Our popular weekly newsletter analyzes Israeli current events by bringing together multiple perspectives and removing all of us from the echo chambers we sometimes live in. Use these resources to allow your students to see the wide contours of dispute within Israel come alive!

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Temple Mount Controversy

Last Sunday, on the Jewish fast of Tisha B’Av, a record number of Jews – 1,729 – visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The day was also the start of Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday, so tens of thousands of Muslims also visited the site in the morning.

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“Choose life” - The Jewish Secret to Survival

No matter our struggles, challenges, insecurities or pain, we have the power of choice. The question is, what do we choose? “Choose life.” “Choose life.” A few days after Dvir Sorek, the 19-year-old Yeshiva student and soldier, was murdered by Palestinian terrorists, I keep repeating his father Yoav’s eulogy, in which he implored everyone to “choose life.”

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Ayelet Shaked and the United Right

Who is Ayelet Shaked? 43-year-old Ayelet Shaked grew up in Tel Aviv, where she still lives. She holds degrees in electrical engineering and computer science and worked in hi-tech before her foray into politics in 2006.

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How Does Israel Compare to Religiously Extreme Countries?

A new Pew report published last week found that Israel has “almost as many religious restrictions as Iran.”

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Ehud Barak is Re-entering Israeli Politics

Barak, the most decorated officer and longest-serving IDF chief of staff in Israeli history, served as prime minister from 1999-2001 and defense minister (under Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu) from 2007-2013.

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Ethiopian Community in Israel- Shooting, Protest and Response

With the news of a 19-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli, Solomon Tekah, killed by an off-duty police officer, I want to apply the “Yes, and…” approach to this situation.

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The Bahrain Conference, June 2019

President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, led a “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Manama, Bahrain. The workshop intentionally focused on the economic, rather than political, aspects of the Middle East.

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Learning Empathy from Leaders

Today’s weekly on the recent interview of Professor Mohammed Dajani Daoudi and Yossi Klein Halevi by David Horovitz is a unique opportunity to explore more about Klein Halevi’s book Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor, as well as explore the fascinating story of Dajani Daoudi.

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Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem

A gay pride parade in Jerusalem? How did the Jewish capital go about this? Should it have happened? Why or why not? What educational challenges and opportunities does this parade bring?

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Israeli National Elections 2.0

Elections in Israel are happening again. For real. Why? What happened? What are different Israeli leaders saying about it? How should we discuss the elections again with our families, students, congregants and colleagues?

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The Deeper Meaning of Jerusalem Day

Yom Yerushalayim, or Jerusalem Day, is the anniversary of the liberation/conquering/re-unification (depending on your perspective) of Jerusalem under Jewish sovereignty that took place during the Six-Day War.

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How to Teach “The Nakba”

Therefore, in a world in which our students, the youth, will invariably come to hear about Nakba Day, or the day commemorating what Palestinians call “the Catastrophe,” the question should be how should we teach about this event.

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Israel Hosts Eurovision

Is Eurovision in Israel actually a distinct expression of Zionism? It depends. If Israel was created in order to normalize the Jewish people, then it is actually a great articulation of Zionism.

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Episodes of Anti-Semitism in America

The “paradox” of Israel’s revival is that it has been accompanied by an ongoing rise in anti-Semitism. The extreme right, the extreme left, and extremist Islam agree on only one thing: hatred of the Jews.

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Educating Towards Empathy and Awareness

We have the opportunity to teach the generation of Jewish young people we are educating now to be neither brutal nor naïve. Let’s use the case studies of Fadi Quran and the student government at Berkeley to explore how.

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MIA IDF Soldier Zechariah Baumel’s Remains Return to Israel (and elections reflections)

On Wednesday, April 3, Israel brought back the remains of Zechariah Baumel, an American-born Israeli soldier who’s been MIA for 37 years since the First Lebanon War in 1982. The details of the operation aren’t fully available, but his family has breathed a sigh of relief.

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Personal Account of Experiencing a Siren

An azakah. A siren. In my groggy state I heard the blaring through the window, letting thousands of people know that they have about a minute and a half (in some places much less) to find shelter.

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President Trump Recognizes Israeli Sovereignty in Golan Heights

President Donald Trump made headlines by breaking with decades of US policy and declaring: “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

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A Model for Mock Elections

With Israel’s national elections just three weeks away, it’s time to get students thinking: Who would they vote for? What major issues are center stage in this election? Who are the different parties, and what are their platforms? How would they make informed decisions about future Israeli leaders?

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Israeli National Elections April 2019 - Campaign Ads

Campaign ads play a pivotal role in the parties’ PR, and they are fascinating. What do the ads say about the Israeli political scene and public discourse in 2019?

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Israeli National Elections April 2019 - The Far Right

Two weeks ago, Israeli right-wing political party Bayit Yehudi (The Jewish Home) joined forces with the extreme-right party Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength).

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The Value of Addressing Hard Topics with Students

Do we want the New York Times to educate our students about the less romantic parts of our history or should we, educators, take on this responsibility?

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Rep. Ilhan Omar on AIPAC

Democratic representative from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, created a stir with her tweets. She insinuated that AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) pays American politicians to support Israel, invoking the age-old anti-Semitic trope that Jews control the world with money.

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Eurovision on Shabbat

This week, we tackle the internal Israeli controversy surrounding potential Eurovision Song Contest competitors. Do you know what happened? What do your…

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Israel’s Purpose

Let me ask you a question: Why should the State of Israel exist? What’s the point? This question is not rhetorical. And the answer to this question is not necessarily self-evident.

