Remembering Myra Kraft on Super Bowl Sunday

The media circus surrounding “Deflategate” is a sad disservice to the late Myra Kraft—who along with her husband, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, contributed greatly to both the growth of American football in Israel and the survival of the Jewish people. The Kraft family’s philanthropy and activism should inspire us to honor Myra’s memory as the world is watching her team play on Super Bowl Sunday, writes Jason Stverak, president of the Salomon Center for Truth & Accountability.

Posted on January 30, 2015 and filed under Opinion, Sports.

2 million-strong CUFI seeks to double down on Christian support for Israel

“Usually after the first event, it’s like a firestorm,” said Pastor Scott Thomas, the Florida state director for Christians United for Israel (CUFI). “The excitement hits, the understanding settles in.” That, in short, illustrates the process through which CUFI has become America’s largest pro-Israel organization in less than a decade of existence. In January, CUFI announced that its membership surpassed the 2-million mark. But CUFI founder Pastor John Hagee isn’t satisfied. He said the organization hopes to double its membership to 4 million over the next two to three years. CUFI also plans to expand to the United Kingdom to start fighting European anti-Semitism “eye to eye,” Hagee told JNS.org at the Jan. 27 CUFI Leadership Summit in San Antonio. “If you took away the Jewish contribution from Christianity, there would be no Christianity, so fundamentally, Christians owe the Jewish people everything. Period. Once a person sees that, he’s committed to take action in defense of the Jewish people,” Hagee said.

Posted on January 30, 2015 and filed under Christian, Features, Israel, U.S..

Getting anti-Semitism wrong at the United Nations

The United Nations held a special meeting on the subject of rising anti-Semitism with anti-Semites not just in attendance, but making speeches as well. The Saudi envoy to the U.N. said that the Israeli “occupation and the “persecution of the Palestinian people” are examples of anti-Semitism. If a future meeting about anti-Semitism at the U.N. does not drive home the point that anti-Zionism—the denial of the right of national self-determination to the Jewish people—is the principal pillar upon which today’s anti-Semitism rests, then it’s probably not worth holding the meeting to begin with, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.

Posted on January 29, 2015 and filed under Analysis, Opinion, World.

Hezbollah attack on Israel seen as part of ‘Iranian project’ on Syria terror base

Who was behind Wednesday’s attack on northern Israel that killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven others? The easy answer would be the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah, which claimed responsibility for the attack. But the longer view points to Hezbollah’s state sponsor: Iran. According to Dr. Ely Karmon, a senior research scholar at Israel’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Iran and Hezbollah have been working for months to take advantage of instability in Syria in order to create a forward military position against Israel in Syria’s Quneitra region. “This is actually an Iranian project,” Karmon told JNS.org. “They have around 1,500 people on the ground in Syria, most of which are counseling or training Syrian militias, and they have Hezbollah providing military support.” 

Posted on January 28, 2015 and filed under Israel, News.

Anti-Israel BDS movement is fashionable in academia, but far from invincible

Being anti-Israel is fashionable in academia, and many scholars sincerely worry about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Young and even well-established scholars need courage to stand against the anti-Israel consensus, and can risk losing promotions, career opportunities, and respectability if they speak against this prevailing zeitgeist. But the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel can be halted. Many academics worry about the politicization of their scholarly associations, and most attendees of annual academic conventions are simply not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, writes Roberta P. Seid, director of research-education for the pro-Israel group StandWithUs.

Posted on January 28, 2015 and filed under Analysis, Israel, Opinion, U.S., Education.

Riding the wave of change in part-time Jewish education

Amid the numerous studies regarding Jewish American life, a simple fact remains: part-time Jewish education is the most popular vehicle for Jewish education in North America. Whenever and wherever parents choose Jewish education for their children, we have a communal responsibility to devote the necessary time and resources to deliver dynamic learning experiences. This means implementing new collaborations across the Jewish community—partnerships with synagogue professionals and lay leaders, educational agencies, funders, and most importantly, parents, write Rabbi Phil Warmflash, executive director of the Jewish Learning Venture in Philadelphia, and Shinui project director Anna Marx.

Posted on January 28, 2015 and filed under Education, Opinion.

Networking forum eases transition for new entrants in Israel’s ‘start-up nation’

Half of Israel’s new businesses fail within five years, according to a fall 2014 report from the French-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Against that backdrop, a recently launched networking initiative is helping olim (immigrants to Israel) acclimate to their new country and start over, partly by boosting local entrepreneurship. “If you’re going to develop a local business, you need to network,” said the Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah agency’s Michele Kaplan-Green, who coordinates the Western Galilee Business Networking Forum. “The forum is in Hebrew, but everyone speaks English. It’s very olim-friendly.”

