TIME Israel

Obama, Netanyahu to Meet as Iran Deadline Looms

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the general debate of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN headquarters in New York, on Sept. 29, 2014.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the general debate of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN headquarters in New York, on Sept. 29, 2014. Yin Bogu—Xinhua Press/Corbis

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet for the first time since a rash of civilian casualties during Israel’s summer war with Hamas heightened tensions between two leaders who have long had a prickly relationship.

Much of Wednesday’s Oval Office discussion is expected to focus on another delicate issue: U.S.-led nuclear talks with Iran. With a deadline for reaching a final agreement less than two months away, all sides say significant gaps remain.

Netanyahu has long cautioned the U.S. and the international community that Iran is barreling toward a bomb and using diplomatic openings as a stalling tactic. The Islamic republic contends its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

The Israeli leader arrives in Washington following meetings at the United Nations, where he delivered a blistering speech accusing Hamas of committing war crimes by using Palestinian civilians as human shields during the 50-day Gaza war that ended Aug. 26. His speech was a response to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ assertion that Israel had carried out a “war of genocide” during the Gaza fighting.

Israel launched thousands of airstrikes against what it said were Hamas-linked targets in the dense Gaza Strip, resulting in more than 2,100 Palestinian deaths, the vast majority civilians, according to the United Nations. More than 70 Israelis were also killed.

The civilian death toll in Gaza deeply frustrated U.S. officials and resulted in more biting public condemnations of Israel’s actions than are typical from the Obama administration.

In his speech to the U.N., Netanyahu sought to equate Hamas with the violent Islamic State militants the U.S. is seeking to degrade in Iraq and Syria.

“ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree,” he said, referring to the Islamic State group by one of its acronyms. He added, “When it comes to its ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS, and ISIS is Hamas.”

Obama and Netanyahu last met in March while the Israelis and Palestinians were still engaged in a U.S.-mediated peace process. The discussions collapsed without a peace accord.

Both Netanyahu and Abbas appear to have abandoned any hope of reviving peace talks, though each is pressing separate diplomatic initiatives. Netanyahu has called for bringing an alliance of moderate Arab states into the peace process, while Abbas has said he’ll appeal to the U.N. Security Council to back Palestinian independence.

TIME Israel

Netanyahu Tells World Leaders ‘Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas’

Prime Minister also refutes Palestinian leader's accusations of "genocide" in Gaza Strip

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back Monday against Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ claims that Israel was waging a “genocide” against Palestinians, and called on world leaders to treat Palestinian militant group Hamas as indistinct from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Netanyahu refuted claims by Abbas and others that his military had committed war crimes during the 50-day war in the Gaza Strip this summer, citing the lengths to which the Israeli Defense Force went to warn civilians to evacuate targeted areas.

“Israel dropped fliers, made phone calls, sent text messages, broadcast warnings in Arabic, all to allow civilians to evacuate targeted areas,” Netanyahu said, arguing that Israel took all available precautions to protect civilian lives, while Hamas deliberately fired rockets from areas where children live and play. “Israel was using its missiles to protect its children, Hamas was using children to protect its missiles,” he added.

He said that the fact that Hamas’s deliberate placement of rockets in civilian communities were the “real war crimes.”

The Israeli Prime Minister also spoke about the growing “cancer” of militant Islam, comparing the situation in Israel with that in Iraq and Syria. “ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree,” he said. “When it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas. And what they share in common, all militant Islamists share in common.”

The conflict, which ended in August, left 2,100 Palestinians dead and 73 Israelis dead, according to the BBC. The UN said that most of the Palestinian dead were civilians. “This last war against Gaza was a series of absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world, moment by moment,” Abbas said last week.

Netanyahu said criticism in Europe of Israel’s treatment of Palestinian civilians often amounts to thinly-veiled anti-Semitism. “We hear mobs today in Europe call for the gassing of Jews, we hear some national leaders compare Israel to the Nazis,” he said. “This is not a function of Israel’s policy, this is a function of diseased minds. That disease has a name, it’s called anti-Semitism, and it’s spreading in polite society.”

