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The new Clearly Kosher® bottled water brand says its product is, “Better than perfect.”™ What might not be so clear to Jewish consumers, however, is why water would need to brand itself as “kosher.” Kosher experts tell JNS.org that there are advantages to having a kosher certification even when a particular product doesn't need one. “It is all marketing. ... There is a perception among consumers in general that when something is kosher certified, it is enhanced—that may or may not be true,” says Dr. Avrom Pollak, president of the Star-K certifier.

In 1977, after telling us that he was “so bored with the USA,” British punk legend Joe Strummer plaintively asked, “But what can I do?” Today, we have no reason to feel so powerless, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen. The pro-Israel community should declare its boredom with the Obama administration, which seems to view Israel as an obstacle to the betterment of the Middle East region rather than part of the solution. What can we do? In Cohen's estimation, the aim should be to wreck the emerging nuclear deal with Iran by demanding unfettered International Atomic Energy Agency access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, and by reaffirming that any attempts to weaponize the Iranian nuclear program will be met with a military response if necessary.

Ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s much-debated March 3 address to a joint session of Congress about the Iranian nuclear threat, former U.S. secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld said that the focus on protocol and the speech’s venue, rather than on the content of Netanyahu’s message, “plays into the hands” of the U.S.-Israel relationship’s opponents. “I find it stunning to see the comments out of the White House on this issue,” Rumsfeld said in an interview with Israel Hayom, whose English-language content is distributed exclusively by JNS.org. “It plays into the hands of those people who are not in favor of the relationship [between Israel and the U.S.], who are not in favor of Israel, or who are in favor of Iran, and the idea that people are saying what they are saying I find most unfortunate.”

The illusion is shattered. When confronted with claims of complicity in terror attacks, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) can no longer lift their hands and say in puzzlement, “Who, me?” Some other myths have been shattered after 10 American families victimized by Palestinian terrorism in Israel were awarded $218.5 million by a U.S. court. Stephen M. Flatow, whose daughter Alisa was killed in a Palestinian terror attack in 1995, writes that one myth is that suicide bombers are “lunatics”—which late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin told the Flatow family when he visited them a month after Alisa's death. Flatow writes that the treatment of Palestinians as children who do not know better, allowing the PA and PLO to duck from responsibility for terrorist acts carried out under their watch, must be discarded.

A New York City-based federal jury on Monday ordered the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to pay $218.5 million in reparations to American citizens who were targeted by terror attacks in Jerusalem, and to the victims’ families. The ruling is seen as a major victory for those seeking to hold so-called moderate Palestinian factions accountable for terrorism. “This is a significant ruling because the jury has discarded the long-held fiction that the Palestinians are not responsible for their actions,” Stephen M. Flatow, a New Jersey-based attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered by the Palestinian terrorist group Islamic Jihad in 1995, told JNS.org

These days, knowing that an organization is promoting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel gets proponents of the Jewish state angry and mobilized. But understanding what BDS actually means is something entirely different, as is demonstrated by the ongoing challenge that the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) faces over its allowance of the New Israel Fund (NIF) to march in the annual Celebrate Israel Parade. To the JCRC, BDS is merely BD, without the “S” for sanctions—and the NIF reaps the benefit of having that last letter totally ignored, writes public relations executive Ronn Torossian.

Two recently passed student resolutions initiated by Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement advocates in California share a common twist: lumping additional nations and political entities with Israel as divestment targets. Pro-Israel advocates give JNS.org their perspective of this BDS movement strategy.

 

 

Love, as the song goes, is in the air. If the latest media reports are accurate, the United States and the Iranian regime are rapidly closing in on a deal over the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions. JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen presents the conditions for his “dream deal” with Iran, but fears that once we excitedly unwrap the gift box, we’ll find that it’s empty.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has become a rising star in the Democratic Party through her focus on economic and social issues, triggering calls for her to run for president. Less is known about her views on Israel, but two recent moves may shed light on her outlook. Warren was one of four Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee to vote against the latest bipartisan Iran sanctions, and was also not among the 75 senators to sign a letter stating that the senators would not support foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority until the Obama administration reviews the PA’s unilateral bid to join the International Criminal Court. “The best place for the pro-Israel community to be is in a place where they have bipartisan support. … I would hope that Senator Warren would return to the bipartisan consensus position in the future,” said Tevi Troy, who served as White House liaison to the Jewish community under President George W. Bush.

A former New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer is suing the force for $150 million after facing what he claims was years of vicious anti-Semitic discrimination and abuse at the hands of his fellow officers, according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by JNS.org. Former NYPD officer David Attali said he was subjected to daily anti-Semitic harassment and ridicule by his colleagues, who constantly referred to him as “Jew,” “dirty Jew,” and “f***ing Jew,” according to the legal complaint. Attali, a 31-year-old New York City resident who holds dual American and Israeli citizenship, said he endured the abuse for years before filing a complaint and resigning from the force just six years into his career.

