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Since its founding in 1948, Israel has found Muslim-majority allies hard to come by. Yet an improbable romance continues to develop between the Jewish state and Azerbaijan. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon took a surprise trip to Azerbaijan in September, marking the first-ever visit by the holder of his position to a Muslim-majority nation in the Southern Caucasus region. Though it is most often attributed to a shared interest in combating the threat posed by Iran, experts say the blooming Israeli-Azeri friendship goes much deeper.

The new U.S. policy of rapprochement with Cuba, which was accompanied by the celebrated release of imprisoned Jewish aid worker Alan Gross, probably will give American Jews greater access to a Jewish community with which few are familiar. But visitors will find that the years have not been kind to once-thriving Cuban Jewry, writes historian Rafael Medoff.

Do we need Holocaust Remembrance Day? At first, that seems like a surprising question to ask. But as a recent episode in Ireland illustrates, if commemorating the Holocaust in the public sphere requires Jews to play down both their affiliation with Israel and the intimate connection between the Holocaust and the significance of a Jewish state in our own time, then it’s better to memorialize the Holocaust privately, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.

Amid rising anti-Semitism, Roger Cukierman, president of the representative body of French Jewry, has said that “Jews will leave in large numbers and France will fall into the hands of either Shari’a Law or the Front National.” The coming months will be decisive in determining whether the stark choice between Shari’a, fascism, or aliyah to Israel is upon the Jews of France. JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen dares to hope that a fourth option—integrated, successful Diaspora Jewish communities who proudly identify with Israel without fear—hasn’t entirely disappeared.

The conflict in Syria has forced millions to leave their homes, among them many of the country’s Armenian minority. Many have fled and returned to Armenia, a safe haven for ethnic Armenians—much as Israel is for Jews around the world. So it is ironic, given this shared need for a homeland free of religious intolerance, that Armenia’s own Jewish community has been pressured and intimidated since the country attained independence, writes Arye Gut, a board member of the Israeli-Azerbaijani International Organization and an expert in international relations.

Everyone knew that Dec. 4 wasn’t the usual Thursday night at the Rami Levy supermarket in the Mishor Adumim Industrial Park near Jerusalem. The customers knew and the workers knew. There were still people pushing their carts through the parking lot with groceries in the distinctive pink Rami Levy bags, but everyone could see the place was uncommonly low on shoppers stocking up for Shabbat due to the Palestinian terrorist stabbing of two Israeli men at the store one day earlier. JNS.org reports from the scene of the attack.

A meeting on Monday between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (leader of the Yesh Atid party), intended as a bid to salvage Israel’s coalition government, ended in a stalemate. As a result, a new election is expected in the country. On Tuesday, Netanyahu proceeded to fire Lapid as well as Hatnuah leader and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

While the Islamic State terror group's enslavement, abuse, and sale of women in the areas it has conquered in Iraq and Syria has garnered little condemnation from the Arab Muslim world, practices like forced marriage persist in Jordan-based Syrian refugee camps and "bride cities" in Egypt. The terrorists of Islamic State did not come out of nowhere—they were raised to follow radical Islam and lived in a traditional society that sees women as less valuable than men, writes Ksenia Svetlova.

Nov. 30 marked the first instance of an annual day in which Israel commemorated 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.

It seems as if our declining western civilization can summon the courage to speak loudly on foreign policy only if the policy question involves our ally, Israel, supposedly punishing innocent Palestinians. But is this anti-Semitism? Yes, it is, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.