The president also warned that Iran was undergoing a “manipulative charm offensive” in order to lift sanctions and continue with plans to build a nuclear weapon. “It’s one thing to confront militant Islamists on pickup trucks… its another thing to confront militant Islamists armed with weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “Would you let ISIS enrich uranium? Then you shouldn’t let the Islamic state of Iran do them either.”

A UN Council tasked with negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program has not made much progress in recent weeks, according to the LA Times. They hope to reach an agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program to non-military uses in exchange for lifting oil sanctions.

Netanyahu urged the world’s leaders not to trust what he called the “world’s most dangerous regime.” “To say Iran doesn’t practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees,” he said.

TIME conflict

Mandatory Palestine: What It Was and Why It Matters

"Mandated territories granted England include: Tanganyika Territory (formerly part of German East Africa), Mesopotamia and Palestine," wrote TIME in a brief news bit in 1923—a fleeting mention of a decision that would change the face of the Middle East as we know it

TIME

The map above is from a 1929 TIME article titled “Islam vs. Israel”—even though, as the map makes clear, in 1929 there was no country called Israel. (On a desktop, roll over to zoom; on a mobile device, click.)

Instead, there was Mandatory Palestine. The idea of a mandatory nation, using the common definition of the word, is an odd one: a country that’s obligatory, something that can’t be missed without fear of consequence. But the entity known as “Mandatory Palestine” existed for more than two decades—and, despite its strange-sounding name, had geopolitical consequences that can still be felt today.

The word “mandatory,” in this case, refers not to necessity but to the fact that a mandate caused it to exist. That document, the British Mandate for Palestine, was drawn up in 1920 and came into effect on this day in 1923, Sept. 29. Issued by the League of Nations, the Mandate formalized British rule over parts of the Levant (the region that comprises countries to the east of the Mediterranean), as part of the League’s goal of administrating the region’s formerly Ottoman nations “until such time as they are able to stand alone.” The Mandate also gave Britain the responsibility for creating a Jewish national homeland in the region.

The Mandate did not itself redraw borders—following the end of World War I, the European and regional powers had divvied up the former Ottoman Empire, with Britain acquiring what were then known as Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) and Palestine (modern day Israel, Palestine and Jordan)—nor did it by any means prompt the drive to build a Jewish state in Palestine. Zionism, the movement to create a Jewish homeland, had emerged in the late 19th century, though it wasn’t exclusively focused on a homeland in Palestine. (Uganda was one of several alternatives proposed over the years.) In 1917, years before the Mandate was issued, the British government had formalized its support for a Jewish state in a public letter from Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour known as the Balfour Declaration.

But by endorsing British control of the region with specific conditions, the League of Nations did help lay the groundwork for the modern Jewish state—and for the tensions between Jews and Arabs in the region that would persist for decades more. Though Israel would not exist for years to come, Jewish migrants flowed from Europe to Mandatory Palestine and formal Jewish institutions began to take shape amid a sometimes violent push to finalize the creation of a Jewish state. Meanwhile, the growing Jewish population exacerbated tensions with the Arab community and fueled conflicting Arab nationalist movements.

TIME reported on some of the tensions in the 1929 article from which the map above is drawn:

The fighting that began between Jews and Arabs at Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall (TIME, Aug. 26) spread last week throughout Palestine, then inflamed fierce tribesmen of the Moslem countries which face the Holy Land (see map)…

…Sporadic clashes continuing at Haifa, Hebron and in Jerusalem itself, rolled up an estimated total of 196 dead for all Palestine. A known total of 305 wounded lay in hospitals. Speeding from England in a battleship the British High Commissioner to Palestine, handsome, brusque Sir John Chancellor, landed at Haifa, hurried to Jerusalem and sought to calm the general alarm by announcing that His Majesty’s Government were rushing more troops by sea from Malta and by land from Egypt, would soon control the situation

The clashes in Mandatory Palestine, which at times targeted the British or forced British intervention, began to take a toll on U.K. support for the Mandate. As early as 1929, some newspapers were declaring “Let Us Get Out of Palestine,” as TIME reported in the article on Jewish-Arab tensions. Though the Mandate persisted through World War II, support in war-weary Britain withered further. The U.K. granted Jordan independence in 1946 and declared that it would terminate its Mandate in Palestine on May 14, 1948. It left the “Question of Palestine” to the newly formed United Nations, which drafted a Plan of Partition that was approved by the U.N. General Assembly—but rejected by most of the Arab world—on Nov. 27, 1947.

