Ed: 40: December/2015
There is a sense of trepidation walking into the guard station at the foot of the Mughrabi Bridge, the non-Muslim entrance to the Temple Mount. Having lived in and around Jerusalem for most of the past 20 years, there aren't many parts of the city I haven't seen. Personal interest, and my work as a journalist have taken me to nearly every site of religious, national or cultural interest in the city.
But going to the Temple Mount is different...
One of Australia's most versatile public intellectuals, Monk's unique background as literary critic, China expert, author, poet and founder of the Austhink consultancy, has fed an exceptionally erudite writer's journalistic crop while history journeyed from the Cold War's passage to the Islamist threat's ascendency.
The most recent wave of Palestinian terror attacks, now entering its second month, has been mainly the work of "lone wolf" operators running over Israeli civilians, soldiers, and policemen with cars or stabbing them with knives. The perpetrators, many in or just beyond their teenage years, are not, for the most part, activists in the leading militant organisations. They have been setting forth to find targets with the expectation, generally fulfilled, that after scoring a casualty or two they will be killed or badly wounded. What drives these young Palestinians, experts say, is a viral social-media campaign centred on claims that the Jews are endangering the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and that Israel is executing Palestinian children.
The Islamic State cited two justifications for the attacks. The first was ideological. Paris was described by the jihadist organisation as "the capital of prostitution and vice, the lead carrier of the cross in Europe." It appears that France's liberal values - including strong secularism, democracy, and freedom of expression - aroused and aggravated the anger of the Islamic State. But in addition to this general ideological justification, which marks France as the "enemy of Islam" due to its liberal values, lay a strategic consideration. France was targeted because of its military involvement in the international coalition fighting against the Islamic State strongholds in Syria.
Regardless of what kind of response the West ultimately launches, military efforts in the wake of Paris will not spell an end to terrorism. There is no chance for a cure for the causes of terrorism anytime soon, no matter how much Paris may have stiffened Europe's resolve. Across the Middle East, democracy isn't taking hold, economic development is further away than ever, and bad governance is still endemic...
The JCPOA is best characterised by bangs and whimpers - by bold prohibitions on Iran that peter out in qualifying terms such as "unless," "except if," and the like.
The barbaric, coordinated attacks in Paris by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists on November 13, which claimed the lives of over 130 people, may well be more than just the latest barbaric atrocity carried out in the name of extremist Islamism. It may signal that ISIS has decided on a shift in tactics to a new emphasis on terrorism against the home front of its perceived enemies.