Australasia, International Security, Iran, Media Releases    

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) today welcomed the Australian Government's announcement that further sanctions are to be placed on Iran. AIJAC National Chairman Mark Leibler AC said, "Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is a destabilising factor in an already unstable region. We congratulate the Australian government on imposing these additional sanctions on Iran to help force it to comply with international opinion and UN Security Council resolutions, to stop its enrichment program and open up all nuclear sites to unfettered access for international inspectors."

Editorial: Reaffirming Bipartisanship Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel, Middle East    

Once again, the Australian Jewish community is fortunate enough to have the choice between two prime ministerial candidates who strongly defend Israel's right to exist in peace and security. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott continue the tradition of Australia's bipartisan support for Israel

Scribblings: Going Green? Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Australasia, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

There does seem to be one prediction on which most election analysts agree - the Australian Greens are likely to wind up controlling the balance of power in the Senate. This will be worrying to many in the Australian Jewish community because not only does the Greens party's membership base seem, on past form, susceptible to radical anti-Zionism, but some of the party's official policies look strongly concerning - to say the least.

Election Face-off Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, International Security, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Terrorism    

Despite the obvious concern that accompanies any change of government - particularly one that had ruled for 11 years - by and large the changeover to the Australian Labor Party saw a continuity of bipartisanship on a raft of Israel and Jewish communal issues. The sudden change of the prime ministership from Kevin Rudd to Julia Gillard in late-June does not dramatically change this calculus and may even strengthen it, with the latter's long standing commitment to the Jewish State and the Australian Jewish community not in question. Indeed, Gillard reaffirmed her support for Israel upon assuming the leadership...

Media Microscope: Age Old Problem Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

The Age newspaper has, at times, been noticeably skewed against Israel. Recently, there seemed to have been some signs of improvement, but sadly, over the last month, it has regressed. For example, some time ago, it was common that phrases in stories by Fairfax correspondent Jason Koutsoukis would appear in the Age with an anti-Israel slant not present in the same report in the Sydney Morning Herald. Now the same is happening with reports sourced internationally.

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.

AIR

Media Microscope: Housing Crisis Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

On ABC TV, Anne Barker declared, "The growth of Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank is the biggest obstacle to peace." Apparently the ongoing Palestinian terror and refusal to even talk come somewhere behind the building of houses.

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.

Updates

AIR New Zealand: Kiwis in Turtle Bay Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Australasia, Israel    

In several columns last year I wrote that the diplomatic relationship between New Zealand and Israel appeared to be improving - due to the new more Israel-friendly National-led government and the imminent reopening of an Israeli Embassy in Wellington.

AIJAC Congratulates Australia for its role in helping Israel achieve membership of UN subgroup Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media Releases, United Nations    

AIJAC's Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein said, "Australia should be congratulated for its role in facilitating Israel's membership of this subgroup. I hope this means Israel will finally be allowed to take part in all UN activities. For too long, Israel has been denied equal treatment at the UN. This is a small, albeit much delayed, step toward an end to the anti-Israel ground rules and hostile sentiment that has long prevailed in the halls of the UN."

Media MIcroscope: Siege Mentality Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

The media predictably commemorated the anniversary of Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza with pieces and reports bemoaning the continuing state of "siege". Many failed to blame Hamas for this situation, which would be remedied if Hamas renounces violence, recognises Israel and accepts existing agreements, as the Quartet has been demanding.

The Last Word: Peer Pressure Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia    

The Australian think-alikes distributed curricula vitae of their spokespersons, looking suspiciously like job applications, with anti-Israel disinformation, while urging Australians to exploit the Open as an opportunity to join the defamation of all Israelis.

Climate of Hate Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

Virtually every day I see one or more reports of a Jewish person being assaulted, Jewish communal property vandalised, abusive and threatening emails, offensive letters and telephone calls or abuse yelled at identifiably Jewish people from passing vehicles.