As the day of May 14 came to an end, so did Mandatory Palestine. The region was far from settled, but the Mandate did accomplish at least one of its stated goals. Mere hours earlier, a new document had been issued: the Israeli Declaration of Independence.

Read a 1930 cover story about the Zionist movement during the period of Mandatory Palestine: Religion: Zionists

TIME Israel

LIVE: Israel’s Netanyahu Speaks at United Nations General Assembly

Prime minister is likely to address Palestinian leader's claim that Israel committed "war crimes" during Gaza conflict

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, having vowed to refute “all of the lies” in a speech by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas last week. Abbas said Israel had committed “a series of absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world” during the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip.

TIME Gaza

The Hardest First Day: Gaza Kids Return to School

Watch as two teenagers brought TIME along on their first day of school after seven weeks of war

About half a million Gaza children returned to school two weeks ago, after a summer of war. But the restart has faced many challenges including supply shortages, limited facilities and widespread trauma among students and faculty alike, according to a UN report.

As teachers read attendance sheets on the opening day last week, their roll call also served as an account of the dead. 500 children were killed in Gaza during the 50 days of fighting, according to UN figures.

“Many of our friends were not in school,” Khetam Kafarna, a 17 year-old shelter resident, said after her first day of classes in Beit Hanoun. “Some have moved. Some of the girls died. Now we are all strangers to each other.”

The summer months brought seven weeks of fighting between Israel and militants in Gaza – over 2,100 Palestinians were killed, and over 100,000 Gazans were left homeless. Seventy-one Israelis were also killed in the fighting, 66 of them soldiers.

During the bloody summer months, schools in Gaza became a focal point of the violence and destruction throughout the region. Twenty-two schools were completely destroyed during the conflict and at least 118 more damaged. Gaza’s schools—already stressed before the war, with classes running in double shifts as a result of school shortages—are now facing acute overcrowding, the UN said.

In southern Israel, where local children were subject to frequent scares from rocket sirens throughout the summer, classes started on time but with a changed curriculum that would include activities to provide emotional support to students, according to the Israeli Education Ministry.

The bombing of school-shelters has become one of the most controversial aspects of the entire conflict. Israel said in at least some of these cases that they were responding to nearby rocket fire or targeting militants in the area. The military is reviewing some of the incidents. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said that Hamas used “schools, residential buildings, mosques and hospitals to fire rockets at Israeli civilians.”

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) “unreservedly condemned” the attacks and has also called for investigations. In three cases, however, UNRWA did discover and publicly condemn the use of its Gaza facilities by militants to store rockets.

Meanwhile, students in Gaza returned after a three-week delay to find schoolhouses with walls bombed to rubble, chalkboards ripped apart by artillery shells and the remains of books and school supplies littered in charred piles.

There are many wounds to heal. Children in Gaza have experienced three wars between Israel and Hamas in just the past six years. At the UNRWA schools, which serve 241,000 students across Gaza, the first week was completely devoted to psycho-social counseling and support. Students participate in supervised activities like drawing and storytelling, and are monitored for further therapeutic needs.

“It’s important that we continue to move forward, and to bring back a sense of normalcy,” said Dr. Iyad Zaqout, who manages the UNRWA community mental health program in Gaza. “This is the best way that we can overcome the scars of war.”

On opening day last week in the courtyard of one UNRWA school in Gaza City, hundreds of girls gathered in matching pinstriped dresses and jeans. They danced and giggled and held hands and sang. But pupils and teachers around Gaza have also found themselves at a loss for space for classes. Over 90 UNRWA schools were converted into shelters during the war, housing up to 290,000 people displaced by the violence.

