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“There was nothing new in it.” With those six words, President Barack Obama tried to dismiss the significance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress on March 3. But there was, in fact, something very new and very important in the speech—something which Obama wants to keep out of the spotlight. The forgotten issue in the negotiations with Iran is now back, front and center, thanks to the Israeli prime minister: Iran’s role as—in Netanyahu’s words—“the foremost sponsor of global terrorism.” The Obama administration has kept the terrorism issue off the table throughout its talks with the Iranian regime. That is a terrible mistake, writes attorney Stephen M. Flatow, whose interest in Iran and terrorism is personal because Iran sponsored the Palestinian jihadists who carried out the 1995 bombing in which his daughter Alisa was murdered.
The number of Assyrian Christians captured by the Islamic State terror group in northeastern Syria continues to rise, marking the latest brutal campaign waged by Islamic State against Christians and other minority groups in Syria and Iraq. “We are absolutely appalled, but not surprised, by the actions of the Islamic State,” Jeff Gardner, a spokesman for Restore Nineveh Now Initiative, a group promoting protection and relief for Assyrian Christians, told JNS.org. “They (Islamic State) continue to do what they do—terrorize, murder, and pillage.”
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.
When members of the pro-Israel community think of populations in need of relief, Syrian refugees are probably not one of the first groups coming to mind. After all, the Syrian civil war is a conflict between two enemies of Israel: Iran-supported President Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah on one side, and jihadists linked with al-Qaeda and Islamic State among the Assad regime’s opponents. But an interfaith group of more than 35 organizations is raising funds and awareness for the victims of the conflict, rather than focusing on its combatants. While the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees in Jordan makes a case for putting politics aside and addressing a humanitarian crisis, some of the alliance’s organizers also note the effort’s possible boon for Israel, including through the fostering of stability in Jordan and creating a new perception of Israel among the Syrian people.
Mark Gurvis, executive vice president of The Jewish Federations of North America, reflects on a recent two-day trip to Paris with Jewish leaders. Gurvis cannot help but be struck by the rapid change in the global Jewish agenda. Last year, communal efforts centered around how to strengthen Jewish life and connection globally. Now, the community is increasingly focused on protecting Jewish lives and securing Jewish institutions, most notably in Paris, the site of a recent series of Islamist terror attacks. The external threat of that terrorism and the internal challenges of meaningfully engaging the next generation offer global Jewry opportunities to connect, learn from one another, strengthen one another, and inspire one another, writes Gurvis.
Canadian author Jerry Amernic met renowned Holocaust historian Sir Martin Gilbert on three occasions, the first time at the university in London. Gilbert said that he lived in two Londons—London, England, and London, Ontario, where he was a guest lecturer. Amernic says that Gilbert's epic work, “The Holocaust—A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War,” was what finally moved him from the research phase into actually writing his own book, the new Holocaust-related novel “The Last Witness.”
William Schabas, a frequent and intemperate critic of Israel who was heading the United Nations Human Rights Council probe into last summer’s war in Gaza, is gone. But bias against Israel long precedes Schabas at the U.N., which gave us a “Zionism is racism” resolution and the Goldstone Report. JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen writes that the U.N. has no moral authority to put Israel on trial, and calls for an undertaking that ensures there will be no further U.N. probes of Israel for as long as discriminatory mechanisms against the Jewish state remain in existence at the world body.
Five-hundred years after thousands of Jews were burned at the stake or forcefully converted, and many others expelled due to the Inquisition, the Portuguese Cabinet has decided to grant citizenship to the descendants of those Jews as reparation for that persecution. Against the backdrop of anti-Semitic attitudes and an economic crisis, did Portugal make the Jewish citizenship gesture with pure intentions, or were there ulterior motives?
The United Nations held a special meeting on the subject of rising anti-Semitism with anti-Semites not just in attendance, but making speeches as well. The Saudi envoy to the U.N. said that the Israeli “occupation” and the “persecution of the Palestinian people” are examples of anti-Semitism. If a future meeting about anti-Semitism at the U.N. does not drive home the point that anti-Zionism—the denial of the right of national self-determination to the Jewish people—is the principal pillar upon which today’s anti-Semitism rests, then it’s probably not worth holding the meeting to begin with, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
The death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Thursday shouldn’t change how the Gulf nation treats its relations with Iran and Israel, experts say. Saudi Arabia remains determined in its opposition to the Iranian nuclear program, and while that gives them at least one shared interest with Israel, a Saudi ambassador’s anti-Israel remarks at the United Nations on the same day as Abdullah’s death served as a reminder that the Saudi-Israeli relationship isn’t exactly friendly. “Saudi Arabia doesn’t believe it shares common interests with Israel. Some Israelis may believe there are common interests, [but] the Saudis see that as a fantasy,” said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank.
