Jewish leaders inside and outside France expressed alarm after far-right populist Marine Le Pen’s strong showing in the first round of France’s presidential election Sunday. Le Pen, leader of the National Front party, has previously called on French Jews to give up wearing yarmulkes as part of her initiative to ban religious symbols in public and fight radical Islam in France. She has also stated that if elected, she would bar dual citizenship with non-European Union countries, distressing many French Jews who hold Israeli citizenship.
For Holocaust survivors’ grandchildren like Beckah Restivo, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum works to anchor family stories in a historical context. Much of the museum’s resources come from the International Tracing Service, an archive of Holocaust records established by the Allies after the war. The archive boasts millions of pages of documentation. “Everything I know about my family history, besides my grandfather’s and great-uncle’s actual firsthand accounts, has been driven by the resources at the museum, and I’m so grateful,” says Restivo.
With its forces vastly outnumbered by Arab armies, Israel’s victory in the 1948 War of Independence was widely considered a modern-day miracle. The Jewish state shocked the world again in 1967 by significantly expanding its borders and reunifying Jerusalem during the Six-Day War. In 2017, the perceived miracles keep coming. Ahead of the 69th Israeli Independence Day, JNS.org recounts five of Israel’s latest crowning achievements.
For Israelis, this year’s Yom HaShoah commemorations marked a balancing act between caring for the Holocaust survivors who remain alive and planning for the education of future generations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Sunday of the need to “ensure quality of life and respectable existence for the Holocaust survivors in their remaining years.” Israel’s Ghetto Fighters’ House museum, meanwhile, inaugurates a new Holocaust education program that “will look at the role of the Holocaust in the collective minds one generation to two generations from now,” said Dr. Arye Carmon, board chairman of the museum.
Despite warnings from Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau to avoid Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, a hardcore of resolute Israeli tourists proceeded with plans to head to scenic beach resorts during the recent Passover holiday. In response, Israeli authorities—disturbed by intelligence of concrete Islamic State plots to target tourists in the Sinai—took the unprecedented step of shutting the Taba border crossing, thereby preventing travel to Egypt by land. Israel reopened the Taba crossing Friday, but reiterated that “the threat to Israelis in Sinai is still severe.” How did the Sinai’s current instability come to be? JNS.org correspondent Yaakov Lappin recounts a history of unheeded warnings and the emergence of Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate.
At the 2017 Evangelical Press Association (EPA) convention, the quest for “inspiration, instruction and interaction” could not escape the specter of dissension and controversy that has haunted the evangelical Christian media since President Donald Trump’s election. Political discourse aside, the conference lived up to its intended purpose of fostering unity by enabling media professionals to build relationships with representatives from Israel and the Jewish community. “I would say the majority of those who are a part of the EPA really have a commitment and a strong feeling toward Israel, in terms of supporting Israel,” said Jill Daly, Midwest director for Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, which was an EPA conference sponsor.
The New York Times ignited a controversy by publishing an article authored by Palestinian terrorist prisoner Marwan Barghouti, without mentioning that he is serving five life terms for the murder of civilians. But a more important discussion got lost amid the outrage about media bias. The question to be asked about this episode is not whether terrorism is significant enough to be worthy of mention, but why Barghouti is a likely candidate to succeed Mahmoud Abbas as head of the Palestinian Authority, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
It isn’t the super-sized Jewish experience of New York City or some of its suburbs. But for observant Jews, New York State’s Mid-Hudson Valley still has plenty to offer. You could play more than your fill of Bingo, attend a weekly Torah class, immerse in a beautifully maintained mikvah or even attend a Jewish War Veterans meeting. Yet in the nearly 130-year history of Poughkeepsie’s organized Jewish community, carrying any possession in public on Shabbat—without violating the laws of the day of rest—was out of the question. Now that Poughkeepsie finally has an eruv to enable carrying on Shabbat, the community can assume its place “on the Jewish map,” says the synagogue vice president who spent six years advocating for the eruv.
If the current hunger-striking Palestinian terrorists want to be hungry, let them be hungry. Their empty stomachs aren’t hurting anybody. Surrendering to the demands of imprisoned terrorists, however, is a genuine threat to Israel’s security, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.
Recent admissions by The New York Times and The Washington Post of errors in their coverage of Israel are rare exceptions to the “culture” of anti-Israel bias that permeates both newspapers, experts say. “If errors tend to consistently skew in one direction—and the anti-Israel skew of each of these major corrections is not a coincidence, but a trend—then newspapers need to look into a culture that seems especially indulgent with outlandish anti-Israel accusations,” said Gilead Ini, a senior research analyst for the CAMERA media watchdog group.
As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan assumed near-dictatorial powers following his dubious victory in a constitutional referendum April 16, Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina, was marking his sixth month in a Turkish prison over an unsubstantiated charge. What makes Brunson’s case particularly outrageous, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen, is that his imprisonment comes in Turkey—traditionally an ally of the U.S., a member of NATO and widely regarded in the years prior to Erdoğan’s rise as the ideal model for a secular state with a Muslim majority.
A day after convicted Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti wrote a New York Times op-ed that omitted his crimes and terrorist organization membership and sparked scathing rebuke from the international community, the newspaper added a brief editor’s note acknowledging the murder and terror-related convictions that led to his imprisonment.
At an antiques flea market in Berlin, one of several stands proudly displays two Hanukkah menorahs for sale. The husky, white-haired seller explains how one of them probably came from Königsberg, a former German city in modern Russia. The other is easy to identify: a plaque indicates it was gifted by an Israeli organization to a German-Jewish benefactor in 1992. While Jewish victims and their organizational representatives have, over the years, processed claims for real estate, businesses and works of art seized by the Nazis, Jews’ more mundane Holocaust-era property may still be circulating in antique shops and households, unbeknownst to the current buyers or owners. “How do you establish what ordinary household goods belonged to a family that was murdered?” asks Dr. Christoph Kreutzmüller, a curator at Berlin’s Jewish Museum.
Iran is scheduled to hold its next presidential election May 19, with incumbent President Hassan Rouhani seeking a second four-year term. Though he handily won the presidency in a landslide in 2013 and forged Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, Rouhani faces stiff challenges from several other candidates this time around as many Iranians have become dismayed with the country's slumping economy.
The Israeli start-up SolarPaint’s technology can generate solar power by putting a nanoparticle-infused coating—known as “photovoltaic paint”—on roofs, walls and in the future, even roads. This technology could be a game-changer, directly confronting the problem of limited land resources that has traditionally challenged the solar industry. Eran Maimon, SolarPaint’s chief technology officer, foresees a significant change in the way electricity is delivered to consumers. “I think we will have more ‘prosumers’—producers that are also consumers,” he says.