Latest News on Israel and the Jewish World

JNS.org freelance reporters and staff editors strive to provide high quality news coverage of the latest news from Israel and the Jewish world. In this section JNS.org offers analytical reports and commentaries on politics and international affairs, culture and lifestyle features, arts and sports content, and religious news. For the latest news on Israel, we also include exclusively syndicated content from Israel Hayom, a major daily newspaper in Israel. If you are interested in a specific topic, please browse through the content “categories” in our navigation bar or search our site.

Latest News

Israel this month became the first nation outside the U.S. to declare the initial operational capability of the American-produced F-35 stealth fighter jet. Brig. Gen. (ret.) Ephraim Segoli, a former commander of two combat helicopter squadrons, told JNS that the F-35 “is not just a plane, but a system in its own right. It serves the entire air force, through its range of sensors and ability to communicate what it collects.”

President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was overwhelmingly rejected in the Muslim world based on the denial of Jews’ legitimacy to have a state in what they see as Islamic territory. But this anger was tempered by the interests of Sunni Arab governments that are more concerned with their own survival and the threat of Iran.

A Palestinian ambassador’s boast that he assaulted an Israeli student in an argument over the origins of falafel is drawing strong criticism from British Jewish leaders and veteran Israeli diplomats. Manuel E. Hassassian, the Palestinian Authority’s chief envoy in London, asserted in a recent Lebanese television interview that when he was a graduate student at the University of Toledo in 1976, he got into an argument with an Israeli student who claimed “that falafel and hummus are Israeli foods.”

President Donald Trump’s announcement of policy changes on Jerusalem was the subject of much of the conversation at the Dec. 6-10 conference of American Jewry’s largest religious denomination. Ahead of the Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) biennial convention, URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs had called Trump’s announcement “ill-timed,” breaking with the relatively broad Jewish communal support for U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A surge in alleged Israeli strikes on targets in Syria appears to suggest a new Israeli urgency to block Iran’s spread into the war-torn country. So far, neither Iran nor its terror proxies have retaliated. Yet the lack of retaliation is not something that can be counted on forever, warned Yaakov Amidror, former national security advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “It is clear that in the cost-benefit calculation…they ran through their considerations and concluded that launching a war [against Israel] is not something they should do. There is no telling when their considerations will change,” Amidror told JNS.

Anti-Israel and anti-Semitic demonstrations pervaded Europe last weekend as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the continent days after the Trump administration’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The civilian protests as well as widespread opposition to the White House’s Jerusalem policy changes within the European political establishment may serve to deepen the chasm between Israel and Europe. 

Jerusalemite opinions about President Donald Trump’s landmark policy changes on their city run the gamut, reflecting the diversity of the Israeli capital itself. In an effort to take the pulse of the holy city’s mood following U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as well as Trump’s announcement of plans to move the American embassy there, JNS spoke with various Jerusalemites from east to west and from natives to immigrants. 

Avi Gabbay, a leader of Israel’s political left and presumably one of the top challengers to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a future election, has surprised the Israeli public with what many consider right-wing rhetoric. Yet it remains unclear if Gabbay’s positioning represents a real shift or merely a pre-election bid for wider support. JNS spoke with Knesset members from across the political spectrum to assess Israel’s changing political map.

It’s not often that the American Jewish community is united on issues pertaining to President Donald Trump, or on any political topics for that matter. But Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his expression of the intent to move the U.S. embassy to that city drew widespread support from Jewish organizations, dovetailing with the expected backing of Christian Zionist groups.

The attorneys in the landmark Jerusalem passport lawsuit are calling on President Donald Trump to instruct the State Department to list “Israel” as the birthplace of American citizens born in Jerusalem. The passport question could emerge as the key test of how Trump's Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital will be implemented. 

President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Dec. 6, breaking with decades of U.S. policy and enraging the Palestinians. Legal experts, Israeli leaders and pro-Israel organizations noted that Jerusalem has long been the capital and that Trump’s recognition is a simple acknowledgement of reality.

In a strategic win-win-win for the U.S., Israel and Africa, the Jewish state has been welcomed into a multi-billion-dollar project that aims to raise the standard of living for as many as 600 million sub-Saharan Africans currently living in poverty and without electricity. Israel’s entrance into USAID’s Power Africa initiative marks the latest surge in Israeli-African ties. “To put it shortly, it’s the technology…as ambassador, I am exposed to a lot of the technology Israel has to offer,” Zambia’s Ambassador to Israel Martin Mwanambale told JNS.org.

The Israeli Navy has a new tool at its disposal to defend the country’s offshore gas rigs, which are under threat from Hezbollah and Hamas. The Iron Dome anti-rocket system generated global headlines in 2014, when it successfully defended Israeli cities from Gazan rocket attacks for more than 50 days. Now, a sea-based version of Iron Dome is operational. “Our working assumption is that in the next war, terror organizations will try to harm Israeli national assets at sea. This strengthens the importance of the sea Iron Dome squadron and its capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Yoni Grinboim, commander of the 137th Iron Dome Battalion.

Well-known columnist Jonathan S. Tobin has been named as editor in chief of the JNS.org website and its syndication service. “I look forward to working with our excellent staff and publishers to take JNS to the next level of excellence as our new website will enhance the service’s ability to serve our readers,” Tobin said.

Israel, Iran and Syria have remained silent following reports in Arab media of an alleged Israeli strike Friday night on an Iranian military base in Syria that reportedly killed 12 Iranian military personnel. Although he also did not confirm the purported strike, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s oft-stated position that the Jewish state will not allow Iran to maintain a military presence in Syria.

On a mid-November Friday night at a Greek naval base, dozens of officers and sailors from several countries gathered around a large dinner table aboard an Israeli missile ship. They listened intently to Israeli Navy personnel welcome the Sabbath and to explanations about the significance of this meal in Jewish culture. The scene, which took place in the midst of a two-week NATO exercise hosted by the Greek Hellenic Navy, is symbolic of a growing partnership between the Israeli Navy and foreign fleets.

As Hamas’s decade-long rule of the Gaza Strip nears its presumed end, the Palestinian terror group has defied calls to disarm and has vowed to move its battle against Israel to Judea and Samaria. But experts told JNS.org that Gaza’s impending power transfer as well as Hamas’s threat are both unlikely to materialize.

Leaders of major American Jewish organizations are rallying around Kenneth L. Marcus, the nominee for assistant secretary of education for civil rights, as pro-Palestinian groups denounce him for opposing the BDS movement. Marcus served in the Department of Education’s civil rights division and then was staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, before founding the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.

Decades after a massive diplomatic campaign by former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir to build relations with sub-Saharan Africa, current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has embarked on his own efforts to unite Israel with one of the world’s fastest-growing regions. Netanyahu’s one-day trip to Kenya on Nov. 28, though shorter than his historic four-state East Africa tour in July 2016 as well as his West Africa trip in June 2017, proved to be arguably just as productive, as the Israeli leader announced the opening of a new embassy in Rwanda and met with leaders from nearly a dozen African nations.

The Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah, which makes up part of Lebanon’s government and has a strong military force that threatens neighboring Israel, is seemingly unaffected by the status of embattled Prime Minister Saad Hariri. “The Hariri episode changes absolutely nothing in terms of the balance of power and Hezbollah’s absolute dominance of the Lebanese state,” Tony Badran, a Lebanon expert and research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, told JNS.org.