If Israel has such bad PR, why does it remain so popular?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understands that Israel’s “hasbarah” can only get the country so far. (Illustration by Charles Dunst/JTA; photo: Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty)

(JTA) — The first mention in JTA of the Hebrew word “hasbarah” was in 1988, at the height of the first intifada. The article focused on Israelis and American Jews and their deep concern that the media were distorting the unrest and showing the Israeli military in a bad… Read more »

Ronald Lauder helped make Benjamin Netanyahu prime minister. Now he’s publicly opposing him.

Ronald Lauder helped make Benjamin Netanyahu prime minister. Now he's publicly opposing him.

(JTA) — It’s gotta hurt when the guy who used to fund your political career writes two op-eds criticizing you in The New York Times. Benjamin Netanyahu would know — that’s what’s happening to him right now. On Monday, Netanyahu was the target of a scathing column by Ronald… Read more »

Left-wing activists claim that Israel is trying to intimidate them at the country’s border

Simone Zimmerman, a leftist activist, lives in Israel on a work visa. (Courtesy of Zimmerman)

(JTA) — For years, Simone Zimmerman has protested Israel’s actions from the left. She’s led activist groups, organized protests and gone on camera. But she never worried that her activism would get her barred from entering the country — until this week. Zimmerman, who is Jewish and lives in… Read more »

Israel is suspected again of assassinating an enemy’s rocket scientist. Do these killings pay off?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, President Reuven Rivlin and the head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, at an awards ceremony in Jerusalem to recognize 13 employees of Israel's intelligence agency, Dec. 13, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Aziz Asbar was a leading Syrian rocket scientist, working with Hezbollah and Iran to develop systems that could reach deep inside Israel. Now he’s dead, blown up in a car. The natural inclination in the Middle East and even farther afield is to blame the Mossad,… Read more »

Trump and his foreign policy team are on separate pages. What does it mean for Israel and Iran?

President Donald Trump, right, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appear to have different views on Iran. (Illustration by Charles Dunst/JTA; credit: Maxpixel, Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Donald Trump says he’s ready to meet Iran’s leadership without preconditions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seems to have preconditions. The disconnect of recent weeks was sharpened Monday when the White House announced the reimposition of sanctions on Iran, the first to be reintroduced since… Read more »

Settlers welcome Mike Huckabee to a Trump-style building dedication in Efrat

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at a ceremony welcoming a new neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, Aug. 1, 2018. (Sam Sokol)

EFRAT, West Bank (JTA) — Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee laid bricks in a new neighborhood in this settlement in a ceremony Aug. 1 that took its language and cues from Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” rhetoric. During the ceremony in Efrat’s Tamar neighborhood, organizers distributed red caps bearing… Read more »

Here’s how Birthright guides talk about the Palestinians

A Palestinian man walks by Israeli troops standing guard in the West Bank city of Hebron, April 13, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

(JTA) – When Samuel Green talks about Israel’s West bank security barrier with the Birthright groups he guides, he first explains the Israeli view that the barrier was built to prevent Palestinian terrorists from breaching Israeli territory and that Israelis generally feel it has saved lives. But then he’ll… Read more »

Will Pakistan’s hotshot new prime minister change his country’s relationship with Israel?

Imran Khan at the "Rule of Law: The Case of Pakistan” conference in Berlin, Germany, Nov. 26, 2009. (Stephan Röhl/Flickr)

(JTA) — The election of former cricket star Imran Khan as Pakistan’s new prime minister has raised eyebrows across the globe. He has promised a “new Pakistan,” running on a light-on-policy nationalistic anti-corruption platform. Khan, 65, “is known for running a team of one, making impulsive decisions, contradicting himself and then… Read more »

How 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi became a Palestinian national symbol

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi is welcomed by relatives and supporters after her release from an Israeli prison, July 29, 2018. (Flash90)

(JTA) — When Ahed Tamimi left an Israeli prison on Sunday after eight months, she returned home to jubilation from friends and family in her West Bank hometown of Nabi Saleh. The 17-year-old Palestinian activist also was celebrated as a hero around the world for what some see as… Read more »

This leading Republican congressman backs Netanyahu’s stand to kick Iran out of Syria