When all else fails, play the race card. With the White House campaign against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu running out of steam, the administration’s supporters scraped the bottom of the barrel last week, suggesting that the Israeli leader is a racist for accepting the invitation from Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner (R-Ohio). While the Congressional Black Caucus contends that Netanyahu is insulting Obama, the actual insult is that the real anti-black racists of the Muslim world get away scot-free, write Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn of the Religious Zionists of America.

New episodes involving President Barack Obama and the J Street lobby represent an Orwellian inversion of reality—lies become truth, truth becomes a lie. According to Obama, we are not at war with jihadis, who are more properly understood as sociopaths. According to J Street, the Obama administration is not creating the foundations for Iran to become dominant Middle East power; instead, it is negotiating a “reasonable” solution to the nuclear issue. Obama and J Street are proving that the West is not above trafficking in the lies that have made the Middle East such a wretched location for nearly a century, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.

The latest episode in a history of tension between the Obama administration and Israel has escalated to a new level, with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden opting out of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 speech before a joint session of Congress on the Iranian nuclear issue and radical Islam. American vice presidents—who also serve as president of the U.S. Senate—are normally in attendance when foreign leaders address Congress, usually sitting behind the podium along with the speaker of the House. “Given the stakes and the hour, Biden’s decision to not even listen to Netanyahu’s speech is an abdication of his most basic responsibilities,” David Brog, the executive director of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), told JNS.org. “It is the victory of politics over duty.”

 

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that he remains “determined” to give his March 3 address before a joint session of Congress on the dangers of a nuclear Iran and radical Islam, the stakes surrounding the controversial speech continue to rise. The speech, which has drawn sharp criticism from the Obama administration, has left Democratic members of Congress and American Jewish leaders facing a difficult scenario: they can choose to support Netanyahu’s plans and by extension, Israel’s use of any means at its disposal to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, but doing so would mean defying the White House. “American Jewish leaders are in a bind,” said Dan Diker, a Mideast analyst at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism and former secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress. “They’re being forced to deal with the perceived problem of dual loyalty, and no Jewish American ever wants to be in that position.” 

At his confirmation hearings, U.S. Defense Secretary-designate Ashton Carter expressed concern about safe havens for terrorists in Afghanistan, Libya, and Pakistan. Yet for some reason, he neglected to mention the Middle Eastern regime that is one of the worst offenders when it comes to granting safe haven to terrorists—the Palestinian Authority (PA). America’s anti-terrorism policy must be consistent if it is to be effective, and that means holding the PA accountable, writes attorney Stephen M. Flatow, whose daughter Alisa was killed in a Palestinian terror attack in 1995. 

When Brian Mast, a 34-year-old Christian and full-time Harvard University student, was disturbed by anti-Israel demonstrations both on and around his campus, he decided it was time to come to Israel and lend a hand in whatever way he could. The fact that Mast lost his legs while serving for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan didn’t stop him. “Sending a guy over with no legs took some doing,” Mast tells JNS.org. “But I knew I needed to do something real to show my support. Posting ‘I support Israel’s right to defend herself’ on Facebook isn’t enough. Talk is cheap. I needed to get my hands dirty.”  

As Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month is marked in February—on a parallel track with North American Inclusion Month—a report by the Jewish Inclusion Project says there are many synagogues that remain unaccessible to those with physical challenges, that most Jewish day schools have limited (if any) provisions for students with different learning needs, and that there are too few inclusive Jewish summer camps for children with disabilities. But in Baltimore, the Jewish community took a first step toward greater inclusion a few years ago through the creation of a free in-person concierge/support service, website, and parent-to-parent network for people with disabilities and their families. The model of the Baltimore Jewish Abilities Alliance has now been replicated in Atlanta, and other Jewish communities may follow suit.

The way philanthropist Adam Milstein sees it, the priorities of fundraising and survival mean that Jewish and pro-Israel organizations are held back by a natural instinct against intimate and robust collaboration. But Milstein has decided to intervene and become a connector. His Los Angeles-based Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation supports dozens of organizations, 58 of which are listed on its website, and ensures that every program it funds is shared among multiple groups. “Everything that I do, I put a few organizations together, I make them work together, make them empower each other, and create a force multiplier,” Milstein, 63, tells JNS.org.

As the debate on vaccination heats up again in the U.S., some “anti-vaxxers” are requesting exemptions from vaccinating their children on religious grounds. But what do their faiths, including Judaism, actually say about the issue?

The supposedly unprecedented step taken by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his plan to speak directly before Congress about the Iranian nuclear threat on March 3, rather than working exclusively with the White House on the issue, actually has an interesting precedent—established in 1975 by none other than Yitzhak Rabin and America’s Democratic Party, writes historian Rafael Medoff.