Reactions to Obama's AIPAC Speech

Reactions to Obama’s AIPAC Speech

March 6, 2012 | Sharyn Mittelman

On March 4, US President Barack Obama delivered a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual policy conference. In his speech Obama emphasised his strong support for the State of Israel, and policy on Iran.

This blog post looks at a variety of resposes to the speech.

Arab commentators: Syria far worse than Israel

Arab commentators: Syria far worse than Israel, but treated more softly

March 5, 2012 | Ahron Shapiro

As official estimates of Syrian civilians killed in the Assad regime’s bloody crackdown climb steadily past the 7,500 mark, a couple of recent Op-Eds in the Arab media have compared the Arab world’s strong outrage to Israeli military actions in the West Bank, Gaza and southern Lebanon to their muted response to Syrian slaughter of their own people.

Putting aside the moral inequality of such a comparison (the pieces make no effort to differentiate the defensive nature of Israeli military campaigns from the cold-blooded ruthlessness of the Syrian dictatorial regime suppressing dissent from its own citizens) the pieces nevertheless mark a significant break from the traditional narrative in Arab media that the Palestinians are the region’s principal human rights victims…

Is Human Rights Watch abandoning Women's Rights?

Is Human Rights Watch abandoning Women’s Rights?

March 2, 2012 | Or Avi Guy

The last sentence in Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth’s introduction to the organisation’s 2012 annual report, titled “Time to Abandon the Autocrats and Embrace Rights,” reads: “It is a global responsibility to help see a positive conclusion to the Arab people’s brave efforts to demand their rights, and to ensure that the toppling of one autocratic regime does not lead to its replacement by another.” If one were to read the essay backwards, this could have been a very promising start. Unfortunately, reading the essay from beginning to end, it is hard to avoid a certain sense of cynicism and irony when reaching this concluding sentence. This is mainly because Roth’s piece should have been titled “Time to Abandon Autocrats and Embrace Political Islamism”.

The SMH’s quest to downplay the Iranian nuclear program

The SMH’s quest to downplay the Iranian nuclear program

March 2, 2012 | Allon Lee

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…

Inside Hamas/ Israel's Iran dilemma

Inside Hamas/ Israel’s Iran dilemma

March 2, 2012

This Update features two new and penetrating analyses of the ructions and political disagreements currently roiling Hamas, as well as an important new expression of Israel’s dilemmas vis-a-vis Iran’s nuclear program in the lead up to Israeli PM Netanyahu’s trip to Washington next week.

First up is the always excellently informed top Israeli journalist, Ehud Yaari, sorting out the power struggles within Hamas. Yaari says that the once unassailable Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal now seems to be in deep trouble, cut off from a base of operations and with increasingly public denunciations of his policies from within Hamas’ senior ranks…

Wikileaks' Assange using faux intelligence to bait journalists?

Wikileaks’ Assange using faux intelligence to bait journalists?

March 1, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

On Monday, Wikileaks began releasing an alleged 5 million emails stolen by “hacktivist” group Anonymous from geo-political consulting firm Stratfor. The sensationalist title that Wikileaks gave the material — The Global Intelligence Files — as well as the statement announcing the release attempt to make the released emails out to be top-secret information from some sort of clandestine “private CIA”.

The Stratfor emails reveal a company that cultivates close ties with US government agencies and employs former US government staff. It is preparing the 3-year Forecast for the Commandant of the US Marine Corps, and it trains US marines and “other government intelligence agencies” in “becoming government Stratfors”…

The City of Peace is the subject of a Conference of Hate in Doha

The City of Peace is the subject of a Conference of Hate in Doha

March 1, 2012 | Sharyn Mittelman

Over the weekend a conference was held in Doha, Qatar called the “International Conference for the Defense of Jerusalem” – the conference was a one sided Israel bashing affair, that focused on what speakers claimed was the ‘Judaisation’ of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), while ignoring the Jewish historical and religious connection to Jerusalem.

Are the ultra-Orthodox poised to take over Israel?

Are the ultra-Orthodox poised to take over Israel?

February 29, 2012 | Ahron Shapiro

What’s wrong with being religious in Israel? Nothing at all – though there is of course much controversy in Israel at the moment over the exemption from the draft for most ultra-Orthodox young men following a Supreme Court ruling last week, and other issues, including views on women’s rights.

But these controversies, and the debates surrounding them, have led to the size and influence of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox population sometimes being exaggerated in the media in order to make spurious comparisons between Israeli society and dogmatic Islamic states such as Iran or Saudi Arabia. So some firm facts are needed.

Antisemitism and sexism still rife in Arab media

Antisemitism and sexism still rife in Arab media

February 29, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

The Middle East Media Research Institute or MEMRI is an organisation that combs the media in the Middle East and translates interesting items into English. Unfortunately, MEMRI’s research consistently exposes the extreme hatred that is fed to peoples throughout the Middle East through their state-controlled media outlets.

For example, MEMRI released a translation of an article responding to Western reports on Saudi textbooks late last year. An example of these reports comes from the UK’s Daily Mail:

Barbaric textbooks handed out in Saudi Arabian schools teach children how to cut off a thief’s hands and feet under Sharia law, it has emerged.

The shocking books, paid for and printed by the Saudi government, also tell teenagers that Jews…

Arabs speaks out on the Arab World's problem with Antisemitism

Arabs speaks out on the Arab World’s problem with Antisemitism

February 28, 2012 | Or Avi Guy

Two recent blog posts by bloggers of Arab descent bravely tackle the internally- taboo issue of antisemitism in the Arab world, both claiming that it is a well entrenched belief system which undermines the development of pluralistic, democratic societies in the Middle East, as the Arab Spring revolutions enter their second year.

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