13 August 2017

Our ABC is sleeping with our enemies

From The Australian, August 14, 2017, by Jennifer Oriel:

Imagine waking up in Afghanistan this morning. You are in a foreign country fighting a long war against international jihad. You joined the Australian army because you love your country. You love your country so much that you are prepared to sacrifice your life to keep Australians safe from terror. You serve because the war for freedom and democracy, global peace and safety is a war worth fighting. Every house surrendered to the Taliban is a girl who will never know freedom.

But the human face of war is lost in the slow grind of nation-building for a country that isn’t yours. Maybe troops feel they are fighting someone else’s war and it erodes morale. There will be no heroes’ welcome when they return home. Instead, there will be Al Jazeera on the ABC and political correctness from Canberra.

The ABC’s deal with Al Jazeera compromises the credibility of the national broadcaster. The Al Jazeera network is owned by Qatar’s ruling family. Qatar harbours Taliban leaders and reportedly supports other Islamist interests that Australian troops are fighting in the region. David Kirkpatrick wrote in The New York Times: 
“Qatar has for many years helped support a spectrum of Islamist groups around the region by providing safe haven, diplomatic mediation, financial aid and, in certain instances, weapons.” The Egyptian media reports that: “Qatar is using groups such as the Taliban, Islamic State … for its own protection.”
Since 2001, Australia has fought its longest war to liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban. By May this year, 42 Australian personnel had died. The US Department of Defence reports that 2216 American lives have been lost in the struggle to free Afghanistan from jihadism. Among them 1833 were killed in action. And the Taliban hasn’t stopped killing our allies. This month, US troops were killed by a Taliban suicide bomber attacking a convoy. Islamic State has emerged in the country also. When Western forces retreat, jihadis strike. The US and Australia have sent additional troops to consolidate democratic nation-building efforts in Afghanistan, taking the number of our personnel to 300.

We might expect Australia’s publicly-funded media to ride with us in the war on international jihad. Yet the ABC’s Al Jazeera coverage of the Western war on terror often seems to align with Qatari foreign policy. It promotes porous Western borders and mass migration from Islamist states to the West while casting our military action to prevent Islamist incursion in a negative light. It frequently plays down the risk that the movement for international jihad poses to the free world. Israel is commonly demonised while some of the Islamic world’s worst violators of human rights are liberated from sustained scrutiny.

Qatar’s relationship to the Taliban is highly problematic. In 2013, the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office was opened in Doha. Qatar’s assistant foreign minister cut the ribbon at the official opening ceremony of what has become known as the Taliban embassy. Obama administration officials supported its establishment. Under a subsequent prisoner swap deal between the US and Qatar, the administration freed five Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for a US soldier being held by the Taliban, Bowe Bergdahl. He was feted by Democrats despite allegations that he might have deserted his post in Afghanistan before being taken by the Taliban. Bergdahl will stand trial in October for desertion and misbehaviour before the enemy.

Republican senator John McCain described the “Taliban five” freed by the Obama administration as “the hardest of the hard core. These are the highest high-risk people.” Notably, the UAE rejected the administration’s proposal to take the Taliban five because the Taliban would not agree to three conditions stipulated by the US. In a letter to The New York Times, UAE ambassador to Washington Yousef Al Otaiba listed the conditions as, “the Taliban must denounce al-Qa’ida and its founder, Osama bin Laden … recognise the Afghan constitution … renounce violence and lay down their weapons”. Qatar reportedly accepted the jihadis without requiring the Taliban to observe any of the conditions.

The relationship between Qatar and the Taliban raises the question of credibility and bias in regard to the Al Jazeera network. Last month, Jewish leaders raised specific concerns in News Corp papers about the ABC’s coverage of Israeli affairs. Executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Colin Rubenstein wrote in this paper: 
“Qatar’s ruling family, the owner of Al Jazeera, is one of the main supporters of Hamas — a terror group committed to Israel’s destruction.”
In June, Lateline host Emma Alberici interviewed Iranian academic Mohammad Marandi after jihadis attacked the Iranian parliament. Despite Islamic State taking responsibility for the attacks, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shifted the blame to Saudi Arabia and Donald Trump. Half-way through the interview, Marandi hadn’t mentioned Trump. Alberici prompted him twice. After her second prompt (where she called Trump’s condolences to Iran “provocative”), Marandi unleashed a tirade against the West. He said: “The United States is the country that created this whole mess. They helped create the extremists in Afghanistan with the Saudis. 9/11 was blowback … the whole region is collapsing and this is largely due to American policies … if there’s one country in the world that’s responsible for … the export of terrorism across the world, it is the United States. It chooses Israel which is an apartheid regime.” Alberici didn’t correct him.

It is unclear why the government is not addressing potential political bias produced by Al Jazeera’s partnership with the ABC. Perhaps the matter is complicated by the government’s reluctance to list the Taliban as a proscribed terrorist organisation. It is clearly dishonourable to make Australians pay for the distribution of news financed by a state that backs our military enemies. Under conditions of war, such material might be called propaganda.

10 August 2017

Recognizing a Palestinian State before a Peace Agreement with Israel Undermines the International Rule of Law

From the JCPA, Vol. 17, No. 22, August 7, 2017, by Peter Wertheim:

The following is a brief overview only. Follow the link to the full article.

  • Among those who advocate immediate recognition of a Palestinian state, without a peace agreement with Israel, there is a striking irony in the contrast between the legalistic approach they purportedly adopt on one question, namely settlements, and their cavalier disregard for well-established legal principles on another, namely the creation of states and their recognition. One either supports the international rule of law as a general principle or not at all. One does not get to pick and choose.
  • The four criteria of statehood set out in Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, 1933, are widely accepted as the minimum required by customary international law for the creation of a new state. Two of the criteria – a single, centralized government and the capacity to enter into relations with other states – are manifestly not satisfied by any Palestinian entity.
  • The internal divide between the secular nationalist movement among Palestinians, represented by the PLO and Palestinian Authority (PA) which controls parts of the West Bank, and the theocratic movement, represented by Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip, has resulted in internecine violence on many occasions. All attempts at internal reconciliation have failed and appear to be intractable. They are at loggerheads on the most basic questions, not only concerning peace with Israel and other issues of foreign and domestic policy but also on the essential nature of a future Palestinian State. Thus, for reasons which are entirely internal to Palestinian society, there is no reasonable prospect for the foreseeable future of any government being formed which would exercise effective control over both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and would have the capacity to give effect to any agreements purportedly entered into by “Palestine.”
  • Although recognition is a political act and a matter of discretion, it is “subject to compliance with the imperatives of general international law.” Given that the criteria of government and the capacity to enter into relations with other States are at present not satisfied by any Palestinian entity, recognition of any such entity as a State would be to affirm a fiction, contrary to the imperatives of general international law. Recognition by even a large number of other States cannot overcome clear and compelling objective evidence indicating that the mandatory legal criteria of statehood have not been met. An exception would be admission of the entity as a member State of the UN. If, notwithstanding its admission to the UN as a member State, the entity does not, in fact, meet the customary law criteria of statehood, at law it is still a State, albeit a failed State.
  • Applying the additional requirements for recognition contained in the European Community Declaration and Guidelines (1991), the Palestinians have failed, and are likely to continue for the foreseeable future to be unwilling to make commitments to respect the inviolability of the frontiers with Israel, to repudiate all territorial claims by Palestine against Israel and to settle all disputes with Israel by peaceful means.
  • Recognition of a Palestinian State at the present time would not only be contrary to the well-established requirements for statehood stipulated by customary international law and the additional requirements mandated by the European Community Declaration and Guidelines in 1991. It would also contravene the internationally recognized and witnessed Oslo Accords between the Palestinians and Israel and lay the foundations for opening a new phase of the Palestinians’ conflict with Israel, rather than for resolving the conflict. Recognition would, therefore, undermine the primary purposes of the UN Charter and the current international rules-based order, which is to maintain international peace and security.
This is a brief overview only. Follow the link to the full article.

South Australian Legislative Council Rejects unilateral recognition of "Palestine"

10 August 2017

South Australia's Legislative Council passed a sensible and constructive resolution on promoting Middle East peace. 

The resolution, passed yesterday evening by a vote of 11 to 10, calls for a "two-state solution" between Israel and the Palestinians, "both sides to resume direct negotiations in good faith" and "the commonwealth government to recognise the state of Palestine once the two sides have successfully negotiated a two-state solution, as required by international law as set out in the Oslo Accords." 

This stands in contrast to a resolution passed by the South Australian House of Assembly in late June, which mentioned only Israeli settlements as a "major obstacle to peace" and called "on the commonwealth government to recognise the state of Palestine (as we have recognised the state of Israel) and announce the conditions and time lines to achieve such recognition", implying that such recognition should occur regardless of any progress toward a peace agreement between the sides. The same motion was put to the Legislative Council, but was defeated.

AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein, who was in the South Australian Legislative Council to witness the historic vote, said, "Credit goes especially to Andrew McLachlan of the Liberal party - with help from other Liberal members, Corey Bernardi's Australian Conservatives, and John Darley of the Nick Xenophon Team - for his leadership in steering the passage of this sensible and constructive resolution. A degree of dignity and common sense has now been restored to the South Australian Parliament through the Legislative Council's rejection of the ahistorical, one-sided and counterproductive resolution passed in the lower house in June, and its replacement by a resolution which actually serves the cause of peace."