Rep. Michael McCaul leaves the Capitol, April 27, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Michael McCaul wants Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to know he has his back when it comes to Israel’s demand that Iran leaves Syria for good. “If it’s not good enough for Israel, it’s not good enough for me,” said McCaul, the Texas Republican who… Read more »

The Western Wall ‘spit out a stone,’ and some see a message from above

A crane works to remove a large chunk of stone dislodged from the Western Wall in Jerusalem at the mixed-gender prayer section, July 25, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The heavy stone that fell out of the Western Wall and came crashing down on a platform set aside for egalitarian prayer has been removed for examination and restoration, but the conversation about the reason for its sudden sky dive — including hints of divine intervention… Read more »

Jewish? Democratic? Israel’s nation-state law raises questions over the country’s purpose

Israel's nation-state law prompted liberal criticism, while defenders called it a statement of the obvious. (Photo by May Golan/Flickr; illustration by Charles Dunst/JTA)

(JTA) – On July 19, Israel’s right-wing coalition government passed, by a narrow 62-55 margin, its controversial nation-state law, which declared Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people.” Scores of liberal critics denounced the measure as an unnecessary and racist provocation, while defenders called it a statement of… Read more »

How Russian nationalism explains Putin’s outreach to Jews and Israel

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, greets his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres in Moscow, 2012. (Office of the President of Russia)

(JTA) — While American politicians and pundits fumed at President Donald Trump’s performance at his much-anticipated meeting last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, lost in the clamor was one small but crucial moment: Israel emerged from Helsinki a winner. Trump said that he and Putin had reached a “really good conclusion” for… Read more »

Does Israel need a law to define itself as the nation-state of the Jewish people?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seated second from left, leading a Likud faction meeting in the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, July 16, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel is debating legislation that supporters say states the obvious. Critics, meanwhile, say the measure will divide Israeli society and damage its relationships with the rest of the democratic world, especially Jews in the United States. The premise of the so-called Nationality Law is simple: It… Read more »

ANALYSIS Draymond Green says his trip to Israel wasn’t about politics. Here’s why Israel’s critics won’t accept that.

Draymond Green, right, shown before a playoff game between his Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center in Houston, May 28, 2018. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

NBA star Draymond Green on his recent visit to Israel got to meet the nation’s president and take some shooting practice — with guns, not basketballs — on a military base. Green’s visit, particularly his jovial use of Israeli military weaponry, prompted criticism from notable figures on the American… Read more »

In Jerusalem, Ruth Bader Ginsburg celebrates her commitment to tikkun olam

Benjamin Friedenberg, an Israeli filmmaker, interviews Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, July 5, 2018. (Natasha Kuperman)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg described how grateful she was for her Jewish heritage during a screening of a new documentary film about her life and career at the Jerusalem Cinematheque. “The demand for justice, peace and enlightenment runs through Jewish history and tradition,” she… Read more »

Netanyahu is welcoming authoritarians to Israel. Does that make his country safer?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban hold a joint news conference at the Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary, July 18, 2017. (Haim Zach/Israeli Government Press Office)

(JTA) — It has become a staple of his stump speeches to audiences in Israel and abroad: Far from being isolated politically, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argues, Israel is forming new and stronger alliances with a host of countries around the world. In recent years, Netanyahu has either… Read more »

Bet Shalom trip accents lives of those of other faiths in Israel

Congregation Bet Shalom trip participants at the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem (L-R): Morrie Shoob, Alvin Juntiff, Alan Burke, Salley Juntiff, Louise Good, Bruce Dawson, Linda Kunsberg, Vickie Dawson, Andy Kunsberg, Geoff Winston, Sharna Shoob, Bernie Engelhard, Elinor Engelhard, Carol Richelson, Gary Richelson, Rachel Snyder, Ezra Alpert, Maiella Alpert, Sandra Snyder, Allan Schwartz, Anne Kobritz, Stewart Kobritz, Rabbi Avi Alpert

Each time we put together a Congregation Bet Shalom tour, we focus on a different aspect of life in the Holy Land. This time we concentrated on the idea of living as a non-Jew in the Jewish State. This two-week tour was aimed at proving the theory that non-Jews… Read more »