Media Microscope: Cracking the Codes Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

AIJAC was confident that Bowen's comments were in breach of both the Codes and the Directive, so we sent a formal complaint to the SBS Ombudsman. Both Israelis and Palestinians claim the rights to the disputed land, yet Bowen clearly arbitrates in favour of the Palestinian claim.

AIR New Zealand: UN-Focused Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians, United Nations    

When the report on the United Nations inquiry into the most recent Israel-Gaza conflict was released, I immediately thought that it would be interesting to observe what type of comment it generated in New Zealand. Although Kiwis often have little time for the United Nations, the conflict itself had generated a lot of attention and heat.

Media Microscope: Questionable Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

It has become increasingly noticeable that while the ABC TV show "Q & A" sometimes features members of the Muslim community who are also effectively there representing their community, Jewish individuals featured tend to be those strongly critical of Israel.

AIR

Media Microscope: Settling for Spin Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

Much of our media has taken the Palestinian line that the settlements are the main obstacle to peace. Unfortunately, not only are the settlements focused on too heavily, at the expense of the real problem - especially continued Palestinian intransigence and division - but many reports on the West Bank and east Jerusalem are becoming increasingly one-sided and exaggerated, with some bordering on hysterical.

Updates

Editorial: Talking Terrorism Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Terrorism    

Australia, the West and many other countries, including many in the Arab and Muslim world, are engaged, against their will, in a struggle with groups that use violence in the name of an ideology rooted in one interpretation of a major world religion. This reality must be stated clearly – it cannot be obfuscated.

Julia and Friends in Jerusalem Author: Yehonathan Tommer Categories: Australasia, Israel    

Julia Gillard's visit to Israel last month was a success, though it barely made a splash in the local Israeli media. The Deputy Prime Minister's meetings with Israeli leaders were described as a "substantive exchange" and these are expected to stimulate an overall upgrading of diversifying bilateral ties.

The Last Word: Unspeakable Cruelty Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Iran, Islamic Extremism    

When speaking with a leader of the Baha'i community in Australia recently, our conversation inevitably turned to events in Iran. In May 2008, seven leaders of this community were seized from their families, imprisoned and faced allegations of grave seriousness. For 15 months, there have been regular indications that trials will occur and that people whose only real offence seems to be their religious beliefs will have the chance to mount legal defences. But the Iranian regime is not only authoritarian and brutal, but almost unspeakably cruel.

AIR New Zealand: Durban Dissent Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

Ever since I heard that a "Durban II" conference on racism was going to be held, I've watched with interest to see whether New Zealand would be involved and what sort of public dialogue might occur about our stance.

AIR Updates

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.

Symposium: Perceptions of the Middle East and the Gaza War - Australia Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Iraq, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Monographs/ Submissions    

The reaction of Australia's government, media, and elite, and public opinion to Israel's December 2008-January 2009 military operations against Hamas in Gaza was mixed. At the government level, both the Labor government as well as the Liberal opposition voiced strong, consistent, and principled support for Israel's right to defend itself.

Time for Australia to withdraw from the Durban II process Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Israel, Media Releases    

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council today called for the Australian government to withdraw from the process leading to the UN's scheduled "Durban Review Conference". The conference, known as "Durban II", is intended to be a follow up to the 2001 Durban "anti-racism" conference which degenerated into frequent displays of open antisemitism by NGO representatives

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.

AIR New Zealand: The battlelines of summer Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Australasia, Israel    

In the public sphere, regular anti-Israel protests and demonstrations took place around the country. At one such protest in Wellington, Catholic priest Gerard Burn sprinkled red paint mixed with a drop of his own blood, on a memorial monument to Yitzhak Rabin.

Media Microscope: Wrong on the Right Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

The Feb. 12 Age and Herald editorials both wrongly claimed that Netanyahu rejects a two-state solution and the peace process, and portrayed Israel's election results as a blow for peace, implicitly absolving the Palestinians of any responsibility for the state of the peace process.

