Ed: 42: July/2017
In the Hobart Mercury (June 5), anti-Israel pundit Greg Barns called Hamas comparatively "a cuddly kitten" and questioned why it is a "criminal offence in Australia" to support it, yet "it is not a criminal offence for the Australian Government to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, which is the most prolific state sponsor of terrorist activity globally."
Kingdom of Olives and Ash, a new collection of essays edited by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, features 26 different writers - all of whom visited Israel on delegations organised by Breaking the Silence. The book is a latticework of propaganda, pieced together by distortions and half-truths. The writers are talented, so there are no misplaced commas even though there are plenty of misguided ideas.
An important concept for religious Muslims is qibla, the direction in which one should face during salah, the five-times-daily prayer that all Muslims are commanded to observe.
The traditional Islamic view is that the original qibla was in the direction of what they called Haram esh-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), located in the heart of old Jerusalem on the site of Har ha-Bayit, (the Temple Mount), where the Jewish temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E. had stood.
The foreign policy of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman - has never been a model of cooperation and unity. Even the dramatic severing of relations with Qatar and closing the aerial, territorial, and naval spheres to it - as initiated by Saudi Arabia and the UAE - is not indicative of a change.
On June 13, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress that the United States was "not winning" in Afghanistan. That is the understatement of the year. While President Trump has authorised Mattis to call up some additional troops, there remains no comprehensive strategy for victory, let alone stability, and the numbers of troops available seems the equivalent of addressing a sucking chest wound with a band-aid. Both the Taliban and the Islamic State are resurgent in vast sections of the country. Many NATO partners are quietly giving up and the mood in Congress ranges from impatient to defeatist.
When the guns fell silent on the evening of June 10, 1967, the Middle East and Israel were forever changed. The discussion Israel's cabinet ministers began on June 14 forged the conundrum we live in now. Reading through transcripts of some 20 hours of discussions held the week after the Six Day War demonstrates that, recent as they were, the past the ministers lived in was startlingly foreign. They held ideas that seem strange today to be self-evident, and never thought of things that we find obvious.
On June 16, Israeli border policewoman Hadas Malka, 23, was fatally stabbed near Jerusalem's Damascus Gate in a co-ordinated gun and knife attack. Seconds earlier, two other assailants attacked Israeli border police troops nearby with a homemade gun and knives, injuring four people. All three attackers, allegedly members of Palestinian terror groups, were killed. The response from Fatah, the political party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was to accuse Israel of a war crime for killing the three attackers.
There were numerous other attacks and attempted attacks in late May and June by Palestinians using knives, Molotov cocktails and rocks.
After weeks of fighting, Philippine security forces still face stiff resistance from militant fighters spread across the sprawling city, which now lies in ruins. Government troops have suffered heavy casualties due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and snipers...
Although the fighting has now been contained to a limited area, a knockout blow appears impossible in an area awash with weapons and where militants can dissolve into jungle hideaways.
It's official: diplomatic ties between New Zealand and Israel are back on. In June, after six months of discussions, Israel announced that it was sending its Ambassador Itzhak Gerberg back to New Zealand and restoring full diplomatic relations.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the coordinated simultaneous terror attacks on Iran's parliament (Majlis) building and on the tomb of Iran's first Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, on June 7. The group issued a statement in its media arm, as well as a short video from a camera carried by one of the assailants at the parliament. Indeed, it took responsibility even before the attack on the parliament building had ended. The coordinated attacks killed 13 people and wounded more than 40.