Israel & Iran – War or Dialogue @Politics in the Pub

October 16, 2008

17th of October 2008


Antony Lowenstein, Author ‘My Israel Question’.
Noah Bassil, Acting Director, Centre for Middle East and North African Studies,  Macquarie University

All are welcome.

Discussion starts at 6pm and ceases promptly at 7.45pm

The venue for Politics In the Pub is the Gaelic Club, Level 1 (Tel. 9212 1587) 64 Devonshire St., Surry Hills

That’s just across from the Chalmers St exit and Devonshire St tunnel at Central Station.
Parking is usually available in side streets.

For more info, please visit

Palestine coverage through 21 July 08

July 21, 2008

This selection is of the coverage from the end of the week (mainly Friday) and covers a range from today’s news of the British Prime Minister’s trip to Israel, to feature stories about the struggle for survival in Palestinian towns, to the International Crisis Group’s evaluation of the Palestinian Authority’s record in the West Bank. There are also articles covering new talk of “peace talks” sponsored by the US and an analysis of the possibility of momentum being built on the Israeli-Lebanese front, following the prisoner exchange, through a breakthrough on the Shebaa Farms territorial dispute.

But perhaps of greatest interest is the astonishingly vicious op-ed published by Benny Morris in yesterday’s New York Times. Morris goes so far as to justify an Israeli preemptive nuclear strike on Iran. The op-ed concedes Israel’s own possession of a nuclear arsenal but treats Iran’s alleged pursuit of the same as an intolerable threat to all humanity. He then goes on to build an argument on the assumption that so long as Israel initiates, the obliteration of a nation and a people in the Middle East by nuclear holocaust is justifiable and potentially legitimate. Read the rest of this entry »

Gender troubles – transsexuality in Iran

March 10, 2008

Over the last few years there’s been some intermittent mainstream interest in transsexuality both in the West and in the Middle East. Although the topic was somewhat taboo in the West until relatively recently, it has been discussed quite openly in Iran for the last 25 years. The relative openess surrounding this topic in the Islamic Republic has aroused the curiosity of the Western media, and reports on transsexuality in Iran such as this article often try to come to terms with the fact gender reassignment surgery is religiously sanctioned (even encouraged) in a country where homosexuality is illegal. Is the 25 year old fatwa allowing ‘diagnosed’ transsexuals to undergo surgery a sophisticated and modern approach to a serious issue that is often not dealt with satisfactorily in even in the West, or is it simply the outcome of an inability to accept homosexuality? Read the rest of this entry »

“They Call Me Muslim”

February 21, 2008

“They Call Me Muslim” is a short film focusing on the experiences of two Muslim women, one in Paris and one in Tehran, who hold very different opinions on veiling. Samah, living in Paris, feels that the ban on headscarves in French schools forces her to choose between her religion and her education, whilst K must wear the headscarf when in public in Iran. The filmmaker, Dianna Ferrero, explains some of the issues arising from the film in this article. The overall message of the documentary is one that at times seems to be overlooked in the headscarf debate – that women are negotiating political and cultural obstacles in order to regain control over their bodies in both religious and secular contexts, and that ultimately it is the freedom to choose to veil or not veil that should be promoted.

Palestine coverage through 10 Feb 08

February 12, 2008

Today’s selection provides articles covering the renewed Israeli decision to cut power to Gaza, renewed Israeli air strikes on Gaza killing over a dozen Palestinians in the period canvassed, and the admission by PA prime minister Fayyad that the PA has no expectation that a new accord will be reached with Israel during the remainder of the Bush presidency. Fayyad’s near exclusive concern with Israeli incursions into the West Bank, as opposed to what is happening in Gaza, speaks volumes of the PA strategy.

Of course, the humanitarian crisis and Israeli policy continues to be depicted in securitized terms in the English-language media, which can only bring itself to describe Israeli assassination-by-airstrike policies (known elsewhere by the more precise international law term of extra-judicial killing) and the cutting off of power to Gaza in the language of “defensive operations,” “retaliation” or as a “trimming” of supplies. Read the rest of this entry »