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Israel’s parliament this week took action in response to an Arab Knesset member’s public support of a terrorist who murdered an American-Jewish peace activist. But if you read the account by New York Times correspondent Isabel Kershner, you wouldn’t know anything about the terrorist or his victim—all you would learn is that Israel’s rulers are suppressing dissent and might be infected by “budding fascism.” It’s as if Kershner and her editors are living in some kind of alternative universe in which Israel is always guilty, Arab extremists are always innocent, and the 141 Americans who have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists simply don’t exist, writes columnist Stephen M. Flatow.
Other than being part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Sandy Koufax and Dean Kremer have something else in common: a respect for Jewish tradition. Koufax decided not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because the game fell on Yom Kippur. “I would do the same,” Kremer told JNS.org. Last month, Kremer became the first Israeli citizen to sign with an MLB team. The right-handed pitcher was selected by Los Angeles in the 2016 draft and subsequently joined the Dodgers’ Ogden Raptors minor league affiliate in Utah. “I was raised in the Jewish tradition and we speak Hebrew at home,” said Kremer, who grew up in Tel Aviv. “Everything will stay the same [while I’m playing professional baseball], but it is difficult, especially when we get meals catered here. But I try not to eat pork….The values and morals of a Jewish person were instilled in me, and that’s the way I live my life.”
A new technology endorsed by the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America (JCCA) could play a key role in preventing future attacks such as the 2014 shootings at the JCC of Greater Kansas City and the Village Shalom geriatric center. Earlier this year, JCCA announced FST Biometrics, an Israeli developer of In Motion Identification (IMID) technology, as its preferred identity management vendor. Brian Soileau, JCCA’s manager of corporate partnerships, told JNS.org that he immediately found favor in the IMID solution, which uses biometric identification technology—including facial recognition and body behavior analytics—to allow JCC staffers and members to move freely into and through facilities, while restricting access to unauthorized visitors.
On July 11, the History Channel reaffirmed its commitment to accuracy and truth by revising its “Albert Einstein: Fact or Fiction?” webpage to replace erroneous wording tending to negatively portray Israel: “Though he (Albert Einstein) was very sympathetic to Israel, he was never an ardent Zionist—he believed in ‘friendly and fruitful’ cooperation between Jews and Arabs.” There were two problems here: the erroneous characterization of Einstein’s attitude toward Zionism, and the erroneous implication that Zionism and Israel from the outset did not believe in cooperation between Arabs and Jews. The History Channel’s revised wording reads, “Einstein was, however, very sympathetic to Israel. In 1947 he expressed his belief in Zionism as well as the importance of ‘friendly and fruitful’ cooperation between Jews and Arabs.” The case for revision was made to the network by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), writes CAMERA research analyst Myron Kaplan.
The omission of Palestinian statehood from this year’s Republican Party platform is neither a radical change nor a departure from immutable U.S. policy, as some critics are claiming. In fact, both parties’ platforms have repeatedly changed positions on Israel-related issues over the years, in keeping with the preference of the presidential nominee or the changing mood among their rank and file, writes historian Rafael Medoff.
After a selection process that more closely resembled a reality television show than the usual political appointments, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Friday tweeted that his choice for vice president is Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who beat out flashier contenders such as former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. For the pro-Israel community, Pence is viewed as a strong advocate for the Jewish state who can bolster Trump’s sometimes shaky relationship with Jewish leaders. Pence, an evangelical Christian, has noted that his strong support for Israel is rooted in his faith. “Let me say emphatically, like the overwhelming majority of my constituents, my Christian faith compels me to cherish the state of Israel,” Pence said in an address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 2009, while he was serving in Congress.