In one school-turned-shelter in Gaza City, dozens of temporary residents gathered with brooms and rags in the courtyard of to help clean the well-worn facility. Other residents complained of a lack of water in the shelters. There are still over 50,000 Gazans sheltered in UNRWA schools throughout the territory, the agency said. Across Gaza, colorful laundry still draped the light blue railings of UN schools, and old desks had been stacked with curtains used to turn classrooms into cavernous homes reminiscent of childhood fortresses. Families slept out on the open-air walkways at night to keep cool.

Alaa Eliwa, an 8th grader from the Shaaf area east of Gaza City, lost her home and all of her belongings in an airstrike. She had been living for weeks with her family on the barren 3rd floor of a UN school building in Gaza City. Eliwa said she was excited to start school, counting drawing, reading and writing among her hobbies. Alaa had risen before dawn on Sept. 19 to travel across the city, where she would start classes in another UN school building.

“It’s also good that we can leave these classrooms where we live, instead of staying here all day long,” she said. “School provides us with some change.”

TIME foreign affairs

Dear Fellow Liberals: I’m Done Apologizing for Israel

Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border
Overview of a tunnel built underground by Hamas militants leading from the Gaza Strip into Southern Israel, seen on August 4, 2014 near the Israeli Gaza border, Israel. Ilia Yefimovich—Getty Images

Jennifer Moses is a writer and painter.

As a species, we don't seem to cotton to facts—especially when it comes to Jews

Some years ago, I was seated at dinner next to a British law professor, whom my husband, also a law professor, had invited to a conference that he’d organized. The conversation soon turned, as conversation often does among professional intellectuals, to Israel, specifically to the then-recent conflict between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters in the West Bank town of Jenin, which my dinner partner (and much of the European press) referred to as the “massacre of Jenin.”

Oops—forgot about it already? Here’s a refresher: in 2002, the IDF went into Jenin during the Second Intifada, after Israel determined that the town served as a launching pad for missile and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. The 10-day operation claimed the lives of around 50 Palestinian gunmen, and 23 Israeli soldiers. My acquaintance, after repeating Palestinian claims of atrocities committed by Israeli forces—claims that had already been roundly debunked—capped off his assessment by saying, “What happened in Jenin was no more and no less than another Holocaust.”

Really?

As a liberal American Jew, I’m tired of apologizing for Israel’s actions regarding its own security, and as of last month, I’m done with it. I’m done for the following two reasons: my eldest child, Sam, motivated by a desire to do something more meaningful than argue about religion, policy and politics, is currently serving as a lone soldier in the IDF, and he spent much of July in Gaza, as part of a team dismantling terror tunnels. In New Jersey, where the rest of his family lives, we didn’t know, from one day to the next, if we’d ever see him again. The second reason is that Israel, despite its highly imperfect record (unlike that of, say, America or France or England or Pakistan or Kenya or Argentina…) is the world’s sole guarantee against another frenzy of murderous hatred against my people, a hatred that is once again raising its voice, and fists, not only among the dispossessed Muslim residents of Europe, but, most especially, in the official organs of the chattering, and highly influential, classes—so much so that the off-hand remarks of my long-ago dinner companion seem almost reasonable.

Facts are such nifty things, so solid, so sure. Yet we as a species don’t seem to cotton to them, especially when it comes to Jews.

In Pakistan, one human rights group estimates that 1,000 women are murdered in honor killings by their families every year. In Nigeria, Islamic militants have killed more than 1,500 people in 2014, according to Amnesty International. And the death toll from the slaughter in Syria—just spitting distance from Israel—adds up to a robust 191,000. But the world—or at least the world as personified by the British law professor with his fondness for exaggeration—doesn’t pay a lot of attention to these Muslim but non-Palestinian corpses. Nope: you’ve got to be a dead person in Gaza or Hebron to claim the world’s sympathy. Merely being an Arab, or a Muslim, doesn’t cut the mustard, because when Muslims are murdering other Muslims—like more than 2,400 Iraqis killed by other Iraqis in June of this year. The civilized world, or at least the chattering classes, does little more than shrug.

