Ed: 40: July/2015
The pipes are skirling and the saltires are snapping smartly in the summer breeze, but there is an undercurrent of concern. Ignoring pleas from the Scottish Jewish community, the local councils of Edinburgh, Glasgow and many smaller Scottish towns flew the Palestinian flag above their offices in solidarity with Gaza after last year's conflict.
The predictable effect was to send the rate of antisemitic incidents through the roof. Scottish Jews experienced almost as many antisemitic incidents in one month as in the entire previous year.
The overwhelming majority of the media coverage on June 23 of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) report into last year's Gaza war failed to observe that Israel was forced to fight an enemy deliberately operating inside civilian residential areas.
Israel eased restrictions on Palestinians for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to enable easier access to holy sites. West Bank male worshippers over the age of 40 were allowed to enter the Temple Mount area without a permit, as were women of all ages. Palestinians travelling to Israel for family visits were also permitted entry without formal permits.
Murdoch University lecturer Ameer Ali called on the West to engage Iran "as an equal partner in the fight against IS... or allow IS to become a reality with all unwelcome consequences." Ali essentially absolved Iran of any responsibility in the rise of IS, blaming Saudi Arabia for promoting "religious radicalism" through "Wahabi sharia" and Israel's "prolonged recalcitrance towards a peaceful solution to the Palestinian issue" as key reasons "for the emergence of IS," West Australian (June 16).
If Iran and the P5+1 powers reach a nuclear accord this summer, members of Congress, presidential candidates and the public will need to assess whether the deal is acceptable... Perhaps more important, this evaluation will need to consider the big picture: What objectives do Iran and the P5+1 (US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany) accomplish via the agreement?
Since the 2013 election, UMNO and particularly Prime Minister Najib Razak has courted PAS by murmuring tacit acquiescence for its plans to institute hudud (Islamic law backed by harsh medieval punishments) in an effort to break up the opposition coalition. Now PAS appears set to align itself with UMNO in the belief that they can take enough of the 60.1% of ethnic Malay votes to continue to dominate politics against the Chinese, Indians and the mainly Christian tribes in Sabah and Sarawak.
However, PM Najib's tactical move may not save either him or his party's dominant position.
Claiming victory for his Justice and Development party (AKP) in last week's historic national election, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was defiant. "This election has shown that the backbone of Turkey is the AKP," he told supporters at party headquarters in Ankara. "The AKP is the only party that is in all of the regions, all provinces, and embraces all of the citizens." An analyst with Al Jazeera television, a sometimes boosterish outlet for the AKP's Islamist agenda, offered a rougher assessment: "It was an image of confidence on a very bad night."
It's appalling to see how Israel is treated by a totally different standard to other countries in the international system. Of course, Israel deserves scrutiny, as does every other nation. But it also merits equal treatment.
First, Israel is the only UN member state whose very right to exist is under constant challenge.
Notwithstanding the fact that Israel embodies an age-old connection with the Jewish people, that it was created based on the 1947 recommendation of the UN, and that it has been a member of the world body since 1949, there's a relentless chorus of nations, institutions and individuals denying Israel's very political legitimacy.
For three straight days starting on July 15, 2014, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) made thousands of phone calls to the residents of Shejaiya in northern Gaza. The locals were encouraged to evacuate their homes before IDF tanks rolled across the border. Tens of thousands of leaflets were dropped into the village. These leaflets suggested both a safe evacuation route and safe destinations to head for within Gaza City. The IDF sent similar messages daily via local television and radio. But that's not all.
It’s not often I find myself agreeing with Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the populist leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party who wants to annex most of the West Bank. But when Bennett greeted the publication Monday of the UN Human Rights Council’s report on last summer’s Israel-Hamas war by succinctly telling its compilers, “Shame on you,” he had it exactly right.