JNS.org offers the latest Jewish news and commentary from the United States. To select another topic, choose from the other content “categories” in our navigation bar.
In Jerusalem Sunday, as the city prepared to mark the 50th anniversary of its reunification, the airtight security arrangements for President Donald Trump’s visit the next day meant Israel’s capital felt more like a city under siege than in the midst of a celebration. Despite Trump stoking Israeli fears by signing an arms deal with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states this past weekend, many officials and experts saw Trump’s Israel trip as a new opportunity. “The burgeoning ties between Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries of the Gulf with Israel represents the greatest opportunity for regional advancement….the potential for historic gains have never been greater in this regard,” said Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
About 20 veterans commit suicide across the U.S. each day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. An organization providing spiritual healing, suicide prevention and peer support programming for veterans believes Israel is part of the solution. Leading up to Memorial Day, JNS.org is spotlighting the stories of six American veterans who traveled to Israel with the Heroes to Heroes Foundation, which works with veterans suffering from mental and emotional stress. This is the first installment of a two-part series.
The key to President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace push is an effort to forge an “outside-in” breakthrough, in which bilateral talks will be shelved in favor of an attempt to use the leverage of Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab nations over the Palestinians to forge a pact with Israel. But the problem is that, like other peace plans, it seeks to finesse the main obstacle to peace rather than to confront it. As long as Palestinian national identity is inextricably linked to their war on Zionism, this effort will fail as miserably as its predecessors, writes JNS Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
Some prominent American supporters of Hebrew University of Jerusalem are criticizing the school for canceling the singing of Israel’s national anthem at a May 18 graduation ceremony. A university official was quoted as saying the decision was made out of “consideration for the other side,” a reference to the possibility that Arab students would be offended. Yet Ira Lee Sorkin, a former president of American Friends of Hebrew University, told JNS.org he has attended previous graduation ceremonies at Hebrew University at which “Hatikvah” was played, “and the Arab students were happily participating and posing for photos with their families. I never heard of any of them objecting to the song.”
President Donald Trump’s domestic crisis doesn’t change the fact that there is a realignment in the Middle East between Israel and the Arab states—and potentially the Palestinians—based on shared interests, from economic development to confronting the Iranian threat. These opportunities form the basis for a meaningful peace process—one that won’t depend on the fate of a single president, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Ahead of President Donald Trump’s Israel visit, top Christian Zionist organizations and leaders are calling on the president to fulfill his election campaign promise to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite reports that Trump is unlikely to make the move in the near future. “If [Trump] does not keep his promise, it will be a sign of weakness to the enemies of Israel and will embolden them against Israel,” Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel, told JNS.org.
Lutheran church leaders are again asking the U.S. to pay some of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) unpaid debts to the Lutheran-sponsored Augusta Victoria hospital in eastern Jerusalem, but the American Jewish Committee (AJC), in a reversal, is declining to assist the effort. JNS.org reported in March that the AJC had quietly pressed U.S. officials and lawmakers to help pay the PA’s bills to the hospital. Farley Weiss, president of the National Council of Young Israel, praised the AJC for “properly correcting its policy so that it will no longer fall victim to this duplicitous strategy of the Palestinian Authority,” which “has perfected a policy of deliberately using aid for improper purposes and then getting more aid.”
Israel’s friends are correct to want the U.S. to move its embassy to Jerusalem. But tactics can be as important as strategy. Right now, what friends of Israel need the most is for President Donald Trump to understand the truth about the Palestinians’ refusal to make peace. Yet by raising expectations about the embassy that are bound to be disappointed, they may hand Israel’s foes a tragically important victory, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
South Carolina House Bill 3643, which would have the southern state adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, was on the cusp of passage Thursday but was stalled by a Democratic lawmaker on the final day of the state legislature’s session. The bill’s adoption is now delayed until at least Jan. 9, 2018, the legislature’s next session.
White House officials say they foiled a Palestinian Authority (PA) plan to have President Donald Trump walk near the tomb of Yasser Arafat when Trump visits Israel and the disputed territories this month. Supposedly, the PA wanted to photograph Trump with the tomb in the background. But keeping Arafat’s tomb out of the picture will not resolve Trump’s Arafat problem. Amid Trump’s embrace of Arafat’s longtime number two man, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the U.S. has not taken any concrete steps to stop the PA’s incitement to terrorism—a practice started under Arafat and continued under Abbas, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.
