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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.
In a recent issue of Time magazine, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, former president of the Union for Reform Judaism, writes that anti-Semitism is “not a threat to American Jews.” He could not be more wrong, writes Kenneth L. Marcus, president of The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and former staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Any threat to world Jewry is a threat to American Jews. According to the Anti-Defamation League’s important new study, there are now one billion adult anti-Semites in the world. As Rabbi Yoffie acknowledges, this is fully a quarter of the world’s adult population. Can American Jewry shrug this off?
Seventy years ago this week, the Allies staged the D-Day invasion, landing some 24,000 troops on the beaches along France’s Normandy Coast in one of the major turning points of World War II. What is not widely realized, however, is that the D-Day assault on June 6, 1944, also had an important link to the fate of Europe’s Jews—and in particular to the controversy over the Allies’ refusal to bomb Auschwitz, writes historian Rafael Medoff.
With a focus on Hindu nationalism and pro-market policies, newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promises to propel the country in a new direction. India and Israel have enjoyed increasingly close military and economic cooperation over the past two decades, and Modi also brings strong personal and business ties with Israel dating to his time as governor of one of India's most wealthy and industrialized states. While traditional Israeli allies in Europe remain in economic stagnation and produce increasingly hostile rhetoric towards the Jewish state, Modi's election may further elevate Israel's bond with the world's largest democracy.
The recent fatal shooting at a Jewish museum in Brussels, as well as the results of continent-wide parliamentary elections, has brought the multidirectional threats faced by Europe’s Jews back to the forefront. These threats are coming together from the “right-wing, certain elements of the Muslim community, and at the same time also from the radical left, which is viciously anti-Israel,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the American Jewish Committee Transatlantic Institute in Brussels.
Hailed as a hero in Egypt for his role in the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, former defense minister and military commander Abdel Fattah El-Sisi easily won the country’s presidential election with more than 90 percent of the vote. But despite the popular support, El-Sisi would preside over a diminished Egypt that is beset by religious persecution, economic malaise, and ongoing security threats from Islamic terrorists. El-Sisi has promised Egypt a better future, but will he be able to deliver?
Israel’s business community has increasingly turned eastward towards booming Asian markets. Fittingly, then, Asian countries had a major presence at the prestigious MIXiii - Israel Innovation Conference 2014, held May 20-22 in Tel Aviv. Hong Kong, represented by a diverse 31-member delegation, was no exception. The group was led by Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK), a body whose goal is to “encourage new global companies to set up their businesses in Hong Kong, and to help those existing companies expand,” said Simon Galpin, its director-general of investment promotion.
A much-debated artifacts collection from the historical Jewish community in Baghdad that was slated to return to Iraq will remain in the United States for an additional two years, following last week’s announcement of an agreement between Iraqi officials and the U.S. State Department. Though both Iraqi officials and the State Department have kept quiet about the agreement’s details, including the length of the extension of a U.S. exhibit displaying the artifacts, the office of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) revealed May 16 that the extension is for two years.
While there seems to be no argument on the size of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) newly published study on anti-Semitism, concerns have arisen about the accuracy of the survey’s findings on certain countries. Particularly surprising for some experts was Sweden's status as the third-least anti-Semitic nation in the poll, and the Netherlands's ranking of fourth lowest.