The Narrative that Prevents Peace in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Everyone has a perspective.

Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor, was credited with saying “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

Our opinions and perspectives are shaped by many things including our backgrounds and biases. When two people look at the same incident at the same time, it is quite possible that they take away very different stories. When two people do not see things first-hand, but hear histories second and third-hand, the narratives of each could appear to describe two different events and worlds.

Yet, those strange worlds can coexist and the parties with alternative truths can get along. The reason is not solely because some events in question are not in direct conflict, but because those events do not define each party.

Many histories remain in the past and do not touch the present. Other narratives reach out from history and impact decisions and views of people in the present. The deepest – and potentially most dangerous – narratives are those that are embedded in a person’s psyche, which can distort history, make people act against their own interests and mar the future.

Arab-Israeli “Neutral” Narratives

There are many narratives that contradict each other in the Middle East. Some are conflicting perspectives and some have alternative facts. Here is just a small sample of events from pivotal moments in 1948, 1967 and 2000 from an Arab perspective, followed by an Israeli view:

  • The creation of Israel in 1948 was a “Nakba” (catastrophe) // the founding of the state was a celebration
  • During the “Nakba”, 711,000 Palestinian Arabs were expelled by Israeli forces from their homes // Palestinian Arabs were encouraged to leave where they lived by their leaders, as the armies of five neighboring Arab states invaded Israel
  • Five Arab armies came into Palestine to defend the Palestinians from Israeli attacks // five Arab armies invaded Israel in an effort to destroy the nascent state
  • In 1967, Israel attacked Egypt, Syria and Jordan // Israel preemptively attacked Egypt and Syria after the parties made clear their intentions to attack and destroy Israel; Jordan then attacked Israel and Israel responded in self-defense
  • The West Bank has always been Palestinian land and cannot be settled by Israelis // Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) were always home to Jews and mandated under international law to be a homeland for Jews in 1922; only under the Jordanian expulsion were Jews barred from the land. International laws related to taking land in a defensive war is not the same as taking land in an offensive war
  • In 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon went to the Al Aqsa Mosque in an attempt to claim control over Islam’s third holiest site, which brought about the Second Intifada // Sharon visited the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site during regular visiting hours; the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat launched the Second Intifada because he was unhappy with the “near-final” peace agreement with Israel

Consider the opposing narratives. Some can reside comfortably in history books, while others actively influence each party’s actions today.

abbas reuters
Acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas
(photo: Reuters)

PAST: Some of these points may be found in either an Arab or Israeli history book. Palestinian textbooks may write about forced expulsions from Palestine during the “Nakba”, while Israeli textbooks may write about Palestinian Arabs being encouraged to leave their homes by their leadership while the armies from five supportive Arab countries attacked Israel in an effort to destroy the country and drive the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea. The arguments are not subtle differences of opinions, and each side holds onto their account of history with examples of stories of a family here, a village there, or quotes from Israeli and Palestinian leadership at that time to underscore their version of history.

Arguably, this is something for historians to debate and a thoughtful person would probably conclude that there are elements of truth to both sides. Whether it is 80/20% or 20/80% for the parties is beyond the point of this discussion. The thrust is that their narratives are stories of the past. While Arabs and Israelis will invariably bring up their point of view in a debate, it need not dictate the debates nor compromise the conversations of the future of the region. A “starting point” of the here-and-now can be established to find a solution for the future.

A second example is the conflict between Egypt and Israel. Each side’s view of who was the belligerent party in 1967 did not impede a path forward to a different future leading to a peace treaty.

PAST AND PRESENT: Some splits in narratives run throughout time. The past can consume the present and the versions of history touch daily dialogue.

Many Arabs argue that a state of Palestine has always existed, but has been occupied by various parties including Israelis, Jordanians, Egyptians and British. They carry placards to “Free Palestine” from current Israeli occupation. For their part, Israelis note that Palestine never existed as an independent country. It was never ruled by a local Palestinian Arab government. The parties are in negotiations to potentially “Create Palestine,” while dismissing the Arab narrative as factually incorrect. The competing narratives are in conflict, but needn’t prevent the parties from moving towards a future that is in alignment.

PRESENT: A last example of a “neutral” clash of each side’s take on history is current history. Israelis and Palestinian Arabs argue forcefully about who started the Gaza war in 2014 and which party is responsible for many civilian deaths. Politicians and people will argue their points forcefully and recommend actions to punish the other side and improve their own position. Ultimately, the war and responses will become part of the past. The parties could opt to move forward with plans for a future OR they could use the war as an excuse to undermine a future peace.

 Bibi -Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Arab-Israeli “Toxic” Narratives

The term “Toxic Narrative” is meant to describe the inability of the two sides to ever establish a true peace; it is not intended to suggest that a narrative is inherently evil.

PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE: The best example of competing viewpoints of the past that stretch into the future, is the Balfour Declaration (1917) and its incorporation into the San Remo conference (1920) and then the international law established by the League of Nations in the British Mandate of Palestine (1922). The two sides’ competing opinions impact the ability of the parties to establish peace for the future.

International Law: The Palestinian Arabs argue that the League of Nations had no right to declare a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. They contend such international decision was made without the approval of the local Arab population in Palestine, and as such, the law itself should be null and void. They further argue that the imposition of such mandate was an effort to colonialize Palestine. The Palestinian Arabs took many steps to halt the implementation of that mandate for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…and facilitate Jewish immigration…and close settlement by Jews on the land.” The most significant actions were the riots of 1936-9 which enabled the Arabs to get the British to issue the 1939 “White Paper” which would limit the Jewish population in Palestine to one-third of the country, leaving an Arab majority population and facilitate Arab rule.

The Israeli perspective is that the League of Nations (precursor to the United Nations) made a law specifically recognizing the Jewish right to a national homeland in Palestine. They do not believe that such international law was illegal in 1922, and when the United Nations voted in 1947 to only grant a small portion of the Mandated land as a Jewish State, the Jews were disappointed but voted in favor of the proposal anyway.  The Arabs rejected the 1947 proposal, just as they rejected the 1922 Mandate.

Historical Connection: As part of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, the international community recognized the “historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine.” The history of the Jews in the land goes back 3700 years and the Jews were the only people to ever be self-governing in the land. They were also the only people to make Jerusalem its capital, which they did for the third time in 1950.

The history of the Jews has also been challenged by the Palestinian Arabs who continually deny Jewish history in the region and insist that Israelis are attempting to “Judaize” the country, and that Jewish presence in the region is a recent phenomenon. (They have even advanced that Jesus was a Palestinian, not a Jew, even though Arabs did not come to the holy land en masse until the Muslim invasions hundreds of years later).

In short, the two conflicting narratives relate to the RIGHTS of Jews to REestablish a Jewish majority in the land and be self-governing again.

The Palestinian contention is that the entire Zionist enterprise was illegal from the start: The call for Israel’s creation in 1922 was illegal; the declaration of the state in 1948 was illegal; and the assumption of additional land in 1967 was illegal. They view the entire region as “Arab land” and Jewish presence and rule is illegitimate and directly undermines the Arab rights in the land.

The Roadblock to Peace

The Future:  Some argue that despite such widely held opinion by Palestinian Arabs, acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has stated that he would recognize a state of Israel as part of a peace agreement. As such, the debate of narratives and facts is not truly “toxic” as the Arabs are willing to look past their past.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintains that is not so.

