Ed: 38: April/2013
Few outside of certain circles would be aware that a draft of the report by the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (‘OHCHR') to the UN Human Rights Council (‘HRC') on last year's Gaza conflict was released in March.
Any report that the HRC releases on Israel should immediately arouse suspicion - it is not without reason that Israel is currently refusing to participate in any of the HRC's functions.
The tragic death of Australian-Israeli citizen Ben Zygier continued to play out in the media long past the initial revelations on February 14, and much coverage contained speculation on whether Australian Jews could feel warmly toward Israel and remain loyal to Australia.
Many well-meaning pundits and politicians seem to base their whole approach to the Middle East peace process on a single "fact" - namely, that if a two-state solution is not reached soon then "Arabs living under Israeli control" will outnumber Jews, thus either destroying Israel's democratic character or else turning it into a majority Arab state.
Guess what? This "fact" - postulating an imminent "demographic threat" to Israel and a two-state outcome - is simply wrong...
"I'd love to sit at a cafe and just hang out," President Barack Obama told Israel's Channel 2 on March 14. Obama confessed: "Sometimes I have this fantasy that I can put on a disguise and wear a fake mustache." He mused about wandering Tel Aviv and meeting university students casually. In that spirit, I offer an alternative itinerary for his recent Israel trip.
It took six weeks to hatch, and it is probably not quite the baby Binyamin Netanyahu had in mind when he called January's early election. Yet the coalition with which he is embarking on his third premiership - sworn in on March 18 - looks likely to prove the most reformist.
I think the world is headed towards a surprise. I think the United States and Israel are converging on a fresh initiative towards the Palestinians. I don't think this is merely being imposed on Netanyahu from the outside - I think this is what he wants.
Could this tide be stemmed in Syria? Early on in the crisis, it could have been, at a high price, had we had a dog in the fight, or one that we wanted to claim as our own. But the West decided, as in the former Yugoslavia for three long years, to sit this one out. The new order will thus not be created by idealists intervening. Ethnic cleansing will eventually draw the new borders as Syria falls apart.
Lebanon always looks and feels like it's ready to erupt into armed conflict, but today it's more ready than usual. The Syrian civil war next door weighs heavily on this place. Sunnis and Alawites are fighting round after round with no end in sight in the city of Tripoli, and now the northern Bekaa Valley, between Mount Lebanon and the Syrian border, is likewise gearing up to explode.
Egypt's continuing revolutionary turmoil cannot disguise the fact that its people face a fateful crossroads between a creeping oppressive theocracy, descent into abysmal poverty and the return of a military junta. However, Israeli government sources closely monitoring the drama believe that post-Mubarak Egypt is unlikely to become an Islamic theocracy.