San Francisco State University (SFSU) has been a hotbed of anti-Semitism for decades. During this time, Jewish community leaders either ignored the hostile campus environment or worked quietly behind the scenes. But a year after anti-Israel protesters shouted down Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the Jewish community has awakened. Students at the local Hillel chapter declared in a recent letter to SFSU President Leslie Wong that the school suffers from “institutional anti-Semitism.” Even in the current climate of capitulation to the demands of militant, “marginalized” students, SFSU stands out, writes columnist Abraham H. Miller.
President Donald Trump’s optimism about negotiating Mideast peace might be justified. But a statement issued only a couple of days before Trump’s meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shows there’s more at stake here than the real estate deal of the century. Hamas produced a new policy document stating its willingness to accept a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders. Yet the document also explicitly states the ultimate Palestinian goal of destroying Israel. Unless Trump holds both Hamas and Abbas accountable for their behavior, the U.S. president’s efforts will bring Israelis neither security nor peace, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
At their White House appearance May 3, President Donald Trump was confident and beaming, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas came across as eager and respectful. Yet if Trump wants the elixir of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, he must also be aware of the profound sadness, anger and disbelief that pictures of the 1993 Oslo Accords, signed on the White House lawn, now evoke. JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen writes that if any forthcoming peace process is to survive all the way to a written agreement, U.S. officials need to confront the elephant in the room—namely, who succeeds the 82-year-old Abbas.
President Donald Trump and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met at the White House Wednesday as Trump’s nascent administration makes a fresh bid to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace. Trump said peace “is frankly maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years,” while Abbas praised Trump’s “great negotiating ability.” Despite the optimism conveyed by both leaders, Grant Rumley, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, said it was notable that “Trump referenced peace, while Abbas referenced the two-state solution.” Abbas and Trump “are going to have divergent views on just where they see this relationship going,” Rumley told JNS.org.
The Washington Post’s chief correspondent in Israel has discarded all pretense of objectivity and is openly lobbying for a political cause—and it’s one of the most distasteful causes imaginable: justifying the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) policy of paying imprisoned terrorists and their families. The Post’s William Booth has never been very careful about keeping his personal opinions out of his news articles. But his May 3 report on PA payments to terrorists crossed the line from journalism to outright advocacy, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.
Despite a reportedly planned increase in U.S. aid to the Palestinians, Wednesday’s meeting between President Donald Trump and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas came as the Middle East’s dynamics increasingly played out in Israel’s favor. While the Trump administration has expressed a desire to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, some observers expect that the failure of any negotiations could pave the way for a staunchly pro-Israel policy from the administration, which is already taking Israel-sympathetic positions such as opposing the Iran nuclear deal and considering moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. At the same time, the nascent Trump presidency has been marked by America’s shift back toward supporting the interests of Sunni regional allies such as the anti-Iran Gulf states and Egypt.
By day, Liora Brosbe is the family engagement officer for the Jewish Federation of the East Bay in California. When she’s not at work, Brosbe’s main job is raising three kids. Their home? A laboratory for Jewish learning strategies. “Yes, they’re little petri dishes,” their mom says. “Like most families, screen time is a huge issue at our house, both for time and content. But I tell families it’s also an amazing opportunity for low-barrier Jewish engagement.” With an avalanche of new technologies, educators, funders and parents are often befuddled about where to invest their money and their kids’ or students’ time. A newly released study on educational technology and digital engagement aims to guide the Jewish community through this complex space.
Israel and the U.S. both hold national days of commemoration for fallen soldiers, yet there are sharp cultural differences marking the Memorial Day observances in each nation. In America, it is the start of the summer season. In Israel, it is one of the most somber days on the calendar. “It is very hard for most Americans to relate a Marine dying in Iraq to American freedom of speech in Chicago,” said Ari Kalker, director of housing and special projects at Israel’s Lone Soldier Center. “It is much easier to relate to a soldier falling while defending the land of Israel, and link it to a Jew’s ability to pray at the Western Wall.”
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.
The Anti-Defamation League’s decision to count an Israeli-Jewish teenager’s alleged bomb hoaxes as “anti-Semitic incidents” is prompting criticism from some Jewish community officials. The ADL’s Aryeh Tuchman said the teenager’s purported actions were categorized as anti-Semitic because “when an incident has a major terrorizing effect on Jewish communities, we can’t ignore it.” Yet Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told JNS.org, “Now that it’s clear that this was a mentally unstable individual, I would not categorize these as anti-Semitic hate crimes.” Kenneth L. Marcus, president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center, said it “seems highly unlikely” that the threats “were motivated by anti-Semitic animus.”