Existing While Jewish

The racism prevalent in Palestinian Arab society sometimes seems to have no limits.

It is one thing to read a poll which describes almost every single Palestinian man, woman and child as hating Jews, and that Palestinians are the most anti-Semitic people on the planet. It is another to hear the stories of how that Arab hatred manifests itself.

  • Waiting for a bus while being Jewish. Seven Jews were shot while they stood at a bus stop near the town of Ofra in the Israeli Territory of Area C in December 2018. A Palestinian rode his car and sprayed the civilians – including a pregnant woman – who were just standing there with gunfire.
  • Going to work while being Jewish. Jewish workers were shot and killed in the Barkan Industrial Zone, designed to be an area of coexistence, in October 2018. The Palestinian Arab had internalized that Jews should really not be working there.
  • Standing next to a store while being Jewish. Ari Fuld was just standing outside a store when a Palestinian Arab teenager stabbed him in the back and killed him in September 2018. Why should Palestinians have to see Jews shopping?
  • Riding a bus while being Jewish. Jews were riding a bus in Jerusalem in April 2016. Appalling. A Palestinian Arab teenager blew up the bus.
  • Looking like a tourist who might be Jewish. A Palestinian ran through Tel Aviv stabbing people, including an American named Taylor Force in March 2016. How outrageous to see people visiting the Jewish State!
  • Riding a car while being Jewish. A Jewish couple drove with their kids on the road and were shot and killed by a Palestinian terrorist, who thought Jews should really not be driving anywhere near him in October 2015.
  • Praying in a synagogue while being Jewish. Jews were in synagogue reciting their prayers when Palestinian Arabs entered with an axe and meat cleaver, slaughtering four of them in November 2014. Jews praying in Jerusalem is about as outrageous a thing as any Palestinian Arab can imagine.

  • Sleeping while being Jewish. Five members of the Fogel family were stabbed to death – including a three month old – while asleep in their beds in the town of Itamar in March 2011. How could Jews be sleeping in their homes so close to Arab villages? Who do they think they are?
  • Having a Passover Seder while being Jewish. Dozens of seniors were having a quiet Passover seder at a hotel in Netayna in March 2002. Outrageous. A Palestinian Arab walked into the room and blew the place up.
  • Having pizza while being Jewish. Mothers and children were enjoying pizza on a hot afternoon of August 2001. Clearly too much for a Palestinian Arab man who blew the place up, murdering 15 and wounding over 100.

How should Jews feel when when every simple action makes Palestinian Arabs so enraged that they want to kill them?

How maddening is it for Jews to live with the constant anxiety of having their presence, their innocence, and their existence, questioned?

When antisemitism is so deeply instilled into Palestinian society, how can coexistence ever be possible?


Related First.One.Through articles:

Palestinians are “Desperate” for…

What do you Recognize in the Palestinians?

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

Related First.One.Through videos:

The 2011 Massacre of the Fogels (Gorecki)

The 2002 Massacres of Netanya and Jenin (Gorecki)

1001 Years of Expulsions (Schindler’s List)

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Brooklyn’s Holiday Donuts

Okay, so my family has a bit of an obsession about food. It’s a statement that’s always true, and it gets worse on holidays.

On Chanukah, we make an annual pilgrimage to different areas of Brooklyn, NY to sample the great donuts. Well, not really “sample” as much as devour. Here are the highlights so you can participate in the fun.

Sesame. 1540 Coney Island Ave.

The store is located on the diagonal corner from the large Pomegranate kosher food store. The donuts are simply delicious. The shelves are often wiped clean and people must wait for the fresh donuts to be brought in from the oven around the corner.

Ever eat a lemon jelly donut fresh from the oven? It’s out of this world. The hazelnut? Amazing. The Lotus and regular jelly donuts were also terrific.


Selection of jelly donuts from Sesame

Grab a cardboard box for six when you enter the store. It’s easier to handle than the large box for a dozen as you try to grab some fresh donuts as the store workers bring in the next batch. (We had two six-packs and another plastic container for two more).

Bagels N Greens. 1379 Coney Island Ave.

This store is for people looking for elaborate donuts with multiple and complex toppings. Excellent flavor at a steeper price. They also have a nice lunch menu and chairs to sit – unique among the bakeries listed here. I suggest factoring in some healthy food somewhere in the donut crawl so your kids don’t think you’re totally insane.

Ostrovitsky’s. 1124 Avenue J

Nice, clean and well lit, the holiday donuts are just one of many great things to sample here (also try the chocolate horn – yum). The Rosemarie chocolate donut was marvelous. The place is often busy, with an organized line, but definitely worth the wait.


Line at Ostrovitsky’s worth the wait

Gombos Heimishe Bakery. 328 Kingston Ave

Gombos is in Crown Heights. Over the holiday, it is ALL about the donuts; there is nothing else really going on here. Prices are the cheapest and the selection and taste is quite good. They have a good mix of dairy and pareve donuts. The place is a bit of a balagan (crazy disorder) but a required stop if you have kids and/or buying dozens of donuts.


