Ed: 38: October/2013
The Coalition's decisive victory on September 7 opens a new chapter in Australian politics. The system, for all its flaws and quirks, worked once again. The Australian people were given an opportunity to hear from the parties and the candidates, weigh the pros and cons, and choose their preferred path for the next parliamentary term.
We are pleased to extend congratulations to our new Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his team. Mr. Abbott, himself a long-standing and close friend of both the Australian Jewish community and Israel, will lead a cabinet including many individuals of whom the same can be said. Of course, the outgoing Labor Government could make a similar claim - which says much about Australian politics overall.
The latest Pew survey of the attitudes of Muslims in Muslim-majority countries towards terrorism and al-Qaeda is mostly good news. Al-Qaeda's popularity seems to continue to wane across the Muslim world, with the group viewed unfavourably by 57% of all those surveyed, against 13% favourably, and viewed more unfavourably than favourably in every one of the 11 countries and regions that took part. The highest unfavourability ratings were in Lebanon (96%), Jordan (81%), Turkey (73%), and Egypt (69%). This may not sound that impressive, but in 2003 and 2004, there were majority or near majority expressions of confidence in Osama Bin Laden in several of the countries surveyed, including Jordan, Pakistan, Indonesia and Morocco.
A frequent complaint in Australian political commentary is that the level of debate here is pedestrian at best, especially at election time. Indeed, if hyperbole and distortion is the daily gruel of politics worldwide then it has a special flavour in Malaysia, where Israel is invoked on the slightest pretext to smear political opponents.
From the very start of the Arab uprisings, more than two-and-a-half years ago, analysts looked to Indonesia, home of the largest Muslim community in the world, to better understand how transitions to democracy could be rendered compatible with Islam and applied to the Middle East. To be sure, Indonesia's democracy is not yet fully fledged. Nevertheless, one cannot ignore the considerable distance that has been covered by Indonesia in its democratisation efforts during the past 15 years. Indeed, the Indonesian success appears all the more impressive in light of the latest upheaval in Egypt.
On paper, the Russian proposal to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons looks like the optimal outcome. A military attack to punish Syria for its use of chemical weapons was never the objective, but a means to an end, which was to firmly establish the principle that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. If - and this is a very big if - even part of the Syrian chemical arsenal is actually placed under international supervision and ultimately dismantled, the United States will have achieved far more than it set out to do. It is, however, far too early to predict success - indeed, the prospects are limited.
As the plot surrounding Syria's chemical weapons continued to thicken, Israelis of all walks crowded the narrow alleys leading to Jerusalem's Wailing Wall, where thousands were humming the season's ancient penitentiary prayers known as Selichot ("apologies").
News of the Russian-sponsored deal that would potentially end the international crisis non-violently broke three days ahead of the Day of Atonement, when Jews scrutinise their moral conduct over the past year, and vow to improve it in the next.
Last month, AIR profiled a number of minor fringe parties running in the federal election. This month, we return to see how they performed. The results and estimated preference flows used in this article are based on the ABC's Senate Election calculator and Australian Electoral Commission websites as of 16 September, with between 70-80% of the vote counted in most states (note: turnout was around 82%).
The Jewish state has always attracted the attention of pundits and prognosticators. In recent years, a burgeoning literature of gloom that highlights Israel's imaginary or real flaws, and even questions its future, has emerged both within and outside the country...
But while continuous political prudence is recommended, Israel has so far been a great success story, and time seems to be on its side. A review of the balance of power between Israel and its foes, of the domestic characteristics affecting its national power - such as its economy, social cohesion, and political system - as well as its standing in the international community, validates this assessment.
Some media professionals were especially concerned over what potential changes might be made to foreign policy regarding Israel by an incoming federal Liberal/National government.
The day before the federal election, James Carleton reported on how Labor and the Coalition differ on the legality of Israeli settlements, and was very obviously unimpressed with the Coalition's policy.
I have a very clear memory of September 11, 2001. Having represented the World Jewish Congress at the NGO Forum preceding the United Nations' now notorious "World Conference Against Racism" in Durban, South Africa, and been on the Australian Government delegation to the UN Conference, the Jewish community asked me to address a community meeting in Sydney...
Waiting to pay after filling my petrol tank at my local service station, I looked up at the television screen near the cash register to see the vision of smoke from the first tower.
A few minutes later I was at home, just as the second plane hit its target, and then joined so many people around the globe transfixed by the unfolding tragic events.