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.
Now that the U.S. and other P5+1 powers made an interim nuclear deal with Iran without Israel’s involvement, the Jewish state is free to act as it sees fit on the Iranian issue without consulting America, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said in an exclusive interview with JNS.org. “I think now [the Israelis] have really a license to act without having to be scolded for not having consulted the U.S. for their plans,” he said. When asked about the possibility of making a presidential run in 2016, Huckabee—the runner-up to U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in the 2008 Republican primary—said, “I’m looking at it very seriously.”
In a country engulfed by anti-government protests, Ukrainian Jews find themselves facing the same existential choice as the rest of the country. “Ukraine is now caught between a rock and a hard place,” Sam Kliger, the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) director of Russian Jewish community affairs, told JNS.org. “On the one hand they wanted to go West and to join the European Union; on the other hand they are pressured by Russia… to join the so-called customs union.”
The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) New England Region is being scrutinized for its treatment of allegations of anti-Israel teaching materials in the public school curriculum of Newton, Mass., as well as for the amount of credit it has taken for dealing with anti-Semitism at Northeastern University in Boston.
A proposed bill in the Moroccan legislature that would criminalize any contacts with Israel threatens to undermine the warm relations Morocco has with its Jewish community at home and abroad, as well as its growing international reputation as a rare model for success in the Arab world. Yet there is still optimism surrounding the relationship between Morocco and its Jews. “They (Moroccan Jews) are the witnesses of a possible peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews with full rights and duties,” Ambassador Serge Berdugo, secretary-general of the Moroccan Jewish community and ambassador-at-large for King Mohammed VI, told JNS.org.
The P5+1 powers and Iran over the weekend reached an interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear program that highlights the cultural and strategic differences of the major players affected—the U.S., Iran, and Israel. Iran will receive $7 billion in sanctions relief in exchange for what the deal’s opponents call modest checks and reductions on its nuclear development, including the promise by Iran to dilute all existing uranium stockpiles already enriched to 20 percent, while the country maintains its ability to enrich to 5 percent. “I’m afraid Israel is in the most dangerous situation it’s ever been,” U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) told JNS.org.
The recent double suicide bombing outside of Iran's embassy in Lebanon by an al-Qaeda-linked terror group is just the latest attack in a complex and growing sectarian war between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims. As Islam's two largest sects battle for supremacy, recent reports indicate that Israel and Saudi Arabia may have forged an unlikely alliance to thwart an Iranian nuclear weapon. Is the old adage "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" playing out? In interviews with JNS.org, noted Middle East scholars Dr. Efraim Karsh and Dr. Fouad Ajami weigh in on the direction of regional tension and what it means for Israel.
On the front line of the fight for recognition of the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, according to Jewish and Israeli leaders, is the United Nations. Since 1947, among the 687 U.N. resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 101 have referenced Palestinian refugees, but none have called attention to the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab nations. “Over the last 65 years, the U.N. and its agencies have spent tens of billions of dollars on Palestinian refugees, but not a cent on Jewish refugees,” said Silvan Shalom—Israel’s Minister of Energy and Water, whose grandfather was once the leader of the Jewish community in Gabes, Tunisia—during a Nov. 21 conference on Jewish refugees at the U.N.
Brandeis University on Monday announced the suspension of its decade-old partnership with Al-Quds University following a recent Nazi-style rally at the Palestinian school in Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon both focused on Palestinian incitement when responding to the murder of IDF soldier Eden Atias last week. Earlier this month, Netanyahu said Israeli-Palestinian talks were hindered “because I see the Palestinians continuing with incitement,” and last month, after a 9-year-old Israeli girl was shot, he said the Palestinian Authority (PA) “cannot evade responsibility for these incidents” as long as incitement continues in its media outlets. While top Israeli leaders attribute a lack of success in negotiations to PA incitement, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) equips them with much of their information on the topic. “The senior positions in Israeli government are using our material, accepting our material, and presenting this internationally, and this is impacting the way the entire world sees the Palestinian Authority,” PMW Director Itamar Marcus tells JNS.org.
At this year’s Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) General Assembly in Jerusalem—dubbed “The Global Jewish Shuk: A Marketplace of Dialogue and Debate”—Israeli organizations as diverse as the world-renowned Yad Vashem Holocaust museum to the fledgling Hasdera social change organization vied for the attention of the 1,500 North American delegates. Meanwhile, 22 sessions were packed into the one-and-a-half-day conference, headlined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s keynote address.
The Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) annual General Assembly, which took place in Jerusalem this year, provided a chance to debate the changing nature of American Jewry within the context of Israel-Diaspora relations. “We are now undergoing a real historical change,” Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel, told JNS.org. “Israel’s government must take more responsibility for strengthening Jewish identity and to do that our lawmakers must understand the uniqueness of the American Jewish community, its problems, and its challenges.”
With increasing reports of breakdowns in Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations and attempts to jumpstart them by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the parties involved in trying to create a framework for a negotiated peace deal are growing more distrustful of one another—and neither party particularly trusts the role of U.S. “It’s not just on this issue that the Americans display such naiveté, but it’s across the board. It’s Iran, it’s their policies vis-à-vis Pakistan, Russia, it’s everything,” Professor Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, told JNS.org.
With more 1.6 million members, Pastor John Hagee's Christians United For Israel (CUFI) has become a powerful force in pro-Israel advocacy in American politics. Yet many Jews remain skeptical of Evangelical support for Israel, a challenge Hagee continues to tackle while CUFI grows. “Before CUFI there was nothing to give American Evangelicals a national voice for Israel,” Hagee told JNS.org in an exclusive sit-down interview on the eve of a major dinner with Jewish leaders in his honor on Nov. 7 in New York.
Attitudes on Iran sanctions and the leaking of information on an Israeli airstrike in Syria have exacerbated the Obama Administration’s differences with the Israeli government, while pro-Israel groups in the U.S. find themselves caught in the crosshairs. “After AIPAC went out on a limb to support [Barack] Obama on a Syrian attack, don’t look for them to be running to Obama’s support now,” Lenny Ben-David—who served for 10 years as AIPAC’s director of research and information in Washington and then for 15 years as founder and director of AIPAC’s Israel office—told JNS.org.
One might refer to retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters as a military Renaissance man. The strategic analyst for Fox News has authored 29 books and novels, including “Cain at Gettysburg,” which earlier this year earned him the W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction from the American Library Association. Peters is also a vocal supporter of Israel whose career success has been colored by Jewish formative influences. “I started reading about Maimonides and other Jewish figures,” he told JNS.org at a briefing he gave last week for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). “And when I was at Penn State [University] becoming a writer, Jewish teachers took extra time with me—they saw something.”
With the backdrop of positive steps on Jewish-Catholic relations under Pope Francis I, more than 50 leaders from both faiths gathered in Madrid, Spain, on Oct. 13 for the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee (ICJLC) summit to further religious cooperation. “Many of the major topics that were discussed were issues that both faiths have in common. [Such as] combating racism, extremism, and violent attacks on religious institutions,” Betty Ehrenberg, chair of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC) and representative of the World Jewish Congress on the committee, told JNS.org.
A new World Bank report that blames Israel for shortcomings within the Palestinian economy may be based more on assumptions for the future than on current realities. The report postulates that the Palestinian economy would grow if Palestinians had access to invest in Dead Sea mineral works and tourism, areas that are currently controlled by Israel and could potentially remain in Israel’s possession as part of any bilateral permanent peace agreement. “Economic reports that are meant to prepare the Palestinians for statehood, as opposed to current economic realities, are not helpful,” said Steven Plaut, Professor of Economics at the University of Haifa.
A 1.5-mile tunnel running from the Gaza Strip to the Israeli border kibbutz Ein Hashlosha was uncovered last week, according to Israeli officials. The tunnel was meant for the abduction of Israeli soldiers or for a large terror attack. Subsequently, the Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday blew up a different tunnel that contained barrels of explosives intended for use by Gaza-based terrorists against IDF troops patrolling the border.
Materials that became known as the Iraqi Jewish Archive, discovered a decade ago in the flooded basement of the Iraqi intelligence ministry (Mukhabarat), will be featured in a Washington, DC, exhibit beginning Oct. 11. A 2003 agreement allowed the U.S. to restore and then display the materials, but stipulates that the archive will be returned to the Iraqi government when the project is completed. Stanley Urman, executive vice president of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, views that agreement as problematic. “We believe the agreement is based on a flawed premise, that premise being that the archives are the property of the Iraqi government. Our question is—how did they get into the basement of the Mukhabarat?” Urman told JNS.org.