On Tuesday, the Republican Platform Committee unanimously approved significant changes to its platform in an attempt to further set the party’s pro-Israel credentials apart from the Democrats. The GOP’s platform changes included removing language encouraging a two-state solution as well as reinstating a reference to an “undivided” Israel that was previously included in the party’s 2008 platform, but was removed in 2012. The push to bolster the Republican Party’s language on Israel follows a four-year effort by pro-Israel leaders to reach out to the party’s base—evangelical Christians—as well as to Jewish and other ethnic groups to reach a Republican consensus on Israel policy. Most recently, pro-Israel groups worked on the platform changes with the campaign of presumptive nominee Donald Trump. “It’s the most pro-Israel platform that either party has ever issued, so we’re obviously very proud of the accomplishment,” David Friedman, one of Trump's Israel advisers, told JNS.org.
The Republican Party has reportedly reinstated language endorsing an “undivided” Jerusalem into the party’s platform ahead of its national convention in Cleveland later this month. According to CNN, which cited a draft of the party platform that it obtained, the Republicans would reinstate a reference to an “undivided” Jerusalem while removing a reference to “Palestine” in support for a two-state solution. The Republicans’ move comes in the aftermath of advocacy on the issue by the lobbying affiliate of Pastor John Hagee’s influential Christians United for Israel (CUFI) non-profit. In a letter obtained by JNS.org that was sent to Republican convention delegates on July 6, former Ronald Reagan administration official Gary Bauer, director of the CUFI Action Fund lobby, called for the GOP platform to “strengthen its language in support for Israel with Jerusalem as Israel’s ‘undivided, enteral’ capital.”
One year after they signed a nuclear deal with world powers, the Iranians are secretly attempting to procure illicit nuclear technology and equipment. So says Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. It appears that the mullahs are supremely confident that America and the West will do nothing to enforce the agreement. Looking back on the Iran deal and the singular role Iran’s American lobby—the National Iranian American Council—played in the formulation and promotion of the agreement, it’s clear that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s past experience with President Barack Obama has given him good reason to believe the current U.S. administration will continue to play ball, writes columnist Ziva Dahl.
The nuclear agreement signed on July 14, 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 powers—the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany—was a watershed event in international diplomacy and a key moment for U.S. President Barack Obama, who staked his legacy on the deal’s success. One year later, should world nations, and perhaps most notably Israel, still view the Islamic Republic as a nuclear threat? Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council think tank, told JNS.org that the Iranians “remain within the letter of the agreement but not the spirit” of the deal. “They have been a little more transparent in their nuclear processes, but it has not fundamentally changed Iranian behavior,” he said, alluding to Iran’s continued military buildup; support for terrorist organizations; and hostility towards Israel, the U.S., and America’s Arab allies.
With November’s face-off between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton bearing down upon us, it’s clear that many Americans regard the contest as involving the selection of the least troubling candidate. In terms of making a decision in the voting booth, we will need to rely on the public statements and on-the-record positions of both candidates, as well as on their reactions to the broader themes underlying this election. Sadly, and almost inexplicably, one of those themes is anti-Semitism, which has had a presence throughout most of the current campaign cycle. Both Trump and Clinton have needed to deal with it, and what they should do moving forward is declare a zero tolerance policy for anti-Semitism around their respective campaigns, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
As Hillary Clinton begins her general election campaign against presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the Democratic Party held a July 8 discussion on its national platform, including a review of its position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The party's platform committee rejected proposed language on Israeli "occupation" and "settlements" during that meeting. Yet some political analysts still fear that the more critical views on Israel of Clinton's former primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, may have left their mark on the presumptive Democratic nominee, “I will be watching carefully to see what happens with the platform and which, if any, Sanders aides join the Clinton team post-convention,” said Tevi Troy, a presidential historian and former White House aide for the George W. Bush administration.
The U.S. State Department has accused Israel of “undermining” peace by planning to build homes in areas in and around Jerusalem that happen to be beyond the pre-1967 armistice line. Washington considers those areas to be “illegal settlements” that ultimately need to be dismantled to make room for a Palestinian state. Yet most of the new homes in question will be located in an all-Arab neighborhood, Beit Safafa. So does that mean the State Department is calling for the dismantling of one of Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods? Or is Foggy Bottom simply caught in the web of its own illogical, double-standard rhetoric when it comes to Israel and the disputed territories?
