News from Israel and the Jewish World

JNS.org is an editorial content and business-services resource for media, reaching global Jewish communities. Below you will find the most pressing, breaking news from Israel and the Jewish world. JNS.org is updated regularly and includes special Israel news through exclusive English-language syndication of content by Israel Hayom, one of Israel’s leading daily newspapers.

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Seventy future IDF soldiers—more than half of them women—immigrated to Israel from North America this week, arriving on an El Al Airlines flight chartered by the Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah agency. “I realized that if [IDF soldiers] felt [Israel] was my home, and I felt it was my home, then shouldn’t it be my duty to protect it too?” said Sophie Stillman of Hopkins, Minn., one of the future soldiers arriving on the aliyah flight Aug. 15.

Some 80 students from 13 different countries participated in a high-level training conference that prepares students to make Israel's case to various audiences, including anti-Israel professors and campus activists, many of whom lead the BDS campaign against the Jewish state. "There's a global problem, which is attested this year by the many countries the kids are coming from. But the very good news is the spirit and positive energy of the wonderful students who care about Israel and its cause,” said Andrea Levin, executive director of CAMERA, the conference's organizer.

Several top experts on nuclear proliferation and Iran told JNS.org the failure to successfully deal with North Korea sets a precedent for a similar result with the Islamic Republic. “If a short-term delay causes the international community to be lulled into a false sense that the [nuclear] deal ‘is working,’ as we are hearing lately from deal supporters, it is likely to wake up with a nuclear Iran that will be as firmly entrenched as North Korea,” said Emily Landau, director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies.

A quadcopter from Gaza landed in Israel earlier this month, and the IDF released a short message, saying a unit had arrived to take it away for checks. The seemingly mundane incident is, in fact, indicative of a growing trend: the use of drones by Israel’s enemies. Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic State and other radical non-state actors have their own drone programs, each at different stages, and posing different levels of threat. One day, the sight of drones defending the skies against other drones may not be science fiction.

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a rising star in the Jewish state’s political landscape, was named this month as Forbes Israel’s “Woman of the Year.” Shaked is one of two female Knesset members from her party and one of two women serving on Israel’s ten-member inner security cabinet. At age 41, she portends to help shape Israeli policy for years to come. Shaked gives JNS.org a wide-ranging interview on Israel’s court system, democracy, security and her future.

Two prominent U.S. senators are raising questions about an American-funded school in Ramallah that is running an extremist summer camp for Palestinian teens from around the world, many of them Americans. The controversial summer program, called “Go Palestine,” is run by the Ramallah Friends School, a 148-year-old Quaker institution in the Palestinian Authority’s de facto capital. Its stated mission is to provide Palestinian teens from abroad with “introductions to Palestinian culture, cuisine, life and work, and the Arabic language.” But in addition to traditional summer camp fare, Go Palestine participants are immersed in anti-Israel films and lectures by militants, some with terrorist connections.

David Satterfield, the newly appointed Middle East director at the State Department, has demonstrated that he does not fully appreciate the difference between Palestinian aggressors and Israeli victims, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.

As the Trump administration ramps up sanctions against Iran, how much of Iran’s sanctions relief from the nuclear deal of 2015 is funding the Islamic Republic’s support for sectarian conflict and terrorism across the Middle East? President Donald Trump last week imposed new sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile program and human rights violations. The sanctions come amid Iran’s reported fueling of the recent Temple Mount crisis and its agreement to bolster relations with the Hamas terror group.

One of the strongest sources of support for Israel has been found among evangelical Christians in the U.S. Yet today, evangelical Christian millennials, like the rest of their generation, are becoming less religiously observant, which Christian leaders fear may eventually erode support in their community for the Jewish state. In order to counter this trend, Christian leaders are taking a page from the Jewish playbook by launching 10-day trips to Israel for college-age adults. 

Some 3,000 demonstrators gathered in Petah Tikva near the home of Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit Saturday night, to protest what they view as slow progress in the corruption cases against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The protest came after three separate probes into the prime minister’s conduct came to a head when Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, Ari Harow, signed a deal to become a state witness in the investigations, increasing speculation that Netanyahu could soon be indicted on corruption charges.