AIR

Australia to have representative on peak international dialogue group Categories: Australasia, Europe, Interfaith Dialogue, International Jewry, Media Releases    

The International Jewish Committee on Inter-Religious Consultation (IJCIC), a coalition of major international Jewish organisations representing world Jewry to other religions, is to have direct Australian input. "I am pleased to announce the inclusion of Jeremy Jones, the Director of International & Community Affairs of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, as part of the delegation of the American Jewish Committee to IJCIC," Mark Leibler, AIJAC's national chairman said this week.

Updates

The Last Word: An Intolerable Tolerance Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Media/ Academia    

Mixed with chants such as "Bomb the Jews" and children bearing placards bemoaning that Jews didn't get enough Nazi treatment, were many posters and signs claiming Israel/Jews were perpetrating a Holocaust, that the Star of David was the same as the swastika and/or that the Jewish people are involved in genocide.

The Good, the Bad, the Very Ugly Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

In a truly disgusting piece in the Business section of the January 17 Age, for which the paper subsequently apologised, Michael Backman ludicrously claimed that Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is "at the nub" of the 9/11, Bali and London terror attacks and solely responsible for Muslim enmity for Israel.

Australia and Israel have common concern with terrorism Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media Releases, Palestinians, Terrorism    

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council today welcomed Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard's recognition that the terrorist organisation Hamas' act of aggression in firing rockets and mortars in to Israel unilaterally breached the ceasefire and is responsible for the end of the truce in Gaza, with Israel responding to Hamas' actions and threats.

Editorial: Failing the Grade Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Media/ Academia    

The Majority report's politicised approach to the inquiry was very disappointing, as there are legitimate and serious issues regarding bias and intimidation at Australian universities that concern students, and should concern legislators of all political stripes.

UN-healthy Fixations Author: Adam Frey Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Israel, United Nations    

Continuing its yearly tradition, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) debated and voted on a cavalcade of recycled anti-Israel resolutions during its November sessions. This annual rehashing of the same anti-Israel ritual presents an opportunity to review Australia's voting record on the issues and assess the progress in combating the anti-Israel bureaucracy entrenched at the UNGA and UN generally.

Media Microscope: Lessons from Mumbai Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Terrorism    

As tends to be the case after any major terrorist attack, media commentators and editorial writers reacted to the Mumbai atrocity by trying to extract lessons for the benefit of their loyal readers. Two Age editorials were careful to appropriately condemn the terrorists, but still inappropriately put the onus on the civilised world.

The Last Word: Offence and Threats Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

When some Sydney teenagers created a group on the social networking internet platform "Facebook", on which they posted photos of poorly or creatively parked vehicles and made infantile and sometimes offensive comments about Jews, they were apparently oblivious to the public nature of their activities and the consequences of their actions.

Antisemitism in Australia - 2007/08 Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Reference    

During the twelve months ending September 30, 2008, 652 reports were recorded of "racist violence" against Jewish Australians. These incidents included physical assault, vandalism, threatening telephone calls, hate mail, graffiti, leaflets, posters and abusive emails. This exceeded by 2% the previous highest total, recorded in the year ending September 30, 2007. It was more than twice the previous average annual total.

AIR

Keyed Up In Wellington Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Australasia, Israel    

Given the consistency of the pre-election polls, the results of the New Zealand election on Nov. 8 would have come as a shock to few Kiwis - John Key's National party handily defeated the Labour party, led by Helen Clark, the prime minister for the past (almost) 9 years.

Updates

The Last Word: Analysing Australian Antisemitism Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

The raw data on anti-Jewish assaults, vandalism and harassment in Australia makes for sobering reading. In the 12 month period concluding on September 30, 2008, Jewish communal institutions in Australia received a total of 652 reports of incidents which unambiguously fall under the definition of "Racist Violence"

AIJAC expresses mixed feelings about Australian UN Voting on the Middle East Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media Releases, United Nations    

The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) today welcomed the Australian Government's commitment to maintain the principle that Australian voting on United Nations resolutions on the Middle East should be based on both an understanding of "Israel's legitimate security concerns" and the commitment to only support resolutions which are helpful in achieving "a two-state resolution of the conflict which results in a secure Israel living beside a viable Palestinian state."

