Israel

Some Arab conspiracy theorists seeing WikiLeaks-Israel link

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — Unless you’re a reader of Islamist websites, you’d probably be surprised to learn that the WikiLeaks trove of U.S. diplomatic cables is an Israeli conspiracy. Wonder why there was so much material about Arab regimes petitioning the United States to contain Iran’s nuclear program? How… Read more »

Katsav rape conviction hailed as watershed moment

Women demonstrating outside the Tel Aviv courtroom where former Israeli President Moshe Katsav was convicted of rape and other sex crimes, Dec. 30, 2010. (Roni Schutzer/Flash 90/JTA)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — For years it was considered an open secret in Israeli political and media circles that Moshe Katsav had a habit of sexually harassing women who worked for him. In a nation at arms with a decidedly machismo bent, sexual encounters between powerful male politicians and… Read more »

Poll: Slight majority of Israeli Jews unfavorable to Obama

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A slight majority of Jewish Israelis has negative views of President Obama, but his supporters are more numerous than previously reported, according to a poll. The Brookings Institution poll of Jewish Israelis showed 51 percent responding with negative views of the U.S. president to 41 percent… Read more »

After Israel’s deadly fire, mourning, vows to rebuild and finger pointing

At least 40 Israelis have been killed in a forest fire in northern Israel described as out of control, Dec. 2, 2010. (Flash 90)

In the aftermath of the deadliest fire in Israel’s history, Israelis this week set to the task of burying the dead, cleaning up and figuring out what exactly went wrong — and who is to blame. Even before the blaze in the Carmel Mountains near Haifa came under control… Read more »

Fire that kills 40 brings new tragedy to Israel

At least 40 Israelis have been killed in a forest fire in northern Israel described as out of control, Dec. 2, 2010. (Flash 90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — In a country always on guard to prevent the next tragedy born of terrorism or war, an out-of-control forest fire was the culprit in a tragic bus incident that left some 40 people dead in northern Israel. The bus, carrying police cadets from Israel’s prison service,… Read more »

Timing, noodging advance new push for Jonathan Pollard

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A combination of timing, diplomatic considerations and, above all, good old-fashioned noodging has culminated in the biggest push in years to free Jonathan Pollard. Insiders associated with the push, which resulted last week in a congressional letter to President Obama asking for clemency for the American… Read more »

Army converts are latest to be dragged into Israel’s conversion wars

The army conversion case of Alina Sardikov, shwon marrying husband Maxim earlier this year in a wedding officiated by ITIM director Rabbi Seth Farber, has gone to the Israeli Supreme Court. (ITIM)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — For years, army conversions were seen by many as a convenient solution for resolving at least part of the “Who is a Jew?” question that hangs like a cloud over the lives of tens of thousands of Israelis. In the Israel Defense Forces, under the… Read more »

Blind Israeli’s marathon run going to the (seeing-eye) dogs

Noach Braun, left, and Gadi Yarkoni practice runningtied to each other in preparation for the New York Marathon, July 2010. (Courtesy of Michael J. Leventhal)

NEW YORK (JTA) — When Noach Braun and Gadi Yarkoni run this year’s New York City marathon on Nov. 7, they’ll be tied together at the hip — literally. Yarkoni, an Israeli who lost his sight during combat in Lebanon 15 years ago, will be tethered by a strap… Read more »

Federations, JCPA teaming to fight delegitimization of Israel

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs are launching a multimillion-dollar joint initiative to combat anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns. The JFNA and the rest of the Jewish federation system have agreed to invest $6 million over the… Read more »

Loyalty oath law, causing stir in Israel, met by U.S. Jewish silence

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A day after Israel’s Cabinet announced that it would consider making a loyalty oath mandatory for non-Jewish immigrants, the question put to The Israel Project’s president and founder was simple enough. “How did your organization react?” Natasha Mozgovoya, the Washington correspondent for Israel’s daily Haaretz, asked… Read more »

Barely months into talks, will the freeze freeze a peace deal?

