Latest News on Israel and the Jewish World

JNS.org freelance reporters and staff editors strive to provide high quality news coverage of the latest news from Israel and the Jewish world. In this section JNS.org offers analytical reports and commentaries on politics and international affairs, culture and lifestyle features, arts and sports content, and religious news. For the latest news on Israel, we also include exclusively syndicated content from Israel Hayom, a major daily newspaper in Israel. If you are interested in a specific topic, please browse through the content “categories” in our navigation bar or search our site.

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While anti-Semitism in Europe and anti-Zionism on U.S. college campuses are on the upswing, how is American Christian support for Israel trending? Stronger than ever, says the founder of the country’s largest pro-Israel organization. “I can assure you that the evangelical Christians of America support Israel right now in a more aggressive mood than at any time in my lifetime,” Pastor John Hagee, chairman of the 1.8-million member Christians United for Israel (CUFI), told JNS.org after 5,000 people attended CUFI's 33rd annual “A Night to Honor Israel” in San Antonio.

Ammunition Hill seems to historically always be in harm’s way. It got its name during the 1930s as a storehouse for British ammunition and was the scene of major battles between Jordan and Israel during both the War for Independence and the Six Day War, due to its strategic location as gateway to the Mt. Scopus area and ultimately the Old City. These days Ammunition Hill is perched on the border of Jewish and Arab neighborhoods now connected by the Jerusalem light rail, and the recent vehicular attack there showed that the site is anything but an ordinary rail station. “Look around and it doesn’t seem like we are at war, but we are at war,” says light rail passenger Ohela Avinir.

About a year after the American Studies Association’s (ASA) widely condemned vote to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, the organization’s policy on Israel is receiving renewed scrutiny over a practical application of that vote. The ASA’s 2014 annual meeting, to be held Nov. 6-9 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, has garnered criticism for a policy of excluding Israeli academics.

In Georgia, a state with a sizable Jewish voter block, the U.S. Senate race to fill the seat of the retiring Saxby Chambliss is attracting truckloads of cash from outside the state for advertising buys. “I think that voting in Georgia—not just Jewish voting but voting in Georgia—is likely to give us a glimpse of what the new demographic in the South is going to be like,” said Rabbi Jack Moline, director of the National Jewish Democratic Council.  

In a wide-ranging interview with Israel Hayom, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon gives his thoughts on the summer war with Hamas, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and U.S.-Israel relations. “We have a lot of shared interests with the U.S., and that outweighs the disputes,” he says. “Certainly there are shared values on which the two countries are founded. The disputes stem from differences in attitudes and worldviews. Their perspective from there is different than our perspective from here. Disputes are allowed.”

When circulated in both houses of the U.S. Congress, letters articulating the pro-Israel narrative on issues such as the Iranian nuclear threat and Hamas terrorism garner broad bipartisan support. Yet that support isn’t unanimous. How are federal legislators from your state weighing in on foreign policy issues prioritized by the Jewish community? JNS.org provides a picture through an analysis of three recent legislative letters.

After the latest Islamic riots on the Temple Mount, Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch warned that further disturbances will prompt Muslims to be prohibited from entering the compound. Muslim violence at the Temple Mount has reached a boiling point over routine Jewish visits to the holy site during the holiday of Sukkot. “If the Jews cannot go up to the Mount, the Muslims will not go up to the Mount,” Aharonovitch said.

What’s the cure for the recent ills of the United States Secret Service? American officials might consider taking some advice from their Israeli counterparts at the Shin Bet security agency. Former Israeli security and intelligence officials note that the Shin Bet, which also protects top dignitaries, has virtually the same tactics and training procedures as its American equivalent—without experiencing the same hiccups, at least in recent years. In 1995, the Shin Bet did experience its own crisis following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

After initially raising concern on the issue this summer, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is continuing to press the Nike footwear and apparel giant to remedy its promotion of a pre-World Cup animated video whose content has what critics call anti-Semitic overtones. ZOA is asking Nike to publicly apologize for the video, remove it from the public domain, and take other steps that would fall in line with how the company addressed a past episode that offended the Muslim community.

It’s hard not to take notice of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz’s good mood. After a long, exhausting, and somewhat bitter summer, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff is calm, happy, and at peace with himself and with the world. The 50-day Gaza war, which Gantz says Israel “absolutely” won, is in the rearview mirror. But Gantz still has plenty to worry about. On a tour of Tel Hezka in the Golan Heights, he tells Israel Hayom that there is a “very high potential for instability at any one of [Israel’s] fronts,” including Gaza, Sinai, Syria, and Lebanon. 

The holiest day on the Jewish calendar isn’t among the 10 holiest days on the United Nations calendar. But Israel and many other countries hope that changes by the time next year’s Day of Atonement arrives. In July, U.N. ambassadors from 32 countries wrote a letter to a U.N. General Assembly committee that urged the recognition of Yom Kippur as an official U.N. holiday. The committee begins deliberating on the Yom Kippur issue this month, with a possible decision coming by December. “[The recognition of Yom Kippur] can be an issue that bridges divisions and speaks to the universal values we all hold closely, including reconciliation, forgiveness, and tolerance,” Yotam Goren, a diplomat who works for Israel’s U.N. mission, told JNS.org.  

As nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 powers approach a Nov. 24 deadline for a final deal, more than 80 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives signed an Oct. 1 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing concern over Iran’s “refusal to fully cooperate” with inquiries from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N.-affiliated nuclear watchdog.

Following a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Oct. 1, Netanyahu rejected American criticism of an Israeli construction plan in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos. “I think [the Obama administration] should be acquainted with the facts first,” Netanyahu said. “You know? First of all, these are not settlements. These are neighborhoods of Jerusalem. We have Arab neighborhoods and we have Jewish neighborhoods.”

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.”  

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.

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.”