Ed: 40: April/2015
On March 17, Israel returned to the polls for the second time in two years and re-elected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in a late surge that defied all expectations.
Netanyahu's victory was not without controversy. In particular, Netanyahu drew justified criticism for his insensitive choice of words on election day while rallying his base to vote, warning them that "Arabs" were flocking to the polls in "droves".
It appears Netanyahu's unacceptably worded exhortation was an ill-judged reaction to what he construed as a calculated strategy by foreign-funded NGOs to sway the election by increasing voter turnout in segments of the Israeli electorate most hostile to him.
A number of writers have been publicly downplaying the rise of antisemitism in Europe - for instance internationally syndicated British-Canadian columnist Gwynne Dyer and vehemently anti-Zionist Jewish-born American academic Norman Finkelstein.
Dyer asserted in a column, republished both in the Melbourne Age (Feb. 20) and in some New Zealand newspapers, that the Jews of Europe really only face a "very small threat" and therefore any calls for these communities to consider moving to Israel was simply "crude electioneering" by Israeli PM Netanyahu...
Israel faces a "war of words, images and ideas", posing a significant strategic threat to its existence, according to Dr. Einat Wilf, a former member of the Knesset and an Adjunct Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. On Feb. 8, Dr. Wilf told an audience in Melbourne that she uses the word "war" intentionally, explaining: "We're seeing a non-violent battle, a war that is being waged by non violent means but ultimately for a very sinister and violent end."
In an electoral upset on par with Attlee's defeat of Churchill in 1945 and Truman's of Dewey in 1948, Binyamin Netanyahu emerged from Israel's twentieth general election with a decisive victory that has left pundits, pollsters and rivals dumbfounded.
It's time for an intervention. Friends of the US-Israel relationship shouldn't let their leaders drive drunk on confidence. If they do, they may inadvertently steer a precious alliance right off the cliff. Yet right now, US President Barack Obama and Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu are each empowered by a different kind of confidence...
In his March 3 address to the US Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rightly compared the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran to Washington's past experience with North Korea. But the Obama Administration appears to be willfully ignoring the record with North Korea. It also seems unfocused on the dire implications for Asia of a bad Iran deal.
Nowadays, it's become virtually accepted wisdom that Israel is becoming increasingly right-wing, and that this shift constitutes a major obstacle to peace... A popular corollary of this thesis is that Israel, as it moves rightward, is becoming less democratic, less respectful of civil rights, and less tolerant of minorities. Both halves of this thesis are wrong...
Overwhelmingly, media coverage of Binyamin Netanyahu's re-election framed the comments he made in the lead up to election day as a convenient hook to explain why a two-state resolution is in limbo.
This was largely achieved by misreporting or excluding critical sections of Netanyahu's actual remarks, namely that "anyone who goes to create today a Palestinian state...is turning over land that will be used...for attacks by Islamist extremists against...Israel. [emphasis added].
Julius Caesar, in Shakespeare's script, was warned he should "Beware the Ides of March". People living in Sydney, in 2015, had reason to beware the Ideas of March.
Miriam Margolyes kicked off events on the ABC television programme "Q & A". She began by asserting, "People don't like Jews", and then claimed this dislike was due to the identification of Jews with a series of alleged misdemeanours of the State of Israel...
Since Washington blocked some controversial Israeli arms sales to China in the late 1990s, Jerusalem and Beijing have progressively developed and deepened their economic, commercial and cultural ties. Israeli priorities are primarily bilateral, while China's eager demand for Israeli technology and know-how is a part of Beijing's global, multi-layered strategy for dealing with dependence on Middle East oil and energy supplies.