Some of the donuts at Gombos


Those are the top four bakeries if you’re looking for exceptional donuts and a great holiday experience. Here are some others that were sampled and worth visiting:

Weiss Bakery. 5011 13th Ave

Excellent bakery. Try the rugelach or chocolate horns. The donuts are okay, not required eating during the holiday.

Taam Eden Bakery. 4603 13th Ave

Right down the block from Weiss Bakery is Taam Eden. Very nice selection of donuts at good prices.

Schreiber’s Homestyle Bakery. 3008 Avenue M

Quite close to Sesame, is a small (not as clean as one would like) but definitely delicious bakery called Schreiber’s. In addition to the pretty good and very tasty selection of donuts, are lace cookies which among the best in Brooklyn.

Mansoura Bakery. 515 Kings Highway

Mansoura is a Syrian bakery and does NOT carry donuts. They do carry some amazing baklava and other Sefaradi dishes. Note that it’s not so close to the other bakeries.


Baklava at Mansoura

Enjoy the holiday AND the food!


Related First.One.Through articles:

Today’s Inverted Chanukah: The Holiday of Rights in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria

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“Free Israel” and the New Pro-Zionist Placards

There are some pro-Palestinian slogans which have become popular such as “Free Palestine.” Such language presumes that the country of Palestine exists today and is in a state of occupation by a foreign power(s). Many people believe that the contours of such “Palestine” is as it was in 1922 when the British assumed the Mandate of Palestine, or the configuration of 1924, after the British split off the land east of the Jordan River for the local Hashemite tribe which became the country known as Jordan today.

Their calls to “Free Palestine” are often accompanied by “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” This clarification of “Palestine” clearly excludes the area of “Trans-Jordan” and targets areas west of the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: Israel, Gaza and the region commonly referred to as the “West Bank.” The call for “freedom” is a call for an eradication of the Jewish State of Israel.

A CNN talking head by the name of Marc Lamont Hill made both of these calls at the United Nations this week. After he was fired from his CNN gig for the comments to destroy Israel, he poked his fingers into the cloud on Twitter and later in an article, stating that he was not calling for the killing of Jews, just the eradication of the Jewish State which should be replaced by a “bi-national” state throughout the region. Just a few sentences later he reversed that opinion calling for “a redrawing of borders to the pre-1967 lines,” seemingly suggesting that he does not want a single bi-national state in the land “from the river to the sea,” but one bi-national state in Israel and a separate purely Arab state of Palestine.

All of Lamont Hill’s comments and explanations are against a backdrop of his oft-repeated comments that the entirety of Israel is illegal, “stolen by greed and destroyed by hate,” with laws “written in the blood of the innocent.” He calls for a “revolutionary struggle” and “fight for freedom” against Israel.

This far left-wing mouthpiece was seemingly now tripping over himself as he tried to keep his job as a teacher at Temple University, and maybe have a shot at making some coin at other venues spouting his radical opinions.

His comments and explanations shed light on the various audiences which listen to such diatribes.

One group includes radical Islamists that instigate violence against the Jewish State. These forces include terrorist groups like the political party Hamas, Hizbullah and Palestine Islamic Jihad, as well as student groups like Students for Justice in Palestine. These organizations are hate groups which loudly embrace the calls of “Free Palestine” and “from the river to the sea…” in the most straightforward manner: destroy Israel.

A second group who loves these slogans are relatively more moderate and include radical progressives. They do not want to slaughter millions of Jews in Israel (ain’t that special?), but they also don’t believe that the Jews have any rights to live in “Palestine.” This group seeks to normalize the notion that Israel is an illegal enterprise and that the Arab terrorist groups are nothing more than “resistance groups” against the theft of their land and heritage.

The first group seeks a war of arms and the annihilation of Israel. The second group wants Israeli Jews neutered, without a Jewish State.

Lamont Hill’s first declaration at the UN was made for the former, the Arab and Muslim extremists that call for the eradication of the Zionist experiment.

Lamont Hill’s subsequent “clarifying” statements were for the alt-left wing, which hopes that through the normalization of extremist language and demands such as boycotts of Israeli professors and goods and calling Israel a “colonial power” which “ethnically cleanses” the land of Arabs, it can arrive at a very favorable pro-Arab result in negotiating a two-state solution. With the pro-Israel camp beginning in a middle-of-the-road position while the pro-Arab camp starting in the far extreme, a compromise would highly skew in favor of the Palestinian Arabs.

It’s clever and horrifying.

A solution to these radical Islamist extremists’ and far left-wing progressives’ assaults on Israel are two-fold: a vigorous challenge to the slogans and people, as well as a re-positioning of the pro-Israel stance in a similar refrain. Hopefully the two-pronged approach will bring the pro-Palestinian parties towards the middle and enable an enduring peace.

Challenge the Extremist Slogans and People

Lamont Hill should not have been fired from CNN in November 2018. He should have been fired from CNN, Temple University and every other venue back in January 2015 when he reached back into the vile antisemitic screed of the Middle Ages calling a blood libel on the Jewish State, with accusations of stealing and killing the “blood of the innocent.” Where was the outcry back then?

