Ed: 38: January/2013
Now that the dust has settled on the Palestinian UN upgrade bid; now that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has received his applause and kudos from the UN Plenary, from the Europeans, and from many Israelis as the hero and saviour of the Palestinian people; now that the UN General Assembly has returned to its regular and wasteful agenda of repetitive, pointless, and inane resolutions; now that some Israeli legal and non-legal commentators are already forecasting that Israeli leaders, officials, officers, and settlers are about to be put on trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity; now that Palestinian lawyers are busy preparing their criminal charges against Israel - now it is perhaps the time to place things in their correct proportion, without misleading exaggeration, imaginative embellishment, wishful thinking, and false predictions.
Iron Dome is a hero and a comfort for the residents of the south, who, after years of facing rocket fire without protection feel, at last, that they are being taken into account. The anti-rocket system was developed in record time and performs a task that many felt was unfeasible - locating, tracking and intercepting Hamas's rockets in a matter of seconds. During "Operation Pillar of Defence", the missiles intercepted 86.3% of the 421 rockets fired toward populated areas in Israel.
Around 1985, current al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri fled his homeland of Egypt, presumably never to return. From his early beginnings as a teenage leader of a small jihadi cell devoted to overthrowing Egyptian regimes (first Nasser's, then Sadat's) until he merged forces with Osama bin Laden, expanding his objectives to include targeting the United States of America, Zawahiri never forgot his original objective - transforming Egypt into an Islamist state that upholds and enforces the totality of sharia law, and that works towards the resurrection of a global caliphate.
As mentioned in last month's "Noted and Quoted", on Nov. 21, at the conclusion of the recent Hamas-Israel fighting the Age published a highly provocative cartoon by Michael Leunig which paraphrased German pastor Martin Niemoller's famous epigram ("First they came for the...") to position the Palestinians as today's equivalent of Holocaust victims. It also referred to how "doors would close" and "bitterness and spiteful condemnation" would be applied to those who speak out for the Palestinians.
What followed was a series of bizarre decisions by the Age that threw doubt on that paper's commitment to offer balance on a sensitive issue involving the Holocaust.
On 6 December 1938, an extraordinary event took place in Melbourne.
William Cooper, an Indigenous Australian in his late 70s, led a delegation to the German Consulate in Melbourne, to deliver a petition formulated after he heard and read reports of "Kristallnacht" and other anti-Jewish manifestations in Germany.
Despite living his life as a member of a people which suffered enormous deprivation and discrimination due to racism, he took a public stand against the persecution of Jews by the Nazis.
The United Nations General Assembly vote on November 29, upgrading the Palestinian mission at the UN to the status of an "observer state" was a unilateral move which violated a core tenet of the Oslo Accords, stipulating that neither party would attempt to unilaterally change the legal status of the West Bank and Gaza.
While the UN vote may lack the authority to effect such change, it's clear that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is hoping to use the vote as a political crowbar in order to pry away the West from their allegiance to the principles set in place by the vastly more weighty UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshal made international headlines on Dec. 7 when he made a particularly uncompromising speech in Gaza promising never to recognise Israel and to liberate all of Palestine "from the river to the sea" via armed "resistance".
It's worth specifically parsing what he had to say about why all of Palestine must be liberated by armed violence. He said "Palestine - from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, from its north to its south - is our land, our right, and our homeland. There will be no relinquishing or forsaking even an inch or small part of it... Palestine was, continues to be, and will remain Arab and Islamic... Palestine belongs to us and to nobody else."
Indonesia's public stance towards Israel - established by a long precedent - is still characterised by loud, almost ritualistic denunciations and rejections, yet equally established is the precedent of pragmatic, private flirtations, including the constant stream of tourists and visits by influential journalists and powerbrokers.
Questions have been raised by some members of New Zealand's Jewish community over the country's recent vote in favour of the United Nations (UN) resolution that Palestine be given "non-member state" status at the international organisation.
There has been some surprise, and even annoyance, that - under Prime Minister John Key's Israel-friendly government - New Zealand did not abstain on the vote.
Israel has, in its 65 years, seen some major electoral upsets, most memorably Benjamin Netanyahu's defeat of Shimon Peres in 1996, and Menachem Begin's rise to power in 1977.
No one is expecting a comparable upset in the general election scheduled for Jan. 22. As things currently appear, the main struggles are within the centre-left, while the premiership itself is almost universally predicted to be retained handily by Netanyahu. Unless something drastic happens and current polls prove obsolete, Netanyahu will be re-elected with something close to twice as many votes as Labor and its leader, Shelly Yachimovich.