Tag: New Zealand
Since New Zealand assumed its seat on the United Nations Security Council, Foreign Minister Murray McCully has raised eyebrows with some of his actions and statements regarding Israel.
He has regularly stated his desire to get Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. But, while doing so, he has repeatedly pointed to Israel's settlement activity as the key item threatening the viability of the two state solution. Conversely, he has generally refrained from giving any specific comment on Palestinian inctitement or recalcitrance.
Building bridges with art and culture is a time-honoured tradition. It could be a partnership between musicians from countries in conflict, or a fine art exhibition aiming to break down the gap between different parts of the world. Whatever the form, the arts can serve to create empathy, understanding and identification in situations where it might not otherwise exist.
Back in 2014, at the height of the Israel-Gaza conflict, I wrote about the extreme nature of anti-Israel protests and public pronouncements. I pondered whether there might perhaps be a stream of antisemitism, disguised as anti-Israel sentiment, growing in New Zealand.
These concerns are shared by other New Zealanders, non-Jewish as well as Jewish.
One prominent example is Sir James McNeish, a critically acclaimed novelist, playwright and biographer.
Sometimes trying to be too many things to too many people in a difficult situation can end up offering nothing to anybody. Or, alternatively, counterproductively sowing confusion and discord. And such seems to be the case with New Zealand's draft Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In a year punctuated by dramatic highs (the All Blacks finally winning the Rugby World Cup) and heartbreaking lows (the Christchurch earthquakes, the aftermath of the Pike River mining disaster), New Zealand's general election seemed to creep up and take many Kiwis by surprise. The lowest voter turnout since 1887 and the long-predicted, largely unsurprising election outcome combined to create something of a feeling that the entire event was merely an exercise in checking off a necessary democratic box.
Question: Do the following characteristics/actions/behaviours seem suspicious?
Having (and carrying) more than one passport while travelling. Wanting to contact your family and friends in any way possible after being caught up in a natural disaster. Leaving a country (to go home to your family) as soon as possible after being caught up in a natural disaster. Being a citizen of a country whose government representatives check up on its citizens if they are in a foreign country when a disaster occurs. Being a citizen of a country whose government offers a range of assistance to another country after a disaster has occurred.
Answer: Yes, apparently, they do in New Zealand.
When Israel reopened an embassy in Wellington in April this year, it seemed obvious that the new Ambassador, Shemi Tzur, and his staff had a big job in front of them. Almost a decade without on-the-ground representation, as well as some years of troubled diplomatic relations between Israel and New Zealand, meant that Kiwi perceptions of Israel had, in many ways, been quite badly damaged.