Opinion

JNS.org offers opinion and commentary on a variety of news and lifestyle topics. Shillman Analyst for JNS.org Ben Cohen is a regular contributor. To select another topic, choose from the other content “categories” in our navigation bar.

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The headlines of the Jewish press this week were filled with stories about angry American Jews arriving in Israel and denouncing the Israeli government’s decision regarding egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall. This week’s other headlines, however, reported some threats to Israel that are genuinely existential, not merely a rhetorical flourish. While American Jews speak about “fighting” over the Western Wall issue, Israeli Jews who could be hit by Syrian mortars or Hamas rockets are the ones doing the real fighting, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.

Scholars Steven M. Cohen and Sylvia Barack Fishman have authored a new study that calls attention to the implications of the decline of the non-Orthodox Jewish family—and calls for action. To their critics, who claim they are insensitive to the needs of the intermarried or those who have no interest in traditional Jewish institutions, the scholars simply point to the numbers. Those who want to enable the continuance of a community that enriches its participants’ lives should heed the call of Cohen and Fishman, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.

If you haven’t encountered the term “Shi’a corridor” yet, chances are that you will in the coming weeks, particularly if the ongoing confrontation between the U.S. and Iran in Syria intensifies. It has been an established fact that the Iranian proxy Hezbollah has increased its number of missiles pointed at Israel by a factor of 10—despite the existence of a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding that Hezbollah disarm entirely. A Shi’a land corridor would make enforcing this resolution a much harder task. As always, Israel is prepared for the worst, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.

Yael Eckstein had to pinch herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. There she was, an Orthodox Israeli Jew, at a 500-year-old synagogue in Marrakesh, distributing food parcels to Muslims for Ramadan. It seemed too good to be true. But as she quickly learned, it was just another day in Morocco, a country that defies norms, defines tolerance and is home to a dwindling population of 2,500 Jews. What legacy do Jews want to leave in Morocco? Eckstein, the senior vice president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, gives her take in an essay for JNS.org.

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, recently wrote, “We cherish the variety of views present in the Reform Jewish community. However, we do not allow disagreement to inhibit our pursuit of justice.” The Reform movement is confronting real problems, such as the diminution of Jewish identity and catastrophic levels of basic Jewish illiteracy. It’s a terrible mistake that the movement’s answer to these crises is to wade deeper into politics, writes columnist Rabbi Jonathan Greenberg.

The Israeli authorities last week confiscated two tractors, a hydraulic excavator and other equipment used by Palestinians to carry out illegal quarrying that has been damaging a rare nature reserve in the Judean Desert, writes JNS.org's Stephen M. Flatow.

Every few years, a young far-left activist discovers Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and they are appalled. The idea of conservative Evangelicals advocating for the Jewish state runs counter to every prejudice about Christians the young advocate was raised to harbor. So the individual scours the internet, desperately hunting for that one item that will confirm their bigotry. And when they come up dry, they ignore, tinker with or amend the facts because they cannot confront a simple reality: they are intolerant of Evangelical Christians, writes Ari Morgenstern, CUFI communications director, in JNS.org.

Ivanka Trump is more than just the First Daughter. As a key adviser as well as the wife of Jared Kushner, the president’s Jewish son-in-law and point man on a host of issues, she has become a major political figure. More than that, as the country’s most famous convert to Orthodox Judaism she is a flash point for the hostility most of her co-religionists harbor for her father, writes JNS.org's Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn didn’t win the British election. Yet Labour remains a force in U.K. politics, and British Jews can play a role in ensuring the party isn’t entirely hijacked by the far left, which regards BDS as an article of faith and dismisses any charge of anti-Semitism as a Mossad-directed smear campaign. Jews certainly have Labour allies—both established ones like parliamentarian John Mann and new ones like London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Friends can be found where you least expect them, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.

