Paying for Preference. The Fallacy of Net Neutrality

Americans have long understood the ecosystem of capitalism.

Money enables people to buy things that they desire and spending greater amounts of money gives a person the opportunity to purchase a superior product.

Consider an item like a car. A car might have a basic sticker price for a base model, and also higher prices for additional features such as leather seats or a sunroof. More money yields a better product.

Such a concept is not limited to products, but to services as well.

An expensive first class airplane seat gives a passenger a better seat on a flight (a product) and also preferential boarding (a service). Similarly, people willing to spend more money at a Disney theme park could purchase a FastPass which enables visitors to bypass the long waiting lines for rides. Those unwilling to shell out for the additional pass need to remain in the slow lane while the FastPass customers pass in front of them.

Businesses also pay premiums to provide better service to their customers.

Consider supermarkets. While a customer may not think about the reason Heinz Baked Beans are at eye level while the competing Bush’s beans are towards the floor, there is a dollars-and-cents backstory. Heinz pays the supermarket extra money – known as a slotting fee – to be at eye level so that consumers see the product right away. Heinz benefits by increased visibility and sales, while the consumer benefits by not having to bend down for the item. The supermarket uses those slotting fees to help manage the costs of running the store.

The ecosystem works. For everybody.

Net Neutrality

The Obama administration pushed forward a regulation through the FCC advancing “net neutrality.” The premise was to regulate companies that provide high-speed internet access (HSIA) to ensure that they do not favor some sites over others.

For example, if a website that offers videos (like Netflix) wants to make sure that it has a smooth viewing experience for its customers, it would spend money to build an ecosystem to have its content distributed effectively. It would have its popular content housed around the country and establish “transit” and “peering relationships” to expedite the flow of content through the web.

Advocates of net neutrality fear that the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) might use their position to manage the content that people see. They fear that large companies like Netflix may be able to pay for a better experience than smaller companies, thus stifling the emergence of newer and smaller companies. In particular, they note that the ISPs that own content would prioritize their own sites in a “fast lane” while relegating everyone else to a slow lane. The net neutrality promoters warn that the ISPs could even shut down competing websites completely.

To advance their “neutrality” goals, the Obama administration’s FCC declared that the Internet would be regulated like a public utility. Damn the billions of dollars spent by ISPs like Verizon and Comcast to lay fiber around the country to access the internet (and the billions of dollars more that are due to be spent), the government sought to control their infrastructure and business model, much like an electric company or public road.

There are many flaws with the net neutrality approach.

Slotting fees: As described above, businesses have always sought a way to improve their service as well as competitive position. Product companies pay slotting fees to gain better visibility and stores accept the fees to help manage their business. The behind-the-scenes relationships are hidden from customers, but it does not mean that there is an anti-competitive conspiracy.

In many supermarkets, there are additional layers of relationships. Many supermarket freezers are owned by third parties which have their own brands of ice cream. The freezer companies likely prioritize their own products on shelves by putting them at eye level. But the freezers also include competing products, as it would undermine the company’s business to have a half full freezer.

Does a supermarket only sell its own brand of iced tea or peanut butter? Of course not. Does Disney only offer rides to those people who pay for FastPass? It couldn’t afford to keep the parks open if they took such an approach.

Similarly, an ISP that owns content would likely make sure that it is delivered on its “fast lane” if it didn’t harm its overall business. But it would certainly make all content accessible.

Not a monopoly: The federal government actively seeks to regulate businesses that are monopolies. For example, there are not a dozen electric plants in a neighborhood that compete to supply a home with electricity. As such, the government regulates the return that the utility can earn for its product (the electricity) and service (delivery of the power).

But there is no monopoly on HSIA. There are many telecom companies competing for your broadband business. There are cable companies and satellite companies that would be happy to supply your content and HSIA too. And wait until 5G – everyone will be surfing the web on their mobile devices and abandon their PCs. There is choice.

If AT&T would own CNN, would it make sure that it was great viewing experience without latency? I would imagine so. Would AT&T also scramble Fox News? Of course not, as doing so would undermine its business model of getting as many customers as possible. The ISPs are not going to divide their business on ideological lines between liberals and conservatives.

Vital service: Electricity and Disney theme parks are not equivalent in terms of their necessity. Someone can live a long fruitful life without going to Magic Mountain. No electricity or gas for heat, hot water, refrigeration… not so much.

Where does broadband sit?

During the early years of broadband, the internet was used by individuals to watch silly entertainment like dancing cats (Jake Paul is the latest incarnation of a dancing cat). But there have been significant changes in the usage of broadband over the past decade:

  • OTT. Many consumers have been dropping their television service and opting to go “over the top,” using HSIA for their television content. Broadband is eating cable TV.
  • Death of newspapers. Advertising dollars have moved out of print into digital, destroying the business model of many media companies. Broadband is controlling the news.
  • IoT. The “Internet of Things” is the movement to connect devices to the internet. Refrigerators, thermostats, cars and other items will be viewable and controlled remotely. Broadband will control all electronic devices.

