How terrorism’s victims are responding

“We should be helping people in all countries, because the overall goal is to defund terrorism,” Daniel Miller, who survived a 1997 Hamas terror attack on Jerusalem’s busy Ben Yehuda Street, tells columnist Ben Cohen. “I’m a civilized person, I’m not going to go and blow up an Iranian target, so the only path left to me is to go after their money. If another country experiences the kind of horrific terrorism I experienced in Israel, as Argentina did, then the more we need them as a partner.” Cohen writes that he can’t express the importance of responding to terror any more clearly than victims of terror themselves have done. But it’s significant, he writes, that the victims have a strategy for response—particularly in this time of declining American leadership.

Posted on November 25, 2015 and filed under Analysis, Opinion, World.

Dear Imam Ahmad

Columnist Stephen M. Flatow read the text of the condolence letter that Imam Abdul Rahmam Ahmad wrote the Jewish community of Boston following the recent murder of 18-year-old American yeshiva student Ezra Schwartz by Palestinian terrorists. While he has no reason to doubt the sincerity of the imam's expression of “great sadness,” Flatow writes to the imam on how his condolence letter fell short, including the fact that there was no mention of what motivated the murder of Ezra.

Posted on November 25, 2015 and filed under Opinion, Israel, U.S..

Syrian refugee advocates are using the wrong Holocaust analogy

Examining America’s response to the Holocaust can help us avoid repeating the mistakes of that era, so applying the lessons of the Nazi years to contemporary concerns—including the plight of the Syrian refugees—certainly is appropriate. But those who are invoking the memory of the Jewish refugees are choosing the wrong analogy for today’s Syrian refugees. The analogy distorts the nature of what happened—and what is happening now—to the victims, writes historian Rafael Medoff.

Posted on November 25, 2015 and filed under Analysis, Holocaust, Opinion, World, U.S..

This one’s for Ezra Schwartz: immigrant to Israel reflects on fellow American

Eliana Rudee really wanted to write about something else this week. But she just couldn’t ignore the unrelenting attacks happening in Israel. Just last week, a Palestinian terrorist murdered Ezra Schwartz, a sweet-looking Bostonian boy just 18 years old, while he was delivering food to soldiers. Rudee, a recent immigrant to Israel and author of the "Aliyah Annotated" column, reflects on the killing of her fellow American.

Posted on November 24, 2015 and filed under Aliyah Annotated, Israel, Opinion.

Thanksgiving comes early for American students in Israel

For students at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI), the Jewish state has become a home away from home. Although some may be feeling homesick at this time of year, the school surprised them with a Thanksgiving feast fit for a Pilgrim. While Israelis carried on with a typical weekday, these American students—enrolled for a semester of studies, travel, concerts, and authentic Israeli experiences—were eagerly “gobbling” up all the tastes of home at last week’s meal. “When we bring these young people together from all around the world, especially from the U.S., they have a tremendous sense of wanting to be part of something larger, and they form a community. We help them, but what we’re really doing is helping the students invest in their own community,” said Rabbi Mordechai Cohen, AMHSI’s head of school. 

Posted on November 24, 2015 and filed under Israel, Features, U.S..

Jewish unity at stake: Israel must recognize and fund all sects of Judaism

Earlier this month at The Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “now, more than ever, we must work together to unite the Jewish people. I will always ensure that all Jews feel at home in Israel.” Now that Netanyahu has made that pledge, it is our responsibility to ensure he lives up to his promise and to give him the moral support he needs to stand up to opponents of change, writes Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute.

Posted on November 24, 2015 and filed under Israel, Jewish Life, Opinion.

Muslim nation of Morocco honored for saving Jewish sites and cemeteries

In a time of tension between major world religions, an enlightened experience on Nov. 19 at the New York Museum of Modern Art brought together distinguished members of different faiths, who convened to honor King of Morocco Mohammed VI for his effort to preserve Jewish burial places in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation. 

Posted on November 24, 2015 and filed under Features, World, U.S..

Bidding farewell to Ezra Schwartz, American victim of Palestinian terror

It was eerily quiet in the old Ben Gurion Airport building in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, considering the bustle of vacationers flying out to Eilat. In fact, of the 500 people gathered, many of them were students spending the year after high school in Israel’s yeshivas, seminaries, and assorted other programs. Still others were former neighbors of the Schwartz family, those who have made aliyah from the Boston suburb of Sharon, Mass., over the years. Deborah Fineblum, herself a former resident of Sharon, reports from the farewell ceremony in Israel for the late 18-year-old American "gap year" yeshiva student Ezra Schwartz, who was killed Nov. 19 in a Palestinian terror attack in Gush Etzion.

Posted on November 22, 2015 and filed under Israel, News, Features.