Once synagogues take the leap into open political activity, they are declaring those who don’t agree with these views persona non grata in the sanctuary. At best, the “Trump bump” is a temporary shot in the arm for liberal synagogues that will fade. At worst, it is a sign of growing division that sensible Jews should deplore no matter where they stand on President Donald Trump or any other political issue, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.

Pastor Victor Styrsky and his congregation were celebrating Jerusalem’s reunification when they were disrupted by agitators from the leftist, anti-Zionist Jewish group IfNotNow. Evangelical Christians today are arguably the Jewish people’s staunchest allies. To disrupt Christians in their place of worship is an affront to all Christians and to the larger Jewish community, writes columnist Abraham H. Miller.

JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen is pleased to see that Arab states are finally punishing Qatar over its pro-Iran foreign policy and deep ties to terrorism funding, including support for Hamas. Yet after decades of corrupt and violent rule, the Arab world is still hostage to the same fundamental conflicts that nurtured both Arabism and Islamism. This lasting reality, far more than Qatar’s temporary discomfort, is what defines the region today and makes it so perilous, writes Cohen.

Noted literary couple Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman have discovered a new cause: the evils of “the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians.” Having become experts on the subject after one brief visit to a few sites in the region, Chabon and Waldman have now edited an anthology of essays about “the occupation.” Yet at the same time, these critics of Israel have accidentally admitted there is no “occupation.” JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow explains.

The most important incident during President Donald Trump’s visit to the Middle East took place out of view of the international press. At the time, it went unreported and unremarked upon. But Trump’s outburst of anger at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas may have set a tone that will either create real progress toward peace or, more likely, instill a degree of realism about Israel’s antagonists that has been lacking in the new administration, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.

For all their differences, Argentina’s Alberto Nisman and France’s Sarah Halimi had three things in common. They were proud Jews. They died because they were Jews. And in both of their cases, that latter fact has yet to be recognized, let alone acted upon, by the investigating authorities. Both cases demonstrate once again that violent anti-Semitism is integral to Islamist ideology, to the point where its victims are dehumanized in the very moment of death, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.

It was heartening to hear that President Donald Trump privately confronted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on his incitement of terrorism and payments to terrorists. The question is whether the Trump administration will confine itself to rhetoric or follow up with concrete steps regarding the Palestinians and terrorism, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.

For both ends of the Jewish political spectrum, President Donald Trump has been something of a puzzle. Yet it is clear that for good or for ill, Trump has taken it into his head that Israeli-Palestinian peace is possible and that he is the man with the negotiating skills to forge a deal. When it comes to trying to figure out what Trump is up to in the Middle East, it is necessary to take Trump seriously but not literally, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.

For those who’d never given any thought to Ariana Grande before the terrorist atrocity at her concert in Manchester, it took a few minutes to make sense of suicide bomber Salman Abedi’s target selection. Eventually, it dawned. In the name of a global Islamic caliphate, Abedi set out to slaughter teenage girls, Grande’s primary audience. The ideological roots of Abedi’s attack are given exquisite expression in the writings of Muslim Brotherhood founder Sayyid Qutb, who in 1949 studied in Greeley, Colorado. Qutb’s writing from his time in Greeley shows how desire, when fused with hatred of relaxed sexuality and expressions of femininity, can be devastating once it is incorporated into an ideology of conquest, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.

Upon the 50th anniversary of Israel’s reunification of Jerusalem, there is no better time to end the propaganda myth that Jerusalem is a holy city to Muslims. The Muslim fixation on Jerusalem is actually a very recent historical development—a product of political conflict, not historical truth. Far from aiding the cause of peace, this fabrication enables bloodshed, write Morton A. Klein and Daniel Mandel of the Zionist Organization of America.

Anybody who thought the new Jerusalem bureau chief of The New York Times would be any less pro-Palestinian than his predecessor was sadly mistaken. Ian Fisher replaced Peter Baker as head of The Times’s Jerusalem bureau in January. Many of Fisher’s articles in recent months have been slanted against Israel, but his coverage of the lynching attempt in the Palestinian Arab village of Hawara May 18 was the worst so far, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.