Women and Tahrir Square – from a symbol of freedom to a reality of fear

Women and Tahrir Square – from a symbol of freedom to a reality of fear

June 18, 2012 | Or Avi Guy

What happens when small groups of Egyptian women (escorted by men) gather in Tahrir Square to protest against the alarming and widespread phenomenon of sexual harassment in post-Mubarak Egypt? They get groped, sexually assaulted and violently attacked by a mob of thugs, until eventually rescued by other groups of men who come to their aid.

Peres awarded US medal

Peres awarded US medal, says honour belongs to all Israelis

June 15, 2012 | Sharyn Mittelman

Israeli President Shimon Peres’ ability to foster positive relationships with the West, and in particular the United States was very much on display in Washington on June 13 when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest civilian award the United States government can bestow upon an individual. In a gala dinner held in Washington in Peres’ honour, US President Barack Obama praised the Israeli President’s legacy and efforts on behalf of peace.

Obama said of Peres, “In him we see the essence of Israel itself… an indomitable spirit that will not be denied.”

Hugo Chávez's antisemitic re-election strategy

Hugo Chávez’s antisemitic re-election strategy

June 15, 2012 | Andrea Nadel

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s hatred of Israel is no secret. His despotic regime’s alliances with countries hostile to Israel, most prominently Iran, are also no secret. Less well known has been the devastating toll that his regime’s overt embrace of antisemitic rhetoric and policies has had on the Venezuelan Jewish community – though AIJAC’s Allon Lee blogged on this in February. Now, as the ailing strongman takes on Henrique Capriles in Venezuela’s presidential election campaign, he is again resorting to antisemitism as a tactic.

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

June 15, 2012 | Sharyn Mittelman

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.

Shock Legal Judgement shakes Egypt/Syria and International Interests

Shock Legal Judgement shakes Egypt/Syria and International Interests

June 15, 2012

The Egyptian political scene has been shaken up by a surprise court decision leading to the dissolution of parliament by the ruling military council – just days before the crucial second round of presidential elections were due to take place. Below, Washington Institute scholars David Schenker and Eric Trager look at the implications of this development, predicting instability and the likelihood of a military backdown on the dissolution if there is mass popular unrest. They stress that the key to what happens will be the attitude of the Muslim Brotherhood, and take a look at what Brotherhood leaders are saying so far.

Israeli leaders on Syria

Israeli leaders on Syria, revisited

June 14, 2012 | Ahron Shapiro

In a follow-up to last week’s blog post concerning the myth of Israeli backing for Assad,

Israeli president Shimon Peres has become Israel’s highest level official to openly back the Syrian rebels against the forces of Bashar Assad.

For UK journalists

For UK journalists, a kinder, gentler Gaza

June 14, 2012 | Ahron Shapiro

Five years ago this month, Hamas militants turned their guns on Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) forces in the Gaza Strip. Following eight days of fighting, during which time over 160 people were killed, Hamas completed its purge of the PA from the Gaza Strip. In response, PA President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved a Fatah-Hamas unity government, replaced Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh with technocrat Salam Fayaad, and consolidated his control of the West Bank. Israel and Egypt instituted a blockade of Gaza, while the US and EU lifted diplomatic sanctions on the PA while at the same time imposing harsher ones on Hamas in Gaza.

With help from Iran, Hamas built a stockpile of smuggled imported arms – including longer-range rockets – and increased its rocket production as well as the number of attacks it launched against Israel. This eventually lead to Israel’s strong military response in the form of Operation Cast Lead, launched in the final days of 2008.

None of this context, however, has found its way into recent coverage of the anniversary of the Hamas takeover in two UK newspapers, the Guardian and the Independent.

Addressing Israel's Arab-integration problem

Addressing Israel’s Arab-integration problem

June 14, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

When Israel’s largest opposition party, Kadima, joined the ruling coalition, a great deal of attention went to the impending non-renewal of the “Tal Law” — the law exempting Israel’s Haredi (ultra-orthodox) communities from compulsory national service. Another side of the deal between Kadima and the government did not receive quite as much attention: in addition to Haredim, the proposed replacement for the Tal Law also requires that Israel’s Arab citizens participate in the national service program. This involves numerous options, including charity work within their own communities.

Israeli Arabs make-up around 20% of the Israeli population and Haredim make-up 10%. While the two communities may seem completely different on the surface, in many ways they are very similar…

The secrets of Israeli happiness and longevity

The secrets of Israeli happiness and longevity

June 13, 2012 | Andrea Nadel

Think of Israel, and, for many, the first images that come to mind are of endless conflict, war and the constant struggle to survive against impossible odds. The sum of its external and internal challenges combined might easily lead one to believe that Israel is a very unhappy society in which to live. The reality, however, is actually far sunnier. Based on findings in a recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report on life satisfaction in the developed world, Israel was recently declared the 6th happiest country on Earth.

Personnel is Policy: Amnesty International and Israel

“Personnel is Policy”: Amnesty International and Israel

June 13, 2012 | Or Avi Guy

It is no secret that Israel has been receiving “special” attention and treatment from several human rights organisations, which is expressed not only by the disproportional scope of research efforts dedicated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also in strong biases and double standards when it comes to evaluating claims about Israel and its policies.

Now, it has been revealed that a “giant” among international human rights NGOs, Amnesty International, apparently has ‘personnel issues’ – which may explain some of Amnesty’s recent reports and statements on Israel, such as the controversial new report about administrative detention and Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strikes called “Starved of Justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel”.

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