Posted on January 28, 2015 and filed under Business, Features, Israel.

Boehner: ‘nobody in the world’ but Netanyahu can speak on Iran and terrorism

Despite the criticism he has received, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner does not regret the decision he made to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress in early March.

Posted on January 27, 2015 .

After king’s death, status quo expected for Saudi relations with Iran and Israel

The death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Thursday shouldn’t change how the Gulf nation treats its relations with Iran and Israel, experts say. Saudi Arabia remains determined in its opposition to the Iranian nuclear program, and while that gives them at least one shared interest with Israel, a Saudi ambassador’s anti-Israel remarks at the United Nations on the same day as Abdullah’s death served as a reminder that the Saudi-Israeli relationship isn’t exactly friendly. “Saudi Arabia doesn’t believe it shares common interests with Israel. Some Israelis may believe there are common interests, [but] the Saudis see that as a fantasy,” said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank.

Posted on January 26, 2015 and filed under Israel, News, World.

Bucking stereotypes, Egypt’s El-Sisi fights terror and seeks ‘revolution’ in Islam

As the world continues to grapple with a new wave of Islamic extremism, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has emerged as an unlikely Middle East leader willing to confront terrorism both militarily and ideologically. In a recent speech at Egypt’s historic Al-Azhar University, El-Sisi declared an ambitious plan for a “revolution” in Islam, in order to reform the faith that he believes has made the Muslim world a source of “destruction” that is “making enemies of the whole world.” El-Sisi should be commended for delivering his remarks “at the center of Egypt’s religious establishment” and going “right into the belly of the beast,” said Oren Kessler, deputy director of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Posted on January 26, 2015 and filed under Features, News, World.

With female spiritual advisor, Efrat spotlights women’s empowerment in Israel

In Torah times there was Devorah, prophetess and judge. In Talmudic times there was Bruriah, “the wife of Rabbi Meir,” considered a sage and scholar in her own right. Today, the Israeli community of Efrat has a new manhiga ruchanit—spiritual advisor—in Jennie Rosenfeld. She is the first woman in the history of Israel to fill such a role. “I am standing on the brink of something very exciting, and there is a sense of hopefulness that this will lead to good for the Jewish community and help bring people closer,” Rosenfeld, who begins her new position on Feb. 2, tells JNS.org.

Posted on January 26, 2015 and filed under Features, Israel, Jewish Life.

B’Tselem manipulates and distorts facts to defame Israel

In his harsh criticism of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court over a case in which a Jew was acquitted of charges related to bursting through a military checkpoint, Hagai El-Ad—executive director of the non-governmental organization B’Tselem—manipulatively used the court's verdict as an opportunity to defame Israel and to implicitly accuse the IDF of the systematic indiscriminate killing of Palestinians, writes Jonathan D. Halevi, a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Posted on January 26, 2015 and filed under Israel, Opinion.

Menschkins: A good Jewish mother

The 70th installment of Harvey Rachlin's new comic strip, "The Menschkins." Click here for more JNS.org coverage on Jewish arts.

Posted on January 24, 2015 .

Popular radio host tells family’s Holocaust stories through the written word

A popular radio host on Sirius XM’s Symphony Hall channel, Martin Goldsmith tells his family’s Holocaust stories through a different medium. In 2000, he published “The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany,” a book detailing his parents’ experience performing in an all-Jewish orchestra maintained by the Nazis. “Even though I lived with certain aspects of the story my entire life, I did not know many of the details until I was well into my 40s,” Goldsmith tells JNS.org ahead of this year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Jan. 27). More recently, in April 2014, Goldsmith released another book, “Alex’s Wake: A Voyage of Betrayal and a Journey of Remembrance,” which chronicles a trip he took with his wife to retrace the steps of relatives who were killed by the Nazis.

Posted on January 23, 2015 and filed under Holocaust, Books, Features, U.S..

Israeli bus driver who fought off terrorist regains consciousness

Israeli police officials praised the actions of Herzl Biton, the 55-year-old driver who was the first of 12 people to get stabbed by Palestinian terrorist Hamza Muhammed Hassan Matrouk on Wednesday aboard a bus in Tel Aviv. Despite being seriously wounded, Biton managed to use pepper spray on the assailant and fight him off while simultaneously opening the bus doors to allow passengers to flee. The attack did not end in a single death. After slipping into a coma as a result of his injuries, Biton regained consciousness on Thursday.

Posted on January 22, 2015 and filed under Israel, News.