That is the real story. The ISPs are well on their way to taking over the access to the news and media and they will ultimately control the access to the future of things.

And the government is unwilling to let such power remain unregulated and uncontrolled.

The “net neutrality” sponsors are campaigning about a fake issue of unfair ISP “fast lanes” and that ISPs will block content. The ISPs are as likely to do that as Disney banning Universal Studios employees from its theme Parks. Paying for Preference is ubiquitous in our capitalistic economy. #FakeIssue

This campaign is about the future. On the one hand, how does one make sure that an ISP does not use the information about your driving and shopping habits in illegal or inappropriate ways? On the other, how do we make sure that the government doesn’t read Americans’ emails and review their surfing habits? We have seemingly granted Google and Facebook carte blanche to do so – will there be no end?

Broadband will be an integral part of all our lives, and the companies that provide access to the Internet will have a unique window to all of our activities. Today, net neutrality addresses an irrelevant non-issue while the government fails to focus on the critical issue: managing privacy in an always-on IoT world.

More on that to come.


Related material from First.One.Through:

Are you trying to understand “net neutrality”?

 

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UN Secretary General Guterres is Losing the Confidence of Decent People

The last UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was an Israel hater. As detailed in many articles in FirstOneThrough, he sided with the Palestinian cause and castigated Israel at every turn. In particular:

And now the new UNSG Antonio Guterres is taking that same course.


UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

On August 30, 2017, Guterres visited Gaza. His remarks were a disappointment:

  • He said “I am very proud of the work that the UN staff,” even though it was recently exposed that Hamas builds terror tunnels at UNRWA schools and Hamas stored weapons and fired missiles at attack Israel in UNRWA schools;
  • Guterres made “an appeal for unity. Yesterday, I was in Ramallah. Today, I am in Gaza. They are both parts of the same Palestine. So, I appeal for the unity, in line with the principles of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The division only undermines the cause of the Palestinian people.” What about Israelis? When will Guterres loudly condemn Hamas and say that it cannot exist in any political fashion until it explicitly recognizes Israel’s right to exist and renounces any and all forms of violence?
  • The best that Guterres could muster was “It is important to avoid the buildup of the militantism that can undermine the confidence between the two people.” Does the leader of the United Nations think that the Hamas military is merely a matter of “confidence?” Israelis are being murdered by Hamas. Hamas is engaged in war to destroy the Jewish State. Guterres saying that Hamas’s militantism is simply a problem of confidence is willful ignorance of the essence of the organization which is an anti-Semitic terror group that seeks to destroy Israel.

Similarly, Guterres has refused to stand by Israel when it faced terror at the hands of Palestinian Arabs. Consider that on September 12, 2017, Guterres said the following about an attack on policemen in Egypt:

“The Secretary-General condemns the terrorist attack yesterday on a police convoy near el-Arish in northern Sinai in Egypt. He conveys his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Egypt.  He also wishes a swift recovery to the injured. 

The Secretary-General hopes those responsible for this act will be quickly brought to justice.”

But when an Israeli policewoman was stabbed to death in Jerusalem on June 16, 2017, the UN Secretary General issued no statement.

When three Israeli policemen were killed by Israeli Arabs in July 2014, Guterres neither condemned the attack nor offered condolences to Israelis. He told the Israelis to show “restraint” in their response.

A few days later, when a Palestinian Arab stabbed to death members of an Israeli family in their home, Guterres wouldn’t even call the attack “terrorism,” even though he did so when terrorists killed members of the Egyptian army. Gutteres would not demand that the Palestinian terrorist “be quickly brought to justice,” as he did for the attack in Sinai.

There was hope that Antonio Guterres would be different from Ban Ki Moon and treat Israel differently. When he took over in January 2017, he condemned Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks against Israeli soldiers and called for the terrorists to be brought to justice.

Alas, the United Nations is pit of vileness and anti-Israel bias that swallows all.

The latest statements of Guterres are “undermining the confidence” that decent people have for his leadership and the United Nations overall.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Goodbye Moon

The United Nations’ Ban Ki Moon Exposes Israeli Civilians

The UN Can’t Support Israel’s Fight on Terrorism since it Considers Israel the Terrorists

Ban Ki Moon Defecates on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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The Baker and Government Doth Protest Too Much

On September 7, 2017 the Trump administration’s Department of Justice came out with a ruling that supported a baker that refused to create a cake for the wedding of a same-sex couple. The DOJ filed the motion in response to a pending Supreme Court ruling on religious liberty.

In August 2015, the state of Colorado ruled that the baker, Jack Phillips, broke Colorado law by not making a customized cake for a gay wedding, stating that his refusal to do so went against Colorado’s law that prevented discrimination based on sexual orientation. Phillips argued that baking the cake went against his religious beliefs as a devout Christian. The courts were not swayed and ruled against him.

