An Israeli government review of the death of 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura during the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000 has officially debunked a French television report suggesting he was killed by direct Israel Defense Forces fire.
The news that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) unfairly targeted conservative groups has brought renewed spotlight on a 2010 lawsuit filed by the pro-Israel group Z Street, which alleges it was also singled out by the IRS when applying for tax-exempt status. But Z Street’s claims, if true, would not mark the first time the IRS has been used against Jewish activists. During the Holocaust era, the object of U.S. government wrath was the Bergson Group, a political action committee led by Peter Bergson (Hillel Kook), a Zionist emissary from Palestine.
By the time Israel Defense Forces Captain Ziv Shilon realized an explosive device had detonated near him while on patrol near the Gaza border, his left hand was torn off and his right hand was still hanging on by just a few pieces of skin. Ten surgeries and months of rehabilitation later, his left hand has been replaced by a hook prosthesis and his right hand is paralyzed. But wounds won't stop him from returning to army combat one day, he says. “Defending the state of Israel is a need that still burns inside of me,” Shilon tells JNS.org.
Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, a member of the South African Parliament and founder of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), sees irony in how the anti-Israel attitudes of his country’s mainstream politicians are depriving them of benefits the Jewish state could bring them.“African politicians who have contaminated water will boycott Israel, whose technology and whose scientists could help bring clean water to the many thousands of Africans who now don’t have it and need it desperately,” Meshoe told JNS.org.
ELEM vans go where the children are in Israel—venturing into dark and dangerous streets. At the forefront of these efforts to get troubled youths off the street is the ex-wife of former Israeli prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak. “Kids know the van means safety,” Nava Barak, president of ELEM-Youth in Distress in Israel, said in an interview with JNS.org. “The vans go to center city and look for the youth to give them emergency help on the spot.”
Writer Jonathan Ames, creator of the HBO television series “Bored to Death,” is known for his fearless and exhibitionistic persona. One can find YouTube videos of him eating herring and boxing at the same time, having knives thrown at him by a person called “Throwdini,” and ranting drunkenly at an awards ceremony. It was somewhat surprising, then, that his recent trip to Israel made his Jewish mother happy. “My mom, for the entire length of my writing career which began in 1989, was saying, ‘I wish your book would come out in Israel,’” Ames told JNS.org.
Hennes Paynter Communications, a firm co-owned by a Jewish resident of Cleveland, has been tapped to handle public relations for the victims of the Cleveland kidnappings that have become a global news sensation. Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight on May 6 broke free of Ariel Castro’s house after nine to 11 years of captivity. “The strategy right now is to give the women time and to preserve the integrity of the court case,” Bruce Hennes, the Jewish co-owner of Hennes Paynter Communications, told the Cleveland Jewish News.
The recently reported Israeli airstrikes on Syria, which were neither confirmed nor denied by the Jewish state, targeted weapons depots allegedly storing Iranian-made weapons intended for the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah. While the transfer of high-grade weapons may pose a direct threat to Israel’s security, there are greater questions about a tectonic shift in the balance of power in the Middle East. "Iran as been exerting increasing influence across the region, in countries including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and even in the Gulf States, such as Kuwait and Bahrain," Israel Defense Forces Brig. Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira told JNS.org.
Since the Boston Marathon explosions in April, the largely Muslim Russian territory of the North Caucasus has come back to the forefront via Chechnya, where the family of the bombers' father originated, and nearby Dagestan, the native land of the bombers' mother. Flashbacks to the wars of the 1990s between Russia and Chechen separatists, and alerts of Islamic insurgency spilling out of Chechnya, appear more prominently in news outlets. Just this week, a bomb exploded and killed two teenagers in Dagestan’s capital, Makhachkala. Less is heard about the region’s Jewish community—which, although dwindling, continues to maintain relative calm while living in a violent region, or so its members say.
Chaya Appel-Fishman hatched the idea for a network of Jewish businesswomen at age 16, when she rented a college campus and created a conglomerate of creative arts programs with 120 participants and a 20-person staff. Now 24 and the founder and executive director of The Jewish Woman Entrepreneur nonprofit, Appel-Fishman was the driving force behind the organization’s first conference, which took place this month. “This conference wasn’t meant to be just about work-life balance,” Appel-Fishman tells JNS.org. “We wanted to blend core, substantive business content as well as challenging, difficult issues and also networking to encourage women to meet and support each other.”
Canadian author Menachem Kaiser, who arrived in Vilnius two years ago to begin a Fulbright Scholarship focused on Holocaust research, has launched the Vilnius Ghetto Project, an online effort to digitally remap and reclaim the space originally occupied by the Vilnius Ghetto “as a historical site.” Kaiser’s team of cartographers and historians has produced an integrated tool that uses latitude and longitude coordinates to piece together the layout of the old city while integrating textured stories, timelines, biographies, and photographic exhibits.
Most commonly compared of late due to the Boston Marathon bombings, Israel and Massachusetts recently displayed their common ground of innovation when the Combined Jewish Philanthropies hosted Yosef Abramowitz, president of pioneering Israeli solar energy companies Arava Power and Energiya Global, and Israeli venture capitalist Eyal Gura at the headquarters of MassChallenge, a Boston-based startup incubator which set up its first overseas office in Israel.
During his visit to China this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recalled that the city of Shanghai was “one of the few places that opened its gates” to Jews fleeing Hitler. Officials of the Chinese Communist government, standing nearby, beamed with pleasure at the expectation that people all over the world would read how their regime rescued Jews. But is that true? Historian Dr. Rafael Medoff examines the issue for JNS.org.