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The Current: Year in Review 5777

Binyamin Rose

The major news stories of the past year

Monday, September 18, 2017

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ewish World


Trump’s Jewish Advisors

Many US presidents have appointed Jewish advisors, but the Trump administration is the first to engage three observant Jews in three key foreign policy posts. For Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, and David Friedman, it’s a mixed blessing. They all face extra scrutiny and pressure — from Palestinians who openly level charges of bias, and from Israeli officials and pro-Israel groups who harbor great expectations of unconditional support that may, or may not come to fruition.


European Hostility Grows 

A new poll shows that one in three British Jews have considered emigrating due to anti-Semitism. Two large regions in Belgium ban shechitah. A junior member of Norway’s ruling coalition announces it favors a ban on bris milah and that boys should decide for themselves when they reach 16. In Hungary, billboards sanctioned by Budapest’s right-wing ruling party smear native Jewish son George Soros for his leftist political views. Adding insult to injury, a Swiss hotel singles out Jewish summer vacationers, demanding they shower before entering the swimming pool. 


Israel and Middle East


Bibi’s Day of Judgment 

Rosh Chodesh Nissan is judgment day for kings, and Binyamin Netanyahu’s political head has been on the chopping block since then, following new revelations in a series of corruption scandals involving top aides.


Netanyahu has not been implicated in their sins, but investigators are probing whether gifts he accepted from wealthy overseas friends constitute bribery, and whether he tried to influence a Knesset bill regulating newspaper competition to obtain favorable media coverage. 

Bibi’s appointed attorney general — Avichai Mandelblit — will decide to indict, or not to indict, after reviewing the evidence.

Syrian Cease-Fire 

Thanks mainly to Russian military intervention on behalf of dictator Bashar al-Assad, the six-year Syrian civil war is winding down. Syria will never be the same. Its prewar population of almost 25 million has dwindled to 17 million. More than 400,000 civilians have been killed in battle, some by chemical weapons. The war’s outcome has weakened Israel geopolitically. Before the war began, Syria was no longer a serious military threat, while today, Iran and Hezbollah have taken advantage of a weakened regime to grab land and establish a military presence near Israel’s border.

The Americas


Fake News 

Sometimes politicians invoke the term “fake news” to dispute a negative story even if it’s true, but the fake news industry is going very strong. Fake news is “reporting” that intentionally misleads or even completely fabricates events, quotes, and statistics for partisan reasons. Fake news is amplified by going viral on social media. Once it’s widely disseminated, it becomes far more difficult for journalists to debunk. A December 2016 Pew Research Center study found that 64% of US adults say fabricated news stories cause them a great deal of confusion about the basic facts of current issues and events.


Floods of Water and Hate

Hurricane Harvey might be the costliest natural disaster to ever strike America. Loss of life and flood damage crested in Houston, where a large percentage of the Jewish community face years of rebuilding. In Charlottesville, Virginia, a dispute over a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee served as the pretext for a hate march. White nationalists and neo-Nazis clashed with extreme left-wing Antifa counter-protestors, as the small Jewish community in this sleepy university town watched in horror, threatened by anti-Semitic placards and chants. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 678)

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