SA Parliamentary Friends of Israel event (L-R) Dr. Colin Rubenstein, John Gardner MLA, Andrew McLachlan MLC, Dr. Eran Lerman, Sam Duluk MLA, Dennis Hood MLC, Norman Schueler

Dr. Rubenstein noted that following the vote, South Australian Parliamentary Friends of Israel met with visiting Israeli strategic analyst Dr. Eran Lerman, who congratulated the members on the vote just taken. Dr. Lerman explained why the vote was so important - arguing the lower house vote does no favours to Palestinians by encouraging them to believe they can advance their goal of a state without ending the conflict, or engaging in negotiations and mutual compromise with Israel.

23 July 2017

Israeli Sovereignty Over the Temple Mount Is Crucial for Peace

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 539, July 24, 2017, by Prof. Hillel Frisch:

Temple Mount, Dome of The Rock, Jerusalem, Israel

Regardless of its direct security merits, Israel’s decision to place metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount has been transformed by adversaries and Israel alike into an issue of sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Power-sharing there has always constituted a slippery slope to disaster. 

The murder of two Israeli policemen at the Temple Mount is an appropriate moment to rectify the situation by reasserting Israeli sovereignty over the holy site.

Why is Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount so important? Because international “partnership” arrangements in political hotspots not only rarely (if ever) work, but make matters much more volatile and dangerous. At the Temple Mount, only exclusive Israeli sovereignty can work.

Many partnerships over contested areas have been attempted, and they have led to only one outcome: failure.  In 1949, for example, the UN tried to broker deals between Israel and Syria over demilitarized zones delimited in the Armistice Agreement. The three areas were perennial hotspots over which much blood was shed. They were only resolved (as are most Middle Eastern political conflicts) by a decisive victory and the establishment of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Before that, it was bedlam. Since then, there have been 40 years of quiet.

In Jordan, after the 1967 Six Day War, Arab states tried to broker power-sharing arrangements over Jordanian territory between the beleaguered Hashemite monarchy and the Palestinian terrorist organizations. During three years of bargaining and meddling, massive firefights took place between the two sides in which hundreds if not thousands of civilians were killed.

This was but a prelude to the final showdown when the monarchy said enough is enough: sovereignty now. That period, dubbed Black September (1970), was in fact the beginning of a full year of bloodletting. It ended only when the Jordanian monarchy won a decisive victory.

The Jordanian victory was so decisively won that hundreds of Palestinian terrorists fled westward into Israeli hands to avert the fate that awaited them. Only then did the Jordanian state achieve the Biblical “40 years of peace.” Ironically, Amman is now demanding that Israel share sovereignty, a prescription that proved disastrous in its own political history.

The same goes for Lebanon. Arab attempts to induce a partnership over sovereignty between the Lebanese state and the Palestinians after the Six Day War ended in unprecedented violence. Unfortunately, the Lebanese state, unlike Jordan, has never been able to reassert sovereignty. The result is that Lebanon suffers from perennial internal political violence only a powder keg away from reverting back to the fifteen-year civil war that more or less ended in 1989.

In Cyprus, attempts by foreign powers to establish power-sharing between the Greek and Turkish populations resulted in violence and have never succeeded. Peace came when the Turkish invasion of 1974 achieved a decisive victory resulting in the partition of the island.

Fast-forward to the Oslo “peace” process. There, too, the paradigm was built on shared power. Informally, in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled east Jerusalem through Orient House, Faisal Husseini’s political headquarters.

Husseini, dubbed a peace advocate, in fact headed the Fatah militia, the Tanzim, in Jerusalem. The PA police frequently kidnapped east Jerusalemites suspected of being informants or who were accused of selling land to Jews, as well as journalists (on rarer occasions) who took a critical view of the PA.

Advocates of the “peace” process often pointed to that “partnership” as a success. In September 1996, however, riots over the tunnel built along the Western Wall – riots that cost the lives of 25 Israeli security personnel who were killed by heavily armed members of the Palestinian security forces – dispelled that illusion. Never before had tens of Israeli security force personnel been killed in firefights with Palestinians in an Israeli-controlled area.

Alas, bowing to international pressure, Israel did not close down Orient House, and paid the price tenfold during the “al-Aqsa Intifada.” Ultimately, Israeli “cohabitation” with the PA in east Jerusalem came to an end – at least on the purely political level – with the closing of Orient House in August 2001 and the Defensive Shield offensive nine months later. Once again, decisive victory and the imposition of exclusive Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem brought about a relatively durable peace.

Many in Israel, as well as foreign actors such as the PA and Jordan, are now calling on Israel to repeat the costly mistake of persevering in the illusion of power-sharing over the Temple Mount. They want not only Israeli cooperation with the Waqf but also considerable augmentation of Waqf personnel.

There is no doubt that Israel will make a decisive move to reassert the sovereignty it has lost over the past three decades on the Temple Mount, just as it rid Jerusalem of Orient House and destroyed terrorist sanctuaries in major PA towns in 2002.  The question is, why wait until more Israelis and Palestinians have been killed or maimed before acting to ensure decisive victory and the reassertion of Israeli sovereignty?

Israel is a light unto the nations that surround it. Their populations widely acknowledged this when Israel sent a former prime minister and president to jail – a move unthinkable in a region plagued by violence and dictatorship.

Now is the time for Israeli sovereignty to shine on the Temple Mount, for the benefit of Muslims and Jews alike.

22 July 2017

Man pretending to be "in the middle"

John Lyons, journalist for The Australian, and inveterate Israel-basher, published a self-serving article in this weekend's Australian Magazine, promoting his book.

I attempted, twice, to post the following comment below the article, but it was deleted. (And Lyons is the one complaining about intimidation and censorship.)

John Lyons

Here's the comment:

Lyons asks “Are there any factual mistakes in it?” ... as if the specific details he chooses to examine are all we need to know. But the accuracy of the facts and images he cherry-picks for his stories is not the sole determinant of the extent of his bias.

By his own admission, Lyons based himself on “the best balcony in Jerusalem” which he regards as his “base” and “private time machine”. Ensconced in his foreigner’s bubble, Lyons scans the environment for juicy stories that fit the narrative he has swallowed, hook, line and sinker. “If things were really bad ...Sylvie and I would jump into our car and head towards the trouble spot...”

Well, if all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. And that sums up Lyons’ body of work from his private balcony. If you accept, as Lyons apparently, long ago, has done, that that Israel is an illegitimate Western, colonial implant that has dispossessed a blameless, innocent people, then every act of self-defense by Israel can be portrayed as an example of Jewish fascism.

As a fig leaf for his blatant bias, Lyons grudgingly acknowledges that “some of these children should ...be seriously dealt with...”, but he nevertheless churns out dozens of “stories” about the treatment of defenseless children by well-equipped Israeli soldiers. How many stories has he devoted to the thousands of Jewish men, women and children murdered on the streets, in their homes and in their beds by generations of Arabs nurtured and groomed, from their cradles, to hate and murder?

The Arabs persecuted the Jews in Palestine from the 1920s, and launched a relentless campaign, against their own interests, to obliterate the Jewish national revival …before any “occupation” and even before the establishment of the State of Israel. Since their self-inflicted, violent and catastrophic rejection of the 1947 UN partition, misguided, self-serving Arab leaders have kept the refugees of their 1948 war, and their descendants, in squalor and dependent on international aid, as cannon fodder, fed on hatred and false hope, and squandered repeated opportunities for statehood and economic progress.

And along comes John Lyons, decades into this century-long conflict, to sit on his luxurious balcony waiting for the next “really bad” flare-up of violence, to photograph and bear witness to armed soldiers confronting stone-throwing children. And he portrays all objections to his myopic interpretation of events around him, as “intimidation” ...

21 July 2017

The ABC should get rid of Al Jazeera propaganda

From The Daily Telegraph, 21 July 2017, by Gareth Narunsky:

... Qatar's Arab neighbours have made it known they've had enough of Al Jazeera's promotion of fundamentalism and that Arab monarchy's support for extremist groups across the region.

After all, this network has provided a platform for extremists such as Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi, infamous for his anti-semitism, including praise of Hitler, and Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan, named by the US government as a member of al-Qaeda. 

The mother and sister of London Bridge terrorist Youssef Zaghba told Britain's The Times on June 8 that the network, along with the internet, had played a role in his radicalisation.

Former Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, who was jailed in Egypt on charges of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood, told ABC radio on June 9 that "there may be some truth at a higher level, a management level" of collusion between the network and terrorists and that "it seems pretty clear from watching some of Al Jazeera's Arabic coverage and the coverage of Al Jazeera's Egyptian channel Mubasher that there was a bias in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood". One-time Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy, who was arrested and sentenced alongside Greste and is now suing his former employer, stated in June that the network is indeed a propaganda channel for Islamists and an arm of Qatari foreign policy, telling Bloomberg "Al Jazeera is a voice for terrorists".

