First coined by historian Ronald Radosh, an alternative interpretation of the BDS acronym – the "Bibi Derangement Syndrome" – has risen up again among leading figures in the Jewish establishment in the context of the debate over the Iran nuclear deal. Viewing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu as a cross between a Bond villain and a diva, these leaders need to ask themselves whether their distaste for the Israeli leader has clouded their collective judgment, writes JNS.org columns Ben Cohen.
Seventeen Republican presidential candidates are vying for the support of evangelical Christian voters from the swing states of Ohio and Florida, to the cornfields of Iowa, to the small towns of the Deep South. Within the varied spectrum of 2016 election issues such as the economy, immigration, and health care, do evangelicals highly prioritize candidates’ positions on Israel and the Middle East? “Yes,” say major evangelical leaders in America. “Israel should be top-of-mind when evaluating GOP presidential candidates,” Republican candidate Mike Huckabee told JNS.org.
You won’t read about it in the mainstream media, but this week’s arrest of four Palestinian terrorists who were plotting to attack Joseph’s Tomb tells you everything you need to know about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today. The terrorists are all residents of Palestinian Authority-controlled territory, and the purpose of the foiled attack was to murder Jews at prayer and destroy a Jewish holy site. Nobody can pretend that such an attack would be related to settlements or refugees or borders or any other political and diplomatic controversies. Thus, the choice of the target reveals volumes about the Palestinian Authority's true sentiment, writes columnist Stephen M. Flatow.
In Lviv, a Ukrainian city near the Polish border, perhaps the most emblematic symbol of a forgotten Jewish past is the Golden Rose synagogue. In 1941, during the destruction of Lviv’s Jewish population by the Nazis, the structure somehow escaped total obliteration. Now, the ruins sit in a rapidly gentrifying portion of the downtown area, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Nearly 80 years after the 16th-century synagogue was plundered, a battle over its masonry remains is now being fought in the Ukrainian courts and within the local Jewish community.
Drivers passing through a particular corner of the hills surrounding Jerusalem often do a double-take from the car window when they spot not one, but two way-more-than-life-sized statues of Elvis. Unless, of course, they’re among those who make a special pilgrimage to the Elvis Inn—a restaurant, convenience store, and gas station located in the small hillside town of Neve Ilan. Where else can Israelis or those visiting the Jewish state hear all-Elvis, all-the-time piped into a 1950s-style diner while they feast on burgers and fries? Where else can they purchase a postcard with Elvis wearing tefillin in front of the Western Wall? JNS.org profiles the Elvis Inn.
It was a brave—some may argue foolhardy—lot who recently braved the August heat of the Negev desert to walk a short segment of the Israel National Trail (INT) at around noontime. But the nearly 100 young men in blue Israel Defense Forces t-shirts didn’t appear to mind the blazing white heat. They were on the INT (Shvil Yisra’el in Hebrew, though to most Israelis it’s just “the Shvil”) to train. “We get lots of practice on different altitudes,” says Aaron Lion, 20. “The Shvil is a really good place to learn how to survive in lots of different conditions.” Now celebrating its 20th year, the INT takes a meandering 620-mile route from Kibbutz Dan, among Israel’s northernmost points, to the southern tip of Eilat’s Gulf of Aqaba.
The mere mention of the “f-word” (feminist) sparks apprehension and even resentment in many people. Yet in the six weeks since Eliana Rudee moved to Israel, she been inspired by Israel’s special brand of feminism. So what exactly is Israeli feminism, and how do Israeli women differ from American women? Rudee explains in the latest edition of her "Aliyah Annotated" column for JNS.org.
