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What can the hunt for Josef Mengele teach us about the challenges facing Jews today? With a debate stirring about whether left-wing or right-wing Jew-haters pose the greater threat, a new account of the decisions made by Israel’s leaders regarding the evil doctor of Auschwitz should give us some food for thought, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
When Jews confront the present and prepare for the future, they are always mindful of the past. Anti-Semitism has proven its durability as the world’s oldest hate. That reality puts even greater responsibility on the shoulders of leaders: they have to be unequivocal in their rejection of the ideology, its transmitters and fellow travelers. American Jews are finding their voices, and we must speak up even more after the recent events in Charlottesville, writes Rabbi Noam E. Marans, the American Jewish Committee’s director of interreligious and intergroup relations.
All liberal Jews don’t deserve to be labeled as Israel-haters, and ousted Trump administration aide Sebastian Gorka’s support for the Jewish state shouldn’t earn him immunity from all criticism. But neither should it have been ignored in a rush to demonize someone who, whatever you may think of his politics, was eager to be an ally of the Jewish people at a time when we can use all the friends we can get, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
After several visits to Israeli and Palestinian leaders, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s attempt to restart the peace process has hit all the predictable obstacles. The Trump administration is getting its first taste of the Palestinian political reality—more specifically, the historic tendency of the Palestinians to posit the kinds of demands that usually follow a military victory, rather than a defeat. Of course, we’ve learned this lesson before. Or so we thought, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Iran is expanding into Syria, converting the country into a military and weapons base, filling it with heavily armed Shi’a proxy forces, and earmarking it as a launchpad for future attacks on Israel. The Jewish state, in turn, has put the international community on notice, warning that a failure to stop the Iranian push into Syria will result in Israeli military action. Israeli officials have recently traveled to the U.S. and Russia, to share information on Iran’s military moves. Yet it remains unclear that either Moscow or Washington can or will pressure the Iranians to stop.
The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) hiring of one of the most prominent Arab Americans in the Obama administration, George Selim, has raised questions about Selim’s meetings with officials of an extremist U.S. Muslim group. Asked by The Daily Caller in 2012 whether he was willing to meet with officials of the extremist Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Selim replied that “hundreds” of meetings had been held between CAIR officials and representatives of various U.S. government agencies. The ADL itself has noted that CAIR “has a long record of anti-Israel activity” and that its leaders have been “linked to Hamas activity.”
Mark S. Kirk has been described by some as Israel’s best friend in Washington. A crowd of nearly 250 recently gathered at the Northbrook Hilton outside of Chicago to show their gratitude to the former Republican senator at an event sponsored by the political action committee To Protect Our Heritage. Throughout his time in both the House and Senate, Kirk was a staunch defender and advocate for the Jewish state. A vocal opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, Kirk never minced words over President Barack Obama’s harsh treatment of Israel and desire for detente with Iran, writes Paul Miller.
As a member of Houston’s Jewish community writing about a devastating flood for the third time since May 2015, Jacob Kamaras is at a loss for words. Sitting in the comforts of a third-floor apartment, it feels trite for him to be putting on a “journalist’s hat” while countless others are either suffering or contributing to relief efforts. Yet the written word is a crucial part of the healing process. If they didn’t get the message before, the national and international Jewish communities should understand the crisis for Jews in Houston due to Hurricane Harvey, but also within the context of other major floods in recent years, writes Kamaras.
The U.S. government's reluctance to demand the immediate creation of a Palestinian state has sent J Street into a panic. With its candidates having been defeated in elections on both sides of the ocean, and its proposals crumbling in the face of reality, J Street is trying one last desperate strategy: rewriting history so that it appears Palestinian statehood has been supported by everybody, everywhere, for as long as anyone can remember.
In the San Francisco Bay area, the local branch of the American Jewish Committee is circulating a letter that is high on Trump derangement syndrome, and low on facts. Aside from condemning President Donald Trump for the events in Charlottesville and alleging he is responsible for a fantasized nationwide increase in hate crimes, the letter is obsessed with violence from the right. If Jewish organizations want to get serious about anti-Semitism, they will need to begin by recognizing that it is not only neo-Nazis they have to worry about; it is also people who share the progressive mindset of much of the Jewish community, writes columnist Abraham H. Miller.