Yet, Australia's taxpayer-funded ABC continues to use Al Jazeera broadcasts despite its own editorial policies calling for content demonstrating independence and integrity.

In addition, none of this context was brought up when visiting Al Jazeera host Mehdi Hasan appeared on the ABC's Q&A last Monday night.

... claiming, as he did, that "you're more likely to be killed falling out of bed in the morning" than by a terrorist suggests there's no difference between a bed and a group actively trying to kill people and impose their will on society. Hasan's omissions were even more telling. He singled out Saudi Arabia alone as an incubator of extremism and terrorism, while completely ignoring Iran's threatening regional network, sponsorship of terrorism and global disharmony, and Qatar's support for extremist groups.

Is Hasan unaware of Qatar's unsavoury activities? Indeed he need only read arguably the most high profile newspaper in his country of residence, The New York Times, where David D. Kirkpatrick wrote in September 2014: "Qatar has for many years helped support a spectrum of Islamist groups around the region by providing safe haven, diplomatic mediation, financial aid and, in certain instances, weapons."

In addition to bankrolling al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria, Qatar continues to provide financial and logistical support to radical Islamist groups across the Middle East.

It has for years been providing finances and, more recently, weapons to radical factions in Libya. Qatar also propped up the destabilising Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt and provides safe haven to members who fled after its downfall.

Mehdi Hasan may not be "a spokesman for Al Jazeera or Qatar" as he told Lateline the week before, but his omission of any of the above context is concerning.

... the failure of Australia's own government-owned broadcaster to ...review its use of Al Jazeera content in light of its statutory obligations to provide balance and fairness [is concerning].

20 July 2017

Labor: Don’t Reward Incitement to Hatred and Violence

19 July 2017, by Steve Lieblich

The recent proposals in State Labor Party Conferences to recommend the unilateral recognition of a “Palestinian state” are misguided and counterproductive.   Such recognition will only encourage further Arab terrorism, prolong the conflict, and would be contrary to the interests of all people in the region, above all the Arabs.

Israel’s Arab neighbours, since the late 1800s, have rejected peaceful coexistence with Jewish immigrants to the region seeking self-determination in the ancient Jewish homeland. The first proposal for a “two-state solution” was the 1935 British Peel Commission Report, in response to Arab pogroms and riots in the 1920s and 1930s. The Arabs refused that proposal to share the land then, and have continually refused to do so since then, through to the most recent generous offers of statehood in 2000, 2001 and 2008.

This century of Arab intransigence is apparently motivated by a persistent rejection of Israel's right to exist, and an incalcitrant attempt to destroy the re-established Jewish state by insisting on a "right of return" to Israel, for the uniquely-defined “Palestinian refugees”, which includes not only those who lost their homes in war, but also their millions of descendants.

The Arabs of the region don’t have the fundamental elements of statehood. Its borders are not defined, and it doesn’t have a central government with a monopoly on military force.

In Gaza, Hamas brutally seized power in 2005, and holds it by violent intimidation. It is globally recognized as a terrorist entity with an open objective of genocide. Mahmoud Abbas, the purported President of the proposed “Palestinian State” dare not visit Gaza for fear of his life.

In Judea and Samaria, Abbas who rules the Palestinian Authority, is in the 12th year of his 4-year term. While he feigns statesmanship globally, he leads a regime with the same genocidal objectives as that of Hamas.

The PA incites antisemitism, glorifies martyrdom and encourages terrorism, by awarding generous lifetime pensions to terrorists and their families, on a sliding scale – the more Jews they kill, the higher the pension.

A recently-apprehended terrorist told interrogators: "I've accumulated large debts... I decided to do something serious, such as committing murder... and then my family will get money (i.e., from the PA) and will live comfortably... "

Just a few days ago, PA District Governor, Laila Ghannam, praised the "Martyrdom " of a 17-year-old terrorist who was shot and killed while throwing Molotov cocktails at Jewish civilians, praising the fact that rather than obtaining his matriculation this summer, the terrorist "achieved the highest Martyrdom".

The PA’s incessant incitement perpetuates the conflict and grooms the next generation of terrorists by naming streets, public squares and even children's soccer tournaments after terrorists. In May the PA inaugurated the Martyr Dalal Mughrabi Center, named after a terrorist leader in the murder of 37 civilians including 12 children, in the Nablus district. In April, Safa, the daughter of Abdallah Barghouti, a terrorist who prepared explosives for attacks in which 67 were murdered, read a letter to her father at her school assembly saying: "Father, I am very proud of you".

Rather than negotiating a peaceful resolution to the conflict with Israel, the PA has focused on promoting recognition of their non-existent “state” from as many governments and international organisations as possible. This avoids having to reconcile themselves to living peacefully with a neighbouring Jewish state and making the compromises necessary for genuine peace. Regretfully, some elements within the Australian Labor Party have fallen for this ploy.

Supporting unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state rewards and encourages the most destructive Arab tactics, to the detriment of the future of all people in the region. People of good will should be urging the Arabs to negotiate in good faith with Israel, and to genuinely accept Israel's right to exist, which is the only way to achieve peace. Rewarding them for inciting hatred and violence, and for refusing to negotiate, only makes peace more distant.

World Vision Australia Implicated with Supporting Another Terrorist Group

From the International Legal Forum, 20 July 2017:

The Israeli Authorities have now confirmed allegations made against World Vision Australia (WVA) in 2012 regarding their funding of the Palestinian NGO: the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (“UAWC”). These include that:

  • The UAWC is linked to the proscribed terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (“PFLP”);
  • The Committee of Agricultural Works (“CAW”), an Israeli NGO, is also linked to the PFLP and exists solely to allow the fraudulent use of its official Israeli Government registration documents;
  • The use of the CAW’s documents in relation to the UAWC was “intended to deceive the Australian Parliament and Australian Government Relief Organization (AusAid) in order to mobilize funds for the UAWC, which as stated above, is a body operating on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
This revelation follows, and is additional to, the exposure of World Vision’s head of Gaza operations as a Hamas agent who diverted the millions of charitable funds to the terrorist group. This time World Vision is even more heavily implicated as it was put on notice of the terror links and fraud 5 years ago and chose to do nothing despite being presented with extensive evidence.

For many years since being first put on notice, WVA has apparently deceived the Australian Government into providing millions of dollars of aid funding to the UAWC. Total Australian government funding of the UAWC via WVA since 2006 is estimated at A$9 million.

The ILF has requested that a criminal investigation be launched by the Australian Government against the WVA for providing false, misleading and deceptive information to the Australian Government in order to obtain taxpayer funds for a terror linked group. 

World Vision Australia's CEO, Tim Costello says “you need to get your hands dirty to do good work”

In a meeting in early 2013, after being presented with the large dossier of evidence of the terror links and fraud, WVA’s CEO Tim Costello refused to accept the obvious conclusions from the evidence and stated “you need to get your hands dirty to do good work”

According to the ILF 
"It is clear that World Vision is guilty of criminal negligence at best, wilful blindness or conspiracy with terror linked groups at worst. Either way, it is time that a clear message be sent to World Vision, as well as other charities around the world; providing support for a terror organization is a serious crime under international law, if you won't conduct proper due diligence and ignore warnings, you are putting yourselves at risk of paying a heavy price."
This becomes even more imperative given the fact that this is not the first time WVA is implicated in a multi-million dollar fraud to fund a proscribed terrorist group. The criminal process against the head of World Vision in Gaza as a Hamas agent who diverted the majority of charitable funds to Hamas is underway. These two serious incidents highlight the need for a complete re-assessment of WVA’s protocols and policies concerning funds provided to NGOs working in areas of the world where proscribed terrorist organisations are active and have substantial support.

The ILA’s request to pursue criminal charges in this regard aims to serve not only the particular justice of this case, but for the Australian Government to send a clear message, setting the bar high in its expectations from organisations such as WVA when it comes to risks of terror funding, particularly when it involves its taxpayers' funds.

Terrorist organisations are masters of deception and NGOs working in these risky areas are wide-open to being infiltrated and co-opted by terrorist groups. As these incidents have demonstrated, the risk of the Australian Government unwittingly funding terrorist organisations is too high for the Australian taxpayer to accept and needs to be stopped.

13 July 2017

Kim Beazley’s wise counsel to the ALP

From The Australian, 13 July 2017, by Greg Sheridan:

Kim Beazley. 
Picture: Allison Shelley

Ex-Labor leader Kim Beazley has savaged a proposed resolution to be considered by the NSW branch which calls for a future Labor government to extend unconditional and immediate diplomatic recognition to a state of Palestine.

He said the resolution “is gesture politics and is simply not helpful”. In an interview with The Australian, the former ambassador to the US said the resolution “assumes the status of a gesture without any merit in reality”.

The resolution is supported by the ALP’s NSW left and appears to have won the support also of the NSW right. It would fundamentally reverse Labor’s long-held position in support of Israel, and in support of a negotiated, two-state solution which provides for Israel’s right to exist within ¬secure borders and the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for an independent state.

Mr Beazley said that ...The NSW resolution makes no requests or demands of the Palestinian leadership.