When the acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas stood before the United Nations and denied the history and heritage of Jews in Israel, calling them “racists” and “colonial occupiers” committing “ethnic cleansing” of Arabs, he received a standing ovation. Abbas’s long history of Holocaust denial, vilifying Israel and promoting attacks on Jews was long ignored by the western press. It was only in April 2018 during a long-winded speech of vitriol that the media thought that maybe Abbas had gone too far. In fact, his speech included virtually all of his same antisemitic remarks he had used in the past. The only thing that was new was the sudden awareness of Abbas’s vileness.

It is incumbent on everyone to not be sanguine that the media and universities will call out the anti-Semites who are given podiums and positions of power. People must demand these voices of hate be stripped of those positions. TODAY, call and write Richard Englert, President of Temple University to remove Marc Lamont Hill. You are free to attach this article.

Richard M. Englert
President of Temple University
Second Floor, Sullivan Hall
1330 Polett Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19122

215-204-7405 (phone)
215-204-5600 (fax)
president@temple.edu

New Pro-Zionist Placards

Concurrent with calls to remove the hated language and mouthpieces, should be the re-positioning of the Israeli posture. It is time to match – or better yet, mimic – the pro-Palestinian Arab slogans. Perhaps people will appreciate the offensiveness of the long-used Arab comments.  Or it will simply provide symmetry of the two opposing sides.

Here are some examples:

  • Free Israel.” – A call to remove all of the Arabs from the Jewish state. It seems that many Islamic extremists and left-wing progressives believe that Israel with a 25% non-Jewish population is racist anyway. Maybe they will pause and rethink their position of a Jew-free Palestine.
  • From the River to the Sea, Israel will be free.” – A call to fully re-take Gaza and all of the “West Bank” again. Evict all Arabs to any of the dozens of Arab countries where they can enjoy the “Arab culture” which they feel Israel is destroying.
  • Boycott Palestine / Jordan” – The country of Jordan occupies 77% of 1922 Palestine. The population there is majority Palestinian and the Queen is Palestinian. It is time to boycott this country that not only robbed the Jewish State of much of its dedicated homeland, but passed laws forbidding any Jew from obtaining citizenship. Do not visit the country and do not accept a professor to teach or lecture. Ban Jordanian/Palestinian students from participating in university exchange programs and don’t let them compete in any sort of competition.
  • Stop the Genocide of Jews” – March in the streets calling out the car ramming attacks, the stabbings, bombings, stonings and firing at cars perpetrated by Palestinian Arab terrorists.
  • Terrorism Palestinians” – The problem is not just with the terrorist group Hamas that attacks Israel or the Fatah party that pays money to terrorist families and names schools and squares after the killers. The Palestinian people themselves vote for these antisemitic thugs. Polls show that 93% of Palestinian Arabs are anti-Semites and other polls show that the Arabs support violence against Jewish Israelis.
  • Stop the Arab ethnic cleansing of Jews” – Over 850,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries since 1948. The Jordanians expelled all of the Jews from Judea and Samaria, including the eastern part of Jerusalem. Arabs continue to call for elimination of Israel, with 30 countries still refusing to acknowledge Israel’s basic existence.
  • Stop the Seige of Israel” – Israel is under a blockade of acceptance, over 70 years after the reestablishment of the Jewish State. At this time, 30 countries still refuse to acknowledge its existence. More radicals seek to boycott Israel’s people and produce.
  • Pray for Israel” – Israel is under siege by radical Islamic terrorists and far left-wing progressives. Fight the hate.
    • I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.Genesis 12:3
    • Whoever blesses Israel will be blessed,
      And whoever curses Israel will be cursed.Numbers 24:9

Israel has been under assault in the media and corridors of power, and the radical Islamists and alt-left progressives have been given tacit approval and encouragement to shout their blood libels louder. It is well past time for the pro-Zionist community to respond.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Where’s the March Against Anti-Semitism?

The Three Camps of Ethnic Cleansing in the BDS Movement

Ending Apartheid in Jerusalem

I am a Zionist. A Deep Zionist. An Amazed Zionist. A Loud Zionist.

The Anger from the Zionist Center

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Dick Pics

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Marking November 29 as The International Day of Solidarity with Jews Living East of the Green Line

For many years, the United Nations has chosen to mark the anniversary of the November 29, 1947 vote to partition Palestine into distinct Jewish and Arab states as a day of solidarity for only one of those groups – the Arabs.

The times they aren’t a changin’.

On November 28, 2018, the UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres spoke at the Meeting of Committee of the Inalienable Rights of Palestinian People (that’s the actual name of the group). Not only does the UN only have a unique group for the Arabs from Palestine and none for the Jews, but the UN also argues that the Arabs have “inalienable rights” to a separate country – not autonomy or self-determination – but a special unique country, which is also a right not afforded to any people anywhere on the planet.