As the world continues to grapple with a new wave of Islamic extremism, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has emerged as an unlikely Middle East leader willing to confront terrorism both militarily and ideologically. In a recent speech at Egypt’s historic Al-Azhar University, El-Sisi declared an ambitious plan for a “revolution” in Islam, in order to reform the faith that he believes has made the Muslim world a source of “destruction” that is “making enemies of the whole world.” El-Sisi should be commended for delivering his remarks “at the center of Egypt’s religious establishment” and going “right into the belly of the beast,” said Oren Kessler, deputy director of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
When it comes to the situation European Jews faced during the 1930s and the challenges Jews on that continent face today, the differences far outweigh the similarities. At the same time, it’s getting harder to ignore that Europe’s political foundations are coming apart, with grave repercussions for societies that have not directly experienced prolonged armed conflict since the middle of the last century—and European Jews are closely associated with their continent’s endangered political class, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
Turkey’s inclusion in the European Union’s newly announced counter-terrorism plan comes despite longstanding reports of jihadists using the Turkish border to cross into countries where they join Muslim terrorists. In particular, a Turkish official recently admitted that Hayat Boumeddiene—the girlfriend of Amedy Coulibaly, the terrorist who took nearly 20 hostages at the Paris kosher supermarket—had crossed into Syria through Turkey. At the same time, an already strained Israeli-Turkish relationship has further deteriorated over Turkey's hosting of the Hamas terrorist group's new Istanbul headquarters and Turkish officials’ anti-Israel rhetoric relating to the Paris attacks.
Misunderstood and still persecuted, the Roma people (also known as Romani or Gypsies) remain what some experts consider a relatively underreported ethnicity ahead of this year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. “The Roma are a small minority, and due to long-term persecution in the various societies Roma have lived, they have, as a group, tended to be reluctant to advertise their ethnic background,” Peter Black, a senior historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, told JNS.org. “The Roma have, for the past two or three centuries, been the victims of negative and violence-inciting stereotypes about them and their behavior.”
Earlier this month, while four Jews were being murdered at a kosher supermarket in Paris, Eliana Rudee was visiting the concentration camps Majdanek and Auschwitz II-Birkenau with a Jewish group of young entrepreneurs and leaders. After her trip, she could not escape the realization that the Holocaust against the Jewish people is not over. There may be no walls, barbed wire, and barracks, but there certainly are individuals and groups who would love to annihilate the Jewish people, writes Rudee, a contributor to the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity.
The Israeli government has launched a public diplomacy campaign to discredit the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) recent decision to start an inquiry into what the Palestinians call Israeli “war crimes” in the disputed territories. Israel’s campaign will focus on the fact that the because the ICC charges were filed by the Palestinian Authority, which is not a state, the court has no authority to act.
The expressions of anger and shock at the series of recent terrorist attacks in France were followed almost immediately with calls for French Jews to move to Israel. But Israeli leaders have a delicate balance to strike on this issue. While there is no denying that aliyah is a central element of political Zionism, Israel must also take greater care to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those who still choose to live outside the Jewish state, writes Member of Knesset Danny Danon.
One might think cartoonists, as champions of irreverence and untrammeled free speech, would be unanimously resolute in defending their martyred comrades at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Yet Joe Sacco, one of the most popular and outspoken of today’s political cartoonists, is constructing an argument for self-censorship. What Sacco prescribes is selective self-censorship, in which cartoonists refrain from insulting Muslims—but are free to target Israelis, writes historian Rafael Medoff, coauthor of the forthcoming book “Cartoonists Against the Holocaust.”
It was an electrifying moment: in a voice crackling with anger and pain, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls denounced the rise of anti-Semitism in France before the country’s National Assembly on Jan. 13, pointedly observing, “We haven’t shown enough outrage.” The address brought to mind the impassioned “J’Accuse” letter, penned by French writer Emile Zola in 1898 in response to the anti-Semitism displayed by the French government during the infamous trial of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, the Jewish military officer who was convicted and publicly humiliated on fabricated charges of treason. The scant media attention given to Valls's comments on anti-Semitism might be an indication that the lack of outrage that so incensed the French prime minister will continue for as long as journalists fail to acknowledge that hatred of Jews lies at the core of Islamist ideology—just as it did among the xenophobes whom Emile Zola confronted, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas denounced as “heinous” the attack on French satirists who mocked Islam. That must have come as quite a surprise to the Palestinian satirist of Islam whom Abbas recently jailed, tortured, and forced to publicly recant, writes attorney Stephen M. Flatow, whose daughter Alisa was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.