The Syrian Opposition/Russia and Syria

The Syrian Opposition/Russia and Syria

February 3, 2012

Today’s Update focuses on the situation in Syria and especially on what is known about the varied opposition to the Assad regime.

The first piece up comes from Nic Robertson of CNN, who just returned from a visit to Syria which is something increasingly rare for Western journalists. He notes an increasing sectarian polarisation occurring within Syria and sees the regime as successfully exploiting it, while the opposition is not doing enough to calm the fears of the Alawite and Christian minorities…

Israel and the Iranian nuclear issue

Israel and the Iranian nuclear issue

February 2, 2012

Last week, Israel Defence Minister Ehud Barak spoke at the annual Davos Forum, and told listeners that tough sanctions on Iran may be too late because Iran was ” drifting into what we call an immunity zone where practically no surgical [military operation] could block them.” Israeli concern over Iran’s nuclear program is clearly reaching a crescendo. So an article by veteran Israeli security correspondent Ronen Bergman in last weekend’s New York Times magazine on Israeli thinking on the possibility of a limited military strike to delay the project has gained considerable attention.

Australia's Jewish community has legitimate security concerns

Australia’s Jewish community has legitimate security concerns

February 1, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

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…

A divided Palestine makes for a hopeless peace process

A divided Palestine makes for a hopeless peace process

February 1, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

An AFP report yesterday indicated that, as predicted, Hamas and Fatah are dragging their feet on actually implementing the latest reconciliation deal.

This suggests that the current deal will go the way of the three previous deals: all have been introduced to much fanfare and then quietly lapsed as, once away from the public eye, no agreement could be reached on how to actually implement the requirements. The reason for this is that while “Palestinian unity” as an idea is appealing to both factions, they…

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 27, 2012 | Sharyn Mittelman

January 27 marks the day that Auschwitz-Birkenau – the largest Nazi death camp was liberated. In November 2005, the United Nations passed a resolution to designate January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD) to honour the victims of the Holocaust – the genocide that resulted in the annihilation of 6 million Jews, 2 millions Gypsies and millions of others by the Nazi regime.

The UN resolution establishing IHRD urges every member nation of the UN to honour the memory of Holocaust victims and develop educational programs as part of an international resolve to help prevent future acts of genocide. The UN resolution also rejects denial of the Holocaust, and condemns discrimination and violence based on religion or ethnicity.

On this day and on every day, it is important to ask, has the world learnt the lessons from the Holocaust?

When propaganda masquerades as fact

When propaganda masquerades as fact

January 27, 2012 | Allon Lee

To its great discredit, the Melbourne Age has republished a Guardian newspaper feature that alleges mistreatment by the Israeli judicial system of West Bank Palestinian youths detained on suspicion of terrorism.

As a previous AIJAC blog post revealed, many allegations of Palestinian children being tortured, kept in solitary confinement, denied legal representation, and forced to confess to crimes they didn’t commit, rely on half-truths, manipulation of facts and figures and unsubstantiated claims by anti-Israel organisations.

That is, organisations with anti-Israel political agendas that extend beyond the remit of the specific goals they profess to be concerned with and into areas of delegitimising the Jewish state.

Media Week – McDonald’s harm; Palestinian racing story the pits; Highly speculative speculation

January 27, 2012 | Allon Lee

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

Palestinian-Israeli relationship: the good

Palestinian-Israeli relationship: the good, the not-always-so-bad and the ever-ugly

January 25, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

Two news stories emerged today, both reporting positive steps forward in the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. The first of these concerns an online conference being held by a group called YaLa-Young Leaders, designed to bring people together from both sides and have a productive conversation about the conflict, hoping to form some genuine reconciliation efforts.

As Kel Si Loos reported in the Miami Herald, the group has been attracting a large number of members from the Middle East and…

The truth behind the "water libel"

The truth behind the “water libel”

January 25, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

The claim of Israel maliciously depriving Palestinians of water, in order to steal more for its own citizens, has been often repeated amongst Israel’s critics. To Jerusalem Post blogger Petra Marquardt-Bigman, the accusation is reminiscent of Medieval accusations of Jews poisoning water supplies:

I think of it as the “water libel” because it often echoes the medieval accusations that Jews were poisoning wells.

Most recently, it surfaced in a formal report by the French parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, which described…

One year on: how much has changed in Egypt?

One year on: how much has changed in Egypt?

January 25, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

The New York Times‘ Lede blog is commemorating the one year anniversary of the beginning of the Egyptian revolution through a post containing reflections by an Egyptian activist, interspersed with footage he took from the protests in Cairo on 25 January last year. The piece is quite moving and manages to recapture the sense of optimism and determination that was being felt at the time:

Although the battles would continue later that evening and over the following days, we all knew that something profound had just happened. There was a raised collective consciousness amongst us…

How different to the feeling now?…

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