Settlement housing starts slowing

Settlement housing starts slowing, yet media fails to report it

June 2, 2014 | Ahron Shapiro

Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released its quarterly statistics on housing starts on Thursday, a document which includes data on Israel’s construction in its West Bank settlements. That report showed that construction is down 76.4 per cent from the same quarter in 2013.

The announcement marked the fourth straight quarter of decreases, and housing starts in the settlements are now at its second lowest point since Israel’s unilateral construction freeze in 2010.

These facts have not been reported outside of Israel. Instead, foreign correspondents have unfailingly chosen to focus on alarmist reports issued by left-wing NGOs, especially Peace Now, over the same period which are based almost entirely on the misleading criteria of Israeli government “announcements” or the “promotion” of settlement plans to create an illusion that settlement growth was increasing. In fact, it demonstrably was not.

Turkish mine collapse blamed on Jews: What pervasive antisemitism looks like

Turkish mine collapse blamed on Jews: What pervasive antisemitism looks like

May 29, 2014 | Glen Falkenstein

A tragedy universally acknowledged: more than 300 people died in the Soma mine collapse in Turkey earlier this month with hundreds more workers trapped underground. Charges have been leveled at the mine’s managers for negligence, while and inadequate safety standards have also been cited as a contributing factor.

Pope Francis in Israel and PA/ Far-right makes big gains in EU

Pope Francis in Israel and PA/ Far-right makes big gains in EU

May 29, 2014

Today’s Update features commentary on two significant events of the past few days – Pope Francis’ important, but somewhat controversial,  three-day visit to Israel (here’s the text of Pope Francis’ speech on arrival in Israel) the Palestinian territories and Gaza, and the major gains in European elections by parties of the far-right, including France’s Front National, to Greece’s Golden Dawn, Hungary’s Jobbik, and others.

Palestinian Journalists abet attack on Israeli journalists in West Bank

Palestinian Journalists abet attack on Israeli journalists in West Bank

May 27, 2014 | Glen Falkenstein

Journalists don’t get off easy. As has been widely reported, Australian journalist Peter Greste has been detained and held in appalling conditions in Egypt since December on charges of allegedly defaming their government and having ties to the ousted Muslim Brotherhood. He is one of many journalists detained by the Egyptian government for doing his job and reporting the news.

Why the Brussels shooting came as no surprise to the Belgian Jewish community

Why the Brussels shooting came as no surprise to the Belgian Jewish community

May 27, 2014 | Gabrielle Debinski

The world was stunned on Saturday, May 24, as news poured in of a deadly attack at The Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels. A lone gunman stormed into the museum in the city centre and began shooting. Security camera footage and witness concur that the gunman picked out his victims with calm and focus, aiming specifically for the neck and face. The gunmen used an AK-47 to murder two museum staff members, Alexandre Strens and a French female volunteer whose name has not yet been released, and Israeli tourists Miri and Emanuel Riva. Miri, 53, and Emanuel, 54, have two teenage daughters in Israel.

How dare you talk to one another! The ‘Anti-Normalisation’ campaign continues to obstruct reconciliation in the Middle East

“How dare you talk to one another!” The ‘Anti-Normalisation’ campaign continues to obstruct reconciliation in the Middle East

May 19, 2014 | Glen Falkenstein

What if someone told you that Israelis and Palestinians weren’t fighting each other, but were fighting together, for peace and reconciliation. There are NGOs and individuals based in Israel and the Palestinian territories doing just that; working together to promote dialogue, co-operation and ultimately peaceful co-existence.

Fatah officials also embrace rejectionism following unity deal with Hamas

Fatah officials also embrace rejectionism following unity deal with Hamas

May 19, 2014 | Or Avi Guy

In a previous post, we documented the extremist rhetoric emanating from Hamas officials in the aftermath of the recent unity deal with Fatah, including their unwillingness to recognise Israel under any circumstance, or adhere to the Quartet’s conditions and renounce violence as a means to pursue their goals. Now it would appear that even within Fatah, officials are making disturbingly similar statements.

Rewriting history

Rewriting history

May 19, 2014 | Ahron Shapiro

Pro-Palestinian propagandists often allege that measures such as checkpoints and the Security Barrier are not necessary for security but are rather there merely to subjugate Palestinians. They also claim that Israel never seriously considered returning the land to Jordanian control or, alternatively, weighed the possibility of the creation of a Palestinian state. Such claims ignore mountains of evidence to the contrary – dating back to 1967, including the eyewitness accounts of journalists which form part of the historical record of the period.

Part two of a two-part blog.

Through the eyes of a dove: the truth about the early years of Israeli rule over the West Bank

Through the eyes of a dove: the truth about the early years of Israeli rule over the West Bank

May 14, 2014 | Ahron Shapiro

As one of Israel’s most highly respected legal scholars, columnists and politicians who spent his political career in parties left of Labor – and a fierce critic of Israeli West Bank settlements – Amnon Rubinstein has never been accused of sugarcoating his country’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza.

This is why – as we approach 47th anniversary of the Six Day War next month – it is revealing to take a look back at some of Rubinstein’s earlier writings on the subject – especially, his body of seven feature-length articles that he wrote for the New York Times between mid-1968 and mid-1973.

Part one of a two-part blog.

Where to now for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking?

Where to now for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking?

May 14, 2014

With the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks indefinitely suspended since the Fatah-Hamas deal in late April, this Update focuses on where the quest for peace might go from here.

First up is Dr. Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who takes as his starting point a much-analysed speech at the Institute a few days ago by American Middle East mediator (and former Australian) Martin Indyk.

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