Ben Cohen, senior editor of TheTower.org & The Tower Magazine, writes a weekly column for JNS.org on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics from New York.

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“How can we as a society stand by and watch people die when a simple shot could prevent a life-threatening illness?” That was the agonized question asked by a group of nine health care providers in Minnesota who last weekend took the unprecedented step of publishing an advertisement in local news outlets begging people to get vaccinated.

Looking back at 2021 in the hope of having something sensible to say about the past year, I found myself musing on a perennial question. Is history a story of progress in which greater numbers of human beings become healthier, happier, more affluent, more tolerant and more educated with each year? Is it a story in which we learn from our past errors and those of our predecessors in order to not repeat them?

After months of speculation, the far-right columnist and TV pundit Éric Zemmour finally announced his candidacy in next year’s presidential election in France. Of the many voices that raced to express their disapproval of Zemmour, perhaps the most distinctive belonged to the one other candidate whose positions are closest to his – Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Rally.

Under different circumstances, it might have been the stuff of a modern fairy tale with two principal characters. The story of a Jewish Holocaust survivor living in a Paris housing project — a grandmother with a reputation for endless acts of kindness and her neighbor, a cute little kid from an Arab immigrant family who helps the elderly lady out with domestic chores and carries her groceries home from the market. Two different worlds and two vastly different experiences finding a simple bond across the boundaries of age, religion and social background.

The European Union’s executive branch, the European Commission, unveiled a nine-year strategy last week to counter anti-Semitism and foster Jewish life among its 27 member states. Within hours of its release, the strategy had won generous plaudits from Jewish organizational leaders, with the head of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, hailing the 26-page document as an “unprecedented and vital document that will act as a roadmap to significantly reduce antisemitism in Europe and beyond.”

The European Union’s executive branch, the European Commission, unveiled a nine-year strategy last week to counter anti-Semitism and foster Jewish life among its 27 member states. Within hours of its release, the strategy had won generous plaudits from Jewish organizational leaders, with the head of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, hailing the 26-page document as an “unprecedented and vital document that will act as a roadmap to significantly reduce antisemitism in Europe and beyond.”