Ed: 39: December/2014
Dr. Qanta Ahmed is a British-born Muslim woman of Pakistani descent, a respected physician and author. But in her spare time, she is on a mission to reclaim Islam and distinguish it from Islamism, which she describes as a worldview that "religionises a political totalitarian ideology".
In 1998, against the backdrop of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's "Dialogue of Civilisations," there was great optimism about the potential for a thaw in US-Iranian relations among many of the same circles that express it now. And then, just as now, some in the US business community wanted to rush into the Iranian market, figuring all that was left for some sort of grand rapprochement was to dot the i's and cross the t's. It was against this backdrop that a group of American businessmen, travelling at the invitation of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, flew to Teheran in order to combine meetings with tourism.
Even God, it seems, is tired of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute - and the never-ending standoff between US President Barack Obama and Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu. When a third intifada threatened to erupt recently following Israel's temporary closure of Muslim prayer at the al-Aqsa Mosque in response to stone-throwing against Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall below, Palestinian leaders called for a "day of rage," and Israel dispatched more than 1,000 riot police to prepare for the worst.
The Temple Mount, arguably monotheism's most active volcano, is smoking again.
The hilltop where a universalistic King Solomon built, as he saw it, a shrine whose tenant would be God and whose pilgrims would be "all the people of the world," returned in October to its more familiar role as a source of division - witnessing and also igniting violence, agony, and strife.
In 2006, a prominent Israeli psychiatrist named Dr. Nathaniel Laor received a telephone call from American real estate mogul and philanthropist Leon Charney. Laor, a professor at both Tel Aviv University and at Yale's Child Study Centre, was told that a friend of Charney's knew a man who had come into possession of a remarkable trove of papers... A near-complete record of the personal life of one of the most infamous Nazi war criminals had been in the State of Israel, unbeknownst to anyone, for decades.
On November 8, the Australian ran an op-ed from former Foreign Minister Bob Carr announcing his new role as patron of the Labor Friends of Palestine, wherein he argued, ad nauseum, that Israel is becoming apartheid-like and that settlements are what is preventing a two-state solution.
Spouting arrant nonsense, Carr claimed that, "settlements have doubled in the past 54 months alone."
Since October 1989, I have maintained a database of anti-Jewish incidents of "racist violence", using the definition produced by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, which began its database in 2013 and has released the results of its first year-to-year comparison, noted increased reports of antisemitic assault, telephone calls, graffiti and miscellaneous activity and decreases in street harassment and abusive emails. The ECAJ noted an overall increase of 35% from 2013 to 2014, which is consistent with the data I have drawn from wider sources.
As this edition of the Australia/Israel Review went to press, negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran over Iran's nuclear program were continuing in Vienna ahead of a November 24 deadline, with little sign that a deal is imminent - certainly not one that would end the program altogether and dismantle Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile infrastructure.
It is nearly impossible to overstate the seriousness of the situation.
The academic boycott of Israel, led by a semi-official Palestinian entity and adopted by many academic supporters of the Palestinian "cause" in the West, is a bizarre and unique violation of academic freedom that appears to be truly unprecedented in history.