Netanyahu claims that a de facto recognition of Israel as a country that exists today will not prevent a war tomorrow.  A de facto peace treaty that does not recognize Israel’s RIGHT to exist is a flimsy veneer.  Over time the veneer will come off, and the underlying Palestinian Arab contention that Jews have no rights to live and rule on Arab land will lead to further war and bloodshed.  Without a break from the storyline that Jews have no history, no legal authority, nor basic rights to live and pray and be self-governing in Israel, there will never be peace.  No amount of land-for-peace swap could resolve an illegal Jewish claim until the entire state of Israel is under Arab rule.

The Palestinians have not been able to accept such a break with their narrative of the rights of Jews in Palestine.  They could not accept such vision of Jewish rights in 1922 and have been unable to accept it today, as Abbas has repeatedly stated he will never recognize Israel as a “Jewish State”.

As such, the seemingly innocuous request for Palestinians to recognize Israel as the Jewish State has potentially become a roadblock to final settlement talks. A statement that would have no practical impact (compared to tangible matters such as borders or “right of return”), has touched a key nerve in the Palestinian psyche.  They would rather forgo a brighter future than negate their narrative as the sole rightful owners of the land.

People typically speak of the Arab-Israeli conflict and refer to events at important time periods like 1948, 1967 and 2000.  While those events helped shape the present, they need not dictate the future.  Each side can maintain many narratives without destroying the prospects for peace.

The toxic narrative that prevents peace revolves around the rights of Jews to their historic homeland established in international law in 1922.  It is that narrative that must be addressed for the parties to arrive at a long-term peaceful future together.  It has been almost a century, and well past time for Arabs to recognize the legal and legitimate rights of Jews to live in the holy land and to be self-governing.

Related First One Through articles:

Names and Narrative: Palestinian Territories/ Israeli Territories

Names and Narrative: The West Bank / Judea and Samaria


Absolute and Relative Ideological Terrorism in the United States

Summary: The New York Times has sought to educate people to fear Republican terrorists more than Muslim extremists.

“Right-Wing” versus “Muslim Extremism”

In June 2015 the New York Times ran some articles and editorials claiming that domestic terrorism was more of a problem than radical Islamic terrorism.

  • A June 16 op-ed “The Growing Right-Wing Terror Threat” quoted a police officer that “said that “militias, neo-Nazis and sovereign citizens” are the biggest threat we face in regard to extremism’”. The paper quoted statistics from The Global Terrorism Database which counted 65 attacks at the hands of “right-wing ideologies and 24 by Muslim extremists since 9/11”. It added another source, “the International Security Program at the New America Foundation identifies 39 fatalities from “non-jihadist” homegrown extremists and 26 fatalities from “jihadist” extremists.
  • On June 24, the NYTimes had an article entitled “Homegrown Extremists Tied to Deadlier Toll Than Jihadists in U.S. Since 9/11”. The paper stated that “Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.” That data looks to be the same as the International Security Program, but included the nine black church-goers who had just been gunned down. Another statistic in the article stated that “Non-Muslim extremists have carried out 19 such [ideological] attacks since Sept. 11, according to the latest count, compiled by David Sterman, a New America program associate, and overseen by Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert. By comparison, seven lethal attacks by Islamic militants.”

The Washington Examiner questioned the definition of “right-wing terrorists” to include a very broad group of people. How did neo-Nazis and racists get lumped in with the “right-wing”?  Before exploring the Times deliberate grouping of all non-Muslim extremism under a single banner, consider a brief education about relative numbers versus absolute numbers.

Main cover story in the New York Times

 Absolute versus Relative

A cursory review of numbers could lead to a quick conclusion: 48 people killed is a greater total than 26 people killed. A total of 19 attacks is more than seven attacks. As such, the quotes in the article such as “Law enforcement agencies around the country have told us the threat from Muslim extremists is not as great as the threat from right-wing extremists” would appear accurate on its face as there were more than two times the number of attacks and almost twice the number of fatalities from non-Muslim attacks.

However, a review of the statistics on a relative basis would yield a very different result.

According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims accounted for 0.9% of Americans in 2014. That means that there are 99 times more non-Muslims than Muslims in the US. If one were to assume that the percentage of Muslims who are radical that would commit an act of terror is the same as the broad group of right-wing and anti-government terrorists within the non-Muslim population, one would expect the right-wing terrorists to have 99 times the number of attacks and fatalities, not two times.  This implies that an average Muslim is 49 times more likely to commit an act of ideological terror than a non-Muslim in the United States.

(By the way, the statistics deliberately exclude the jihadist terrorism of 9/11 which killed nearly 3000 people.)

 The New York Times Warning of Terrorism by Conservatives

After the Times led its readers to focus on “homegrown extremism” as the actual threat of terrorism (compared to jihadists), it lumped all of those non-Muslim fanatics into the Republican party:

 On several occasions since President Obama took office, efforts by government agencies to conduct research on right-wing extremism have run into resistance from Republicans, who suspected an attempt to smear conservatives. A 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security, which warned that an ailing economy and the election of the first black president might prompt a violent reaction from white supremacists, was withdrawn in the face of conservative criticism.”

Even if one were to use the liberal paper’s biased assumptions that all anti-government and racist fanatics must exclusively come from the Conservative and Republican parties (which account for roughly 45% of the population according to a June 2015 Gallup poll), it would still suggest that an average Muslim is over 20 times more likely to commit an ideological attack as a “homegrown [Conservative] extremist.”

That would suggest one of the following conclusions:

  1. Non-Muslim terrorists have nothing to do with the Conservative/ Republican parties; OR
  2. An average Muslim is much more likely to commit acts of terror than an average non-Muslim

Either way -or both – these are the exact opposite conclusions that the New York Times sought to convey in its articles.

Related FirstOneThrough article:

Ramifications of Ignoring American Antisemitism



Palestinians agree that Israel rules all of Jerusalem, but the World Treats the City as Divided

The Palestinian Arabs and Israelis last managed to negotiate an agreement in September 1995. That agreement, Oslo II, was intended to be an interim agreement after which a permanent resolution was to be reached in five years. However, five years later in September 2000, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat walked away from the Israeli peace proposal and launched multi-year riots which claimed thousands of lives.

The terms of Oslo II still live on, decades later.

Oslo II signing
Rabin and Arafat sign maps prior to the Oslo II signing ceremony at the White House, as US president Bill Clinton, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Hussein look on, September 28, 1995 (photo credit: GPO)

Goals of Oslo II

Oslo II was meant to set in place an interim Palestinian Authority which would become the basis of a Palestinian political structure. Oslo II had NO calls for an independent Palestinian state, but stated the goal of the negotiations was to lead to a permanent settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

  • Security Council Resolution 338 was declared after Egypt attacked Israel in the Yom Kippur War. The goal was to stop hostilities and commence peace negotiations.  The thrust of SC 338 was to implement SC 242 to establish “a just and durable peace
  • Security Council 242 was drafted after the Six Day War in 1967. In that war, Israel preemptively attacked Egypt and Syria that were readying an attack on Israel, and Israel defended itself from an attack from Jordan.

Without delving into the nuances of SC 242 here, the thrust of the resolution was to have Israeli armed forces pull back from some territories which it won in the 1967 War and that all states respect “the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area… free from threats or acts of force.” It also proposed “a just settlement of the refugee problem.

Oslo II built on these UN Security Council goals with an interim roadmap. It began with Israel’s handing over certain territories to the Palestinian Authority (Gaza and Jericho) as well as other major Palestinian cities.

