National

Jews reeling in wake of Penn State scandal

Philadelphia (Jewish Exponent) — Rabbi David Ostrich, who leads the lone congregation in State College, Pa., couldn’t bring himself to sermonize last Shabbat on the scandal that’s on everyone’s mind. For one thing, it’s all too raw and too much remains unknown, said the religious leader of Congregation Brit… Read more »

Republicans’ ‘Starting from zero’ aid proposal startles pro-Israel community

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, shown campaigning in Iowas on Nov. 14, 2011, has raised concerns among pro-Israel officials for proposing a policy on foreign aid that would have recipients make their case every year. (IowaPolitics via Creative Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — “Starting from zero,” the foreign assistance plan touted by leading Republican candidates at a debate, is getting low marks, and not just from Democrats and the foreign policy community. Pro-Israel activists and fellow Republicans also have concerns. Texas Gov. Rick Perry introduced the plan during the… Read more »

Sarko said, Obama said — but what does it all mean?

A derogatory exchange about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu between French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, and President Obama, shown during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, has sparked debate, Sept. 21, 2011. (Official White House photo by Samantha Appleton, via Creative Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Does Nicolas Sarkozy really hate Benjamin Netanyahu? Does President Obama really sympathize? And does it really matter? The fleeting, private exchange between the French and U.S. presidents at a summit in Cannes, France, made international headlines, and its meaning is still being parsed by political pundits… Read more »

Dennis Ross legacy: Iran isolated, but peace still missing

Dennis Ross, shown speaking at a Washington Institute for Near East Policy conference, and the White House cited his desire to spend more time with his family as the reason for stepping down as President Obama's top Middle East strategist. (Stan Barouh, courtesy of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Dennis Ross got back in the driver’s seat, yet three years later the peace is still missing. Ross, a veteran of four failed presidential pushes for Middle East peace, announced Nov. 10 that he would be leaving his post as President Obama’s top Middle East strategist… Read more »

Is Jerusalem in Israel? Supreme Court hears passport case

Ari Zivotofsky and his son Menachem speak to the press outside the U.S. Supreme Court Nov. 8. (Richard Greenberg)

The U.S. Supreme Court convened Monday to ponder the implications of a single word that is conspicuously missing from the passport of a 9-year-old boy who was born in Jerusalem. His name is Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, the son of Ari and Naomi Siegman Zivotofsky, Americans who made aliyah in… Read more »

Giffords vows return in forthcoming memoir

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is determined to return to Congress. “I will get stronger. I will return,” Giffords writes in a memoir she co-authored with her husband, Mark Kelly, and Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow, according to the Associated Press, which got an advance copy. “Gabby: A Story of… Read more »

­AJWS Reverse Hunger campaign targets U.S. global food aid policy

(New York) — American Jewish World Service (AJWS), an international development and human rights organization, unveiled its new Reverse Hunger campaign last month. The campaign seeks to rally the American Jewish community to challenge and change a critical factor contributing to global hunger — U.S. food aid policy. Developing… Read more »

Experts: IAEA report makes case for tightened Iran sanctions

A new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency found that there is "credible" information suggesting that Iran's nuclear program has military dimensions. Pictured here is a heavy water nuclear reactor near Arak, Iran. (Wikipedia Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The international nuclear watchdog has spoken on Iran, and although its report does not have the smoking gun some had anticipated, it makes a cumulative case damning enough for the Obama administration to ask for increased sanctions. JTA canvassed Washington Iran-watchers on Tuesday afternoon in the… Read more »

Giffords wants to come back to Congress

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) is determined to return to Congress. Giffords, who is recovering from being shot in the head in January, reveals in a book she co-writes with her husband, Mark Kelly, that she plans to keep her job, according to a report Friday by… Read more »

After stumble, Herman Cain stresses pro-Israel bona fides

Danny Danon, a Knesset member and a leader of the settlement movement, making a point to Herman Cain after leading the Republican presidential candidate on a tour of the tunnels beneath Jerusalem's Western Wall, August 2011. (George Lange Studios)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Call Herman Cain the crash-course pro-Israel candidate. Since stumbling in May on a question about Palestinians and the right of return, the one-time pizza executive who recently rocketed to the top of GOP presidential polls has visited Israel and read up about the Jewish state. “Mr.… Read more »

What happens now that the U.S. has cut UNESCO funds?

