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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.”
In October, the State Department notified UNESCO that America would withdraw from the U.N. cultural body. The U.S. cited the need for fundamental reform, mounting arrears and “anti-Israel bias” at the organization. But the problem is much deeper: UNESCO does not consider Jewish culture and heritage worthy of protection, writes columnist Sean Durns.
For many NGOs, besmirching Israel’s name is the goal, not improving the universal human rights for Palestinians and Israelis. The disconnect between real human rights work and hollow social media advocacy campaigns is stark. There is little evidence that internet-based slacktivism generates lasting change, writes columnist Rena Young.
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.
Like so many pins in a bowling alley, the treacherous former Argentine leaders who signed a secret pact exonerating Iran of its responsibility for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires are, finally, collapsing under the rolling weight of judicial scrutiny. During the same week that saw President Donald Trump recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the events that took place in Argentina are vitally relevant to the future of the Middle East, where Iran—with or without a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem—remains the greatest threat to Israel and to the region, writes JNS columnist Ben Cohen.
With 4,700 emissaries in 100 countries—most recently setting up shop in Uganda—the Chabad-Lubavitch movement has grown exponentially thanks to the dissemination of its late leader’s teachings, the emissaries’ dedication, and the transference of the passion to spread Jewish life to the next generation. At the same time, the movement’s ascent “defies logic,” says Brandeis University’s Prof. Mark Rosen, who recently completed a study of Chabad’s campus programs.
Some will argue that Gérard Filoche, who has been expelled by the French Socialist Party (PS) over an anti-Semitic tweet, has the right to free speech. But an elected official’s first responsibility is to the electors, the taxpayers and the entire community one serves. PS was right to boot Filoche from its ranks, and parties in other countries dealing with instances of anti-Semitism should feel free to copy its example, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Israel is concerned that a cease-fire in Syria brokered by the U.S., Russia and Jordan does not create a large enough buffer zone that is free from Iranian forces near the Israeli border. Additionally, the Jewish state fears that the deal heavily favors Russia and Iran, with the U.S. uninterested in becoming involved in Syria. “The U.S. remains committed to Israel…but this [cease-fire] agreement raises concerns for Israel’s security,” said Anna Borshchevskaya, an expert on Russia’s Mideast policy and a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Perhaps some believe that Russia can restrain Iran, but that’s highly unlikely to happen.”
Robert Mugabe, the ailing 93-year-old dictator of Zimbabwe, finds himself under house arrest in the same country where he proclaimed himself a “Hitler.” He might get to live out his remaining months in out-of-sight luxury, rather than where he belongs—in a prison cell. When we are reduced to looking at dictators through the lens of historical analysis, rather than placing them on trial in the halls of justice, we are compelled to consider the role of our own governments and societies in perpetuating their rule, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Representatives from 12 NATO countries recently visited Israel to take part in a first-of-its-kind conference on the challenges of urban warfare. The need to engage enemies embedded in urban combat zones, megacities and other populated regions is a challenge that is set to become increasingly prevalent for security forces around the world. Israel has amassed significant experience in this area, experts say. “From Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, the IDF’s operations have been focused in built-up village and city areas,” said Dr. Eitan Shamir, former head of the National Security Doctrine Department in Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry.
Recent events in the Middle East—including the sudden resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri—show that one cannot play checkers or chess in that region. The game is three-dimensional chess, where the loss of a pawn on one board affects the positioning of the knights, queens and kings on two other boards, writes columnist Sarah N. Stern.
In recent months, we have been brought together through external trauma, whether it be natural or man-made disasters. Yet healing must be about more than unity. To survive and thrive daily, victims and volunteers alike—and those who fall into neither category—need to experience life’s simple, yet profound gifts. There is nothing in our lives that better allows us to experience these gifts than Shabbat, writes Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein, the chief rabbi of South Africa.
Another week, another centennial. Following the Balfour Declaration milestone, it’s time to look back on Russia’s 1917 Bolshevik Revolution—a reminder of how scarred the Jewish people were by the twin Soviet and Nazi experiments in totalitarianism, and why we need to remain vigilant about our liberties in our own troubled century, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump said Iran was violating the “spirit” of the 2015 nuclear deal. Now, the Iranians are clearly disregarding the letter of the accord, but the international community is denying that reality, experts say. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano is campaigning to counter Trump’s objections to the nuclear deal. “It is mind-boggling that [Iran’s] violations are occurring in the open and all the parties to the agreement are pretending not to see it, and instead are dealing with issues that are important, but are not connected to the [deal],” said Yigal Carmon, head of the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Tal Hagin, 18, is one of the first Zionist and Israeli speakers to present his message on university campuses in Ireland. With mentorship and funding from the watchdog group CAMERA, Hagin used Israel as a case study on overcoming media bias during a recent speaking tour. “I went with the hope of changing opinions, helping the students to question the media in what they see of coverage of Israel, and I was able to do that,” Hagin said. But how did it all come together? JNS.org tells the story of Israel education efforts on campuses in Ireland, a country where many believe there is a hostile environment for Israel supporters.
While November 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the much-discussed Balfour Declaration, which helped pave the way for the modern state of Israel, another important centennial—the World War I Battle of Be’er Sheva—was also marked this week by the leaders of Israel, Australia and New Zealand. For the three young democracies, the centennial events made for an unprecedented showing of historical bonds and present-day unity.
Prior to the recent referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, the leaders of Iran, Turkey and Iraq all foretold of the coming of a “second Israel” if Kurdish independence was the end result. Yet the result has instead been a “second Iran.” For all of President Donald Trump’s bluster about Iran, he chose appeasement when put to the test; thus the Kurds are plunged into crisis once more, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen.
When the words Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Jordan appear in the same sentence, the story usually involves security or diplomatic developments in the volatile Middle East. But these three Middle Eastern neighbors, as well as Spain, recently did something unusual together that has nothing to do with regional controversies—they convened in southern Israel for a joint national emergency exercise. Should a major natural disaster strike, Israel, the PA and Jordan have reached quiet understandings that they will assist one another in saving lives.
The United Nations has earmarked some $1.3 billion to fund Palestinian legal campaigns against Israel and to support the creation of an independent Palestinian state, in what experts are calling an unprecedented act singling out the Jewish state at the world body. “The funding of this unprecedented and prejudicial aggression against a member state by the U.N. is clear evidence that the international body’s goal and solution is for a single Palestinian state to replace Israel,” Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president of the Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center, told JNS.org.