Tag Archives: Middle East
Cross, Star of David, Islamic crescent

Reflecting on Interfaith Issues in Israel

By Joey Rosen

On the plane back from my Year-In-Israel as part of my first year of rabbinical school at HUC-JIR, I had the privilege of sitting next to a man who had participated in a Christian mission trip in Israel. It was a pleasure sharing with him my journey that led me to rabbinical school, a conversation he might have never had before. I also got to enjoy a different perspective on seeing Israel for the first time, as I had no previous knowledge of how a Christian mission trip to Israel works. But before he said ‘God Bless’ and dozed off for the nine hour flight, he made a comment to me about how the Christians of America were cheering for us in our war against the Muslims, who are polluting the land with violence and treachery. Read more…

Response to Iran Negotiations: A Shift on the World Stage

In an historic press conference Thursday, the countries in the P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China) reached a framework agreement with Iran over Iran’s nuclear program. The agreement will, according to United States’ negotiating team, ensure that Iran’s “breakout capacity,” or the time that it could take Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, is lengthened to more than a year for the length of the agreement.

The framework, and the issues that it raises, is highly technical. Yet, we can say generally that Iran has agreed to place significant curbs on its nuclear program (by dismantling many facilities and making its uranium material less usable for nuclear weapons) and agreed to intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities in return for sanctions relief from the United States, European Union, and United Nations. To learn more about the framework agreement, check out the White House fact sheet and the Washington Post summary. Read more…

World leaders in Switzerland at P5+1 announcement

Reform Jewish Movement Responds to P5+1 Negotiations

In response to yesterday’s joint statement of progress announced by the P5+1 and Iran, the leaders of the Reform Jewish Movement issued a statement saying that “a negotiated resolution … will be difficult to reach but all the alternatives to such a resolution are grim.”  Nevertheless, the leaders concluded that “we still have grave concerns about the ability of a potential deal to ensure that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon.”

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Sec. Kerry walks down a hallway with the Iranian Foreign Minister and EU Representative

Update on the Iran Nuclear Talks

Last month, I talked about the coming deadline for the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1, which was on November 24. At the time, it was unclear whether the sides would reach an agreement, whether they would extend the talks, or whether they would walk away. We learned on the 24 that the parties could not reach a comprehensive agreement, but decided on a 7-month extension until June, during which remaining difference would be sorted out.

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ISIS militants drive through the city of Raqqa

More News in the Fight against ISIS

News broke this weekend that ISIS had killed yet another American hostage. Peter Kassig, an American aid worker, disappeared in October 2013 while making a trip to deliver medical care in Syria. He was transferred late last year to a jail network in ISIS-held territory, where he became part of the group of hostages that included now-murdered American journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley. Mr. Kassig, served in Iraq as part of the United States Army before founding an NGO that gives aid to Syrian civilians. His work models the highest ideals of pursuing justice and recognizing the dignity of every human being. Read more…

Sec. Kerry shaking hands

What’s New with the Iran Talks?

Just under a year ago, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: France, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; plus Germany) made the historic announcement that they would be starting negotiations concerning Iran’s nuclear program. The goal of the negotiations was to, within six months, reach a deal to ensure Iran’s nuclear program could only be used for peaceful purposes (such as nuclear power), and in turn, have the United States roll back some of the economic sanctions placed on Iran. As a show of goodwill, the United States decided to relent with some of the sanctions (though most have been kept in place), while Iran agreed to stop enriching uranium beyond a certain point (5%)—one that could be used for non-peaceful purposes. Read more…

Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem

Israel Update: New Terror Attacks, and a Legal Battle over Jerusalem

The past two weeks have been scary ones for Israelis and Jerusalem residents, as three separate attacks on light rail stations have left three people dead and injured a dozen more. On October 23, a Palestinian man drove his car through a light rail station near Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, killing a three-month-old infant who was also an American citizen, as well as an Ecuadorean woman. And just this Wednesday, a van rammed into another light rail station in Jerusalem, killing a border patrol agent and wounding two others. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. Later that night, another van rammed into a three IDF soldiers in the West Bank, sending them to the hospital.

The attacks come in the wake of tensions over the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem. Right-wing Israeli activist Yehuda Glick was shot there last week, prompting Israeli authorities to close Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, for a day. This in turn sparked riots near Al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount (which exists essentially on the same site), and has created diplomatic tension between Israel and Jordan.

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military airplane bombers flying over desert

Just What is ISIS, and Why Should We Care?

Like many self-styled foreign policy wonks, I’ve found myself incredibly disturbed by the extremist group known as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. There’s no shortage of news these days on ISIS, from what we should call them to what life is like under ISIS control to why the U.S. should attack them to why the U.S. shouldn’t attack them to wondering whether all of this is legal. Read more…