It’s widely known that Israel has penetrated the wine market, with some of its sophisticated Israeli blends surpassing historically excellent wines from areas such as the Napa Valley or Bordeaux. But what about beer? For decades, Israel has offered solely the Maccabi and Nesher brands. Not anymore. “There is a huge push of people making beer at home. The country is approaching over 30 craft breweries in the last year or two, making nearly 200 beers,” says Avi Moskowitz, owner and founder of Beer Bazaar, Israel’s latest brewery and bar, which is located in Jerusalem.
France’s announcement that it will try to convene an international conference to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been strongly criticized by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But before anyone concludes that only “right-wingers” oppose such a conference, it’s worth recalling that one of the most outspoken critics of the conference idea was prominent peace process player Yitzhak Rabin, writes columnist Stephen M. Flatow.
Members of the family of Hadar Cohen, the Israeli Border Police officer who was killed in a Palestinian terrorist attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday, gathered at their home in Or Yehuda on Thursday to mourn their loss. Her aunt, Zehavit Cohen, expressed her dismay that the 19-year-old rookie policewoman who had not yet completed basic training was posted at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate—a spot notorious for being the site of numerous terrorist attacks. “After a mere two months of service, I think it was too much,” Zehavit said. At the same time, Cohen killed one of the terrorists at the scene on Wednesday, helping prevent what could have been a larger attack.
2016 may well be remembered as the year that Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel finally died its death—in a clinical sense, at least. Across the U.S., state legislatures are passing bills that will outlaw state authorities from investing public funds in, and entering into contracts with, companies and other entities that engage in a boycott of Israel. You have to imagine that, at a certain point, the smarter inhabitants of the BDS movement will figure out that they are campaigning for a set of demands that, in effect, cannot be implemented, because the sanctions that potentially come with implementation are too great. So where, then, will this movement go? BDS will not disappear—it will adapt, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week confirmed that one person has contracted the Zika virus sexually in Texas. The Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits Zika is not endemic to Israel, and only one Zika infection has been detected in the Jewish state, in a child that had been on a trip to Colombia. But given that the World Health Organization this week declared Zika as a world health emergency, the story has gone viral (pun intended) in the Israeli, American, and international media. Amid the numerous headlines on Zika, what’s fact and what’s fiction? JNS.org gains insight on the subject from Israeli expert Dr. Hagai Levine, head of the environment and health track at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical Center School of Public Health, and the former head of the epidemiology section of the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps.
Eliana Rudee has always identified with the entrepreneurial type, which she believes is synonymous with the Israeli type and the Jerusalemite. As her life and work continue to unfold in a city of up-and-coming change agents and entrepreneurs, Rudee writes in her latest "Aliyah Annotated" column that she feels fortunate to take part in Jerusalem’s visible and inspiring transformation.
Last week’s deaths of seven Hamas terrorists in the collapse of a tunnel they were digging coincided with complaints by residents of an Israeli town near Gaza that underground digging has come so close to their homes that they have felt their floors shake. We thought the Hamas terror tunnels were a thing of the past. They were supposed to have been destroyed in the 2014 Gaza war. The Obama administration promised that safeguards would be in place to ensure that cement entering Gaza would be used for houses that were damaged in the fighting. But the Israelis were right that cement would be used for terror tunnels. Now it’s time for all the Obama administration officials who had a hand in this fiasco to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions, and to endorse Israel’s right to intervene, writes columnist Stephen M. Flatow.
The Israeli government’s passage of legislation that authorizes egalitarian prayer in a soon-to-be-created 9,700-square-foot, NIS 35 million ($8.85 million) section adjacent to the southern part of the Western Wall (Kotel in Hebrew) has been called groundbreaking, empowering, dramatic, and unprecedented. Beyond the blueprints, the ratified plan is a paradigm shift—a powerful statement about the overt impact Diaspora Jewry and global Jewish leaders could have on Israeli decision-making. “I am sure that the [Israeli] government must now take into account—should take into consideration—the position of world Jewry on the decisions it makes,” Hagay Elizur, senior director of diaspora affairs for Israel’s Ministry of Public Diplomacy & Diaspora Affairs, told JNS.org.
