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Officials from the Turkish and Israeli foreign ministries met for the first time in more than six years earlier this month, striving to draft a roadmap to promote cooperation in areas such as energy and commerce. As Turkey and Israel ease into a new era in their relationship, collaboration on more sensitive issues like security has been slower to emerge. Israeli Consul General in Istanbul Shai Cohen said that the normalization of Turkish-Israeli ties is “starting step by step, mainly on ‘soft powers’ like trade, culture, academic ties and tourism, issues that are ready to be enhanced in the short-term.”
President Donald Trump recently stated that persecuted Christians in the Middle East would be given priority as refugees. If Iraqi Kurdistan were to aid in the rebuilding of the Assyrian national homeland, it would represent a goodwill gesture that would reverberate to Washington and send a powerful message that the genocide of Middle East Christians will not be tolerated. A new U.S.-backed alliance between Kurdistan, Assyria and Israel that enshrines Western principles of freedom and democracy would create an oasis of peace and prosperity in an area of the world that desperately needs it, writes columnist Bradley Martin.
President Donald Trump’s administration issued new sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile program Friday, marking a major step toward realigning U.S. policy in the Middle East away from the Obama administration’s rapprochement with the Iranian-Shi’a axis and back toward supporting the interests of America’s traditional Sunni regional allies as well as Israel. Former President Barack Obama had pursued warmer U.S. ties with Iran by making concessions to reach the 2015 nuclear deal and by not responding to aggressive Iranian actions. Trump’s shift in approach comes as Iran’s regional ambitions continue to spread deeper into Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. “What we see with Trump is simply a return to the normal bipartisan position that ties U.S. relations with Iran to its regional behavior,” said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official and an expert on Iran.
It might sound perverse to say it, but Iran's recent ballistic missile test was welcome in one important sense, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen. Away from the fervid rhetoric and intellectually insulting spin on all sides that has accompanied President Donald Trump's first steps into the world of governing, Iran represents a marked contrast when it comes to the clarity of the challenge it poses. By any standard, Iran's regime stands out as a clear and present threat to the Western world. And even as we agonize over what is to become of that world, we need to recognize that the primary goal is to save it. After years of denying the true nature of the Iranian threat, the American public is again in a position to understand its potency, writes Cohen.
He came to Canada as a 16-year-old refugee from Somalia. He’s highly regarded across the Canadian political spectrum. He was just appointed as immigration minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In these polarized, fragmented times, Ahmed Hussen is exactly the kind of public figure we need when it comes to clarifying the wider debate about immigration and Islamism, human rights and national security. Hussen's record suggests that he recognizes the clear difference between practical support for the victims of extreme cruelty on the one hand, and sinking into nebulous cultural relativism or knuckle-headed bigotry on the other. Partisans of both left and right would do well to consider that, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Israel’s relations with Russia remain friendly and pragmatic, yet full of tension, in the early days of America’s Trump era. Following President Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric on seeking rapprochement with Russia, his administration signaled its willingness to cooperate with Russia in the fight against Islamic State in Syria. A measuring stick for shifting American-Russian ties could be the positive working relationship between Israel and Russia, despite the disagreements in the latter relationship over Moscow’s support for Israeli enemies like Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. Yuri Teper, an expert on Russia and a postdoctoral fellow at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said that Israel's relations with Russia “it seems, for the most part, are handled with mutual understanding of each other’s interests.” But Anna Borshchevskaya, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said, “While [Russian President Vladimir] Putin did bring Russia closer to Israel over the years, it was always for purely pragmatic reasons.”
While the annual marking of International Holocaust Remembrance Day Jan. 27 gives voice to the stories of victims of the Nazis’ atrocities, what can Germans know about perpetrators from their own family? That was precisely Maya Levy’s question when she contacted the German government agency Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt) to investigative the Nazi past of her paternal grandfather. The WASt eventually informed her of her grandfather’s army ID and tank unit, named after Gestapo founder Hermann Goering. “He never spoke about the war when he came back, like everyone else, and nobody asked,” Levy said. The WASt helps descendants of Nazi soldiers learn more about the sensitive subject of their father or grandfather’s service. “For a long period of time, it was like a taboo,” said Hans-Hermann Söchtig, the WASt’s director. “The [wartime] generation didn’t talk about this era. It was a gray zone.”
About a month after JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen wrote about a group of British animal rights activists who employed Nazi imagery in a campaign against a kosher slaughterhouse, there have been three more significant episodes involving the Holocaust and the Nazi era, leading Cohen to believe he underestimated the scale of the problem. If the Holocaust is now primarily a political instrument, rather than a central historical memory with a direct bearing upon both politics and ethics, we can expect further manipulation of the past to serve the imperatives of the present. From the "Hitler" chatter on social media all the way up to the new guardians of Holocaust memory, the politicization of the Holocaust is a distinct challenge facing the current Jewish generation, Cohen writes.
