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This afternoon, the Doctoral Students Council of the City University of New York (CUNY) will once again consider a hateful resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The resolution’s backers claim they are promoting justice and human rights, that they are seeking sovereignty and freedom for the Palestinian people, that they are trying to end the “occupation.” Nothing could be further from the truth, writes Jacob Baime, executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition.
The so-called “alphabet soup” of American Jewish organizations covers seemingly every communal concern and interest group. Yet despite their direct connection with the Jewish homeland and firsthand knowledge of issues prioritized by American Jews, Israelis living in the U.S. have historically been both neglected and unorganized. Working to change that trend is the fast-growing Israeli-American Council (IAC), which was founded in Los Angeles in 2007 and started expanding nationally in 2013. This year, IAC’s programming has reached more than 100,000 of the estimated 500,000-800,000 Israeli Americans. From Nov. 7-9, the organization will hold its inaugural national conference in Washington, DC.
About a year after the American Studies Association’s (ASA) widely condemned vote to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, the organization’s policy on Israel is receiving renewed scrutiny over a practical application of that vote. The ASA’s 2014 annual meeting, to be held Nov. 6-9 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, has garnered criticism for a policy of excluding Israeli academics.
In Georgia, a state with a sizable Jewish voter block, the U.S. Senate race to fill the seat of the retiring Saxby Chambliss is attracting truckloads of cash from outside the state for advertising buys. “I think that voting in Georgia—not just Jewish voting but voting in Georgia—is likely to give us a glimpse of what the new demographic in the South is going to be like,” said Rabbi Jack Moline, director of the National Jewish Democratic Council.
Amid growing defense, economic, and diplomatic ties, Israel sees the tremendous potential in its relationship with Azerbaijan. American supporters of Israel must do their part to reinforce that relationship. As has been discovered with Turkey, Muslim-majority allies don’t grow on trees, writes David Bernstein is the former executive director of The David Project and a former senior official at the American Jewish Committee.
“The Death of Klinghoffer,” which debuted at New York's Metropolitan Opera on Oct. 20, is a vehicle for tendentious reiteration of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist slurs. But when considered together with two other collaborations between composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman, the opera represents something more—an ongoing prejudicial obsession with Jews, writes Myron Kaplan, a senior research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).
Teens love texting. Cell phones don’t jive with Shabbat. The new "Shabbos App" app seeks to address this uniquely Jewish case of "unstoppable force meets immovable object." The app says it addresses challenges of Jewish law related to texting such as muktzah (the device has no use on Shabbat), mavir (turning the screen on and off may be considered making a fire), and koteiv (writing), among others. But Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews alike say the app is unlikely to catch on, in part because it goes against the "spirit" of Shabbat.
After nearly a year of protests, the Obama administration has finally agreed to permit a rug connected to the Armenian genocide to be publicly displayed. While many believe the gesture marks the end of the long ordeal of the Armenian Orphan Rug, November's showcasing of the rug for six days in an exhibit about gifts to the White House is no victory. On the contrary, it is a defeat for everyone who cares about historical truth and everyone who seeks to learn the lessons of the past so that they will not be repeated, writes historian Rafael Medoff.
A clash between anti-boycott activists and a group of Jewish studies professors, which has recently become the subject of much debate in the American Jewish community, is actually just the latest of many boycott-related controversies that have divided U.S. Jewry over the years, writes historian Rafael Medoff.
JNS.org editor Jacob Kamaras reflects on his family's dedication of a Torah scroll for the United States military on Oct. 12. The new Torah—donated for the 50th yahrzeit of Jacob's grandfather of the same name, who was a U.S. Army veteran—represents the transformation of a legacy from absence to presence, Kamaras writes.
In a wide-ranging interview with Israel Hayom, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon gives his thoughts on the summer war with Hamas, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and U.S.-Israel relations. “We have a lot of shared interests with the U.S., and that outweighs the disputes,” he says. “Certainly there are shared values on which the two countries are founded. The disputes stem from differences in attitudes and worldviews. Their perspective from there is different than our perspective from here. Disputes are allowed.”
When circulated in both houses of the U.S. Congress, letters articulating the pro-Israel narrative on issues such as the Iranian nuclear threat and Hamas terrorism garner broad bipartisan support. Yet that support isn’t unanimous. How are federal legislators from your state weighing in on foreign policy issues prioritized by the Jewish community? JNS.org provides a picture through an analysis of three recent legislative letters.
Ex-presidents seldom take an interest in Jewish affairs, with two notable exceptions: Jimmy Carter, who has repeatedly clashed with the Jewish community, and Herbert Hoover, an unlikely ally of the Jews who passed away 50 years ago this week. As ex-president, Hoover took positions that were favorable to Jewish interests—even when it was not in his political interest to do so, writes historian Rafael Medoff.
What’s the cure for the recent ills of the United States Secret Service? American officials might consider taking some advice from their Israeli counterparts at the Shin Bet security agency. Former Israeli security and intelligence officials note that the Shin Bet, which also protects top dignitaries, has virtually the same tactics and training procedures as its American equivalent—without experiencing the same hiccups, at least in recent years. In 1995, the Shin Bet did experience its own crisis following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
After initially raising concern on the issue this summer, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is continuing to press the Nike footwear and apparel giant to remedy its promotion of a pre-World Cup animated video whose content has what critics call anti-Semitic overtones. ZOA is asking Nike to publicly apologize for the video, remove it from the public domain, and take other steps that would fall in line with how the company addressed a past episode that offended the Muslim community.
The Obama administration’s reluctance to support pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong revives a familiar clash between human rights and diplomatic relations—a conflict that has repeatedly bedeviled past U.S. administrations, including during the Nazi era, writes Rafael Medoff, director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.
As nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 powers approach a Nov. 24 deadline for a final deal, more than 80 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives signed an Oct. 1 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing concern over Iran’s “refusal to fully cooperate” with inquiries from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N.-affiliated nuclear watchdog.
Following a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Oct. 1, Netanyahu rejected American criticism of an Israeli construction plan in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos. “I think [the Obama administration] should be acquainted with the facts first,” Netanyahu said. “You know? First of all, these are not settlements. These are neighborhoods of Jerusalem. We have Arab neighborhoods and we have Jewish neighborhoods.”
In a historic victory for American victims of terrorist attacks in Israel, a jury in a U.S. federal court recently found the Jordan-based Arab Bank liable for knowingly funding Hamas-affiliated individuals and organizations during the Second Intifada. But more tellingly, the case, which asserted violations by the Arab Bank of the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, could affect policies by banks worldwide. Terrorists and their funders are now “on notice that the U.S. judicial system will protect the right of the American victims to seek recovery, hold those [terrorists] fully accountable, and gain justice through our American courts,” one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Richard Heideman, told JNS.org.
As world leaders converged on New York City for the 69th United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to remind them that the threats Israel faces today could be their own problems tomorrow. “Israel is fighting a fanaticism today that your countries might be facing tomorrow,” said Netanyahu, who described all Muslim extremists—from Islamic State to Nigeria’s Boko Haram to Hamas to Iran—as branches of the same “poisonous tree.”