For several decades, Israel’s enemies have actively and willfully defamed the Jewish state by comparing its actions to the atrocities committed by the worst villains in recent history. The most recent obscene analogy is the #JSIL hashtag on Twitter, which equates Israel with the Islamic State terror group. While there may be an instinct to ignore the #JSIL campaign as "the usual anti-Zionist suspects finding a new theme to play with," JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen writes that the Jewish community doesn’t have the luxury of complacency this time around.
U.S. President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and other officials met for approximately two hours in the Oval Office on Wednesday to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, and the American offensive against the Islamic State terrorist organization. Chief among the prime minister’s concerns was the Iranian nuclear issue, against the backdrop of perceptions that the U.S. is diplomatically edging toward Iran in the effort to combat Islamic State.
In a historic victory for American victims of terrorist attacks in Israel, a jury in a U.S. federal court recently found the Jordan-based Arab Bank liable for knowingly funding Hamas-affiliated individuals and organizations during the Second Intifada. But more tellingly, the case, which asserted violations by the Arab Bank of the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, could affect policies by banks worldwide. Terrorists and their funders are now “on notice that the U.S. judicial system will protect the right of the American victims to seek recovery, hold those [terrorists] fully accountable, and gain justice through our American courts,” one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Richard Heideman, told JNS.org.
As world leaders converged on New York City for the 69th United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to remind them that the threats Israel faces today could be their own problems tomorrow. “Israel is fighting a fanaticism today that your countries might be facing tomorrow,” said Netanyahu, who described all Muslim extremists—from Islamic State to Nigeria’s Boko Haram to Hamas to Iran—as branches of the same “poisonous tree.”
While this Rosh Hashanah marked the 5775th birthday of the world on the Jewish calendar, one humor-infused Jewish family of seven (including the dog) has a single year down and some serious catching up to do. On Sept. 29, 2013, co-creators Harvey Rachlin and Steven Duquette debuted an apolitical Jewish-themed comic strip, “The Menschkins,” which has been syndicated to Jewish newspapers and websites on a weekly basis by JNS.org. One year later, Rachlin reflects on the creative process. “We wanted to give readers a respite from politics and heavy issues, and to try to get them to smile or chuckle a bit with comics that hold up a mirror to Jewish life,” he says.
The 53rd installment of Harvey Rachlin's new comic strip, "The Menschkins." See the color version above, and the black and white version below. Click here for an introduction to the series. Click here for more JNS.org coverage on Jewish arts.
As the Republican party pushes to retake the majority of the U.S. Senate in the upcoming November midterm elections, which would give it control of both houses of Congress, a partisan shift in power may significantly affect a broad range of foreign policy and domestic social issues that are prioritized by American Jews.
Who are we at war with in the Middle East? Do we look sideways at Iran’s nuclear program for the sake of a successful campaign against Islamic State? Do we continue ignoring Qatari and Turkish backing for Hamas for the same reason? There is a real prospect that Iran will weaponize its nuclear program, thereby inaugurating an era of danger that will make the current one look like a picnic. Should that happen, the war against Islamic State will seem like a footnote in a broader story of western defeat in the Middle East, rather than the opening gambit of a strategy to confront and defeat the enemies of freedom across the region, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
In the wake of the recent historic verdict by a federal court in Brooklyn that found Jordanian Arab Bank Plc liable for knowingly providing financial services to Hamas, it’s important to remember that the decision can be more than just a message to financial institutions doing business with terrorists. The ruling in favor of 297 plaintiffs affected by 24 different Hamas attacks should also be a reminder of the human impact of terrorism, writes Dr. Zieva Dauber Konvisser, author of the new book “Living Beyond Terrorism: Israeli Stories of Hope and Healing.”
As the Hebrew calendar turns to the year 5775, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shares his perspective and strategy, and analyzes the changing realities in the Middle East. "[Israel is] doing better while facing a harsher reality," he says in an interview with Israel Hayom. "The reality around us is that radical Islam is marching forward on all fronts. ... We are actually doing better now because on one of those fronts, Hamas has received a debilitating blow, the likes of which it hasn’t received since it seized control of the Gaza Strip."
As Rosh Hashanah approaches and the Jewish calendar turns to 5775, JNS.org takes a look at the biggest Jewish news stories from the past year, including the Israel-Hamas war, Palestinian unity and failed peace talks, anti-Semitism in Europe, the rise of Islamic State, and more.
Following Israel’s Operation Protective Edge this summer, Hamas continues to control the Gaza Strip and openly considers any truce with Israel as a time to re-arm for the next conflict. Across Israel’s northern border, Hezbollah has been fighting to preserve the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but still poses a danger to the Jewish state. Meanwhile, the Islamic State has exploded across Iraq and Syria in a spectacle of unprecedented brutality that could one day also knock on Israel’s door. What should Israel’s strategy be regarding this triumvirate of terror groups? JNS.org took the pulse of three Middle East and terrorism experts on the issue.
After a contentious debate lasting several years on the presence of anti-Israel texts in the public schools of Newton, Mass., a Boston suburb, an independent third party has issued a comprehensive 152-page report to try to bring some clarity to the situation. The Verity Educate non-profit's new report addresses more than 300 specific points of inaccuracy and inconsistency in the Newton school district’s Mideast curricula. But the school district did not respond to Verity Educate's three attempts to discuss the report before its release. “It actually was an anomaly,” Verity Educate Executive Director Ellen R. Wald told JNS.org regarding the Newton district's non-response. “In other instances, we’ve not only received responses, but have found that school districts were very interested in what we had to say and have responded not just cordially, but in many instances positively.”
Nationalisms are formed in response to the surrounding conditions that nurture them. For the Jews of Europe, Zionism was a means to ensure survival in the physical sense of that word. For the Jews of Israel, Zionism reinforces the sense of a common destiny, of flourishing as an independent society even as too many of their neighbors question their right to be there in the first place. But no one has ever challenged the existence of a country called Scotland, and the Scots have never experienced the sheer barbarism of a modern-day genocide. That is the difference between Scottish nationalism and Zionism, and part of the reason why the defeat of the Scottish independence effort makes sense, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
When Noah Slepkov started using online genealogical tools to build a family tree, little did he know that his personal exploration might have significant implications for all of the Jewish people—including those not even aware of their Jewish roots. “I was fascinated by the ability of normal genealogical tools to find relatives,” says Slepkov, an associate fellow of the Jewish People Policy Institute think tank in Jerusalem. “When I realized the potential of combining that with DNA techniques, it is quite amazing what can be done.” A subsequent report penned by Slepkov on direct-to-consumer DNA testing's implications for the Jewish community was the basis for a set of recommendations presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the entire Israeli cabinet this summer.