Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Articles written by Jonathan S. Tobin


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  • A politician who was also a role model

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Apr 5, 2024

    (JNS) — In a life full of accomplishments, Joe Lieberman will almost certainly be best remembered as the answer to a trivia question. Even more significant was his role as a supporting player in one of the most intense political controversies as well as one of the great “what ifs” in American history. But as much as the 2000 presidential election—during which he became Al Gore’s running mate and the first Jew ever to achieve such a distinction—and its denouement over recounts in Florida was his moment in the sun, his life should be recalled wit...

  • It's Biden who's playing politics with the Gaza war, not Bibi

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Feb 9, 2024

    (JNS) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reputation as a master political schemer and a cynical seeker of power is so deeply embedded in the public consciousness that there is literally nothing he can do without being accused of acting only to seek some sort of advantage over his opponents. Yet in the current crisis as he seeks to lead his wobbly unity government to achieve what may well be two mutually exclusive objectives—the elimination of Hamas and the freeing of the remaining hostages still being kept captive in Gaza...

  • Gullible Americans are funding Hamas, not starving children

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Feb 2, 2024

    (JNS) — The images from the war Hamas launched against Israel on Oct. 7 have tugged at the heartstrings of Americans. By that, I don’t refer to the charred ruins of Israeli communities in southern Israel that were devastated by the Hamas pogroms. Nor do I refer to the horrifying evidence of that terrorist rampage of murder, rape, torture and kidnapping that is too graphic for most people to bear. As far as the international media is concerned, those victims were quickly forgotten almost as soon as the murder spree happened and then erased fro...

  • Harvard resignation is a DEI debacle

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Jan 12, 2024

    (JNS) — In the end, not even the support of former President Barack Obama and one of his former cabinet members was enough to save Claudine Gay from being forced out as president of Harvard University. Nor did the initial support of the Harvard Corporation itself, the endorsement of much of the Harvard faculty or the student newspaper allow Gay to remain in office at one of the nation’s most prestigious academic institutions. After a month of controversy that began with her appalling testimony in front of Congress on Dec. 5, along with the pre...

  • Why the images of Hamas prisoners sparked outrage

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Dec 22, 2023

    (JNS) — I was poised to go on a live broadcast of WION, an English-language Indian television network, last week to discuss the war against Hamas. But before my turn to speak came, I was startled by the program host’s introduction to the segment. He spoke of images that were shocking the world and the world’s outrage about them, and gave what might be termed a trigger warning for those about to see them for the first time. As I soon learned, he wasn’t referring to the evidence of the indescribable atrocities committed against Israeli civilia...

  • Obama's moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel encourages hate

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Nov 17, 2023

    (JNS) — In times of crisis, the public looks to its most revered leaders for insight and wisdom. But in the case of Barack Obama, what passes for wisdom is not only unwise but amoral. After weeks without saying much of anything about the atrocities perpetrated by Hamas terrorists in southern Israel on Oct. 7, the 44th president has weighed in on the subject while appearing on a podcast hosted by former staffers Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vieter. In the wake of the greatest mass slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust, the most brazen example of t...

  • They back 'Palestine' because they hate Jews

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Nov 10, 2023

    (JNS) — In the past weeks, anti-Israel protests on college campuses and in the streets of major cities have continued and grown in size. In Europe, the numbers of those expressing “solidarity with Palestine” are even greater as hundreds of thousands marched as Israel began its ground offensive inside the Gaza Strip. The images of massive throngs of individuals waving Palestinian flags and yelling insults about Israel and Jews have been widely published and broadcast. So, too, have accounts of incidents in which Jews were subjected to intim...

  • Israel's supporters shouldn't fear a GOP foreign-policy debate

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Sep 1, 2023

    (JNS) — Vivek Ramaswamy may not be heading to the White House, but his candidacy did serve a useful purpose in the week leading up to the first presidential debate of the 2024 election cycle. Ramaswamy’s comments about foreign policy drew fire from his opponents while also giving him some attention in a race where all of the focus is on the man who isn’t deigning to show up at the debate: former President Donald Trump. Ramaswamy drew the scorn of the mainstream media by saying that he would seek to divide Russia from China. His realp...

