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.

Latest News

A Jewish teenager with dual Israeli and American citizenship living in the Israeli city of Ashkelon was arrested Thursday in connection to the wave of more than 100 bomb threats against JCCs and other Jewish institutions across North America since the beginning of 2017. The unnamed suspect, 19, was arrested by Israel’s Lahav 433 police unit in the wake of a months-long investigation by Israeli authorities, who worked alongside the FBI and other international law enforcement agencies.

What steps can the West take to defeat Islamic State? The U.S. and Israel should work to push the Syrian Kurds away from the Iran-Shi’a axis and Russia, and toward an alliance with the Americans and the Israelis, leading experts on Syria and the Kurds told JNS.org.

If you have eaten at a high-end kosher restaurant sometime during the last decade, chances are that someone working for that restaurant was a student, or a student’s student, of Chef Avram Wiseman. The chef instructor welcomes the first cohort of students May 1 for the Brooklyn-based Kosher Culinary Center, which calls itself “the only kosher culinary school outside of Israel to offer professional training in the culinary and pastry arts.” But until now, Wiseman’s far-reaching industry footprint has flown under the radar. “Avram Wiseman is like a walking iPhone 7—fully charged, on steroids, with every app already downloaded, full of knowledge and fun,” said David Kolotkin, the former executive chef at New York’s Prime Grill kosher steakhouse.

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.

When columnists J.J. Goldberg and Jonathan Tobin first planned a post-election debate tour, their focus was on discussing divergent views of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Goldberg, a liberal Zionist, thinks the conflict is ready to be solved by just a little more effort. Tobin, a conservative, thinks the Palestinians show no signs of being willing to give up their war on the legitimacy of any Jewish state. What they’ve discovered while journeying throughout North America is that the 2016 U.S. election worsened the divisions within the Jewish community and American society. Yet they’ve encountered audiences hungry for something different than the usual invective served up on cable news networks. Jews and Americans need to relearn how to listen to each other, writes Tobin.

A cornerstone of Jewish community relations work is building bridges to other religious and ethnic communities. The principle behind these efforts is sound. But as the Jews who have made Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour into a heroine of the “resistance” against President Donald Trump have shown, interfaith dialogue is not an end unto itself. If the end result is to legitimize those who work to undermine the rights of the Jews, then we are witnessing a self-destructive act, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan Tobin.

Diplomats never pretend to be experts on acting, yet for some reason actors constantly present themselves as experts on international affairs. Hollywood award ceremonies are now dominated by awardees delivering pretentious political diatribes. The latest presumed fount of wisdom is Richard Gere, who visited Israel last week to promote a film in which he plays a character modeled on the American Jewish businessman from whom Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accepted large bribes. When you’re “impossibly good-looking,” you can get away with pro-Palestinian hypocrisy, writes columnist Stephen M. Flatow.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, for more than five hours in Jerusalem Monday night amid the Trump administration’s efforts to jumpstart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which have been frozen since 2014. 

Israel’s Knesset last week passed landmark legislation against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement—representing just one of several setbacks this month for BDS around the world, including in the U.S., Spain and Switzerland.

Long admired in pro-Israel circles for his book, “The Case for Israel,” former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz is now making the case against the BDS movement. “I try to make the argument it’s anti-peace and anti-two-state solution. If you’re in favor of peace and the two-state solution, you should fight against BDS,” Dershowitz said at a recent anti-BDS conference in Los Angeles. More than 250 people representing Jewish and pro-Israel advocacy groups gathered March 4-6 for the annual anti-BDS summit hosted by StandWithUs, to exchange ideas and strategize in the face of the boycott movement’s multifaceted threat against Israel.

The surprising success of Israel’s World Baseball Classic team, which is made up of American Jews, has nothing to do with American immigration to Israel. Some of the team’s members are not even considered Jewish under stringent standards of Jewish law, meaning many religious and political institutions in Israel would not accept them. Instead, this team tells the story of America at its best: a patriotic nation, but not one that requires its citizens to pledge exclusive loyalty to the state or to any god. As an added bonus, due to Team Israel’s achievements on the global stage, the world finally knows that Jews are good at baseball, writes columnist Ronen Dorfan.