Dennis Ross, the former Middle East co-ordinator for Bill Clinton and later a senior adviser on the Middle East for Barack Obama’s administration, also told The Australian that he opposed unconditional, unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

“The Palestinians have been plagued by a historic emphasis on symbols not substance,” Mr Ross said. “Instead of building a state they want a flag at the UN. With symbols, nothing is required of the Palestinians.”

Mr Beazley said extending formal diplomatic recognition “is a serious international legal business”. “There’s a recognised set of criteria that bring about diplomatic recognition,” he said. “They are that a state has recognised boundaries, a clear-cut government and control of the affairs of state. On any of those criteria, Palestine does not meet it.

“Its borders are not settled. It is not in control of the affairs of state. And it has two governments (one in Gaza, one in the West Bank).”

Bill Shorten has reiterated his support for existing Labor policy, which is embodied in a more balanced and moderate resolution ...

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek and foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong have both distanced themselves from the proposed NSW resolution.

Mr Ross told The Australian [that he] had demands of the Palestinian leadership, such as that it stop funding the Martyrs Foundation which rewards the families of terrorists who kill Israeli civilians. “Rewarding those who kill Israelis reinforces the idea it’s OK to kill Israelis,” Mr Ross said. ...no comprehensive agreement is possible in the short term, calling for Israel to immediately withdraw from the West Bank was unrealistic.

In an exclusive interview with The Australian earlier this year, ¬Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [said that] “The question is not whether the Palestinians get a state but whether that state will recognise Israel or continue to seek Israel’s destruction...’
also by Greg Sheridan:

Nod to Palestine an ignorant and regressive idea

The NSW Labor Party, under the shameful influence of its once great right-wing faction, is about to pass a resolution on the Middle East that is a disgrace in principle, is semi-publicly but earnestly opposed by Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek, Richard Marles and Penny Wong, and will be an embarrassment to the Labor Party.

Former leader Kim Beazley describes it as gesture politics unrelated to the real world. The resolution reflects a kind of sectarian nastiness and regression in the party’s internal culture.‘Oh, and one more thing. It will make it that bit harder for Labor to win the next federal election.

The resolution will call on the next Labor government to unconditionally and immediately extend diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine. The sponsors want it to become national Labor policy at a federal conference next year.

It would replace the 2015 national resolution, which supports the two-state solution and calls on the Israeli government to halt building settlements in the West Bank, but also calls for a negotiated agreement between the two parties.

That resolution acknowledges Israel’s right to exist within secure borders and the Palestinians’ legitimate aspiration to nationhood. The existing resolution says if there is no progress a future Labor government could discuss with like-minded nations possible future recognition of a Palestinian state, if that contributes to the peace process.

The last part is ill advised because it encourages the Palestinian leadership to believe it can get a state without having to compromise on those of its demands that are unreasonable and impossible to implement. Nonetheless it is a balanced policy that a self-respecting social democratic party can -defend.

The proposed unilateral and unconditional recognition of a Palestinian state, on the other hand, can really emanate only from an unbalanced hostility to Israel or an ignorance of the circumstances on the ground. Either way, the support by the NSW right for this demonstrates the complete death of its old culture of decency and strategic responsibility.

Once the NSW right was the best strand in Australian political culture, the guardian of Labor’s strategic common sense, its connection with the values of ordinary Australians. Now it looks like a self-seeking machine prepared to cave in on any principle to avoid a fight. Numerous NSW unions know this is a dud resolution but won’t fight.

Typically, former Labor ministers become less reliable guides to good policy the further away they are from holding office. Beazley, who until five minutes ago was ambassador to the US, is by a long distance the most authoritative Labor figure on strategic issues and the Middle East.

His assessment of the NSW resolution? “It has the status of a gesture without merit in reality. The issue of diplomatic recognition is a serious international legal business. There’s a recognised set of criteria that bring about diplomatic recognition. These are that a state has recognised boundaries, a clear-cut government and control of the affairs of state. On any of those criteria Palestine does not meet it. Its borders are not settled. It is not in control of the affairs of state. And it has two governments (one in Gaza, one in the West Bank).

...The NSW resolution is, of course, entirely one-sided. It is born out prejudice and baked in ignorance. Almost nothing said in its defence is true.

Last week I had lunch with Dennis Ross, who was the Middle East co-ordinator for Bill Clinton and then a senior adviser on the Middle East for Barack Obama...

Ross told me he strongly opposed gestures such as the unconditional recognition of a Palestinian state. Such gestures contribute nothing to the peace process and are counterproductive because they reinforce the tragic mistake the Palestinian leadership has made in always preferring symbolism over substance, “to seek a flag rather than build a society”.

Ross... also says [that] Israel could not possibly immediately withdraw from the West Bank.

...At the time of the Oslo Accords, and as late as 2000, the overwhelming Israeli sentiment was in favour of an immediate and generous two-state solution. As Bill Clinton has recounted, the Palestinian leadership walked away from these offers. Since then, the history of Palestinian terrorism, and especially the missile attacks on Israel launched from the Gaza Strip, from which Israel withdrew unilaterally, and the internal bloodletting among Palestinian factions there, has convinced all parts of Israeli politics that no such solution is available right now.

Nonetheless the Netanyahu government, and Israeli public opinion, still favour a two-state solution when that becomes possible. Netanyahu has many times reaffirmed this publicly...

Ross also tells me one of the main obstacles to peace is that the Palestinian leadership has never accepted the legitimacy of a Jewish national movement, which is why it won’t recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

Both Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong have criticised the inflammatory language around the NSW resolution, which plainly encourages rejectionism.

So much of the propaganda around this resolution is wrong....

This resolution is jejune, irresponsible, and destructive in any effect it might have. It embarrasses the party and Labor’s leadership. That the NSW right could associate itself with such an effort speaks eloquently to its appalling decline.

From The Australian editorial, 13 July 2017:

ALP must stand firm on Israel

The ALP will do itself no favours if it ignores Kim Beazley’s wise counsel against the push at the upcoming NSW party conference for a resolution demanding unconditional recognition of Palestinian statehood by a future Labor government. Mr Beazley, who has vast experience as a senior minister, party leader and ambassador to Washington, recognises the unhelpful proposal would create unnecessary problems for the ALP.

Deep divisions within the party are apparent, with Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek and others uncomfortable about the proposal but facing a challenge from the NSW right, including frontbenchers Tony Burke and Jason Clare, who want votes among western Sydney’s migrants. Such MPs are aligned with former foreign minister Bob Carr. But while the ALP left, including Anthony Albanese, is united behind Mr Carr’s push, the right is divided.

The ALP should listen to Mr Beazley and retain its decades-long moderate stance on Israel. It would be a grave error to fall for Mr Carr’s campaign against the Middle East’s only functioning democracy, where people of all faiths are safe under the law.

Failing to recognise the reality that there is no such thing, yet, as a Palestinian state with any of the conditions for recognition demanded by international law would put a future Labor government in an invidious position. It would be aligned with the thinking of bodies such as UNESCO, which has senselessly decreed the ancient Jewish holy site, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, a “Palestinian world heritage site”. As part of the push to gain backdoor recognition for a Palestinian state, UNESCO has previously declared Israel an “occupying power” in East Jerusalem, home of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

The global drive to delegitimise Israel and confect a Palestinian state will do nothing to achieve what should be the main imperative, restarting peace negotiations ... That, not bogus backdoor efforts through the UN, is the only credible path...

04 July 2017

Recognising Palestine ignores need for peace

From the Australian Financial Review, 5 July 2017, by Colin Rubenstein:


Those supporting a motion at the upcoming ALP NSW State Conference calling for recognising a Palestinian state argue they are aiming to advance prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Yet an informed look at the current situation would make it clear that recognition of "Palestine" as a state would actually have the opposite effect.

The main obstacle to peace over the past two decades has been the Palestinian inability to take yes for an answer, as exemplified by the failure to accept generous Israeli offers of statehood in 2000, 2001 and 2008, and by the terrorism that erupted after Israel withdrew completely from Gaza in 2005.
In 2009, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu instituted a 10-month near total moratorium on building of houses in settlements as a confidence-building measure to encourage negotiations. However, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas refused to talk for the first nine months, and then only wanted to talk about extending the moratorium.

In 2013-14, Netanyahu tried again. This time, as a confidence-building measure, he agreed to progressively release groups of Palestinians imprisoned for murdering Israelis. Unfortunately, the talks did not prove fruitful. US mediator Martin Indyk, has said of Netanyahu, "I saw him sweating bullets to find a way to reach an agreement". He added: "We tried to get [Abbas] to the zone of possible agreement but we were surprised to learn he had shut down. We were ready to go beyond policy positions the US had taken on the core issues to bridge the gaps ... and he didn't answer us."
Since his re-election in 2015 Netanyahu has on several occasions reaffirmed his support for a Palestinian state and offered to meet and negotiate anywhere, at any time, without preconditions. Abbas has failed to take up this offer.

This Palestinian intransigence appears to be based on an unwillingness to offer a genuine acceptance of Israel's right to exist - which any peace deal would and should require. This would include an undertaking that there would be no further claims against Israel, and that there would be no "right of return" for Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants to Israel. Flooding Israel with 5 million hostile descendants of refugees is simply incompatible with a genuine peace.