  • A film about saving children isn't an antisemitic conspiracy

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Aug 11, 2023

    (JNS) — “Sound of Freedom” is the film that the chattering classes are encouraging you not to see. NPR says its success is due to support from the shadowy QAnon extremist group. It’s been blasted by The Guardian as “QAnon adjacent” and was linked to blood libels and conspiracy theories by a JTA article. A CNN segment labeled it as a crude and fraudulent piece of agitprop that is the product of a “moral panic.” It’s the kind of movie that enlightened and educated people are supposed to avoid at all costs. And yet, somehow in this season of Ho...

  • Even kosher bakers have a right to free speech

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Jul 28, 2023

    (JNS) — Up until now, the legal battles being waged about tolerating dissent against support for gay marriage or gay pride events have been focused on conservative Christians. But a kosher baker in West Orange, N.J., is highlighting the fact that the question of the right to refuse to produce services for causes, ideas or beliefs can not only involve Jews but also create difficult dilemmas for Jewish communities. While all those concerned understand that the baker has the law on his side, synagogues and even the local Jewish Federation seem p...

  • Surge in Palestinian terror is a preview of a two-state 'solution'

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Jul 14, 2023

    (JNS) — The international reaction to the recent surge in Palestinian terrorism and Israel’s operation in Jenin to take out the gunmen and infrastructure of the groups responsible for the bloodshed has been as predictable as it is depressing. Though the Biden administration has paid lip service to the notion that Israelis have the right to defend themselves, the general tone of press coverage and commentary from Washington and the international community has been the usual mantra about a pointless “cycle of violence” and worries about the dec...

  • Miep Gies and the quest for a lasting Holocaust lesson

    Jonathan S. Tobin|May 12, 2023

    (JNS) — There is something about the story of the eight Jews who spent more than two years hiding in the secret annex on Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam that is irresistible to readers, as well as audiences for plays and movies. The travails of Otto Frank and his family, who were trapped in an intolerable prison with friends and a few others in an attic where they were forced to spend most of their time in silence, were immortalized by his younger daughter, Anne. Aptly characterized by Dara Horn as “everyone’s second favorite dead Jew” in her...

  • Doug Emhoff's role in the woke war on free speech

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Apr 14, 2023

    (JNS) — Second gentleman Doug Emhoff had never shown any interest in his Jewish identity until his wife, Kamala Harris, was elected vice president of the United States. But though it would be an exaggeration to treat him as the Biden administration’s point person on anything, he has, almost by default, become one of its leading spokespersons on Jewish issues. It was understandable that he emerged from Harris’s recent trip to Eastern Europe with some Jewish anecdotes along with his comments seeking to bolster the administration’s stand on the wa...

  • A 'resistance' coup just defeated Israeli democracy

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Apr 7, 2023

    (JNS) — After months of increasingly strident mass protests against his government’s plans to reform Israel’s out-of-control and highly partisan judicial system, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to have given in to the pressure. He said he was going to be “delaying judicial reform to give real dialogue a chance.” But it’s highly doubtful that this will merely be a timeout that will help his supporters regroup and enable opponents to calm down and accept a compromise on the issue. On the contrary, Netanyahu is waving the white flag...

  • Blame Biden for Iran's diplomatic triumph

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Mar 24, 2023

    (JNS) — President Joe Biden’s foreign policy has been highlighted by the disaster in Afghanistan and its embrace of Ukraine, whose security it seems to value more than that of America’s own borders. But one consistent theme has been the attempt on the part of the Obama administration alumni back at work in Washington to revive their old boss’s pivot in the Middle East away from longtime allies Israel and Saudi Arabia to a new alignment based on a rapprochement with Iran. That’s the context for the Iran-Saudi pact. The two longtime foes will...

  • School choice provides a path to halt woke indoctrination

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Mar 17, 2023

    (JNS) — Don’t expect a flood of Jewish families moving to Arkansas in the wake of the state legislature there passing a bill this week that charts a path towards universal school choice. When Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders affixes her signature to the Arkansas Learns Act, it will make her state the fifth to enact legislation that allows state funds to follow students enabling parents to choose whatever school is the best fit for their children. Arizona was the first state to do so last year and since then West Virginia, Utah and Iowa have als...

