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Ira Gershwin

Lyricist Ira Gershwin (Israel Gershowitz), a Pulitzer Prize-winner (for Of Thee I Sing, 1932) and prolific songwriting collaborator with his younger brother, George Gershwin, was born on the Lower East Side of New York on this date in 1896. His parents were immigrants from Russia, who had come to the U.S. in 1891. After taking odd jobs […]

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The Erosion of the Two-State Solution

WITH NOTHING PLAUSIBLE TO TAKE ITS PLACE by Ron Skolnik Published in the Autumn 2017 issue of Jewish Currents   A “REAR PROJECTION EFFECT” is the term used for the old movie-making technique that causes an object — usually a person, often in a car or train — to appear to be in motion when, in […]

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Jewish Americans — Still Liberal After All These Years

CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS OF THE LATEST SURVEY OF AMERICAN JEWISH OPINION   by Ron Skolnik IF THERE’S NEWS in the American Jewish Committee’s just-released 2017 survey of American Jewish opinion, it’s that there’s little earth-shattering in it at all. American Jews, the survey’s data indicate, remain solidly left-of-center, Democrat in party affiliation, and overwhelmingly anti-Trump. And […]

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The Lillehammer Affair

In a case of mistaken identity, agents of the Mossad, Israel’s Secret Intelligence Service, shot dead Moroccan waiter Ahmed Bouchiki in the Norwegian resort town of Lillehammer on this date in 1973. The Mossad’s actual assassination target was Ali Hassan Salameh, a senior member of the Palestinian Black September group that had carried out the terrorist attack which […]

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Fifty Years, and No End in Sight

HAS ISRAEL EVER TRULY INTENDED TO WITHDRAW FROM THE WEST BANK? by Ron Skolnik From the Summer 2017 issue of Jewish Currents   ON THE EVENING of November 4, 1995, I walked home happily to my small Tel Aviv apartment, having just been part of the massive crowd that had come out in support of Prime […]

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Cuomo and Antisemitism

by Ron Skolnik ANDREW CUOMO meant well. When, in the wake of the Trump inauguration, a disquieting series of bomb threats menaced Jewish community centers and acts of vandalism struck Jewish cemeteries nationwide, Cuomo’s rejection of antisemitism was commendably swift, impassioned and principled. “New York,” declared the state’s Governor, “has zero tolerance for bias or […]

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Impressions from J Street, 2017

by Ron Skolnik BERNIE SANDERS, SUPERSTAR EVERY J STREET conference has its rock star, that one figure whose presence elates the crowd and gives them hope amidst the gloomy reality. In 2013, for example, it was VP Joe Biden: The appearance of the man a “heartbeat away from the presidency” signaled to J Street’s activists […]

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American Jews Line Up Against the Trump Ban

by Ron Skolnik WITH NOT MUCH to smile about since Inauguration Day, it has been heartening to see the nearly undivided reaction of the American Jewish community to Donald Trump’s January 27 Executive Order (EO) on immigration and refugee admission – widely considered to constitute a Muslim ban. With one or two glaring exceptions — […]

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The Dollars and Sense of BDS

IS THE BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS MOVEMENT HAVING IMPACT? by Ron Skolnik from the Autumn 2016 issue of Jewish Currents THIS PAST JULY, while American eyes were glued to the commencement of the Democratic Party convention in Philadelphia, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued an unexpectedly triumphalist declaration: Israel, he crowed, had “beaten” the international BDS […]

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Barbra Streisand’s Israel Omission

by Ron Skolnik MILLIONS of American Jews have traditionally regarded Israel as the ultimate backup plan. While relatively few have chosen to live there (and many of those who do end up returning to America), Israel has always been cherished as a place of refuge, the go-to country if, Heaven forbid, the situation in the […]

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No Palestine? No Problem!

