Ed: 40: October/2015
In an unprecedented move, Israel's Defence Forces released a comprehensive document on Aug. 13 that set out its strategies and priorities through to 2020. It explores the fundamental changes in Israel's operating environment, arising from the challenges caused by the weakening of states and threats posed by sub-state actors, specifically Hamas and Hezbollah...
Israel's leading political and medical establishment sweated for two weeks in mid-August as the health of an administrative detainee deteriorated rapidly as the result of a two-month hunger strike. Mohammed Allaan, a senior operative of the Islamic Jihad terror group, who has been held in administrative detention since November 2014, began refusing food in mid-June to demand that Israel either charge him with a crime or release him.
The term "Black Earth" is often used to designate the rich agricultural areas of southern Russia. But Timothy Snyder uses it in a broader sense to denote the frontier zones of east-central Europe contested between Stalin and Hitler in the Second World War - the "Bloodlands", as he called them in an earlier book.
This is a history of the Shoah throughout Europe... The book offers not so much new evidence of what occurred as a bold argument about why and how it could have happened.
Despite the saturation coverage and the massive police and intelligence effort, information on the perpetrators of the Bangkok bombing has been slow to emerge, with lines of inquiry centring on possible retaliation for the Thai government's decision to deport more than 100 Uighur refugees to China in late June, an alleged human trafficking ring and the apparent Turkish links among the several arrest warrants issued.
Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid has been openly vocal in his opposition to, and condemnation of, the BDS movement and all that it represents. This may have played a part in the hostility that greeted his recent visit to New Zealand.
However, that hostility, in turn, exposed some of the ugly hypocrisy which is circulating in some sectors of New Zealand academia.
Beverley O'Connor interviewed radical Palestinian British activist Ghada Karmi who was attending the Melbourne Writers' Festival.
Karmi backed the Palestinian Authority's (PA) call for the Palestinian flag to be raised at the United Nations, because "the Palestinians for so long have been left out of everything. And Israel's done its best, let's face it, to erase them, their memory, everything about them."
That's a stretch, considering how the Palestinians are the only people with a whole UN department dedicated to their wellbeing and more UN General Assembly resolutions passed on their behalf each year than for any other people...
ISIS has killed thousands of people since it declared an Islamic caliphate in June 2014, with the city of Raqqa as its de facto capital... In Israel, concern is increasing as ISIS nears Israeli borders.
Yet, several analyses of the threat ISIS poses to Israel seem to be unnecessarily alarmist. ISIS is primarily successful where there is a political void. Although the offensives in Syria and Iraq showed the Islamic State's tactical capabilities, they were directed against failed states with weakened militaries.
I've written before in this space that international "pro-Palestinian" activists who demand a "one-state solution" appear very out of step with what polls show the Palestinians themselves want. The latest polling data, aptly summarised by David Pollock in this edition on the opposite page, again supports this conclusion. According to the new survey he cites, only 18% of West Bank residents and 5% of Gazans tell interviewers that they want to see a "one-state solution in all of the land in which Palestinians and Jews have equal rights."
This is of course what "one-state solution" pro-Palestinian activists claim to advocate.
In August, Mahmoud Abbas announced his intention to resign from the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Executive Committee; his announcement was accompanied by the resignation of several senior PLO officials... The announcement came as no surprise to the Palestinian "street", which viewed it with cynicism and saw it as a political ploy to help Abbas gain greater legitimacy to extend his already lengthy tenure in this position.
"Zionism is more ruinous than all the false messiahs who arose in our nation," wrote a group of prominent rabbis in response to Theodore Herzl's manifesto "The Jewish State".
Nearly 120 years on, this theological rejection remains nominally intact, while in every other respect - politically, socially, and culturally - ultra-Orthodoxy's defences have been steadily eroding, as has just been made manifest with its representative becoming a minister in the government of the Jewish state.