JNS.org offers the latest Jewish news and commentary from around the world. To select another topic, choose from the other content “categories” in our navigation bar.
Nov. 30 marks the first instance of an annual day in which Israel will commemorate the “Jewish refugees from Arab lands and Iran.” In recalling the tragedy of the Mizrahi Jews, we are compelled to focus on the religious and ethnic persecution that continues to disfigure the Middle East today. At the same time, Israel has shown that a multi-cultural and multi-faith society is possible in the region—and that is the message that should ring loud and clear, whether we are mourning the Holocaust or the expulsion of the Mizrahi Jews, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
Against the backdrop of growing threats facing Israel at home and abroad, one of the fastest-growing ethnoreligious segments in the U.S. is stepping up its support for the Jewish state. At the forefront of the interests of America’s Hispanic Evangelical Christian population is the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC)/Conela. Representing more than 100 million Hispanic Evangelicals in the U.S., NHCLC/Conela is now beginning to wield its considerable influence for the purpose of standing up for Israel. “My job is to convince young Latino people that supporting Israel actually works for the good of all in the Middle East,” said NHCLC/Conela President Rev. Samuel Rodriguez.
The fact that Israel is dealing with Palestinian terrorism within its own borders, as well as monitoring regional threats like the Iranian nuclear program, hasn’t stopped the Jewish state from helping Kenya with wildlife preservation. Israeli-American conservationist Dr. Bill Clark has been working with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to combat animal poaching for decades, while the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) has provided equipment and training to KWS rangers. This Israeli-Kenyan collaboration has become a shining example of religious and cultural cooperation. “[Kenyans] show great appreciation for things that are being developed in Israel, they come to study here,” said Rony Malka, the head of the law enforcement, security, and safety division at the INPA. “This makes religion a beautiful thing and not warlike.”
While reports suggest that Iran and its Western negotiating partners are close to striking a nuclear deal before the Nov. 24 deadline for an agreement, the Iranians find themselves at a crossroads. Iran—which has long promoted Islamic extremism and exported terrorism—must choose between security cooperation with the West against the Islamic State terror group and economic relief, or continuing down its current path towards becoming a nuclear pariah state. That choice comes against the backdrop of a growing push within Iran for a change in the country’s direction, following years of isolation and economic stagnation.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is getting fed up with anything that sounds like a demand from the West in negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. But while Iran seems to be saying "shut up and make a deal" before the Nov. 24 deadline, President Barack Obama may not need much convincing. For the time being, then, the main brake on Iran’s further accumulation of power and influence lies in the U.S. Congress, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
An American Jewish astronaut who learned to speak Russian while training with cosmonauts walks into a lecture hall filled with Russian-American Jews. No, it’s not a priest-and-rabbi-style joke, but a real-life event that exemplifies the spirit of the Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) educational conferences. Launched in 2006, Limmud FSU programming has sought to respect FSU immigrants' strong cultural affinity for being Russian, while at the same time helping them get more involved in the mainstream Jewish community. As part of its global expansion plan, Limmud FSU—which already hosts annual events in the U.S. and Israel—held its first Canada conference in October and is planning an Australia conference next March.
The far left has succeeded in exporting its anti-Zionist principles into much of the mainstream liberal left. Now, it will take a left-wing leader with guts to defend Muslim minorities from bigotry and racism while, at the exact same time, urging their leaders to confront the anti-Semitism plaguing these same communities, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
It’s increasingly clear that the mood among the world’s democracies on the Palestinian statehood issue is shifting. The view that Israel must be cajoled and bullied into giving Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas what he wants at the U.N. is spreading, and that could turn out to be just as dangerous as a Hamas missile campaign from the Gaza Strip, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
In stark contrast to its Holocaust past, Poland now experiences far less anti-Semitism than the typical European country and is home to a burgeoning Jewish community. At the same time, young non-Jewish Poles are increasingly curious about Jews and Judaism. Recognizing that this environment was fertile ground for a museum highlighting the history of Polish Jewry, a group of Warsaw-based organizers invited scholars and cultural activists in New York to help promote the museum concept and identify funding sources for what two decades later became the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened its core exhibition Oct. 28. “We place the Holocaust within the 1,000-year history of Polish Jews, not a 1,000-year history of anti-Semitism,” says Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, the core exhibition's program director.