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Zionism and Feminism

leaders of the Women’s March, like Palestinian-American Linda Sarsour, a co-chair, are still on their crusade against my people’s drive to self-determination, claiming that feminism and Zionism are mutually exclusive…

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Jewish Terrorism?

Although Jewish terrorism from within Israel is certainly rare, in the last two weeks, this question on Jewish terrorism has been front and center in the Israeli media.

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Legacy of Israeli Author Amos Oz

One of Israel’s greatest writers, Amos Oz’s recent passing has served as an occasion to further reflect on how to foster a deep and mature love for Israel.

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Israeli National Elections Explained (Knesset Dissolution December 2018)

Israeli Knesset coalition, led by PM Benjamin Netanyahu, has decided to dissolve itself and head to early elections. The coalition, which held a razor-thin majority of 61 seats in the Knesset, issued a statement explaining the decision…

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Israel’s First Ethiopian Air Force Pilot

Israel graduated its first air force pilot from the Ethiopian-Israeli community. Lieutenant “Yod” completed the intensive and prestigious three-year pilot training course and will serve as a navigator on Israeli Air Force fighter jets. Completing this course is a tremendous accomplishment…

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A Model for Disagreeing, Agreeably

It’s no secret that this question is relevant in the current political climate, and in many ways, the topic of Israel can serve as a strong flashpoint for this question. In this week’s newsletter, we address three smaller topics, which may not have made the headlines in the same way as other stories…

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Terror Tunnels from Lebanon (Operation Northern Shield)

Israel launched Operation Northern Shield on its northern border in an effort to eradicate massive tunnels that Hezbollah has been burrowing into Israeli territory from Lebanon. One tunnel that Israel found is 130 ft. into Israeli territory and 6 ft. tall by 6 ft. wide.

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Israel’s World Contributions

We want to share with you stories that came out of Israel that are typically in our “random but important section” and put the magnifying glasses on for these stories this week, highlighting and sharing these Israeli stories with those around us…

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Airbnb Removes West Bank Listings

When Airbnb announced its decision to remove listings in Israeli settlements in what they called “the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians,” the Israeli government responded strongly.

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Gaza flare-up, November 2018

After Hamas discovered a secret Israeli operation in Gaza and killed one of Israel’s elite soldiers, the organization fired 460 rockets and mortars into Israel. One person in Israel was killed (a Palestinian from Hebron) and dozens more were injured. All this came just two days after Israel allowed $15 million (of an eventual $90 million) to pass from Qatar to Gaza in an attempt to secure a ceasefire on the Gazan border.

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Terrorist House Demolition

Last week, the IDF re-issued orders to partially demolish a terrorist’s home in Shuweika, a northern West Bank village. Twenty-three-year-old Ashraf Na’alowa is accused of killing coworkers Kim Levengrond Yehezkel (29) and Ziv Hajbi (35) at the Barkan Industrial Park near Ariel in September and has been on the run ever since.

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Israeli Municipal Elections, November 2018

Over 3.5 million Israelis voted in local elections around the country, with voter turnout at 57%.  In these elections, voters were asked to determine the mayor and city council members, terms that last for five years in Israel.

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The Pittsburgh Massacre, October 2018

In this week’s column, writing about anything but the Pittsburgh massacre feels trivial. For Jewish Americans, and Jews around the world, the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in US history is cause for us to consider the question.

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The Israel-Diaspora Relationship

On Monday-Wednesday this week, the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly convened in Tel Aviv with the slogan, “We Need to Talk.” Each year, the General Assembly (GA) convenes thousands of premiere communal “Jewish changemakers.”

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Is Studying Torah a National Service?

Israeli newspapers are abuzz with talk of possible early Knesset elections, sparked by the contentious “draft bill.” The historical background of the draft bill goes all the way back to the founding of the State of Israel.

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The Yemenite Children Affair

When Israel declared independence in 1948, the new state decided to absorb Jewish immigrants from around the world. From May 1948 until the end of 1951, more than 650,000 Jews from 70 countries moved to Israel, 200,000 of which came from Arab states who were oppressing the Jewish minority in their countries.

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Trump and the Two-State Solution

In a conversation between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN General Assembly, President Trump publicly voiced his support of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although this has been the position of all the American presidents for the past 25 years, it was the first time President Trump publicly supported the idea.

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US Cuts UNRWA Funding

The US cut funding to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The US has been giving UNRWA about $350 million per year until January 2018, when it gave $60 million; as of August 2018, it cut funding completely.

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Is IfNotNow Correct?

When IfNotNow (INN) started making its voice heard, many Jewish organizations responded with “Here’s what we need to do to shut them down,” or “It’s just a fringe group.” While I understand these sentiments, and I by no means endorse, agree with or support INN or its tactics, I think this discussion provides the Jewish and Israel education world with an opportunity to do our own cheshbon hanefesh, our own accounting of ourselves.

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Teaching Operation Finale (The Eichmann Trial)

Last week: New movie Operation Finale hit theaters. The movie, starring Ben Kingsley as Adolf Eichmann and Oscar Isaac as Mossad agent Peter Malkin, tells the story of a pivotal moment in Israel’s history: the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

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Controversial Construction on Shabbat

The original plan: Tel Aviv municipality and the Ayalon Highway Company plan to build a new pedestrian and cycling bridge.

The Yehudit Bridge will cross the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, one of the country’s most congested freeways, and connect the eastern and western parts of the city. The bridge is expected to reduce traffic and encourage residents of nearby cities to walk or bike into central Tel Aviv.

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