Ed: 40: December/2015
A two-minute video posted on a shortlived Facebook account of Abu Sayyaf leader Muammar Askali provided enough evidence as to how a small, radical Islamist terror group in an obscure, isolated corner of the Philippines can survive and even thrive.
Israel's Shin Bet internal security agency reported on Nov. 16 that October had been the worst month for terrorism in Israel in over nine years. In all, the month saw 602 terrorist attacks committed, with 11 Israelis killed and 80 suffering moderate to serious injuries.
Despite the myriad number of sensible commentaries available on the current wave of terror in Israel, the Saturday Age (Nov. 7) opted for a self-righteous op-ed by Israeli novelist Assaf Gavron that essentially blamed Israel itself for the Israeli victims of Palestinian terror.
Arguing that the current violence is "a desperate and humiliated answer to the election of a hostile Israeli government that emboldens extremist settlers to attack Palestinians," Gavron said dissenters in Israel "are ridiculed and patronised at best."
Perhaps that is because the majority of Israelis understand that Israeli governments such as Yitzhak Rabin's, Ehud Barak's and Ehud Olmert's, which no one could argue were "hostile", also had to contend with terrorism, even as they made unprecedented peace offers to the Palestinians.
Ehud Yaari is the veteran Middle East commentator for Israel's Channel Two television, an Israel-based Lafer international fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the author of eight books on the Arab-Israeli conflict. He recently visited Australia, where he spoke at a number of functions in Sydney and Melbourne, with some of his expert analysis featured in the last AIR edition.
Below is some more of his important insights, taken largely from his answers during Q&A after his lectures, into the ISIS problem and how it affects Israel.
Sometimes trying to be too many things to too many people in a difficult situation can end up offering nothing to anybody. Or, alternatively, counterproductively sowing confusion and discord. And such seems to be the case with New Zealand's draft Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As Israelis and human beings, we... show solidarity with the French. We only wish this solidarity was truly universal and not something reserved only for Western Europeans or Americans. The Facebook community does not add the colours of the Israeli flag to profile pictures when Israelis are murdered in terrorist attacks. No state leaders declare that it is a crime against humanity when Israeli parents are gunned down in cold blood in front of their children. Somehow, all this is irrelevant because of "occupation".
In the wake of the attacks in Paris, US President Barack Obama rejected calls to change his strategy to counter the Islamic State - specifically the idea of putting large numbers of US troops in the battlefield. "We have the right strategy and we're gonna see it through," Obama said at the G-20 Summit in Turkey on Nov. 16. But not everyone agrees. Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell appeared on CBS's "Face the Nation" a few days later and concluded, "I think it's now crystal clear to us that our strategy, our policy vis-a-vis ISIL, is not working and it's time to look at something else."
The horrific terror attacks in Paris on Friday Nov. 13 inevitably saw media references made to Israel and Jews.
Bruce Hearn Mackinnon, a Deakin University lecturer in the department of management whose expertise is in industrial relations, partly blamed Muslim radicalisation on Western support for Israel‘s "occupation of Palestinian territory...humiliation of Palestinian people, [which] has been a festering sore, breeding resentment, frustration and anger from not only Palestinians, but the wider Muslim community... let's not forget that Israel secretly fund[ed] and encourage[d]...Hamas, in its early years, as a means of undermining the secular mainstream PLO."
The reality is that in the 1970s/80s, Israel allowed non-violent Islamic organisations in Gaza - some of which later evolved into Hamas - to build mosques and distribute aid. Furthermore, it is the Arab rejection of Israel that has prevented peace, not the reverse, Age (Nov. 16).
In mid-November 2005, Australians came together as never before. Women in hijabs hugging Jewish men in caps, Doc Martens-heeled youths locking arms with Indigenous elders - celebrating together as Australia defeated Uruguay at the Sydney Olympic Stadium to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
A decade later, in mid-November 2015, eighty delegates representing the peak national Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Bahai and Sikh communities gathered at NSW Parliament House, and began the day with reflection and silent prayer for those who had been murdered and maimed, terrorised and terrified, in the previous weeks and days.
This edition contains an important new article by Daniel Polisar, which is a pretty comprehensive look at reputable polling of Palestinians over many years. It's not a pretty picture in terms of what Palestinians believe about Jews and Israel or support for terrorism - and goes a long way toward explaining why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains insoluble, despite years of international mediation efforts and several reasonable two-state peace offers from Israel.