“Mike Tyson once said, ‘Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face,’” Ron Miller, a prospective member of the Legion, New York’s first self-defense and counter-terrorism training program for members of the Jewish community, tells JNS.org. Though spoken with humor, Miller’s allusion to the famed boxer’s words of wisdom reflects the angst that many Jews feel today. The Legion is currently training a group of cadets ages 22-57. Following a careful screening process, 48 individuals were selected out of 129 applicants to join the inaugural class that began last October. The group meets twice a week for intensive physical conditioning led by world-class instructors and former Marines. The Legion also assembles monthly for a session of classroom learning, discussing Jewish culture and history.
As a community priding itself on thousands of years of continuity and tradition, the Jewish people now face the challenge of increasing secularization and intermarriage among the younger generation. Seeking to confront these trends, Israel’s annual Genesis Prize—which was recently awarded to Israeli-American violinist Itzhak Perlman in Jerusalem—is looking to the generation of more experienced Jewish leaders to serve as an example for their successors. “It’s created an opportunity for young people to see individuals who they admire, who we refer to as modern-day Jewish heroes, and understand the pride these individuals have in their Judaism and their connection with Israel, which may not be obvious to them on a day-to-day basis,” Maxyne Finkelstein, chief of staff at the Genesis Prize Foundation, told JNS.org.
In a remarkable turnaround, two Democratic Party activists who are known to be pro-Palestinian are calling on their party’s platform committee to condemn the Palestinian Authority (PA). Members of Congress Reps. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, issued their call last week on the blog of J Street. They said, “Palestinians struggle under an unjust occupation that deprives them of the rights, opportunities and independence that they deserve.” Columnist Stephen M. Flatow applauds Ellison and Gutierrez for courageously speaking out against the PA’s unjust occupation and denial of Palestinian rights. That must be what Ellison and Gutierrez meant, right?
In a recent event aired on the C-SPAN network, reaching potentially tens of millions of viewers, the prominent public policy think tank the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) ignored the elephant in the room when discussing prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace—unacceptable, seemingly unalterable Palestinian demands coupled with unceasing anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement, writes Myron Kaplan, a research analyst for the CAMERA media watchdog group.
In 2008, Yoram Honig was a producer and director living in Jerusalem, fresh off his first international hit, when the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA) came to him with a challenge: build a film industry from scratch in Israel’s capital. “When we started here, was nothing in Jerusalem,” he told JNS.org. Now, the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund, which Honig heads as an arm of the JDA, pumps 9 million shekels ($2.36 million) a year into the local cinema industry and shells out millions more to international companies filming there, and his office is decorated with posters of films produced and shot on his watch in Jerusalem. This week, the fund announced the opening of its newest frontier. Beginning this year, it will connect Israeli content creators with three major North American animation studios to turn local intellectual property into globally marketed television series.
The seed for the city of Cleveland’s first professional championship in a major sport in 52 years may have been planted at the Shaw Jewish Community Center on White Pond Drive in Akron, Ohio, nearly 20 years ago. That’s when a tall, lanky kid from Akron named LeBron James walked onto the hardwood court and changed the game of basketball forever. Coach Keith Dambrot, now the head basketball coach at the University of Akron, conducted those sessions that attracted between 50 and 100 players. “Little Dru [Joyce] brought him because Little Dru used to work out with me,” Dambrot said about the Sunday night sessions. “That’s where I first met [James]. Just a guy that wanted to be taught, wanted to be coached, wanted to please you—sponge-like.” Dambrot, who coached James in high school, texted the superstar after the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA Finals on June 19. “I always try to keep it brief with him. You could see the jubilation,” said Dambrot.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the Obama administration has deleted references to Islamic State from the transcript of the Orlando killer’s 911 calls. She says that mentioning the group would “re-victimize” the families of those whom he murdered. But columnist Stephen M. Flatow has some news for the attorney general. As the father of a victim of radical Islamic terrorism, it’s not the mention of the terrorist group that re-victimizes Flatow and his family. It’s the ongoing refusal of the Obama administration to name the group to which his daughter’s killers belong—Palestinian Islamic Jihad—that causes the family fresh pain every single day, he writes.