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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.
Though Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s embrace of Israel represents an enormous shift in policy terms, one can argue that it’s also the maturation of an emotional bond between Jews and Indians that goes back centuries. Those who still cling to the belief that Israel is some sort of colonial implant might want to reflect on Modi’s historic visit to the Jewish state, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Why do half of French Jews want to leave France? The rise of violent anti-Semitism beginning around the turn of the century has made French Jews justifiably concerned about their personal safety. A University of Oslo study published in June is one of the most methodologically sophisticated and comprehensive reports in dissecting the growth of Europe’s anti-Semitism problem. The future for European Jews who want to maintain the distinct characteristics of Judaism in public is not bright, writes columnist Abraham H. Miller.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi touched down at Ben Gurion Airport Tuesday, kicking off the first-ever visit to Israel by a sitting Indian head of state. “Modi’s visit marks 25 years of ties between Israel and India. This is no small feat for both countries, given the complex politics of the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East,” Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, told JNS.org.
During the 20th Maccabiah Games next month, about 7,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries will descend upon the Holy Land to join 2,500 Israeli athletes in the Olympic-style competition. Held every four years, the Jewish multi-sport competition is the world’s third-largest sporting event. From July 4-18, the Maccabiah Games will have the added significance of coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the reunification of this year’s host city, Jerusalem. “The Maccabiah is the one place that Jews from all over the world can come together and bond, and there’s no better place to do so than Jerusalem,” Maccabiah Chairman Amir Peled told JNS.org.
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn didn’t win the British election. Yet Labour remains a force in U.K. politics, and British Jews can play a role in ensuring the party isn’t entirely hijacked by the far left, which regards BDS as an article of faith and dismisses any charge of anti-Semitism as a Mossad-directed smear campaign. Jews certainly have Labour allies—both established ones like parliamentarian John Mann and new ones like London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Friends can be found where you least expect them, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Following Saturday night’s terror attack that killed seven people in London, British Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to crack down on the “new trend” in the U.K., which has seen three major Islamist terror attacks in recent months. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the London attack by saying, “These terrorists worship death. They murder indiscriminately, but they will not frighten us....They will only harden our resolve to defeat them. Here in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, everywhere—together, we will defeat them faster.”
For all their differences, Argentina’s Alberto Nisman and France’s Sarah Halimi had three things in common. They were proud Jews. They died because they were Jews. And in both of their cases, that latter fact has yet to be recognized, let alone acted upon, by the investigating authorities. Both cases demonstrate once again that violent anti-Semitism is integral to Islamist ideology, to the point where its victims are dehumanized in the very moment of death, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Why aren’t Muslim countries leading givers to the Palestinian cause? The question has renewed relevance upon a United Nations agency’s recent release of its list of donors. Western countries and Japan are the most significant contributors to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), while the only major Muslim givers are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Ronen Yizhak, head of the Middle East Studies department at Israel’s Western Galilee College, told JNS.org that among Arab and Muslim nations, “there is a lot of talking, but little actual deeds” on financial aid to the Palestinians.
For those who’d never given any thought to Ariana Grande before the terrorist atrocity at her concert in Manchester, it took a few minutes to make sense of suicide bomber Salman Abedi’s target selection. Eventually, it dawned. In the name of a global Islamic caliphate, Abedi set out to slaughter teenage girls, Grande’s primary audience. The ideological roots of Abedi’s attack are given exquisite expression in the writings of Muslim Brotherhood founder Sayyid Qutb, who in 1949 studied in Greeley, Colorado. Qutb’s writing from his time in Greeley shows how desire, when fused with hatred of relaxed sexuality and expressions of femininity, can be devastating once it is incorporated into an ideology of conquest, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Amid recent tensions between Germany and Israel, it is time to recognize the Jewish state’s place as part of the solution—not the obstacle—to creating a stable, prosperous Middle East. A reset of German assumptions about relations with Israel is urgently overdue, writes Deidre Berger, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Berlin office.
Jewish ritual observance has come under attack in Belgium and Norway. While there is nothing suggesting the moves against ritual slaughter in Belgium and ritual circumcision in Norway were coordinated, both speak to a tendency in Europe to dismiss these core requirements for Jews as no more and no less than cruelty of a particularly Jewish sort. American Jews are fortunate to live with a constitution clearly demarcating religion and state, but European Jews don’t enjoy the same protection, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
An open letter to FIFA by 174 Palestinian sports clubs called on world soccer’s governing body to “immediately suspend” the Israel Football Association’s membership “over its inclusion of seven football teams based in illegal Israeli settlements.” Some might downplay this development, saying it’s “only sports.” But the context of this anti-Israel campaign shows why it matters. What’s surprising and significant is not the Palestinian sports clubs’ request itself, but that they posted their open letter on the official website of the BDS movement, which has the façade of a human rights movement, writes columnist Jack Saltzberg.
Should Israel be surprised Sweden was the only European Union country to vote for a UNESCO resolution denying Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem? Svante Cornell, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, said it was “somewhat surprising, since it has not been Swedish diplomatic tradition to break the EU consensus.” But Magnus Norell, a Swedish scholar with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, explained the rationale behind Sweden’s longtime support for the Palestinian cause. “Sweden always saw herself as being a ‘moral superpower,’ taking the side of the oppressed,” he said. “And Israel, being supported by the U.S., was seen as being on the side of the oppressor, lording it over the Palestinians.”
Following UNESCO’s vote to deny Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, the Jewish state has taken immediate steps to counter the latest anti-Israel move at the United Nations by censuring Sweden’s ambassador to Israel and announcing a cut in funding to the world body. “Hard to believe Sweden is the only European country which voted against Israel at UNESCO today! Nothing short of shameful,” tweeted Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.
As Israel celebrated its Independence Day, the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO voted May 2 to deny the Jewish state’s sovereignty over Jerusalem. Yet the measure also reaffirms “the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions,” language Israeli officials view as an improvement from two UNESCO resolutions passed in October 2016 that ignore all Jewish and Christian connections to Jerusalem’s holy sites and refer to the Temple Mount exclusively by its Islamic name.