French and Danish Jews after the Paris and Copenhagen attacks

Following the atrocities committed in Paris in early January when 17 people were murdered in cold blood at the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and Jewish deli Hyper Cacher, people were once again shocked by the attacks in Copenhagen which resulted in the death of one person at a freedom of speech debate, followed by the death of a Jewish man on guard outside the city’s main synagogue. The perpetrators of the Paris and Copenhagen shootings were not linked, though in both instances they had two obvious goals: punishing those who, in their view, had insulted the prophet Muhammad, and targeting Jews. The number of Jewish casualties in both attacks have sparked debates about anti-Semitism which, sadly, appears to be on the rise again across Europe. This debate has been further fuelled by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who called for mass immigration to Israel.

“Of course, Jews deserve protection in every country,” he said. “But we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe. I would like to tell all European Jews and all Jews wherever they are: Israel is the home of every Jew”. [1]

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How Middle East and North Africa governments and political leaders reacted to the Charlie Hebdo attacks

The brutal terrorist attacks in Paris which targeted the headquarters of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, as well as a kosher grocery store, left 17 people dead. An outpouring of international support for the French government and people has been heard in the days since.

Laura Danielle and Kevin Moore break down how some governments and political leaders in the Middle East and North Africa responded to the events.

Charlie Hebdo Unity March
World leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, French President François Hollande and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, take part in a Unity rally Marche Republicaine in Paris on 11 January 2015 (via PATRICK KOVARIKPATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

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Egyptian-Qatari Rapprochement Could Push Hamas Back into Tehran’s Orbit

Post-Arab Spring regional realignment broke Hamas’ ties with Iran, now normalisation of relations between Egypt and Qatar could bring them back


There are recent indications that Egypt and Qatar are on the path to reconciliation. Qatar’s relations with a number of states in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have been strained due to the small Gulf state’s support for Islamist movements, namely the Muslim Brotherhood. While meetings between Egyptian and Qatari diplomats may not lead to a full thawing of relations, normalisation does have major implications for the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (known better by its Arabic acronym: Hamas).

The Syrian conflict precipitated a shifting of alliances in the MENA region. The Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters, as well as Iranian support for military operations against a nascent rebellion in early-2012, led Hamas leadership to withdraw from its headquarters in Damascus and relocate to the Qatari capital of Doha.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal delivering a speech in Damascus in 2005 (via LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Hamas envisioned an opportunity with the so-called “Arab Spring.” Long-marginalised Islamist political organisations mobilised with strong showings in post-revolutionary elections, heralding a shift toward Sunni Islamist rule in the region. Hamas viewed this new status quo as more favourable to its struggle for Palestinian liberation, especially compared to the Arab dictators who had made peace with Israel. In Tunisia, the Ennahda party won October 2011 parliamentary elections and in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood — Hamas’ parent organisation — and the Salafist Hezb an-Nour won a plurality of votes in late-2011/early-2012 parliamentary elections. Additionally, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi claimed victory as Egypt’s first democratically-elected president in June 2012.

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Review: Israel and the Family of Nations: The Jewish Nation-State and Human Rights

Alexander Yakobson and Amnon Rubinstein, Israel and the Family of Nations: The Jewish Nation-State and Human Rights (Routledge: London, 2008).

Israel and the Family of Nations: The Jewish Nation-State and Human RightsOn November 24th, 2014 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a bill to his cabinet that would define Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”. This bill proved so acrimonious that Netanyahu dismissed two important cabinet members over its content and ultimately decided to dissolve the Knesset in favour of elections. The debate is not new; the question of “Jewish and democratic” has long been a divisive one in Israeli history. Following the 1967 war, there has been a controversial debate about the future of Israel. Its future is debated in both practical and existential terms usually framed with reference to ‘the Palestinian Question.’ This is usually phrased as to what extent can, and should, Israel maintain its status as a simultaneously Jewish and democratic state. Alexander Yakobson and Amnon Rubinstein have attempted to settle this debate by arguing that Israel can and must be both Jewish and democratic. They ultimately conclude that a failure to view Israel as such denies its legitimacy as a nation-state. The authors seek to contextualize the case of Israel in a world of modern nations and liberal democracies and to ultimately contest the concept that Israel’s very existence needs re-examining.

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