Ed: 39: March/2014
After three-and-a-half years in the doldrums, Israeli-Turkish relations seem to be climbing the road to recovery, though that road appears no less bumpy than most other affairs in Turkey these days.
Israel's relations with the strongest country in the Middle East had generally been good, and at times even intimate, until last decade. When Recep Erdogan's religious government took office in 2003, it slowly began hammering at Turkish-Israeli relations, bringing them to full crisis in May 2010.
In a 2011 blog post titled "A Few Notes on WHAT IS LEFT (or Toward a Manifesto for Revolutionary Emancipation)," the prominent radical intellectual Richard Falk endeavoured to distill "what remains of the historic left" into a program of contemporary relevance. The starting point he proposed? "Support for the Palestinian Solidarity Movement."
This is not surprising, as Falk is the UN's Special Rapporteur on Palestine and a ferocious supporter of the Palestinian cause. But his views are not unusual. Falk was simply expressing what has been implicit among progressive academic associations, unions, churches, and human rights groups that single out Israel for censure or punishment. Championing the Palestinians and opposing Israel has become a touchstone, perhaps the touchstone, of the contemporary Left.
"Stone Cold Justice", the one-sided collaboration between the Australian newspaper's Middle East correspondent John Lyons and ABC TV "Four Corners" program (Feb. 10) on Israel's treatment of Palestinian children - see pp.19-22 - saw Lyons do the rounds on TV, radio and in print to generate publicity for his claims.
The groundwork was prepared with an ABC video promo featuring a narrator ominously asking "are children the newest target in the Middle East's longest running conflict?"
Actually they are - but not the Palestinian children featured in the story.
Melbourne-based academic researcher Mark Lindsay highlighted an important element of Christian antisemitism and provided a clue to understanding one of the key obstacles to a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, on the ABC's "Religion & Ethics" website.
Lindsay's reflection was prompted by a speech given by the Archbishop of Canterbury exactly 74 years to the day after the first deportation of Jews from Germany into Nazi-occupied Poland.
Northern Sinai has long played host to a variety of smuggling networks and jihadi organisations. Since General Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi's military coup of July 3rd, 2013 in Egypt, however, there has been an exponential increase in attacks emanating from this area.
This increasingly lawless region is now the home ground for an emergent Islamist insurgency against the Egyptian authorities. Since July 2013, more than 300 reported attacks have taken place in Sinai.
This analysis is a shortened summary of a much longer and more detailed critique of the ABC Four Corners program in question - complete with full sourcing for all claims made in it - available on the AIJAC website. We urge anyone interested in the subject to view the full critique at www.aijac.org.au/news/article/red-hot-injustice
The ABC's "Four Corners", together with the Australian newspaper's Middle East correspondent John Lyons, produced a story, "Stone Cold Justice" about the alleged Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian minors it arrests in the West Bank. Their basic thesis is that Israel has a new policy of arresting Palestinian children in the West Bank in the middle of the night, then torturing them to create a culture of fear and to gather information to use against Palestinian non-violent resistance. This is categorically untrue.
Last year, the Australian's Middle East correspondent John Lyons interviewed Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor on camera over the treatment of Palestinian minors arrested by the Israel Defence Forces for violent crime.
Asked about a critical report on the subject by UNICEF in March 2013, Palmor answered: "I have to say one thing that may come as a surprise to you. UNICEF did not write this report by themselves. They were assisted all along by Israeli lawyers, from the Military Attorney General, from the Ministry of Justice, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by Israeli civil servants who deal with this issue day by day and who want the situation to improve with the help of UNICEF."
In the past, Hamas, as rulers of Gaza, have repeatedly reacted strongly to reports the UN agency UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency), which runs almost half of the schools in Gaza, planned to teach students about the Holocaust as part of its "human rights" module. This was called a "crime against Palestinians" and even a "war crime" while the Holocaust was described as "a lie made up by the Zionists." (Indeed, even Palestinian teachers unaffiliated with Hamas working for UNRWA have said that they will never teach about the Holocaust.)
After all the gossip and speculation it's time to come clean: Scarlett Johansson and I are more than just good friends. Much more. Yes, we have shared moments of intimacy - not, alas, together, or even at the same time. But we are both alumni of Oxfam, that billion-dollar arbiter of humanitarian aid, political profundity and universal morality. It doesn't matter that we graduated almost half a century apart. It doesn't even matter that we've never actually met. Or that she doesn't know I exist. We have both experienced an "Oxfam Incident".
On January 22, Israeli officials announced that, several weeks before, they had disrupted what they described as an "advanced" al-Qaeda terrorist plot in Israel. Although al-Qaeda-inspired jihadists had targeted Israel before, this marked the first time that senior al-Qaeda leaders were directly involved in such plans.