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Now that the latest Israel-Hamas conflict has come to a close, the battlefield moves from Gaza to the court of public opinion. How should a scrupulous application of international law treat Israel’s Operation Protective Edge and Hamas’s actions in the conflict? That is no small question, because the outcome of a U.N. investigation into the conflict will be the commonly accepted verdict on the matter. The meticulous documentation by the IDF and the media of the facts on the ground leaves the three-person commission conducting the probe with an opportunity to steer the U.N. on a road to regaining credibility, writes attorney Eli Wishnivetski.
With old alliances being frayed and new threats emerging, making sense of the rapidly changing Middle East is increasingly difficult for even seasoned observers and analysts. Disgruntled by President Barack Obama’s foreign policy in the region, some long-time American allies such as Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia have begun openly criticizing the U.S. approach to issues like the Gaza conflict, with some even pivoting towards Russia. At the same time, civil wars in Syria and Libya as well as instability in Iraq have proven to be fertile breeding ground for new and more brutal terrorist organizations, forcing regional and international actors into new alliances to meet this common threat.
The 70-year-old, post-Holocaust taboo of expressing anti-Semitic views started to break down over the last several years in Hungary, where 100,000 Jews live among a population of 1 million. Stoked by the rise of the neo-Nazi political party Jobbik, that flame has been fueled to greater heights during the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas. But roughly 100 miles from Budapest, on a 17-acre patch of land between a forest and a lake in rural Hungary, lies a summer camp that for 25 years has given young Jews from central and eastern Europe the strength to be proud of their religion and to shape their communities.
The horrors of northern Iraq have compelled the Obama administration to both quell its isolationist instincts and to delay the much-vaunted policy “pivot” from the Middle East to East Asia. However much we try, the Middle East will not let us go. And yet we still have no grand strategy for the region, no sense of how we want it to evolve, no doctrine to bring stability to its suffering peoples, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
The British newspaper The Guardian turned down an advertorial piece penned by famed Harvard Law School professor and pro-Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz. In the ad, whose rejection was first reported by JNS.org on Friday, Dershowitz refutes statements by many media outlets that all of Gaza is densely populated, a claim that has been used to justify the use of human shields by Hamas in its recent conflict with Israel. “The British media is divided,” Dershowitz said. “But The Guardian, which holds itself out to be a purveyor of diverse truth, clearly reflects a bias against Israel on its editorial pages, as well as in its presentation of the news. Now that bias has spread to the advertising pages.”
The British medical journal The Lancet unethically politicized medicine when it published “An open letter for the people in Gaza,” providing scientific veneer to condemnation of Israel and its defensive actions by accusing the Jewish state of carrying out a propaganda campaign that “justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre.” The article’s authors have no expertise in military law or tactics, nor any evidentiary basis on which to allege that Israel is motivated by a desire to massacre civilians. The article is demonstrative of the “halo effect,” in which NGOs perceived to promote good principles are shielded from scrutiny, writes Eliana Trink, a research intern for the Jerusalem-based watchdog NGO Monitor.
Although the 2016 presidential election is still a long way off, prospective candidates are already testing the waters for possible presidential bids—primarily candidates considering running in the currently wide-open Republican race. Thus when Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky), one of the most visible potential contenders in 2016, said that he had never proposed to cut foreign aid to Israel, many in the pro-Israel community took notice.
During the current conflict in Gaza a number of celebrities have voiced their opinions in support of either the Israeli or Palestinian positions. But others—be it during Operation Protective Edge or at other times—have gone further than simply supporting the Palestinians by actively supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, making false accusations about the Jewish state, ignoring Israel’s position on the conflict, or justifying the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. JNS.org presents a list of such celebrities and some of the brands they have endorsed.
Founded in New York City in 1914, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has taken a leading role in providing relief to Jews and non-Jews alike in regions devastated by war, environmental disasters, famine, and political repression. Amid the celebration of its centennial, the organization’s work is embodied by four words—“I Live: Send Help.” That is the title of JDC’s ongoing exhibit at the New York Historical Society, which runs through Sept. 21. The display’s interactive elements and artifacts such as letters, pictures, radio recordings, and newsreel footage demonstrate the complexity of the humanitarian organization’s work, and transport visitors back in time.