Since 2014, the Palestinians have pursued a strategy of using various international organisations from the UN down to gain recognition of their state from as many governments and bodies as possible. In this way, they hope to avoid having to make the compromises necessary for genuine peace, and to be awarded their state in a way that enables them to continue their conflict with Israel, including demanding the "right of return". This is a recipe not for peace, but for worsening conflict.

Meanwhile the PA has continued to incite and encourage terrorism against Israel - through overt calls for violence, leading to the spate of car and knife attacks that have seen more than 40 Israelis killed since late 2015 and hundreds of others wounded - by awarding generous lifetime pensions to terrorists and their families, and by naming streets, facilities and even children's soccer tournaments after terrorists.

Supporting unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state just rewards and encourages these destructive Palestinian tactics. As long as they believe they just need to keep doing more of the same to achieve a state without any concessions to Israel's right to exist in peace, they will continue to do so. Peace requires the international community to make it very clear to the Palestinian leadership that they must cease their intransigence and support for terrorism if they wish to advance their cause (if that is indeed a state alongside, rather than one instead of Israel) - while also making it clear to Israel that it will be supported as long as it continues to offer a genuine two-state resolution.

Those favouring recognition of "Palestine" often cite Israeli settlements as the reason, claiming Palestine must be recognised now because continued settlement expansion will soon make a Palestinian state impossible to achieve. While settlements are certainly an important issue, this claim is just not true.

Since 2003, no new settlements have been established and existing settlements have not been permitted to expand their current geographic boundaries. Even Palestinian leaders admit settlements take up less than 2 per cent of the West Bank - and again, that proportion is not growing. Furthermore, most population growth has been within settlements it is generally accepted Israel will keep in exchange for land swaps in any peace agreement. Settlements certainly did not prevent generous Israeli offers of Palestinian statehood in 2000-01 and 2008, which involved evacuating many outlying settlements.

Those who genuinely have the best interests of the Palestinians at heart should be urging them to negotiate in good faith with Israel, and to genuinely accept Israel's right to exist - which is the only way they can achieve peace - not rewarding them for doing the opposite.

Carr attacks Israel’s ‘foul’ occupation

From The Australian  July 5, 2017, by BRAD NORINGTON, Associate Editor:

Former foreign minister Bob Carr. 
Picture: Hollie Adams

Former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr has spoken out against Israel’s “cruel” and “foul” occupation of Palestinian land, and its “ruinous path” in rejecting the creation of a state of Palestine.

Leading a push for the ALP to give Palestine immediate state recognition, Mr Carr has also backed the Israeli opposition’s condemnation ­of a new law ­allowing further property seizures as amounting to “war crimes” if families are forced off privately owned land.

The comments were delivered by Mr Carr, who served as Julia Gillard’s foreign minister, last week when he appeared as a “special guest” of Labor frontbenchers Anthony Albanese and Tony Burke, joint hosts of a NSW ALP federal electorate council meeting in Sydney. A recording of the event has been ­obtained by The Australian.

Now head of the Australia China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney, Mr Carr has been accused by pro-­Israel opponents in his party of acting behind the scenes to ­orchestrate passage of a resolution at this month’s NSW ALP conference that “urges the next Labor government to recognise Palestine”.

The resolution by the ALP’s largest state branch, which looks set to pass with majority support from right and left factions, would be the precursor to federal Labor supporting recognition of Palestine at next year’s national party conference. Such a move would mark a dramatic break with 40 years of unqualified ALP support for ­Israel, and create unwanted ructions for Bill Shorten in the lead-up to the federal election due in 2019.

Census data released yesterday shows that key NSW Labor seats such as Watson, held by Mr Burke, and McMahon, held by ­opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen, have among the largest populations with Arab ­ancestry. Mr Burke’s Sydney seat has 18 per cent of voters with Arab ancestry while Mr Bowen’s has 13.2 per cent. The seat with the largest proportion of voters with Arab ancestry is Blaxland, held by NSW right figure and Labor frontbencher Jason Clare, at 19.5 per cent.

In contrast, the seat with the largest Jewish population is held by Malcolm Turnbull — Wentworth, in Sydney’s east, at 12.5 per cent of its population. The seat with the second-highest concentration of Jewish people is Melbourne Ports held by Labor’s Michael Danby, who has been a trenchant critic of the push for Palestinian recognition by the NSW ALP.

Mr Carr, who was NSW Labor premier for a decade before his stint in Canberra, acknowledges the attending head of the ­Palestinian delegation in Australia, Izzat Abdulhadi, as “His Excellency, the ambassador of Palestine”.

In the recording he praises Anthony Albanese and Tony Burke for accepting, like him, that “now is the time to recognise Palestine” at an ALP state and federal level.

Mr Carr speaks highly of them and other former colleagues — Chris Bowen and now-retired minister Craig Emerson — for standing “one by one” with him against Ms Gillard in 2012 when she tried to pressure her cabinet into accepting a “no vote” by Australia opposing UN observer status for Palestine.

Mr Carr, who said he was aware the recording was being made, castigates his successor, Liberal Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, for failing to criticise Israeli settlements on Palestinian land that are “all illegal” and growing in such numbers they are “planted in areas never contemplated”. Her unquestioning support “just encouraged Israel to be more aggressive and chauvinist’’.

Quoting Israeli critics, and then agreeing with them, Mr Carr says the left-leaning Tel Aviv-based Haaretz newspaper had “correctly” called Israel an occupying power — but the occupation was “getting crueller”.

“The regularisation bill … confirms everything I’ve said about the foulness of this occupation, and about the poisonous effect it is having on Israel, and yes, it confirms ... the suffering of Palestinians which must be first and foremost in our concerns,” he says.

Mr Carr interprets comments by Israel’s Labor opposition leader Isaac Herzog as equating the new legislation with a “war crime”, and notes politician Benny Begin, son of the former Likud Party prime minister, calling it “a looting bill”.

A Palestinian family’s property could be seized by the Israeli state even if it had land title going back to the days of the Ottoman Empire, Mr Carr says.

He says Palestinians had stories to tell that had been “blotted out” until Israeli historian Danny Morris checked defence archives and found Palestinians were expelled when Israel was set up as a Jewish state in 1948. “There were massacres,” Mr Carr says in his speech. “And that feeds into the stories you’re familiar with; of Palestinians having to flee their houses, leave their houses behind, and flee for the borders.”

He says the people of Gaza are refugees with links not to that area but with the homes, real or imagined, inside Israel’s borders of 1948. Mr Carr berates Israel’s continued occupation of territories as a “cruel” and “hateful thing” that forces more suffering on Palestinian people.

He recounts one Haaretz report about “apartheid” coming to an ancient swimming pool used by Palestinian children, who were booted out by authorities for a group of touring Israeli settlers.

Federal Labor’s current policy on the Israel-Palestinian issue was publicly endorsed this week by Mr Shorten’s deputy Tanya Plibersek, serving as acting party leader, despite her own harsh criticism of Israel in the past, and her long factional alignment with Mr Albanese.

The current ALP policy supports a two-state solution — but only commits the party in government to “discussing” joining like-minded nations in recognising a Palestinian state if there is no progress in peace talks.

Jewish leaders in Australia consider the proposed change not only odious but potentially “dangerous” because of the encouragement it could give Palestinians to pursue their cause without concessions, including a pledge to end hostilities.

Mr Shorten, politically close to Mr Danby, is known for his own pro-Israel sympathies and good relations with Melbourne’s Jewish community. Mr Shorten has shown no sign of resisting the ALP policy shift, possibly aware he is in the minority with the party’s pro-Palestinian left faction now dominating national conference numbers, and backed by the NSW right on this issue.

Mr Carr was unequivocal in saying he wants Labor support for a Palestinian state “now” during his speech at the Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club.

02 July 2017

ABC ignores editorial policy to run Al Jazeera stories

From The Australian, July 3, 2017, by COLIN RUBENSTEIN:

ABC runs Al Jazeera stories despite perceptions of bias. 
Picture: Bob Finlayson.

The recent decision by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE to blockade Qatar over its regional policies, including alleged support for terror organisations, Muslim fundamentalist groups and Iran, has put the spotlight once again on ABC and SBS telecasts and broadcasts of full news programs and smaller packaged stories and interviews by Al Jazeera, Qatar’s state-owned and funded global news outlet.

For years, ABC has defended its use of Al Jazeera’s English language news programming, despite mounting evidence that its use violates the editorial policy that the taxpayer-funded ABC must respect, according to its charter.

On ABC radio’s news program The World Today on June 9, Australian journalist Peter Greste — a former Al Jazeera employee who Egypt imprisoned for months as part of a thinly veiled political row with Qatar — gave further reason to question ABC’s ongoing relationship with Al Jazeera.

Greste said that he and his colleagues at Al Jazeera were not aware of any connection between the network and terrorist organisations or the Muslim Brotherhood, but that “there may be some truth in that at a higher level, a management level (there was)”.

