Obama

Obama, Israel and the “Jewish Lobby”

April 4, 2013 | Talia Katz

Barack Obama’s first visit to Israel as President last month has been widely analysed in the context of the Israel-Palestinian peace process and in terms of other regional security concerns, with a particular focus on the sometimes rocky relationship he shares with Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu. However, both Obama and some of Australia’s less-informed commentators chose to emphasise what the visit tells us about the overall Israel-US relationship, above and beyond any personal issues between individuals. 

But despite the President’s eloquence, some media commentators and pundits outdid themselves in attempting to use the visit to push the ugly but increasing well-worn argument that it is only because of the undue and often insidious impact of the “Israel Lobby” (or more crudely the “Jewish Lobby”) that the US has the policy positions that it does on Israel, and the US-Israel alliance endures. Some go as far as to suggest that Israel somehow has direct control over the American government.

Blood libel surfaces at Hanan Ashrawi's MIFTAH organisation

Blood libel surfaces at Hanan Ashrawi’s MIFTAH organisation

April 4, 2013 | Sharyn Mittelman

The Jewish people recently celebrated the festival of Passover, which recounts the Jewish exodus from Egypt. In the Middle East, this festival often leads to new outbreaks of the ugly antisemitic lie of blood libel – the claim that Jews use the blood of non-Jews to make Passover Matzah.  This year a particularly concerning case of blood libel promotion occurred in an article by Jordanian writer Nawaf al-Zaru published on the Arabic website of MIFTAH, an NGO founded in 1998 by Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, who still plays a senior role there.

Evaluating President Obama's Israel visit

Evaluating President Obama’s Israel visit

March 25, 2013

US President Obama ended his visit to Israel and the Palestinian terrorities on Friday, going on to Jordan and then returning home.

His major statements in Israel were his speech on arrival, his media conference with Israeli PM Netanyahu, his media conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and his major speech to Israeli students in Jerusalem Thursday night (video is available here). All are worth reading in their entirety, if you have the time. For those who don’t, AIJAC analyst Sharyn Mittelman offered a preliminary evaluation on Friday, while this Update is devoted to further evaluations of their cumulative effect, along with President Obama’s other major stops in Israel and the West Bank.

Media Week - One-Way Traffic

Media Week – One-Way Traffic

March 22, 2013 | Allon Lee

It is one of the seminal images that appeared over and over again in the early stages of last November’s Second Gaza-Israel war. 
 
Distraught Palestinian father Jihad Masharawi, holding the dead body of his 11-month-old son, Omar, who was reported to have been the victim of an Israeli rocket hitting the family home.
 
Except on March 6 2013, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights announced that its investigation into the circumstances of Omar’s death suggests he was most likely a victim of a rocket fired by Hamas or one of its affiliates that fell short.
 
So, yes, in a very real sense, Omar was a symbol – a tragic victim of the callous indifference of the so-called Palestinian resistance movement that is based in, and operates from, built up civilian areas in Gaza.

Aspects of Israel's new coalition government

Aspects of Israel’s new coalition government

March 19, 2013

With the details of the new Israeli cabinet still being sorted out right up until the night before the cabinet was sworn in on Monday, this Update is devoted to the details of the cabinet and coalition, as well as the implications for both domestic Israeli and international policies of their composition.

Hamas "moderates" don't accept Israel

Hamas “moderates” don’t accept Israel

March 18, 2013 | Ahron Shapiro

Following the Israeli elections and just ahead of US President Barack Obama’s first visit to Israel, last Tuesday The New Republic published a lengthy feature examining the current state of the peace process, penned by Ben Birnbaum.

In part, the essay “The end of the two-state solution: Why the window is closing on Middle-East peace”, looked at the prospective problem of Fatah uniting with the terror group Hamas, which remains in sole control of Gaza and maintains considerable support among the population in the West Bank.

The new Israeli coalition in a nutshell

The new Israeli coalition in a nutshell

March 15, 2013 | Talia Katz

After six weeks of haggling, Israel’s thirty-third Knesset was reported on Wednesday to include 22 cabinet ministers (down from 30 in the previous cabinet) and several deputy ministers from the 68-strong coalition of Likud-Beiteinu, Yesh Atid (There is a Future), HaBait Yehudit (The Jewish Home) and HaTnua (The Movement) The new government is due to be sworn in on Monday, and there are already signs that its agenda will be administered with pragmatism.

Media Week - Friendly advice; Immoral equivalence

Media Week – Friendly advice; Immoral equivalence

March 14, 2013 | Allon Lee

When Australia’s federal government decided to abstain and not oppose a UN vote to upgrade Palestinian representation, Foreign Minister Bob Carr justified the move explaining how “a good friend will share with his friend reservations about that friend’s behaviour”.

It would be interesting to know if Carr feels similarly after reading the Australian foreign editor Greg Sheridan’s very public and eye watering critique of his and predecessor Kevin Rudd’s attempts “to put more distance between Australia and Israel” (March 9).

The take down was even more startling given Sheridan’s acknowledgement that he is broadly admiring of both Carr and Rudd in most respects.

Australians for Palestine's graphic prejudice

Australians for Palestine’s graphic prejudice

March 14, 2013 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

In Australia and elsewhere, proponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (‘BDS’) campaign against Israel consistently claim that the campaign is about human rights and has no racial element. … Yet time and again, leading BDS figures are exposed for supporting various neo-Nazi and/or Islamist thinkers because of what those thinkers say about Jews. … The degree to which casual antisemitism has become acceptable in the pro-BDS discourse is probably what led to Australians for Palestine (‘AfP’) deciding that this was an appropriate image to use on their website…

The Economist discusses al-Jazeera’s biases

The Economist discusses al-Jazeera’s biases

March 12, 2013 | Sharyn Mittelman

Al-Jazeera‘s credibility as an editorially independent news provider is increasingly under the spotlight.  AIJAC has previously blogged about growing concerns that al-Jazeera, owned by Qatar, is being used by Qatar to promote its foreign policy interests – in particular the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and Sunni Islamism generally. There have also been a number of reports of journalists resigning from al-Jazeera citing its lack of editorial independence.

Now even the venerable Economist has endorsed these concerns in its piece “The Muslim Brotherhood: It’s hard being in charge”. The article notes that despite the early success of the Muslim Brotherhood in the beginning of the ‘Arab Spring’, the Brotherhood’s popularity is now falling, and with it, the popularity of a key sponsor – al-Jazeera.

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