Home Ed: 30: May/2005

Ed: 30: May/2005

Bunker Mentality

The question of evil and the way human beings justify brutality was a recurrent theme at the UNESCO-sponsored conference on "Religion in Peace and Conflict" held in Melbourne in mid-April.

The Shadow of Hostilities

The countdown to disengagement began after Ariel Sharon'?s victories in two decisive Knesset votes in early April - the passing of the budget and the dumping of the referendum bill. However, since then, too many people are behaving as if the last hurdles have already been overcome, and that the morning after is already here. They simply ignore the obstacles that could yet stop the countdown before zero hour on July 25.

Remembrance

When plans were underway for the first visit to Australia by Pope John Paul II, in 1986, the Vatican made an unprecedented offer to the Australian Jewish community. During the Sydney leg of the visit, time would be specifically allocated for dialogue between the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the Pontiff, with formal presentations to be made by each party. From the viewpoint of 2005, it might seem surprising that, less than two decades ago, there was as much apprehension as enthusiasm from Australian Jewry.

Editorial: The Long, Hot Summer

According to Jewish Rabbinic tradition, the Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed as a result of sinat chinam (groundless hatred) between Jews. As the divide between supporters and opponents of the imminent disengagement from Gaza continues to grow, it would be well worth reminding the more impetuous among them of the events that led to the tragedy of 70 CE.

Books: War and Peace Prize

The Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists urges the media to "diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrong doing." And if this rule pertains to the hurly burly world of journalism, one would think that it might apply with redoubled force in the more slowly-moving realm of academia. Think again: at least where Drs. Philip Mendes and Geoffrey Brahm Levey are concerned. This ethical lapse surfaces in a new anthology that is co-edited by Levey and Mendes. Entitled Jews and Australian Politics, the book features a chapter jointly written by the editors that strongly criticises AIJAC over its actions during the Hanan Ashrawi controversy.

The Opportunity

After four-and-a-half years of terror and violence, the proverbial stars seem to be aligned for a new push for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Unlike his predecessor, the newly elected Palestinian Authority (PA) president, Mahmoud Abbas, stresses the importance of peaceful problem solving and has condemned suicide bombing (in Arabic and in English) as counterproductive. On the Israeli side, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the one-time architect of the settlement movement, is leading the drive to evacuate all settlers from Gaza and the northern West Bank. At Sharm-el-Sheikh earlier this year, he and Abbas committed to a cease-fire, an important step even if rejectionists on both sides are certain to try to exploit it. In Washington, meanwhile, Condoleezza Rice is as close to the Commander in Chief as any Secretary of State has been since James Baker teamed up with George W. Bush's father, guaranteeing that she speaks with the president's authority.

Media Microscope: Poll-er Opposites

The term "gigo" (garbage in, garbage out) was invented by computer scientists in the 1950s. Back then, the term was another addition to the growing vocabulary of the computer industry. Yet, according to critics, this unusual acronym could just as easily be applied to the findings of the heavily-publicised Lowy Institute poll, which was published on March 28.