Ed: 41: March/2016
Whoever said that UN peacekeepers in Lebanon do not engage in important work? Only recently they courageously intervened in a special operation to return a vulture to Israel, after the bird was detained on suspicion of spying...
The Israeli daily Ha'aretz confirmed that, as some Israeli media have long speculated, Israel has been implementing a long-term unofficial freeze on approvals for new construction in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem. While the Israeli Government has never acknowledged the freeze publicly, Ha'aretz reporter Chaim Levinson revealed that for approximately 18 months no new construction permits were approved in these territories.
A report from ABC Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill that was nominally about a proposed Israeli law requiring NGOs to declare whether they accept funding from foreign governments seemed more like a promotion for the radical foreign-funded Israeli NGO "Breaking the Silence" (BTS).
But there was no questioning of the methodology of BTS, which is accused of relying on anonymous testimony that omits basic information such as dates and places of alleged offences, making investigation nearly impossible.
If it is up to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the controversial casino industry famous for bringing prosperity to places like Las Vegas and Macau is to arrive in Israel, albeit in a limited and constricted way. Then again, his quest faces formidable political opposition which, together with the pro-gambling lobby he has chosen to back, encapsulate the conflicts that are part of Israeli culture, business, and society.
The phrase "connect the dots" originally referred to a children's game in which a bigger picture was revealed by drawing lines among the points. In adult lingo it became a metaphor for teasing out salient relationships often overlooked by the less subtle. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, moving to integrate itself with nearly every progressive campus cause, has put the metaphor on steroids.
The Shi'ite Islamists who run Iran disagreed with her. In the years since her Nobel triumph, they have set out to destroy Ebadi - and have mostly succeeded. Until We Are Free is Ebadi's account of the devastation. It is a revealing and dark work, notable for the author's frank reassessment of some of her earlier positions.
Israel's push to gain ground in Asia is nothing if not multifaceted and the growing trade and cultural links may yet reap political benefits over the long-term.
Much has been said already of the interest Israel's hi-tech industries are generating in Asia. Countries like Singapore and China are now well-acquainted with Israel's vibrant start-up culture and technical innovation, while countries such as Japan and even Indonesia, with its staunch support for the Palestinian cause, are filing into Israeli trade shows.
Populists - on the far right and left - have popped up across Europe. The political Grand Tour today reveals the far-left Syriza and the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn in Greece, the Front National in France, the Alternative and Linke in Germany, Flemish Interest in Belgium, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, the Northern League in Italy, Fidez and Jobbik in Hungary, the Freedom Party in Austria, plus a slew of far-right parties throughout Scandinavia.
In a recent Knesset debate, despite the customary efforts of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Labor opposition leader Isaac Herzog to differentiate their political positions, it emerged that actually both oppose creating a Palestinian state under prevailing conditions.
The British Government has done something in support of Israel, and the progressive intelligentsia is in shock. Prime Minister David Cameron is taking action against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.