from Left field:

Israel opens “Jewish Olympics” but interest at home minimal

July 14, 2009

ISRAELThe 18th Maccabiah Games opened in Israel on Monday with some 7,000 competitors from 65 countries set to take part in a 12-day sporting extravaganza.

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

Negotiating with Hamas? Try an Islamic Framework

June 28, 2009

Khaled Meshaal Since Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal's interview with the New York Times last month, some analysts have sugggested that Hamas is becoming more pragmatic.

Muslim trust restores Jewish sites in Afghanistan

June 24, 2009

herat-synagogue-1Amid the glum news from Afghanistan, Golnar Motevalli of our Kabul bureau has sent this from Herat:

GUESTVIEW: Obama speech not historic, but could become so

By Reuters Staff
June 4, 2009

obama-speaks1 (Photo: President Obama speaks at Cairo University, 4 June 2009/Larry Downing)

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Miroslav Volf is director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture and a theology professor at Yale Divinity School, where he co-teaches a course on faith and globalization with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. A native of Croatia and member of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A., he has been involved in international ecumenical and interfaith dialogues, most recently in Christian-Muslim dialogue.

Will Obama address the Muslim world or the Arab world?

June 2, 2009

obama-faceWhen President Barack Obama delivers his long-awaited speech in Cairo on Thursday, will he address the Muslim world or the Arab world? In the pre-speech build-up, it’s being called a speech “to the Muslim world” or “to the world’s 1.x billion Muslims” (the estimated total mentioned in different articles fluctuates between 1and 1.5 billion). But the venue he’s chosen — Cairo — and all the focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict make it sound like a speech to and about the Middle East.

Wall overshadows Muslim- Christian relations in West Bank

May 21, 2009

palestinians-at-damascus-gateThe Palestinian issue has figured prominently over the past week in stories with a religion angle. Pope Benedict’s visit to Israel, which ended on Friday, was the most prominent. While visiting Bethlehem, he called Israel’s barrier in the West Bank one of the saddest sights” on his whole tour. Early this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met U.S. President Barack Obama for the first time. Netanyahu said the Palestinians must recognise Israel as a Jewish state as a precondition for peace talks while Obama said Jewish settlements in the West Bank have to be stopped.” On Wednesday, United Nations human rights investigators said they hoped to visit Gaza in early June and hold public hearings on whether war crimes were committed there in Israel’s blockade of the area governed by the Islamist movement Hamas.

Israel to fund Reform conversions to Judaism? Not so fast.

May 21, 2009

An Israeli demonstrator holds up a sign in Jerusalem as an Orthodox man prays behind him. Reuters photograph.

The latest front in the ongoing conflict in Israel between ultra-Orthodox Judaism and less observant movements — the subject of a brief blog yesterday on Faithworld — heated up with a front page article in the Jerusalem Post on Thursday that quoted an ultra-Orthodox parliament member calling Reform Jews, among other things, “trecherous backstabbers to Judaism”.

from Global News Journal:

Austrian far-right leader isolated over Israel stance

May 20, 2009

Senior figures from across Austria's political spectrum have condemned the head of the far-right Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, over his party's European election campaign directed against Israel and Turkey.

Reform Judaism in Israel wins small battle for recognition

May 20, 2009

Ultra-Orthodox Jews dance at a wedding in Jerusalem. REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen (JERUSALEM)

The Reform Judaism movement in Israel claimed a small victory in its fight for recognition when the High Court this week ruled in favor of state funding for non-Orthodox conversions.

GUESTVIEW: Reflections on Jewish-Muslim Engagement

By Reuters Staff
May 19, 2009

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. The author, Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, is Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and author of the novel A Delightful Compendium of Consolation.