Status of Jerusalem in Oslo II

Jerusalem is mentioned eight times in the Oslo II Accords. In every instance, the entire city is referenced, not just the eastern half that Israel acquired from the Jordanians and Palestinian Arabs in 1967.

The first six times “Jerusalem” appeared in the Oslo II agreement relate to future Palestinian elections in which Palestinian Arabs located in Jerusalem would be able to participate. The remaining two times specifically state that Jerusalem is a point for final status negotiations:

  • ARTICLE XVII Jurisdiction
    1. In accordance with the DOP, the jurisdiction of the Council will cover West Bank and Gaza Strip territory as a single territorial unit, except for:
    2. issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations: Jerusalem, settlements, specified military locations, Palestinian refugees, borders, foreign relations and Israelis;
  • ARTICLE XXXI Final Clauses
    5. Permanent status negotiations will commence as soon as possible, but not later than May 4, 1996, between the Parties. It is understood that these negotiations shall cover remaining issues, including: Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders, relations and cooperation with other neighbors, and other issues of common interest.

According to the agreements executed by the Palestinians and Israelis:

  • Jerusalem is not part of the West Bank, as it is broken out separately
  • Jerusalem is not a “settlement”, as the agreement stated later that “settlements” are entities in the West Bank and Gaza – “For the purpose of this Agreement, “the Settlements” means, in the West Bank the settlements in Area C; and in the Gaza Strip – the Gush Katif and Erez settlement areas, as well as the other settlements in the Gaza Strip, as shown on attached map No. 2
  • Israel controls Jerusalem“Israel shall continue to exercise powers and responsibilities not so transferred”

There is therefore no basis for any of the United Nations, the EU or the Unites States to claim that Jerusalem is a settlement and that Jews should have any restrictions from living anywhere in the city.  Should there be any modifications to the Israeli rule of the city, it will be made by mutual consent in permanent status negotiations.

Yet, the world ignores the Oslo II foundation document of a peace agreement.

United Nations Ignores Oslo II on Jerusalem

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon made an address on the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” in 2013:

On Jerusalem’s Jewish “settlements”:All settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem must cease.  Measures that prejudge final status issues are not to be recognized.
Announcements of thousands of new housing units cannot be reconciled with the goal of a two-state solution and risk the collapse of negotiations”

These statements ignore Oslo II in many respects: it broke apart “East Jerusalem” as a distinct entity; it claimed that Jews living in “East Jerusalem” were in “settlements”; it called for a two-state solution (while not in Oslo II, both the Israelis and Palestinians later agreed to such plan); it suggested that Jews living in “East Jerusalem” hurt a two-state solution.

On Palestinian homes in “East Jerusalem”: “Of particular concern are developments in East Jerusalem, where this year alone, some 100 [Arab] structures have been demolished, displacing 300 people.  Hundreds more Palestinians are at risk because their homes were built without Israeli-issued building permits”

The UN leader voiced concern with more Jews moving into eastern Jerusalem and not enough Arabs being accommodated there.

On the Permanent Status Negotiations of Jerusalem: “Jerusalem is to emerge from negotiations as the capital of two States, with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all”

Ban Ki-Moon voiced a conclusion not made in Oslo II and “prejudged” an outcome that Jerusalem must be divided, even though Israel already divided the UN’s “Holy Basin” when it gave Bethlehem to the Palestinian Authority 20 years earlier.  Amazing commentary from someone who is concerned with “prejudging final status issues.”

European Union Ignores Oslo II on Jerusalem

The EU has taken positions adopted by the Palestinian Authority which are outside of the agreements reached by Israel and the PA in Oslo II:

On Jerusalem’s Jewish “settlements”: “EU considers that settlement building anywhere in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law, constitutes an obstacle to peace and threatens to make a two-state solution impossible.”

On Palestinians in “East Jerusalem”: “The EU supports [Arab] institution building work in East Jerusalem, notably in the areas of health, education and the judiciary.” 

On the Permanent Status Negotiations of Jerusalem: “the EU has repeatedly confirmed its deep concern about accelerated settlement expansion in the West Bank including East Jerusalem. This expansion prejudges the outcome of final status negotiations and threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution”
“The EU considers that the peace negotiations should include the resolution of all issues surrounding the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states. The EU will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.”

Like the United Nations, the EU ignored the mutual recognition of both Palestinians Arabs and Israel that only Israel administers all of Jerusalem, and any modification to such arrangement must be made by mutual agreement. Oslo II made no suggestion that the holy city be divided.

The United States Ignores Oslo II on Jerusalem

On Jerusalem’s Jewish “settlements”: Jen Psaki, Spokesperson for the US Department of State said on October 27, 2014: “we continue to make our position absolutely clear that we view settlement activity as illegitimate and unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem. Israel’s leaders have said they would support a pathway to a two-state solution, but moving forward with this type of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace”

On the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem: While the US does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or any country (and therefor does not maintain on embassy in Jerusalem), it has nevertheless decided to establish an office for Palestinians in Jerusalem.  The United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC) sounds like it services both Israel and the PA, but its mission is to serve and assist the PA in meeting its security needs. “The USSC directs all facets of U.S. security sector assistance to the Palestinian Authority and synchronizes international supporting efforts…The USSC assists the Palestinian Authority to transform and professionalize its security sector.

The US decided to place such office to assist the PA in Jerusalem, rather than Bethlehem or Jericho. The address is home of the Consul General of the US in Jerusalem which serves US citizens from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

On the Permanent Status Negotiations of Jerusalem:  Back in 2009, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made a point that recognized that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, but said he was opposed to construction in “East Jerusalem”. “The United States opposes new Israeli construction in East Jerusalem. The status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved by the parties through negotiations and supported by the international community. Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations. Rather, both parties should return to negotiations without preconditions as soon as possible. The United States recognizes that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians, and for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. We believe that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that realizes the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem, and safeguards its status for people around the world.”


There have been very few agreements between the Palestinian Arabs and Israelis throughout history.  When the parties last mutually agreed to move forward with a peace process, they agreed that all of Jerusalem was controlled by Israel.  The agreement had no caveats about what Israel could or could not do anywhere in the city. It made no suggestion that the city was or would be divided.

Despite that reality, a new perception has taken hold in world bodies that Israel should prohibit Jews from living in parts of their capital and holiest city.  It is being repeated more frequently and with greater force: at one point, world bodies opposed Israel building new neighborhoods in the eastern part of Jerusalem; now they decry Jews moving into existing homes that  they legally purchased privately.

How can Israel expect to negotiate a final status agreement if the world rejects the agreements Israel makes with Palestinian Arabs as it did with Oslo II? How can Israel enter negotiations when the world advances a prejudged outcome to such negotiations to which Israel never agreed?

Related First One Through articles:

The Arguments over Jerusalem

Real and Imagined Laws of Living in Silwan

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

Obama supports Anti-Semitic Palestinian Agenda of Jew-Free State

The Israeli Peace Process versus the Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

A “Viable” Palestinian State

A Simple Question for Hillary Clinton on Israel

In June 2015, Hillary Clinton claimed to have been a strong ally for Israel. Without getting into the history of her tenure as Secretary of State, (when she could claim she was following the orders of US President Barack Obama), here is a simple question for Hillary on her presedential run: will she reintroduce the pro-Israel Democratic platform that was present in 2008, but abolished under Obama in 2012?

