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.
President Donald Trump on Jan. 12 outlined his intentions to “fix the terrible flaws” of the Iran nuclear deal, giving the pact what he called “a last chance” and setting in motion a 120-day timetable for the U.S. to reach an accord with European nations that would strengthen the deal by imposing stricter terms on Iran. Israel and the U.S. are largely on the same page about policy towards Iran. But can Trump get Europe on board?
Some in the so-called peace camp prefer to blame Palestinian misbehavior on President Donald Trump rather than own up to the truth about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. That disconnect between hope and reality has set up a vicious cycle in which negotiations are always undone by the reality of Palestinian politics, writes JNS Editor in Chief Jonathan S. Tobin.
The IDF is gearing up for a major relocation to southern Israel, where it plans to create new environs replete with academia and high-tech firms, and to give a significant boost to the Be’er Sheva area. “We are moving the best people to the Negev,” said Lt.-Col. Itai Sagi, who heads the branch responsible for establishing the IDF’s futureC4i (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence) and Cyber Defense campus. “Next to me are the university and tech companies, with their own labs. We are creating a very significant ecosystem.”
Some prominent Jewish proponents of the decades-long peace process between Israelis and Palestinians now claim that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s controversial speech on Jan. 14 disqualifies him as a negotiating partner, while other dovish Jewish leaders are accusing the Trump administration of provoking the Palestinian leader. In a two-hour address to the Palestinian Central Council, Abbas had called Israel “a colonialist enterprise that has nothing to do with Judaism.”
Israeli winemakers say that, just like the beverage they produce, their industry is growing better with age. In the past few years, Israeli exports of wine and spirits have been consistently growing at around 6 percent annually, according to the Israel Export Institute. “In comparison to how small and young we are, it’s quite amazing to see the accomplishments of Israeli wines,” said Ayala Singer, director of marketing development for the 35-year-old Golan Heights Winery, one of Israel’s veteran wineries.
The Trump administration’s approach to the Palestinians represents what Mideast experts and Israel advocates are describing as a paradigm shift in Washington—acknowledging that Palestinian rejectionism lies at the root of the Arab-Israeli conflict, rather than reflexively blaming the Jewish state for the impasse in negotiations. “Dozens of Congressmen and Knesset members from across the political spectrum are embracing this new paradigm for ending this conflict and these steps…are welcome aspects of a new era in relations between the U.S. and Israel,” Member of Knesset Oded Forer (Yisrael Beiteinu) told JNS.
In his bizarre two-hour rant before the Palestinian Central Council on Jan. 14, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas declared that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley “wears high heels not for elegance but to use to hit anyone who attacks Israel.” JNS columnist Stephen M. Flatow asks: Why is it that every time a female U.S. government official says something that the PA doesn’t like, PA leaders respond by making a disparaging remark related to the fact that she is a woman?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India is occurring against the backdrop of a massive and still growing river of defense sales and technology transfers from Jerusalem to New Delhi. “This has been a mutually beneficial relationship,” said Vinay Kaura, an assistant professor of international affairs and security studies at India's Sardar Patel University of Police, Security and Criminal Justice. “India has diversified its arms purchases while getting highly advanced weapons. Israel has benefited substantially monetarily.”
As the anti-regime protests wind down in Iran, the U.S. said it is “deeply concerned” about reports that Iranian authorities have arrested thousands of citizens, with some purportedly being tortured or killed. Meanwhile, the head of the Mossad intelligence agency said Israel has “eyes and ears” inside Iran and would “be very happy to see a social revolution” in the Islamic Republic. But could the U.S. and Israel more aggressively promote regime change in Iran through supporting dissident minority groups, including by arming them?
Israel’s decision to ban 20 of the worst organizations leading the BDS movement is necessary for the country’s security, and is sensible and just. BDS is a political and economic warfare movement, often combined with violence and intimidation, that is aimed at eradicating the Jewish state. No sovereign nation should permit the entry of those dedicated to its destruction. Israel, like every nation, has a duty to protect itself, write Morton A. Klein and Liz Berney of the Zionist Organization of America.
