Jews are asking if we’re back in the 1920s. But to columnist Abraham H. Miller, the scene outside a Charlottesville synagogue is more like Odessa in 1905. In Charlottesville, as three white supremacists with semi-automatic weapons stood across from the synagogue, the congregants left through the back door. During the Odessa pogrom of 1905, Jews created armed militias and fought back. Jews need to learn from their own tragic history and from other ethnic groups that acted to defend themselves. Walking out the back door of a synagogue should never be the recommended option, writes Miller.
A century after being denied statehood by European powers after the Ottoman Empire fell, the Kurds will hold a referendum on independence from Iraq Sept. 25. For Israel—which has long courted support from the Kurds, most of whom are Sunni Muslims—an independent Kurdistan may prove to be a new and unexpected ally in the fight against Islamic extremism. Prof. Ofra Bengio, head of the Kurdish Studies Program at Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center, told JNS.org that an independent Kurdistan “is likely to be more stable, tolerant, pro-Western and secular than its other neighbors, values that can be good glue for relations with Israel.”
Visitors to the Otto Weidt Workshop for the Blind Museum in Berlin would need to be blind not to notice Haim Hoffmann—or rather, his weird beard—as he asks them to leave their backpacks at the reception desk. “It’s called the ‘Three-day Freestyle,’” joked Hoffman, the museum’s shift manager. Hoffman should know. He’s the German champion for the “Imperial Beard,” in which a sizable mustache-beard arches upward. He’ll be defending the bronze medal at the 2017 World Beard and Mustache Championships (WBMC) in Austin, Texas, from Sept. 1-3. Bryan Nelson, the organizer of this year’s WBMC, counts at least a handful of “Members of the Tribe” among the record-high 700 contestants.
The heat of anti-Semitism is being felt worldwide. Wherever you live, the goosebumps we all got when we heard the chants of the white supremacists in Charlottesville—“Jews will not replace us”—are the same. The feelings are reminiscent of Robert De Niro’s character in the 1995 movie, “Heat.” De Niro’s character famously says that you have to be ready to drop everything and go, in 30 seconds, if you feel the heat coming around the corner. With the heat index of anti-Semitism rising, Gabriel Groisman, the mayor of Bal Harbour, Fla., asks: Is it time for Jews to drop everything and move to Israel?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin Aug. 23 to discuss the latest developments in the Middle East. The issue of Iranian forces attempting to establish a permanent military presence in Syria, near Israel’s northern border, is reportedly high on the agenda for the upcoming meeting. Iran’s activity makes “the need to have an open channel of communication between Israel and Russia even more important than it was some years ago,” Prof. Eyal Zisser, a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, told JNS.org.
Neo-Nazis may seem scarier than Jew-haters on the left, but American Jews need to try to rise above the partisan loyalties that can blind us to both sides of the anti-Semitic coin. Until that happens, liberals and conservatives alike will continue to fail to adequately address a problem that ought to transcend politics, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
As the political and economic situation in Venezuela deteriorates, Jews are fleeing the South American nation. Inflation has skyrocketed, leading to shortages in food and basic supplies. “There is no value to life right now in Venezuela,” said Adele Tarrab, a Venezuelan Jew who moved to Israel in 2015. “I’ve actually seen people get killed for bread.” During the past year and half, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has brought 153 Venezuelan Jews to Israel, providing what the group’s leader called a “lifeline.” At the same time, the immigrants face new challenges in the Jewish state.
Many scholars of anti-Semitism have closely examined the threads that link anti-Semitism with unfulfilled sexual desire. The great paradox that the Jew represents—a racial and political polluter, and yet successful in winning the affections of “Aryan” women—is never resolved, but only exacerbated with words like “bestial” and “lustful” that are soaked in sexual envy. JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen explains the connection between this mindset and the recent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
Israel stands to generate large profits from its burgeoning medical cannabis industry after a joint committee of the country’s Health and Finance ministries Aug. 13 approved a measure allowing for international exports of the plant. The state could reportedly earn up to $4 billion annually in revenue from medical cannabis exportation. Saul Kaye, CEO of the iCAN: Israel-Cannabis organization, told JNS.org the Israeli government’s move “will significantly increase investment as well as entrepreneurship” in the cannabis technology sector and that “numerous jobs will be created throughout the country.”
Three days, three attempts to execute Jews by stoning. It’s the continuation of an old tradition in the Middle East. At least 13 Israeli Jews, and two Arabs mistaken for Jews, have been killed by Palestinian rock-throwers since the 1980s. Scores of others have been injured. Palestinian Arabs who throw rocks at Jews are richly rewarded, both financially and through media coverage that makes excuses for their murderous actions, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.
Seventy future IDF soldiers—more than half of them women—immigrated to Israel from North America this week, arriving on an El Al Airlines flight chartered by the Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah agency. “I realized that if [IDF soldiers] felt [Israel] was my home, and I felt it was my home, then shouldn’t it be my duty to protect it too?” said Sophie Stillman of Hopkins, Minn., one of the future soldiers arriving on the aliyah flight Aug. 15.
Some 80 students from 13 different countries participated in a high-level training conference that prepares students to make Israel's case to various audiences, including anti-Israel professors and campus activists, many of whom lead the BDS campaign against the Jewish state. "There's a global problem, which is attested this year by the many countries the kids are coming from. But the very good news is the spirit and positive energy of the wonderful students who care about Israel and its cause,” said Andrea Levin, executive director of CAMERA, the conference's organizer.
Several top experts on nuclear proliferation and Iran told JNS.org the failure to successfully deal with North Korea sets a precedent for a similar result with the Islamic Republic. “If a short-term delay causes the international community to be lulled into a false sense that the [nuclear] deal ‘is working,’ as we are hearing lately from deal supporters, it is likely to wake up with a nuclear Iran that will be as firmly entrenched as North Korea,” said Emily Landau, director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies.
In Qaraqosh, Iraq, international agencies have repaired a significant amount of the damage done to schools during the Islamic State occupation. Schools are ready to welcome students to the new academic year. But the great challenge is that many Qaraqosh families’ homes still await repair or rebuilding. Iraqi Christians are hoping for a new life marked by peace and stability, but Western powers must make a major contribution to make their aspiration a reality, writes Joop Koopman, communications director for Aid to the Church in Need-U.S.A.
Those who refuse to listen to or to associate with political opponents are at the core of our society’s current political illness, in which we have been divided into two warring camps that have lost the ability to listen to each other. That’s why if you think Dennis Prager must be boycotted or believe Morton Klein is as much of a threat to American Jewry as Islamist terrorists, then don’t bother the rest of us with hypocritical complaints about President Donald Trump, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.