Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Articles written by Jacob Kamaras

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  • Abraham Accords-focused NGO plans to combat Jew-hatred with Holocaust education

    Jacob Kamaras|Nov 11, 2022

    (JNS) — On Oct. 27, the fourth anniversary of the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history, hatred of Jews was a palpably inescapable reality in America—from the Kanye West scandal, to a series of anti-Semitic incidents in Los Angeles, to the discourse surrounding the U.N. Commission of Inquiry. Yet those in search of a more uplifting message on that same day could find one at Congregation Beth El in La Jolla, Calif., where a delegation from the Sharaka NGO participated in a town hall meeting to art...

  • Why is Sen. Marco Rubio mirroring Russian rhetoric?

    Jacob Kamaras|Aug 26, 2022

    With the U.S. recently authorizing $1 billion in additional security assistance for Ukraine and persistently opposing the Russian invasion, it is difficult to imagine the prospect of American leaders aligning with the Kremlin on any particular issue. But that is precisely what Sen. Marco Rubio (R) did last week vis-à-vis the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan — and that development should make Florida’s Jewish community aware that double standards extend beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While Rubio is known as a strong supp...

  • IAC seeks to deepen understanding about Israel as challenges rise in public-school systems

    Jacob Kamaras|Nov 12, 2021

    (JNS) — Long well-documented on college campuses, pro-BDS and anti-Semitic sentiments are now gaining traction in kindergarten through 12th-grade public-school systems. The United Educators of San Francisco in May became the first teachers’ union in the country to pass a resolution supporting BDS. In September, while United Teachers Los Angeles voted to postpone a pro-BDS resolution, San Diego’s American Federation of Teachers Guild stated that “condemning Israel for its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, occupation, apartheid and war crimes is...

  • The peak of a three-year flooding trend for Houston's Jews

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Sep 8, 2017

    As a member of Houston’s Jewish community writing about a devastating flood for the third time since May 2015, I’m at a loss for words. Sitting in the comforts of my third-floor apartment, where I’m fortunate enough to view the unprecedented waters of Hurricane Harvey as a spectator, it feels trite to be putting on my “journalist’s hat” while countless others are either suffering or contributing to relief efforts. Yet as I’ve concluded in these situations before, the written word is a crucial part of the healing process when a natural disaster... Full story

  • 'No statute of limitations on genocide,' Nuremberg anniversary confab reminds

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|May 20, 2016

    Why should the casual observer care about the seemingly obvious need to prosecute and convict Nazi war criminals, whether it be during the Nuremberg trials of the 1940s or similar proceedings in more recent years? "The Nuremberg trials only convicted the leaders and a relatively small number of people," retired Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz told JNS.org. "Even for the trials that occurred thereafter, we're talking about just hundreds of people... and for years they were... Full story

  • At March of the Living, learning how to live

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|May 20, 2016

    Sophie Wortsman. 16. Toronto. Student. Benji Zoller. 18. Dallas. Student. Sam Peltz. 83. Florida and New York. Survivor. Jacob Kamaras. 30. Houston. Journalist. We all shared the same experience on May 5—the 28th annual March of the Living, a 1.86-mile walk from Auschwitz to Birkenau as a tribute to victims of the Holocaust. But we took vastly different journeys to get there, and we arrived at the former death campsites with divergent emotions. Worstman—who marched with a sign bearing the name of her great uncle, Holocaust victim Abraham Rotenb... Full story

  • Israel's U.N. envoy offers 'positive agenda' as solution to bias at world body

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Apr 8, 2016

    "Every week there is an attack at the U.N. against Israel," Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon told me at the recent American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference. In the week that followed our interview, the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed a Canadian legal expert who has expressed anti-Israel views to the post of special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights. The UNHRC also adopted a measure that calls for the creation of a database-or what Danon... Full story

  • Donald Trump unveils three-pronged Iran strategy, humors AIPAC crowd

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Apr 1, 2016

    In a much-anticipated speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference on Monday, March 21, Republican presidential primary front-runner Donald Trump said that dismantling the “disastrous” Iran nuclear deal would be his top priority as president. Trump also unveiled a three-pronged strategy for dealing with Iran, offering the type of detailed policy talk that many critics have accused him of leaving out of previous speeches. “We’ve rewarded the world’s leading state sponsor of terror with $150 billion, and we’ve receive... Full story