Instead, from the Telegram we get this “Gaza conflict ‘causing PTSD in children’ after seeing dead bodies and witnessing heavy shelling.” From the Times: “UN demands halt to Gaza incursion as tanks smash hospital.” A simple Google search will net you hundreds of like-minded headlines. By the way, guess how many citizens were killed during the second half of last year in Egypt? According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: 3,143.

But it’s more satisfying to focus on Israel, that miniscule sliver of desert with an equally miniscule population (some 6 million Jews and 1.7 million primarily Muslim Arabs), hemmed in on one side by hostile Arab countries whose Muslim populations add up to a healthy 320 million, give or take, and the other by the Mediterranean Sea. Because Israel isn’t just any other imperfect Democracy, with a host of domestic and international problems of its own. Oh no. Not to put too fine a point on it, but we’re talking a whole country filled primarily with Jews. So the whole place is only as big as the State of New Jersey, while the rest of the Middle East is about the size of 90 percent of the contiguous United States? So what?

Why is it so hard for the world to wake up to its blindness and see that once again it’s easier to focus on the moral shortcomings, real or imagined, of Jews, than to grapple with actual slaughter? From the point of view of the Muslim nations, I get it: let Israel take the heat for the crappy conditions and even worse governance under which vast numbers of Muslims live. Easier to blame Jews than to run your own country with a modicum of basic human decency.

I’m not suggesting that Muslim lives are worth less than Jewish ones. Nor that the mainly Arab occupants of Gaza and the West Bank don’t have legitimate grievances, including—especially—the deaths, mainly from aerial bombing, of citizens. Merely that the magnitude of Palestinian loss, when looked at through the lens of numbers alone, pales compared to that suffered by their co-religionists.

Put another way: what if Israel were a self-professed Maronite country? A country of mainly secular Protestants and lapsed Catholics—or a majority-Arab democracy? Would anyone give a rat’s ass if it used armed force against a terrorist group whose raison d’etre is the destruction of their country and the murder of its citizens?

It’s not just in left-leaning Europe that the anti-Jewish rhetoric is getting louder. Here in America, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), calling for self-determination of Palestinians while denying the right to self-determination for Jews, has offshoots on more than eighty campuses. And in New Haven, here’s what The Rev. Bruce M. Shipman, the (recently resigned) Episcopal chaplain at Yale University, wrote in a letter to the editor that was recently published in The New York Times: “As hope for a two-state solution fades and Palestinian casualties continue to mount, the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question.” In other words, recent anti-Semitic violence in Europe, notably Paris, is the fault of Jewish moral failings. In other words: Jews deserve it. And what, after all, did the Jewish State of Israel do? It went after the terror tunnels. It said no to the bombing of its civilians. It said that they meant it when they said “never again.”

Jennifer Moses is a writer and painter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Gaza

U.N. Announces a Deal to Rebuild Gaza

“We must fundamentally change the dynamics in Gaza,” U.N. envoy says

The U.N. has brokered a provisional deal with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to enable reconstruction work to begin in Gaza, U.N. Middle East envoy Robert Serry said Tuesday.

The U.N. says it will help to rebuild the private sector in the Gaza Strip and give the Palestinian Authority a leading role in reconstruction efforts.

Serry stressed the urgency of getting building materials into Gaza as well as reviving the economy.

“We consider this temporary mechanism, which must get up and running without delay, as an important step towards the objective of lifting all remaining closures,” he said, describing it as a “signal of hope to the people of Gaza.”

Serry gave assurances that the U.N. would monitor building materials so they did not end up into the hands of militants.

In July and August more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in Gaza and thousands of homes were destroyed after a 50-day military campaign led by Israel. During that time, 66 Israeli soldiers and at least five civilians died.

Serry told the U.N. Security Council that a renewed conflict “would be a disaster” and that “we must fundamentally change the dynamics in Gaza.”

On Tuesday the World Bank released a report detailing the damage the conflict has inflicted on the Palestinian economy.

“The conflict and humanitarian tragedy in Gaza has made an already struggling Palestinian economy worse and put further stress on the fiscal situation of the Palestinian Authority,” said the report.

On Sept. 4, the Palestinian Authority estimated it would cost $7.8 billion to rebuild Gaza, Reuters reports.