AIR New Zealand: Key and the Kiwi Election Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Australasia    

The members of New Zealand's small Jewish community have differing views on the domestic issues which have dominated the campaign, but nonethless have a particular interest in following the fortunes of National party leader John Key. Key would become New Zealand's third Jewish prime minister if the National party wins government.

Media Microscope: Roy-al treatment Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians    

Each year the Australian Friends of Palestine bring out a speaker to give the Edward Said Memorial Lecture and, while they're here, to do the media rounds. Naturally, the speaker shares their views about the Israeli-Palestinian situation, but this year, they had a beauty in Dr. Sara Roy, a Jewish senior researcher in "political economy" at Harvard University and the daughter of Holocaust survivors.

The Last Word: Lack of Debate Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Iran, Media/ Academia    

As Adelaide's Fredrick Toben awaits judgements on whether he will, on appeal, be extradited from the UK to Germany, and/or will be found to be in contempt of the Federal Court of Australia due to the Holocaust denial material he has published over many years, reports reached Australia of the publication in Iran, of a "100-page book of cartoons on the Holocaust".

The Last Word: A Matter of Opinion Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

Having analysed data on anti-Jewish activity in Australia, I have often observed that the most important co-efficient of increased antisemitism in Australia is increased racism in general, and the Pew Project received headlines such as "Anti-Jew, anti-Muslim attitudes rise in Europe".

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.

AIR

Submission to Senate Committee Inquiry into Academic Freedom - 2008 Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia, Monographs/ Submissions    

AIJAC's position in this matter is that academic freedom is a right that should be respected, and that the balance between the right of academic freedom and the duty to educate students - as well as maximise excellence in academic research grounded in analytical clarity and quality empirical evidence - is one that can be maintained.

Scribblings: Mixed Messages on Iran Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Australasia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

In my view, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd got his policy message on Iran pretty much right the other day in remarks to Greg Sheridan in the Australian (July 19). He endorsed diplomacy as "a critical means by which to secure an outcome" but he also, according to Sheridan, appeared to agree with the American position of refusing to take a military option off the table as a last resort.

Updates

Counter-Terror Contretemps Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Terrorism    

The study has since been repeatedly cited in the Australian media as having "proved" that community policing is the key to counter-terrorism. However, the empirical portion of the study cannot support such sweeping claims, and its conclusions are rejected at least in part by many of the country's top counter-terrorism experts.

Media Microscope: Botched Balancing Act Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

To mark the anniversary of Israel's independence, SBS showed two documentaries about the war of 1947-49. The first, "I Remember 1948", shown on May 13, was so tilted towards the most extreme, absurd Palestinian narrative of the events of 1947-48 that it was laughable.

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.

 

Alexander Downer speech to American Jewish Committee upon receiving the Ramer Award for Excellence in Diplomacy, Washington D.C. Categories: America, Australasia, Europe, International Jewry, Israel, Speeches    

The Australian and American Jewish communities have a lot in common. In both cases Jews have found in our countries the peace and tolerance which was denied them over the centuries in Europe and the Middle East: but they have not only found freedom and tolerance in Australia and America, they have contributed mightily to our two societies.

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.

Editorial: An Amazing 60 Years Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel    

Israel's story over the last 60 years has been an amazing and inspiring one. In the welter of debate over terrorism and violence, peace plans and peace processes, accusation and counter-accusation, it is easy to lose sight of what can only be regarded as a remarkable record.

Essay: A Distant Affinity Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Israel    

Geopolitically, there is little reason to expect Australia and Israel to have any closer relationship than any other two states of a comparable size and similar distance from one another... But in reality, over the past 60 years the relationship has been at an entirely different level from any similar such dyads - much more intense, emotional and politically important.