The recent moves at the U.N. by the PA and the PLO mark the latest use of rejectionism as a tool in the Palestinian arsenal of diplomatic warfare against Israel—and now the U.S. While terrorism is rightly condemned and fought around the world, Palestinian rejectionism, though equally damaging, is not. Those who want peace, stability and security for all people must fight rejectionism as they do terrorism, writes attorney Richard D. Heideman.
Far from hurting the BDS movement, Israel’s new “blacklist” of boycott leaders banned from entering the country allows these enemies of the Jewish state to play martyrs and garner undeserved sympathy. Contrary to the fears of Israeli lawmakers, the real threat posed by BDS is to Jews in the Diaspora, not those in Israel, writes JNS Editor in Chief Jonathan S. Tobin.
Leaders of several major American Jewish organizations told JNS they support the Israeli government’s decision to prevent the entry of foreign citizens who promote boycotts of Israel. Rebecca Vilkomerson, director of the barred group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), described the Israeli ban as “bullying.” But Malcolm Hoenlein, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said JVP’s complaint “is the height of hypocrisy given their tactics,” referring to incidents in which JVP activists have harassed pro-Israel speakers.
Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry on Jan. 7 published a list of 20 organizations affiliated with the BDS movement that will be barred from entering the country, marking the Israeli government’s first major step to ban entities that seek to undermine the Jewish state since legislation targeting such groups was passed last year. Prof. Gerald Steinberg, founder and president of the NGO Monitor watchdog group, told JNS that the government’s move signals that Israel “won’t turn a blind eye to those who work to delegitimize it, but the downside is that it also serves to raise the profiles of these groups.”
A Hamas cease-fire with Israel is being undermined by the second-largest terrorist faction in Gaza, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Both Hamas and PIJ are ideologically committed to the Islamist goal of destroying Israel. Yet Hamas is keen on preserving a truce with Israel at this time, as a new conflict now would jeopardize its base in Gaza. Hamas finds itself in a “very uncomfortable situation in the event of a clash with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and therefore, we are continuing to live in the unsolvable equation in Gaza,” said Prof. Uzi Rabi, a Middle East expert from Tel Aviv University.
At the start of 2018, a purportedly emboldened Israeli right initiated political measures that seemingly enhance Israel’s sovereignty in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. While the mainstream press, led by The New York Times, branded the moves as “annexation” and “apartheid,” legal expert Avi Bell told JNS that the Israeli initiatives are almost entirely symbolic and have “no meaningful legal consequences.”
You know that critics of Israel are getting panicky when they start trotting out the old “one state” bogeyman. “As a 2-State Solution Loses Steam, a 1-State Plan Gains Traction,” a New York Times headline announced on Jan. 5, above an article so palpably absurd that it can only reflect the mad panic among advocates of Palestinian statehood as they see their dream fading away. And the fact that The Times chose to make it page one news says a lot about the fearful mindset among the left-wing news media, Israel-bashing pundits and Jewish peace camp types, writes JNS columnist Stephen M. Flatow.
The crowd in Jerusalem’s Zion Square is civil as protesters hold up signs decrying alleged government corruption. Standing on the stage, Dr. Yoaz Hendel, with his trademark tussled hair, addresses the crowd. With the political climate in Israel heating up once again, JNS sat down with Hendel—a former director of public diplomacy for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—to discuss his perspective on politics, the prime minister and the future of Israel. Hendel draws his ideology, which can be defined as “liberal nationalism,” from the legacies of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Revisionist Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
Many major Jewish groups are expressing support for the idea of reducing U.S. aid to the Palestinians after President Donald Trump mentioned the possibility of a cut. Malcolm Hoenlein, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told JNS that the Palestinian Authority “has proven tone deaf to every previous U.S. warning about its actions, so perhaps some reduction in aid would finally get its attention.”
President Donald Trump has not shied away from challenging conventional stances on domestic and international issues. Will Trump’s approach extend to U.S. funding for UNRWA, the United Nations refugee agency that is solely dedicated to the Palestinians? “The original intent of American foreign policy [on UNRWA] was resettlement, repatriation and reintegration [of Palestinian refugees]. On all three accounts we have failed,” Asaf Romirowsky, executive director of the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East nonprofit, told JNS.