TIME Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Vows to Fight Growing Anti-Semitism

"It pains me when I hear that young Jewish parents ask whether they should raise their children in Germany"

With attacks against Jews on the increase in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged on Sunday to step up the battle against anti-Semitism.

Speaking at a rally in the capital Berlin, she said Germany would do all it could to stop the growth of anti-Semitism, which has risen since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza, reports the BBC.

“It pains me when I hear that young Jewish parents ask whether they should raise their children in Germany, or elderly Jews who ask if it was right to stay. With this rally, we are making it unmistakably clear: Jewish life belongs to us. It is part of our identity and culture,” she said to a crowd of about 5,000 people.

Germany is home to about 200,000 Jews.

The rally, organized by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, comes 75 years after the beginning of World War II, says the BBC. Six million Jews were killed during the conflict.

“The legitimate criticism of the political actions of a government — be it ours or of the state of Israel’s — is fine,” Merkel said. “But if it is only used as a cloak for one’s hatred against other people, hatred for Jewish people, then it is a misuse of our basic rights of freedom of opinion and assembly.”

Since the start of the recent conflict in Gaza, tensions between Muslim and Jewish communities have flared up across Europe. There were 131 anti-Semitic incidents reported in Germany in July, up from 53 in June, Reuters reports the German government as saying.

TIME faith

Yale Chaplain Explains Resignation After Oped About Israel and Anti-Semitism

Rev. Bruce Shipman
Courtesy of Rev. Bruce Shipman

Letter sparks a debate over what opinions should be permitted in the clergy and on university campuses

Yale University Episcopal chaplain Bruce Shipman says three sentences cost him his job.

In a short letter to the New York Times late August, Shipman responded to an op-ed by Deborah E. Lipstadt titled “Why Jews are Worried,” about rising anti-Semitism in Europe.

Here’s what he wrote:

Deborah E. Lipstadt makes far too little of the relationship between Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza and growing anti-Semitism in Europe and beyond. The trend to which she alludes parallels the carnage in Gaza over the last five years, not to mention the perpetually stalled peace talks and the continuing occupation of the West Bank. As hope for a two-state solution fades and Palestinian casualties continue to mount, the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question.

Within hours of the letter’s publication, Shipman says, people on and off campus began calling for his ouster. Two weeks later, he resigned. Why this happened—and what’s at stake—depends on who you ask.

Shipman has a long history of sympathy for the plight of Palestinians. As a teenager, he lived in Egypt while his father worked for World Health Organization and was there when Israel invaded during the 1956 Suez War. “Among my friends were Palestinian refugees and their children who were my age, so I heard their stories of dispossession and loss, people who had lost their homes and their farms and cut off from their land living in Jaffa and in the area which is now known as Israel,” he says.

He has visited Israel and the Palestinian territories more than a dozen times. This spring, he took a group of Yale students on a spring trip to Bethlehem and Jerusalem. “There is an apartheid situation there,” he says. “It is unpopular to say so, but it is the truth.” His letter, he explains, “suggested that in looking at the uptick in anti-Semitism in Europe and in the world, there is a correlation between the unresolved issues in Israel/Palestine, the recent war in Gaza and the terrible damage incurred by that war, the awful civilian casualties, and all of this I believe has contributed to an uptick in anti-Semitic violence,” he says. “That is what I said, and that is what I meant.”

Many people swiftly pounced. Yale pointed out that Shipman was not on staff but was rather employed by the Episcopal Church. Chabad at Yale, a Jewish student group, issued this statement: “Reverend Bruce Shipman’s justification of anti-semitism by blaming it on Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza is frankly quite disturbing. His argument attempts to justify racism and hate of innocent people, in Israel and around the world.”

Religion columnist and Yale lecturer Mark Oppenheimer wrote that Shipman’s approach “gives license to all sorts of stereotyping, racism, and prejudice. . . . why wouldn’t one write, ‘The best antidote to stop-and-frisk policing would be for black men everywhere to press other black men to stop shooting each other’? Why wouldn’t one write—perhaps after a Muslim was beaten up by white-supremacist thugs—’The best antidote to Islamophobia would be for radical Islam’s patrons abroad to press ISIS and Al Qaeda to just cut it out’?”