AIR

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.

Media Microscope: Latest from Ramsey Street Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

Sydney Morning Herald columnist Alan Ramsey has become known for writing his articles by quoting at length and endorsing those with whom he agrees - as well as for his vitriolic attacks on Israel. So the occasion of the parliamentary motion congratulating Israel on its 60th anniversary could not be allowed to pass without a Ramsey classic.

Updates

Editorial: Sorry - An Inspirational First Step Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia    

Last month, Kevin Rudd used the occasion of his first parliamentary sitting as Prime Minister to make history: he apologised to Indigenous Australians, and particularly the Stolen Generations, for the policies and practices of past Australian governments.

AIR New Zealand: Columns and Calumny Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Media/ Academia    

Happily searching for a good merlot at the local supermarket, I sensed rather than heard the commotion in a distant part of the store. On listening more closely, I could hear a familiar voice saying something about Israel. Curiosity piqued, and clasping my bottle of wine, I headed towards the checkouts - where I found my partner engaged in a heated ?discussion? with a local political columnist.

The Last Word: Australian Vision Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia    

The occasion of the Parliamentary apology offered to Indigenous Australians gives cause for reflection. When I attended the inaugural meeting of Faith Communities for Aboriginal Reconciliation on behalf of the Jewish community, I was overwhelmed by the high regard in which so many Indigenous leaders held Australian Jewry.

UN-reformed Author: Adam Frey Categories: Australasia, International Security, Israel, Palestinians    

The General Assembly routinely promotes and passes blatantly one-sided, anti-Israel resolutions; the UN Human Rights Council ...has so far been no better than its predecessor; and there are four distinct bodies within the UN bureaucracy that are devoted solely to advancing the Palestinian narrative of the conflict while demonising Israel.

AIR New Zealand: Grave Matters Author: Miriam Bell Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

In October, a Jewish cemetery in Wellington was desecrated. Again. Like many Jewish New Zealanders, when I heard about the latest attack I had a sad sense of deja vu. This sort of thing should not, and is not meant to, happen in our "fair go for all", egalitarian country. But it does.

Canberra and Jerusalem: A New Era begins Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Iraq, Israel, Middle East    

A change of government always ushers in new emphases, personnel, policies and preferences. AIR therefore sought the views of a number of knowledgeable and interested figures in Australia and Israel, asking them both to evaluate the current state of Australia-Israel relations and assess how the new Rudd Government might affect the current state of affairs.

The Last Word: Youth: Faithful and Empowered Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

To meet Luluk Nur Hamidah is to be impressed. A dynamic, irrepressible academic, poet and political activist with Indonesia?s - and most likely the world?s - largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, Luluk expressed opinions on virtually every topic raised at the inaugural Youth Interfaith Forum in Perth in December, with passion and an overwhelming commitment to democratic values and interfaith cooperation.

AIR

Editorial: Australia's Next Three Years Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Asia, Australasia, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

This month's issue of AIR goes to press as Australians head to the polls. Whichever party has won government, John Howard's and Kevin Rudd's answers to the AIR's policy questionnaire in the October issue allow us to say with confidence that Australia will be in good hands on the key issues important to the Australian Jewish community.

The Last Word: The Worst of Years Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

In late November, the US Justice Department released the FBI's 2006 Hate Crime Statistics. While few who follow the media will be surprised to read of 156 'Anti-Islamic' incidents, the 967 'Anti-Jewish' attacks in the same table provides a rare perspective.

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.

Updates

Media Microscope: Balance at the Age Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

British-based Palestinian writer and academic Ghada Karmi, in Australia recently giving talks at various universities, represents an extreme school of thought in relation to the peace process. Her solution is that Israel should cease to exist as a Jewish state, being replaced with a single state, which obviously would have an Arab majority.

Editorial: Mention the War Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, International Security, Terrorism    

A few weeks ago, former High Court Chief Justice Sir Gerard Brennan told a Law Council of Australia conference that some incursions on individual freedom and the values of the common law as part of counter-terrorism laws may be essential to combat the risk of terror.