Many people – including me – believed that the court was wrong, and in June 2017 the Supreme Court agreed to review the case.


Colorado baker Jack Phillips

In advance of a ruling, the DOJ backed up Phillips arguing that the baker’s creations involve his personal artistic talents and expression, and as such, should be protected by his rights to express his beliefs.

But such an argument also falls flat.

The crux of the issue of discrimination versus religious liberty has to do with the willingness to sell a product that is produced to any and all customers.

If the baker has cookies on the shelf for sale, he must sell it to everyone regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. Similarly, if the baker makes a customized item – say a wedding cake without any couples or comments on it – he should be forced to sell such cake to any willing buyer, gay or straight.

However, neither state nor federal laws should ever be able to force someone to create a unique item. Ever.

The baker should be able to refuse to make a wedding cake with two men on top of it if he never makes such cakes, in the same manner that a vegetarian restaurant refuses to sell any meat items. The vendor need not cater to a client’s unique demands that are outside the universe of items sold.

Should a baker be forced to bake a swastika cake? Of course not. However, were he to make a cake in the shape of a swastika, he should be obligated to sell it to anyone interested in purchasing it. The baker must similarly sell a wedding cake to a gay couple if it is the same kind of cake that he sells to heterosexual couples.

The Department of Justice was right in arguing that the sate of Colorado went too far in fining the baker. However, the DOJ’s rationale for absolving the baker on the basis of his creative talents being a form of expression went in the wrong direction by inserting the baker into the end-product, rather than focusing on the end-product itself.

Whether an item is already on the shelves or is made custom, the threshold of discrimination should be on the willingness of the vendor to sell that product to anyone. However, a product need not be created or customized to a specification that falls outside the vendor’s desires – whether they be for religious reasons or any other.

Thomas Jefferson understood the possible tyranny of government when he said:

“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

As part of a common community, all Americans should treat each other respectfully, but the government should never be allowed to obligate a person to create a unique, alien and distasteful product to satisfy the desires of others.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Leading Gay Activists Hate Religious Children

Pride. Jewish and Gay

The Gender Diamonds

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Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

Nicholas Kristof’s Crocodile Tears

On August 29, 2017, Nicholas Kristof penned an opinion piece in the New York Times called “The Photos the U.S. and Saudi Arabia Don’t Want You to See.” The article relayed the terrible suffering of the people of Yemen due to a civil war that has been exacerbated by competing interests of the Iranians and Saudis. The United States has supported the Saudi effort, and as such, held partial blame for the killing of hundreds of civilians in Yemen.

Children have suffered terribly, both from Saudi bombing campaigns and from malnutrition, as the Saudis have been effective at blocking aid relief to the country.

And all of this is unquestionably horrible, as Kristof relates.

However, what was somewhat maddening was Kristof’s take that the Saudis (and Americans) had effectively blocked the world from highlighting the suffering in Yemen. In paragraph after paragraph, Kristof described a deliberate campaign of censorship:

“Yet victims like Buthaina aren’t on our television screens and rarely make the news pages, in part because Saudi Arabia is successfully blocking foreign journalists from the rebel-held areas. I know, because I’ve been trying for almost a year to get there and thought I had arranged a visit for this week — and then Saudi Arabia shut me down.

With commercial flights banned, the way into rebel areas is on charter flights arranged by the United Nations and aid groups. But Saudi military jets control this airspace and ban any flight if there’s a journalist onboard. I don’t think the Saudis would actually shoot down a plane just because I was on it, but the U.N. isn’t taking chances.

This is maddening: Saudi Arabia successfully blackmails the United Nations to bar journalists so as to prevent coverage of Saudi atrocities.

The Saudis don’t want you to see children like this one, Alaa, severely malnourished and photographed by a World Food Program team. Two days later, Alaa died.”

Kristof claimed that the government of Saudi Arabia actively stopped journalists from covering stories, which was why the media – like him – did not show pictures of innocent victims in Yemen.

But what about the actions of his own paper, the New York Times?

I have no doubt that Saudi Arabia impedes reporting of its war crimes and that Kristof is upset both at his access to the stories as well as for the fate of the war’s victims. But his crocodile tears over the media being unable to show the world the suffering of victims is pathetic when he has long written for a paper that refused to show Israeli victims of Palestinian Arab terrorism.

Why didn’t Kristof care to write such an article when Barack Obama was president supporting the Saudis in their campaign? Is his newfound concern simply because it would show President Trump in a bad light?

Mr. Kristof: the failure to show pictures of innocent victims does not simply lie with the Saudis or the Trump administration. Your paper is part of the problem.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Every Picture Tells a Story, Don’t It?