Hillary rally
Hillary Clinton speaks at her first campaign rally in New York City
June 13th, 2015. Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Specifically, will she reintroduce the pre-Obama Democratic platform that called for:

  • The isolation of Hamas until it renounced terrorism. As declared in the 2008 Democratic platform: “The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abides by past agreements.”
  • The settlement of the descendants of Palestinian refugees in a new Palestinian State, not Israel.The creation of a Palestinian state through final status negotiations, together with an international compensation mechanism, should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.”
  • Dismissing the concept that borders should be based on the 1949 Armistice Lines.All understand that it is unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations to be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.”
  • Recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” The party removed the statement, and then reinstated it after a bitter fight on the convention floor.

Obama made his pivot away from Israel very clear in his 2012 presidential run.  What are Hillary Clinton’s intentions?

Related First.One.Through articles:

International-Domestic Abuse: Obama and Netanyahu

The Israeli Peace Process versus the Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

Summary: The gap in resolving the long running Israel-Palestinian Question has to do with the goals of each party: the Israelis believe they have been engaged in a peace process between peoples while the Palestinians are negotiating a divorce settlement between countries.

Politicians and the media – both well-meaning and otherwise – have blamed various parties for the failures to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When they are not directly pointing accusing fingers, they still use language which conveys their biases. A person needn’t look past the language used in discussions about Jewish homes beyond the Green Line/ 1949 Armistice Lines – the “settlements”.


“Viability”: As detailed in “A Viable Palestinian State”, various parties have described the “settlements” as a hindrance to a viable Palestinian state. The statement is meant as a direct attack on Israel, and is absurd. If a Palestinian state cannot exist with a 5% Jewish population, then surely Israel cannot exist with a 20% Muslim population. Are the people that make such a comment looking for Israel to expel a million Israeli Arabs?

Similarly, if a viable Palestine is compromised because such new country would be only 15km across at a single point, surely Israel cannot exist in its current configuration with a 15km narrow corridor for a dozen kilometers. Are these politicians and media pundits suggesting that Israel must annex the entire spine of the land?

“Complication” and “Provocation”: Another sentiment that is expressed is that settlements “complicate the peace process.” As conveyed in June 2015 by the New York Times in an article called “Israel’s work on a West Bank Site Gives Rise to New Suspicion,” even existing homes purchased by private individuals (as opposed to new communities established by the Israeli government) hurt the peace process. The article described a man who purchased an abandoned building and surrounding property: “Leftist Israeli politicians and advocacy groups have reacted with alarm, suspecting a new settlement in the occupied West Bank [a NYT term] that would further complicate the peace process.

This statement is similar to the rebuke of the Obama administration to Jews buying and moving into homes they own in Silwan, in the eastern part of Jerusalem. As detailed in the FirstOneThrough article “Obama supports Anti-Semitic Palestinian Agenda of Jew-Free State,” the Obama administration condemned Jews for legally buying homes and becoming neighbors in an Arab neighborhood east of the Green Line, referring to such basic act of living as a provocation.

And therein lies the basic gap in understanding the actions, intentions and goals of the two sides.

New York Times article quoting “leftists” that claim that individual Jews owning land east of the Green Line “complicates peace”

Israeli Peace Process

The primary stated goals of the negotiations were to get to a peace based on two states:

  • The peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan are vital. But they’re not enough. We must also find a way to forge a lasting peace with the Palestinians. Two years ago, I publicly committed to a solution of two states for two peoples: A Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state. I am willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace. As the leader of Israel, it is my responsibility to lead my people to peace.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu May 2011
  • Our goal is two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The process is the one of direct negotiations to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to resolve all the permanent status issues and end the occupation that began in 1967 under which Palestinians have suffered so much.” Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas June 2003

As part of making peace with Palestinian Arabs, Israel has stated it will enable a new state of Palestine to be created.  For their part, the Palestinian Arabs are interested in their new state to be self-governing and to not deal with Israeli Jews. Israel has focused on peace with the people; Palestinians have focused on separation of the people. Two states living side-by-side in peace is not the same as two people living side-by-side in peace.

A peace process is best established with various personal, commercial and governmental relationships and dealings. Such interactions would enable the parties to navigate ongoing thorny issues like water rights and security.  It would enable partnerships to develop tourism and the economy.

Israel understands the importance of establishing relationships with its Arab neighbors.  As soon as the country was founded in 1948, the country granted 160,000 non-Jews citizenship and extended an offer and desire for peace with the neighboring Arab countries.  When Israel annexed Jerusalem, it offered all of the people there citizenship.  As of 2015, non-Jews account for 25% of Israel and have full rights in the most liberal country in the region, and one of the most liberal in the world. In the 2015 Israeli election, the Arab party placed third among the dozen parties seeking seats in the Knesset.

Over the decades, Israel forged peace agreements with neighboring Arab countries Egypt and Jordan.  It has stated that it is ready to so with Palestinian Arabs and the other neighboring countries as well.

Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

When Israel captured the area east of the Green Line in 1967 after it was attacked by the Jordanian and Palestinian Arabs, it rescinded the Jordanian ban on Jews living in the area (from 1949-67).  Israel allowed Jews to live and establish themselves in the region once again where they bought existing houses next to Arabs, built new houses, and created new companies.

All of which, made the Palestinian Arabs angry.

The Palestinians do not want Jewish neighbors in a new state.  Acting President Abbas made very clear his intention when he declared “we will not see the presence of a single Israeli – soldier or civilian – on our lands.”

The Palestinians do not want any Jewish businesses in a new state.  Despite the extraordinary efforts that some companies like Sodastream went through to hire Palestinian Arabs in its plant east of the Green Line (EGL) to work alongside Israeli Arabs and Jews, Palestinians put pressure on the company to abandon the area – which it did. Palestinians promote a BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) of all businesses established by Jews in the EGL.

Palestinians think Jews have no rights to buy or live anywhere in the land. They think the entire region – including Israel – is Arab land and that Jews have no history in the region. One can often hear Abbas and other Palestinians refer to the “Judaization” of the land, as if the holy land never had Jews.

The Palestinians reject the legitimacy of Israel itself. While the Palestinians will acknowledge the fact that Israel exists and will negotiate with it, they do not view the existence of the Jewish state as legitimate. They consider Jews colonialists and Israel a foreign colonial enterprise.  As such, they will not recognize Israel as a Jewish State.

The Palestinians are not looking for peace with Israel, nor are they seeking peace with Jews. They view the presence of both in the entire holy land as illegitimate. Their goals are to completely separate themselves from Israel and Jews in their own state, and to reestablish a majority Arab presence inside of Israel. Within their new country, the Palestinians do not want a single Israeli person or business.  Inside of Israel, they want millions of Arabs that are second and third generation removed from Arabs that once lived in the land, to specifically move to Israel because they feel that such land is also Arab land which Jews took illegally.


That is why Jewish “settlements” east of the Green Line are inaccurately called obstacles to a “peace process.” Jewish homes and businesses east of the Green Line do NOT “complicate the peace process”, they complicate the divorce proceedings that the Palestinians desire. A Jewish presence can only be called a “provocation” to a people that want to be rid of Jews.

It is not inaccurate to state that Jewish homes in EGL complicate permanent status negotiations, but it is an inversion of the truth to claim that they hurt the “peace process.”


Related First One Through articles:

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

Delivery of the Fictional Palestinian Keys

Names and Narrative: The West Bank / Judea and Samaria


Names and Narrative: Palestinian Territories/ Israeli Territories

Summary: Almost every major media outlet refers to the Gaza Strip and the west bank of the Jordan River as “Palestinian Territories”, when in fact, those areas are actually “Israeli territories” and “Palestinian Authority Territories.”

