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Scholars Steven M. Cohen and Sylvia Barack Fishman have authored a new study that calls attention to the implications of the decline of the non-Orthodox Jewish family—and calls for action. To their critics, who claim they are insensitive to the needs of the intermarried or those who have no interest in traditional Jewish institutions, the scholars simply point to the numbers. Those who want to enable the continuance of a community that enriches its participants’ lives should heed the call of Cohen and Fishman, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
If you haven’t encountered the term “Shi’a corridor” yet, chances are that you will in the coming weeks, particularly if the ongoing confrontation between the U.S. and Iran in Syria intensifies. It has been an established fact that the Iranian proxy Hezbollah has increased its number of missiles pointed at Israel by a factor of 10—despite the existence of a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding that Hezbollah disarm entirely. A Shi’a land corridor would make enforcing this resolution a much harder task. As always, Israel is prepared for the worst, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, recently wrote, “We cherish the variety of views present in the Reform Jewish community. However, we do not allow disagreement to inhibit our pursuit of justice.” The Reform movement is confronting real problems, such as the diminution of Jewish identity and catastrophic levels of basic Jewish illiteracy. It’s a terrible mistake that the movement’s answer to these crises is to wade deeper into politics, writes columnist Rabbi Jonathan Greenberg.
Every few years, a young far-left activist discovers Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and they are appalled. The idea of conservative Evangelicals advocating for the Jewish state runs counter to every prejudice about Christians the young advocate was raised to harbor. So the individual scours the internet, desperately hunting for that one item that will confirm their bigotry. And when they come up dry, they ignore, tinker with or amend the facts because they cannot confront a simple reality: they are intolerant of Evangelical Christians, writes Ari Morgenstern, CUFI communications director, in JNS.org.
Ivanka Trump is more than just the First Daughter. As a key adviser as well as the wife of Jared Kushner, the president’s Jewish son-in-law and point man on a host of issues, she has become a major political figure. More than that, as the country’s most famous convert to Orthodox Judaism she is a flash point for the hostility most of her co-religionists harbor for her father, writes JNS.org's Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
Following recent commemorations around the world for the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, when Israel took control of Judea and Samaria, the Israeli government is pledging to bolster the Jewish settlement enterprise. “Alongside our desire to reach an agreement with our Palestinian neighbors, we will continue to protect the settlement enterprise and strengthen it,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said. Oded Revivi, the mayor of Efrat, one of Israel’s largest settlements, told JNS.org he believes Netanyahu “wants to build more across Judea and Samaria, but feels held back by the international community.”
While the dispute between Qatar and other Arab states could end up benefiting the U.S. and Israel, experts say Qatar finds itself at a crossroads in its relationships with the region’s Sunni and Shi’a powers. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and other Arab countries have cut diplomatic relations with Qatar, citing the Gulf state’s terror ties and cooperation with Iran. “It seems as if they are being forced to choose a side in the Saudi-Iran rivalry, and it isn’t an easy choice for a small, vulnerable state like Qatar,” said Brandon Friedman, a research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University.
Once synagogues take the leap into open political activity, they are declaring those who don’t agree with these views persona non grata in the sanctuary. At best, the “Trump bump” is a temporary shot in the arm for liberal synagogues that will fade. At worst, it is a sign of growing division that sensible Jews should deplore no matter where they stand on President Donald Trump or any other political issue, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
Pastor Victor Styrsky and his congregation were celebrating Jerusalem’s reunification when they were disrupted by agitators from the leftist, anti-Zionist Jewish group IfNotNow. Evangelical Christians today are arguably the Jewish people’s staunchest allies. To disrupt Christians in their place of worship is an affront to all Christians and to the larger Jewish community, writes columnist Abraham H. Miller.
The decision by the Jewish weekly newspaper The Forward to publish a paid advertisement supporting imprisoned Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti is being questioned by some editors of other American Jewish newspapers. “Would The Forward, in the interests of ‘freedom of expression,’ accept ads from white supremacists? To ask the question is to answer it,” Jason Maoz, senior editor of The Jewish Press of Brooklyn, told JNS.org.
JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen is pleased to see that Arab states are finally punishing Qatar over its pro-Iran foreign policy and deep ties to terrorism funding, including support for Hamas. Yet after decades of corrupt and violent rule, the Arab world is still hostage to the same fundamental conflicts that nurtured both Arabism and Islamism. This lasting reality, far more than Qatar’s temporary discomfort, is what defines the region today and makes it so perilous, writes Cohen.
The organization borrows its name from the Hanukkah story’s heroes, and its founder is one of America’s highest-profile Jewish philanthropists. Yet as dozens of national Jewish nonprofits devote resources to fighting anti-Zionism on college campuses, the Maccabee Task Force (MTF) says it isn’t concerned about getting “credit” for pro-Israel victories. “What we found quickly is that it is best to work behind the scenes, and let the students on the frontlines and the pro-Israel professionals who actually live on the campus lead the way,” says MTF Director David Brog.
The most important incident during President Donald Trump’s visit to the Middle East took place out of view of the international press. At the time, it went unreported and unremarked upon. But Trump’s outburst of anger at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas may have set a tone that will either create real progress toward peace or, more likely, instill a degree of realism about Israel’s antagonists that has been lacking in the new administration, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
The high-profile U.S. arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which is awaiting congressional approval, raised alarm in Jerusalem due to the potential diminishment of Israel’s military edge over regional foes. The $110 billion sale is meant to counteract the growing regional aggression of the Saudis’ chief rival, Iran. While Israel shares Iran-related concerns with Saudi Arabia, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he is “not at peace with the whole arms race in the Middle East.” Yaakov Amidror, former head of Israel’s National Security Council, told JNS.org the arms sale creates “an obligation to ensure that Israel’s qualitative edge is secured, and to that end, there is a need to understand what exactly was sold to [the Saudis].”
It was heartening to hear that President Donald Trump privately confronted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on his incitement of terrorism and payments to terrorists. The question is whether the Trump administration will confine itself to rhetoric or follow up with concrete steps regarding the Palestinians and terrorism, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.
As debates about “fake news” continue to rage worldwide, a Mideast-focused watchdog group is taking its quest to hold the media accountable to a new language. CAMERA has hired Syrian-born researcher Ahed al-Hendi to spearhead the organization’s new Arabic-language media department. Hendi spent 40 days in a Syrian prison in 2006 for co-founding a pro-democracy group known as Syrian Youth for Justice. “By encouraging news organizations to engage in objective, unbiased reporting about Israel, it could help the free people of the Middle East to debunk all the theories that their ruling regimes use to oppress them,” Hendi said.
Just as President Donald Trump was implementing his reset of U.S. ties with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel suddenly found its way into Trump’s recent controversial revelation of classified information to Russia. Yet experts believe the Russia incident, which blurred the lines between the diplomatic and defense worlds, does not threaten the robust intelligence-sharing and broader defense relationship between America and Israel. “This is a passing episode that will be handled by professionals, without substantial impact,” Yaakov Amidror, the former head of Israel’s National Security Council, told JNS.org.
For both ends of the Jewish political spectrum, President Donald Trump has been something of a puzzle. Yet it is clear that for good or for ill, Trump has taken it into his head that Israeli-Palestinian peace is possible and that he is the man with the negotiating skills to forge a deal. When it comes to trying to figure out what Trump is up to in the Middle East, it is necessary to take Trump seriously but not literally, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
Prominent Democrats and major Jewish organizations are joining President Donald Trump in calling on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to stop making payments to terrorists and their families. All the cosponsors on the recently introduced Taylor Force Act—which would make U.S. aid to the PA conditional on the PA halting its terror payments—are Republicans. But New Jersey’s Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat, told JNS.org he “shares deep concerns” about the PA’s terror payments and believes “this practice should be stopped.” Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, wrote in a recent letter that “Palestinian leaders must understand unequivocally that the U.S. opposes…continued payments to the families of terrorists.”
“It’s a long road that I’ve walked and it starts before me,” says U.S. Navy veteran Jeff Kuhnreich, the new vice president of military affairs at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, reflecting on the events leading up to the latest chapter in his career. In an interview slated between the Memorial Days for fallen soldiers in Israel and America, Kuhnreich discusses his past and current work, U.S.-Israel ties and what Memorial Day means to him.