THE GOP VANISHES THE PALESTINIANS AND THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION by Ron Skolnik   IN AN ACT of legerdemain worthy of Criss Angel, David Copperfield, or the legendary illusionist, Harry Houdini, the Republican Party has just pulled off one of the most astounding political magic tricks of our generation: It has made an entire people –- […]

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McCarthyism in Israel

Suppression By the Government, Segregation in the Streets by Ron Skolnik From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents WHEN THE KNESSET’S Education and Culture Commitee convened in early January to discuss the work of Breaking the Silence (BTS), one of Israel’s foremost anti-occupation organizations, it was clear in advance that the fix was in. […]

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Netanyahu’s New Clothes

The Emperor is Naked. Will American Jews Say So? by Ron Skolnik From the Summer 2015 issue of Jewish Currents HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN’S 19th-century classic, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” tells of a pair of swindlers who claim to be able to weave beautiful garments that are invisible to anyone who is exceptionally stupid or unfit […]

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Is the Left Israel’s Most Endangered Species?

Likud’s Slogan: It’s “Us or Them” by Ron Skolnik From the Spring, 2015 issue of Jewish Currents. WHEN BINYAMIN NETANYAHU SPOKE to Likud party activists in December 2014 to energize them for the grueling current election campaign, he framed the contest as one that pitted his Likud not against any particular party but against “the […]

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Palestine at the UN: Has Diplomacy Come Full Circle?

Might the U.S. Permit United Nations Action? by Ron Skolnik NEARLY SEVENTY YEARS AGO, the leader of a small stateless people turned to the United Nations to plead their case. Addressing the members of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) in July 1947 at the iconic YMCA building in Jerusalem, Jewish Agency chairman […]

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NEXT UP: Occupation or Annexation

It Won’t Be Pretty for Israel or the Palestinians by Ron Skolnik From the Autumn, 2014 issue of Jewish Currents MARTIN INDYK, SPECIAL ENVOY FOR ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATIONS, made it official on Friday, June 27th: He was resigning and returning to his position at the Brookings Institution in Washington. Obama’s man on the ground had given […]

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A Disunified Celebration of Israel

by Ron Skolnik The 18th-century Swiss mathematician, Leonhard Euler, is sometimes credited with being the first to frame the so-called “law of impenetrability.” The principle, simply stated, is that no two things can occupy the same space at the same time. This is a notion that we tend to accept intuitively, from an early age, […]

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Partners for Progressive Israel on the Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations

by Ron Skolnik WITH THE PROCEDURAL DISCUSSIONS BEHIND US, and with formal negotiations for Israeli-Palestinian peace scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Partners for Progressive Israel expresses its appreciation for the efforts of the many leaders — from Israel, Palestine, the US, the EU, the Arab League and elsewhere — who have created this new opportunity for diplomacy. […]

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The Challenge of Repatriating Israel’s Settlers

by Ron Skolnik “Ve’shavu banim gl’gvulam” — “Your children will return to their own land” (Jeremiah 31:17) During the Q&A segment of a talk I recently delivered in Connecticut, a questioner scolded me on my use of the term “settlers” to refer to Israelis who reside in territories captured by Israel during war of June […]

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King Bibi and His (High) Court

by Ron Skolnik When Time magazine recently entitled its profile of Israel’s prime minister “King Bibi,” my thoughts raced back to my teen years, growing up in what Phil Ochs satirically referred to as “the State of Richard Nixon.” In the summer of 1973, Congressional hearings into the Watergate break-in had just revealed the existence […]

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What Are They So Happy About?

Trying to Explain Israeli Polling Data by Ron Skolnik If things in Israel are so bad, how can they be so good? That’s the paradoxical question that formulated in my brain as I perused the surprising results of a string of public opinion polls commissioned and published by Israel’s newspapers on the eve of Rosh […]

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Rent, Cottage Cheese, and Peace

What’s Making Israel Tick These Days? by Ron Skolnik From the Autumn, 2011 issue of Jewish Currents WHEN I WORKED for the United Kingdom’s embassy in Tel Aviv as a political analyst during the Oslo and Intifada years, diplomats from the ambassador on down would frequently ask me to help them “figure out the Israelis.” […]

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