Approximately 320 people attended an Auckland meeting the other night hosted by the Zionist Federation of NZ -- a friend who attended sent me this [slightly edited] account.
I was most impressed with the calibre of both speakers -- Professor Dov Bing (left) (Dept of Political Science & Public Policy, University of Waikato), and Jeremy Jones (right with Pope John Paul) (Order of Australia and current Director of International & Community Affairs at AIJAC) -- together with the questions at the end from members of the audience.
The tone of the meeting was rational, measured and pleasantly free of emotive rhetoric.
• Israel is surrounded by 22 Arab states, ALL of which are dictatorships.
• Those Arab states lack real investment and 'national development'; their money is poured instead into military & secret services.
• Partly as a result, all those Arab economies are ‘calcified’ in comparison with their western counterparts, and with Israel.
• There is virtually no transfer of knowledge from western to Arab states.
• It is essential to understand the serious and bitter rivalry, and the power struggle between Arab Shi-ites and Sunnis.
• Iran is predominantly Shi-ite; Iraq is 67% Shi-ite; Lebanon 40% Shi-ite.
• Egypt, Jordan, West Bank & Gaza predominantly Sunni.
• Jordan & Egypt both have peace treaties with Israel.
• Al Qaeda is predominantly Sunni, sepcifically Wahhabi Sunni (but anti-US at the same time).
• In Israeli opinion however, Shi-ites are the most dangerous sect: following Ayatollah Khomenei's Shi'ite Islamic Revolution, Iran is dominant in this movement, it uses Syria & Lebanon.
• The Sunni states initially denounced Hezbollah, (see for example the editorial in Kuwait’s ‘Arab Times’, 23 July, posted here at Not PC.)
• Iran's sabre rattling, and the present aggression by Hezbollah are part of a power struggle to assert Shi'ite dominance in the Arab World and enter an era of ‘Ascendancy of Shi-ites’, despite being a minority in the Islamic world. That is what is the motivation for the present conflict.
• Israel has been accused of inflicting ‘disproportional’ casualties despite being enormously outnumbered.
• Hezbollah's policy is to attack civilians. The Israeli modus operandi by contrast is to attack military targets, which results in civilian casualties. There is a difference.
• Hezbollah's policy of shooting at civilians makes it morally difficult for one’s enemy to respond.
• Western journalists are generally anti-Israel. Bing and Jones accuse most of ‘intellectual laziness’ in terms of there being historically ignorant … ‘not doing their homework.’
• There is a supreme irony they say in western left-wingers supporting Hezbollah, who are a fascist, imperial, genocidal, racist movement.
• The reality of what Israel faces in this conflict is this statement by Shi-ite Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Oct 2002: "If all the Jews gathered in Israel, it’ll save us the job of going after them worldwide."
• 22 August is a big date on Islamic calendar: the anniversary of 'Mohammed’s ascension to Heaven.' Iran has promised to "light up Israeli skies" (whatever the hell that might mean).
• UN peace initiative? Southern Lebanon has been under the eyes of UNIFIL (UN Interim Force in Lebanon) since 1978 – and yet it’s the most densely armed spot on the planet!
• The Lebanese government contains members of Hezbollah, 14 seats out of 128. In addition, an Amal-Hezbollah alliance won all 23 seats in Southern Lebanon.
• A good place to start for reading the history of the area is the book 'A Peace to End All Peace' about the dissolution of the old Ottoman Empire that produced the present map of the Middle East, and effectively sold present-day Israel twice: once to Jews and once to Palestinians.
• Ceasefires in the Middle East do not work; they simply give aggressors time to re-arm.
• Wars only end when one side gives up its aims. The aim of Arab aggressors since 1948 has been to drive Israel and Israelis into the sea. Iran's President Ahmedinejad's promise to wipe Israel off the map is only a contemporary re-wording of the long-standing aim, and the long-standing refusal to recognise any right for Israel right to exist.
• Democracies never fight democracies; as Dr Wafa Sultan explained so eloquently in this TV interview, true ‘civilisations’ don’t clash – they compete
• Hezbollah is a multi-billion dollar enterprise currently funded by Iran. It is not being funded out of altruism.
• Hezbollah also extorts money from Christian Lebanese who are forced to pay ‘huge amounts’ every day not to be terrorised. In Chicago and New Jersey, they call this 'protection money.'
• The Russian situation is interesting: on the one hand they have their own problems with Moslem Chechnya, whilst they are simultaneously arming both Iran and Syria.
Both Professor Bing and Jeremy Jones (an Australian) discussed the difficulty in getting their pro-Israel viewpoints across in the western media (see Bing's May opinion piece in the Herald for example). Bing estimates he has one letter in every three submissions printed. He urged the audience to use the print media to best effect. Jones writes for the AIJAC Review -- here is an example of his writing: 'Leading Lies: Holocaust and Hate.'
UPDATE: Here's another useful link from the good people at the History News Network: What Is the Difference Between Sunni and Shiite Muslims--and Why Does It Matter?
LINKS: Zionist Federation of New Zealand website
Arab Times: 'This war was inevitable...' - Not PC
'A Peace to End All Peace' - Amazon.Com
'Clash of civilizations' rubbished by Arab-American woman - Not PC
Fermenting of a dangerous brew - Dov Bing, NZ Herald
Leading lies: Holocaust and hate - Jeremy Jones, AIJAC Review
What Is the Difference Between Sunni and Shiite Muslims--and Why Does It Matter? - History News Networks
RELATED: Israel, History-Modern, War, Politics-World