  • Hillary Clinton tells AIPAC she is the 'steady' alternative to Donald Trump

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Apr 1, 2016

    As Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican contender Donald Trump emerge as the clear front-runners for their respective parties’ nominations, Clinton on March 21 told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference that she is a “steady” alternative to Trump when it comes to Israel and the Middle East. “We need steady hands. Not a president who said he’s neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday, and who knows what on Wednesday…Israel’s security is non-negotiable,” Clinton said, referring to Tr... Full story

  • Netanyahu to Jewish Federations: U.S., Israel 'should work together now' on Iran

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Nov 20, 2015

    Despite their disagreement over the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. and Israel "can and should work together now" to ensure that Iran complies with the agreement and to curb Iranian aggression throughout the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday at the General Assembly of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in Washington, DC. A day after meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House, Netanyahu told the JFNA delegates, "You work tirelessly to... Full story

  • Jewish leader follows up with Power on pullout from Netanyahu's U.N. speech

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Oct 30, 2015

    After he personally consulted with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, whom President Barack Obama pulled away from attending Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent address to the U.N. General Assembly, prominent Jewish leader Malcolm Hoenlein shed light on the controversy in an interview with the Nachum Segal Network radio station on Friday. Hoenlein-executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella body... Full story

  • CUFI on the Hill: Christian Zionist group ramps up DC office amid Iran deal

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Jul 24, 2015

    While the ink dries on the newly signed nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, America's largest pro-Israel organization is seeking to help defeat the agreement in Congress through the work of its nascent office in Washington, DC. San Antonio-based Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which during 10 years of existence has grown to 2.2 million members, is beginning to hire staff for a new entity dubbed the "CUFI Action Fund." Headed by Gary Bauer-the U.S. under secretary of education in... Full story

  • Donald Trump says he is no apprentice when it comes to Israel

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Jul 10, 2015

    In the middle of a phone interview with JNS.org on June 26, billionaire real estate mogul and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves his desk to scan the wall of his office for awards he has received from the Jewish community. Trump reads the text of some relevant plaques before returning to his desk. But before this reporter can move on to the next question, Trump eagerly points out that he was the grand marshal of New York City's annual Salute to Israel Parade (now the... Full story

  • The Houston flood, Jewish values, and human values

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Jun 5, 2015

    As Jewish media far and wide started picking up on the story of this week’s devastating flood in Houston, which hit Jewish-heavy neighborhoods particularly hard, JNS.org has been (in my own estimation) conspicuously late to join the reporting. That is by design. I am both our editor and a resident of Houston, and in the days after the May 25-26 storm, the flood was a life event rather than a news story. But as I type these words on this Thursday (May 28) morning, while my local Jewish community continues to engage in inspirational relief e... Full story

  • With new coalition, Israel has prominent place on Hispanic Evangelical agenda

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Jun 5, 2015

    Latin gospel singer Ingrid Rosario, accompanied by a four-piece band, belts out impassioned ballads before a captive audience, hands clasped or in the air, eyes transfixed on the stage or closed in a meditative state. Is this scene from church? A Christian rock concert? Hardly. It's a prayer session at a staunchly pro-Israel event. The Jewish state was front and center at the April 28-30 annual convention of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC)/CONEL in Houston. On the... Full story

  • Five points of tension in the Obama-Netanyahu relationship

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Apr 3, 2015

    When the champion of the U.S.-Israel alliance sounds the alarm, something about the steadfast allies’ relationship is more contentious than usual. Last week, the staunchly bipartisan American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—which does not frequently issue public statements, let alone criticize a sitting American president—urged the Obama administration to “recommit to improving” U.S.-Israel ties. AIPAC’s March 19 statement came after White House and State Department representatives dismissed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s... Full story

  • Multi-faith aid to refugees may yield new narrative for Israeli-Syrian relations

