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About a month after JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen wrote about a group of British animal rights activists who employed Nazi imagery in a campaign against a kosher slaughterhouse, there have been three more significant episodes involving the Holocaust and the Nazi era, leading Cohen to believe he underestimated the scale of the problem. If the Holocaust is now primarily a political instrument, rather than a central historical memory with a direct bearing upon both politics and ethics, we can expect further manipulation of the past to serve the imperatives of the present. From the "Hitler" chatter on social media all the way up to the new guardians of Holocaust memory, the politicization of the Holocaust is a distinct challenge facing the current Jewish generation, Cohen writes.
While the change of presidential administration in Washington may strengthen Israel's diplomatic position for the immediate period, and while the Palestinians will have to get to the back of the line in terms of international priorities, the Palestinian question itself will not disappear. We can assume that if President-elect Donald Trump does a 180-degree turn on President Barack Obama's approach to the Israelis, the narrative of the Palestinians—ignored by America, facing 50 years of "occupation" under Israel—will become emblematic of public resistance to the foreign policies of the Trump administration, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Some 2.9 million people visited Israel last year, a 3.6-percent rise over 2015. Earlier this week, Israel’s Ministry of Tourism released a report summarizing international travel to Israel in 2016, with the largest influx of visitors coming in the last quarter of the year. Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin attributed the increased travel to the government’s significant investment in targeted marketing initiatives and outreach to “new markets.” JNS.org presents 10 noteworthy facts contained in Israel’s tourism report.
The incoming Donald Trump presidency likely means a sharp break from President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. For Egypt and Jordan, the only two Arab countries that have peace treaties with Israel and two of the most reliable U.S. allies in the Middle East, the Trump administration will provide new opportunities and challenges going forward on issues such as Islamic extremism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the status of Jerusalem. JNS.org interviews Mideast experts about prospects for the region's future dynamics during the Trump era, including how American policy might affect relations between Israel and Arab states.
A glimmer of hope in the fight against Iranian-backed terrorism shone forth from Argentina during the final days of 2016. A federal appeals court ruled that former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will face a new investigation over allegations that she and her close colleagues made a secret pact with the Iranian regime over the probe into the July 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Convicting Iran for its unpunished crime in Argentina would generate momentum to take on Iranian-backed terror globally, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Marcelo Brodsky, a photographer, and Ilan Stavans, a scholar of Latin-American Jewish life, enable readers to understand what happened on the day of the July 1994 bombing of Argentina’s AMIA Jewish center in “Once@9:53am: Terror in Buenos Aires.” The “fotonovela” is part documentary, part chronicle and part fiction. The book—which has renewed relevance thanks to the recent reopening of an investigation into former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s alleged covering up of Iran’s role in the bombing—shows that the camera evidently is even mightier than the pen, writes book reviewer Rabbi Jack Riemer.
Do protesters who chant "We Are All Hezbollah" understand the nature of the organization they so heartily embrace? Do they grasp that "We Are All Hezbollah" means "We Are All Executioners, Rapists and Child Murderers?" These are not poorly armed fighters. They are a well-armed, well trained force of killers, as we have known for too many years now. The 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut? It was the work of Hezbollah. The 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires? Ditto. Look at the current situation in Aleppo, and then imagine what would happen if Hezbollah was unleashed upon the people of Israel. Sometimes, you need an apocalyptic scenario to bring you to your senses, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Although Israelis were distressed by the tension in their relationship with the outgoing Obama administration, that state of affairs has compelled Jerusalem to forge ties elsewhere that have greatly benefited the Jewish state, according to a leading expert on the Middle East and Russia. Dr. Ariel Cohen, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and director of the Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics, analyzed Israel’s growing ties with Russia and other nations in a Dec. 20 conference call and a subsequent interview with JNS.org. “With President [Barack] Obama and the left wing of the Democratic Party turning against Israel, Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu has made a great effort to build better relationships with Russia, India, African countries and others,” Cohen said.