By boycotting a High Holiday conference call with President Donald Trump, America’s three major non-Orthodox rabbinic associations have made a primarily political statement, not a moral or religious one. The rabbis had a chance to teach us all a lesson by engaging with Trump in a civil manner and teaching. Instead, all they have done is remind us that too many of them conceive of Judaism as a partisan faith, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
By sporting a yellow star on his jacket during a concert, maybe Billy Joel thought he honored the victims of the Holocaust. Maybe it was his way of asking, “Can you imagine an America like this?” Yet even if we can all imagine that, there is nothing happening to suggest a Fourth Reich is around the corner, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
The same people who spent eight years slamming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s willingness to publicly take on President Barack Obama are now loudly lamenting his refusal to do just that with President Donald Trump. Netanyahu was slow to respond to an anti-Semitic and racist march in Charlottesville, Va. Are his critics hypocrites? Of course they are. Are they wrong? Not entirely, writes columnist Jonathan S. Tobin.
Jews are asking if we’re back in the 1920s. But to columnist Abraham H. Miller, the scene outside a Charlottesville synagogue is more like Odessa in 1905. In Charlottesville, as three white supremacists with semi-automatic weapons stood across from the synagogue, the congregants left through the back door. During the Odessa pogrom of 1905, Jews created armed militias and fought back. Jews need to learn from their own tragic history and from other ethnic groups that acted to defend themselves. Walking out the back door of a synagogue should never be the recommended option, writes Miller.
Visitors to the Otto Weidt Workshop for the Blind Museum in Berlin would need to be blind not to notice Haim Hoffmann—or rather, his weird beard—as he asks them to leave their backpacks at the reception desk. “It’s called the ‘Three-day Freestyle,’” joked Hoffman, the museum’s shift manager. Hoffman should know. He’s the German champion for the “Imperial Beard,” in which a sizable mustache-beard arches upward. He’ll be defending the bronze medal at the 2017 World Beard and Mustache Championships (WBMC) in Austin, Texas, from Sept. 1-3. Bryan Nelson, the organizer of this year’s WBMC, counts at least a handful of “Members of the Tribe” among the record-high 700 contestants.
The heat of anti-Semitism is being felt worldwide. Wherever you live, the goosebumps we all got when we heard the chants of the white supremacists in Charlottesville—“Jews will not replace us”—are the same. The feelings are reminiscent of Robert De Niro’s character in the 1995 movie, “Heat.” De Niro’s character famously says that you have to be ready to drop everything and go, in 30 seconds, if you feel the heat coming around the corner. With the heat index of anti-Semitism rising, Gabriel Groisman, the mayor of Bal Harbour, Fla., asks: Is it time for Jews to drop everything and move to Israel?
Neo-Nazis may seem scarier than Jew-haters on the left, but American Jews need to try to rise above the partisan loyalties that can blind us to both sides of the anti-Semitic coin. Until that happens, liberals and conservatives alike will continue to fail to adequately address a problem that ought to transcend politics, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
Many scholars of anti-Semitism have closely examined the threads that link anti-Semitism with unfulfilled sexual desire. The great paradox that the Jew represents—a racial and political polluter, and yet successful in winning the affections of “Aryan” women—is never resolved, but only exacerbated with words like “bestial” and “lustful” that are soaked in sexual envy. JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen explains the connection between this mindset and the recent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
Seventy future IDF soldiers—more than half of them women—immigrated to Israel from North America this week, arriving on an El Al Airlines flight chartered by the Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah agency. “I realized that if [IDF soldiers] felt [Israel] was my home, and I felt it was my home, then shouldn’t it be my duty to protect it too?” said Sophie Stillman of Hopkins, Minn., one of the future soldiers arriving on the aliyah flight Aug. 15.