Speaking at such a forum the day before the November 29 anniversary, Gutteres gave the audience the red meat they so covet. After calling on Israel to stop building “illegal settlements,” he added the following:

“I call on all actors, and first and foremost the leadership of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, to take bold steps and restore faith in the promise of General Assembly resolution 181, of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, fulfilling the legitimate national aspirations of both peoples, with borders based on the 1967 lines and Jerusalem as the capital of both States ‑ East Jerusalem being the capital of the Palestinian State.

It is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. It is the only option for a comprehensive and just peace, and I call on the international community to intensify its engagement and reiterate its commitment to assist Palestinians and Israelis in reaching the two-State solution.”

Moving past the absurdity that no people on the planet have inalienable rights to their own sovereign country, just to self-determination (hey, anyone want to start a country tomorrow?) it is further absurd to state that the only formula to achieve such right is based on armistice lines from a war fought over 70 years ago in which all parties agreed would NOT serve as permanent borders. That dividing a capital city between two cities has any logic, when it is a formula only used in war-time (Berlin, Beirut, Nicosia anyone?)

But it moves past the absurd to discriminatory and antisemitic to declare that Jews should be banned from living anywhere east of that Green Line. That the only way that an Arab state could exist is to be Jew-free and controlling Judaism’s holiest location.

People who want to see peace in the region should stand firmly against this antisemitic formula for a two-state solution. A viable – and peaceful – independent Palestine could exist:

  • WITH Jews living throughout the land;
  • with borders that DO NOT follow the 1949 Armistice Lines / Green Line;
  • with BETHLEHEM, an integral part of the corpus separatum that was voted upon on November 29, 1947, as the Palestinian capital city

The world continues to declare that Palestinian Arabs have unique rights and Jews uniquely have none: Palestinian Arabs must have a distinct country; Jews must be banned from living in parts of their holy land.

It is past time to call out the insanity and antisemitism, and mark November 29 as a day of solidarity with Jews in Israel and its territories. It is time to recall:

  • that international laws of 1920 and 1922 specifically ENCOURAGED Jews to live throughout Palestine, including in Judea and Samaria which were later renamed the “West Bank”;
  • international laws and human rights laws that forbid the discrimination of anyone based on religion from being able to live in Palestine, including the West Bank and Gaza (Article 15)

These are not “right-wing” positions. These are positions based on human rights and international law.

View of Jerusalem, from Hebrew University
(photo: First.One.Through)
I stand with the rights of Jews to live throughout their holy land, including in their holiest city of Jerusalem.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Time to Dissolve Key Principles of the “Inalienable Rights of Palestinians”

The Palestinian State I Oppose

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

Enduring Peace versus Peace Now

Ending Apartheid in Jerusalem

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BDS is a Movement by Radical Islamists and Far-Left Progressives to Block Your Freedoms

In countries that embrace both capitalism and democracy, there is an appreciation of the ability to buy any legal product from any vendor within the country and from an allied country. That freedom is under assault by radical Islamists and far-left progressives.

Full Personal Freedom to Buy/
Limits on Selling Preferences

The ability to purchase legal goods from a company in good standing from an ally is natural. It is up to the individual – say an American citizen – to choose to buy an item to his liking – perhaps Droste Chocolate from the Netherlands or an Audi automobile from Germany. People are not compelled to purchase the item either because of a preference regarding the item (maybe they don’t like the taste of Droste Chocolate) or because they have an issue with the government (not buying anything German because of the Holocaust.) The legal structure of the society enables each person to make a buying decision on their own.

However, such rights are not so absolute when it comes to SELLING something. As examples, a person cannot decide to only sell their home to a white person any more than a store owner can prevent a gay person from buying a soda. Anti-discrimination laws specifically disallow such actions. A business or individual can decide not to sell something, but once a decision is made to sell a product, everyone must have equal access to acquire the item.

BDS

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel portrays itself as a human rights effort to pressure Israel to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority. It is not. It is an anti-Semitic movement designed to eradicate Zionism launched by Radical Islamists that has begun to co-opt far left-wing Progressives (RIAPs, Radical Islamists and Progressives).

The RIAPs often compare Israel to the apartheid regime in South Africa in their quest for BDS, which has many flaws:

  1. There are two parties in this conflict. As opposed to the apartheid regime in South Africa which limited freedoms for its own citizens, the Israel-Arab conflict is between distinct parties.
  2. The United Nations and dozens of Arab and Muslim countries back the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority has tremendous support from many countries around the world, including the United Nations itself. The blacks in South Africa were an isolated minority trying to fight for rights against its own government.
  3. Israel has attempted to forge a peace agreement. For several decades, the Israeli government has tried to reach a peace agreement with the Arabs in the region. The dynamic here is not one of desire to reach a settlement, but a gap between the positions of the Israelis and PA.
  4. The Israeli government has a good track record. The Israelis gave up land for peace with Egypt and were able to reach a peace agreement with Jordan. Israel gave control of Gaza and sections of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. For their part, the PA has not even been able to reach any settlements with rival parties.

Which party really needs pressure / help in getting to a peace deal?


Protesters hold signs calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS)
in Washington, D.C., August 2, 2014.
(photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

More to the point being addressed here, BDS prevents ordinary people from buying the Israeli products they desire.