In hopes of offering a blueprint for ramping up constructive Israeli and Jewish relations with the Islamic world, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week made historic visits to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, two Muslim-majority nations in Central Asia. While giving remarks at the Great Synagogue of Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, Netanyahu noted that he was speaking “in Central Asia, in an Islamic country that respects Israel, that honors coexistence and tolerance, and constitutes a model of what needs to happen—and can happen—in our region as well.” In Azerbaijan, Netanyahu lauded Israeli-Azerbaijani ties as “something that we can show the world.” Azerbaijani Ambassador to the U.S. Elin Suleymanov told JNS.org that Netanyahu’s visit is significant not just from the perspective of intergovernmental relations, but because of Azerbaijan’s vibrant and thriving Jewish community. “This connection with the Jewish community is the backbone of our relations [with Israel],” Suleymanov said.
Radical protesters in London recently attacked a Jewish communal building. They screamed abuse about "baby killers!" and cried out, "It's a Holocaust!” The graffiti at the scene included a smear about a "kosher Holocaust" and references to the Nazi persecution of the Jews. What motivated the protesters' anger? You’re probably thinking, for good reason, that this had something to do with Israel. In fact, it didn’t. The building attacked was the kosher Kedassia abattoir (slaughterhouse), and the attackers were members of a militant vegan group attempting to prevent the delivery of a truckload of live chickens. Holocaust abuse, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen, is a central tactic in winning the ongoing “victimhood competition” with the Jews.
Is Judah Maccabee rolling over in his grave? Hardly. Indeed, the hero of the Hanukkah story would have delighted in the sheer scope of Jewish American organizations and individuals weighing in on the Dec. 14 “Hanukkah party celebrating religious freedom and diversity” at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The hosts—the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan—may have expected a reaction of a different sort. The Hanukkah party co-organizers drew inspiration from the Jewish community that has thrived in the Muslim-majority, South Caucasus country of Azerbaijan, writes Diana Cohen Altman, the executive director of a foundation that focuses on Azerbaijani culture.
In the heart of the heavily secured European Union (EU) headquarters in Brussels Dec. 8, pro-Israel Christian organizations sought to convey practical advice—from an Israeli perspective—to a Europe that is on increased terror alert. Deputy Speaker of the Knesset MK Yehiel “Hilik” Bar (Labor) and Shuli Davidovich, deputy chief of the Israeli Mission to the EU and NATO, joined European parliamentarians in highlighting Israel’s counter-terrorism expertise at a conference organized by the European Coalition for Israel and the European Christian Political Movement. “Try to tackle terror and prevent it in [the terrorists’] own backyard, and don’t wait until they come to your backyard,” Bar said.
H.R. 5732, also known as the Caesar Civilian Protection Act of 2016, passed through the House this week in a voice vote. The bill includes tough sanctions against individuals and entities associated with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, in such vital sectors as banking, airline and energy. It would also require the president to make available to Congress the names of Syrian regime war criminals. If passed into law, the measure would send a message to those who believe that Assad is now safe from international justice that many past dictators thought that they too would go on forever, but they were wrong, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
The United Nations has made it a major priority to advocate for the resettlement of refugees, so the following fact may come as a surprise: 40 years ago this week, the U.N. actually condemned a country for resettling refugees. But this part may be less surprising: that country was Israel, writes Aron White of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was at his repellent best when he was interviewed by Israeli television journalist Ilana Dayan this week. Although the interview was pegged to the restoration of Turkish-Israeli bilateral ties this past summer, Erdoğan used the occasion to spit his usual invective against Israel and Jews. As tempting as it is to conclude that while political rhetoric is one thing, political action is another—an impression increasingly conveyed in the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election—in Erdoğan's case, such a distinction isn't really possible. That's because Erdoğan really is a dictator, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Stuart Rosenblatt, head of the Irish Jewish Genealogical Society, remembers a vibrant childhood of involvement with Jewish scouting, the Bnei Akiva youth group, a Jewish drama society, a golfing club, writers’ circles and many charities. But the once-verdant Irish Jewish community is paling. Ireland’s 2011 census revealed that there are 1,900 Jews in the country. Dublin-based Cantor Alwyn Shulman said the actual Jewish population figure is likely lower because many Jews remaining in Ireland are intermarried or non-practicing. Others are transient Israelis working in Ireland’s high-tech sector. “Could build up the community again?” asks Shulman. “It’s bleak at the moment, but there’s always hope.”
Despite the increasing number of terror attacks in the United States, for most Americans the various Middle East conflicts remain a distant and misunderstood affair. Chris Mitchell, a Massachusetts native and the Middle East bureau chief for the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), shed light on these issues from his perspective as an Evangelical Christian covering the Middle East.