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The Soviet Union may have dissolved in 1991, but many Jewish families are still struggling to emerge from the regime’s seven decades of antipathy towards their heritage. For some, their Jewish identity amounts to little more than a Jewish name and the bigotry that it attracts. World ORT’s network of Jewish schools in the former Soviet Union is addressing that issue—with the support of funding from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. “Since 1880, it has been our organization’s mission to enable Jewish people to lift themselves out of poverty and dependency and into a brighter, self-sufficient existence,” said World ORT Director General and CEO Shmuel Sisso. “For most of those 135 years the kind of generosity that has been extended to us by the Christian community would have been unimaginable. This friendship is a beacon of hope at a time when our people need it so much.”
“Start worrying. Details to follow.” It’s not just the irreverent punch line of a joke about the content of a Jewish telegram. It is also the only way Etta Gross Zimmerman can describe the situation in Ukraine, a country suffering from violent conflict, wide-ranging economic collapse, and a humanitarian crisis of untold proportions. Zimmerman experienced a taste of this crisis during her most recent trip to the beleaguered Eastern European nation together with a group of Jewish leaders, and reflects on the journey in an op-ed for JNS.org.
Beyond the recently reached nuclear deal’s implications for Iran’s nuclear program itself, much of the fear about the agreement centers on how the substantial sanctions relief (as much as $150 billion) it provides to the Islamic Republic might open the floodgates to increased Iranian exporting of terrorism. “It is clear to me that the sanctions will be thoroughly gutted,” Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and vice president for research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies think tank, told JNS.org. “There will be little way of financial pressure that the U.S. and its allies will have after the implementation of the deal.”
World powers’ surrender in Vienna on the newly announced nuclear deal with Iran reverberates most immediately in Syria. President Bashar al-Assad’s most powerful backers are now Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, assisted by the notorious Qods Force and various intelligence agencies. Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’a terrorist group, is also engaged in combat on behalf of Assad. Even Shi’a militias from Iraq, like the Kata’ib Hezbollah, have been imported into Syria by the Iranians. Imagine what they can do—and will do—when billions of dollars of sanctions relief make their way into Tehran’s coffers after the signing of this nuclear deal, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Back in 2003, noted European history expert Tony Judt wrote, “Israel, in short, is an anachronism.” In 2015, it is far too early to say whether Greece will reverse the course of European history by reviving the ugly political traditions that the European Union thought had been vanquished after World War II. But with the collapse of the European idea there, along with the severe disillusionment in other EU states, there is every reason to worry that both the far left and the far right will reap the rewards that will flow from Europe’s shattered consensus. In such conditions, anti-Semitism flourishes, as the “blame the Jews” chorus that invariably accompanies financial meltdown will grow louder. Yet if Europe has proved anything, it’s not that Israel is an “anachronism.” It is, rather, a necessity, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
After more than a decade of intermittent negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, the P5+1 nations missed a June 30 deadline to reach a final deal with Iran and have a new deadline of July 7. But with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejecting several key components agreed to under a framework reached in April, such as access by inspectors to military sites, many observers fear that negotiators might agree to a weak deal with Iran or no deal at all. Against that backdrop, JNS.org examines the positions of each of the P5+1 countries as they approach of the deadline.
“The great powers had photographs of the railway routes that the trains took to… Auschwitz,” Pope Francis remarked this week. “Tell me, why didn’t they bomb them?” The pontiff’s question is not merely a matter of historical curiosity. It raises issues of morality, diplomacy, and American foreign policy with profound implications for our own times, writes historian Rafael Medoff.
A political upheaval is seemingly underway in Turkey, as the Islamist AKP party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan failed to win a parliamentary majority in the country’s June 7 election. Does the setback for Erdogan, who has been known for his anti-Israel foreign policy and anti-Semitic rhetoric, mean an impending shift in Turkey’s future as well as its relationship with Israel?