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Feb 27, 2015

    When members of the pro-Israel community think of populations in need of relief, Syrian refugees are probably not one of the first groups coming to mind. After all, the proverbial elephant in the room is that the Syrian civil war is a conflict between two enemies of Israel: Iran-supported President Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah on one side, and jihadists linked with the al-Qaeda and Islamic State terror groups among the Assad regime's opponents. But as the fourth anniversary of the Syrian civil... Full story

  • Biden snub amplifies Obama administration's tension with Israel

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Feb 20, 2015

    The latest episode in a history of tension between the Obama administration and Israel has escalated to a new level, with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden opting out of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's March 3 speech before a joint session of Congress on the Iranian nuclear issue and radical Islam. Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner (R-Ohio) invited Netanyahu to address Congress, and the prime minister accepted. The Obama administration claimed Boehner breached... Full story

  • Already 2 million strong, CUFI seeks to double down on Christian support for Israel

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Feb 13, 2015

    "Usually after the first event, it's like a firestorm," said Pastor Scott Thomas, the Florida state director for Christians United for Israel (CUFI). "The excitement hits, the understanding settles in." That, in short, illustrates the process through which CUFI has become America's largest pro-Israel organization in less than a decade of existence. In January, CUFI announced that its membership surpassed the 2-million mark. (The organization defines members as email-list subscribers whose... Full story

  • Words matter: How vocabulary defines the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Dec 12, 2014

    Settlements or Jewish communities? West Bank or Judea and Samaria? East Jerusalem or eastern Jerusalem? Those are some of the language choices that journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are faced with each day-and those choices should not be taken lightly, experts say. "It's the terminology that actually defines the conflict and defines what you think about the conflict," says Ari Briggs, director of Regavim, an Israeli NGO that works on legal land use issues. "Whereas... Full story

  • What will ADL's priorities be in a post-Foxman era?

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Nov 28, 2014

    What message is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sending to the Jewish community through its recent selection of White House aide and social entrepreneur Jonathan Greenblatt to succeed longtime National Director Abraham Foxman? While some are praising ADL for thinking outside the box with its hire and trying to appeal to a younger demographic, others are concerned that Greenblatt is too visibly partisan and that his past experience may signal ADL’s de-emphasis of the fight against anti-Semitism in favor of civil rights work. But most agree t... Full story

  • Is JOFEE the new acronym for the Jewish future?

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Mar 21, 2014

    More than five months after the Pew Research Center's "A Portrait of Jewish Americans" survey drew widespread pessimism over rising intermarriage and assimilation, as well as declining connection with synagogues and other institutions, proponents of a newly released study believe they may have the antidote for what ails the Jewish community. On March 10, the Jewish nonprofit Hazon and six funders released "Seeds of Opportunity: A National Study of Immersive Jewish Outdoor, Food, and... Full story

  • Pro-Israel groups denied presentation at Modern Language Association confab

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Jan 10, 2014

    The pro-Israel campus groups Hillel International and the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) have been denied the right to present a discussion on Israel at the Jan. 9-12 Modern Language Association (MLA) convention in Chicago, JNS.org has learned. MLA's convention includes a roundtable discussion that will feature supporters but no opponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. The discussion-titled "Academic Boycotts: A Conversation about Israel and... Full story

  • Mike Huckabee: Israel has 'license' to act independently on Iran

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Dec 20, 2013

    Now that the U.S. and other P5+1 powers made an interim nuclear deal with Iran without Israel's involvement, the Jewish state is free to act as it sees fit on the Iranian issue without consulting America, former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said in an exclusive interview with JNS.org. The U.S. "has indicated that they are going to act independently of Israel as it relates to Iran," Huckabee said, calling that a "very foolish policy." "I think now [the... Full story

  • Brandeis suspends partnership with Palestinian school

    Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org|Nov 29, 2013

    Brandeis University announced the suspension of its decade-old partnership with Al-Quds University following a recent Nazi-style rally at the Palestinian school in Jerusalem. At the Nov. 5 rally, Al-Quds students wore black military gear, carried fake automatic weapons, gave the Nazi salute, and surrounded the main square of their campus with banners depicting images of "martyred" suicide bombers. "While Brandeis has an unwavering commitment to open dialogue on difficult issues, we are also... Full story

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