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A first-of-its-kind conference organized by StandWithUs—entitled “Combating the Boycott Movement Against Israel (BDS)—Understanding the BDS Movement’s Strategies and Tactics”—was unique in the sense that it enabled pro-Israel experts and advocates from around the U.S. and Israel to put their heads together, compare notes, share their experiences, and discuss the best strategies to fight the BDS scourge, writes conference attendee J.J. Surbeck, executive director of San Diego T.E.A.M. (Training and Education About the Middle East).
“Each man kills the thing he loves,” wrote Oscar Wilde. And President Barack Obama bears him out. Obama’s zeal to create a Palestinian state, and his elevation of that quest to the most important goal of American policy in the Middle East, has been profoundly disquieting for Israel. Not only do Israelis perceive Obama as placing undue pressure and censure upon Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but they also perceive him as an appeaser of the Iranian mullahs and of the Assad regime in Syria. Should the phrase “two-state solution” become a permanent metaphor for a failed policy, Obama’s contribution on that score will have been decisive. But he will choose to blame Israel and Netanyahu instead, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
“The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer.” When Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, spoke those words, he could very well have been referring to the scientific breakthroughs that were destined to emerge from the school that would bear his name. What Ben-Gurion may not have envisioned is the emergence of an annual rite in which American journalists see those discoveries for themselves. After 10 years, the Murray Fromson AABGU (American Associates, Ben-Gurion University) Media Mission has brought nearly 100 reporters and editors from across the Atlantic for an up-close look at the cutting-edge research taking place at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. “We want [the journalists] to see that, although it’s so new, only 45 years old, this university was the realization of Ben-Gurion’s vision of a world-class research center in the heart of the desert,” said Ronni Strongin, the AABGU vice president who kickstarted the media trip.
Former secretary of state James Baker, a prominent figure in president George H. W. Bush’s administration and a critic of the Israeli government’s policies, is under fire from conservatives and pro-Israel activists for his decision to speak at the annual conference of the left-wing J Street lobby. But should the pro-Israel community’s concern extend to former Florida governor and presumed presidential candidate Jeb Bush, for whom Baker serves as a foreign policy adviser? “Baker is not a key adviser to Jeb Bush; he has about a dozen policy advisers, all of whom are strong supporters of Israel. ... Jeb disagrees with [Baker] on the U.S.-Israel relationship and the way forward in the Middle East,” said Fred Zeidman, a Houston businessman and Republican fundraiser who is close with the Bush family.
In “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic board game, players imagine empires and vie for world domination. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Bret Stephens’s new book, “America in Retreat, The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder,” reveals a real-life Risk board. In a vacuum of American leadership, modern nations compete for influence and resources, too often at the expense of Free World ideals. Stephens examines America’s present-day hand in a crumbling world order. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist—formerly editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post, currently deputy editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, and a popular columnist among Jewish and pro-Israel readers—makes a compelling case that the U.S. not in decline, and that a strategy of retreat is both unnecessary and a terrible risk.
Until the Obama administration decided to shift its support away from Israel because of a rather torturous interpretation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign rhetoric, it seemed absurd that a major policy decision against an ally would ever turn on the hyperbole of a political campaign. But President Barack Obama's conflict with Netanyahu is not about Netanyahu—it is about the U.S. administration grabbing a fig leaf to justify a move toward the Palestinians, writes Abraham H. Miller, an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati and a senior fellow with the Haym Salomon Center.
On Monday, nearly 500 college students attending the annual J Street conference in America’s capital gathered outside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for a two-block march to the headquarters of Hillel International to express disappointment that the Jewish campus umbrella’s CEO and president, Eric Fingerhut, cancelled his appearance at the conference. Fingerhut had pulled out of the gathering after learning that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who has compared Israel to the Islamic State terror group and defended Hamas, was also speaking at the conference.
When the champion of the U.S.-Israel alliance sounds the alarm, something about the steadfast allies’ relationship is more contentious than usual. Last week, the staunchly bipartisan American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—which does not frequently issue public statements, let alone criticize a sitting American president—urged the Obama administration to “recommit to improving” U.S.-Israel ties. Tension between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama is nothing new, but seems to have escalated to an even higher level. JNS.org reviews five current sources of bitterness in the leaders’ relationship: Iran, the two-state solution, the U.N., Israeli Arabs, and alleged U.S. funding of anti-Netanyahu campaign efforts.
Since hitting theaters on Valentine’s Day, the blockbuster film “Fifty Shades of Grey”—part 1 of a big-screen trilogy based on E.L. James’s wildly successful book series of the same name—has cast an international spotlight on the sexual practices known as BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism). Some BDSM practitioners have said both the film and the book do not accurately depict their lifestyle. But what does it actually mean to practice BDSM, and more specifically, what does that lifestyle mean for Jews who choose it? Clinical sex counselor Dr. Limor Blockman says that Judaism is the most “open religion” for BDSM because it is more “accepting of sexuality” than other major faiths and promotes the responsibility of one partner for the sexual satisfaction of the other.