While the change of presidential administration in Washington may strengthen Israel's diplomatic position for the immediate period, and while the Palestinians will have to get to the back of the line in terms of international priorities, the Palestinian question itself will not disappear. We can assume that if President-elect Donald Trump does a 180-degree turn on President Barack Obama's approach to the Israelis, the narrative of the Palestinians—ignored by America, facing 50 years of "occupation" under Israel—will become emblematic of public resistance to the foreign policies of the Trump administration, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Some 2.9 million people visited Israel last year, a 3.6-percent rise over 2015. Earlier this week, Israel’s Ministry of Tourism released a report summarizing international travel to Israel in 2016, with the largest influx of visitors coming in the last quarter of the year. Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin attributed the increased travel to the government’s significant investment in targeted marketing initiatives and outreach to “new markets.” JNS.org presents 10 noteworthy facts contained in Israel’s tourism report.
The incoming Donald Trump presidency likely means a sharp break from President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. For Egypt and Jordan, the only two Arab countries that have peace treaties with Israel and two of the most reliable U.S. allies in the Middle East, the Trump administration will provide new opportunities and challenges going forward on issues such as Islamic extremism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the status of Jerusalem. JNS.org interviews Mideast experts about prospects for the region's future dynamics during the Trump era, including how American policy might affect relations between Israel and Arab states.
A glimmer of hope in the fight against Iranian-backed terrorism shone forth from Argentina during the final days of 2016. A federal appeals court ruled that former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will face a new investigation over allegations that she and her close colleagues made a secret pact with the Iranian regime over the probe into the July 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Convicting Iran for its unpunished crime in Argentina would generate momentum to take on Iranian-backed terror globally, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Marcelo Brodsky, a photographer, and Ilan Stavans, a scholar of Latin-American Jewish life, enable readers to understand what happened on the day of the July 1994 bombing of Argentina’s AMIA Jewish center in “Once@9:53am: Terror in Buenos Aires.” The “fotonovela” is part documentary, part chronicle and part fiction. The book—which has renewed relevance thanks to the recent reopening of an investigation into former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s alleged covering up of Iran’s role in the bombing—shows that the camera evidently is even mightier than the pen, writes book reviewer Rabbi Jack Riemer.
Do protesters who chant "We Are All Hezbollah" understand the nature of the organization they so heartily embrace? Do they grasp that "We Are All Hezbollah" means "We Are All Executioners, Rapists and Child Murderers?" These are not poorly armed fighters. They are a well-armed, well trained force of killers, as we have known for too many years now. The 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut? It was the work of Hezbollah. The 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires? Ditto. Look at the current situation in Aleppo, and then imagine what would happen if Hezbollah was unleashed upon the people of Israel. Sometimes, you need an apocalyptic scenario to bring you to your senses, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Although Israelis were distressed by the tension in their relationship with the outgoing Obama administration, that state of affairs has compelled Jerusalem to forge ties elsewhere that have greatly benefited the Jewish state, according to a leading expert on the Middle East and Russia. Dr. Ariel Cohen, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and director of the Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics, analyzed Israel’s growing ties with Russia and other nations in a Dec. 20 conference call and a subsequent interview with JNS.org. “With President [Barack] Obama and the left wing of the Democratic Party turning against Israel, Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu has made a great effort to build better relationships with Russia, India, African countries and others,” Cohen said.
In hopes of offering a blueprint for ramping up constructive Israeli and Jewish relations with the Islamic world, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week made historic visits to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, two Muslim-majority nations in Central Asia. While giving remarks at the Great Synagogue of Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, Netanyahu noted that he was speaking “in Central Asia, in an Islamic country that respects Israel, that honors coexistence and tolerance, and constitutes a model of what needs to happen—and can happen—in our region as well.” In Azerbaijan, Netanyahu lauded Israeli-Azerbaijani ties as “something that we can show the world.” Azerbaijani Ambassador to the U.S. Elin Suleymanov told JNS.org that Netanyahu’s visit is significant not just from the perspective of intergovernmental relations, but because of Azerbaijan’s vibrant and thriving Jewish community. “This connection with the Jewish community is the backbone of our relations [with Israel],” Suleymanov said.
Radical protesters in London recently attacked a Jewish communal building. They screamed abuse about "baby killers!" and cried out, "It's a Holocaust!” The graffiti at the scene included a smear about a "kosher Holocaust" and references to the Nazi persecution of the Jews. What motivated the protesters' anger? You’re probably thinking, for good reason, that this had something to do with Israel. In fact, it didn’t. The building attacked was the kosher Kedassia abattoir (slaughterhouse), and the attackers were members of a militant vegan group attempting to prevent the delivery of a truckload of live chickens. Holocaust abuse, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen, is a central tactic in winning the ongoing “victimhood competition” with the Jews.
Is Judah Maccabee rolling over in his grave? Hardly. Indeed, the hero of the Hanukkah story would have delighted in the sheer scope of Jewish American organizations and individuals weighing in on the Dec. 14 “Hanukkah party celebrating religious freedom and diversity” at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The hosts—the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan—may have expected a reaction of a different sort. The Hanukkah party co-organizers drew inspiration from the Jewish community that has thrived in the Muslim-majority, South Caucasus country of Azerbaijan, writes Diana Cohen Altman, the executive director of a foundation that focuses on Azerbaijani culture.