Ed: 41: October/2016
The Sabbath day, a hallmark of the Jewish state and one of Judaism's most celebrated contributions to civilisation, is stirring Israeli politics again.
Compelled to insert a pair of 60-metre-long steel structures into Tel Aviv's busiest train station as part of the preparations to electrify the new railroad to Jerusalem, Israel Railways figured the best way to minimise disruption of traffic was to perform the work on the Sabbath, when public transport is idle and private traffic sharply declines.
The controversy over Labor Senator Sam Dastyari's acceptance of money from people with links to the Chinese Communist party (and allegations that this may have influenced his stance on China) saw the issue of federal Australian MPs taking study tours to Israel become a topic of debate.
Much of the discussion was focused on the incorrect assertion that the Israeli Government funds study tours for federal MPs to Israel. These study tours for federal MPs are not funded by the Israeli government or Israeli companies, but solely by Australian donors.
The explosion of a SpaceX rocket in Florida destroyed an advanced communications satellite developed in Israel, throwing the Israeli satellite industry into crisis.
Worth between US $200-300 million, the Amos-6 satellite was the most sophisticated built in Israel's history and had been leased by Facebook to expand internet access across parts of Africa.
That an Algerian goal ball team forfeited a match at the Rio Paralympics, apparently to avoid playing their Israeli counterparts, was widely reported by the Australian media.
But the far more newsworthy postponement of scheduled Palestinian municipal elections by the Palestinian Supreme Court on Sept. 9 - amid doubts that the poll, the first time since 2006 the entire Palestinian polity was going to vote, will ever take place - has been almost completely ignored across the Australian media.
Just a month ago, the municipal elections that were slated to be held in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on October 8 were cause for rare optimism amid the bleak landscape of Palestinian politics...
On Sept. 8, the hopes pinned on the municipal elections collapsed in disarray amid Fatah-Hamas recrimination, and it became obvious that rather than heal the split, the electoral process has reinforced it.
Rapidly consolidating power over key institutions of the state, and backed by very high approval ratings, Duterte is in a position to redirect the Philippines' foreign policy like none of his predecessors...
Although Manila released a statement of "regret", and Duterte insisted that his foul-mouthed remarks weren't personally directed at President Obama, uncertainty abounds as to the impact his rise to the presidency will have on one of Washington's strongest alliances in Asia.
Jew-baiting these days is a globally competitive field. The Middle East, Latin America and Asia could all put up credible candidates for the title of most notorious Jew-baiter. But if you ask me, it's in Europe, the continent where modern antisemitism crystallised, where you'll still find the most able and determined baiters.
Now, if I had to pick someone from that particular field, I'd have to conclude that it's a tie for first place.
From Hungary: step forward Zsolt Bayer, journalist, fascist apologist, a founder of the ruling Fidesz party, and a confidante of that country's Putinesque Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. From Great Britain: step forward Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London, darling of Islamists both Shi'ite - Hezbollah - and Sunni - the Muslim Brotherhood - and literally obsessed with the claim that the Zionist movement collaborated with Adolf Hitler during the 1930s.
Wilayat Sinai, an organisation identified with Islamic State, has recently suffered a series of serious blows from the Egyptian Army. Most prominent among them was the air strike in early August 2016 that killed dozens of senior commanders, launched as part of a targeted campaign against terrorism in Egypt in general, and in Sinai in particular. The recent decline in the intensity of Wilayat Sinai's attacks against the Egyptian army, alongside a drop in its media activity and propaganda systems, may point to cumulative damage to the organisation and a decline in its strength.
On September 14, the United States and Israel signed a ten-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under which Washington will provide US$38 billion in military assistance over the fiscal years 2019-2028... enabling Israeli military planners to make even longer-term acquisitions and bolster their technological edge in a turbulent region...
The MOU is an important signal of American support for Israel's security in the years ahead - in fact, the United States has no comparable arrangement with any other country. The agreement is also a message to Israel's adversaries that Washington's support for its ally remains uniquely deep, despite recent policy disagreements.
As the years between 1897 to 1948 have long faded into distant memory, a popular myth that Israel was created by global and colonial powers against the will of the region has gained traction in certain quarters.
Yet history shows that Israel was created overwhelmingly against the will of these major powers. When not opposing the creation of Israel, these powers were at best vaguely tolerant when it seemed inevitable.