News from Israel and the Jewish World
JNS.org is an editorial content and business-services resource for media, reaching global Jewish communities. Below you will find the most pressing, breaking news from Israel and the Jewish world. JNS.org is updated regularly and includes special Israel news through exclusive English-language syndication of content by Israel Hayom, one of Israel’s leading daily newspapers.
An Israeli-German spat has provided a prominent platform for research that documents the European Union’s funding of BDS and terrorism. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled an April 25 meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, due to the latter’s insistence on meeting with nonprofit organizations that campaign against the IDF and alleged Israeli human rights violations. The Israeli-German disagreement comes after the April 20 publication of a report detailing European governments’ funding of Palestinian civic organizations with ties to terrorism. “In his actions, Prime Minister Netanyahu is seeking to put this irresponsible NGO funding by Europe on the agenda, and to trigger long-overdue changes,” said NGO Monitor President Gerald Steinberg.
Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon recently announced a series of tax reforms aimed at assisting the middle class, taking advantage of a surplus of tax revenue. While Kahlon’s “Net Plan” may provide relief for some Israelis having difficulty coping with the country’s high cost of living, the plan raises questions about whether the finance minister was motivated by scoring political points. Amid ongoing rumors of early elections in Israel, Kahlon may have sought to take maximum credit for the populist reforms without sharing spotlight with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “My impression is that this is perceived as a bold act on the part of Kahlon,” said Gilad Brand, a researcher at the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel.
Throughout the seven decades since it declared independence, Israel has waged a struggle for legitimacy, navigating the global arena to find its place among the nations. While many factors went into Israeli independence, the U.N. Partition Plan of 1947 and subsequent Resolution 181 laid the foundation. For Israel’s 69th Independence Day, JNS.org looks at how four countries actively involved in the historic 1947 vote not only shaped Israeli history, but have robust current relationships with the Jewish state and might play key roles in the country’s future.
With its forces vastly outnumbered by Arab armies, Israel’s victory in the 1948 War of Independence was widely considered a modern-day miracle. The Jewish state shocked the world again in 1967 by significantly expanding its borders and reunifying Jerusalem during the Six-Day War. In 2017, the perceived miracles keep coming. Ahead of the 69th Israeli Independence Day, JNS.org recounts five of Israel’s latest crowning achievements.
For Israelis, this year’s Yom HaShoah commemorations marked a balancing act between caring for the Holocaust survivors who remain alive and planning for the education of future generations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Sunday of the need to “ensure quality of life and respectable existence for the Holocaust survivors in their remaining years.” Israel’s Ghetto Fighters’ House museum, meanwhile, inaugurates a new Holocaust education program that “will look at the role of the Holocaust in the collective minds one generation to two generations from now,” said Dr. Arye Carmon, board chairman of the museum.
Despite warnings from Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau to avoid Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, a hardcore of resolute Israeli tourists proceeded with plans to head to scenic beach resorts during the recent Passover holiday. In response, Israeli authorities—disturbed by intelligence of concrete Islamic State plots to target tourists in the Sinai—took the unprecedented step of shutting the Taba border crossing, thereby preventing travel to Egypt by land. Israel reopened the Taba crossing Friday, but reiterated that “the threat to Israelis in Sinai is still severe.” How did the Sinai’s current instability come to be? JNS.org correspondent Yaakov Lappin recounts a history of unheeded warnings and the emergence of Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate.
At the 2017 Evangelical Press Association (EPA) convention, the quest for “inspiration, instruction and interaction” could not escape the specter of dissension and controversy that has haunted the evangelical Christian media since President Donald Trump’s election. Political discourse aside, the conference lived up to its intended purpose of fostering unity by enabling media professionals to build relationships with representatives from Israel and the Jewish community. “I would say the majority of those who are a part of the EPA really have a commitment and a strong feeling toward Israel, in terms of supporting Israel,” said Jill Daly, Midwest director for Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, which was an EPA conference sponsor.
The New York Times ignited a controversy by publishing an article authored by Palestinian terrorist prisoner Marwan Barghouti, without mentioning that he is serving five life terms for the murder of civilians. But a more important discussion got lost amid the outrage about media bias. The question to be asked about this episode is not whether terrorism is significant enough to be worthy of mention, but why Barghouti is a likely candidate to succeed Mahmoud Abbas as head of the Palestinian Authority, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
Recent admissions by The New York Times and The Washington Post of errors in their coverage of Israel are rare exceptions to the “culture” of anti-Israel bias that permeates both newspapers, experts say. “If errors tend to consistently skew in one direction—and the anti-Israel skew of each of these major corrections is not a coincidence, but a trend—then newspapers need to look into a culture that seems especially indulgent with outlandish anti-Israel accusations,” said Gilead Ini, a senior research analyst for the CAMERA media watchdog group.
