Ben Cohen
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Since its founding in 2008, J Street, the liberal Jewish advocacy group, has expended a great deal of energy trying to convince American Jews that it is a credible and more ethical alternative to traditional pro-Israel organizations like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). more
One of the oft-repeated criticisms of the movement to boycott Israel is that it portrays the Middle East’s only healthy democracy as the ultimate rogue state, ignoring at the same time those authoritarian regimes that violate the most basic human rights on a daily basis. Frankly, that’s why I’m pleased that the boycott I’m writing about here has nothing to do with Israel, the Palestinians, or the Middle East in general. more
Nobody does double standards quite like the Europeans. Where the Middle East is concerned, there are two complementary messages coming out of the European Union at the moment. The first proclaims that Israel is a legitimate target for boycotts and divestment for as long as the “occupation” continues — and here, “occupation” principally refers to the West Bank and the eastern half of Jerusalem, feebly eliding the fact that the Palestinian leadership, through its insistence on the so-called “right of return,” regards the entire territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan as “occupied.” As for the second message, that can be neatly summarized in a potential advertising slogan: Iran is open for business! more
Here are three disturbing memes about Jews and Israel that I’ve noticed in three separate-but-related news stories. 1. ‘You’re ungrateful.’ Here’s State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf responding to remarks by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon regarding Secretary of State John Kerry: “We find the remarks of the defense minister to be offensive and inappropriate … given all that the United States has done to support Israel’s security needs and will continue to do.” more
Israel ended 2013 in much the same way as previous years: facing a surge of terrorist activity from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. more
On a virtual stroll through the website of the “U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel” — a deeply unpleasant experience — I came across an article that drew an analogy I hadn’t encountered before. Intellectually ludicrous and morally ugly, the writer compared the situation of Aida, a Palestinian refugee camp near Bethlehem, with the bombing by the German Luftwaffe of the Basque city of Guernica in 1937, during the Spanish Civil War. The Aida camp is not the most luxurious place on earth, yet it is far from being the worst. more
In the litany of complaints offered up by Jewish opponents of the State of Israel, two themes are most common. Firstly, they like to claim that their critiques of the Jewish state are “muzzled” by Jewish establishment leaders and organizations. (“Jewish Voice for Peace,” an anti-Zionist group based in the Bay Area with an amusingly kumbaya name, even has a blog dedicated to exposing such intrigues, entitled “Muzzlewatch.”) Secondly, they are fond of pointing out that political debate among progressives in Israel is freer and more open than in the stodgy, cautious circles of American Jewry. more
Top honors go to Harvard University’s Stephen Walt for the most asinine response to the purported deal between the world’s main powers and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program. more
In the coming days, there will be much reflection on the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, following the former South African president’s passing on Dec. 5. And in the coming weeks, we can anticipate a febrile exchange over his true views on Israel and the Middle East. more
This week, as Jews across the world celebrate Chanukah, they also remember the victory of the Maccabees against the brutal rule of Antiochus IV, designated “Harasha” (“the wicked”) by rabbinic tradition. Antiochus’s main aim was to Hellenize the Jews in the ancient land of Israel by forcing them to adopt Greek customs in place of Jewish ones. more
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