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Palestinian President Abbas R) at Netanyahu residence in Jerusalem, Sept. 15, 2010. (Kobi Gideon / Flash90)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — When the fat lady sings on Sept. 26, it may only be an intermission. That’s the word from an array of Mideast experts across the political spectrum. They are predicting that the seeming intractability between Israel and the Palestinians over whether Israel extends a settlement moratorium… Read more »

The peace talks — and their obstacles

President Barack Obama holds a working dinner with, clockwise from left, President Hosni Mubarek of Egypt, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, George Mitchell, Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, and Tony Blair, the international Middle east envoy and former British Prime Minsiter, in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, Sept. 1, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Peace in a year? Try getting past Sept. 26. Or is it 30? Direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis have barely begun and already the sides are facing their first major hurdle — the end of Israel’s partial moratorium on settlement building. Several issues might beset… Read more »

Netanyahu, Abbas each give a little on first day of talks

President Barack Obama holds a working dinner with, clockwise from left, President Hosni Mubarek of Egypt, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, George Mitchell, Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, and Tony Blair, the international Middle east envoy and former British Prime Minsiter, in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, Sept. 1, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Tell us what you want. Now listen to what your partner wants. Now tell us what your partner wants. In slow, almost excruciating increments, talks between Israelis and Palestinians are taking on the dimensions of counseling sessions moderated by the United States. Heading into a White… Read more »

Will talks be about appearance or substance?

WASHINGTON (JTA) — It’s a peace conference where nothing is off the table — or on it, for that matter. The Obama administration’s invitation to Palestinian and Israeli leaders to launch direct talks on Sept. 2 attempts to reconcile Israeli demands for no preconditions with Palestinian demands that the… Read more »

Facing confrontation on Israel, Presbyterian Church manages compromise

Katharine Henderson, president of the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church USA)

U.S. Jews and Presbyterians say they have salvaged a fragile unity of purpose from an assembly that was poised to create a rift between the two faiths. The outcome of last month’s General Assembly in Minneapolis of the Presbyterian Church (USA) was remarkable in that all sides in the… Read more »

Israel tries to lure major banks to expand its R&D

NEW YORK (JTA) — If Haim Shani has his way, the titans of Wall Street will start moving more of their business to Dizengoff Street. Shani, the director general of Israel’s Finance Ministry, was in New York late last month on a mission to promote Israel as a center… Read more »

Negev wine farmers claim battle over land is sour grapes

Moshe Zohar, who grew these pomegrante trees on his farm in the Negev, is facing eviction from the same government agencies that granted him the land. (Sue Fishkoff)

BEERSHEBA, Israel (JTA) — Moshe Zohar’s hands are rough and callused, his face lined with the dust of the desert he farms half an hour outside this southern Israeli city. Eleven years ago Zohar, his wife, Hilda, and their three children settled on this harsh land to build Nahal… Read more »

Tourists flocking to Israel at record pace

Tourists from Singapore cover themselves with mud while bathing in the Dead Sea. (Yossi Zamir / Flash 90 / JTA)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli tour guide Yossi Weiss was leading two busloads of American Christian pilgrims on a tour of Jerusalem’s Old City when he noted how difficult it was to move around. The Jewish Quarter was so crowded and busy Monday as the group visited the Temple Mount,… Read more »

Netanyahu hints at flexibility on Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a Jewish gathering in New York, July 7, 2010. (Michael Priest Photography)

NEW YORK (JTA) — It was an otherwise wholly unremarkable stump speech before a friendly audience in New York. On the evening of July 7 at Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel, the Israeli prime minister addressed a roomful of more than 300 Jews on the subjects of Iran, his government’s eagerness… Read more »

‘Cultural intifada’ as Costello, Meg Ryan and others cancel Israel plans

British singer Elton John performs in Ramat Gan, Israel, June 17, 2010. (Flash90 / JTA)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Actress Meg Ryan’s decision to cancel her appearance at this week’s Jerusalem Film Festival didn’t garner the same attention in Israel as British rocker Elvis Costello when he nixed his Israel concert this spring. Both, however, were a reminder to Israelis that in the eyes of… Read more »