Palestinian Choices

Palestinian Choices

December 22, 2011

Today’s Update features three pieces looking at the choices currently being made by  the Palestinian political leadership – both those associated with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah in the West Bank, and with Hamas in Gaza.

First up is veteran Israeli Palestinian affairs analyst Pinhas Inbari, who looks at the push by Fatah and PA head Mahmoud Abbas for preparations for the election scheduled for May in which he says he will not run. Inbari notes that Fatah seems to be resisting Abbas’ call to name a successor candidate and argues this is because Fatah is totally ill-prepared for either succession or elections.

Can anti-Israel

Can anti-Israel, antisemitic Hamas change its spots?

December 21, 2011 | Allon Lee

There is good reason for being sceptical of reports suggesting Hamas is shifting from armed resistance to non-violent resistance and will settle for a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders.

Media Week – Unpromising

December 21, 2011 | Jamie Hyams

In recent “Media Week” columns, I have reviewed the first three episodes of the British/French drama, “The Promise”, shown on SBS TV. This series has been characterised throughout by rampant and crudely propagandistic political messages directed against Israel and Jews and selective, distorted portrayals of history, and it really hit its straps in the final episode (18/12).

Why can’t Israelis and Palestinians “get back to the damn table”?

Why can’t Israelis and Palestinians “get back to the damn table”?

December 20, 2011 | Tzvi Fleischer

There has been much written about the impasse in restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in recent years. Most recently, US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta sparked controversy at the Brookings Institute on Dec. 2 when, following a speech, he was asked about what steps Israel “should take now” to move toward peace and replied “Just get to the damn table.”

Israel

Israel, gender and Iran

December 20, 2011 | Sharyn Mittelman

Recently the issue of public female discrimination in Israel has received significant media attention following recent controversies including over women singing in a ceremony for the Israeli army which was boycotted by religious soldiers, and the informal gender segregation on some buses in Ultra orthodox (haredi) areas. According to one stream of ultra-Orthodox tradition men should not listen to women sing. More commonly, Ultra-orthodox men attempt to avoid mingling with women who are not members of their family.

While any form of alleged public gender discrimination must be condemned and addressed, the incidents have been unfairly exaggerated as reflecting a general problem in all of Israeli society…

When the media becomes the story

When the media becomes the story

December 20, 2011 | Allon Lee

It wasn’t even close. In fact it was a “landslide”. That is how pro-Israel media watchdog Honest Reporting describes its decision to bestow the Guardian newspaper the 2011 “Dishonest Reporting Award” for its relentless anti-Israel coverage.

Readers of Fairfax newspapers will be familiar with the Guardian‘s news stories and one-sided selection of opinion pieces via their regular appearance in the Age, Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times.

Is Israeli democracy under threat?

Is Israeli democracy under threat?

December 16, 2011

This Update deals with some claims being made that Israeli democracy is supposedly eroding or under threat as the result of a variety of controversial legislative changes being discussed in Israel, as well as certain recent controversies concerning the treatment of women by sectors of the ultra-religious community in Israeli society.

First up is American law professor and civil libertarian Alan Dershowitz, who makes it clear that the intense arguments he witnessed while recently visiting Israel over the issues in question actually make it very clear that Israel is a vibrant democracy under no threat.

Media Week - Serial Offender; Bad Move; White Wash

Media Week – Serial Offender; Bad Move; White Wash

December 16, 2011 | Jamie Hyams

Episode three of “The Promise” (11/12) sees British Mandate soldier Len, who has had his platoon raided and soldiers shot, has been caught in the King David Hotel bombing and has been shot on the street, kidnapped with two colleagues and held in a hole for 15 days, until he is released and his colleagues hanged. He must be the unluckiest soldier in the British army. In the present day, Len’s grand-daughter Erin takes a Palestinian to the house, where he very pointedly asks her friend’s parents where they are from “originally” and the mother begrudgingly tells him Hungary. She visits Hebron where she hears an Israeli tell a group, “You’ll notice most of the streets around here are deserted. It’s known as the sterile zone. Why? To make room for 500 Jewish settlers who have no right to be here under international law, almost the entire Palestinian population of Hebron has been moved out.” This is a gross exaggeration and ignores the ancient history of Hebron’s Jewish community, and its religious significance.

Hamas and Hezbollah in Flux/ Sanctioning Iran's Central Bank

Hamas and Hezbollah in Flux/ Sanctioning Iran’s Central Bank

December 13, 2011

This Update features two pieces on how Damascus-dependent terrorist organisations Hamas and Hezbollah have coped with the possible loss of President Bashar al-Assad as a key ally in the wake of the recent unrest in Syria.

First up is veteran Israeli Arab Affairs analyst Pinhas Inbari, who looks at Hamas’ situation in the wake of the uncertain future in Syria and also Egypt. He notes that the leadership of Hamas is quite happy to be moving its alliance from Damascus to a Cairo dominated by their Muslim Brotherhood allies, as looks likely to eventuate.

Egypt's Salafists/ The Forgotten Refugees

Egypt’s Salafists/ The Forgotten Refugees

December 8, 2011

This Update features two pieces on one of the unpleasant surprises to come out of the first round of the Egyptian elections last week, the unexpectedly strong showing of the hyper-Islamist Al-Nour Salafist parties, who got 24.4% of the vote, second behind the also Islamist Muslim Brotherhood with 36%. Both reports are from analysts currently on the ground in Cairo.

Washington Institute scholar Eric Trager describes his own encounters with Salafist candidates and activists, as well as locals who support them. He finds them viewed by locals as honest, even saintly, despite the fact that they seem to have considerable inexplicable money for their campaign and it is unclear where this came from.

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