Most places in the world are part-and-parcel of a country.  However, there are situations when a place is administered by a government which has not incorporated the land and assumed full sovereignty.

The United States of America historically had several large territories as the country expanded, including Alaska and Hawaii.  Today, the USA continues to have several territories including:

  • Puerto Rico
  • US Virgin Islands
  • Guam
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • American Samoa

These territories have some rights and protections of the US government, but not others such as the right to vote.

Israeli Territories and
Palestinian Authority Territories
1995 to Present

It is easy and obvious to understand that there are no “Palestinian Territories”, because there is no such thing as the State of Palestine (as of this writing, in any event).  Most of the area east of the Green Line (EGL/ west bank of the Jordan River, WBJR), is controlled and administered by Israel.

Under the Oslo Accords, EGL was divided into three parts: Areas A, B and C. Area A was handed over to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and it has complete control of that land.  Area C is “Israeli Territory” and is completely controlled by Israel. Area B is a hybrid, which is under the civil administration of the Palestinian Authority, but security control of Israel.

Areas ABC
Breakdown of Areas A, B and C
on the west bank of the Jordan River

Gaza would ostensibly be called “Palestinian Authority Territory”, however, the PA has no control in the area.  The governing party is Hamas, which won elections in 2006 and routed any PA personnel from the region in 2007.  Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

Israeli Territories
1967 to 1995

The Oslo Accords between the State of Israel and the PLO started the process of breaking the Israeli territories into areas with local Palestinian Arab control.  Before the Oslo Accords, all of Gaza and EGL/ west bank of the Jordan River (WBJR) were only Israeli territories.

Israel took control of Gaza from Egypt in June 1967 during the Six Day War.  Egypt had amassed a large army and announced its intention of attacking Israel, so Israel preemptively attacked Egypt and seized Gaza.  In response to Israel’s preemptive attack on Egypt, Jordan attacked Israel from the EGL/WBJR. Jordan lost the region and gave up all claims to the land in 1988.

Jordan and Egyptian Territory
1949 to 1967

In May 1948, the Palestinian Arabs and five Arabs armies attacked Israel as it declared independence from Great Britain. At the end of the war in 1949, Jordan assumed control of much of Judea and Samaria in an area which became known as the “west bank of the Jordan River (WBJR)” in the United Nations, ultimately shortened to the “West Bank”.  Jordan annexed that area in 1950, gave all Arabs living there citizenship and expelled all of the Jews from the area, counter to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Egypt assumed control of the Gaza Strip, but did not annex the area.

British Territory 1922 to 1948
Ottoman Territory 1517 to 1922

At the end of World War I, the defeated Ottoman Empire was carved up into several areas (including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Jordan) which were administered by the French and British.  The lands currently known as WBJR and Gaza were part-and-parcel of the British Mandate and had no unique laws or characteristics.  Similarly under Ottoman rule for hundreds of years before the British, those areas were neither divided nor distinct.

As detailed above, there are not, nor have there ever been “Palestinian Territories”. Such terminology inherently upgrades the status of the Palestinian Authority and eliminates the legal role and status that Israel has in Areas B and C.

Related First.One.Through articles

Names and Narrative: The West Bank / Judea and Samaria

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

The Subtle Discoloration of History: Shuafat

The Legal Israeli Settlements

Obama’s Friendly Pass to Turkey’s Erdogan

US President Barack Obama has made some interesting friends in office. Those friends get some special attention, and often more importantly, benign neglect.

Among the five world leaders that Obama highlighted as his best friends was the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Over Obama’s tenure as president, Erdogan served as both the Turkish Prime Minister and President.  This weekend, elections in Turkey could help cement his power as he attempts to remake the country’s constitution.

One would normally congratulate Obama on aligning himself with such a powerful leader, particularly one with a significant presence in the Muslim world. Such an ally could help the United States advance American interests in the volatile Middle East.

erdogan obama
US President Barack Obama talks with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a family photo at the G20 Summit in Cannes on Nov. 3, 2011. (Photo: AP)

Turkey’s “Help” in The Middle East

Turkey sits geographically as a bridge between the European and Asian continents.  Turkey borders the volatile countries Syria and Iraq, both of which are consumed by war, where Obama has expressed a US interest.

Turkey’s geographic position and large army make it a potential important ally for the US in the fight against the Islamic State.  However, despite the good terms between Obama and Erdogan, Turkey has not been a good partner in this regard.  As relayed by The Guardian October 2014: “The US is especially angry with Turkey because it is a Nato ally and yet it has refused to provide even basic logistical assistance to the US-led coalition.” It took many months for Turkey to agree to even begin training Syrian forces in Turkey to fight ISIS.  Turkey’s efforts continue to be minimal.

Erdogan’s Values

If Turkey hasn’t been so helpful to American interests, perhaps Obama’s friendship is based on shared values.

As reviewed in “The Churlish Turkish Leadership“, Erdogan has moved his country to the far right into the deep religious Islamic sphere. He has curbed the freedoms of press and expression dramatically over his tenure. Are those shared American values? Obama’s values?

A Friend With Benefits: Erdogan

Despite Erdogan’s lack of assistance to America and suppression of human rights, Obama has treated Erdogan rather nicely:

  • There were no ramifications to Turkey from withholding support in the fight against ISIS
  • There were no ramifications from Erdogan’s suppression of human rights
  • Obama has issued no statement about Turkey’s illegal occupation of northern Cyprus since 1974, which is deemed illegal by the United Nations and not recognized by any country other than Turkey.
  • When Erdogan said the “Zionism was a crime against humanity” in February 2013, the White House merely condemned the statement, but did not threaten any action against Turkey.
  • In May 2015, in the week before elections, Erdogan stated that he sought Turkish unity (with the Kurds) in liberating Jerusalem just as our forefathers went together to liberate Jerusalem with Saladin, we will march together on the same path“, in a comment that did not even get a response from the Obama administration.

It would appear that Obama is fine with Erdogan despite the lack of Turkish support for American policies or values.

A Friend without Benefits: Netanyahu

Obama’s relationship with Erdogan is in sharp contrast to the way Obama treats the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


While Obama claims that the US and Israel are strong allies, his policies appear to be based more on personal friendships.  For Obama, friendship is showing he works for them and not what his friends do for the US. “I think that if you ask them — Angela Merkel, or Prime Minister Singh, or President Lee, or Prime Minister Erdoğan, or David Cameron would say, we have a lot of trust and confidence in the president. We believe what he says. We believe that he’ll follow through on his commitments. We think he’s paying attention to our concerns and our interests,”

Obama will likely continue to show benign neglect to the demagogic statesman from Turkey who makes vile attacks against allies and quells the rights of the people in Turkey.  Conversely, Obama has demonstrated that he will berate and lecture the Israeli leader about “values” and take actions that threaten the country’s existence.

Troubling trends based on personal preferences.

Related First.One.Through articles:

Turkish Hypocrisy – Erdogan’s Line of Defense

New York Times Talking Turkey

Educating the New York Times: Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood

On June 2, 2015 the New York Times once again decided to tell the world that the people of Gaza are suffering.

New York Times cover picture of Gaza,
June 2, 2015

With a large color picture on the front page, the Times included another picture and article inside regarding how the Gazan community has still suffered from a lack of money, jobs and rebuilding of the infrastructure one year after the war “between Hamas and Israel.”  If a reader ever wanted to learn about the scores of people killed in Nigeria, they would have to hunt inside the paper for an article on page A4 (with no picture).  If they wanted to hear about the dozens of Yemeni civilians killed by Saudi Arabia, they would have had to turn to page A12 the day before.  This has been a continuing pattern for the NYT, as outlined in “Every Picture Tells a Story – Whitewashing the World” where the killing of civilians around the world went under-reported, while the suffering of Gazans remained over-reported.

