Opinion

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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About a month after JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen wrote about a group of British animal rights activists who employed Nazi imagery in a campaign against a kosher slaughterhouse, there have been three more significant episodes involving the Holocaust and the Nazi era, leading Cohen to believe he underestimated the scale of the problem. If the Holocaust is now primarily a political instrument, rather than a central historical memory with a direct bearing upon both politics and ethics, we can expect further manipulation of the past to serve the imperatives of the present. From the "Hitler" chatter on social media all the way up to the new guardians of Holocaust memory, the politicization of the Holocaust is a distinct challenge facing the current Jewish generation, Cohen writes.

Hearing complaints about Israeli checkpoints that supposedly restrict the movement of Arabs in Judea and Samaria, filmmaker Ami Horowitz of Fox News decided to see for himself. He hired a Palestinian driver and experienced what it’s like for Palestinians crossing at the checkpoints that separate Israel from Palestinian Authority-controlled areas for the purpose of preventing weapons smuggling. Horowitz asked three different Palestinians at the Kalandia checkpoint how long it takes them to get through on a typical day, and all three said, “10 minutes.” Therein lies the trade-off when it comes to Israeli checkpoints, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow: a 10-minute delay for Palestinians versus hundreds of possible terror attacks against Israel each year.

While the change of presidential administration in Washington may strengthen Israel's diplomatic position for the immediate period, and while the Palestinians will have to get to the back of the line in terms of international priorities, the Palestinian question itself will not disappear. We can assume that if President-elect Donald Trump does a 180-degree turn on President Barack Obama's approach to the Israelis, the narrative of the Palestinians—ignored by America, facing 50 years of "occupation" under Israel—will become emblematic of public resistance to the foreign policies of the Trump administration, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.

Fatah, the largest faction of the PLO, is chaired by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and is often perceived in the West as “moderate.” Hamas is the Islamic fundamentalist Palestinian terror group that rules Gaza. The two factions don’t always get along, but they’ve found at least one thing they agree on. Jan. 5 was the 21st anniversary of the death of infamous Hamas bomb-maker Yahya Ayyash. Hamas honored Ayyash with a photo essay on its website, complete with images of the bodies of some of his hundreds of Israeli and American victims. But the “moderate” Fatah admires Ayyash just as much as the “extremist” Hamas, celebrating Ayyash’s atrocities with a glowing feature about him on its website. This really tells us all we need to know about the Palestinian cause, writes columnist Stephen M. Flatow.

Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center will be giving a benediction at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration ceremony Jan. 20. Liberal Jews are petitioning Hier to decline the honor. In how many nation-states outside of Israel would a rabbi be asked to give the benediction at the swearing-in of a national leader? Perhaps if Jewish liberals began with this question, they might understand the sheer obscenity of what they are demanding. Fortunately, Hier understands the historical and political significance of the honor bestowed not just upon him, but also upon Judaism as a religion, writes columnist Abraham H. Miller.

Two days into her first Taglit-Birthright Israel trip, during which she led a group of 40 Americans around Israel, columnist Eliana Rudee heard the news of the Obama administration’s unprecedented refusal to veto a U.N. resolution condemning Israel's settlement policies. In the most meaningful moment of the trip, the group of Americans stood with Israeli soldiers atop the Masada fortress as they recalled the ancient story of their ancestors choosing self-agency—even if it meant taking their own lives. Despite Israel's U.N. setback, Rudee writes that the change she witnessed in the Birthright participants during their 10-day journey kept her optimistic.

In his recent speech about Israel and the Palestinians, Secretary of State John Kerry unfairly blamed Israel and minimized Palestinian violence. But he also did something else: he grievously dishonored the African-American civil rights movement, just weeks before Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Kerry charged that Israeli policies are creating “segregated enclaves” for Palestinians and a “separate but unequal” system for Israelis and Palestinians. Yet he got it exactly backwards. It is the Palestinians, not Israel, whose behavior is similar to the segregationists of America’s civil rights era, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.

A glimmer of hope in the fight against Iranian-backed terrorism shone forth from Argentina during the final days of 2016. A federal appeals court ruled that former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will face a new investigation over allegations that she and her close colleagues made a secret pact with the Iranian regime over the probe into the July 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Convicting Iran for its unpunished crime in Argentina would generate momentum to take on Iranian-backed terror globally, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.

Ahead of her father’s visit to Israel, when he will devote one morning to praying at the Western Wall, Leah Aharoni writes that without the established religious prayer traditions at the Kotel, the Jerusalem holy site would become just another tourist site and would not have the emotional pull it has today. It would stop being a place of prayer, writes Aharoni, the co-founder of an organization devoted to preserving the sanctity of the Western Wall.

Like many others, JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow sat at his computer with baited breath Wednesday waiting for Secretary of State John Kerry to explain the background to the U.S. abstention on last week’s United Nations Security Council vote. There were so many things wrong with what Flatow calls Kerry’s farewell anti-Israel speech—spending 45 minutes on settlements, and 45 seconds on terrorism; claiming the Palestinians “live under Israeli military occupation” when 98 percent of them live under the Palestinian Authority; condemning Israeli construction even within Jerusalem. But if he needs to choose the one aspect that bothered him the most, Flatow picks Kerry's false moral equivalence.