For one weekend at the Westin Pasadena hotel in the Los Angeles area, hallway conversations were conducted mostly in Russian and Hebrew, with English taking a back seat from Jan. 29-31. The weekend marked the inaugural convention on the West Coast for Limmud FSU, an organization dedicated to sparking a cultural renaissance among Jews who trace their roots back to the former Soviet Union. “There’s no America without coming to the West Coast,” said Chaim Chesler, the organization’s founder. “To cover the united states you have to start with the east and go to the west.”
The 2016 U.S. presidential race has been high on twists, with billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump and socialist Bernie Sanders leading in many polls. But the topsy-turvy journey might just be getting started. As voters prepare to cast their first ballots in Iowa and New Hampshire, former New York City mayor and Jewish billionaire Michael Bloomberg, whose net worth dwarfs even that of Trump, is reportedly considering an independent run for president. “[Bloomberg] would make an exceptional candidate for a variety of reasons, in particular for the Jewish community. He has always shown himself to be a big supporter of Israel in different ways, such as donating his personal money in various charities,” said Stan Steinreich, president and CEO of Steinreich Communications, a New Jersey-based public relations firm that also has an office in Israel.
During a recent mission to Israel by students from Yeshiva University (YU) and its affiliate for women, Stern College, the students immersed themselves in the challenges Israeli citizens are facing during the current wave of Palestinian terror. They met with victims of terror; engaged with first responders from emergency service groups; dialogued with lone soldiers; paid a shiva call to the family of slain mother of six Dafna Meir; and learned from leaders such as Rabbanit Chana Henkin, whose son and daughter-in-law were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in October 2015. “I do a lot of sharing on social media so people know what’s going on in Israel. I pray—but I see that the best solidarity is coming to Israel,” says YU junior Shlomo Anapolle.
While a high-profile Christian pastor, Saeed Abedini, saw his freedom as part of Iran’s recent release of five American prisoners, the persecution of Christians in Iran rages on with no end in sight and no indication that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will prioritize the release of about 100 Christians who have been imprisoned for believing in a faith other than Islam.
In Huffman, Texas—on the outskirts of Houston, America’s fourth-largest city, yet seemingly in the middle of nowhere—there’s a cross-bearing building in an otherwise empty grass field that houses the Global Peace Initiative (GPI). These are quite the humble environs for GPI’s founder, Indian-born Dr. K.A. Paul, a man who has been described as “the world’s most popular evangelist” by The New Republic. Paul says his charity and peace work has reached 148 countries, hundreds of thousands of orphans and widows in need, and the millions of people who have attended his peace rallies. Global media have reported on how he convinced Liberian dictator Charles Taylor to resign and persuaded Haitian rebel leader Guy Philippe to lay down his arms. Also in Paul’s travel log: meetings with late Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Paul is best described as an international man of mystery. He’s also staunchly pro-Israel, which may surprise you given the aforementioned characters he has met with. His mission last summer: defeat the Iran nuclear deal. His current mission: muster the power of America’s 90 million evangelical Christians to help defeat Democratic contender Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
The Indiana House of Representatives this week passed new legislation that targets businesses or other entities that engage in the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, marking the latest victory in the fight against BDS on the U.S. state level. House Bill 1378, which was introduced by Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma and was passed unanimously by the legislature on Jan. 25, requires “the public retirement system to divest from businesses that engage in action or inaction to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel.” The Indiana bill follows the passage of anti-BDS measures in Tennessee, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Illinois, while similar legislation has been proposed in California.
Whenever the Iranians demonstrate to us that they view our democracy and our way of life with contempt, there will be a chorus of Western politicians and commentators who try to change the subject, typically by talking about the malicious designs of Israel’s elected leader. President Barack Obama has set the standard on this one for the last eight years, and his media echo chamber dutifully follows. They’ll even make stuff up if that’s what’s needed, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.