As noted above, any individual can make a personal choice to avoid buying products made in Israel or the Israeli territories in Judea and Samaria. But establishing a boycott infringes on the rights of other people who very much want to purchase the products and services from the leading liberal democracy in the Middle East and North Africa.

If progressives really cared about human rights, shouldn’t they have lambasted the Obama Administration for not only handing $150 billion to Iran, a country that hangs gays by cranes in the middle of Tehran and executes minors? Shouldn’t the progressives have been further incensed with Obama for promising to import Iranian rugs, caviar and pistachios (see page 67 of the JCPOA).

How can progressives approve of the importation of goods from a country that executes gays and minors, but seek to boycott a country which has only reached a peaceful settlement with some of its Arab neighbors?

It is because the RIAPs believe that Israel is a completely illegal Zionist Project. Iran and other regressive Islamic societies like Saudi Arabia may be vile, but they are viewed by the extremist groups as legitimate. Meanwhile, they contend that Israel is illegal at its core and should cease to exist.

Consider the platform in Black Lives Matter “Invest – Divest” which declared America’s support for Israel, its “Global War on Terror,” and AFRICOM as simply tools of colonialism under the mask of combating terror. Under the BLM worldview, Israel is an extension of the racist American colonial project, putting Jews in homes where they do not belong, stealing from people of color.

These extremists do not simply have their own disturbing anti-Semitic worldview in which Jews are uniquely denied their history, heritage and basic human rights, but want to force every person to comply with their anti-Semitic agenda. They seek to rob every American of their choice of doing business with Israel.

BDS is the toxic combination of stealing individual freedom and forcing people to participate in antisemitism. Organizations that participate in BDS should be fined in the same manner as those that have policies that discriminate against any group.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Three Camps of Ethnic Cleansing in the BDS Movement

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

BDS and Christian Persecution

Please Don’t Vote for a Democratic Socialist

When Power Talks the Truth

Denying Entry and Citizenship

Ending Apartheid in Jerusalem

The Personalisation of War

Iran’s New Favorite Jewish Scholars

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Anniversaries of Thanksgiving

Today I am a Man.
More accurately, today I am a middle-aged man.

At my bar mitzvah 40 years ago, I recited prepared words: the Torah reading, the Haftorah, and Musaf. My dvar Torah was written in its entirety by the assistant principal of WDS. Even the thank you’s.

Don’t get me wrong – I was very appreciative of my parents’ work that went into the party and the family trip to Israel. But my 13-year old brain liked it the way I liked halavah – something great, but not necessarily remarkable.

At that time, I don’t think I was particularly unique. The perspective of most 13 year-olds in our community was very narrow. We lived in a small protected bubble.

As we aged, our worldview expanded. We were exposed through life experience that many things we took for granted were not insignificant, but important. Not ordinary, but exceptional.

We started by slowly grasping that the stakes were becoming higher.

  • At 13 I was worried whether a particular girl in class liked my humor. If she didn’t, well, I shrugged it off that she probably wasn’t that smart.
  • But at 53 I’m worried about how my wife will react to my lack of comprehension that 45 is a really big birthday for a woman.

The ramifications are starkly different.

Along with the higher stakes, I learned that the demonstration of gratitude needs to match the occasion and the expectations.

You see, gratitude is also tied to responsibility.

At my bar mitzvah, I became responsible for my own actions. As I got older, I assumed additional responsibilities, for family members, friends and the community. That responsibility sensitized me to various challenges and small victories we each encounter.

Rabbi Meir Soloveitchik has said that true gratitude must include obligation. Really? If I’m thankful for having a full head of hair, do I have to subsidize a friend’s hair transplant?

Personally, I don’t think so. And it goes to a core component of what I’ve learned over the past 40 years: understanding what’s really important.

You see, today marks another anniversary for me. The 18th year of my beard.

In October 2000, my father was diagnosed with advanced melanoma. A man who had never taken a sick day was suddenly in a hospital having extensive surgery to remove infected lymph nodes that had spread throughout his body. The following month, he was given a choice of undergoing chemotherapy or try a series of transfusions with an unproven medicine undergoing clinical trials. He opted for the latter.

So on this day, the Shabbat of Thanksgiving, I made a commitment that I would grow a beard. For the next five years, when I davened, I would rub my beard during the Refa’eynu section of the Shmona Esrei, asking God to heal my father.

Miraculously, five years later, my father was cancer-free and given a clean bill of health.

What kind of news can possibly be better than that? It was a moment to consider how to be – and how to demonstrate – being truly grateful.

So I decided to keep my beard and follow the same format on behalf of others. I have continued to touch my beard during Refa’eynu and recite the names of people who were sick in this community, and friends and people I grew up with facing terrible illness.

These prayers are no longer said standing in an empty space. I pray with the full gratitude to Hashem, that just as He helped heal my Dad, I ask that He heal others who are ill.


Forty years ago I thanked my parents for raising me and for my bar mitzvah celebrations. I continue to thank them for many other things – such as hand-picking my wife. And I am additionally grateful to Hashem that they were able to walk a mile to be here today to celebrate this milestone.