Amid the current unrest in Israel and Gaza, Jews around the world have been targeted for attack. Meanwhile, in the U.S. right now, school is out and students are safe. But there is little doubt that when the academic year commences, Jewish students on American college and university campuses will be targeted for harassment, intimidation, bullying, and worse, solely because of their actual or perceived identification with the Jewish state, writes Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz and co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative non-profit.
Are we seeing another spike of anti-Semitism and Israel-hatred that will die down once a cease-fire deal is reached in Gaza? Or has global sentiment on Jews and Israel taken a more permanent turn for the worse? Either way, if the Jewish community wants to emerge from this current round of conflict with confidence, it needs to conduct a thorough audit of the impact of Operation Protective Edge inside and outside the Middle East, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
Amid rising French anti-Semitism, Simone Rodan-Benzaquen—director of the American Jewish Committee office in Paris—asks herself troubling questions: Does my public expression of Judaism endanger my safety and that of my children? Might showing my support for Israel generate threats? Am I being a responsible parent by raising my children in this country?
Before a July 20 deadline, negotiators taking part in the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran agreed to extend the deadline for another four months after what the parties described as tangible successes. But the extension ignited a fresh round of skepticism about the prospects for the negotiations. “It’s kind of naive to think they’ll have an agreement, when the sustained way in which Iran is going about building its nuclear program hasn’t changed at all,” Michael Adler, public policy scholar with the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center, told JNS.org.
Jews have the challenge of balancing our respect for the law of the land with our resolve not to allow our synagogues to be burned or ransacked, as they were less than a century ago in Europe. Used sparingly and when necessary, self-defense is no offense. And if it contributes to the authorities taking pre-emptive action against anti-Semitic demonstrations, then so much the better, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen in light of the recent attack on a Paris synagogue by pro-Palestinian demonstrators.
It’s common in Jamaica to find homes or other buildings built on Jewish cemeteries—marking island development on the one hand, and Jewish assimilation, intermarriage, and migration on the other. Since it launched in 2007, the ongoing Jamaican Jewish cemetery restoration project has become a combination of data mining for human stories and literal mining for lost stones. The team has unearthed more than 1,000 gravestones and markers, an outdoor archive of the different cultures that tumble together to make up Jamaican Jewry.
Amid the ongoing surge of the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) terrorist group, the notion that Iran can be a friend to western interests in the Middle East is catastrophically misguided. It is far better to acknowledge the sad reality that we are running out of regional allies, and are therefore better off sticking with the partners we have, rather than finding new ones who will delight in betraying us the first chance they get, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
For most Westerners, Iraq is a foreboding and dangerous place that is filled with extremists and daily violence. Yet as little as 75 years ago Iraq was a vibrant country that was home to many different ethnic and religious minorities, including large Jewish and Christian populations. But the latest round of violence spearheaded by the jihadist terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is driving through the heart of Iraq to the capital of Baghdad and inflicting medieval-style Islamic justice on anyone in its path, might be the last gasp of Iraq’s ancient Christian community, which faces extinction like Iraq’s Jewish community before it.
Ben Cohen’s new book, “Some of My Best Friends, A Journey Through Twenty-First Century Anti-Semitism,” is a collection and analysis of previously published essays, reporting, and commentary that meticulously capture the current climate of anti-Semitism around the world. Throughout a turbulent, modern decade dominated by war and economic instability, the author consistently provides a fair and balanced perspective of the coalescing forces critical of Judaism and the state of Israel, writes book reviewer Jeffrey F. Barken.
Most Americans know deep down that the Middle East will interrupt our foreign policy slumber sooner or later. That’s why, more than ever before, we need to be bolstering the only peoples in the region we can truly trust: the Israelis, who have created a model liberal democracy in one of the most reactionary regions on earth, and the Kurds, whose modest wish to join the family of democratic nations is one we should actively be seeking to grant, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.
Jill Klein and her father will watch every game the U.S. plays in the World Cup. But their relationship with soccer goes much deeper. Klein has a prized 1946 photograph of her father standing in a line of men from his soccer team in a displaced person’s camp in Austria. His father, Herman, wasn't there to watch him play. Two years prior, on the selection ramp in Auschwitz, Herman was sent to the left and Klein's father to the right. Klein's father became a prisoner in Auschwitz, and Herman died in a gas chamber.