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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.
In a traumatic week for Paris that saw the murders of 12 people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, four hostages killed at a kosher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes, and a police officer executed in Montrouge—all coming at the hands of Islamist terrorists—the violence was accompanied by the usual anti-Israel conspiracy theories. Middle East Forum President Dr. Daniel Pipes, who has written two books about conspiracy theories, told JNS.org, “The fevered imagination of far-left and far-right have invariably blamed one or the other of two conspirators: a secret society or the Jews. ... Every high-profile [case] with some element of violence and mystery comes back to these two, even the disappearance of a Malaysian airplane.”
In the wake of Islamist terror attacks that killed a combined 16 people at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a kosher supermarket in Paris, the leader of a prominent Christian-Jewish aid group told JNS.org that he is exploring ways to help French Jews immigrate to Israel. “There’s no question in my mind that incidents like this [and] the many others recently are increasing the risk for the Jewish community in France and their desire to leave,” Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), told JNS.org.
Fundamental to the stability of free speech is the right to offend, along with the right to be offended. In the U.S., if a public figure makes a racist comment, or a newspaper says something offensive about Jews, we can be certain that an organization like the Anti-Defamation League will doggedly pursue the wrong-doers for an apology. Rarely, if ever, does violence or terrorism ensue. But what Islamists are doing through attacks like the Jan. 7 shooting at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is preventing Western Muslims from participating in this adversarial culture. Instead of worrying about provoking Muslims, we should be confronting those whose scorched-earth ideology is preventing Muslim advocates from making their case within the parameters of democratic and open debate, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
Less than three months ago, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that there was a link between Islamist terrorism and frustration over the Palestinian issue. Yet despite vigorous recent attempts by the French to champion the Palestinian cause, Islamist terrorists have just struck in Paris, killing 12 people at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and murdering four hostages at a kosher supermarket two days later. Where did Kerry’s theory go wrong?
Ben-Zion Solomin, 101, wears the cap of a British soldier and is assisted by his son and caregiver as he slowly approaches the front of the stage to light a Hanukkah candle and welcome the crowd at the Armored Corps Memorial at Latrun, near Jerusalem. The marks Solomin proudly bears on his chest tell an impressive story of combat and survival that has almost been erased from collective memory: the story of the 3,200 volunteers from pre-state Israel who joined the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps (AMPC) in 1940. Close to 400 of them were Arabs, and together they made up one-tenth of all the British army volunteers from pre-state Israel during World War II. A recent ceremony in Israel honored the families of the prisoners of war from the AMPC, who were captured by the Nazis and later freed by the Allied forces.
In March 2009, President Barack Obama's first reference to Iran as an “Islamic Republic” was a declaration of his doctrine of trust in the Iranian regime. By the close of 2014, it was clear that Obama’s policy had created a dangerous mess, as Iran continues its uranium enrichment program while the International Atomic Energy Agency frets about the likely prospect that Tehran is continuing to operate clandestine nuclear facilities. While Obama seeks a legacy of peace, that legacy can easily be another president’s inheritance of war, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
Several months of campaigning for unilateral Palestinian statehood recognition culminated in a diplomatic blitz by the Palestinian Authority during the last few days of 2014. But the campaign ground to a halt on Dec. 30, when the United Nations Security Council rejected a Palestinian resolution that called for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank by 2017 and the establishment of a Palestinian state with borders based on the pre-1967 lines. Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told JNS.org that his sense “is that Palestinian unilateralism is losing its luster at the United Nations, but also on the Palestinian street.”
The past year was arguably one of the worst in recent memory for many members of the Middle East’s beleaguered Christian minority, as hundreds of thousands were forced by the Islamic State terror group to flee their homes in what is being described as a genocide. “It is genocide when you take over an area and strip people of their homes [and] their lives, and send them to an ambiguous future,” Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, the largest city in Iraqi Kurdistan, told JNS.org.
The most notorious living perpetrator of genocide can sleep a little easier. The International Criminal Court (ICC), which five years ago indicted Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for organizing the genocide in Darfur, recently suspended further action on Darfur because of the failure of the U.S. and other countries to help bring Bashir to justice. Ironically, the ICC’s announcement came just before next month’s 70th anniversary of a long-forgotten double-cross by the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration of its own ambassador to the Allied commission on Nazi war crimes, writes historian Rafael Medoff.