World

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.

Latest News

While some European far-right parties have toned down their anti-Semitism for tactical reasons, and focus a greater proportion of their ire on Muslims, the Hungarian Jobbik party is proudly, unabashedly anti-Semitic—and therefore deserving of a response greater than just the standard press releases that American Jewish leaders delight in issuing, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen.

The Jews of Ukraine, and caregivers working on the ground there, must know that they have a collective hand extended to them at this time—worrying for them, and working hard to be a source of strength for them. In that empathy is the ultimate expression of the story of the Jewish People: that we can transcend time, place, and even our daily worries to embrace our fellow Jews, acknowledge their suffering, and impart a sense of lovingkindess worlds away. Throughout Ukraine, they need it more now than ever before, writes Alan H. Gill, CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

Against the backdrop of studies revealing rising anti-Semitism both in France and across all of Europe, as well as one particularly brutal attack last month, French Jews are flocking to Israel. The Jewish Agency for Israel recently released figures showing a dramatic 312-percent increase in aliyah from France over the first two months of 2014. In late March, meanwhile, a 59-year-old Jewish teacher in Paris was severely beaten by a group of young men who proceeded to draw a swastika on his chest.

While the breakdown of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process grabs the latest headlines, a growing group of organizations is calling attention to what it believes to be a major obstacle in fostering understanding between Israelis and Palestinians: the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

As the next Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, President Hassan Rouhani has appointed Hamid Aboutalebi, a man who participated in the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979. The appointment is a useful reminder that the Islamic Republic remains an outright enemy of the U.S., not a negotiating partner with whom we have differences, writes JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen. But beyond its expression of “serious concerns,” will U.S. take action to try to prevent Aboutalebi from assuming the post?

In Brighton—the languid seaside resort on Britain’s south coast that has become the hub of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protests at the local Israeli-owned Ecostream store—Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI) has responded to BDS with campaigns called “Pies Against Lies,” “Cakes Against Hate,” and “Bagels Against Bigotry.” The programming of SFI, a relatively new pro-Israel organization, is just one example of the grassroots movements that are emerging to counter British BDS on the city streets and on college campuses.

Those of the mindset that religions are inherently at war with one another must have a difficult time reconciling the friendship between the State of Israel and the Republic of Azerbaijan. Yet, in the real world, that friendship makes perfect sense. Although religious principles guide their nations, the tenets of religious freedom and equality for all are a basis for their governments and policies, writes Norma Zager, a professor at California State University, Los Angeles.

Israel’s relations with Turkey, once its closest Muslim ally, have grown increasingly strained under the leadership of Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But after formally severing ties due to the fallout from the May 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, Israel and Turkey are reportedly on the brink of restoring full diplomatic relations. Amid a messy election year in which Erdogan faces domestic political backlash over his increasingly authoritarian and Islamist policies, as well as the presence of growing regional threats like Syria and Iran for both Israel and Turkey, what would normalization offer the former allies?

It’s high time that Kuwait be held accountable for enforcing a system that looks like apartheid against the Bedoon people. But JNS.org Shillman Analyst Ben Cohen is not aware of any campuses hosting “Kuwaiti Apartheid Week” events like they do to denounce Israel. There’s a whole Division of Palestinian Rights at the U.N., but that organization is silent on the Bedoon. We can whine about the double standards, or we can press our own Jewish leaders to raise cases like the Bedoon with their government interlocutors, in the name of both universal human rights and protecting Israel’s democratic reputation. It is time to go on the offensive, Cohen writes.

William E. Dodd, the U.S. ambassador to Nazi Germany in the 1930s, privately made anti-Semitic remarks and worked to undermine American Jewish protests against Hitler, according to newly discovered documents.

“It is important that we dedicate ourselves to transmitting to new generations the heritage of our mutual knowledge, esteem and friendship,” Pope Francis told an American Jewish Committee (AJC) delegation at a private meeting with the group on Feb. 13. The pope meets hundreds weekly, but for AJC President Stanley M. Bergman and the rest of the AJC group at the Vatican that day, it was a unique encounter and an experience that was especially meaningful, Bergman writes.

While the crisis in Ukraine continues to unfold, Jews in the disputed region of Crimea have been caught in a battle over nationalism. Like many minority groups in the area, Ukrainian Jews fear for their safety and their future amid the heightened tension. “The main action in Crimea was taking place right across the street from our synagogue,” said Rabbi Yitzchok Meyer Lipszyc, who has been a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, for more than two decades. “There were demonstrations with over 30,000 people. The protestors were pro-Ukrainian. But eventually the ones who took over were in the unidentified uniforms—they were obviously Russian military. There was Cossacks there too; for Jews that was a bit scary because of their history in the pogroms.”

While meeting in Geneva for its annual spring session from March 3-28, the United Nations Human Rights Council will be deciding on a replacement for Richard Falk, the body’s special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights who has a history of anti-Israel bias. U.N. watchdog groups, the United States, and Israel are closely monitoring the selection process.

While 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 a March 10-14 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 Strife 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.

An Israeli organization is mulling taking a legal fight against Oxfam International to the global aid conglomerate’s donors, in an attempt to cut off a source of funds it says is ending up in the hands of people allied with terrorist groups.

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.