A number of Jewish critics of the Trump administration have resorted to increasingly harsh rhetoric in recent weeks, although some have backtracked after questions were raised about their choice of language. For instance, Jay Michaelson, a nondenominational rabbi, in an article for The Forward referred to “the Trump administration’s assaults on Muslims, Mexicans, Australians…the environment, public education, health care, women and Jews.” Asked by JNS.org for examples of the Trump administration’s assaults against Jews, Michaelson clarified that by “assaults,” he actually meant rhetoric, not physical assaults.

At a time when much of American Jewry is opposed to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, it was probably inevitable that a growing number of synagogues would declare themselves “sanctuaries” where “undocumented” immigrants can find both shelter and help in evading the authorities. These institutions and their supporters say their decision is grounded in justice, history and even Jewish liturgy. Yet the real motivation for the growth in support for this idea is a desire to join the “resistance” against Trump rather than a serious belief that religious institutions have the right to designate their buildings as a place where the law may not be enforced, writes JNS Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.

With recent reports indicating that the Trump administration’s planned budget cuts could extend to the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, the potential nixing of the position shines a light on questions regarding the specific nature of the envoy’s work and the future utility of the position. Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, told JNS.org that his group “strongly supports having a special envoy on the condition that it is the right person who will emphasize Muslim anti-Semitism, which is the driving factor for the increase of anti-Semitism in Europe, in the U.S. and on college campuses.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday approved President Donald Trump’s designated ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, following a groundswell of support for the nominee from conservative and centrist pro-Israel organizations and staunch opposition from liberal Jewish groups.

“There is no place in the Bible…that any of these people can hang their hat on,” said Laurie Cardoza-Moore, founder and president of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, in a rebuke to Christians who promote the BDS movement against Israel. “It is fake theology, like it is fake news!” she said, earning a thunderous applause at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) International Christian Media Convention. NRB—whose stated mission is to “advance biblical truth; to promote media excellence; and to defend free speech”—made Christian support for Israel a major theme at its conference this year.

For the past 15 years, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has been promoting the so-called “Saudi Initiative,” a plan which he says proves that Saudi Arabia sincerely wants peace with Israel. But this week, a senior Palestinian leader revealed that at the very moment the Saudis were launching that plan, they were financing a major wave of terrorism against Israel. It’s time for Friedman to publicly admit he was wrong and apologize for the harm he caused to Israel, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.

French President François Hollande is disturbed that President Donald Trump criticized a U.S. ally, describing the terrorism that has plagued France in recent years as the product of an open border policy. Yet it is Hollande who should self-reflect on his own criticism of the French ally of Israel, writes Zionist Organization of America President Morton A. Klein.

The reason the mainstream media and many Democrats are now shouting about anti-Semitism—while they often downplay it when it comes from far left, Islamic or Palestinian sources—is that they believe it can now be blamed on President Donald Trump. Attempting to pin anti-Semitism on one politician or party, especially the one that has become a lockstep supporter of Israel, will do nothing to deal with the most potent threats to Jewry, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.

The most recent round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations failed because the Palestinian Authority (PA) responded to each Israeli concession with new demands and the Obama administration kept taking the Palestinians’ side, according to a veteran Israeli negotiator. Michael Herzog, a member of Israel’s negotiating teams since 1993, in a recent essay disclosed previously unknown details about the U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian talks that took place in 2013-2014. On one occasion, Secretary of State John Kerry hoped to convince the PA to extend the talks by pressing Israel to release 400 imprisoned terrorists. David Bukay, a Mideast Studies professor at the University of Haifa, told JNS.org that Herzog’s account demonstrates how the key problem in the negotiations was the Obama administration’s failure to understand that the PA’s goal is ultimately to conquer Israel “in its entirety.”