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AIR New Zealand: Controversial visit exposes hypocrisy

Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid has been openly vocal in his opposition to, and condemnation of, the BDS movement and all that it represents. This may have played a part in the hostility that greeted his recent visit to New Zealand.

However, that hostility, in turn, exposed some of the ugly hypocrisy which is circulating in some sectors of New Zealand academia.

Essay: The Zeal of New Zealand

In October 2014, after a campaign of nearly 10 years, New Zealand won its fourth two-year term on the esteemed UN Security Council. Prime Minister John Key pledged that New Zealand would be a "small country with a loud voice." Indeed, it put forth an ambitious agenda, one that included working with the five permanent members of the Council to remove their veto privilege and restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Murray McCully, New Zealand's Foreign Minister, said after visiting both Israel and the Palestinian territories earlier this year that his "overwhelming impression" is that the two sides are "not that far apart" and that "the UN Security Council's a pretty good place to start that conversation." 

AIR New Zealand: Turtle Bay Dreams

In theory, the United Nations is the epitome of effective diplomatic activity and relations. Yet, in practice, it is, all too frequently, an epicentre of vitriolic rhetoric, wilful misinformation, and unfortunate end results.

There is prestige and status attached to seats on the various UN councils and committees, though. And, at least partly for this reason, New Zealand fought long and hard to gain its current seat on the UN Security Council.

AIR New Zealand: Wellington sets its sights on Mideast Peace

New Zealand's battle to secure a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was long and hard-fought. And with just a two-year term to serve, starting from last January, the country's foreign affairs officials don't plan to waste what time they have.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully has committed Wellington to support a greater role for the Security Council in the Middle East peace process, saying, "We have been clear in our view that the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories is not sustainable, and our friendships with Israel and Palestine demand we play a part in helping to find a solution."

AIR New Zealand: Peculiar election leads to stunning victory

Impassioned speeches, heated debates, jovial neighbourhood walkabouts, the peddling of grand dreams for the future... National elections tend to be rousing times, full of hope and opportunity.

They also tend to focus the attention of the community on broader social issues, along with the challenges facing the economy and the country. The resulting dialogue - which is often the only time many issues are publicly debated - is a useful and important part of New Zealand's democratic system.

AIR New Zealand: Israel votes, NZ Watches

Jumping to hasty assessments can often be a mistake but, sometimes, looking further into those same assessments can lead to interesting discoveries. When first asked to write a column about coverage of the recent Israeli elections in New Zealand I said, without too much thought, "there wasn't much". Yet my research on the topic very quickly showed that assumption was, in fact, not correct.

AIR New Zealand: NZ’s Vote for Palestinian UN upgrade

Questions have been raised by some members of New Zealand's Jewish community over the country's recent vote in favour of the United Nations (UN) resolution that Palestine be given "non-member state" status at the international organisation.

There has been some surprise, and even annoyance, that - under Prime Minister John Key's Israel-friendly government - New Zealand did not abstain on the vote.

AIR New Zealand: Surprises from a Predictable Election

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.

AIR New Zealand: Suspicious minds

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.

AIR New Zealand: Unity leads to Shechita victory

Communal unity often comes about as a result of a polarising issue, a scandal or a tragedy. For the New Zealand Jewish community, such unity has been evident this year due to the issue of shechita (traditional kosher slaughtering practices) - and the fight against the government’s attempt to ban it.