Every Picture Tells a Story: Anti-Semitism

Every Picture Tells a Story, the Bibi Monster

The New York Times’ Buried Pictures

Every Picture Tells a Story: Arab Injuries over Jewish Deaths

Every Picture Tells A Story: Only Palestinians are Victims

Every Picture Tells a Story: The Invisible Murdered Israelis

Every Picture Tells a Story- Whitewashing the World (except Israel)

Every Picture Tells a Story: Goodbye Peres

In Inversion, New York Times Admits “The Truth is Hard to Find”

Social Media’s “Fake News” and Mainstream Media’s Half-Truths

Israel’s Freedom of the Press; New York Times “Nonsense”

New York Times Confusion on Free Speech

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The United Nations’ Incitement to Violence

On August 30, 2017, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, accused US President Donald Trump of incitement to violence for his comments about the media.

“To call these news organizations fake does tremendous damage. I believe it could amount to incitement. At an enormous rally, referring to journalists as very, very bad people — you don’t have to stretch the imagination to see then what could happen to journalists.”

Al-Hussein should similarly look at his own organization, the UN, for incitement to kill Israelis.


Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations human rights chief
(photo:
Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

A rallying cry to Muslim Jihadists to attack Israeli Jews is that al-Aqsa and Jerusalem are “in danger.”  The three Arabs that killed Israeli policemen on the Temple Mount in July 2017 were incited by the fear that “al Aqsa was in danger.” The Mufti of Jerusalem declared that al Aqsa was “in danger” due to Jewish visitation, bringing the Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade arm of Fatah to declare a “green light” on terrorism sparking a wave of stabbing and car ramming attacks in 2015.

And UNESCO has joined the terrorist propaganda parade. At the behest of Jordan, UNESCO stated that it “decides to retain the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

There is no greater rallying cry to jihadist violence in the world, and the global body gave its blessing. Kill the Jews.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Elie Wiesel on Words

What’s “Outrageous” for the United Nations

The United Nations Once Again “Encourages” Hamas

The Only Religious Extremists for the United Nations are “Jewish Extremists”

The United Nations’ Adoption of Palestinians, Enables It to Only Find Fault With Israel

The United Nations’ Ban Ki Moon Exposes Israeli Civilians

The Hollowness of the United Nations’ “All”

The United Nations’ Remorse for “Creating” Israel

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Is Calling Someone a ‘Nazi’ Simply a ‘Poor Choice of Words?’ Ask a Westchester Democrat

There have been few moments in history which revealed mankind’s darkest and most evil nature. Nazi Germany of the 1930s and 1940s epitomized that racist, anti-Semitic, sinister and violent corner of hell that occasionally takes control in parts of our planet.

One would imagine that calling anyone a Nazi would be reserved for the most heinous kind of villain – perhaps ISIS today that proudly tortures and beheads men, women and children. Could anyone imagine a current American politician calling out a mild-mannered fellow politician – especially one with particularly strong pro-Israel credentials – a ‘Nazi’?

Welcome to the Democratic party in Westchester, NY in 2017.

Westchester County Board of Legislators Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) was upset by the action of the Republican County Executive Rob Astorino in regards to an act involving illegal activities among illegal immigrants in the county. In an email slamming Astorino, Borgia wroteIt’s the classic ‘Big Lie’ technique. All clever Nazis use it.

As detailed in the NY Post, the ‘Big Lie’ was a phrase coined by Adolf Hitler about Jews. Borgia said that Astorino was a “clever Nazi” just like Hitler in their attempts to eradicate illegal immigrants/ Jews.

The comparison was outrageous and disgraceful. As was the reaction from fellow Democrats.

State Senator George Latimer is a Democrat running for Astorino’s seat. He opted to barely address the issue and simply said that calling Astorino a Nazi was a “poor choice of words.” He didn’t condemn the statement nor use the opportunity to address anti-Semitism. He tacitly agreed to the underlying sentiment that Astorino is an anti-Semitic, racist, lying devil, but would have preferred that his Democratic colleague not use the term “Nazi.”

At a time when Democrats are up-in-arms about Donald Trump not repudiating neo-Nazis at a protest in Charlottesville, VA, how can Democrats freely call political opponents “Nazis” and then refuse to condemn the remarks?

Astorino rightly said that Borgia’s comment was not simply offensive to him, but to everyone. He asked for her to apologize to all of the people in the county.

People offended by the incident can support Astorino in his upcoming election and distance themselves from both Latimer and Borgia.


Related First.One.through articles:

The Democrats’ Slide on Israel

The Democratic Party is Tacking to the Far Left-Wing Anti-Semitic Fringe

Politicians React to Vile and Vulgar Palestinian Hatred

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

In The Margins

A Country Divided

If you Only Loved Refugees as Much as you Hate Donald Trump

Extreme and Mainstream. Germany 1933; West Bank & Gaza Today

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The Custodianship of a Child and Jerusalem

The moral and legal standing of men and women as it relates to abortion and custodianship have been debated for many years. The courts have typically sided with women regarding abortion, but have become more open to the desires of men in matters of custodianship. Is there any lesson here for the status of Jerusalem?

