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Biblio File: The Other Refugees

History has been deeply unkind to the Jewish communities of the Middle East and North Africa, and so too has the historical record.

Is an independent Kurdistan finally about to be born? And if...

Despite being delayed several times before, Iraqi Kurdistan is now set to vote in an independence referendum on 25 September 2017.

The Kurdish people are the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East, at approximately 30 million people. They speak "various dialects of their own language, Kurdish, although governments have sometimes banned its usage", and are largely Sunni Muslim. Although they have no state of their own, they are indigenous to a mountainous region which covers territory in present day Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia.

Letter from a Forgotten Jew

I am a forgotten Jew. My roots are nearly 2,600 years old, my ancestors made landmark contributions to world civilisation, and my presence was felt from North Africa to the Fertile Crescent - but I barely exist today. You see, I am a Jew from the Arab world.

Essay: Inside the Gilded Cage

The advantages the Jews experienced under the rule of the Shah - high socioeconomic status, strong ties to Israel and the United States - became liabilities in the age of the Ayatollahs. As in many other dark eras in Jewish history, the Jews were accused of stealing the country's treasures, and flyers were circulated throughout Teheran urging vengeance against them. There was mass confiscation of wealth along with rampant antisemitism and violence against the Jewish population, and as the streets filled up with hordes of people chanting "death to America" and "death to Israel", many Persian Jews fled to those very countries.

Some of the Jews who remained in Iran decided to embrace the revolution and the nation's new rulers...

Scribblings: History of the Recognition Condition

I've written before about the fallacy of media claims alleging that Israel's requirement that a peace treaty with the Palestinians recognise Israel as a "Jewish state" or "nation-state of the Jewish people" is a "new demand". Rather than something the current Netanyahu Government just thought up - possibly to thwart progress toward peace as is sometimes alleged - the idea was pushed during 2007 negotiating sessions by Tzipi Livni, then-Foreign Minister in the Olmert Government, according to the leaked Palestinian documents called the "Palestine papers".

The Last Word: A+ for AIPAC

Some years ago, I was invited to attend the Annual Policy Conference of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. At that time, attendance was in the hundreds and the agenda narrowly focused.

This year I returned to AIPAC as an invited speaker on the subject "Israel and Asia - New Frontiers?" - in recognition of AIJAC's work in this region.

Estimates of total attendance at the conference ranged from 14,000 to as many as 17,000 people...


Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Israel and the Jewish people

Thatcher's reputation as the "Iron Lady" reflected her self-proclaimed status as a conviction politician, and this is echoed in the eulogies delivered following her death. Though her legacy has divided opinion, when it came to Israel and the Jewish people, she is remembered for her strong, supportive and effective foreign policy credentials, and her dedication to fighting antisemitism in all its guises.

As a member of Parliament, representing a large Jewish constituency, and as Britain's longest serving PM in over a hundred years, Thatcher was widely recognised as both a true friend and strong ally to the Jewish people and to the State of Israel.

How to turn a feel-good story into a misleading anti-Israel rant

In a stunning example of cherry picking, Ruby Hamad has demonstrated that when it comes to Israel, a story of triumph can be turned into a damning parable. It just takes a little willful ignorance and some creativity.

The crisis of bad journalism: why Lateline guest is being ridiculed...

Last night, ABC Lateline featured an interview by Emma Alberici of former New Republic editor Peter Beinart. Beinart has been a figure of much controversy lately due to his new book The Crisis of Zionism -- an extension of his 2009 essay 'The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment' in the New York Review of Books -- in which he makes the case that the Jewish community in America is taking an incorrect line on Israel and provides his own perspective on how the Israeli/Palestinian conflict ought to be addressed.

The book provoked a litany of responses from across the political spectrum, with almost every senior figure in the American foreign policy world deriding or distancing themselves from his contribution. As a result, there is a very substantial body of work from which to draw in order to evaluate every point that he makes. In general, most experts agree that Beinart is largely well-intentioned and does genuinely want the best for Israel, however he is at the same time hopelessly naive and heavily encumbered by a lack of serious research on the topic. His views are those of...

Daily Dose: Israel and Iran – will they or won’t they?...

Also today: Jewish refugees from the Arab world, Jews still in the Persian world, more on Palestinian unity, Egypt-US ties growing weak and Iran arming Syria to the teeth.

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