Debate needed on nuclear weapons

Letter in The Age 01/10/09 CONGRATULATIONS to Amin Saikal (Comment, 30/9) for his thoughtful and courageous entry to the labyrinth of Middle East nuclear tensions. His thread of an exit strategy has many complicated turns but offers a credible hope that demands serious examination. Saikal canvasses diplomatic and political initiatives that might bring about a ''region-wide regime of arms control'', none so fanciful or utopian as to warrant the scorn or silence they are all too likely to meet in Australia.

Is Iran a threat, or is it the Occupation?

Today's Sydney Morning Herald (23 Sept 2009) has an interesting op-ed piece by Middle East correspondent Jason Koutsoukis. But it doesn't appear in the Melbourne Age, which is a great pity. He notes: " Last Friday, according to Jewish New Year’s tradition, Barak gave an interview to Israel’s biggest selling newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. Instead of the usual palaver about the threats facing Israel, Barak surprised his questioners with this frank admission. “Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel,” said Barak."

UNHCR Report on Gaza

The following is a verbatim cut and paste from the UN Press Release on the Goldstone report. Elswhere, it is reported that only a summary of the report is available. In fact, the full 575 pages can be downloaded. Note the following statement at parag 20. By refusing to cooperate with the Mission, the Government of Israel prevented it from meeting Israeli government officials, but also from travelling to Israel to meet with Israeli victims and to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian Authority representatives and Palestinian victims.

A Parliamentarian for censorship

[This, of course, is an entirely personal opinion,and only reflects my views] Michael Danby, the Australian Federal Member for Melbourne Ports has read into the Australian Parliamentary Record 'Hansard' his version of a contretemps between the editors of the online magazine New Matilda and the commentary site Crikey.com. He has also republished the Hansard speech on his personal website, adding in mastheads of the offending publications in his claims about 'hate speech'. Doubtless, his speech will be mailed out (at taxpayer's expense) to everyone in the local electorate newsletter.

Uri Avneri the Israeli Patriot

Uri Avneri is 80+, but he can still pack a punch. In this piece, about boycotts of Israel, he says many things, amongt which are "...Anyway, there is no sense in arguing with those who pray for the disappearance of the sovereign State of Israel, rather than for the appearance of the sovereign State of Palestine at its side. The argument is among those who want to see peace between the two states, Israel and Palestine. The question is: how can it be achieved? This is an honest debate and is generally conducted in a civil manner. "

The Lemon Tree: A Palestinian Opinion

Recently, the AJDS hosted a screening of the Israeli Film 'The Lemon tree'. We asked Maher Mughrabi, a local Palestinian, to make some comments about the film. It is important that we hear voices such as Maher Mugrabi's, to counter the view that there are not people 'from the other side' willing to talk and debate us. ++++++ Good evening ladies and gentlemen It is appropriate that the film you have just seen begins with the old song that tells us that the lemon tree is very pretty and that the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat. Watching it for the second time I am caught again between the power of the acting and the artistic accomplishment the film represents and the bitter and unpalatable truths it can only partially illuminate.

Body parts trade in Israel?

Body parts trade in Israel? Unfortunately, it's not so clear. [Warning--this may make your blood boil, so I suggest searching for other web information] Counterpunch (www.counterpunch.org) is a pretty eclectic website, edited by left-wing Alexander Cockburn, which features people such as Uri Avineri in its stable of contributors alongside writers whose views range from reasonable to crackpot (e.g. Craig Paul Roberts, a libertarian former Reaganite functionary). There is no way of providing feedback to the site (at least on its free public version). Every day, there are 4 or 5 lengthy essays, ranging from the crisis in the American financial system, to terror in Latin America, Afghanistan, to Palestine/Israel. The discussions it has had of the body parts trade are highly controversial, but deserve to be carefully considered, because past scandals are documented in the Israeli media. I haven't seen these reports raised elsewhere. At first, I was highly sceptical of the allegations in Sweden, because they seemed beyond belief, but now I am not so sure.

Israelis Discuss Support for President Obama and Two-State Solution

J Street [http://tiny.cc/vo73Z] sat down with a number of prominent Israelis, including former military and security officials, to discuss the importance of a two-state solution and J Street’s work supporting the President’s efforts to achieve such a resolution. These interviews demonstrate the deep support among prominent Israeli former military officials, political leaders, diplomats, writers, and artists for the strong American leadership that is critical to achieving a two-state solution and providing real peace and security to Israel as a Jewish democracy.