Ed: 36: October/2011
The diplomatic documents had barely stopped drifting down from the Israeli Embassy in Egypt when New York Times columnist Nick Kristof referenced the root causes of the attack, as he saw them: "Attacking the Israeli embassy doesn't help Gazans, doesn't bring back the dead," he tweeted. "Instead it helps Israeli hardliners." It was the standard response of an armchair analyst, for whom all Middle Eastern current events - and particularly the most outrageous ones - are inextricably linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Criticism of Israel is usually the foregone conclusion of any UN commission, particularly when human rights or humanitarian issues are involved.
However, the recent Palmer Commission report deserves special notice. It investigated events surrounding the deaths of self-styled "peace activists" who were attempting to run an Israeli naval blockade on Gaza in May 2010.
It has become increasingly clear that, sadly, the Arab upheavals that swept the Middle East this year are not resulting in a democratic "Arab Spring". Rather an "Islamist awakening" seems to be occurring alongside a resurgence of extreme Arab nationalism.
The middle class crowds demanding "freedom" and "democracy" seem to have lost the battle for the streets in Cairo and elsewhere. The old demons of violent, conspiratorial anti-Americanism and antisemitism, which seemed so blessedly absent in the initial demonstrations, are back with a vengeance.
Reading Matthew Collins' Hate: My Life in the British Far Right, I am glad that I live in Australia and didn't have dealings with the UK far right...
Through this autobiographical work, a reader is given an intensive view of the violent personalities who inhabit the British far right, with as much detail and astute observation as could be packed into its 335 pages.
The AIR has previously canvassed numerous critical arguments concerning the Palestinian bid to have their "statehood" recognised at the UN. These include: that it avoids badly needed negotiations, violates the Oslo Accords, feeds Palestinian illusions about achieving their goals without compromise, courts violence, may damage the standing of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in its competition with Hamas, endangers Israeli-Palestinian cooperation on which the valuable Palestinian economic achievements of recent years rest, and risks the financial collapse of the already fiscally shaky PA government.
In recent weeks there has been a fair bit of attention on the activities of the anti-Israel bullies, demonisers and slanderers (who call themselves BDS for other reasons), who try to stop Australians from purchasing anything from hot chocolate and perfume to padlocks.
The more the boycotters are active, the more they are exposed as ignorant, malicious thugs. Rather than promote tolerance or peace-building, they promote bigotry and stereotyping.
It is hard to remain unmoved by acts of blatant cynicism. Not those small, nasty gestures of crass stupidity that seek to advance a particular vested interest, but grand acts of faux-statecraft that leave the observer unsure whether to laugh or cry. Last month's antics of Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, offered a textbook example.
The unilateralist gambit by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to ram through a resolution on Palestinian statehood in the UN General Assembly will produce little more than the mirage of a fleeting diplomatic triumph.
No matter the hoopla surrounding it, the UN vote will certainly not represent a watershed moment for Palestinian statehood. Like a well-camouflaged detour leading nowhere, the diplomatic kabuki theatre may, in reality, do more harm than good for the cause of Palestine - a cause I have passionately supported since my formative years living in the Middle East.
The Unilateral Declaration of Independence, or UDI, initiative was reportedly born in May 2005, when Abbas attended the summit of South American and Arab states in Brazil, where he met with President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva. Lula is said to have promised Abbas that, toward the completion of his second term ending January 1, 2011, he would rally support among Latin American states for the Palestinians to declare independence at the United Nations.
The year was 1958 and Israel had noticed that Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser's agitation across the Middle East was disagreeable to many of his non-Arab neighbours. Israel therefore emerged with what came to be known as the "Periphery Strategy", which focused on Ethiopia, Iran and Turkey and even wooed Lebanon's and Sudan's Christian minorities, Iraq's Kurds, and Morocco's Berbers.