Middle East

Targeted killings as a counter-insurgency strategy: Part 3

With the beginning of the second intifada the nature, the frequency and magnitude of Israel’s targeted killings (TKs) changed dramatically. Whereas before the insurgency Israel’s TKs against Islamists were covert operations conducted by the secret service, now that Israel was facing a wave of deadly suicide bombings the army itself adopted TKs as a strategy to subdue Hamas. Consequently, the armed forces were sent on a mission to ‘terrorize the terrorists’ with the weapons they had at their disposal. “The main downside of helicopter attacks was that such operations did not allow Israel any deniability. For this reason, Israel claimed responsibility for all helicopter assassinations while remaining mute in most cases on which activists were gunned down in the middle of the street or by long-range sniper bullets.” (Read More)

UK

The immigration debate is senseless and pessimistic

There are few things more depressing than the immigration debate in the UK. There are more upsetting things. There are more maddening things. But when it comes to politics the immigration debate here is depressing. The debate is being led by Nigel Farage and UKIP. Ponder that for a moment. This means allegedly serious politicians end up saying stupid things. Lord Bates, last week, suggested that too many foreign-born women residing in Britain are having babies. (Read More)

Middle East

Targeted killings as a ‘divide and rule’ tactic: Part 2

Strategy is a comprehensive long-ranging plan to promote interests in the context of conflict. In theory, strategy “requires both a policy to define its purpose and tactics to make it happen” and thus provides “the bridge between political goals and military means.” Tactics, on the other hand, is defined by Clausewitz as “the sciences and art of organizing a military force, and the techniques for combining and using weapons and military units to engage and defeat an enemy.” (Read More)

UK

Where have the far-right gone?

In the European Elections last year, far-right groups across Europe made unprecedented electoral breakthroughs. Marine Le Pen’s National Front stormed to victory, winning 26% of the popular vote in what the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls described as a ‘political earthquake’. The far-right Danish People’s Party enjoyed similar success, topping the national poll at 27%. More or less openly neo-Nazi parties sent MEPs to Brussels for the first time, with Germany’s National Democratic Party and the Greece’s Golden Dawn winning 1 and 3 seats respectively. (Read More)

Asia

Unity or Division? Assessing the impact of the Japanese occupation on modern Indonesia: Part 3

The elimination of Dutch influence and mobilization of the population for the Japanese war effort demanded the systematic indoctrination of Indonesians throughout the archipelago. Although this constant propaganda failed to convince Indonesians of the apparent superiority of Japanese culture, it did, however, intensify anti-Western and nationalistic attitudes, which in the process helped unify Indonesians in their commitment to independence. (Read More)

Environment & Energy

The evil twin of climate change

2015 could be the year that mankind united and rises above national grievances and takes action against a threat that we all face. Climate change is upon us and our actions have already led to significant and irreversible changes to our planet. The climate summit in Paris in December will be the last chance to seriously address the problem – inaction now and we will not be able to meet the critical 2 degree target. If the planet heats more than 2 degrees we are in unchartered waters, waters that will very dangerous for all species on this Earth, not only humans. (Read More)

Asia

Unity or Division? Assessing the impact of the Japanese occupation on modern Indonesia: Part 1

When Showa Japan invaded the Dutch East Indies in 1942, different groups began to compete for the goodwill of their new colonial masters. In the course of these events remaining Europeans were either killed or sent as forced labour into Japanese concentration camps. Many Indonesians had welcomed the Japanese as liberators but their hopes were soon balked. The occupying power brutally quelled resistance since its ultimate aim was to incorporate the East Indies into the ’Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere – a Japanese dominated imperial order. (Read More)

'Books are power' / CC
Books

Review: “The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence, and Coexistence” by Shaul Mishal & Avraham Sela

Among Israeli politicians and the media there has been a tendency to project a one-sided image of Hamas as being merely a terrorist cell, driven by religious fundamentalism and ready to pursue its stated aim of destroying Israel at any cost. “Islamic and national zeal, bitter opposition to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and strategies of terror and violence against Israel have become the movements hallmark” write Shaul Mishal and Avraham Sela in The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence, and Coexistence. (Read More)

Photograph: 'Views of Jerusalem' / Flickr
Middle East

Letter to the London Jewish News and the Jewish Chronicle: The Israeli election

Dear Sir,

The Israeli election showed the vibrancy of Israel’s democracy, which as a Zionist I am incredibly proud of. However, I was dismayed by Binyamin Netanyahu’s comments towards Israeli Arabs, where he complained about the high turnout from Israeli Arabs, as some sort of leftist conspiracy that right-wing voters must counteract. Mr Netanyahu, it was an example of democracy in action, where minorities, unlike in the countries surrounding Israel, have the right to vote. (Read More)

'What we're reading' / CC
Scotland

Salmond might love Scotland, but certainly not her publishing industry

I received a fair amount of coverage for my comments on our late First Minister’s Memoirs. Sadly much of it missed the point I was trying to make. It is a point well worth restating. Here is a man whose income by any estimation is comfortable, and who has pinned his career to talking to the hopes, dreams and aspiration of many Scots. He has told them to stand tall, talked to them of freedom, held a referendum on exactly that subject. And yet when it comes to publishing his account of that very referendum, he simply takes the first train to London. It is a silent statement so stunning that it is astonishing the commentariat of Scotland have not picked up and run with it. (Read More)

'Battle for Britain' / Surian Soosay / CC
Scotland

Letter to The Herald: The Alex Salmond Memoirs

Dear Sir

Now I would never have expected our ex First Minister to have published with Birlinn Ltd. My own political views are too well known and to expect an ecumenical perspective is perhaps too much to expect of that most tribal of politicians. But there are of course many other smaller Scottish publishers who have supported the Nationalist cause. Many others in this country whose lives and businesses might have been transformed by a gesture from a man who claims a life dedicated to Scotland. (Read More)

'Scottish Parliament' / Andrew Cowan / CC
UK

Fixed-term parliaments mean very little, and here’s why

With the upcoming general election looking as though it will be the closest, and the most bitterly fought, for many a long year there will be a lot of chatter over the next few months about whether or not – in this era of fixed-term parliaments – there could be an election between the first Thursday in May 2015 and the first Thursday in May five years later. (Read More)

Photograph: 'Views of Jerusalem' / Flickr
Middle East

Bye-bye Bibi, Bibi bye-bye?

March 17th is the day of reckoning for Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who polarises the Israeli electorate like no other. In under two weeks time there remains a possibility that the world will wake to the political obituary of Israel’s second longest-serving prime minister. (Read More)