I am grateful that I have been blessed with amazing siblings, a fantastic wife and remarkable children. To live in a great community with such a warm rabbi. These are all important things.

I also understand that there are extraordinary things like this amazing country and the thriving State of Israel.

The important things and the extraordinary things fall under the category of what Charles Krauthammer called “Things That Matter.” Over these decades I learned that essential life lesson of separating the critical from the trivial. And I have chosen to actively focus my energies and responsibilities, and express my true gratitude to those Things That Matter.

Today, I thank my wife for being a great partner and parent, and for coordinating a wonderful celebration. I also thank our rabbi and this community for being such a remarkable place.

May we all be blessed to be thankful,
and may we be thankful to be blessed.


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The Touch of the Sound of the Shofar

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Google to Stop Displaying Pictures of Israeli Flags in East Jerusalem and West Bank

A satire?

In response to Airbnb’s decision to not show any listings of rooms owned by Jewish Israelis (ROJI’s) for rental anymore, other technology firms have begun to rethink their position on the subject as well.

  • Google has decided to ban the display of the Israeli flag at the Kotel, as it harms the sensibilities of Arab Muslims
  • YouTube will block videos of Jews walking on the Temple Mount, as it is a core issue blocking peace in the region
  • Vice Media will only refer to Jerusalem as “Al Quds” and the Temple Mount as “The Al Aqsa Compound” to avoid offending 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide
  • Uber will no longer pick up any Jews in the West Bank
  • Spotify will only play Arabic songs in the Middle East, to keep the Arab culture pure
  • Expedia will only list hotels owned by non-Jews in Israel and the West Bank, to show its stance in opposition to Jewish colonialism
  • Amazon will only sell books which refer to the entirety of Gaza, the West Bank and Israel as “Palestine”
  • Facebook declared that the pages of Hamas and Islamic Jihad will both be reinstated and that of the Zionist Organization of America will be blocked
  • Netflix announced the cancellation of “Fauda” and will replace it with a new show called “Jihad”
  • Apple will no longer buy any Israeli technology companies that help the “occupation”
  • Microsoft said that it’s Skype program will no longer be available to any Zionists, as determined by an algorithm embedded in its operating system
  • Intel is working on a patch to its Mobileye business that will disable all safety features if a Jew or Zionist is driving

The United Nations and The New York Times noted that these were already established policies so did not need to make any updates or changes.


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“Protocols of the Elders of Zion – The Musical”

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Israel’s Kite Business Gets a Second Wind

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Netanyahu’s Doctoral Thesis on the Nakba

Palestinian Job Fair for Peace

Silwan Circulars, Christmas 2014

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The Hypocrisy Between An Embassy for Israel in Jerusalem and East Jerusalem, OPT

There are so many examples of the bias at the United Nations in favor of Palestinian Arabs over Israel, that the obvious ones are sometimes overlooked.

Consider the situation of Jerusalem, a holy city for three religions which has had a Jewish majority since the 1860’s.

In trying to find a solution for the hotly contested city, the UN General Assembly voted on November 29, 1947 to place Greater Jerusalem and Greater Bethlehem into a distinct corpus separatum which would neither be part of a Jewish State of Israel nor an Arab State of Palestine. The nations at the UN voted 33 in favor, 13 against and 10 abstentions. (The 13 countries that voted against the partition were mostly the Arab and Muslim countries of Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen.) The proposal would never come to pass, as the “corpus separatum” was divided after Israel’s War of Independence with Israel controlling the western half of Jerusalem and the Jordanians controlling all of Greater Bethlehem and the eastern portion of Jerusalem.

Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital city and located its federal government buildings there, but virtually no countries recognized Israel’s assumption of the western part of the city, nor the Jordanian occupation of the eastern part of the city. That was the situation from 1949 to 1967, and continued to be true after the Jordanians attacked Israel again in June 1967 and lost its portion of corpus separatum and the rest of the West Bank.

For decades, countries have continued to withhold their recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, much as they had since Israel founding.


Israeli flag waving in front of the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple Mount
(photo: First.One.Through)

That changed recently.

In December 2017, the United States decided to acknowledge the fact that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem, to the chagrin of many other countries. A few weeks later, the UN voted to condemn the United States’ relocation of its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem by a vote of 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions. Many of the 128 countries voiced opinions that Jerusalem is a final status issue to be resolved between the Israelis and Palestinian Authority. Any recognition that either the Israelis or Palestinian Arabs has a superior claim to areas of corpus separatum was to be avoided.

Yet, with no sense of embarrassment or question of hypocrisy, many of those same nations which voted to admonish the US, chose to vote at the UN on November 16, 2018 on several resolutions which referred to East Jerusalem as “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

  • Draft resolution “Applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories” (document A/C.4/73/L.19) passed by a vote of 154 to 5 with 8 abstentions.
  • The draft resolution titled “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/C.4/73/L.20) passed by a recorded 153 votes in favour to 5 against with 10 abstentions.
  • The draft resolution “Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem” (document A/C.4/73/L.21) passed by 153 to 6 with 9 abstentions.

