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JNS.org offers opinion and commentary on a variety of news and lifestyle topics. Shillman Analyst for JNS.org Ben Cohen is a regular contributor. To select another topic, choose from the other content “categories” in our navigation bar.

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H.R. 5732, also known as the Caesar Civilian Protection Act of 2016, passed through the House this week in a voice vote. The bill includes tough sanctions against individuals and entities associated with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, in such vital sectors as banking, airline and energy. It would also require the president to make available to Congress the names of Syrian regime war criminals. If passed into law, the measure would send a message to those who believe that Assad is now safe from international justice that many past dictators thought that they too would go on forever, but they were wrong, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.

After years of silence, the Obama administration has finally spoken out about an American citizen who was killed in Israel. There's just one catch. The focus of the administration's sudden concern is not one of the 141 Americans who have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists. It's a Palestinian-American terrorist who tried to murder Israelis, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.

Longstanding schisms within the Palestinian polity have adversely affected the development of institutions that will be needed for the envisioned Palestinian state and, indeed, for forging a consensus on negotiating the peace deal with Israel that is necessary to achieve a two-state solution. Unless there is some dramatic development at this week's Fatah party gathering in Ramallah, the true obstacle to moving forward towards a comprehensive and sustainable Israeli-Palestinian peace will be tragically clear, writes Kenneth Bandler of the American Jewish Committee.

The United Nations has made it a major priority to advocate for the resettlement of refugees, so the following fact may come as a surprise: 40 years ago this week, the U.N. actually condemned a country for resettling refugees. But this part may be less surprising: that country was Israel, writes Aron White of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

The New Israel Fund (NIF) recently received a grant to “research and report on anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses.” On the surface, this appears to be a welcome development—a progressive group being mobilized to confront a major social malady plaguing institutions of higher education.  Beneath the surface of the Sept. 27 grant, however, are vested interests seeking to use this issue to cover up their role in fomenting the atmosphere that is hostile to Jewish students. The NIF is being paid by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund—a main backer of the anti-Israel activism that contributes to, enables and devolves into anti-Semitism on college campuses, writes Yona Schiffmiller of the NGO Monitor research institute.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was at his repellent best when he was interviewed by Israeli television journalist Ilana Dayan this week. Although the interview was pegged to the restoration of Turkish-Israeli bilateral ties this past summer, Erdoğan used the occasion to spit his usual invective against Israel and Jews. As tempting as it is to conclude that while political rhetoric is one thing, political action is another—an impression increasingly conveyed in the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election—in Erdoğan's case, such a distinction isn't really possible. That's because Erdoğan really is a dictator, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.

When Israeli media personality Yair Lapid established the Yesh Atid party back in 2012, the U.S. State Department and Jewish peace activists were ecstatic, figuring Lapid would draw votes away from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party. They were delighted with Lapid again earlier this year, when he refused to join Netanyahu's governing coalition, briefly giving the Israeli left hope of preventing a Likud-led government. Let's see what they think of Lapid now that, as a leader of one of Israel’s opposition parties, he has publicly acknowledged that there is no "occupation" of the Palestinians and that the Palestinian Authority is the obstacle to peace, writes columnist Stephen M. Flatow.

Whether Jews concerned about Israel agree with Daniel Gordis, they generally not only read what he has to say, but his comments also become a primary source of discussion for days after his articles appear. This is no less true of the Conservative rabbi’s latest article, about Donald Trump's election victory. But this is less the voice of Gordis’s usual scholarly insight and moderation, and more a page from Lamentations reminding us of his love for Israel and the “danger” that a Trump victory brings to the world’s two largest Jewish communities. Columnist Abraham H. Miller writes why he disagrees with Gordis's assessment of the Trump win's implications for Israel.

Important government action was taken to protect the environment in the Middle East this week. But don't expect the government in question to get any credit—because it was the Israeli government that took the action, and the Palestinian Arabs who were the polluters. And the Palestinians, as we all know, are immune from international criticism, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.

Our bitterly sectarian politics compromise the discussion of anti-Semitism—and more broadly racism and prejudice—in America today, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen. Some aspects of incoming White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon’s intellectual universe should be of concern to anyone who cares about the basic social empathies that are needed to sustain democracy—the same empathies that have been badly damaged by the growth of identity politics on left and right, Cohen writes.

The Anti-Defamation Leagues (ADL) recent statements essentially criticizing the election victory by Donald Trump and Mike Pence are inappropriate and harmful.

Columnist Abraham H. Miller grew up a Democrat in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood. Despite the best efforts of gentiles, Lawndale ended up with the greatest concentration of Jews per square mile anywhere in the world. Some 70 percent of the residents were foreign born. Everyone spoke English, but Yiddish often became the language of commerce in mom-and-pop stores. Even if President-elect Donald Trump cannot deliver on each and every promise he made, it is refreshing that he spoke to the problems of people in decaying rural and industrial towns, in cities whose workers powered the machinery that drove back the armies of Germany and Japan and kept the world safe from tyranny, writes Miller.

The early returns on the Jewish vote in 2016 showed 24-percent support for President-elect Donald Trump and 71 percent for Hillary Clinton. In 2012, President Barack Obama garnered 69 percent of Jewish votes and GOP nominee Mitt Romney won 30 percent. Given the wild card of Obama’s tumultuous relationship with Israel, a more accurate understanding of the Jewish vote in 2016 is yielded by discounting the 2012 election. The new calculus reveals a potentially strong Jewish vote for Trump—and that analysis is supported by Florida, a hotly contested state that Clinton was favored to win but ultimately lost, writes Lori Lowenthal Marcus.

A Donald Trump administration embrace of Israel may gravely deepen the divide among American Jews and make it infinitely harder to sustain support for Israel as a bipartisan principle. A situation in which opposition to Israel is an integral component of the opposition to Trump should not be welcomed by anyone who cares about American-Israeli relations. These are the realities that, when the gloating stops, Trump and his acolytes will have to deal with. Let us hope, however forlornly, that wisdom will be their guide, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen in his analysis of the 2016 presidential election.

Professors at a number of American universities have found a new cause: demanding the release of a Palestinian terrorist who murdered two college students, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.

The constant drumbeat on the Jewish left against settlements has created an atmosphere in which groups like Americans for Peace Now can show up at the nest of Jew haters - the United Nations - and bash Israel to the general approval of the Jewish left, a large majority of Jews, writes Rabbi Jonathan Greenberg.

J Street's controversial response to the sexual harassment of one of its staff members raises questions as to whether its attitude toward woman's rights is being compromised by its political goals, writes JNS.org's Stephen Flatow.

While many in the U.N. laud the Iran nuclear agreement, lift sanction on the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, reward the Mullahs with billions of dollars and lucrative trade deals, and welcome the new Iranian president as a so-called “reformer,” official Iranian anti-Semitic statements and Holocaust denial continues unabated and unchallenged, writes Ambassador David Poet, Israel's Deputy Permanent Representative to the U.N.

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.

After months of dithering, the Obama administration has finally taken some action against the Lebanese Islamist terror organization Hezbollah, writes JNS.org's Ben Cohen.