With the June 30 deadline for a deal with Iran over its nuclear ambitions looming ominously, the Obama administration is having a hard time persuading a skeptical public that these negotiations are going to tame the Tehran regime. On the two critical issues—preventing Iran from weaponizing its nuclear program, and rolling back the expansion of Iranian political and military influence throughout the region—all the evidence suggests that the White House is engaged in wishful thinking, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Although Israel provides free medical treatment to Syrian refugees as well as Palestinians from the disputed territories and Gaza, the U.N. World Health Organization singled out Israel as the one country in the world to be condemned for violating human health rights. Saudi Arabia sponsored the exercise in the absurd. If hypocrisy needed a poster child, the despotic and brutal regime of Saudi Arabia, which is currently bombing Yemenite civilians into oblivion and is advertising job openings for additional executioners, more than set the standard. But the harm is not in the resolution. It is in its acceptance by the global community, and the message that the action sends to the Israelis, writes columnist Abraham H. Miller.
The French, to the casual observer, are a real enigma when it comes to foreign policy. Sometimes it seems like they can be truly helpful, like when it comes to the Iranian nuclear threat. At other times they are truly awful, such as through their threat to recognize a Palestinian state if their proposed U.N. Security Council resolution to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not create such a state after 18 months. The staunch supporter of Israel that is Canada isn’t on the Security Council, and the only Europeans other than the French who are permanently on the Council are the British, meaning that France’s bid to impose a two-state solution on Israel can only be thwarted by America. The ball, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen, is in President Barack Obama’s court.
“It is a fantastic commentary on the inhumanity of our times,” journalist Dorothy Thompson wrote at the height of the 1930s European Jewish refugee crisis, “that for thousands and thousands of people a piece of paper with a stamp on it is the difference between life and death.” Seventy-five years ago this month, president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s newly appointed assistant secretary of state sent his colleagues a memo outlining a strategy to “postpone and postpone and postpone” the granting of that “piece of paper” to refugees. Breckinridge Long’s chilling memo—more than any other single document—has come to symbolize the abandonment of the Jews during the Holocaust, writes historian Rafael Medoff.
A new force has emerged in the quest to support Israel and thwart a harmful nuclear deal with Iran: Indian Christian religious leader Dr. Kilari Anand Paul, president of the Global Peace Initiative, a humanitarian organization that defends victims of despots and dictators through public peace and prayer rallies. Paul has launched a coalition of 28 world leaders and religious figures—coming from Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and other faiths, as well as nations including Sudan and the Arab-led Gulf Cooperation Council—in an effort to stop the U.S. from signing a nuclear deal. Paul's “Save Israel Save The Middle East” plan will organize rallies in front of American embassies across the globe in an effort to drum up opposition to a nuclear deal with Iran in the streets of those countries.
Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestine Football (Soccer) Association, was all over the news this past week, calling Israel various ugly names and, ever the showman, dramatically hurling red penalty cards in front of eager television cameras at the 65th Congress of FIFA (world soccer’s governing body). Most Americans and media consumers around the world don’t know the names of individual Palestinian Authority officials, so very few would have recognized Rajoub’s incredible hypocrisy. They had no way of knowing that the man who was loudly accusing Israel of being cruel and violent has a resume filled with terrorism, torture, and general thuggery, writes columnist Stephen M. Flatow.
In a normal world, it wouldn’t be Israel that is the target of a campaign for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. The tiny Gulf emirate of Qatar is a far better candidate. Much of the slave labor in Qatar is used to build the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup that, for the moment, the country is hosting. The International Trade Union Confederation, which diligently monitors the barbaric treatment of Qatar’s slaves, predicts that 4,000 migrant workers will have died by the time the first soccer ball is kicked in 2022. Now is the time to say loudly and clearly that Qatar should be stripped of the World Cup, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
It seems that nobody gets upset anymore about severed heads in Iraq and in Syria, the work of Islamic State jihadist terrorists. At a certain point, even atrocities become routine. But the destruction of antiquities is a completely different story. Maybe that is why the recent Islamic State takeover of the Syrian city of Palmyra, home to many antiquities, made more headlines than the fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi, which took place just a few hours earlier. Islamic State propagandists are using this bit of information to garner the locals’ support. In the Middle East, Islamic State is seemingly taking us back to the Stone Age, writes columnist Boaz Bismuth.