Greste added: “It seems pretty clear from watching some of Al Jazeera’s Arabic coverage and the coverage of Al Jazeera’s Egyptian channel Mubasher (Misr) that there was a bias in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said. “Politically they seemed quite aligned with the Brotherhood.”

According to ABC’s editorial policies, section 13 (external funding and relationships), section 1 (standards), arrangements such as the content sourcing and rebroadcasting deal ABC has with Al Jazeera “must be scrutinised by an appropriately senior ABC person designated for the purpose who must reject the arrangement unless satisfied that the independence and integrity of the ABC are fully protected”.

“Factors to consider include … c) the nature of the external partners’ interest in the subject matter of the content and in broadcast or publication of the content by the ABC, and how that interest — whether it be political, commercial, sectional, personal or otherwise — is likely to be perceived.” ABC has long defended its use of Al Jazeera even in the face of official complaints that have pointed out Al Jazeera’s clear conflict of interest where the stories overlap with the interests of the Qatari ruling family.

This includes coverage of political events in the Middle East and, obviously, Israel and the Palestinians. Nevertheless, ABC continues to give Al Jazeera two unedited hour-long programming slots daily, for Newshour and Newsgrid.

Meanwhile, audio from Al Jazeera is commonly used at length on ABC Newsradio, including stories clearly the subject of Qatari foreign policy interests.

Claims of Al Jazeera’s bias aren’t only coming from Peter Greste and they’re not only about the network’s Arabic programming.

For example, in 2015, two former employees of Al Jazeera America, Shannon High-Bassalik and Matthew Luke, filed separate lawsuits alleging pervasive antisemitism and sexism in the newsroom.

High-Bassalik also said journalists at the network were ­instructed by management to attack Israel in their stories, including through the use of inflammatory taglines and captions.

Her lawsuit was met with resignations by three top Al Jazeera executives in human resources and communications, on the grounds that they could not support the decisions or direction of the network.

In a complaint AIJAC submitted to ABC in 2013 over News­radio’s use of a malevolent Al Jazeera report on Israel’s treatment of Bedouin Arabs in the Negev region, ABC defended its decision to air the story purely on its merits, while “acknowledging” parts of the story were “inflammatory”.

The ABC’s defence begged incredulity. Qatar’s ruling family, the owner of Al Jazeera, is one of the main supporters of Hamas — a terror group committed to Is­rael’s destruction. Al Jazeera’s anti-Israel obsession has seen English language “documentaries” alleging — for example — Israel’s “lobby” controls Washington and London, that Israel poisoned Yasser Arafat, and that Israel stole Egypt’s natural gas. None of these so-called exposes stand up to fact-checking.

...By any fair assessment, Al Jazeera’s political interest in its content should preclude the ABC from using any content from Al Jazeera..

Section 13 of ABC’s editorial policy actually forbids the public broadcaster from entering into content-sharing relationships with entities like Al Jazeera, because ethical journalism demands that ABC evaluate the source and intent of the producer of the content...

It’s high time for ABC and SBS executives to re-evaluate their relationships with Al Jazeera and ask themselves at what point Al Jazeera’s political baggage and inherent bias finally becomes too blatant for Australia’s public broadcasters to carry.

Will Australian Labor Abandon Support for Israel?

From The Australian, July 3, 2017, by SIMON BENSON, National Political Editor, Sydney:

Leading Labor Israel-bashers

Labor will formally abandon ­almost 40 years of explicit ideological support for Israel with a resolution expected to be passed at this month’s NSW state conference, a move that would ultim­ately bind Bill Shorten to an unconditional recognition of a Palestinian state should he ­become prime minister.

A dramatic shift in language from the NSW branch is set to force the ALP national conference to adopt the same position next year, effectively ensuring federal Labor goes to the next election with a foreign policy position of unqualified recognition for a state of Palestine.

A significant hardening in the position contained in a motion endorsed by the NSW conference foreign affairs committee, obtaine­d by The Australian, has elevated what was previously conditional support for a Palestinian state based on a negotiated peace settlement and consult­ation with other countries, to a policy of categorical and immed­iate recognition of statehood.

A senior source close to the drafting of the motion claimed it was a “historic” move by Labor to effectively drop decades of ­“instinctive” support for Israel, which was cemented in 1977 with the creation of the Labor Friends of Israel.
“It is inevitable that the same motion will go before the national conference next year and, with the numbers as they are, it would be adopted,” the source said.

But the move risks a bitter split within Labor ranks, with pro-­Israeli Labor MPs meeting last night to resolve to oppose it. The Labor Israel Action Committee said that motions came from individual local branches and did not represent the final NSW conference position, ­despite the foreign affairs committee recommending that it be supported.

NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel deputy chairman and Labor Israel Action Committee patron Walt Secord said LIAC opposed the motions. “We see them as one-sided and do not promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict resulting in a two-state solution,” he told The Australian.

...Despite Mr Shorten’s own Victorian faction, Centre Unity, now being the only significant pro-Israel­i bloc left in the ALP, the Labor leader — who in February faced calls by Kevin Rudd and Bob Hawke for Palestinian recognition — is believed not to have lobbied against the NSW motion, recognising that with the numbers backing it within the party membership­ and the caucus, a policy shift at the national level was unavoidable.

The NSW motion, obtained by The Australian, marks a fundamental shift in language from the national platform and the previous NSW position, which called for a Labor government to consult first with other countries on recognition if no progress had been made toward­s a peace settlement.

The motion states conference “notes previous resolutions on Israel­/Palestine carried at the 2015 ALP national conference and the 2016 NSW Labor annual conference and urges the next Labor government to recognise Palestine”.

In 2014, following a motion sponsored by then Labor foreign minister Bob Carr, NSW Labor adopted a position that if there was no progress to “a two-state solution, and Israel continues to build and expand settlements, a future Labor government will consult like­minded nations towards ­recognition of the Palestinian state”. The Tasmanian ALP state conference passed a similar but more strident resolution at the weekend, affirming that the next federal Labor government would ­“immediately recognise the state of Palestine”.

The same words are expected to be adopted by the Queensland state conference, which will be held on the same weekend as the NSW conference, July 29 and 30.

The South Australian Labor government used its majority to pass a motion last week that also recognised a state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, marking the first formal recognition by a parliament in Australia.

A senior Labor source said it was now impossible for next year’s national conference to not adopt the same policy, with the numbers on the floor of the national­ conference dominated by the left, which on this issue would now be supported by the NSW right.

A source close to Mr Shorten said that the Labor leader, who has been a staunch defender of Israel, now believed Labor’s unequivocal support for Israel could not be maintained...

“He did not lobby against it,” the source said. “He is smart enough to know it is happening and is allowing it to happen.”

The biggest push has come from within the NSW right, includi­ng some of Mr Shorten’s most committed supporters, who are also facing pressure within their own branches to support a stronger resolution. Mr Shorten expressed Labor’s support for Israe­l at the time of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but had also raised the contentious issue of settlem­ents in a meeting with the Israeli leader.

“We want to see Israel safe and secure of its borders; we support the rights of the Palestinians people­ to have their own state,” Mr Shorten said at the time.

The outgoing vice-president of the Queensland ALP, Wendy Turner, welcomed the move by NSW and said that momentum was now there for the national conference to adopt the policy.... She confirmed that the Queensland conference would seek to re-affirm its resolution passed last year for a federal Labor government to unconditionally recognise a state of Palestine.

27 June 2017

Call for Australia to sanction Qatar

From The Australian, 14 June 2017, by MEREDITH BOOTH:

The federal government must force Qatari company Hassad Australia to divest of its $470 million portfolio of as part of wider sanctions against the Qatar government for its support of Islamic terrorism, Australian Conservatives say.

Australian Conservatives South Australian MP Robert Brokenshire wants the Australian government to force Qatari-owned agribusiness Hassad Australia to sell its property in Australia. 
Picture: Kelly Barnes

Party leader Cory Bernardi and South Australian MP Rob Brokenshire have asked Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to sanction Hassad and force the divestment of its 300,000 ha of prime sheep, grain and wool properties in five states which are “owned by a government that funds our enemies”

“If Qatar supports those who seek to kill our people and to destroy our way of life in the name of some global Islamic caliphate, we are right to say, ‘we don’t want you here — we do not want your investment in our country because it jeopardises our national interests’,” Senator Bernardi told the senate today.

The call comes a week after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt severed trade and travel bans with Qatar, criticising Al Jazeera and Qatar’s relations with Iran, and its funding of terrorist groups. 

Hassad Australia, owned by the Qatar Investment Authority, has bought 40 properties across Australia since 2010, building a premium portfolio worth $470m with sheep, wool and wheat produce shipped to the Middle East to boost the small nation’s food security.

In January, the company sold the first property it purchased in Australia, Victoria’s 2632ha sheep station Kaladbro, to Tom and Pat Brinkworth, who were part of a syndicate which lost a bid to buy S. Kidman & Co.

Mr Brokenshire, a veteran South Australian MP and dairy farmer who has previously railed against foreign ownership of farms in the state, has asked Ms Bishop to impose sanctions against Qatar, which may encompass other interests such as national airline Qatar Airways.

“We cannot have foreign investors in this country whose activities are in direct opposition to the wellbeing of our people,’’ he said.