A day after convicted Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti wrote a New York Times op-ed that omitted his crimes and terrorist organization membership and sparked scathing rebuke from the international community, the newspaper added a brief editor’s note acknowledging the murder and terror-related convictions that led to his imprisonment.
The Israeli start-up SolarPaint’s technology can generate solar power by putting a nanoparticle-infused coating—known as “photovoltaic paint”—on roofs, walls and in the future, even roads. This technology could be a game-changer, directly confronting the problem of limited land resources that has traditionally challenged the solar industry. Eran Maimon, SolarPaint’s chief technology officer, foresees a significant change in the way electricity is delivered to consumers. “I think we will have more ‘prosumers’—producers that are also consumers,” he says.
When Mark Rosenblatt touched down at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv April 5 and powered on his cell phone, he got the surprise of his mobile technology life. Rosenblatt received a text message from his cell phone carrier, Verizon, reading, “Welcome to Palestine.” Attempting to explain the situation, Verizon spokesman Scott Charlston told JNS.org that Ben Gurion Airport “is close to the Israeli border [with the West Bank] and there are cell sites and wireless signals from different providers on both sides. In general, customers living in or visiting border areas occasionally receive a wireless signal from a cross-border provider.” Experts dismissed Verizon’s response on the grounds that no state of “Palestine” exists under international law.
While U.S.-Israel military ties have long been known for intelligence-sharing and jointly developed missile defense technology, veterans affairs could be a major new frontier in that relationship. Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan recently met with Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, in a first-of-its-kind meeting between American and Israeli policy officials responsible for the care of injured and released soldiers. “The level of anticipated cooperation brings what has long been a productive relationship [on military affairs], in terms of the purchasing of technology and sharing of information, to a whole new level,” Idit Druyan, an adviser to Ben-Dahan, told JNS.org.
A report from Palestinian Media Watch swiftly disabused JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen of the notion that one can discuss Passover in largely religious terms and avoid the political resonance flowing from the haggadah. Quite commonly in the Islamic world, there exists a level of hatred far beyond the objections to political Zionism that Palestinian leaders disingenuously claim lies at the root of their conflict with Israel. When confronting hateful beliefs and regimes, Cohen writes that a short, Passover-appropriate line suffices as a response: “Next year in Jerusalem.”
Wanana Abrams, a 28-year-old Israeli of Ethiopian origin, calls herself “just one of countless examples—along with thousands of other religious and ethnic minorities—of why the term ‘apartheid’ does not apply to the liberal democratic Jewish state.” Fittingly, then, Abrams was one of two representatives from Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center research university to travel to the South African city of Cape Town in March for the purpose of countering attempts to promote anti-Zionist activists’ “apartheid” smear about Israel. “I traveled to South Africa to tell my story, and to show the world the true face of my home country,” Abrams told JNS.org.
In an attempt to be kind and appease international criticism, the Israeli government allows numerous trucks with supposedly “humanitarian” items to enter Hamas-ruled Gaza each day. It’s a big risk, because Hamas repeatedly has exploited Israel’s kindness by using the humanitarian shipments as means of smuggling in materials that can be used for terrorism. They did it again earlier this month. In the past, the Obama administration incorrectly assured Israel that Gaza-bound cement would not be misused. The Trump administration needs to learn from such mistakes, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.
While the international community hangs on to visions of a two-state solution, Israeli public opinion is unified in asserting that the establishment of a Palestinian state is unrealistic and undesirable. Only 12 percent of Jewish Israelis believe a West Bank withdrawal would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a survey published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs at the end of March. The survey also found that 79 percent of Jewish Israelis believe it is important to retain a unified Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty. “The Palestinian insistence on having their capital in Jerusalem is the true obstacle to peace,” Prof. Efraim Inbar of Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies told JNS.org.
Israeli leaders welcomed President Donald Trump’s surprise military action late Thursday to strike the airbase where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was believed to have launched a chemical attack resulting in the deaths of at least 86 Syrians, including 27 children. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel “fully supports” Trump’s decision and the message it sends. Israel said it had been notified ahead of the U.S. strike, with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman calling the advance notice “further proof of the strength of the relationship and depth of the connection between Israel and its largest ally, the United States.”