Tag Archives: Middle East

Rabbi Rick Jacobs Responds to Harsh Critique of Zionism

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the President of the Union for Reform Judaism, published a piece yesterday in response to “Zionism Unsettled,” a recent publication produced by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA).  “Zionism Unsettled” is a congregational study guide which asserts that cause of the conflict between Israel and Palestinians is the “pathology” of Zionism. Publication of the piece, which uses language befitting Israel’s harshest critics, has created a rift between Presbyterians and Jews in advance of the June conference of the Presbyterian Church at which the denominational body will vote on whether to divest from companies doing business with Israel.

Rabbi Jacobs’ piece addresses two issues discussed in “Zionism Unsettled”: the relationships of religious denominations and Israel and the relationship between different religious groups.

In response to the publication’s harsh narrative of the history of Israel and its inhabitants, Rabbi Jacobs wrote: Read more…

Israeli-Palestinian Negotiation Deadline Approaches

President Obama has met with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the White House this month.  The April 2014 deadline to develop a framework agreement between Israelis and Palestinians is fast approaching.  The White House sees March as a critical month to advance the peace talks that have been ongoing since July 2013.     Read more…

Israel Update: Chancellor Merkel’s Visit to Israel and the Peace Process

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her cabinet visited Israel for 24 hours on Monday, February 24th.  Chancellor Merkel told reporters, “We have come here with almost the whole of our new government, and we wanted to show you in this way that this is indeed a very strong friendship.”  The visit also kicked off preparations for the celebration of fifty years of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel, which began on May 12, 1965.  On Tuesday, Israeli President Shimon Peres presented Chancellor Merkel with the Presidential Medal of Distinction, Israel’s highest civilian award. Read more…

Scarlett Johansson

What’s Happening in Medinat Yisrael

There’s a lot happening in Israel – check out this list of news and updates ranging from zoo news to Israeli politics.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Visits Israel for the First Time

Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Israel for the first time and had the opportunity to address the Israeli Knesset.  In his speech to the Knesset, Prime Minister Harper expressed Canada’s ardent support for Israel and eloquently described the friendship between the two countries. Read more…

African Migrants Protest at Embassies in Israel

Last week, thousands of African migrants living in Israel protested Israel’s detention policies outside several embassies, including the United States, France, Italy, Great Britain, Canada and Germany.  Some 60,000 migrants, largely from Eritrea and Sudan, have entered Israel since 2005. These protests come after several developments in both the Israeli Supreme Court and the Israeli Knesset regarding the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers.  Read more…

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon

Reform Movement Mourns the Death of Ariel Sharon

In response to the passing last weekend of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, released the following statement:

Today, we mourn the death of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, an iconic leader whose love for Israel and the Jewish people infused his entire illustrious career. He was a visionary, larger than life, with the courage to constantly assess his stated positions, always with an eye toward pragmatism and concern for his beloved Israel.

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Israeli Flag

Update on American Studies Association Boycott of Israel

When a person refrains from speech, the ideas die, the soul stops, and the senses deteriorate” – Moses ibn Ezra (Shirat Yisrael 12c).

 Freedom of thought is an essential human right. It is at the foundation not only of our Jewish tradition, but also our North American societies and international community. It is not a far extrapolation to connect freedom of thought to academic boycott.

Why do I make that connection? Because academia and the intellectual world ought to be a sacred place where ideas are shared and lifted above political conflict. It is surely within the rights of individual professors to share their opinions of their government or that of another nation. But, for one of the largest associations of professors in the United States to indiscriminately boycott Israeli professors and intellectual institutions is a gross misunderstanding of the role of academia. Perhaps the members of the American Studies Association do not realize that they are limiting their own freedom of thought and that of their Israeli colleagues by undertaking this boycott.

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