Another trend of the liberal press has been to not label Hamas a terrorist organization, as reviewed in “CNN’s Embrace of Hamas.”  The group simply is a political group dedicated to “resistance.”

The June 2 NYT article “Gazans’ Hopes for Rebuilding After War Give Way to Deeper Despair” has continued to add to the trend of distancing Palestinian Arabs from Hamas, and Hamas from terrorism, as if everything that happened to Gazans was poor luck and happenstance.


The article referred to the Palestinian Arabs’ “hope” and “Early optimism that global powers would intervene forcefully to rebuild the battered coastal enclave after the 50-day summer war between Gaza’s Hamas government and Israel “.  The article never discussed their hope that Hamas would destroy Israel.

The article detailed the blight in Gaza, stating “Pulverized buildings are still scattered along Gaza’s border areas from the last war. In the rubble of Shejaiya, an eastern neighborhood of Gaza City, near the border with Israel,” but did not discuss that the Shejaya neighborhood was the locus of dozens of tunnels from people’s homes into Israel to commit acts of terror.

It would appear that the NYT further wanted its readers to believe that the people of Gaza made a momentary strategic blunder in aligning itself with the Muslim Brotherhood in a “decision that backfired“:

The Egyptian government, a bitter enemy of its homegrown Islamist party,
the Muslim Brotherhood, has taken extraordinary steps to shut down the tunnels [connecting Egypt and Gaza]  that were the lifeblood of the Gaza economy.

Egypt has opened its border only five times this year, part of a broader policy to punish Hamas, which aligned itself with the Brotherhood, Egypt’s former ruling party,
a decision that backfired when the military seized power in mid-2013.

This is ridiculous.  Hamas IS an integral part of the Muslim Brotherhood. It didn’t simply “align itself” in “a decision that backfired.”  Here are quotes from the Hamas Charter (1988):

“Article 2: The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine. Moslem Brotherhood Movement is a universal organization which constitutes the largest Islamic movement in modern times….

Article 7: The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders. It goes back to 1939, to the emergence of the martyr Izz al-Din al Kissam and his brethren the fighters, members of Moslem Brotherhood. It goes on to reach out and become one with another chain that includes the struggle of the Palestinians and Moslem Brotherhood in the 1948 war and the Jihad operations of the Moslem Brotherhood in 1968 and after.”

This is not subject to interpretation. Hamas is an integral part of the global Muslim Brotherhood movement, a group which has been actively banned and persecuted in Muslim countries such as Egypt and Syria for promoting terrorism.

However, such facts muddy a narrative of Palestinian Arabs as innocent victims.  Therefore, the media seems to have concluded that the best way to advance the victimhood tale requires a multi-part effort:

  1. Distance the people from the ruling government and negative reports. Minimize the fact that Palestinian Arabs voted for Hamas, which has led Fatah in every poll since 2006. Explain that the Arabs are frustrated by the Fatah corruption so had no practical choice other than voting for Hamas. Explain Palestinian Arabs being the most anti-Semitic people in the world by using terms like “not surprising” without delving into cause-and-effect.
  2. Stop calling Hamas a terrorist organization. Use terms like “militant” sparingly, and ideally, just “Islamist”.
  3. Refer to Hamas as a political entity. Which it is, like the Nazi party was a political entity elected by the Germans in the 1930s. Quote “political leaders” of Hamas often.
  4. Never refer to the Hamas Charter, which calls for the complete destruction of Israel; murder of Jews and never accepting any negotiated settlement. Skip the long, evil Jewish and Zionist conspiracy theories- those statements are just noise that cloud the picture of Palestinian Arab suffering.
  5. Localize Hamas to an Israeli resistant movement.  In a world that fears the dangerous rise of the Islamic State / ISIS, do not let Hamas get painted as part of a broader Muslim terrorist group (as described above).

If you follow these steps, the Palestinian Arabs can appear as passive victims and not as active participants in a radical anti-Semitic, anti-Western regional movement to install a Muslim caliphate.

Read the press today. Which rules are they using?


Related First.One.Through articles:

Cause and Effect: Making Gaza

The Death of Civilians; the Three Shades of Sorrow

Honor Killings in Gaza

The Palestinians aren’t “Resorting to Violence”; They are Murdering and Waging War

What do you Recognize in the Palestinians?

Extreme and Mainstream. Germany 1933; West Bank & Gaza 2014

Obama’s “Values” Red Herring

On May 21, 2015, Jeffrey Goldberg from The Atlantic published an interview with US President Barack Obama on ISIS, Iraq and Israel. Here is a review of Obama’s comments on Israel and his deliberate attempt to minimize his threats to Israel. It would appear that the president needs a reminder that the primary Jewish value is the sanctity of life.

 obama the atlantic
Photo of President Obama from The Atlantic May 2015



  • 1)  Obama stated that he enjoys broad Jewish support.I consistently received overwhelming majority support from the Jewish community, and even after all the publicity around the recent differences that I’ve had with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the majority of the Jewish American community still supports me, and supports me strongly.

Comment: Obama’s Jewish support has declined considerably. Obama received weaker Jewish support than any of the recent Democratic candidates for president (going back to the loser Michael Dukakis in 1988).

  • 2012 Obama 69%
  • 2008 Obama 78%
  • 2004 Kerry 76%
  • 2000 Gore 79%
  • 1996 Clinton 78%
  • 1992 Clinton 80%
  • 1988 Dukakis 64%

Obama’s poll numbers continued to collapse among Jews, especially during the six months prior to the interview. The latest Gallup poll had Obama’s approval rating among Jews at 54%, only 8% above the national average. That was the narrowest gap ever in Obama’s presidency. This precipitous drop-off coincides with Obama’s decision to encourage 58 Democratic loyalists to walk out on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the joint session of Congress

  • 2)  Obama said “political” opportunists are portraying him as anti-Israel and anti-Jewish because he questions Israel’s policy regarding Palestinians. there has been a very concerted effort on the part of some political forces to equate being pro-Israel, and hence being supportive of the Jewish people, with a rubber stamp on a particular set of policies coming out of the Israeli government. So if you are questioning settlement policy, that indicates you’re anti-Israeli, or that indicates you’re anti-Jewish. If you express compassion or empathy towards Palestinian youth, who are dealing with checkpoints or restrictions on their ability to travel, then you are suspect in terms of your support of Israel. If you are willing to get into public disagreements with the Israeli government, then the notion is that you are being anti-Israel, and by extension, anti-Jewish. I completely reject that.

Comment: Obama’s critics and his collapsing poll numbers are about OBAMA’s policies regarding Israel, not Israel’s policies regarding Palestinians. Obama’s poll numbers among Jews were fairly consistent during his first term, but with a downturn which could be attributed both to his criticisms of Israel’s permitting Jews to live anywhere they choose as well as the Democrat’s gutting of their pro-Israel platform in 2012. The more precipitous drop in Jewish support for Obama had to do with his Iranian nuclear negotiations and his treatment of the Israeli PM during that time.

