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While much international attention continues to focus on the Iranian nuclear program and diplomatic efforts to address it, the Israeli Navy’s March 5 interception of an Iranian ship full of Syrian-made missiles bound for Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza sheds new light on other dimensions of the Islamic Republic’s strategy. “The nuclear program is the fast mover in international discussions, but the delivery capabilities are extremely important,” Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC, told JNS.org. “The Iranians are working very diligently on expanding the scope and legality of their missile program (a delivery vehicle for nuclear weapons).”
American Jews should play close heed to any anti-Semitic episodes in Ukraine. At the same time, let’s recognize Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Crimea and his threat to the rest of Ukraine for what it is—naked aggression in violation of the United Nations Charter that ultimately poses a threat to all of us, Jewish or not, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
The U.S., U.K., and Dutch governments are helping to fund an upcoming conference called “Christ at the Checkpoint,” which attempts to sway Evangelical Christian opinion against Israel and whose themes have anti-Semitic undertones, according to a new report by the watchdog group NGO Monitor. The report titled “Christ at the Checkpoint: How the U.S., U.K. and Dutch Governments Enable Religious Strike and Foment in the Mideast Conflict,” first obtained by JNS.org, examines how the American and European governments are directly and indirectly funding the conference.
As February turns to March on the Gregorian calendar this year, the Hebrew month of Adar Aleph transitions into Adar Bet, which began March 3. The incidence of a second Adar, representing a Jewish leap year, comes up seven times every 19 years on the Hebrew calendar. Traditional lore attributes the standardization of the Hebrew calendar—in which the months represent the course of the moon, but must be aligned with the seasons of the year—to Hillel II, the leader of the Jewish Sanhedrin in the 4th century, but experts believe the evolution of the calendar was much more gradual.
Israeli Apartheid Week likes to think of its activities as promoting human rights. In fact, its advocates are the ideological inheritors of a modern libel—that Zionism and apartheid are the same—that was deliberately manufactured to oppress Soviet Jews, at the behest of a state that murdered millions of people in its gulags. This is the company that Israeli Apartheid Week keeps, and it is time, as a Marxist might say, to toss the event into the garbage can of history, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
For four days, from Feb. 16-19, 2,135 people—61 percent between the ages of 18 and 34— participated with world Jewish leaders in an online “jam session” organized through a joint initiative between the government of Israel and an entity being termed world Jewry. The initiative, said Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett, was about “hearing new ideas and empowering Jews from around the world to take part in the debate over which direction Israeli-Diaspora relations should take in the years to come.” Both insiders and outsiders say there are still too many unknowns to judge whether the project can and will be successful.
It is easy to understand why the idea of someone running Iran policy who is a keen advocate of engagement, and who believes that Iranian ally Hamas should not be isolated, is so disconcerting. The nature of Robert Malley’s new job, however, should reassure pro-Israel groups that they won’t be privately grappling with him at every turn. That role will fall to the Saudis, who are furious with President Barack Obama’s overtures to Iran, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
The New York Times raised some eyebrows in the Jewish community last week with a lengthy feature about four self-described religious Jews who oppose Israel. In an apparent attempt to legitimize Jewish anti-Zionism, the article stressed that Zionism “was not always the norm among American Jews” and that it was only “the persecution of European Jews [which] turned many American Jews into Zionists.” Interestingly, one of the most famous “religious Jews” who opposed Zionism did not change his mind even after the Holocaust. That was the Times’s own publisher from 1935 to 1961, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, writes historian Dr. Rafael Medoff.
The 24th annual Yeshiva University National Model United Nations (YUNMUN) conference brought together 46 participating Jewish day schools from North America, Brazil, and South Africa. From Feb. 9-11, the Stamford Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Connecticut was home to some 450 teen delegates, who debated and untangled the world’s most crushing problems, breaking only for regular mandatory minyanim, optional study sessions, and kosher mealtimes.
Amid the celebrations and hoopla surrounding the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America and their appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the man Paul McCartney called “the fifth Beatle” is not often mentioned. But experts say that without their Jewish manager, Brian Epstein, the Beatles as we know them would not have existed. “Epstein discovered the Beatles and guided them to mega-stardom, making them the most successful musical artists of all time,” said Beatles scholar Martin Lewis. “But, regrettably, the man who did so much for the Beatles, and who died tragically in 1967, has become a comparatively forgotten man since his death. Almost a ‘nowhere man.’”
The new George Clooney film, “The Monuments Men,” tells the story of U.S. military personnel who during World War II risked their lives to rescue paintings by the likes of Rembrandt, Picasso, and Chagall that the Nazis had stolen. But for Connecticut civil rights attorney Bill Bingham, the story is one of tragic irony. His father, Hiram Bingham IV, was a dissident U.S. diplomat who helped rescue Marc Chagall after the Roosevelt administration abandoned the painter—the same administration that later made such efforts to recover Chagall’s paintings.
With the Winter Olympics underway in Sochi, Russia, the Jewish debate on the games mirrors the discourse taking place in the broader international and athletic communities. While some Jews say they view the games purely as sport—with social or political issues not factoring into their evaluation—not all can ignore Russia’s controversial “gay propaganda” legislation, political detentions, allegations of Olympic corruption, and the recent terrorist threats against the games.
Circumcision’s opponents, like the major medical associations in Sweden and Denmark, want to create victims where there are none. This is a devious and dishonest tactic that presents discrimination as liberation, and prejudice as enlightenment. Anti-Semites have never considered themselves bigots, but the bearers of a message of love—their core belief is that our world will be a better place without Jews and Jewish influence. And Europe, where these sinister ideas took root in the 19th Century, remains fertile soil for them in the 21st, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
The Jan. 27 passing of Pete Seeger got columnist Stephen M. Flatow thinking about Israel-boycotting actress Emma Thompson. "The radical chic that is so appealing to you today will be revealed as a horrible mistake soon enough," Flatow writes in an open letter to Thompson. "You will, eventually, recognize the true nature of the tyrants and terrorists of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. But how much must Israel suffer until you, like Pete Seeger and Joan Baez, finally stop romanticizing dictators?"
Some activists, particularly in the LGBT community, believe the time is now right for a boycott of Russia. How should Jews—boycott victims at the hands of the Nazis, the Arab League in the 1940s, and the modern BDS movement—assess these calls? JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen suggests two criteria: Firstly, is the boycott justified? Secondly, can the boycott be effective?
Though the probability of success of the renewed efforts by Secretary of State John Kerry to forge a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is still uncertain, experts have expressed concern about a longstanding policy that could force the U.S. to lose much of its multilateral clout within the United Nations should the talks break down. Failed Mideast negotiations could yield a similar situation to what transpired in 2012, when after winning “nonmember state” status in the U.N., the Palestinians received recognition from UNESCO, in turn triggering laws that mandated the U.S. to withdraw its UNESCO funding and membership.