“If the federal government is serious about combating terrorism then they will stand up to those who are linked to it.”

Senator Bernardi said Qatar Airways should be banned from Australian air space and prevented from sponsoring Australian sports teams to “get tough on protecting our national interest” and follows his calls last week for the ABC to remove content from Qatar-owned news channel Al Jazeera from its broadcasts. 

Premier Jay Weatherill said it was fraught for Mr Brokenshire to intrude on matters of foreign affairs.

“I’m going to leave matters of foreign affairs and international relations to my federal colleagues,” he said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said foreign investment in Australia was a matter for the Treasurer, who acts on advice from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

Hassad Australia managing director John McKillop was unavailable for comment.

26 June 2017

South Australian Labor "recognises Palestine"

From The Australian, 27 June 2017, by MICHAEL OWEN:

Former Labor frontbencher Tony Piccolo. Picture: Roger Wyman

Labor has used its parliamentary majority in South Australia to call for the recognition of “the state of Palestine alongside the state of ­Israel”, making it the only Australian legislative body to formally back Palestine statehood.

The motion ...calls on the Australian government to 
"recognise the state of Palestine (as we have recognised the state of ­Israel) and announce the conditions and time lines to achieve such recognition".
The resolution, put forward by dumped Labor frontbencher Tony Piccolo, also seeks confirmation that unless measures are taken, a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict will “vanish”. The non-binding motion also opposes continuation of Israeli settlement building. A similar motion will be raised in the upper house by the Greens.

[Note that just a few days before, in response to a call by South Australian MP, Robert Brokenshire, to sanction Qatar becuase of its support for terrorism, Premier Jay Weatherill said it was fraught for Mr Brokenshire to intrude on matters of foreign affairs. “I’m going to leave matters of foreign affairs and international relations to my federal colleagues,” he said. - SL]

...Mr Piccolo was elected alongside Deputy Opposition Leader Vickie Chapman as co-convener of the Parliamentary Friends of Palestine, less than two years after the SA Parliamentary Friends of Israel was launched. Ms Chapman, a member of both groups, joined Liberal MPs in unsuccessfully moving to adjourn the motion, and later spoke against it.

She said parliament should be “looking at how we advance and ensure the management of this in a structured way that is not just going to cause further discourse”.

Liberal frontbencher Dan van Holst Pellekaan said most state MPs “do not have nearly enough information to make a genuinely informed decision on this issue, which has perplexed the international community for decades”.

...Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich slammed the motion as unhelpful, premature and harmful to chances for lasting reconciliation.

“With this one-sided and unconstructive motion, which turns reality inside out and which does not bother with the facts, the SA parliament has embraced long-time inaccuracies and misguided narratives,” Dr Abramovich said.

“Worse, the motion blames the Israeli government for the impasse, but fails to hold the Palestinian Authority responsible for their own obstructionist actions, particularly its continuous incitement and refusal to engage in ­bilateral talks.”

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham, a South Australian, said the motion showed the “warped priorities” of the Weatherill government as the state faced the nation’s highest jobless rate and a crippling energy crisis. “It’s beyond laughable that the Weatherill government ... thinks they know the pathway to Middle East peace,” he said.

08 June 2017

ABC backs anti-Semitic Al Jazeera after Gulf switches off Qatari propaganda channel

From The Australian, Cut & Paste, June 9, 2017:

Time for the ABC to turn off Al ­Jazeera? The Australian, yesterday:
Conservatives have called on the ABC to reconsider its two hours a day Al Jazeera content, labelling the Qatari-based news channel “Islamic propagandists”.

A whole sweep of Gulf nations are set to dump the Qatari news channel. BBC News online, yesterday:
Qatar’s Al Jazeera media network has undoubtedly put the tiny Gulf state on the international map. It is the showpiece of the oil and gas-rich ­nation’s efforts to turn its financial largesse into outsized global influence and visibility … But there are growing fears that the current diplomatic crisis in Qatar could place the high-profile network’s future in jeopardy.

One reason the ABC should never have had Al Jazeera on its news channel is its long history of anti-Semitism. ...August 6, 2008:
The Al Jazeera television station ­admitted Wednesday that its coverage of Israel’s release of convicted Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar violated the station’s own code of ethics. The admission came in response to a threat by Israel’s Government Press Office to boycott the satellite channel unless it apologised … The head of ­Israel’s Government Press Office said Al Jazeera would get only minimal services until it provided a “reasonable answer” about a program which featured a birthday party for Kuntar, who spent 29 years in an Israeli jail for a 1979 attack in which five Israelis were killed.

...Aunty is determined to stick with the viciously anti-Semitic channel. An ABC representative speaking to The Australian, yesterday:
Al Jazeera English is an award-­winning service with a strong presence in Europe.

Maybe it’s time they listened to Australia’s Jewish community instead. Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council chief Colin Rubenstein on The Bolt Report, Wednesday:
I think that it’s entirely unacceptable that broadcasters in Australia, ­esp­ecially public-funded broad­cast­ers … are running Al Jazeera content … This is a station run by the rulers of Qatar who sponsor Islamism.

06 June 2017

A reply to the antisemitic former Anglican bishop of Canberra-Goulburn

From The Spectator, 30 May 2017, by Denis MacEoin:

In his recent article, ‘Capitalism, Anti-Semitism & The Judaeo-Christian Ethic’ the former Anglican bishop of Canberra-Goulburn and Australia Palestine Advocacy Network head George Browning presents what he describes as a “reflection into the heart of the modern State of Israel”...

Towards the end, Browning denies that his article is anti-Semitic: “Rather … I believe it to be supportive of the essential value upon which the culture of Judaism is founded – the practice of universal justice.”

Is Browning aware of the leading modern definition of anti-Semitism written by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and recognised by some 32 countries? This definition, like others before it, includes several clauses that identify unfair, incorrect criticism of Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, or the setting of double standards for it as anti-Semitic. Browning’s article, as we shall see, falls without reserve into that definition. 

It is hard to understand how a man of his intelligence and deep involvement in Israeli-Palestinian matters should not know of or respect the IHRA definition or earlier, almost identical ones such as the original European EUMC and US State Department definitions. In order to make this clear, here are two clauses from the IHRA definition:

  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

Now, let me turn to several statements made by Browning in the course of his article:
Universal justice appears to have become an unwelcome stranger in the land of Israel. Zionism’s compulsive identification with land, has replaced justice as its core value.
What on earth can he mean? Countries all round the world have high regard for their land. Patriotism is a common position for the Irish, the Scottish, the English, the French, the Italians, and dozens more. The Palestinians, to whom Browning is intensely loyal, talk about little else but their right to the land. But according to Browning, Jewish love of their ancestral land, a place to which Jews prayed to return for over two millennia, overturns the ancient Jewish love for justice in a way other nation’s love for their land and their self-determination within it, does not.

Just after that statement, Browning makes another:
The having, holding and conquering of land has seemingly become the arbiter of nationhood…
Does Browning know so little about history? Jews did not conquer the land of Israel: they were given it first through the League of Nations Mandate system, then the United Nations Partition resolution, and reinforced by UN resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), all through internationally-recognized and binding agreements. In 1947, the Palestinian Arabs rejected the offer of a second Palestinian state, and five Arab countries launched an offensive war to drive the Jews out. Although this war failed, the Palestinians lost Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan. In 1967, fighting another defensive war, Israel forced Egypt and Jordan out, later made peace treaties with both countries, and in 2005 moved out of Gaza completely. Settlements within the West Bank, (originally the Jewish territories of Judea and Samaria) are legal under international law despite claims to the contrary and will be negotiated in exchanges of land, when and if the Palestinian leadership agrees to a peaceful resolution. Such offers were made in 1947, 1967, 2000, 2001, and 2008, but turned down by the Palestinians and their Arab allies every time.

Browning might do better to talk about the way Muslim Arabs originally took the Holy Land – by military conquest, alongside a series of worldwide conquests by Muslim forces in the seventh and later centuries. The only reason the Arabs insist on holding land is because of a ruling in jihad law that refuses to relinquish land once conquered. Is Browning actually aware of any of this, or is he just making things up as he goes along?

The bishop next takes issue with three statements commonly made about Israel, summarily dismissing them one by one. First, Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East:
Hang on, no it is not. First of all, on who’s (sic) definition of democracy?  Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are afforded no rights while Arabs in Israel have differing and reduced rights to their Jewish counterparts.
What unmitigated guff. What other democracies does Bishop Browning know of in the Middle East? Syria? Lebanon, under the control of the Iranian terrorist organisation Hizbullah? Turkey, under the increasingly authoritarian rule of President Erdogan? Egypt? Iraq? Saudi Arabia? Qatar? Yemen? Iran?

But Israel is a true democracy in which every adult citizen has the right to vote, to form or join a political party, and be elected to parliament. Arabs in Israel have exactly the same rights as citizens as Jews: they have political parties, they serve in the parliament (the Knesset), they serve as judges in Israeli courts, including the Supreme Court, they serve as diplomats, they are free to worship (whether they be Muslims or Christians), their places of worship are protected under the Law for the Protection of Holy Places. Unlike all other countries in the Middle East, women in Israel (Arabs or Jews) have the same right as men. Women in Saudi Arabia aren’t allowed to drive cars or go out without male escorts. In Israel, many women are fighter pilots. Not a true democracy?