  • Golda Meir would agree with Netanyahu on this one

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Mar 3, 2023

    (JNS) — There are many issues worth having an argument over; then again, some are better left alone. For example, a debate about whether or not the actress who is hired to play Golda Meir in a movie is Jewish is not worth a moment of anyone’s time. By contrast, the discussion about whether the current nearly unlimited powers of Israel’s Supreme Court should be checked and balanced by giving more power to the Knesset elected by the country’s voters is of utmost import. As it so happens, the British actress Helen Mirren is the focus of an unim...

  • Why keep pretending that Jews building homes prevents peace?

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Feb 24, 2023

    (JNS) — When the spokespersons for the U.S. State Department and the foreign ministries of America’s Western allies churn out press releases condemning the building of homes for Jews, it’s all a matter of finding a similar document in the archive, and just cutting and pasting the text and slapping a new date on it. Their joint statement denouncing Israel’s announcement of approval for the planning and building of 10,000 new homes in Judea and Samaria, as well as the government authorization of nine “outpost” settlements, was strictly by...

  • The Ilhan Omar vote is a turning point for American Jews

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Feb 10, 2023

    (JNS) — Seen only in the context of the struggle between America’s two major political parties, the House of Representatives’ vote to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the Foreign Relations Committee is not a historic turning point. It is merely the latest evidence that the once largely polite battles between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have escalated into a full-blown culture war. But while it is possible to frame House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s making good on his pledge to oust Omar from her seat on Foreign Relatio...

  • Americans shouldn't be swayed by the Israeli left's freakout

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Jan 27, 2023

    (JNS) — Over the past several weeks, the anger of the opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s newly elected government has reached hysterical, and even apocalyptic, tones. This should seem familiar to Americans, who have grown accustomed to the same kind of fever-pitch discourse ever since the emergence of Donald Trump on the political scene. Indeed, his presidency wasn’t merely opposed by foes; it was “resisted,” with conspiracy theories about his colluding with Russia to “steal” the 2016 election. Since 2020, many on the right are...

  • Where's the outrage over Biden comparing illegal immigrants to Holocaust victims?

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Jan 20, 2023

    (JNS) — After two years of pointedly ignoring a problem largely of his own making, President Joe Biden finally made a brief visit to the U.S. southern border in El Paso, Texas. While there, however, he saw little of the human cost of the catastrophe, as he didn’t meet or see any of the illegal immigrants who have streamed across the border since he assumed office. But in the days before he arrived for what was little more than a photo op, Biden rekindled a controversy that has been simmering for most of the last decade. The president dec...

  • The top 10 Jewish stories of 2022

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Dec 30, 2022

    (JNS) - It's been a difficult decade. 2020 was the year of coronavirus-pandemic panic and the general collapse of established norms. This was compounded by the Black Lives Matter riots that set off a moral panic about race, with the mainstreaming of fringe ideas and intersectionality. 2021 was a little better, as the world gradually shook off its COVID paranoia. But it was notable mainly for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that has roiled American politics ever since, the disastrous withdrawal from...

  • Liberal Jewish groups have a problem with the First Amendment

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Dec 16, 2022

    (JNS) — As far as most liberal Jewish groups are concerned, Lorie Smith is a bigot who deserves to have her business destroyed and to be driven from the public square. It’s a sentiment that may be shared by most Jews and perhaps a majority of Americans. But the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard a case this week involving her website-design business, 303 Creative, appears to be poised to issue a ruling that will defend her right not to be compelled to celebrate gay marriages. If the court rules in Smith’s favor, it will be going against the advic...

  • Birthright budget problems are a communal emergency

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Dec 2, 2022

    (JNS) — A curious thing occurred at the end of 2020. A program that had been promoted by the organized American-Jewish community was proven to be a tremendous success. But not everyone was happy about it. So, the news that this program is now having budget problems will probably prompt mixed responses from a community that is clearly ambivalent about measures undertaken to ensure that it both survives and thrives. The program in question is Taglit-Birthright Israel. Founded in 1999, it was created to ensure that every young Jew who wanted to g...

  • Midterms show America remains a deeply divided nation

    Jonathan S. Tobin|Nov 18, 2022

    (JNS) — If Americans thought that the midterm elections would provide a clear picture of their country’s future political direction, they woke up the next morning as confused as ever. The Democrats may have won the expectations game as the “red wave” that Republicans hoped would sweep them into control of both Houses of Congress didn’t materialize. But the stalemate the election seemingly produced is likely to only deepen the already stark partisan divide separating Americans into two warring camps that neither understands nor trusts one anoth...

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