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.
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.
Relatives of the Israeli Olympians murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Games have long pushed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to recognize the 11 victims with a moment of silence or other official tribute. As recently as 2012, the 40th anniversary of the "Munich Massacre," the IOC persisted in its refusal to grant that request. But the playing field is shifting. In time for the 2016 Rio Olympics, a first-ever IOC-supported official memorial telling the story of the massacre will be erected in Munich. The memorial, whose groundbreaking ceremony will take place this summer, is being constructed at the initiative of the Bavarian government to bring a sense of closure to this 43-year drama.
JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen learned of the death of Robert Wistrich, the world's leading scholar of anti-Semitism, on the afternoon of May 19. Less than 24 hours later, he was on a plane from New York to Tel Aviv to attend Wistrich's funeral. Cohen learned from Wistrich that one can be both an unapologetically proud Jew and an incisive writer and thinker, and that Jewish history is also general history—that it is impossible to understand the trials of a people locked in their diaspora without an intimate knowledge of the prevailing political forces around them.
Controversy is swirling over conflicting reports as to whether or not the Pope Francis called Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas an “angel of peace” during a meeting at the Vatican on Saturday. The episode comes after the Vatican last week recognized the “State of Palestine” in its announcement of a new treaty. Both incidents were roundly criticized by the Israeli government and pro-Israel commentators.
After a devastating earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale hit the impoverished mountainous country of Nepal over the weekend, killing more than 4,000 people, Israeli and Jewish humanitarian and governmental organizations have assumed their traditional role on the frontline of relief efforts for a natural disaster. “I think that is one of the outstanding features of the Jewish community, its ability to come together and respond to crises and to show its dedication to tikkun olam (repairing the world),” said Michael Geller, communications director for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
Rising anti-Semitism and the issue of Palestinian statehood will be among the factors in the equation for Jewish voters when the United Kingdom heads to the polls on May 7 to determine the country’s next ruling political party and prime minister. The election’s two major contenders are the Conservative Party, led by current Prime Minister David Cameron, and the left-leaning Labour Party, led by Member of Parliament (MP) Ed Miliband. Though Miliband is Jewish himself, he has been heavily criticized by his own religious community due to Labour’s stances on Israel, particularly the party’s support for a unilaterally established Palestinian state. But British pro-Israel activist Fiona Sharpe told JNS.org that “what is of greater concern and a much more immediate concern [for Jews in the U.K.] is the issue of anti-Semitism.”
The fact that 40 percent of the world’s oil ships pass through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait gives some idea of the global impact the current conflict in Yemen could have. It is tempting to regard Saudi intervention in Yemen as welcome, insofar as it targets Iran. But we should be wary of any arrangement that gives Arab states a regional policing role. Like other Arab states, Saudi Arabia has responded to Iran’s nuclear ambitions with similar ambitions of its own. In the long run, Saudi military empowerment could be just as negative for Western and Israeli security as an Iranian nuclear bomb, not the least because of the Saudi kingdom’s historic role as an incubator of radical Sunni Islamism, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.