Ed: 41: July/2016
It was mid-afternoon, mid-Ramadan. Other than one sleeping traveller, and a handful of workers, the mosque complex in Kaifeng, Central China, was deserted. It was an eerily quiet place in an otherwise bustling, noisy city.
I had come to the mosque with an energetic, enthusiastic member of one of the Jewish families which had thrived in that city for centuries.
The Kaifeng synagogue, which had served a community tracing its roots to the first millennia CE, had been destroyed by floodwaters nearly two centuries ago.
Pre-election polling and analysis suggests the Australian Greens party is likely to pick up one or more lower house seats this election - on top of retaining the seat of Melbourne. This gives it the potential to not only hold the balance of power in the Senate, but if a hung parliament results from this election, also determine who forms government - with very significant leverage over the minority government thus formed.
It is therefore worth reviewing the Greens' official position and record on Israeli-Palestinian issues.
There are a number of far-right parties to be wary of in the 2016 federal election - including some whose radical views are not obvious or widely recognised. Populist anti-immigration and anti-multiculturalism minor parties have long been a persistent but largely marginal feature of Australian politics - excepting the rise of Pauline Hanson's One Nation in 1996. In recent years, these sorts of parties have increasingly focused the majority of their distasteful hardline policy positions on the Muslim community and Islam.
Hezbollah has a nasty collection of more than 130,000 rockets, missiles, and mortars aimed at Israel. This is a bigger arsenal than all NATO countries (except the United States) combined. Why, a reasonable person might wonder, does Hezbollah need an offensive arsenal bigger than that of all Western Europe?
Facing losses on the battlefield, ISIS has been changing its outlook regarding recruits from Western countries. Weeks before the June 12 terror attack that killed 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub, carried out in the name of ISIS, Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani urged aspiring Western jihadists to carry out attacks close to home. He said, "the smallest action you do in their heartland is better and more enduring to us than what you would if you were with us."
The Nick Xenophon Team (NXT), having secured more Senate primary votes in South Australia than the ALP at the 2013 election, will likely achieve three or even four Senate seats there this time. Running candidates in all SA electorates, it is also slightly favoured to gain the lower house seat of Mayo, where candidate Rebekha Sharkie is leading incumbent Liberal Jamie Briggs in the polls, and may be a threat in other SA seats. It also has Senate candidates in all other states.