Ed: 35: October/2010
The recent federal election was unlike any other since World War II, and may have changed politics in this country forever. What did not change, however, was the plethora of minor and special interest parties participating. As always, a number of these had policies that would be of concern to the majority of the Jewish community. This article examines both the policies and the electoral performances of these fringe parties.
The Naqba is the heart of the Palestinians' backward-looking national narrative, which depicts the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 as the original sin that dispossessed the land's native people. Every year, on the anniversary of Israel's independence, more and more Palestinians (including Arab citizens of Israel) commemorate the Naqba with pageants that express longing for a lost paradise. Every year, the legend grows of the crimes committed against the Palestinians in 1948, crimes now routinely equated with the Holocaust.
The magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral in the centre of Strasbourg, France, is deservedly on the itineraries of most visitors to the city. On the outer facade of the cathedral there are two statues of idealised young women - Ecclesia and Synagoga, in place for almost 800 years. Ecclesia, representing Christianity, is grinning in triumph while Synagoga, representing Judaism, has her head bowed in defeat and wears a blindfold to symbolise her inability to see the "truth" of Church teachings.
After 30 years devoted to identifying, hunting down, and lobbying foreign governments to prosecute suspected war criminals, comes a long-awaited memoir by Efraim Zuroff, historian and current Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem. Despite the passage of time, decline in health and advanced age of the alleged Nazi war criminals, Zuroff launched "Operation Last Chance" in 2002, a final attempt to bring remaining war criminals to justice via a system of rewards for verifiable tips about previously unidentified suspects.
The looming expiration of the settlement building freeze poses a dilemma for Netanyahu. While politically he cannot deliver the complete cessation of all building over the 1949 armistice lines the Palestinians are demanding, he can probably limit building to the settlement blocs most observers expect Israeli will keep, as part of land swaps, in any final peace.
I trust most readers of the AIR are aware that the years surrounding 1948 saw a two-way population exodus. In addition to the 700,000 or so Palestinians who fled from the area that became the State of Israel, a probably slightly larger number of Jews fled various other Middle Eastern countries, largely to come to Israel.
Tony Blair is a rare exception to the European rule. He has genuine boots-on-the-ground knowledge of Israel and the Palestinian areas - the West Bank in particular - and he has the political courage to reach beyond the clapped-out political cliches. He has sympathy for both sides, but his concern for the Palestinians is not uncritical. Rather, it is realistic and practical.
The launch on Sept. 2 of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations after 15 months of relentless groundwork marks the third attempt in a decade to resolve the outstanding core issues pertaining to a two-state solution. Many on both sides question whether Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas have sufficient will or ability to make the necessary sacrifices â€“ the main factor in determining whether this round of peacemaking will fare better than its predecessors at Camp David and Annapolis.
A year ago, Fayyad introduced a two-year plan for laying down the armature of a future Palestinian state with an emphasis on economic development, security and bureaucratic housecleaning. The goal was to end the corrupt, Tammany-style system of patronage that formerly defined the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat and create transparent and accountable institutions beholden to no one party, particularly Fatah. Halfway through, Fayyad's two year-program is working.
And the Sunni Arabs of Iraq made a choice. They saw al-Qaeda at its best - volunteer freedom fighters come from around the world to fight for them - and they saw America at its worst, incompetent, insensitive, vacillating and violent. And they chose the United States. They decided that the future of their families, their children and their values was better served by aligning with the United States against the terrorists and against the fanatics.