Abortion and Custodianship

US court rulings in abortion cases almost always side with the woman. Consider the two extreme cases of dispute: if a woman decides to have an abortion but the father of the fetus does not, the courts rule in favor of the woman and do not make her go to term with an unwanted pregnancy. Conversely, if the man wants the fetus to be aborted but the mother does not, the court will not force a woman to have an unwanted abortion.

The situation becomes more morally murky on the next level: financial support for the unwanted child or abortion. Men have argued that it is unreasonable and unfair to make them pay for an outcome that they didn’t desire. If they want to keep the baby but the woman does not, how cruel is it to make the man pay for the abortion? In the other extreme situation where the man wanted the fetus to be aborted, the courts not only ignore their wishes, but further compel the man to give financial support to a child that they never wanted.

In almost every situation of contention related to having and supporting a child, the US courts almost exclusively come down on the side of women. While the legal system may recognize that the rulings are unfair to men, it ultimately concluded that the woman is the more vested party: she’s the one who must carry the fetus to term.

But what about custodianship?

Once a child is born and both parents want to have custody, why should the mother’s desire outweigh those of the father? If the mother wants sole custody, should her wishes be automatically granted? Courts have begun to move away from such approach.

The US legal system has started to award custody based on the child’s best interests, not the desires of the warring parents. A mother is not considered to be inherently the better parent, nor to have greater love for the child. The court examines a range of matters regarding the child’s well-being.

Is there a basis of considering the custodianship of the city of Jerusalem using such rationale?

Jerusalem

The three monotheistic religions all consider the city of Jerusalem holy and have fought for centuries over every one of its stones. Each religion has fought on the battlefield to control the city’s holy places, and in modern times, each has also battled in international fora and the media.

If a city could have a mother, Jerusalem’s would be Judaism. Tradition states that Abraham bound the heir to the Jewish people, his son Isaac, as a sacrifice at the very location that Isaac’s descendants would use as a capital city and build two holy Temples. Over a thousand years after Abraham and Isaac, Christianity would see Jesus walk the city streets to his death. Hundreds of years later, Islamic tradition would consider that its prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven from the city.

The city was not born from a consensual union. Jerusalem was stripped from Judaism in a pagan fire. Over time, the pagans adopted Christianity and the city took on a Christian character. With the Arab invasion of the seventh century, the Christians and Muslims battled for the city on-and-off for 500 years, with the Muslims ultimately prevailing. Just fifty years ago, the Jewish State retook control of the city.

Since losing the city of Jerusalem in a war that it started, Arab Muslims have sought to sue for control over the city. Palestinian Arabs declare that they want a new state with Jerusalem as its capital. Jordanian Arabs argue that they are the custodians of the holiest site, as they have invested and managed the Temple Mount for a long time.

And the Jewish State has made its claim known: it has come home. Jerusalem and Judaism is a family reunited.

The United Nations has weighed in on the matter. It is not a logical, fair or legal arbiter, as the decisions at the UN are advanced by majority vote, and a single Jewish State doesn’t perform well against a phalanx of over 50 Islamic countries. And the results bear that out: UNESCO voted that Jerusalem is “in danger” because the Jewish State controls it.

What if Jerusalem were viewed from the prism of what is best for the city, as the US courts do now in considering the custodianship of a child?

  • Jerusalem was neglected under 400 years of Muslim Ottoman rule; it has flourished under Jewish rule
  • The Muslim population in Jerusalem declined under Ottoman rule, but under Jewish rule, both the Muslim and Jewish populations have grown
  • When Arab Muslims ruled the city from 1949-1967, it forbade Jews from living in the city, or even entering to visit Judaism’s holy places, but since Jews have ruled the city, all religions have been welcomed to live and pray§

Under Israeli sovereignty, Jerusalem has thrived. All “parents” have been able to visit and enjoy their “child.” This is in sharp contrast to a city besieged for centuries under competing custodianship.


People have suggested dividing the city as the most fair manner to resolve the competing claims between Jews and Muslims. But such a division is deadly, much like King Solomon’s proposed cutting of a baby in two to satisfy the claims of two mothers: the baby could not possibly survive.

US courts evaluate what’s in a child’s best interests in deciding custodianship; it does not award it based on avoiding a parent going on a violent bloodbath. Similarly Jerusalem’s sovereignty should be in the hands of the only party that has nurtured it: Israel.

The best interest for both the city itself and for all of those that love it is to see Jerusalem remain under the sole custodianship of its natural mother which has nurtured the city back to health, blossoming as it hasn’t in centuries. Israel.