After nearly a year of protests, the Obama administration has finally agreed to permit a rug connected to the Armenian genocide to be publicly displayed. While many believe the gesture marks the end of the long ordeal of the Armenian Orphan Rug, November's showcasing of the rug for six days in an exhibit about gifts to the White House is no victory. On the contrary, it is a defeat for everyone who cares about historical truth and everyone who seeks to learn the lessons of the past so that they will not be repeated, writes historian Rafael Medoff.
A clash between anti-boycott activists and a group of Jewish studies professors, which has recently become the subject of much debate in the American Jewish community, is actually just the latest of many boycott-related controversies that have divided U.S. Jewry over the years, writes historian Rafael Medoff.
The Obama administration’s reluctance to support pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong revives a familiar clash between human rights and diplomatic relations—a conflict that has repeatedly bedeviled past U.S. administrations, including during the Nazi era, writes Rafael Medoff, director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.
The holiest day on the Jewish calendar isn’t among the 10 holiest days on the United Nations calendar. But Israel and many other countries hope that changes by the time next year’s Day of Atonement arrives. In July, U.N. ambassadors from 32 countries wrote a letter to a U.N. General Assembly committee that urged the recognition of Yom Kippur as an official U.N. holiday. The committee begins deliberating on the Yom Kippur issue this month, with a possible decision coming by December. “[The recognition of Yom Kippur] can be an issue that bridges divisions and speaks to the universal values we all hold closely, including reconciliation, forgiveness, and tolerance,” Yotam Goren, a diplomat who works for Israel’s U.N. mission, told JNS.org.
As nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 powers approach a Nov. 24 deadline for a final deal, more than 80 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives signed an Oct. 1 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing concern over Iran’s “refusal to fully cooperate” with inquiries from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N.-affiliated nuclear watchdog.
As world leaders converged on New York City for the 69th United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to remind them that the threats Israel faces today could be their own problems tomorrow. “Israel is fighting a fanaticism today that your countries might be facing tomorrow,” said Netanyahu, who described all Muslim extremists—from Islamic State to Nigeria’s Boko Haram to Hamas to Iran—as branches of the same “poisonous tree.”
Who are we at war with in the Middle East? Do we look sideways at Iran’s nuclear program for the sake of a successful campaign against Islamic State? Do we continue ignoring Qatari and Turkish backing for Hamas for the same reason? There is a real prospect that Iran will weaponize its nuclear program, thereby inaugurating an era of danger that will make the current one look like a picnic. Should that happen, the war against Islamic State will seem like a footnote in a broader story of western defeat in the Middle East, rather than the opening gambit of a strategy to confront and defeat the enemies of freedom across the region, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
Nationalisms are formed in response to the surrounding conditions that nurture them. For the Jews of Europe, Zionism was a means to ensure survival in the physical sense of that word. For the Jews of Israel, Zionism reinforces the sense of a common destiny, of flourishing as an independent society even as too many of their neighbors question their right to be there in the first place. But no one has ever challenged the existence of a country called Scotland, and the Scots have never experienced the sheer barbarism of a modern-day genocide. That is the difference between Scottish nationalism and Zionism, and part of the reason why the defeat of the Scottish independence effort makes sense, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
Since the declaration of a final cease-fire between Israel and Hamas last month, there has been very little movement to resolve the situation in Gaza. With the Middle East preoccupied by the threat of Islamic extremism as well as the growing rivalries between Arab states over how to handle these threats, there appears to be little appetite in the Arab world to deal with the Palestinian issue. “It is striking to me that even during [this summer’s] Gaza war, you were seeing widespread demonstrations in Europe, but not in the Arab world,” Elliott Abrams, who served as deputy national security advisor for President George W. Bush, told JNS.org.
The war against Islamic State is a war against the philosophy of jihad. As with any war involving multiple parties fighting on the same side, an overarching political vision is nearly impossible to achieve. During the Second World War, the U.S. and Britain had few illusions about the Soviet Union, even as they allied with it. Similar cynicism is warranted now when it comes to Turkey—specifically regarding its contradiction of membership in a democratic alliance like NATO and support for jihadist organizations like Hamas, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.