Comment: Obama is being a hypocrite by stating that his “public disagreements with the Israeli government” should not be construed as anti-Israel, while Netanyahu’s public criticism of Obama’s policies were attacked. Obama has criticized Israel repeatedly on the world stage for Israel’s handling of disputed lands. However, when Netanyahu disagreed with Obama, it was over a matter that was an existential threat to Israel. Yet Obama chose to belittle Netanyahu’s argument and berate the Israeli leader.

  • 3)  Obama believes that Israel is simply a safe haven for Jews.There’s a direct line between supporting the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland and to feel safe and free of discrimination and persecution, and the right of African Americans to vote and have equal protection under the law. These things are indivisible in my mind

Comment: Obama has never internalized that Israel is THE homeland of the Jewish people. There has always been an important and significant disconnect that Obama has about Israel: Israel is not simply a safe haven where Jews are “free of discrimination and persecution.” Such a safe space could have been created in Uganda too. Israel is not just “a homeland” as if Jews had been self-governing in many other places on earth for centuries; as if the Jewish religion did not have an exclusive and unique relationship with the holy land. Israel is THE homeland of the Jewish people as it has been for 3700 years. That is why the San Remo Conference in 1920 specified Palestine for the Jews.

  • 4)  Obama has hung all of his pro-Israel credentials on his support of Israel militarily.I have maintained, and I think I can show that no U.S. president has been more forceful in making sure that we help Israel protect itself, and even some of my critics in Israel have acknowledged as much.

Comment: Obama’s goal for Israel is not particularly unique. Obama has stressed that the Iraqi government needs to protect Iraq; the Afghani government needs to protect Afghanistan, and so on. Obama has sought to pull American forces out of conflict zones and put the onus on the local governments to protect themselves. That is a broad Obama policy decision – with which one can agree or not regarding America’s role as the world policeman.

What is not subject to debate, is that the policy is not unique and is hardly the great shining example for Obama to underscore as his complete bona fides in being pro-Israel. His stance for Israel’s security is part-and-parcel of his broad position regarding military support and cooperation around the region.



  • 5)  Obama was highly critical of Netanyahu’s comments as being counter to Israel’s democratic laws. Obama came out forcefully against Netanyahu’s comments to get out the vote when Bibi feared he was losing the election. “what I [Obama] did say is that when, going into an election, Prime Minister Netanyahu said a Palestinian state would not happen under his watch, or there [was] discussion in which it appeared that Arab-Israeli citizens were somehow portrayed as an invading force that might vote, and that this should be guarded against—this is contrary to the very language of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, which explicitly states that all people regardless of race or religion are full participants in the democracy. When something like that happens, that has foreign-policy consequences.

Comment: Obama was curiously selective in focusing on certain comments which portrayed Netanyahu only as an extremist. Obama chose to focus on Netanyahu’s comments on election eve when Netanyahu was worried he was going to lose the elections and was trying to rally groups to get out and vote for him. Obama ignored Netanyahu’s later comments which back-tracked and explained his intentions regarding election night. Obama ignored the many years that Netanyahu negotiated with the Palestinian Arabs (Netanyahu ran three prior Israeli governments). Obama ignored Netanyahu’s handing over cities to the Palestinian Authority in showing his willingness to swap land-for-peace.

Comment: Obama ignored comments from repressive regimes. Obama is putting forward sanction reliefs for Iran while the regime chants “Death to America”. Obama has back-tracked from his no nuclear capability for Iran pledge, while Iran chants “Death to Israel”. Obama pushed Israel to negotiate with acting President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and to release Arab terrorists convicted of murder, while Abbas celebrated the killers of innocent Israelis.

Comment: Obama ignored undemocratic regimes. Obama’s reference to Israel’s Declaration of Independence suggested that he only treats countries with liberal values as allies. How does Obama send billions of dollars to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which is one of the most repressive regimes in the world?

Comment: Obama threatened Israel. While Obama ignored the many statements and long history of Netanyahu negotiating with the Palestinian Authority, and ignored the actions and statements of surrounding Arab governments, he threatened Israel. Threatening a country is a far cry from having a difference of opinion or being upset with momentary excited statements from an individual. When Turkish leader Erdogan called Zionism a “Crime against Humanity”, the White House denounced the statement but never threatened Turkey. When Erdogan called for Muslims to conquer Jerusalem, the White House was silent; no threats were issued. Indeed, Obama considered Erdogan one of his closest friends among world leaders.

As detailed in FirstOneThrough “International-Domestic Abuse: Obama and Netanyahu”, the relationship between Israel and the United States is both unique and not one of peers. Israel relies on the US on many levels. Therefore, Obama’s double standards for Netanyahu, coupled with Obama’s global pronouncement that he will punish the entire country of Israel, is an abuse that has angered Israel supporters around the world.

  • 6)  Obama has no issue criticizing Israel on the global stage, as he stated: “the one argument that I very much have been concerned about, and it has gotten stronger over the last 10 years … it’s less overt than the arguments that a Sheldon Adelson makes, but in some ways can be just as pernicious, is this argument that there should not be disagreements in public

Comment: Obama has double standards about criticism in public. Obama lectured Netanyahu that Bibi’s election eve comments and actions ran counter to Israel’s laws. Would Obama feel it is appropriate for Netanyahu to lecture him about America’s ongoing use of the death penalty which most of the western world abolished? Would Obama care to hear about Netanyahu’s views on how the US should treat gay marriage or gays in the military as running afoul of America’s foundation documents? Or would Obama feel that such comments have nothing to do with Israel and that he doesn’t need to listen to a lecture about his own country’s laws from a foreign leader?

Yet, when Netanyahu criticized Obama’s negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program – which poses a direct existential threat to Israel – Obama did not just get offended, but rallied his Democratic loyalists to boycott Netanyahu’s speech in D.C.



  • 7)  Obama received talking points from liberal rabbis. Obama’s interview was peppered with remarks specifically intended for a Jewish audience: “we creating a safe Jewish homeland, but also we are remaking the world. We’re repairing it.” Obama also said “when you show intolerance and when you are persecuting minorities and when you are objectifying them and making them the Other, you are destroying something in yourself,”

Comment: Obama learned only half a lesson from the rabbis. The phrases used by Obama are uniquely Jewish referring in English to Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, and “Acher”, the Other. The choice of language was so out of place that it would be the equivalent of a Jewish person littering a conversation with “Grace”. The Atlantic’s Goldberg even made the comparison stating “Obama, when he talks about Israel, sounds like a rabbi in the progressive Zionist tradition.” The aggressive Obama sales tactic was clearly courtesy of a progressive rabbi to parrot to a Jewish audience.

Regrettably, Obama only learned (or was taught) half of the lesson. The most important Jewish value of all is the preciousness and sacredness of life. Protecting life supersedes almost every other commandment. It is precisely for that reason that Jews have turned against Obama and his poll numbers have dropped. Enabling Iran to get a nuclear weapon threatens millions of people in Israel. Obama’s threats to suddenly withhold support for Israel at the United Nations risks putting Israel’s border security and economic viability at risk.

  • 8)  Obama has higher expectations for Israel. it’s true, I have high expectations for Israel, and they’re not unrealistic expectations, they’re not stupid expectations, they’re not the expectations that Israel would risk its own security blindly in pursuit of some idealistic pie-in-the-sky notions”

Comment: Obama has double standards for Israel. There is no crime in having high expectations for someone; indeed, it is often thought of as a compliment. However, if one uses those higher expectations to punish the party, that is a form of discrimination. For example, Obama cannot make demands on Israel for preconditions for final status talks but make none on Palestinian Arabs. Obama cannot wage wars thousands of miles from his shores against enemies who cannot possibly destroy the US, while berating Israel for fighting against an enemy on its borders that threaten to destroy Israel.