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§ Israel has continued to maintain a ban on Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, to calm the Muslim world. Several Jewish activists are pushing to end the ban.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Arguments over Jerusalem

Arabs in Jerusalem

750 Years of Continuous Jewish Jerusalem

Jerusalem, and a review of the sad state of divided capitals in the world

Jordan’s Deceit and Hunger for Control of Jerusalem

Oh Abdullah, Jordan is Not So Special

The United Nations and Holy Sites in the Holy Land

The UN’s #Alternative Facts about the 1967 Six Day War

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Totalities

The United States got a chance to view a solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Most of the country only saw a partial eclipse, with a narrow band of the country from South Carolina to Oregon witnessed the solar eclipse in its totality.

The Solar Eclipse 

The “totality” was a remarkable site to behold. The sun was completely eclipsed by the moon passing before it, rendering the sun as a dark orb, and bringing darkness to that section of the country during daylight hours. The phenomena was short – just three minutes – but its impact on those in its path was amazing.

Total Solar Eclipse
(photo by Ari Mendelow, August 21, 2017)

One would imagine that witnessing such a dramatic event would be easy to see and capture, but it wasn’t. Due to the overall brightness of the sun, one needed to look at the sun through special glasses to capture the sight.


The eclipse through special glasses
(photo: Ari Mendelow)

For those not in the path of totality and without the special glasses, the hours from the very beginning of the eclipse through the end passed without incident. There was no perceptible difference in sunlight during the hot summer day.

Visible Anti-Semitism

August 2017 also brought to light the scourge of anti-Semitism in the United States.

A protest march in Charlottesville, VA about the removal of Confederate war heroes revealed ugly shouts against Jews by White supremacists. Their hatred was laid bare and much of the nation was in shock at the vile display of hate.

However, many advocacy and educational groups – including First.One.Through – have been writing about the rampant anti-Semitism for years. They have repeatedly shown the bias of the media to downplay anti-Semitism, whether in the United States or in Europe; the sad slanders in governmental bodies such as the United Nations and the Obama Administration.

But despite the many articles and videos about prevalent Jew-hatred, people have been dismissive. Much like the millions of people in the United States that did not wear special eclipse glasses, they could not see the hatred that was happening all around them.

Anti-Semitism – like solar eclipses – have always been present. Sometimes the blatant anti-Semitism – a “totality” – is so overwhelming that the ground becomes darkened as it was in Charlottesville, VA. The hatred was actually visible, and people were astonished.

But such moments come and go. The solar eclipse moves on, to appear in another part of the world, in part and in totality. We will read about the events far from our shores. We will be unmoved.

People trying to highlight the incessant anti-Semitism in the world may benefit from a moment of pause, even in the shadow of the great solar eclipse of 2017. One cannot convince people to view the world through the special glasses which highlight the anti-Semitism. It may be there, but only those people that go through the effort of donning the glasses or happen to be in the path of totality will recognize it.

It may be that the best form of education is general in nature. Educating people to not look at the sun or it will damage their eyes benefits from being both simple and selfish. Perhaps the best message for combating anti-Semitism is similar – to avoiding hating anyone. The blanket messages covers sunny and cloudy days, those with eclipses and those without, hating Jews, Muslims, gays or anyone else.

Totalities are moments in time to acknowledge prevailing realities – not just the unusual moment itself. The moon always circles the earth and anti-Semitism is all around us. Let’s acknowledge the moment and absorb important lessons for a healthy life and society.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Your Father’s Anti-Semitism

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Dick Pics

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The Monumental Gap between Nikki Haley and Donald Trump

There were two events that occurred in June 2015 that have defined race relations in the South. One of them has been seized by the media as the root cause of the explosion of racism embodied by the fights in Charlottesville, VA in August 2017. Yet the other is arguably the more clearly identified source of the tension.

June 2015

On June 16, 2015, real estate titan and media personality Donald Trump announced that he would run for president of the United States. The political novice declared that it was time to turn the country around and bring back jobs – good jobs – to America, to “make our country great again.” The Trump tagline was coined “Make America great again,” and he would go one to become the 45th president of the United States.

On June 17, a white supremacist named Dylann Roof walked into a church in Charleston, South Carolina and shot and killed nine black worshipers. Roof’s “manifesto” was found in his house which detailed the many reasons he hated blacks and Jews.

Roof’s view of patriotism had nothing to do with Trump’s pride in America, but a pride in being white.

“I hate the sight of the American flag. Modern American patriotism is an absolute joke. People pretending like they have something to be proud while White people are being murdered daily in the streets…. How about we protect the White race and stop fighting for the jews as well.”

One week in June began a process of bringing a political lightweight to the presidency to “make America great again,” while a racist sought to “make America White again.” Each set in motion a series of actions and reactions in America which were deeply felt in August 2017.

Nikki Haley Talks Down Hatred
and Takes Down the Confederate Flag

The Governor of South Carolina was quick to respond to the shooting of the black church-goers. Gov. Nikki Haley spoke to her state and the country on June 22nd in a remarkable speech. She spoke of her pride in her state and gave consolation to the wounded and injured. She was clear in her rejection of hatred and bigotry, while also noting that many people who are proud of their southern heritage have no malice toward minorities. In short, she brought comfort to all sides and stabilized the situation.

