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People like Frazier Glenn Cross—the shooter who cold-bloodedly murdered three Christians in a bloody eve-of-Passover spree at two Jewish community buildings in Overland Park, Kan.—don’t emerge from a vacuum. They are enabled by the same deadly ideas about Jews and Israel that have become so fashionable in parts of the media and academia. In the wake of the hate crime in Kansas, it’s time to start highlighting those links, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
Carl Sagan fans old and new have been gazing at their televisions in awe as host Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson’s resurrection of the science epic “Cosmos” takes them on a journey from the Big Bang, to microscopic one-celled organisms, to the ascent of man, to beyond the stars and planets. The return of “Cosmos”—which launched in March and runs for 13 episodes on the Fox network, ending June 2—provides an opportune time to remember Sagan, the show’s Jewish creator.
Kansas’s tight-knit Jewish community was rocked just one day before the beginning of Passover as an alleged gunman took the lives of three people and injured another in attacks just minutes apart outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park and a local retirement village.
Alarmed by what they believe to be diplomatic failures by the Obama administration in nuclear negotiations with Iran, leading scholars of a Washington, DC-based think tank have proposed to have the United States provide Israel with the largest “bunker buster” bombs in the U.S. arsenal to help restore the administration’s leverage in its negotiations.
Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. A social media writer for Capital One, Ament decided about three years ago that it would be fun to invite Jewish women writers she admires to contribute stories about their mothers for an anthology. The resulting collection of 27 essays—dubbed “The Jewish Daughter Diaries: True Stories of Being Loved Too Much by Our Moms”—is set for a May 6 release, in time for Mother’s Day (May 11).
While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” Fuhrman tells JNS.org, “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care.” Fuhrman—a member of Jewish Vegetarians of North America—is best known for his popular 2011 book “Eat to Live,” which tries to make a case for how Americans should change their diets and for why what they usually eat is killing them.
After spending more than two and a half hours testifying in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State John Kerry is fending off criticism from all sides as Democrats, Republicans, and members of the media accuse him of unduly blaming Israelis for derailing peace negotiations.
On June 1, the annual Celebrate Israel Parade (formerly the Salute to Israel Parade)—billed as the American Jewish community’s largest show of pride and support for the Jewish state—steps off in New York City. While the parade’s theme this year for its 50th anniversary is “50 Reasons to Celebrate Israel,” a group of activists has found one particular reason to take the event to task. Ten Jewish organizations organized an April 8 protest rally outside the UJA-Federation of New York headquarters to make their opposition known to the inclusion of what they call pro-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) groups in the parade.
After facing growing pressure from faculty members, students, and an outside Muslim advocacy group, Brandeis University said Tuesday that it is rescinding its decision to award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women’s rights activist and critic of Islam, over her “past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.” But in light of the school’s past decisions to honor American playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner and South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, who have both made anti-Israel or anti-Semitic remarks, some are now accusing Brandeis of applying a double standard over the move to rescind Hirsi Ali’s honor for her remarks on Islam.
With only weeks left before the planned April 29 deadline to reach an agreement in the U.S. brokered Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, the Obama administration has been working overtime to salvage talks that unraveled early last week. Despite the effort, experts are bearish on whether any progress can be made with the parties involved, all of whom are embattled at home and abroad.
The controversy over the Harvard University students who recently posed, smiling, at Yasser Arafat’s grave sent a shot of pain through everyone who has lost a loved one in the terrorist attacks that Arafat and his allies have waged over the years, writes Stephen M. Flatow, whose daughter Alisa was killed in a 1995 Palestinian bombing attack. But according to Flatow, it must have been particularly awful for Harvard-educated scientist Dr. Alan Bauer to see students from his own school enjoying a visit to the tombstone of the man responsible for the attack that left Bauer and his 7-year-old son permanently maimed.
For all its beauty and subtext, director Darren Aronofsky’s recently released “Noah” is bloated, as the film is perhaps too drawn out for its own good. Whatever good intentions Aronofsky originally had are lost in the flood, and overshadowed by audience discussions about the production’s biblical accuracy. The director veers from the defining tenets of his previous films, only to get bogged down by biblical storytelling conventions and the nature of sin, writes reviewer Jason Stack.
As the next Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, President Hassan Rouhani has appointed Hamid Aboutalebi, a man who participated in the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979. The appointment is a useful reminder that the Islamic Republic remains an outright enemy of the U.S., not a negotiating partner with whom we have differences, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen. But beyond its expression of “serious concerns,” will U.S. take action to try to prevent Aboutalebi from assuming the post?
As a member of the Israel Defense Forces, Hen Mazzig worked almost five years to protect civilians, human lives, and their dignity in the West Bank. He spent the most important years of his life to make sure the IDF protects human rights and lives up to the Geneva Conventions, to protect his army and his people. Yet in a matter of 45 minutes at Washington University in St. Louis, a former Israeli soldier speaking on behalf of the NGO "Breaking the Silence" invalidated Mazzig's entire military service, accusing him of the very things that he worked so hard to prevent, Mazzig writes in an op-ed.
The U.S.-Israel relationship finds itself at a critical juncture as American Jewish opinions and passions swirl regarding the U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which stand on the brink of collapse. Against that backdrop, six Israeli Members of Knesset (MK), each representing a slice of the diverse Israeli political landscape, had the chance to interact directly with the American Jewish community at a town hall forum in Boston on April 1.
American universities have long been a place of political engagement, where rhetoric far from the sphere of mainstream political discourse is often the norm. But the recent suspension of a Students for Justice in Palestine chapter has thrust Boston’s Northeastern University into a national debate on what constitutes free speech and what crosses into anti-Semitism and intimidation.
Many young Jewish artists struggle to define who they are personally, artistically, and religiously. Against the backdrop of that struggle, the recent Asylum Arts International Jewish Artists Retreat provided a space for some 70 young Jewish artists to explore Jewish ideas, to build community and a culture of reciprocity, and to learn skills to assist their career development.
When the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs tip off on April 19, the star players taking the court should credit their status to recently retired league commissioner David Stern, according to Peter Horvitz, author of “The Big Book of Jewish Sports Heroes.” Stern’s leadership of the NBA for 30 years saw the league shift from the fringe of sports fans’ attention to the very center. “The leading players of the sport have become true superstars,” Horvitz told JNS.org. “Players like Larry Bird, Dr. J, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan have become cultural icons. I don’t think the prosperity and popularity of any sport owes so much to the executive abilities of a single man more than basketball owes to David Stern.”