As for the West Bank, Palestinians certainly have rights. Under the Oslo Accords, the region is divided in three: Area A (where there are no Israeli settlements) is under the full civil and security control of the Palestinian Authority (whose president, Mahmoud Abbas, is now in the undemocratic twelfth year of a 4-year term of office). Area B (also without Israeli settlements) is under joint Palestinian and Israeli control, and only Area C is under full Israeli control. The Israel security presence is there to defend Israeli civilians from the thousands of terrorist attacks that have been and are still being launched by Palestinians.

Israel is not a perfect democracy. Nor is Australia. Nor is the UK. Nor is the US. And so on. So why does Browning both lie about Israel and single it out above other democracies as not being a democracy? A majority of Israeli Arabs say they would rather live in Israel than elsewhere because they flourish well there.

The second statement Browning turns to is this: Israel is the only country in the Middle East that enables freedom of religion:
Well, no.  Israel claims to be a Jewish State.  By definition the statement excludes those who are not Jews. The idea of Jerusalem as an historical centre for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike is being constantly eroded.
This is an egregious lie. The fact that Israel is a Jewish state (or the Jewish state) no more impinges on freedom of religion there than being a Christian nation deters freedom of religion in the UK, Australia and elsewhere. All the countries around Israel and beyond define themselves as Muslim, and there is no religious freedom in any of them, in fact, minorities are routinely persecuted or worse: Baha’is in Iran, Copts in Egypt, Christians in the West Bank and Gaza suffer fierce discrimination and often murder.

Let me take the Baha’is as an example. They are the largest religious minority in Iran, yet they are persecuted, executed, imprisoned and more by the state. In Israel, they have their two holiest shrines, the seat of their international governing body, their international archives and other bodies. These and their world-famous gardens have won them status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Israel allows them complete freedom. They are as much loved by the Jewish state as they are hated in their homeland. Elsewhere in the Middle East, Christian populations are being slaughtered and expelled in the hundreds of thousands. Israel is the only country in the region where the Christian population has increased year on year since the state’s foundation in 1948. Ahmadi Muslims, persecuted in Pakistan and other Islamic countries, live and worship freely in Israel. All the mosques and holy places of Israel’s Muslim communities are kept safe and secure by the country’s Law for the Protection of Holy Places. The Palestinians, whom Bishop Browning so adores – he is the President of the Palestine Advocacy Network – kill and persecute Christians, murder apostates from Islam, and teach their children in schools to hate Jews and aspire to kill them. The evidence for this is overwhelming. Has Bishop Browning ever set eyes on it?

Browning then says: Israel is the only country in the Middle East that lives by the rule of law:
Well, no, it does not.
Actually, it does. Certainly, it imprisons many Palestinians, but only Palestinians who have gone out to stab, shoot, ram, or bomb Israeli citizens (whether Jews or Arabs).

Back in Northern Ireland, we used to imprison people for crimes like that too. No one was ever imprisoned or interned without due process. Israel never executes its prisoners, even multiple murderers, and its jails are of a high standard in international terms. No one is imprisoned without an open and fair trial. In 1999, Israel’s Supreme Court banned even the use of moderate physical pressure on terrorist suspects. Israeli law is based on a series of Basic Laws that act as a constitution, and Israeli justice is open, transparent, and witnessed by international observers, journalists and international human rights bodies.

Here is a single example of Israeli openness. In 2010, Moshe Katsav, who was president of Israel from 2000 to 2007, was sentenced to seven years in prison on rape and sexual harassment charges. The presiding judge at the Supreme Court was one George Karra, a Christian Arab. But I forget, George Browning insists that Israeli Arabs have few rights.

Problems can indeed arise within the Israeli legal system. But the same applies to all other democracies with equal force. Why does Browning single Israel out and deny its basic lawfulness? There are remedies for miscarriages of justice, and parliament is empowered to reform specific pieces of legislation should they prove in need of it. In countries like Saudi Arabia that are ruled under sharia law, heads are lopped off, limbs amputated, adulterers and homosexuals stoned to death. Saudi Arabia now chairs the UN Human Rights Council’s section on women’s rights. Why doesn’t Bishop Browning focus on genuine cases of the abuse of law that harm innocent people? Why doesn’t he take his Arab friends to task for their blatant disregard for human rights?

And that mention of homosexuals reminds me that there are no laws in Israel against the rights of LGBT persons. In fact, Tel Aviv has a reputation as the friendliest city for male and female gay people in the world. Not a single Arab or Muslim country – including the PA territory and Gaza under Hamas – affords such rights even to the most limited degree. Come out as gay in Israel and you may be shown the way to the nearest gay bar. Do that in any Muslim state and you will be taken to the nearest high building and thrown from the roof.

In his response to that third statement, Browning also writes:
The occupying force protects the illegal settlers and not the Palestinian civil population. Essential services are provided to the illegal settlers and restricted or denied the Palestinians.
Here again, this is without context or explanation. Browning only knows one side of the story. Israel has handed a large swathe of the West Bank to Palestinian control. As for denial of essential services to the Palestinians, how does Browning explain the fact that Gaza, under viciously anti-Israel rule by terrorist group Hamas, has for many years received many thousands of truckloads of essential goods via the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel: humanitarian aid continued to be sent in even while Hamas was firing thousands of rockets into Israel civilian centres in 2014 & 2015. The amount of water sent to Palestinian territories has increased from 5 million cubic meters per year to 10 million in an effort to combat the water crisis in the region. The Israel Electric Corporation has for years been supplying electricity to Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians often avoid paying, and currently owe the corporation about NIS 2 billion in debt.

Every year thousands of Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank are treated free of charge in Israeli hospitals, including the families of Hamas and Fatah members. Likewise, children from Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq (many of them Kurdish), receive free heart surgery performed by Jewish surgeons from Israeli NGO ‘Save A Childs Heart’. Children from the latter countries are facilitated into Israel by ‘Shevet Achim’ a Christian NGO. Currently, hundreds of injured Syrians are treated in Israeli field hospitals. Internationally, the World Health Organization has named Israel the top country in the world for the field hospitals it builds in disaster zones, where Israel is a major player in providing aid. Special treatment for Jews alone? Really?

And here is something Bishop Browning might like to think hard about. In 2005, a young woman from Gaza, Wafa al-Biss, was taken to Israel’s Sokota Hospital, where she received over several months treatment for severe burns suffered in a domestic fire. When released, she was given permission to return regularly for outpatient treatment. Not long after, she arrived at the Eretz Crossing carrying a bomb strapped to her leg, which had been given to her by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. She had been told to explode it in the hospital in the same unit that had saved her life, with instructions to kill as many children as possible.

Al-Biss is only one among hundreds if not thousands of Palestinians who have tried to smuggle guns, knives, suicide vests and bombs into Israel. Should anyone be surprised if Israel uses checkpoints and other security measures to save both Israeli and Arab lives? In the wave of terror that has continued for the past two years, Palestinians, including children, have used knives, scissors, and machetes to stab Jews and cars to ram and kill pedestrians or police. Palestinians suffer from the security this demands, by having to wait in queues at checkpoints or searches. That is regrettable, but hardly a reason to condemn Israel. Or would the good bishop prefer to see all this security abandoned so that killers could come onto Israeli streets and take an ever-growing toll of innocent Israeli lives?

What Browning fails to realise is that the Palestinian narrative, and the wider Arab and Muslim demand that Israel must be wiped out, is not a Christian narrative. It is an Islamic narrative based on the ruling that any territory once conquered by jihad (such as Syria, then a Christian country, invaded in 634-35) may never be allowed to pass out of Muslim hands. That is what drives the Palestinian and wider Islamic demand for the creation of a vast Palestinian state that will replace Israel (even though there is already one Palestinian state: Jordan). Why does a Christian cleric prefer a Muslim understanding of affairs to an understanding of why, from Old Testament times on, Jews have linked their worship of God to the land they believe God gave them? For a Christian, Islamic law should have no standing whatever. But Jesus was a Jew who worshipped in the Temple in Jerusalem and would be, if he returned, dismayed to learn that the Temple Mount is occupied by two Islamic buildings and that Jews are forbidden to go there or to pray there.

George Browning appears to be interested in neither justice nor peace. He wants to deny the Jewish people the right to live on the only land they have ever possessed, their sole refuge from another Holocaust (a Holocaust that Browning’s Palestinian friends daily threaten to repeat), the sole haven of democracy and Judeo-Christian values in a troubled and disintegrating Middle East.

As Christianity declines across the globe and the forces of Islam gain strength, the day may yet come when Browning and his followers turn their eyes to Israel as a model of human achievement and a promise for the future. And perhaps as a refuge for their co-religionists in a region of death and destruction.

*Dr Denis MacEoin is a British analyst and writer, former senior lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies, specialising in Shi’ism, Shaykhism, Babism and Baha’i, a former senior editor and Fellow at Middle East Quarterly and currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow at New York’s Gatestone Institute.