Tag Archives: Middle East

The Nuclear Problem in Iran

Negotiations are currently taking place in Geneva, Switzerland on the future of Iran’s nuclear capabilities and the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) interim agreement arbitrated between Iran and the P5+1 (the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council – United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France plus Germany). The current terms of the 6-month interim accord allow for daily inspections of all Iranian nuclear sites and a discontinuation of work on or with centrifuges. In return, the international community has granted a reduction in a number of economic sanctions, allowing Iran access to $4.2 billion previously frozen assets. The P5+1 and Iran hope to agree upon the terms of the JPOA by July 20th, if not, negotiations will be extended by an additional 6 months. Read more…

Prayers for Kidnapped Israeli Teenagers

On Sunday, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism shared the Union for Reform Judaism’s status update regarding three Israeli teenagers who have been kidnapped:

Please join the Reform Jewish Movement in praying for the safe return of the three Yeshiva students who were kidnapped in the West Bank on their way home for Shabbat: Naftali Frenkel (Yaacov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah), Gilad Shaar (Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim), and Eyal Yifrach (Eyal ben Iris Tshoora). Our thoughts are with their families during this trying and uncertain time.

If you or your congregation are looking for prayers to mark this trying time, please look at Alden Solovy’s prayer for the safe return of the three teenagers.  Also be sure to read the World Union for Progressive Judaism’s statement and prayer, as well as the Association of Reform Zionists of America’s statement and prayer, regarding the kidnapped teenagers.

We continue to hope and pray for the safe return of three Israeli teenagers, Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Elad Yifrach.

David Broza with Rabbi David Saperstein, Jennifer Kaufman, and Jo-Ann Mort

Peace, Love and Understanding: David Broza Talks about Peace and Music at the Commission on Social Action Meeting

At the recent Commission on Social Action (CSA) meeting, CSA members and those participating in the Social Action Skills Training Seminar had the opportunity to hear David Broza perform songs from his latest album, a collaborative project in which music is used as a conduit to discuss peace.  Broza’s newest album, called “East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem,” is an effort to bridge the Jewish-Arab divide in Israel.  Read more…

Extending Hearts and Minds: Journeys into the West Bank

By Sam Sussman

The West Bank is a paradoxical locale in the contemporary American Jewish experience. In the American Jewish community, we often speak about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but few of us have ever met a Palestinian.  Few opportunities to engage with Palestinian perspectives exist in our political, religious, social and professional circles. Our simple under-exposure to Palestinian perspectives and experiences is a detriment, not a strength, in navigating the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But what if young American Jewish leaders were offered the opportunity to compliment time in Israel with an informative, constructive two-way dialogue with Palestinian partners for peace in the West Bank? Read more…

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 the 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.