David Bernstein wrote for the Washington Post, “Next on Rev. Shipman’s bucket list: blaming women who dress provocatively for rape, blaming blacks for racism because of high crime rates, and blaming gays for homophobia for being ‘flamboyant.'”

The official reason for Shipman’s resignation, according to the Episcopal Church at Yale, was not the letter but “dynamics between the Board of Governors and the Priest-in-Charge.” Ian Douglas, bishop of Connecticut and president of the board of governors for the Episcopal Church at Yale, emphasized this distinction to the Yale Daily News. “It’s not as glamorous a story to hear that Priest-in-Charge Bruce Shipman resigned because of institutional dynamics within the Episcopal Church at Yale and not the debates related to Israel and Palestine — but it’s the truth,” he said.

Shipman disagrees. “This story cannot be simply dismissed as the inner problems of the Episcopal Church at Yale. It was not,” he says. “It was this letter that set off the firestorm.”

For Shipman, the controversy raises a number of “troubling questions” about free speech on campus. In addition to the hate mail, Shipman says he has also received letters of support from people thanking him for taking a courageous stand for Palestinian rights. University chaplains, he adds, have a long history advocating unpopular cultural positions. William Sloane Coffin Jr., a chaplain at Yale during the 1960s, gained fame for practicing civil disobedience in prostest of the U.S. war in Vietnam. Clergy today, he continues, need to know what protections they do and don’t have when it comes to taking unpopular positions. “I think of abolitionism and the role the church played in that, I think of the civil rights movement, I think of the anti-war movement and the role the chaplains played in that, often incurring the wrath of big givers and donors of the university, but they were protected and they were respected,” he says. “That seems not to be the case now.”

As to what’s next for him, Shipman isn’t yet sure, but he doesn’t plan on remaining silent. “I think the truth must be brought out and it must be discussed on campus by people of goodwill without labeling anti-Semitic anyone who raises these questions,” he says. “Surely this debate should take place on the campuses of the leading universities across the country. If not there, where?”

TIME Israel

Israeli Cult Pimped Out Jewish Women to Non-Jews in Order to ‘Save Israel’

Having sex with non-Jewish men — for money — would make the female recruits better Orthodox Jews, leaders promised

A cultish prostitution ring in Israel has for years convinced female members that the future of the Israeli state weighed on them having sex with non-Jewish men, say local police.

Eight ringleaders of what police are describing as a “messianic” cult active throughout Israel are accused of telling female recruits that they must prostitute themselves to non-Jewish men “to save the Jewish people and expedite the redemption,” Haaretz reports.

The women, who also were plied with drugs and alcohol, were told that their own spiritual redemption depended on them selling sex to the cult’s clients, say officers.

Police have shut down the alleged prostitution ring and arrested eight suspects, including David Dvash, 60, a resident of the hard-line Bat Ayin settlement in the West Bank, Haaretz reports. Dvash, who calls himself David the Best, reportedly has 15 children and is married to two women, one of whom is also a suspect in the case.

Lawyers for Dvash and another male suspect filed an insanity plea in court on Sunday, Haaretz said.

Police first learned about the cult about four months ago after Lehava, an extremist Israeli group opposed to marriage between Jewish women and non-Jewish men, alerted authorities to the prostitution ring, Sky News reported. The ring, which had been active for about six or seven years and had recruited about five women, some of whom were minors, apparently attracted a Palestinian cliental from the West Bank, as well as foreign workers in Tel Aviv.

However, this is not the only Israeli sex cult making the news this week. In a separate case, the Tel Aviv district court on Monday convicted a 64-year-old man of rape, incest and other crimes, for keeping a harem of 21 subjugated “wives” who bore him 38 children — all of whom were given variations of his first name, Goel, or “savior” in Hebrew. Some of his daughters were among the rape victims, Reuters said.

Goel Ratzon was found not guilty on the enslavement charge, though former harem women at the sentencing told reporters that they had been in “total slavery,” the Associated Press said. Some of them, according to Reuters, had Ratzon’s name and face tattooed on their bodies.

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