If countries want to be consistent in their treatment of Jerusalem and desire for peace, they have a choice: either recognize Israel’s claim to the western part of the city and move their embassies to the western part of Jerusalem just like the United States, OR refuse to call “East Jerusalem” part of “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Any country refusing to move its embassy for Israel to Jerusalem while simultaneously calling the eastern part of Jerusalem part of “Occupied Palestinian Territory” is spitting in the face of Israel and rejecting participating in the peace process.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Abbas’s Harmful East Jerusalem Fantasy

Western Jerusalem’s U.S. Consulate and Embassy

Ending Apartheid in Jerusalem

I call BS: You Never Recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Both Israel and Jerusalem are Beyond Recognition for Muslim Nations

750 Years of Continuous Jewish Jerusalem

Arabs in Jerusalem

The Arguments over Jerusalem

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

Maybe Truman Should Not Have Recognized Israel

The United Nations and Holy Sites in the Holy Land

The UN’s Disinterest in Jewish Rights at Jewish Holy Places

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The New York Times Knows It’s Israeli Right from It’s Palestinian Moderates

The New York Times has seemingly more journalists covering Israel than it has covering all of South America. There are some days, that the Times has so many people covering Israel, that it actually gives two reporters the opportunity to write about the exact same story, even from the same perspective.

Consider November 15, 2018, when the Times devoted a full page to describe the resignation of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The Times posted two articles with the same story and viewpoint, one by David Halbfinger and the other by Isabel Kershner.


New York Times November 15, 2018 page A8

Both articles reflected the Times’ view that Israel’s government is unrepentantly right-wing and hawkish.

Halbfinger’s article was called “A Hawk Storms Offstage. Is This His Finale?”  He described Lieberman and the Likud party as “right-wing,” “unremittingly hawkish” and “hard line” five times. In the three times that Halbfinger referred to the Palestinian group Hamas, he included no adjectives. He did not mention that it is a designated terrorist group by the United States; he did not refer to the Hamas Charter which calls for the destruction of Israel; and he did not even refer to the group as “militant.”

Kershner’s article covered the same ground as Halbfinger and was called “Israeli Defense Minister Quits Over Cease-Fire.” In ten different spots in the article – seemingly to hammer the point home – Kershner defined Lieberman, his party and the government of Israel as “hard-line,” “hawkish,” “right-wing,” “ultra-nationalist,” and “bellicose.” He described the current coalition government as “the most right-wing and religious government Israel has known.

Kershner mentioned Hamas five times. Only ONCE did he state that it was “militant.” The one time he mentioned the President of Palestinian Authority, he described Mahmoud Abbas as “more moderate.

In total, in the two articles covering the same news, the Israelis were described as “right-wing” 15 times. Hamas was described as “militant” once and the Palestinian Authority was called “moderate.”

According to the New York Times, which side do you think is the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict? Which party is unreasonable and should be pressured? Which party should get American support? In case you cannot figure it out, the Times will tell you. Twice.


Related First.One.Through articles:

“Peace” According to Palestinian “Moderates”

Finding Mr. Right-Wing

The New York Times Major anti-Netanyahu Propaganda Piece

Educating the New York Times: Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood

Has the “Left-Wing” Joined the UN in Protecting Iran and the Palestinians from a “Right-Wing” Israel?

The New York Times Whitewashes Motivation of Palestinian Assassin of Robert Kennedy

NY Times Hides Abbas’s Violence and Pence’s Truth

The New York Times Wrote About Computer Hackers Charged by the US and Israel. Differently.

Palestinians are “Desperate” for…

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Looking at Gaza Through Swedish Glasses

It is amazing to review how “enlightened” governments in Europe consider the situation in Gaza and Israel.

Firstly, how few governments understand and internalize simple facts:

  • Gaza was part-and-parcel of Palestine. That means that it was designated to be part of the Jewish homeland as outlined in international law in 1920 and the 1922 Palestine Mandate.
  • Gaza was seized and occupied by Egypt in 1948-9. Egypt made no attempt to establish Gaza as an independent Arab state while it administered the area. No international movement pressured Egypt to create such entity.
  • Gazans are not refugees. The Arabs from other parts of Palestine which became Israel in 1948 who moved to Gaza cannot be called “refugees,” but “internally-displaced people” who relocated to another part of the territory.
  • Gazans are independent. This is first time in history that the local Arabs in Gaza rule over themselves, since Israel uprooted every Israeli Jew – soldier and civilian – in 2005.
  • Gazans are ruled by their favorite terrorist group, Hamas. Hamas is designated as a terrorist group by much of the world including the United States, European Union and Israel. It calls for the destruction of Israel in its 1988 charter and was democratically elected to a majority of the Palestinian Parliament in 2006. It continues to lead in Palestinian polls should another election ever be held.
  • Egypt and Israel imposed the Gaza blockade because of Hamas. Israel and Egypt did not have any blockade of Gaza in 2005 when it gave the region independence. The countries established the blockade after Hamas routed the Palestinian Authority from the region in a mini- civil war between Hamas and Fatah in 2007.
  • Hamas launched three wars from Gaza in the past decade. In 2008, 2012 and 2014 the Palestinians in Gaza ratcheted up their attacks on Israel into full-blow wars.
  • The Palestinian attacks from Gaza have not stopped. In between each of the three wars, the Arabs in Gaza continued to attack Israel through incendiary devices, mortar shelling, sniper shots, tunnel infiltration and bombings.