UNESCO designated Tel Aviv's "White City" -- its 4,000 Bauhaus buildings -- a heritage site in 2003, facilitating funds for rehabilitation projects. (David Lisbona via Creative Commons.)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The immediate consequence of UNESCO’s vote to grant the Palestinians membership is clear: A cutoff of American funding for the U.N.  agency governing the protection of cultures and sharing of scientific knowledge, which stands to lose roughly a fifth of its budget. What’s less certain is… Read more »

On Arlington’s Chaplains Hill, fallen rabbis get a place of honor

Unveiling of the monument on Chaplains Hill in Arlington National Cemetary to 14 Jewish chaplains who died in service to the United States during World War II, the early years of the Cold War and in Southeast Asia. (Karen Wendkos)

ARLINGTON, Va. (JTA) — Fourteen Jewish military chaplains who gave their lives in service to their country finally have a place of honor in Arlington National Cemetery. Family members of the fallen chaplains were joined Monday by community leaders, politicians, and current and retired military personnel for a ceremony… Read more »

Jewish activists try to fight Wall Street — and some protesters’ anti-Semitism

An Occupy Wall Street protestor who says his name is David Smith holds a sign in Zuccotti Park in New York that offers an overtly anti-Jewish message, Oct. 11­. (neolibertariannet via YouTube)

NEW YORK (JTA) — The most unloved man in Zuccotti Park, the epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street protests, isn’t a Wall Street banker but a fellow who wears a baseball cap and carries signs denouncing “Jewish bankers.” The man, who told Slate his name is David Smith, comes… Read more »

Kay Granger and Nita Lowey, the congressional couple that’s odd for getting along

Rep. Kay granger, the chairwoman of the foreign operations subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, greets Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a subcommittee hearing while Rep. Nita Lowey, the subcommittee's senior Democrat, looks on, March 11, 2011. (Courtesy office of rep. Kay Granger)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — In any other town at any other time they would be a boring, if worthy, pair: Wonkish grandmothers sorting through nitty-gritty foreign policy and budgetary details to keep their country influential and safe. But in Washington at a time of intense partisan rancor, the friendly and… Read more »

Iran observers: Assassination bid underscores nuclear threat

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Iran watchers say the revelation of an alleged plot to hire Mexican contract killers to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington signals the Iranian regime’s deepening radicalization. It also underscores the urgency of the threat posed by Tehran’s nuclear plans, they say. “We need to… Read more »

NBA lockout prompts a new motive for aliyah: basketball

Former Duke University basketball star Jon Scheyer, who will be playing pro ball for Maccabi Tel Aviv, at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel following his group aliyah flight, Aug. 30, 2011. (Sasson Tiram)

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Call it circumstantial Zionism. There’s been a recent uptick in North American aliyah — of basketball players. More than a dozen North American players have become Israeli citizens and joined professional Israeli basketball teams and second division squads in the past few years. It’s not exactly… Read more »

Romney’s Jewish backers enjoy front-runner status, but challenges continue

Mitt Romney is the whack-a-mole front-runner: He consistently leads the Republican pack, but only by beating back one conservative challenger after another. First it was Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry, and now a surging Herman Cain. His contradictory status — as a front-runner caught in a constant rearguard action… Read more »

Occupy Wall Street protests taking on a Jewish flavor

Participants embrace prior to Occupy Wall Street's Kol Nidre service across from Zuccotti Park in downtown New York, Oct. 7, 2011. (Danielle Fleischman)

Rachel Feldman originally had meant to attend a traditional synagogue Kol Nidre service. Aimee Weiss hadn’t found a place to daven but was looking for something more interesting than a “big box synagogue.” Come Yom Kippur eve, they and several hundred other Jews found themselves drawn to lower Manhattan,… Read more »

U.S. Dept. of Education probing anti-Jewish discrimination at Columbia

A building at Columbia University, which is being investigated for an alleged incident of "steering" at its affiliated Barnard College. (Creative Commons)

NEW YORK (Tablet) — “You’ll feel very uncomfortable,” Barnard Professor Rachel McDermott allegedly told an Orthodox Jewish student at the college when the undergraduate inquired about a course called “Arabs and the Arab World” taught by a controversial Columbia University professor, Joseph Massad. “Why don’t you look at ancient… Read more »