Israel has just one option to win Palestinian acceptance: a return to its old policy of deterrence, punishing Palestinians when they aggress. Deterrence means more than tough tactics, which every Israeli government pursues; it requires systemic policies that encourage Palestinians to accept Israel and discourage rejectionism. It requires a strategy that breaks the will and promotes a change of heart. Ironically, an Israeli victory liberates Palestinians by compelling them to come to terms with their irredentist fantasies and the empty rhetoric of revolution, while freeing them to improve their own lives, writes Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes.

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein writes that it was particularly painful and frustrating seeing President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power team up on an anti-Semitic knifing of Israel in the back at the U.N.—particularly because so few people listened during the months when the ZOA issued press releases, held press conferences, spoke on TV and radio, and published full-page newspaper ads warning that Obama would betray Israel at the U.N. after the 2016 election. It’s time to work together with the pro-Israel incoming Donald Trump administration to repair the damage that the Obama administration has wrought, writes Klein.

For the American Jewish community that voted overwhelmingly not once, but twice for President Barack Obama, America’s abstention and refusal to use its veto power on an anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations was a betrayal of historic proportions. For the Jewish alt-left such as the New Israel Fund and J Street, this was a stellar victory. They have clung to the myth that the settlements are obstacles to peace. Indeed, many liberal Jews not only fail to understand the significance of Obama’s abstention at the U.N., but some naively believe it will move forward the peace process. Far from burnishing Obama’s legacy, the U.N. abstention leaves it in flames, writes columnist Abraham H. Miller.

Western policy towards Middle Eastern Christian refugees is an abysmal failure. Despite Secretary of State John Kerry designating the Islamic State terror group as being responsible for genocide against Christians and Yazidis, President Barack Obama still hasn’t prioritized efforts to rescue them. Out of all the Syrian refugees admitted into the U.S., only 0.5 percent were Christians, while even fewer were Yazidis. This leaves Israel as the last hope for Mideast Christians. Since the West cannot be counted on to provide refuge for Christians, Israel should lead the way for Christians to achieve self-determination and statehood in an increasingly hostile region, writes columnist Bradley Martin.

Picture the girl from the famous Vietnam Napalm Photo or the more recent Falling Man image from 9/11. Every so often, uncensored media pierces the status quo, shocking readers or viewers. Americans for Peace and Tolerance’s new documentary, “Hate Spaces: The Politics of Intolerance on Campus,” does just that. The film explores the roots of the BDS movement waged against Israel and reveals the mob mentality that characterizes anti-Semitic student groups on college campuses across the U.S. This 70-minute production provides an alarming wake-up call, but also a resource to combat an ideology that would otherwise commandeer the discourse on college campuses, writes Jeffrey Barken in his review of the film.

Do protesters who chant "We Are All Hezbollah" understand the nature of the organization they so heartily embrace? Do they grasp that "We Are All Hezbollah" means "We Are All Executioners, Rapists and Child Murderers?" These are not poorly armed fighters. They are a well-armed, well trained force of killers, as we have known for too many years now. The 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut? It was the work of Hezbollah. The 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires? Ditto. Look at the current situation in Aleppo, and then imagine what would happen if Hezbollah was unleashed upon the people of Israel. Sometimes, you need an apocalyptic scenario to bring you to your senses, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.

J Street and likeminded groups are denouncing Donald Trump’s ambassador-designate to Israel, David Friedman, over a comment Friedman once made comparing Jewish advocates of the Palestinian cause to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis. While J Street denounced Friedman's "horrifically offensive rhetoric," it also endorsed a candidate for the chairmanship of the Democratic Party who compared President George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler. J Street can't have it both ways on Holocaust analogies, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.

Radical protesters in London recently attacked a Jewish communal building. They screamed abuse about "baby killers!" and cried out, "It's a Holocaust!” The graffiti at the scene included a smear about a "kosher Holocaust" and references to the Nazi persecution of the Jews. What motivated the protesters' anger? You’re probably thinking, for good reason, that this had something to do with Israel. In fact, it didn’t. The building attacked was the kosher Kedassia abattoir (slaughterhouse), and the attackers were members of a militant vegan group attempting to prevent the delivery of a truckload of live chickens. Holocaust abuse, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen, is a central tactic in winning the ongoing “victimhood competition” with the Jews.

When is a Palestinian terrorist attack not worthy of serious attention, in the eyes of America's major daily newspapers? When there's no way to make the Palestinian attacker look sympathetic, of course. JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow responds to the mainstream media coverage of a Dec. 14 attack in Jerusalem, in which Palestinian terrorist Khamad Khadr Ashikh stabbed two Israeli police officers and a 12-year-old Israeli boy in the head with a large screwdriver.

Do you remember when Jewish organizations boycotted events sponsored by President Barack Obama because of his past association with the anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic Rev. Jeremiah Wright? Or perhaps you can recall when liberal Jewish organizations boycotted an event Obama sponsored because he broke bread at the end of Ramadan with Islamists who were not only anti-Israel, but anti-American? You don’t remember? Neither does columnist Abraham H. Miller, who describes liberal organizations' boycott of a Hanukkah party at a Donald Trump-owned hotel as a case of "the banality of hypocrisy."