For the first time in nearly a decade, one dares to believe that the Islamist clerics who have ruled Iran since 1979 will not be in power by the time the 40th anniversary of their revolution rolls around in 2019. The nationwide protests are a direct challenge to the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic, as evidenced in the slogans chanted by the demonstrators. The handful of world governments who regard the demise of Iran’s regime as a desirable end need to stay the course, however long it may take, writes JNS columnist Ben Cohen.
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.
They may live thousands of miles apart, but student activists from around the world identify various shared challenges living as Jews in their respective countries and campuses—including the BDS movement, anti-Semitism and apathy. At the recent 44th World Union of Jewish Students congress in Jerusalem, 157 delegates from 36 countries gathered to connect with other passionate student leaders and explore various facets of what it means to be a Jewish student leader today.
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.”
During Iran’s anti-regime protests in 2009, video footage of a beautiful young woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, who had been fatally shot by the Basij pro-government paramilitary group while demonstrating, quickly spread throughout the internet and grabbed international attention. Amid the current demonstrations against the Iranian regime, we hope that there will be no more Nedas, writes columnist Sarah N. Stern.
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.
It would be most fitting for synagogues throughout the world to offer a benediction for President Donald Trump—an expression of appreciation to a world leader who acknowledged that Jerusalem is the eternal city of the Jews, one toward which they face in prayer and one to which they pray to return. But in the Reform synagogues of America, that is not going to happen, writes columnist Abraham H. Miller.
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.
Salt and pepper, peanut butter and jelly, Zionism and progressivism. Few question the inherent, irrefutable bond between the first two of those pairs, but civil rights attorney and co-founder of the Zioness Movement, Amanda Berman, argues that the latter is just as natural—and she has several thousand left-leaning Jews with strong Zionist identities backing her up on that sentiment. “The manifestation of the Zionist dream is exactly what progressivism is about,” Berman told JNS. “It’s fighting for your own civil rights and own social justice, your own self-determination, your own right to equality, and to exist in safety and security.”
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.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s reported request that the State Department stop using the term “occupied territories” shouldn’t be dismissed as a lot of bother about mere words. These words are part of a high-stakes battle to determine the outcome of the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, writes JNS Editor in Chief Jonathan S. Tobin.