These are plain historic facts which should not be subject to interpretation. Israel abandoned territory to which it had international and historic rights, to watch it be taken over by a group sworn to its destruction which battles against it constantly. You would imagine that such data points would inform how diplomats view the situation there.

But today, the European Union is a haven for Israel-bashers.

Consider Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog’s address to the United Nations Security Council in May 2018 on the fighting between the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza and Israel. His comments showed an interesting perspective.


H.E Mr. Olof Skoog, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations and the President of the Security Council for the month of July 2018

Palestinians are protesting peacefully, so by definition, Israel is using disproportionate force:

  • Israel, as the occupying power, has a responsibility to protect Palestinian civilians and must fully respect the right to peaceful protest, protect civilians and ensure that the use of force, and other measures taken, are strictly proportional.”
  • “We urge the Israeli security forces to refrain from the use of force against unarmed civilian protestors and representatives of the media. We also call on Hamas, and those organising the demonstrations, to avoid any provocations and ensure that protests remain non-violent and peaceful.”

In such worldview, Israel is the party responsible for the people of Gaza and for the violence. Hamas is not responsible for Gaza; it organizes peaceful demonstrations.

Both sides use children as pawns:

  • We urge all parties to act with the utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life and to protect civilians, particularly children. This means never making children the target of violence as well as not putting children in harm’s way or encouraging them to participate in violence.

It is true that children are inherently innocent; the violence in which they engage is at the direction of adults. But how does one address a violent mob of thousands of children?

Israel should lift Gaza blockade:

  • we must not forget that the people of Gaza have lived in intolerable conditions for far too long, in a humanitarian situation that is now deteriorating even further. To tackle this situation and to enable Gaza to recover, movement and access restrictions must be eased.”

Even with the restrictions of goods, the Arabs of Gaza have amassed hundreds if not thousands of missiles and built additional underground tunnels into Israel, yet the Swedes want to ease the blockade?

Israel does not provide free access in Jerusalem to all religions:

  • “The position of Sweden and the whole European Union on the status of Jerusalem as a final status issue is clear and will not change. All three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – have strong bonds to Jerusalem that must be preserved. A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states, in line with relevant UN resolutions.”

Israel is the ONLY country that respects the three monotheistic faiths and allows all religions to worship in their holy locations. For centuries, the Arab Muslims forbade Jews from even climbing the steps of the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs in Hebron! If the goal is freedom of access and respect for religions, then Jerusalem MUST remain the capital of Israel; to suggest otherwise is the inverse of reality and logic.

Western Jerusalem is not part of Israel:

  • In line with longstanding policy of the European Union, we will continue to respect the international consensus on the status of Jerusalem embodied in, among others, Security Council resolution 478, including on the location of diplomatic representations until the final status of Jerusalem is resolved.”
  • “As was stated in December last year, we regret the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It runs counter to international law and this Council’s resolutions.”

The United States relocated its embassy to Israel in the western part of Jerusalem. Has Sweden declared that even the Knesset is on disputed land?

Refusal to comprehend that Hamas seeks the destruction of Israel:

  • “There is unanimity around this table, I believe, in calls for restraint, for de-escalation, to break the cycle of violence, relieving the dire situation in Gaza and for a resumed serious negotiation towards peace.

How does a party negotiate peace with another party that seeks its destruction?

Pre-ordaining outcome of two-state solution including Jerusalem and no Jews:

  • “ We must, more than ever, urgently engage to bring the parties back to negotiations to advance the two-state solution. Intra-Palestinian reconciliation and the Palestinian Authority’s reestablishment in Gaza are also needed. A halt to settlements and an end to the ongoing Israeli occupation are fundamental.”

The Swedish diplomat claims to seek a two-state solution to be negotiated between the parties, but also demands the conclusion of such negotiation with “Jerusalem as the capital of both states” and a Palestine free of any Jews through halting Israeli “settlements.”


An address meant to quell violence in Gaza became a forum for the Swedish diplomat to dictate his desired outcome of a “negotiated” two-state solution. Skoog sanitized the Gaza protests as “peaceful,” and its intentions as noble.

With such a mindset, is it any wonder that Sweden became the first major EU country to recognize Palestine as a country. One can imagine it continuing to wage further diplomatic battles against Israel in the years ahead.


Related First.One.Through articles:

European Narrative over Facts

What’s Wrong with UNRWA

The Recognition Catch Up

J Street’s Select Appreciation of Transparency

What do you Recognize in the Palestinians?

Failing Negotiation 102: Europe

Denmark and Netherlands Support Ari Fuld’s Murder

The Happy and Smug Bigots of Denmark

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