And then she addressed the flag. The Confederate flag that flew by the state capital.

“For many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble. Traditions of history, of heritage, and of ancestry.

The hate filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people in our state who respect and, in many ways, revere it. Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity, and duty. They also see it as a memorial, a way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict. That is not hate, nor is it racism…

The evil we saw last Wednesday comes from a place much deeper, much darker. But we are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the Capitol grounds. It is, after all, a Capitol that belongs to all of us.”

Nikki Haley called for taking down the Confederate flag over the government grounds. She did it while noting that most people in the state respect the flag, but there are some that use it as a vehicle to violence. She said that she respects people that chose to keep that flag in their homes; it is a matter of free speech and expression. However, she concluded that in light of the history of pain and suffering in the name of the flag, the Confederate flag no longer should be endorsed by the government.


Gov. Haley after shooting at black church
June 2015

A Republican female minority governor decided it was time for the southern states to remove the emblems of the Civil War fought 150 years earlier. Standing beside two Republican senators from South Carolina she declaredThis flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state.” Mainstream media would barely recognize the fact that it was Republicans – and a female minority Republican – that would shake the south.

Haley’s actions set in motion a rethinking of the various symbols of the Confederacy. In May 2017 several statutes were removed from public spaces in New Orleans. Other southern states were in the process of reviewing the status of their Confederate statues – which is what brought the White supremacists to Charlottesville, VA in August 2017: a protest to stop the removal of the statue of General Robert E. Lee.

Donald Trump Talks Up Division
and the Press Focuses on Trump Instead of Hate

Donald Trump’s road to the presidency from June 2015 was remarkable in many respects. He not only beat out a field of respected Republican politicians to win the nomination, but he did so while alienating many groups along the way.

Muslims were insulted by his call to ban Muslims from entering the country until the country devised a more thorough vetting process. Women were outraged when they heard a recording of his proudly groping women. The Latino community was appalled when he referred to the many immigrants that came to the USA from south of the border as “bad hombres.” The list would go on.

Along the way his colleagues in the Republican party would abandon him. In a remarkable occurrence in American politics, one Republican leader after another would say that they were appalled at Trump’s comments and would not vote for him. The press ate it up. They ridiculed Trump and blamed him as the source for disunity and bigotry in the country.

But he won the presidency anyway.

Trump would not give roles in his cabinet to the Republican politicians that bad-mouthed him. Only Governor Nikki Haley – who distanced herself from Trump’s comments, but not the man – would get a role in his administration, as US Ambassador to the United Nations.

Over the first months of his presidency, Trump would continue to make remarks that angered wide swaths of the country. The media continued to state that Trump was a racist, by not disavowing the support of White supremacists, and making laws alienating minorities – whether a ban on Muslim refugees or edicts to expel illegal immigrants.

By August 2017, when the Charlottesville, VA White supremacy protest came to town, Trump’s comments could be predicted.

Once again, Trump fueled the media’s wrath with his comments. They admonished him for endorsing racism and allowing it to rear its ugly head in the country once again.

The monumental gap between Nikki Haley and Donald Trump was clear. Haley took decisive action to turn back divisive symbols in the country, while Trump called for keeping them in place. Haley calmed the situation with language that reached out to ALL parties, while Trump used language that only appealed to a sliver of the public.

And the media gave Haley little credit for calming the situation while it blamed Trump for everything.

Racism has always existed in the United States; it is not new in the age of Trump. White racism has actually been on the decline for several years according to FBI reports, and it is much less common in the South than liberal northern states like Massachusetts.

It is both unfortunate that Trump aggravates a tense situation, and that his impulse to attack the media – and the media’s impulse to attack him – takes away from the important debate about the symbols of the Confederacy in our country. Haley talked about it clearly and with conviction. But Trump and the media can only talk about each other.


Related First.One.Through articles:

NY Times Discolors Hate Crimes

If a Black Muslim Cop Kills a White Woman, Does it Make a Sound?

New York Times Finds Racism When it Wants

New York Times’ Small Anti-Semitism

Your Father’s Anti-Semitism

“An anti-Semitic Tinge”

“Jews as a Class”

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The Original Nakba: The Division of “TransJordan”

This year marks 100 years since the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917 which endorsed “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People.” The declaration became the basis for the League of Nations (precursor to the United Nations) to endorse the Palestine Mandate which clearly articulated the history and rights of Jews to a reconstituted national homeland in the area now commonly thought of as Gaza, Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

Article 25 of the Mandate allowed the administrator (Britain) to change the contours of the reestablished Jewish homeland.

“In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision for the administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to those conditions, provided that no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18.”

