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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President Donald Trump’s foreign policy team is coming to grips with the fact that everything it hopes to accomplish in the Middle East is connected to an Iranian regime immeasurably strengthened by the Obama administration’s misguided effort to create détente with Tehran. But those who assumed the Trump administration would give up and deem the problem insoluble may be wrong. Trump doesn’t need to tear up the Iran nuclear deal to attempt to undo its consequences, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.

A bitter debate has raged over the character of Sebastian Gorka, a deputy adviser to President Donald Trump. There is very little evidence justifying the accusation that Gorka is anti-Semitic. Yet when it comes to Gorka’s involvement with Vitezi Rend, an ultranationalist organization founded by Miklos Horthy, the Trump adviser’s defenders should not downplay the former Hungarian dictator’s murderous and anti-Semitic record, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.

J Street, the left-wing group that claims to be staunchly opposed to Israeli settlements, has embraced an Israeli settlement. What? How can that be? Columnist Stephen M. Flatow explains.

In the Venn diagram of intersectionality, one group doesn’t intersect the others. Skeptics argue that a coalition organized around identity-group power would eventually come to tears over conflicting grievances. So far, though, it’s mostly Jews who are getting shut out by progressives and their anti-Israel supporters, writes columnist Joshua Sharf.

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.

If the current hunger-striking Palestinian terrorists want to be hungry, let them be hungry. Their empty stomachs aren’t hurting anybody. Surrendering to the demands of imprisoned terrorists, however, is a genuine threat to Israel’s security, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.

As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan assumed near-dictatorial powers following his dubious victory in a constitutional referendum April 16, Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina, was marking his sixth month in a Turkish prison over an unsubstantiated charge. What makes Brunson’s case particularly outrageous, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen, is that his imprisonment comes in Turkey—traditionally an ally of the U.S., a member of NATO and widely regarded in the years prior to Erdoğan’s rise as the ideal model for a secular state with a Muslim majority.

Sean Spicer’s gaffe should teach us that the “anyone I don’t like is Hitler” approach to politics or history always fails. But many of the White House press secretary’s liberal critics need to learn the same lesson. If you complain about Jew-hatred when it can be linked to false narratives about President Donald Trump, yet you don’t get worked up about what Iran or the Palestinians are saying, maybe it’s time to question your motives, writes JNS.org Online Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.

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.”

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.

What’s the one value that the Jewish community should care most about? To listen to many who run organizations and communal philanthropies, the answer is inclusion. At a time when it is difficult to engage young people, maintaining a “big tent” is close to being a sacred concept. But by hosting convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh at its recent conference in Chicago, the left-wing group that calls itself Jewish Voice for Peace seems determined to prove that inclusiveness can be a highly overrated virtue, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.

The anti-Semitism scandal surrounding the British Labour Party returned this week when the party announced it is merely renewing the suspension of former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, rather than expelling him outright for the vile falsehoods he promoted when he claimed Hitler had supported Zionism before he “went mad” and launched the Holocaust. Labour’s disturbing behavior is reflected not just in the party’s response to anti-Semitism at home, but in its adoption of a similar stance towards human rights abuses abroad. Livingstone has been an enabler of evil, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.

The European Union didn’t praise it, and the United Nations didn’t acknowledge it. But Israel recently dismantled yet another Jewish settlement—Malachei Hashalom, an unauthorized encampment near the community of Shiloh in Samaria. When Israel announces plans to build a handful of homes in some Judea and Samaria community at some point in the future, that’s headline news. But when Israel tears down a settlement, it gets zero credit in the eyes of the world, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.

Whether or not Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid winds up unseating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he has already done something that should influence international opinion about the Mideast conflict. Lapid made it clear that his platform will be remarkably similar to that of the current prime minister. He said any peace talks would need to be conducted “in very slow stages” because “I don’t believe the Palestinians.” Israel’s critics should pay attention to Lapid’s remarks because they demonstrate that there is a consensus about peace and territorial withdrawal, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.

If National Front party leader and presidential contender Marine Le Pen follows through on her campaign rhetoric by denying French Jews the right to hold dual Israeli citizenship, France’s perennial “Jewish question” will likely find itself in the national spotlight once more. That is why JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen warns, to Jews and others in America who are convinced that Le Pen will be a faithful partner in the anti-globalist crusade, be careful what you wish for.

A group of Palestinians tried to burn some Israeli Jews to death last Thursday. Just another day in the Middle East. The attackers drove up to the perimeter of the Jewish community of Beit El and hurled firebombs toward homes there. Fortunately, Israeli soldiers immediately fired at the would-be murderers, killing one and wounding three others. That should be the end of the story. But it won’t be. Columnist Stephen M. Flatow explains why.

David Friedman was confirmed Thursday through a U.S. Senate to be the American ambassador to Israel. But that was only after a highly contentious debate, and unfortunately, only because there is a Republican majority in the Senate. The same was true of Friedman’s prior approval by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. What made Friedman’s confirmation so contentious? Columnist Sarah N. Stern explains.

America’s strong pushback on the recent United Nations report accusing Israel of apartheid and, even more remarkably, the U.N. secretary-general’s disavowal of the report sent a surprisingly strong message to the Palestinians. With the world getting sick of Palestinian intransigence, and the U.S. determined to stick by its sole democratic ally in the Middle East, Israel can afford to wait for real peace rather than surrendering its rights for a deal that will give them neither peace nor security, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.

As reports of the savage terrorist attack in central London March 22 emerged, it was clear that British authorities were dealing with an incident straight from the Islamist terror manual. Such terror, of course, is nothing new. In the Middle East, Hezbollah and Hamas have been in the Islamist terror business since the 1980s. But somehow, these two bloodstained organizations are never regarded by the West in quite the same way as Islamic State. Amid Hamas’s attempt to convince the world of its newfound political moderation, JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen writes that the Palestinian group’s makeover attempt is likely to dissolve without a trace, yet the security threat it poses remains intact.

Israel critic Peter Beinart has announced that when his children “near adulthood, I’ll encourage them to visit the West Bank.” Why? “So they can see for themselves what it means to hold millions of people…without free movement or due process,” he wrote in his column for The Forward. The Beinart children are in for quite a surprise. In his various articles and media appearances, Papa Beinart regularly accuses Israel of occupying and oppressing the Palestinians. But when the young Beinarts arrive in Judea and Samaria, they will discover that dear old dad wasn’t telling them the whole story, writes columnist Stephen M. Flatow.