Two very different ways to respond to terrorism were on display this week. On a train headed to Paris, unarmed American civilians risked their lives to subdue a Muslim terrorist who attempted to machine-gun train passengers. In New York City, the Obama administration successfully intervened in court on behalf of Palestinian terrorists who are trying to avoid paying compensation to their victims. The juxtaposition of these two incidents reminds us of the choice that faces America and the entire civilized world today: the choice between fighting terrorists and appeasing them. Stephen M. Flatow, who undertook the first federal lawsuit against Iran for sponsoring the Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995 in which his daughter Alisa was murdered, has bitter personal experience with U.S. government efforts to interfere in attempts by terror victims to gain restitution.
Decades ago, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein cracked the seemingly cryptic code on relations between Jews and evangelical Christians, arriving at a groundbreaking distinction between “witnessing” and “proselytizing.” Today, Eckstein’s International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has a base of 1.5 million individual Christian donors for whom “witnessing” means blessing the Jewish people and Israel. In 2014, The Fellowship raised $136 million for global Jewish needs such as aliyah, poverty, and security. Amid the release of “The Bridge Builder,” a new biography of Eckstein, the rabbi is mulling what might be his next “Mission: Impossible”—thwarting the widespread persecution of Middle East Christians, most notably at the hands of the merciless Islamic State terror group. Eckstein looks back and ahead on his life’s work in an interview with JNS.org.
Germany is known for a strong state-level commitment to atoning for its Holocaust past, manifested through formal ceremonies, museums, and monuments. At the same time, in a seemingly growing trend, the extremist anti-Israel analogy of the Israeli government to the Nazi regime can often outweigh Germans’ Holocaust guilt. This pattern has been illustrated by the “Stolpersteine”—plaques naming Holocaust victims that are also known as “stumbling block” memorials. Some representatives of the memorial initiative have expressed harsh anti-Israel sentiments. “For people who need national identification as a source for personal wellbeing and pride, and on a collective level for the ‘nation’ while pursuing its interests, being confronted with [that nation’s own] crimes is always a moral threat,” said Peter Ullrich, a sociologist at Technical University of Berlin.
As the 10-campus University of California system considers the adoption of the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, there are critics who seek to discredit the entire definition with three fictions presented as fact. Groups like Palestine Legal and Jewish Voice for Peace have launched an all-out campaign that falsely claims first, that the definition conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, second, that the definition has been discredited, and third, that its adoption is inimical to free speech, writes R. Amy Elman, the Weber Professor of Social Science at Kalamazoo College in Michigan.
On a hot mid-August day in Boston, when many of the city’s tens of thousands of college students had yet to arrive in their parents’ SUVs and U-Haul trucks, more than 60 pro-Israel student leaders from across North America huddled together in a hotel. While most people their age might be holding down gritty summer jobs or vacationing on a beach, these students were passionately discussing topics ranging from media bias on Israel, to the BDS movement, to the persecution of Middle East Christians as part of the Aug. 16-19 Student Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). A media watchdog organization that doesn't hesitate to take on giants like the New York Times or the Associated Press when it sees inaccuracies or bias, CAMERA imparts the same type of fearless attitude when it comes to anti-Israel activity on college campuses.
The mask of anti-Zionism is falling before our eyes. BDS movement patron Jeremy Corbyn, who has called the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups “our friends,” is the current front-runner in the battle for the leadership of the U.K.'s Labour Party and is leading the charge against the British presence of the Israeli soccer team. The American-Jewish singer Matisyahu was disinvited from a reggae festival in Spain because he refused to condemn Israel. We need to send a wake-up call to anti-Zionists that substituting the word “Zionist” for “Jew” is a shabby trick, and we are smarter than that, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. “Kosher bakeries sell versions that are dry and filled with over-processed fillings, giving the cookies a fake, too-sweet taste,” says kosher pastry chef Paula Shoyer. “As a result, I rarely buy them, or even eat them, at kosher events. The only rugelach I have enjoyed in years are from Zabar’s in New York, and those are good because they are made with butter and have so much chazerei (Yiddish for junk) in the filling.”
The 93rd installment of Harvey Rachlin's comic strip, "The Menschkins." Click here for more JNS.org coverage on Jewish arts.