Obituary: Yitzhak Shamir 1915-2012

Obituary: Yitzhak Shamir 1915-2012

July 6, 2012 | Colin Rubenstein

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

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

Israeli music builds bridges

Israeli music builds bridges

June 25, 2012 | Andrea Nadel and Tzvi Fleischer

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

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

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

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

Why worry about Syria when you can pick on Israel?

Why worry about Syria when you can pick on Israel?

June 18, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

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.

Only way ahead is through talking

Only way ahead is through talking

June 11, 2012 | Sharyn Mittleman

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

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

Our misguided boycotters

Our misguided boycotters

May 25, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

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

Striking prisoners are no Gandhi-esque resisters

Striking prisoners are no Gandhi-esque resisters

May 22, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

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

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

Professor's irrational criticism of Jews crosses the line

Professor’s irrational criticism of Jews crosses the line

May 10, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

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

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

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

What’s wrong with the ‘Black Box’ view of terrorism?

April 17, 2012 | Tzvi Fleischer and Sharyn Mittelman

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

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

Israel's silence on Syria isn't a conspiracy

Israel’s silence on Syria isn’t a conspiracy

April 10, 2012 | Ahron Shapiro

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

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

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

Passover reminds that slavery is not just ancient history

Passover reminds that slavery is not just ancient history

April 6, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

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.

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