More questions about al-Jazeera as it purchases a network to create US subsidiary

More questions about al-Jazeera as it purchases a network to create US subsidiary

January 8, 2013 | Sharyn Mittelman

Al Jazeera TV, located in and financed by Qatar and owned by Qatar’s ruling al-Thani family, has just bought the struggling US left leaning channel Current TV, founded by Al Gore in 2005. This will allow al-Jazeera to have access to millions more US homes.  Al-Jazeera reportedly plans to create a new channel, “Aljazeera America,” instead of using its existing English-language channel.  However, this announcement has called attention to growing claims that al-Jazeera is being used a propaganda tool for Qatari foreign policy interests.

Leader of Australian Islamist extremist group calls for world conquest through jihad

Leader of Australian Islamist extremist group calls for world conquest through jihad

January 8, 2013 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

The notorious Islamist organisation Hizb-Ut Tahrir (‘HUT’) openly avows an ideology whose ultimate goal is to transform the entire world into an Islamic state. Despite being linked to a number of terrorist attacks — most notably the ‘7/7 bombings’ in London — the group is generally careful to avoid being portrayed as pro-violence.

For example, the profile of local Australian spokesperson Uthman Badar on ABC’s The Drum (for which he is an occasional contributor) describes the group as…

Israel’s Blockade and Construction Materials for Gaza

Israel’s Blockade and Construction Materials for Gaza

January 4, 2013 | Tzvi Fleischer

Everyone knows that, while Israel has eased its blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza, it is still blocking the import of almost all construction materials, arguing they can be used for military purposes, right?

You would certainly think so if you read the Australian and New Zealand press coverage of a recent deal between Israel and Egypt to allow 20 trucks worth of construction material into Gaza this week… But it is just not true that Israel has banned construction materials entering into Gaza…

Suha Arafat admits her husband planned the Second Intifada

Suha Arafat admits her husband planned the Second Intifada

January 4, 2013 | Sharyn Mittelman

Since the Second Intifada, which commenced in September 2000 there has been an ongoing debate as to its origins.  This debate has finally come to an end, with Yasser Arafat’s wife Suha admitting on Dubai TV on December 16 that her husband planned the Second Intifada and told her about it before he launched it.

Technology and the Gaza War/ Taking Iran at their word

Technology and the Gaza War/ Taking Iran at their word

January 4, 2013

This Update includes two pieces analysing some of the innovations in military technology and tactics which affected the Gaza conflict/Operation “Pillar of Defence”, which occurred in November.

First up is an evaluation by Dr. Uzi Rubin, the father of Israel’s missile defence program, discussing both Israel’s Iron Dome missile and rocket defence system, and the innovations in rocket design and use on the Hamas side of the Gaza conflict.

Hamas over-reporting civilian casualties in Gaza

Hamas over-reporting civilian casualties in Gaza, again

January 2, 2013 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

The most heartbreaking consequence of any conflict is the unavoidable toll taken on the local civilian population. Sadly, in the hyper-politicised realm of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, these events seem unable to remain mere tragedies. Instead, each civilian killed takes on the additional mantle of a propaganda point scored in the conflict of public opinion.

This leads to the unfortunate tactic that Hamas and other Gaza-based groups seem to have adopted of cynically exploiting international sympathy…

Reporters only hearing one side of the story?

Reporters only hearing one side of the story?

December 21, 2012 | Ahron Shapiro

Why do news reporters often get their reporting about Israeli-Palestinian issues so badly wrong?

A new wrinkle to the controversy surrounding Israel’s decision to approve housing projects in Jerusalem suburbs and east Jerusalem neighbourhoods (following up on my earlier blog posts on the subject on December 4 and December 11) suggests one answer.

Iranian state TV blames Israel for Sandy Hook school shooting

Iranian state TV blames Israel for Sandy Hook school shooting

December 20, 2012 | Sharyn Mittelman

Iranian state run media, PressTV, may have surpassed itself this time airing the outrageous views of Michael Harris who blamed Israel for a number of mass shootings in America, including the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 26 people, including twenty children, two of whom were Jewish. Harris also blamed ‘Israeli death squads’ for other recent shootings, including the Arizona shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, the Aurora ‘Batman’ shooting, and the Breivik massacre in Norway.

Planning for the Next Phase of the Syrian Civil War/ After Abbas

Planning for the Next Phase of the Syrian Civil War/ After Abbas

December 20, 2012

This Update features two good pieces on the pitfalls in the upcoming phase of the Syrian civil war, especially in terms of US policy.

First up, repeat visitor to rebel-held regions of Syria Jonathan Spyer discusses the recent US decision to recognise the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), recently formed in Qatar, as the rightful Syrian government in waiting. Spyer argues that this decision appears to be a part of a larger strategy he feels is misguided, namely working with Muslim Brotherhood Islamists against the more extreme Salafists.

Lessons in Israeli-Palestinian reality from two Middle East experts

Lessons in Israeli-Palestinian reality from two Middle East experts

December 19, 2012 | Sharyn Mittelman

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy awarded its 2012 Scholar-Statesmen Award to Dennis Ross and Elliott Abrams on December 6. Ross served as special Middle East negotiator to President Clinton and Iran policy adviser to President Obama, and is currently counsellor to the Washington Institute. Abrams, served as Deputy National Security Advisor in the George W. Bush Administration, and is currently a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In a post-award panel discussion, Ross and Abrams reflected on their careers in foreign policy and provided insights into the challenges of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran’s nuclear program and the ‘Arab Spring’.

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