  • 9)  Obama thinks there is nothing unique about Jewish values or a Jewish State.Goldberg question: you want Israel to embody Jewish values. Obama: I want Israel, in the same way that I want the United States, to embody the Judeo-Christian and, ultimately then, what I believe are human or universal values that have led to progress over a millennium”

Comment: There is one Jewish State called Israel and its Jewish Values stress the sanctity of life. Obama managed to roll Judaism into Christianity and ultimately human and universal terms. While I am sure that he intended this as a compliment, it also undermined the uniqueness of Israel.

By way of comparison, does Obama have dreams that Turkey will embody Judeo-Christian values? How about Norway or Greece? Costa Rica? He probably does, but he would never make such a statement as those countries have distinct Islamic or Christian characters. To state that he wished they embody several cultural values does several things:

  • It minimizes the difference between the religions
  • It suggests that the country does not live up to those values

Regarding the first point, Obama minimized the fact that there is only one Jewish state. While Israel has religious freedom for all, it is the Jewish homeland. Israel’s goal is not to embody Obama’s dream of a Star Trek-like future of universalism.

Regarding the second point, Obama needs to be re-educated by the progressive rabbis that coached him, about the paramount Jewish value of the sanctity of life. It is precisely for that reason that Netanyahu came to address the joint session of Congress to talk about the Iranian nuclear threat. That exact value and speech that Obama boycotted.

  • 10)  Obama thinks Jewish Values are about freedom and human rights. Obama continued from his comments above about Judeo-Christian and universal values: “The same values that led to the end of Jim Crow and slavery. The same values that led to Nelson Mandela being freed and a multiracial democracy emerging in South Africa. The same values that led to the Berlin Wall coming down. The same values that animate our discussion on human rights and our concern that people on the other side of the world who may be tortured or jailed for speaking their mind or worshipping—the same values that lead us to speak out against anti-Semitism. I want Israel to embody these values because Israel is aligned with us in that fight for what I believe to be true. And that doesn’t mean there aren’t tough choices and there aren’t compromises. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have to ask ourselves very tough questions about, in the short term, do we have to protect ourselves,

Comment: Obama doesn’t know that Israel is the most liberal country from Greece to Singapore to South Africa.  What was this Obama rant? Was there an insinuation that Israel is an apartheid state (why mention Jim Crow or Nelson Mandela)? Was there a suggestion that Israel’s Security Wall which it built to stop Palestinian terrorism in 2002 is like the Berlin Wall? Does he think that people are being tortured or jailed for speaking their mind or worshipping in Israel? Israel is a thriving liberal country in the heart of a backwards Middle East. What were these bizarre comparisons? Why does Obama say that he “wants Israel to embody these values” rather than acknowledge that it DOES embody those values?

Should Netanyahu wax about his dream for America to not shoot unarmed black people?

  • 11)  Obama claimed to understand the need for protecting Jerusalem.  As he stated above and continued: “I was the first one to acknowledge that you can’t have the risk of terrorists coming up right to the edge of Jerusalem and exposing populations

Comment: Obama lied about understanding security for Jerusalem. If Obama understood the need for security for Israel’s capital, how can he condemn Jews LIVING in Jerusalem? Why did Obama condemn Jews moving into homes they legally purchased?

How can Obama state that Israel’s development of E1 which protects Jerusalem from the east, is a bad idea that hinders a final agreement?  Obama in March 2013 to Palestinian Arabs: “You mentioned E1, in particular.  I think that is an example of at least a public statement by the Israeli government that would be very difficult to square with a two-state solution.”  E1, which connects Jerusalem to Maale Adumim, a city which every Israeli Prime Minister has always insisted on retaining, is the exact solution for keeping “terrorists [from] coming up right to the edge of Jerusalem and exposing populations.

  • 12)  Obama thinks he is a better at Jewish Values than Netanyahu.  Obama concluded the thought above with “So this isn’t an issue of being naive or unrealistic, but ultimately yes, I think there are certain values that the United States, at its best, exemplifies. I think there are certain values that Israel, and the Jewish tradition, at its best exemplifies. And I am willing to fight for those values.”

Comment: Obama continued to move the discussion away from defending Israel’s security to defending its values.  In a fitting conclusion of delusion, Obama placed himself in the center of defending Israel.  How is he doing it? By enabling Iran to get nuclear weapons and withholding support for Israel at the United Nations.  Doesn’t seem logical to you?  Well, let me explain the Obamian logic:

  • Since Obama said he has Israel’s back, you must believe him.  Just ignore that his words about preventing Iran to get nuclear capacity have been meaningless; that the Syrian red line was crossed without consequence; that Obama has ignored US’s treaties to support Ukraine and let Russia take over half of the country.
  • Since Obama said he is willing to fight for Jewish Values, you must believe him. Just ignore that he doesn’t understand that the primary Jewish value is the sanctity of life. Ignore that he thinks Israel isn’t the most democratic and humane country for thousands of miles in every direction.

Obama clearly does not appreciate the values that Israel lives each day.  If he did, he would be doing the opposite of his current actions by nixing a bad Iranian deal and by standing proudly next to Israel in international fora like the United Nations.



  • 13)  Obama knows that double standards are should be able to align yourself with Israel when it comes to making sure that it is not held to a double standard in international fora”

Comment: Obama hasn’t internalized his own double standards for Israel.  Obama spoke about Israel’s history and the history of anti-Semitism even until today which makes it easy to align himself with Israel.  However, his personal higher expectations of Israel and the unique role that the United States has in defending Israel in international for a has made him use double standards for the country.

  • 14)  Obama feels his moral convictions and role as defender of Jewish values can let him criticize Israel without being hostile.we can have a debate, and we can have an argument. But you can’t equate people of good will who are concerned about those issues with somebody who is hostile towards Israel

Comment: Threats and actions that have dire consequences are not debates.  Of course anyone can debate and disagree (in a democracy!) The two questions are 1) how do you do it and 2) what are the ramifications.

Regarding how one disagrees, the notion of being publicly hostile and rallying party loyalist to blacklist the Israeli prime minister is NOT the way to disagree. When the animosity is so public that fellow world leaders would approach you and share their disgust with Netanyahu (French PM Sarkozy in 2011), you have clearly let it be known to the world that you seriously despise the man. Politics is an art of subtlty and getting things moivig along. Mission Failed.

To the second point, on the ramifications of disagreeing, in a civil society, people just go back to their corners and disagree. However, in this situation, the disagreement leads to Iran – which has sworn to destroy Israel – obtaining nuclear weapons. Here the disagreement has led to the threat of the US not siding with Israel at the United Nations to make Israel become a pariah state and subject to various sanctions.

This is not simply “it’s OK to disagree”. Those disagreements will seriously harm the very viability of the State of Israel. And to somehow suggest that putting Israel in grave risk REPEATEDLY should not lead anyone to question the “good will” of those people is puzzling.  To argue that the actions themselves are not “hostile towards Israel” is absurd.


While Obama may have won over some Israel-supporters with his heavily coached- discussion on values, the red herring he is marketing is foul.

Related First One Through Articles:

International-Domestic Abuse: Obama and Netanyahu

Netanyahu’s View of Obama: Trust and Consequences

For Obama, Israeli security is not so time-sensitive

Bugs Bunny on Obama’s credibility in Negotiating with Iran

Red Herrings on the Red Line