How to honor Ezra Schwartz

A memorial ceremony was held at Ben Gurion Airport just before the body of 18 year-old Ezra Schwartz was flown to the United States for burial last Saturday night. William Grant, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, was in attendance. Yet if the ceremony had taken place at the site of the attack in which Ezra was murdered, U.S. diplomats would have boycotted the event. That’s because the attack took place in Gush Etzion, and U.S. policy is to boycott the funerals of American victims of Arab terror if the funerals take place beyond the pre-1967 armistice line. American Jews need to press the Obama administration to take specific, concrete steps to demonstrate American solidarity with the American victims of Palestinian terror. Ending the boycott of victims’ funerals is just one small step among others offered by columnist Stephen M. Flatow, whose daughter was killed in a Palestinian terror attack in 1995.

Posted on November 22, 2015 and filed under Opinion, U.S., Israel.

The sounds of broken glass: reflections from Israel’s U.N. ambassador

This month, Jews around the world commemorate Kristallnacht—the night of broken glass. We do this to remember what happened on the fateful nights that marked the beginning of what would become the Holocaust. In Hebrew, the word for “remember” is “zachor.” But zachor doesn’t just mean recalling the events of the past. Zachor means learning the lessons of the past and putting those lessons into practice. Kristallnacht symbolized then, and now, how anti-Jewish legislation and anti-Semitic rhetoric lead to violence. It reminds us that the Holocaust began not with gas chambers, but with words, writes Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon.

Posted on November 19, 2015 and filed under World, Israel, Opinion.

UC Santa Cruz student warned to abstain from BDS vote over ‘Jewish agenda’

A Jewish member of the student government at University of California, Santa Cruz was warned to “abstain” from voting on a pro-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement) resolution because he is the president of the school's Jewish Student Union and was “elected with a Jewish agenda.”

Posted on November 18, 2015 and filed under Israel, News, U.S..

‘Mentor-candidate’ platform seeks to provide a new roadmap for aliyah

Six years ago, Israeli entrepreneur and start-up mentor Raphael Gross made a commitment to his rabbi that he would enable Jews to experience Israel in person. His ambition quickly became a larger undertaking with his establishment of the Israel Aliyah Fund (IAF), an online platform that reconsiders what Israel can offer Jews living in the diaspora. By facilitating the development of unique “mentor-candidate” relationships around the world, Gross hopes the IAF has the potential to prompt a new wave of Jewish immigration to the Holy Land and to change the Israeli mentality.

Posted on November 18, 2015 and filed under Features, Israel.

Dancing in the Moonlight: song of the Paris attacks

In a scene from the 2010 British film “Four Lions,” four jihadis are silent and pensive, listening to a somber recording of chanted verses from the Qu’ran. But as dawn breaks on the outskirts of London, they swap out the Qu’ran for the irrepressibly joyful song “Dancing in the Moonlight.” columnist Ben Cohen still laughs out loud when he watches that scene, although after the recent atrocities in Paris, he’s finding it slightly harder to appreciate the humor. The idea of a sovereign individual living harmoniously with other citizens who share common norms and social codes, and tolerate differences of opinion, is the greatest contribution that Western civilization has made. It is that idea that was attacked in Paris and that idea which we must now defend. And it’s why a song like “Dancing in the Moonlight,” which in normal times sounds pretty mundane, now comes across as a call to arms, writes Cohen.

Posted on November 18, 2015 and filed under Analysis, World.

From Egypt to Hebrew academia, an Arab’s transformation through education

“My main purpose is to explain beyond any reasonable doubt why a 12 and 13-year-old, instead of going on a bike ride…they go bring knives, kitchen knives, from their mother’s kitchen, and go try to stab Jews,” says Hussein Aboubakr Mansour. “This is not because they have any grievances against Israeli occupation. They are just 12. What kind of grievances could you build when you’re 12 years old?” Mansour’s words have more gravitas than those of many others commenting on radical Islam. A 26-year-old political refugee born and raised in a traditional, middle class Arab-Muslim family in Egypt’s capital of Cairo, he took some time during a two-week national U.S. speaking tour—sponsored by pro-Israel education group StandWithUs—for an interview with on the persecution he suffered under Egyptian regimes, his survival of Arab Spring chaos, and his current educational efforts. Now an assistant professor of Hebrew Studies at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., Mansour’s stated goal on the tour was to “educate people about anti-Semitism in the Arab world.”

Posted on November 18, 2015 and filed under Features, Israel, U.S., World.

Paris attacks ignite debate on religion of Syrian refugees

With evidence that one of the Islamist suicide bombers hid among Syrian migrants to France, the Paris terror attacks have raised concern among many American leaders that allowing Syrian refugees into the country would pose a security risk, while simultaneously igniting a debate on whether refugees’ religion should factor into their suitability for admittance. While more than half of the governors of U.S. states have said they will ban Syrian refugees from entering, Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush recently called on America to give priority to Middle Eastern Christian refugees because they do not pose a terrorism risk. “[Iraqi and Syrian Christians] are being persecuted and their case for asylum should stand. It will be very important to recognize Christians alongside Yazidis among the victims of genocide committed by ISIS, with the apparent charge of genocide leveled at ISIS in the works,” Joop Koopman, communications manager for the U.K.-based Catholic charity group Aid to the Church in Need, told

Posted on November 18, 2015 and filed under News, World, U.S., Christian.