Poll positions: Surveyed Arabs less concerned about Israel

Poll positions: Surveyed Arabs less concerned about Israel, many still support al-Qaeda

May 8, 2012 | Ahron Shapiro

Two polls released last week provide new insights into the views of the Middle East’s Arab population, with some very interesting findings.

In the first poll, Arab youth in the Middle East said their own economic future was a far greater priority in their lives than the outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Meanwhile, a second poll found Muslim support for al-Qaeda, while low compared to a few years ago, has stabilized even after the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Olympic Disdain

Olympic Disdain

May 8, 2012 | Sharyn Mittelman

This year marks forty years since the ‘Munich Massacre’ – when during the 1972 Munich Olympics, Palestinian terrorists disguised as athletes attacked the dormitory housing the Israeli delegation and took Israeli athletes, coaches and officials hostages.  By the end of the ordeal, the terrorists had killed eleven Israelis and a German police officer.

For the past four decades, families of the victims have repeatedly sought to persuade the International Olympic Committee to incorporate a minute of silence during the opening ceremonies of the games to commemorate the Munich Massacre.  This year the IOC has again rejected their request.

Appallingly headlined story in the Australian mishandles the facts

Appallingly headlined story in the Australian mishandles the facts

May 8, 2012 | Allon Lee

The latest edition of the Weekend Australian has provoked outrage over an offensive and unprofessional headline used to accompany an article by its Middle East correspondent John Lyons that failed to include some vital facts, resulting in some very questionable journalism.

Will France's new government take a laissez-faire approach to Iran?

Will France’s new government take a laissez-faire approach to Iran?

May 8, 2012 | Ahron Shapiro

The election of French Socialist party leader Francois Hollande to his country’s presidency on Sunday – a victory over Nicolas Sarkozy which had been expected following his strong showing in the first round of voting on April 22 – is certain to impact French foreign policy regarding Iran, as well as Israel.

Sarkozy had been seen as one of Europe’s most strident opponents to Iran’s nuclear program. According to Hollande’s advisers, as well as many analysts, France is unlikely to continue in its role as a spearhead for European action on Iran under its new government.

Planned early election cancelled

Planned early election cancelled, National Unity government forming

May 8, 2012 | Ahron Shapiro

The last-minute decision overnight by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and newly-elected Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz to create a national unity government and avert early elections planned for Sept. 4 came as a surprise to both most Israelis and most observers of Israeli politics. Yet in retrospect, it was a move that made a lot of sense for both leaders.

Egypt's Islamist Presidential Candidates/ Benzion and Binyamin Netanyahu

Egypt’s Islamist Presidential Candidates/ Benzion and Binyamin Netanyahu

May 7, 2012

This Update contains two valuable pieces on the candidates for the highly important Egyptian Presidential  election (Barry Rubin had an excellent analysis of just how important here), as well as one of the many interesting pieces being written about the legacy of Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu, who died last week age 102.

Israel Heads to the Polls: Is an Iran strike now off the table?

Israel Heads to the Polls: Is an Iran strike now off the table?

May 4, 2012 | Ahron Shapiro

Israel was abuzz this week with news that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had decided to set a date for early elections. While the official announcement is still days away, government sources reported the likely date of elections to be September 4…

Netanyahu, who is on pace to be Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister since Ben Gurion and has benefited from a dearth of political challengers during his term, is seen by poll-watchers as having little to fear from early elections. Latest polling figures show that if the elections were held today, Netanyahu would be a shoo-in, with 48 percent of Israelis preferring Netanyahu stay on as prime minister…

With Netanyahu’s re-election bid deemed likely, the more immediate question being asked is what impact, if any, the decision to hold early elections will have on Israel’s strategy vis-à-vis Iran.

Latest UN Human Rights exemplar: Venezuela

Latest UN Human Rights exemplar: Venezuela

May 4, 2012 | Sharyn Mittelman

The UN Human Rights Council has long had a well-deserved image problem – due in no small part to the fact numerous egregious human rights offenders are regularly elected to serve on it, where they block effective scrutiny of themselves and their non-democratic allies. The latest episode in this sorry history is the unopposed bid by Venezuela for a seat on the 47 nation Council, despite the fact that Venezuela has a very poor record on human rights.

Syria after the Annan Plan

Syria after the Annan Plan

May 3, 2012

Today’s Update looks at the options for dealing with the ongoing violence in Syria in the wake of the apparent failure of the ceasefire put forward by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as part of his plan to settle the conflict and halt the killing (with at least 23 people killed on Tuesday).

First up is a good report on the aftermath of the Annan plan, consisting of numerous quotes from knowledgeable on all sides , written by Neil McFarquhar of the New York Times. He finds there is general agreement that the plan has failed, but little sense of what might come next from various quarters, and still very little appetite for any serious intervention from Western policymakers – few of whom, it seems clear, ever expected the plan to succeed in the first place.

PA goes from jailing Facebook critics to blocking critical websites

PA goes from jailing Facebook critics to blocking critical websites

May 2, 2012 | Ahron Shapiro

As World Press Freedom Day approaches on Thursday, the Palestinian Authority (PA) looks to be headed in the other direction.

The PA has come under widening criticism of late for its worsening record on press freedom (as reported in a recent blog post by Or Avi-Guy). Part of that story centres on a number of Palestinians arrested after making critical comments about the PA or its leaders on Facebook. Now reports say the PA is also blocking off access to critical news websites.

According to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, Palestinian internet providers have been instructed to block access to news web sites critical of Fatah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

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