Compelling the Palestinian Authority to reject a culture of violence that ensures the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will continue indefinitely is the only hope for the conflict’s resolution. No matter where your political sympathies lie, it’s time to realize that opposing the Taylor Force Act undermines any hope for peace, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.

Palestinians are vowing to continue its efforts to prevent Jews from living in large parts of Jerusalem’s Old City, despite a July 31 Israeli court ruling permitting a Jewish purchase of several properties there. The ruling capped a 13-year legal struggle over Jewish investors’ purchase of two Arab-run hotels and an unidentified third property, all owned by the Greek Orthodox Church and located in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. The transaction was arranged by the Israeli organization Ateret Cohanim, whose director, Daniel Luria, told JNS.org, “As the indigenous people of this Jewish homeland, we have the moral, historical and natural right to live in peace…in any and every neighborhood of Jerusalem.”

A push for unilateral Palestinian statehood recognition by the New South Wales branch of Australia’s Labor party marks the latest opposition to Israeli interests among far-left elements in English-speaking countries, including in New Zealand’s government, America’s Democratic party and the U.K.’s Labour party. Jeremy Jones, director of international affairs for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, said that in the broader Australian Labor party, there is “a solid core of anti-Israel activists, mainly in the party’s left faction, who push for changes of Labor support for Israel as well as a popular perception of Palestinians as victims.”

The Temple Mount remains in the middle of a geopolitical standoff, as more than 1,300 Jewish visitors ascended the Muslim-controlled prayer compound Aug. 1 on the Tisha B’Av day of Jewish mourning. Yitzhak Reiter—a professor of Middle East, Israel and Islamic studies at Ashkelon Academic College—warned that increased Jewish visits to the holy site might be used as a pretext for more terror attacks. “[The Jewish visitors] are being considered ideological visitors…There are challenges ahead of us, and any minor incident can bring us back to the same situation,” Reiter told JNS.org.

A rapidly aging population and increased environmental risks have led cancer to overtake heart disease as the leading cause of death in parts of the Western world. Researchers remain a long way from eradicating cancer, but several new treatments may offer hope. On the cutting edge of cancer research in Israel is the Weizmann Institute’s Prof. Yosef Yarden, whose findings have laid the foundation for the creation of new cancer treatments such as immunotherapy, which uses the body’s immune system to help fight cancer. “The new generation of immunotherapy antibodies are in fact biological molecules and the body naturally uses them, so they come with very mild side effects. The future is very much in immunotherapy,” Yarden told JNS.org.

When presidential adviser Jared Kushner said in a private discussion that “there may be no solution” to the conflict between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel, he was just stating the obvious. For nearly a century, self-appointed wise men have claimed to have the solution, but every such proposal has proved to be a mirage, writes columnist Stephen M. Flatow.

The Trump administration has reportedly reached a new contract with the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems to implement advanced security systems on the U.S. border with Mexico. According to reports that emerged last weekend in Hebrew- and English-language Israeli media, an American delegation recently visited Israel to tour the country’s borders with Gaza and Egypt. Delegation members were pitched on a “smart border” security concept for the U.S.-Mexico border. 

As a child, Eliana Rudee spent her summers at Camp Solomon Schechter, a Conservative Jewish camp in Western Washington. The camp was founded on Zionist principles and served as a safe haven to build Jewish community for many campers who might be the only Jews in their schools and hometowns. But this safe haven was shaken last week when the Palestinian flag was raised over the campgrounds, writes Rudee, a fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center.

Before the latest wave of tension over the Temple Mount, much of the Jewish world’s attention had focused on an internal Jewish controversy surrounding prayer rights at the adjacent Western Wall. In June, American Judaism’s Reform and Conservative movements reacted with outrage to the Israeli government’s decision to cancel the construction of a new egalitarian prayer pavilion at the Western Wall. Yet a mixed-gender prayer facility, situated in the Robinson’s Arch compound near the Western Wall’s main worship area, remains intact. JNS.org assesses the reality on the ground regarding Israel’s decision and current prayer rights at the Western Wall.

A series of unfortunate events during the Temple Mount crisis led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make decisions that wound up being blasted from both the left and the right. Though Netanyahu deserves criticism, the most important conclusion to be drawn is that his nation’s security dilemma may be managed—but it cannot be solved. In such a situation, the options available to any Israeli leader will always range from bad to worse, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.