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The election of the first Jewish director-general of the United Nations cultural body UNESCO, French politician Audrey Azoulay, is raising hope that with her background and political experience, she could return the organization to its original mission. UNESCO in recent weeks has seen announcements from the U.S. and Israel of their plans to withdraw from the agency over its anti-Israel bias. Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, director of the American Jewish Committee’s European offices, said Azoulay “is generally regarded as a true professional and expert in the field of culture and was a very respected [government] minister.”
Iran is unlikely to halt its drive towards nuclear weapons following President Donald Trump’s refusal to recertify the Islamic Republic’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, experts say. “Iran just keeps threatening to do what it’s already been doing—continuing its path to nuclear weapons,” said Emily Landau, director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies. “The most it changes is the pace of progress and that’s precisely the problem with the [nuclear deal]: it doesn’t stop Iran.”
European countries are not exactly known for their love of Israel. Yet recent actions taken by the governments of Norway and Belgium suggest that, in at least one important respect, those two nations have gone much further than the U.S. in confronting the problem of Palestinian incitement against Israel, writes JNS.org columnist Stephen M. Flatow.
While international interest in Israel’s groundbreaking medical cannabis sector grows, a leading Israeli player in that space will take its flagship annual event overseas. After holding its third innovation conference in Tel Aviv in March, iCAN: Israel-Cannabis is hosting the inaugural CannaTech UK convention Oct. 26 in London. Israel can offer European countries expertise on “how to grow [medical cannabis], how to build a sustainable industry that crosses into pharmaceuticals and regular distribution, how to get medical access to patients before the science is in,” said Saul Kaye, CEO of iCAN.
For Leora and the other kindergartners at the Hillel Community School in Rochester, N.Y., a new relationship began when they read Suzanne Berry’s “Under the Same Moon” on one side of the ocean while Yemima and her classmates in Modi’in, Israel, read it on the other side. Bringing Jewish kids from around the world close to their Israeli peers is the raison d’être of The Jewish Agency for Israel’s School Twinning Program, which shrinks the miles for preschoolers to high schoolers in 700 schools on six continents with shared learning activities.
Following the rise of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the country’s recent election, Jewish leaders’ immediate reaction was to express concern about AfD’s views. But what are the broader implications of the party’s electoral showing for German Jews and for Israel? AfD—founded in 2013, largely to protest the issue of bailouts for financially struggling EU member states—has adopted an increasingly hard line against NATO, the EU and the U.S., as well as against immigration and Islamic terrorism. Konstanty Gebert, an expert from the European Council on Foreign Relations, said German Jews “must tread a fine line between legitimate security concerns and [living in a] country that might become more xenophobic.”
Ahead of former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters’s Canadian tour in October, B’nai Brith Canada and award-winning filmmaker Ian Halperin will premiere a film exposing the anti-Israel rocker’s history of promoting anti-Semitism. “What motivated B’nai Brith to get involved [with screening the film] is the chance to promote awareness that the BDS movement is inherently anti-Semitic, and that its supporters, like Roger Waters, strengthen the campaign that seeks Israel’s destruction,” B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn told JNS.org.
The good news surrounding the Palestinian Authority’s latest diplomatic success is that it turns out Interpol isn’t the international police agency that movies and television shows have led us to believe. The bad news is that the international community just gave the Good Housekeeping seal of approval to those who traffic in terrorism, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
In the absence of peace negotiations, the Palestinian Authority has sought unilateral recognition of statehood from different entities in recent years. Marking the latest diplomatic setback for Israel on that front, the police agency Interpol—the world’s second-largest international organization after the United Nations—this week voted to accept Palestinian membership. The development “will only solidify [the Palestinians’] goal of seeking the trappings of statehood without negotiations and concessions,” said Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, head of the international law department at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem.
To date, only Israel has publicly backed the independence referendum in Kurdistan. The rest of the world has lined up behind the demand of Turkey, Iran and the Iranian-proxy regime in Baghdad that Kurdistan can never claim its right to be recognized on the map of the world. Most shameful of all, though, has been the response of Washington—because, quite frankly, we are entitled to expect much better, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
For Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s political opponents, his government’s woes aren’t just an opportunity to score political points at his expense. They also provide easy-to-understand explanations for the question that nags at the margins of every debate about American Jewish attitudes toward Israel. Every negative development or unpopular decision associated with the prime minister is used to rationalize and sometimes even justify the growing chasm between American Jews and Israelis, writes JNS.org Opinion Editor Jonathan S. Tobin.
Ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic visit to Latin America this week, Israel’s Foreign Ministry Sunday announced it would send aid to earthquake-stricken Mexico. An 8.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico last week was the strongest quake to hit the country in a century. “Mexico and Israel enjoy close and friendly relations. Naturally, this finds its expression in moments of need, such as the terrible earthquake in Mexico,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told JNS.org.
The net is closing in upon the Argentine culprits in the decades-old AMIA Jewish center episode. In late August, Argentina’s former ambassador to Damascus, Roberto Ahuad, appeared before the Argentine government’s official investigation into collusion between the Iranians and the country’s previous president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. In his testimony, Ahuad gave an account that confirmed beyond doubt one of late prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s key claims: that Hector Timerman, Kirchner’s foreign minister, disappeared during an official visit to Damascus to secretly negotiate with the Iranians. JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen asks: Will another two decades pass before we see the Iranian terrorists themselves in court?
The United Nations has crowned her a “human rights defender,” while Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based broadcaster, hails her as a “Palestinian supermom.” But Manal Tamimi’s links to violence and tweets accusing Jews of “drinking Palestinian blood” are prompting some of her backers to reconsider their support.
Iran is expanding into Syria, converting the country into a military and weapons base, filling it with heavily armed Shi’a proxy forces, and earmarking it as a launchpad for future attacks on Israel. The Jewish state, in turn, has put the international community on notice, warning that a failure to stop the Iranian push into Syria will result in Israeli military action. Israeli officials have recently traveled to the U.S. and Russia, to share information on Iran’s military moves. Yet it remains unclear that either Moscow or Washington can or will pressure the Iranians to stop.