On September 23, 1922, the League of Nations adopted the suggestion of the British to divide the territory in two, in a document called the “Transjordan Memorandum.” That memorandum stripped away any mention of Jewish history in the land, facilitating the emigration of Jews to Palestine or the creation of a Jewish homeland in the area east of the Jordan River.

The memorandum also facilitated a complete abrogation of key components of Article 25 of the Palestine Mandate that allowed such separation: that “no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18.” Those provisions specifically enumerated non-discrimination clauses that were to be kept in place in the new TransJordan:

Article 15:

The Mandatory shall see that complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, are ensured to all. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.

The right of each community to maintain its own schools for the education of its own members in its own language, while conforming to such educational requirements of a general nature as the Administration may impose, shall not be denied or impaired.

Article 16:

The Mandatory shall be responsible for exercising such supervision over religious or eleemosynary bodies of all faiths in Palestine as may be required for the maintenance of public order and good government. Subject to such supervision, no measures shall be taken in Palestine to obstruct or interfere with the enterprise of such bodies or to discriminate against any representative or member of them on the ground of his religion or nationality.

Article 18:

The Mandatory shall see that there is no discrimination in Palestine against the nationals of any State Member of the League of Nations (including companies incorporated under its laws) as compared with those of the Mandatory or of any foreign State in matters concerning taxation, commerce or navigation, the exercise of industries or professions, or in the treatment of merchant vessels or civil aircraft. Similarly, there shall be no discrimination in Palestine against goods originating in or destined for any of the said States, and there shall be freedom of transit under equitable conditions across the mandated area.

Subject as aforesaid and to the other provisions of this mandate, the Administration of Palestine may, on the advice of the Mandatory, impose such taxes and customs duties as it may consider necessary, and take such steps as it may think best to promote the development of the natural resources of the country and to safeguard the interests of the population. It may also, on the advice of the Mandatory, conclude a special customs agreement with any State the territory of which in 1914 was wholly included in Asiatic Turkey or Arabia.”

International law was clear that any division of the territory would ensure that no discrimination of any kind be allowed on the basis of religion.

But that is exactly what Transjordan/Jordan became: an anti-Semitic country established by the United Nations which prohibits Jews in a variety of areas.

No Citizenship

Consider Jordan’s Nationality Law of 1954:

“Article 3:

The following shall be deemed to be Jordanian nationals:

Any person who, not being Jewish, possessed Palestinian nationality before 15 May 1948 and was a regular resident in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan between 20 December 1949 and 16 February 1954;”

Can you think of anything more explicitly anti-Semitic than a law that specifically separates Jews from others and bans them from becoming citizens?

No Land Purchases

Jordan prohibited Jews from buying any land in the area that had been part of the Palestine Mandate in an edict, Law No. (40) of 1953 Concerning the Leasing and Selling of Immovable Properties from Foreigners, as amended by Law No. (12) of 1960; and  Law No. (2) of 1962.

Jordan has continued along this path even post its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

In March 2016, the Jordanian government singled out Israelis as being banned from buying or renting property around the city of Petra. No other country is subject to such provision.


The League of Nations considered at the outset of its endorsement of a Jewish national home in 1920 and 1922 that perhaps the contours of such homeland should exclude the land east of the Jordan River. But international law has – and continues to fail – in two major respects:

  • In JORDAN: The provision (Article 25) to cut the eastern part of the Mandate (and ONLY the eastern part) from the Jewish homeland specifically did not allow the discrimination against Jews from buying land or obtaining citizenship there;
  • In the WEST BANK: All of the land west of the Jordan River was allocated for a Jewish homeland, and obviously with full legal authorization for Jews to purchase homes and obtain citizenship, despite calls by the current Palestinian Authority leadership to have a Jew-free country

The division of the Palestine Mandate in September 1922 to create Jordan was a disgraceful tragedy which denied Jewish history and rights east of the Jordan River. Despite this, people have attempted to expand upon Article 25 almost a century later to divide the land WEST of the Jordan River in an identical course of anti-Semitic charges that the West Bank should not have a single Jew.

The Palestinian Arabs coined the term “Nakba” (catastrophe) for the founding of the Jewish State on just a part of the Palestine Mandate on May 15, 1948. However, the original Nakba happened 26 years earlier, when the British gutted the essence of international law set out in the Palestine Mandate: for all of the land west of the Jordan River to be the Jewish homeland, and the land east of the river to have full legal rights for Jewish worship, land ownership and citizenship.

Remarkably, the Jewish Nakba of September 23, 1922 is seeking a second coming.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Oh Abdullah, Jordan is Not So Special

Jordan’s Deceit and Hunger for Control of Jerusalem

Palestinian Jews and a Judenrein Palestine

Regime Reactions to Israel’s “Apartheid” and “Genocide”

A “Viable” Palestinian State

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

“Ethnic Cleansing” in Israel and the Israeli Territories

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