Last month, members of the student government at South Africa’s Durban University of Technology (DUT) called for the expulsion of all Jewish students from their campus. The very next day, halfway around the world, the student government at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) engaged in a similar display of anti-Jewish bigotry, nearly denying a highly qualified young woman a position on the student judiciary board after four student representatives brazenly argued that her Jewishness should make her ineligible for the position. Both the DUT and UCLA student governments also previously voted to embrace the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. This is not a coincidence, but rather further evidence of the well-documented relationship between BDS and anti-Semitism, writes Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz and cofounder of the AMCHA Initiative non-profit.
After January’s Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris, the Obama administration pledged to assist the French authorities in every way possible. Now it has a chance to make good on that promise. The French government recently issued arrest warrants for three Palestinian terrorists involved in a 1982 attack on a Jewish restaurant in Paris—and one of them is being sheltered by the Palestinian Authority (PA). If PA President Mahmoud Abbas is not prepared to hand that terrorist over to France, the U.S. should issue its own warrant for his arrest because two Americans were among those murdered, writes attorney Stephen M. Flatow, whose daughter Alisa was killed in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.
For nations such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, which all have Sunni Muslim-majority populations, Iran—which is a Shi’a Muslim and ethnically Persian country—has long been viewed as a regional rival. Now, the emerging nuclear deal between Iran and world powers has given Israel and those Arab states a shared concern. Recent media reports said that Saudi diplomats expressed their willingness to lend Saudi Arabia’s airspace to Israel for a possible attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “Although those reports have been officially denied by both Riyadh and Jerusalem, this kind of cooperation makes strategic sense,” Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council think tank, told JNS.org. “Saudi Arabia and Israel both feel betrayed by the current negotiations underway with Iran, and both feel they need to make alternative plans to cope with what both view as an existential threat to its existence.”
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a picture of an individual with as high a profile as Pope Francis is probably worth more than a thousand. In that sense, a Texas-based photo exhibit of the pope’s visit to Israel last year should generate abundant discussion. More than nine months after Pope Francis visited Israel, the disputed Palestinian territories, and Jordan from May 24-26, 2014, a collection of 35 photos from the Israel portion of his Mideast trip is on display through March 16 at the Ragsdale Center of St. Edward’s University (SEU), a Roman Catholic university in Austin, Texas. “You see [the pope] with the different Christian denominations and with the Muslims, and this shows that Israel is an open society in which everyone can worship what they want openly. This is the major thing that we want to show [through the photo exhibit],” says Daniel Agranov, Consul at the Houston-based Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest United States.
OurCrowd, the crowdfunding platform that has raised $100 million for Israeli start-up companies over the last two years, in late February announced its first official strategic partnership on U.S. soil. The collaboration is with the Maryland/Israel Development Center (MIDC), which promotes bilateral trade and investment to help create jobs in both economies mentioned in its name. But OurCrowd founder Jonathan Medved has much more than Maryland in mind. “This isn’t really about OurCrowd, or about OurCrowd and MIDC,” he tells JNS.org. “This is about partnership between the U.S. and Israel, which is linking the two most important sources of innovation in the world.”
Nine American synagogues donating to the New Israel Fund (NIF) all appear to stand for Israel and claim to be Zionistic in their hearts, and most say a prayer for Israel at their Shabbat services. But all of that may run counter to their support of the NIF, a charity that has done so much harm to Israel’s wellbeing, writes public relations executive Ronn Torossian.
For Master of Business Administration (MBA) students studying at the top business schools in the United States, a placement service has been developed to help them obtain a paid summer internship in the "start-up nation" of Israel, which has become a fertile training ground for future business leaders in a global economy. InsideIL, a non-profit organization founded in 2014, is the brainchild of two Harvard University-educated women who understand the business experience and opportunities that come from living, working, and learning in Israel.
“There was nothing new in it.” With those six words, President Barack Obama tried to dismiss the significance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress on March 3. But there was, in fact, something very new and very important in the speech—something that Obama wants to keep out of the spotlight. The forgotten issue in the negotiations with Iran is now back, front and center, thanks to the Israeli prime minister: Iran’s role as—in Netanyahu’s words—“the foremost sponsor of global terrorism.” The Obama administration has kept the terrorism issue off the table throughout its talks with the Iranian regime. That is a terrible mistake, writes attorney Stephen M. Flatow, whose interest in Iran and terrorism is personal because Iran sponsored the Palestinian jihadists who carried out the 1995 bombing in which his daughter Alisa was murdered.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress demonstrated that he respects and loves America, and that he doesn’t want an error of historic proportions over Iran to drive a wedge through this country’s relationship with Israel. On a philosophical level, Netanyahu underlined that the notion of trust in international relations does not have a one-size-fits-all meaning. His speech also proved definitively that the current deal that the Obama administration is so keen to cut with Iran will result in the world’s principal sponsor of terrorism weaponizing its nuclear program, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
In perhaps the most widely debated address ever given by a foreign leader to Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described a “fateful crossroads” on the Iranian nuclear threat and said that the emerging deal between Iran and world powers is paving the way for a Middle East “littered with nuclear bombs.”
Amid a rocky week for the relationship between U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice and the pro-Israel community, Rice’s assessment of the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers put her at odds with attendees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference on Monday night. In the aftermath of Rice's remark that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Congress speech is "destructive" for the U.S.-Israel relationship, which prompted a widely condemned newspaper advertisement that accused her of having a "blind spot" on genocide, Rice experienced discord with the AIPAC conference audience on Iran sanctions and the parameters of a nuclear deal.