Head to Head Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, International Jewry, International Security, Iraq, Middle East, Terrorism, United Nations    

As has become traditional in the lead-up to a federal election, the Australia/Israel Review posed a series of questions to Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd focusing on international security, the Middle East, and domestic polices of special interest to the Australian Jewish community.

The Last Word: The Pen and the Saud Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Media/ Academia    

On a recent visit to Lakemba, I popped in to one of the larger Islamic bookstores and enquired about texts outlining and explaining different schools of Islamic jurisprudence. The bookseller was keen to help, showing me what he had for sale, and explaining that some books were much cheaper than others because of state subsidies for Islamic texts.

AIR

Drip Feed Author: Eyal Halamish Categories: Australasia, Israel    

Water is the basic building block of life, but in Australia, up until recently, it has been largely taken for granted.

Media Microscope: Stephen Strikes Back Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Media/ Academia    

As mentioned last month, Prof. Alvin Rosenfeld appeared on Radio NationalÂ?s Â?Religion ReportÂ? to comment on the British and Australian Â?Independent Jewish VoicesÂ? groups. As Rosenfeld was critical of these groups, the following week, on Feb. 21, the program gave equal time to Tony Lerman, a supporter of the British group.

Updates

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.

Biblio File: Power and Partnership Author: David Kemp Categories: America, Australasia    

This book should change the terms in which Australia?s alliance with the United States is publicly debated in this country. Its most important claim, from the standpoint of an Australian, is that the US-Australian alliance empowers Australia.

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.

Proposed anti-terrorism broadcasting standards need to be implemented Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Media Releases, Media/ Academia, Terrorism    

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) welcomes the Australian Communications and Media Authority's (ACMA) proposed new standards that will prohibit broadcasts that directly support terrorist organisations.

The ACMA decision to ban programs that are "directly recruiting persons to join, or participate in, the activities of a terrorist organization" or that are "soliciting or assisting in the collection or provision of funds for a terrorist organization" come as a result of a lengthy investigation following an AIJAC complaint into the broadcast of Hezbollah television "al-Manar" in Australia by satellite company TARBS in 2003.

AIR

Governments, Australian Muslims, must work together to contain the threat from domestic Islamic extremists Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, International Jewry, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Media Releases    

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) today called for a thorough and immediate review of legal and policy counter-measures in the wake of new revelations about the extent of extremist hate material and pro-terror propaganda in some Australian bookshops in Mosques and Islamic schools.

Updates

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.

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.

Australia's Israel Question: A matter for civilised debate or partisan? (2006) Author: Alan Goldberg Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Media/ Academia, Speeches    

The catalyst for this conversation was the publication of Antony Loewenstein's "My Israel Question". But what is that question? Loewenstein calls it "a plea for mutual respect and understanding". Yet his text does not consider mutuality in any way. He says his central concern is "a sustainable future for Israel and the Palestinians".

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.

AIR

The Last Word: Out Of His League Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

Eric Butler is dead. At one time, that simple statement of fact would have excited media commentary, and provided an opportunity for politicians to nail their colours to the mast on issues such as antisemitism, cultural diversity and Australian identity.

The Best and the Brightest Author: External author Categories: Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Media/ Academia    

There's an old saying, It's not so much what is poured into the student, but what is planted that really counts. And, at both the University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales, on-campus Islamic Societies have been diligently planting seeds of ethnic hatred and intolerance into the minds of young Muslim students.

Updates

Poison Pen Author: External author Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

Michael Leunig once wrote that 'the pen is mightier than the sword.' But I fear that the cartoonist would be as dead as one of his ducks in pyjamas if he attempted to defend himself against a suicide bomber by stabbing with his quill.

