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.

Latest News

Prominent dovish American Jewish leaders are distancing themselves from claims by two leading Israeli left-wing figures that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu encouraged the recent wave of Palestinian arson attacks. Leaders of dovish organizations including the Israel Policy Forum, Partners for Progressive Israel, and Americans for Peace Now took issue with the controversial anti-Netanyahu statements by Peace Now co-founder Amiram Goldblum and Member of Knesset Zehava Gal-On (Meretz).

Democratic and Republican lawmakers are vowing to challenge a limit on U.S. defense aid for Israel that President Barack Obama included in the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between the two nations. The agreement—reached in September—guarantees Israel $38 billion in aid over 10 years, but it also states that if Congress increases the aid, Israel is obliged to return the extra funds. U.S. Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Texas), Randy Weber (R-Ariz.), and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday at Agudath Israel of America’s legislative luncheon in New York that the restriction is "unconstitutional" because it would interfere with the ability of Congress to fulfill its mandate as a co-equal branch of the federal government. Engel vowed to "fight every step of the way" to bring about the revocation of the aid limit.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented Monday on the Israeli Air Force (IAF) strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria, saying Israel will not allow any radical jihadist group to get a foothold on its borders. The IAF mounted two strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria between Sunday and Monday. The air force killed four Islamic State operatives Sunday after the terrorists fired mortars and artillery on Israel Defense Forces Golani Brigade troops patrolling the Israel-Syria border. Monday's strike targeted an Islamic State post on the southern edge of the Syrian Golan Heights.

Improving weather conditions, a massive influx of support from the international community and efforts by Israeli first responders have enabled the Jewish state to get raging wildfires under control. Israel’s Arab and Muslim allies were instrumental in helping the Jewish state combat the flames, with Egypt, Jordan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority all aiding the relief efforts.

A controversial bill to limit the volume of Muslim calls to prayer from mosques across Israel pits freedom of religious expression against the right to be protected from unwanted religious intimidation. The bill’s supporters contend that the calls’ noise negatively affects the quality of life of nearby residents of all faiths, including some Muslims, particularly the midnight and pre-dawn calls that often wake adults and small children. Opponents of the bill suggest that the measure was offered specifically to discriminate against mosques and that it inflames religious tensions.

Against the backdrop of this month’s long-overdue leadership elections for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, the Palestinians living in the West Bank face an uncertain future after more than a decade of stagnant rule. “The older generation has lost its ability to lead without leaving a younger generation behind that follows any clear organized path,” Nathan Brown, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University and expert on Arab affairs, told JNS.org. “The real problem is that there are no institutions or structures that can lead Palestinians now; there has been a steady decay in all bodies.”

Any newspaper that makes political endorsements runs the risk of alienating readers who disagree with the publication’s candidate of choice. Angry letters and canceled subscriptions come with the territory. Against that backdrop, hundreds of American newspapers still endorsed presidential candidates in 2016. How did Jewish community newspapers handle this choice? A JNS.org analysis of website content from about 100 American Jewish news outlets found that Jewish media were more reluctant than their mainstream media counterparts to make endorsements, with a total of eight Jewish outlets endorsing Clinton and three endorsing Trump. JNS.org examines the decision-making processes and reader reactions at Jewish newspapers that endorsed candidates.

Jewish organizations who had been at the forefront of anti-Semitism allegations against Stephen K. Bannon, President-elect Donald Trump’s newly named chief strategist and special counselor, softened their stance Thursday. Following the Anti-Defamation League's release of a new backgrounder on Bannon, National Council of Jewish Women CEO Nancy Kaufman told JNS.org that she “will be hesitant to use the word anti-Semite going forward” when commenting on the incoming White House official.

A growing number of pro-Israel activists and Jewish community figures are expressing concern that Minnesota’s U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison will turn the Democratic Party away from Israel if he is elected party chairman. New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat who represents a heavily Jewish district in Brooklyn, told JNS.org that Ellison "is the most radical candidate imaginable, someone who represents the extreme left wing of the party...Ellison is being backed by all the wrong people if you care about Israel."

The election victory by Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman who has never held political office and is a neophyte on foreign policy, has left many observers wondering about the future direction of U.S. policy abroad. Against that backdrop, supporters of Israel are immediately focusing attention on Trump’s approach to the much-discussed Iran nuclear deal, which was approved by the Obama administration and five other Western governments in July 2015. As a presidential candidate, Trump made a variety of comments regarding his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, ranging from calls for stronger inspections to entirely nixing the Obama administration’s signing of the pact. Trump “has cultivated a fair amount of ambiguity towards how he would approach the Iranian nuclear deal...this ambiguity is best exemplified by Trump's claims of both renegotiating and tearing up the [deal],” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Although it will be some time before President-elect Donald Trump names the members of his cabinet, the four individuals most often mentioned as contenders for the administration’s top foreign policy post all have strong pro-Israel records. 

Election night brought mixed results for Jewish politicians vying for seats in Congress. In the House of Representatives, the Jewish delegation saw its best results, increasing representation from 19 to 23 seats, including the election of a rare Jewish Republican.

Anti-establishment Republican candidate Donald Trump earned what many considered a shocking victory over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton Tuesday, officially ushering in the countdown to a new era in U.S.-Israel relations. While the last eight years have been marked by policy disagreements between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, Netanyahu and Trump will agree on at least one major issue: opposition to the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Demolition orders for a West Bank Jewish community, plans to build a replacement for that community, and proposed legislation that would legalize Israeli "outpost" communities are at the center of ongoing internal political debate in Israel and intense international scrutiny. What's the practical difference between an Israeli "settlement" and an "outpost?" JNS.org explores the issues at play.

Major Jewish groups are united in their opposition to President Barack Obama's reported plan for a "December surprise" to undercut Israel and bolster the campaign for a Palestinian state.

The Lebanese parliament elected as its president Michael Aoun, a retired general from the Lebanese Civil War, is a polarizing figure whose Christian political party, the Free Patriotic Movement, is an ally of the terror group and political party Hezbollah. What does this mean for Israel?

In Israel, Democrats and Republicans have been scrambling to secure support for their respective candidates among American expatriates for months. But the two campaigns have been radically different in their budgets, strategy and the overall visibility of their ground games.

A Ukrainian legislator from the city of Kharkiv, Oleksandr Feldman, discovered that Facebook deleted one of his posts expressing criticism of his country’s lionization of Holocaust collaborators earlier this week.

With the upcoming renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), which enables a range of sanctions targeting Iran's nuclear program and ballistic missile tests, the best message we can send to the Iranians is that the United States isn't as easily fooled and seduced as their lackeys in the European Union, writes JNS.org's Ben Cohen.

Archaeologists unveiled a 2,700-year-old papyrus fragment, described as “the earliest extra-biblical source to mention Jerusalem in Hebrew writing” the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said Wednesday.