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For Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s political opponents, his government’s woes aren’t just an opportunity to score political points at his expense. They also provide easy-to-understand explanations for the question that nags at the margins of every debate about American Jewish attitudes toward Israel. Every negative development or unpopular decision associated with the prime minister is used to rationalize and sometimes even justify the growing chasm between American Jews and Israelis, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
Ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic visit to Latin America this week, Israel’s Foreign Ministry Sunday announced it would send aid to earthquake-stricken Mexico. An 8.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico last week was the strongest quake to hit the country in a century. “Mexico and Israel enjoy close and friendly relations. Naturally, this finds its expression in moments of need, such as the terrible earthquake in Mexico,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told JNS.org.
The net is closing in upon the Argentine culprits in the decades-old AMIA Jewish center episode. In late August, Argentina’s former ambassador to Damascus, Roberto Ahuad, appeared before the Argentine government’s official investigation into collusion between the Iranians and the country’s previous president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. In his testimony, Ahuad gave an account that confirmed beyond doubt one of late prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s key claims: that Hector Timerman, Kirchner’s foreign minister, disappeared during an official visit to Damascus to secretly negotiate with the Iranians. JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen asks: Will another two decades pass before we see the Iranian terrorists themselves in court?
The United Nations has crowned her a “human rights defender,” while Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based broadcaster, hails her as a “Palestinian supermom.” But Manal Tamimi’s links to violence and tweets accusing Jews of “drinking Palestinian blood” are prompting some of her backers to reconsider their support.
Iran is expanding into Syria, converting the country into a military and weapons base, filling it with heavily armed Shi’a proxy forces, and earmarking it as a launchpad for future attacks on Israel. The Jewish state, in turn, has put the international community on notice, warning that a failure to stop the Iranian push into Syria will result in Israeli military action. Israeli officials have recently traveled to the U.S. and Russia, to share information on Iran’s military moves. Yet it remains unclear that either Moscow or Washington can or will pressure the Iranians to stop.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin Wednesday to discuss Iran’s “accelerated” presence in Syria. “We cannot forget for a single minute that Iran threatens every day to annihilate Israel,” Netanyahu said, noting that the Islamic Republic is “well on its way” to controlling not only Syria, but also Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. “The problem now is that things have evolved quickly in a way that has left the Israelis without many options,” Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told JNS.org. “And we’re seeing a quickening of this Iranian land bridge [stretching from Iran to Lebanon] and the installations that the Iranians are building.”
Visitors to the Otto Weidt Workshop for the Blind Museum in Berlin would need to be blind not to notice Haim Hoffmann—or rather, his weird beard—as he asks them to leave their backpacks at the reception desk. “It’s called the ‘Three-day Freestyle,’” joked Hoffman, the museum’s shift manager. Hoffman should know. He’s the German champion for the “Imperial Beard,” in which a sizable mustache-beard arches upward. He’ll be defending the bronze medal at the 2017 World Beard and Mustache Championships (WBMC) in Austin, Texas, from Sept. 1-3. Bryan Nelson, the organizer of this year’s WBMC, counts at least a handful of “Members of the Tribe” among the record-high 700 contestants.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin Aug. 23 to discuss the latest developments in the Middle East. The issue of Iranian forces attempting to establish a permanent military presence in Syria, near Israel’s northern border, is reportedly high on the agenda for the upcoming meeting. Iran’s activity makes “the need to have an open channel of communication between Israel and Russia even more important than it was some years ago,” Prof. Eyal Zisser, a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, told JNS.org.
As the political and economic situation in Venezuela deteriorates, Jews are fleeing the South American nation. Inflation has skyrocketed, leading to shortages in food and basic supplies. “There is no value to life right now in Venezuela,” said Adele Tarrab, a Venezuelan Jew who moved to Israel in 2015. “I’ve actually seen people get killed for bread.” During the past year and half, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has brought 153 Venezuelan Jews to Israel, providing what the group’s leader called a “lifeline.” At the same time, the immigrants face new challenges in the Jewish state.
Several top experts on nuclear proliferation and Iran told JNS.org the failure to successfully deal with North Korea sets a precedent for a similar result with the Islamic Republic. “If a short-term delay causes the international community to be lulled into a false sense that the [nuclear] deal ‘is working,’ as we are hearing lately from deal supporters, it is likely to wake up with a nuclear Iran that will be as firmly entrenched as North Korea,” said Emily Landau, director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies.
A push for unilateral Palestinian statehood recognition by the New South Wales branch of Australia’s Labor party marks the latest opposition to Israeli interests among far-left elements in English-speaking countries, including in New Zealand’s government, America’s Democratic party and the U.K.’s Labour party. Jeremy Jones, director of international affairs for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, said that in the broader Australian Labor party, there is “a solid core of anti-Israel activists, mainly in the party’s left faction, who push for changes of Labor support for Israel as well as a popular perception of Palestinians as victims.”
All those fighting for French society to stand up against anti-Semitic violence find themselves in the same position as the mythological hero Sisyphus, condemned for all eternity to perform the impossible task of pushing an immense boulder up a steep hill each day. Yet after weeks of indifference by media outlets and politicians, French President Emmanuel Macron demanded that France’s judiciary shed light on the nature of April’s brutal murder of Jewish woman Sarah Halimi. Macron has, in his own way, advanced the boulder of Sisyphus, writes Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Paris-based Europe branch.
George Soros, the Hungarian-American billionaire, has all the makings of a character in a Hasidic fable. He sees no moral contradiction in funding the forces for an “open society” in Eastern Europe, while giving at the same time to left-wing lobby groups advocating for a diminished relationship between the U.S. and Israel, the single sovereign open society in the Middle East. He values the “universal” in Judaism and cares little for the “particular.” Yet Soros is the target of anti-Semitism in his native Hungary. Is Soros being targeted as a man or as a symbol? Even if there is a trace of the former, it’s the overwhelming presence of the latter that should keep us healthily skeptical, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Susan Salzberg was the first to spot her late father-in-law’s face—a face with a striking resemblance to that of her 22-year-old son. Since as many as 200,000 Jews passed through the Lodz Ghetto from 1939-1944, the Salzberg family hardly expected to see Lewis Salzberg among the images in “Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross,” an exhibit on display in Boston through July 30. Ross’s lens caught the pain and pathos of the Jews remanded to the Holocaust era’s second-largest ghetto after the Warsaw Ghetto.
UNESCO last week approved resolutions denying Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem’s Old City and declaring Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs as an endangered Palestinian heritage. At the same time, the Jewish state is strengthening economic ties with Asia and Africa. As such, do UNESCO’s latest anti-Israel measures matter? “The Palestinians understand that their chances to pass anti-Israel resolutions in more significant international bodies has diminished over the past few months, so they seek out declaratory anti-Israel measures and meaningless so-called ‘diplomatic victories,’” Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon told JNS.org.