AIR

Smoke Signals Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Europe, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon    

Night after night, we have witnessed shocking scenes of violence and wanton vandalism in French cities. Hundreds upon hundreds of vehicles set on fire, institutions such as libraries and gymnasiums attacked and destroyed, urban populations afraid to venture out into the streets.

Beyond Bali Author: External author Categories: Asia, Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Terrorism    

On September 27, Gareth Evans -? president of the respected International Crisis Group (ICG) and former Australian foreign minister -? gave a keynote address in Australia in which he proclaimed, "JI no longer poses a serious threat in Indonesia or elsewhere". Four days later, three suicide bombers walked into crowded restaurants in the Indonesian resort island of Bali and detonated their devices.

Dangers Down Under Author: External author Categories: Australasia, Terrorism    

The Federal Government's proposed anti-terror laws have dominated media headlines in recent months. Both sides of the debate have been argued passionately in newspaper columns, and on television and radio programs.

Updates

Fresh Air? Author: External author Categories: Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon    

"A breath of fresh air in the field of media and journalism for Muslims in Australia," is how Editor-in-Chief Sheikh Mohammed Omran described his new publication, Mecca News, when the first edition was released in August 2005. Omran is the controversial radical Muslim cleric who gained notoriety recently for suggesting that Islamic terrorists did not perpetrate the terrorist attacks on London and New York.

Killing Fields Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Europe, Islamic Extremism    

To Jewish people, Kishinev, the capital of the modern, post-Soviet Republic of Moldova, will forever be linked with the horrific events of just over a century ago. In a nearby town, a Christian child'?s murderers, relatives of the victim, claimed that Jews had performed the evil deed as part of ritual practices.

Scribblings: Bad Poetry Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Palestinians    

Are the Palestinians going to seize the opportunity created by disengagement to advance toward their national goals by demonstrating that they are a responsible peace partner? If there are going to be further peace negotiations, the Palestinians are going to have to create a viable polity that features the rule of law and a government monopoly on force.

Media Microscope: Never Enough Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media/ Academia    

Most media coverage devoted to Israel's disengagement from Gaza has been sympathetic. Opinion pieces and editorials alike have recognised the pain Israelis are suffering as a result of the disengagement, and praised Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for his courage.

Editorial: Endgame Iran & Crime and Punishment Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Iran, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Middle East    

It has all the drama of a Melbourne Cup, but it is infinitely more important. The outcome of a horse race can be measured in dollars and cents. We are witnessing a contest between a simmering grassroots yearning for democracy in Iran and an obsessive pursuit of nuclear weapons by the junta of Islamic extremists who rule that nation.

Remembrance Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Europe, International Jewry    

When plans were underway for the first visit to Australia by Pope John Paul II, in 1986, the Vatican made an unprecedented offer to the Australian Jewish community. During the Sydney leg of the visit, time would be specifically allocated for dialogue between the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the Pontiff, with formal presentations to be made by each party. From the viewpoint of 2005, it might seem surprising that, less than two decades ago, there was as much apprehension as enthusiasm from Australian Jewry.

AIR

Media Microscope: Poll-er Opposites Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: America, Australasia, International Security, Media/ Academia    

The term "gigo" (garbage in, garbage out) was invented by computer scientists in the 1950s. Back then, the term was another addition to the growing vocabulary of the computer industry. Yet, according to critics, this unusual acronym could just as easily be applied to the findings of the heavily-publicised Lowy Institute poll, which was published on March 28.

The Hatred Files Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia    

In January 2004, a prominent Christian leader in Sydney invited Jews and Muslims involved in Interfaith Dialogue to observe a Church service before adjourning for the opportunity to engage informally with his congregation and with each other.

SBS-TV and the Middle East Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Australasia, Iraq, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Monographs/ Submissions    

This report originates in the long-running concern of the Australian Jewish community that SBS exhibits an entrenched and strongly pronounced bias against Israel in its news, reportage and selection of documentary material and in the lack of responsiveness, indeed negativity, of SBS to reasoned and documented complaints. It examines the problem of bias in SBS news and current affairs coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Updates