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.
You don’t have to be supporter of President Donald Trump to understand that he is right to demand that if the Palestinians want U.S. money they must, at the very least, come back to the negotiating table and cease funding and fomenting terror. It isn’t so much a case of “America First” to demand that recipients of U.S. largesse cooperate with U.S. policy, as it is one of common sense, writes JNS Editor in Chief Jonathan S. Tobin.
A Dec. 30 feature in The New York Times identifies Lebanon as perhaps the “one exception” in a region hostile to its LGBT citizens. The article completely ignores Israel, the only Mideast country where gay rights are legally protected. When it comes to The Times’s Israel coverage, readers should expect neither facts nor understanding, writes Tamar Sternthal, director of the CAMERA media watchdog's Israel office.
For many, the IDF lone soldier experience is a family affair. Stacie Stufflebeam of Pittsburgh—whose four sons are a mix of past, current and future lone soldiers—says, “These kids reach a level of maturity that American kids just don’t.” Rabbi Ari Korenblit of New York, a father of three lone soldiers, says, “There is such a powerful sense of fulfillment, and still the reaction of a parent whose child is potentially in harm’s way. What helps me sleep at night is faith.”
The Reform movement has started to retreat from its opposition to the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. On Dec. 6, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) expressed “serious concern” about the recognition. But on Dec. 22, the URJ publicly denounced the U.N. for condemning Trump’s decision. Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, former executive director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America, told JNS that the Reform movement “is now supportive of what I believe should have been our position from the beginning.”
A new elite IDF infantry unit is about to take up its position along the Israel-Gaza border. The Haruv unit, named after a renowned force that operated in Israel’s southern desert borders in the 1960s and 1970s, was once a regular infantry battalion focusing on operations in Judea and Samaria. Several months ago, the IDF decided to convert this battalion into an elite unit, and to give it the training and equipment it needs to fight in Gaza. “The Gaza Strip requires complex preparations, which begin three to four months in advance. Preparing to operate in Judea and Samaria is simpler than Gaza,” Maj. Nir Mor, deputy commander of the new unit, told JNS.
Noam Cohen and Alan Cohl are confident that their new breed of whiskey will echo Israel’s success in making the desert bloom. They are creating Israel’s first distillery for American bourbon-style whiskey, hoping to trailblaze the Israeli market for the spirit and bring an added level of sophistication to an Israeli cocktail culture that is just starting to take off.
Although experts believe it is too soon to tell how the renewed anti-regime protests in Iran will affect Israel, Meir Litvak, director of the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University, said that if the demonstrations continue to grow, Iran might be forced to divert attention and resources from fighting the Jewish state to domestic affairs. Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum think tank, said that if the protests lead to regime change in Iran, “For Israel, this means its most powerful enemy vanishes. I can hardly imagine better political news.”
President Donald Trump’s recent announcement on Jerusalem did not happen in a vacuum or come out of nowhere. It did not happen solely because of Jewish influence, either. It happened because millions of good Christians in America urged the president to do so, writes Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
Love him or hate him, 2017 was a year dominated by President Donald Trump. The U.S.-Israel relationship was no stranger to that, ranging from Trump’s visit to the Jewish state in May to his historic decision on Jerusalem in December. At the same time, some of this year’s other major stories in the Israeli-American arena had little or nothing to do with Trump. JNS takes a look back at five key moments in U.S.-Israel relations during the past year.
The singling out of Israel by the BDS movement, the U.N. and others as the country most deserving of reproach is anti-Semitic on its face. Nonetheless, that Lorde was hoodwinked by BDS into canceling her concert in Israel reflects not personal anti-Jewish bias, but something worse—the infiltration of such bias into the terms of our ordinary political discourse. Lorde, like many others more or less honestly trying to do the right thing, is swimming in polluted waters, writes columnist Jonathan Marks.