Abraham’s Hospitality: Lessons for Jews and Arabs

The biblical portion of Vayera showcases stories of the patriarch Abraham welcoming strangers. The stories of Abraham’s hospitality became incorporated into the ways that the children of Abraham think of themselves today. However, the nature of the hospitality of Arabs (descendants of Abraham’s son Ishmael) and Jews (descendants of Abraham’s son Isaac) diverge in many ways.

Abraham and the Three Angels
by Giovanni Andrea de Ferrari (1598-1669)

Man and God

Jewish perspective: Judaism prides itself in being a religion of actions, not faith. God gave the Jewish people 613 commandments to follow, some of which are active (make the Sabbath holy) and others that are passive (don’t kill). A division could also be made of laws between people (like murder) and those between man and God (like the Sabbath).

A casual observer of religions would imagine that laws about God would take precedence to laws about people.  The Jewish organization Limmud, posted an article about Vayera, which argued the opposite.

During the story of Vayera there was an encounter between Abraham and God. In the middle of the conversation, Abraham asked God to wait so he could welcome three strangers that were passing his tent. The author of the Limmud article, Jeremy Rosen argued that Abraham’s action taught Jews a lesson for today, “that however primary God is, there are certain types of human crises or obligations that are so important that one can actually tell God to wait. In the end religion must enhance our relationship with other humans.

Islamic perspective: The website “OnIslam” is dedicated to educating Muslims on a variety of subjects. An article on hospitality and the “joy of honoring others” made a clear effort to differentiate between the kind of hospitality that Muslims extend, and those of non-Muslims. The true concept of hospitality is not something that is widely practiced in most non-Muslim countries. For many non-Muslims, the entertainment of guests is of primary importance in many cases for worldly reasons only, not rooted in real hospitality for the sake of God. In Islam, however, hospitality is a great virtue that holds a significant purpose. Being hospitable to neighbors and guests can increase societal ties as well as unite an entire community. Most importantly, God commands Muslims to be hospitable to neighbors and guests. There is a great reward in doing so. Hospitality in Islam is multi-faceted and covers many different areas in addition to the hospitality that we show guests who visit our homes.”

In Islam, hospitality is performed because it is commanded by God. The act of hospitality may have benefits of creating communal harmony, but it is a derivative of the second degree. The primary obligation is to follow God’s command, and He commands all Muslims to be hospitable. God’s command leads man to action, and such action may, in turn, lead to friendship and social cohesion.

The difference in the approach of the religions is both subtle and significant. Judaism has a value system of helping others. Welcoming a stranger takes precedence to a direct conversation with God. In contrast, Islam focuses on obedience to God’s commands. Hospitality happens to be one of those commands and is therefore performed – within the bounds of religion.

Hospitality Today on a National Level

It is interesting to look at the nature of hospitality on a national level and how the one Jewish State handles hospitality compared to various Muslim countries (note that there are many Muslim countries, like Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia, that are NOT Arab and descendants of Abraham).

Welcoming Refugees
Israel: Israel has an incredible record when it comes to welcoming Jews from around the world. Whether in bringing Jews that were persecuted in the Arab world in the 1950s, or Russian and Ethiopian Jews in the 1990s, Israel took in so many Jews from around the world, that they dwarf the number of European Jews who came to the country due to persecution in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s.

Those Moroccan, Yemenite, Ethiopian and Russian refugees received Israeli citizenship immediately. They got housing and job training. They had teachers to teach them a new language (Hebrew) and lessons about incorporating into a society that was completely foreign to their old way of living.

Arab/ Muslim Countries: The Middle East has witnessed a large number of wars and corresponding waves of refugees fleeing the battles. Many Arab countries did not welcome their fellow Arabs.

  • When Arabs left the British Mandate of Palestine to Lebanon and Syria in 1948-9, they were forced to live in refugee camps. They were not offered citizenship nor given an opportunity to have white color jobs. Those conditions continue for their children and grandchildren almost 70 years later.
  • When the PLO sided with Iraq when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991, Kuwait expelled roughly 360,000 Palestinians that were living there.  Fellow Arabs that were neighbors for 75 years were evicted en masse because of the actions of people hundreds of miles away.
  • Most recently, the millions of Arabs fleeing the civil war in Syria, and ISIS in Iraq have been shut out of the wealthy countries of Saudi Arabia; Qatar; Bahrain; United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.  Westerners may wonder how these oil rich countries are not embarrassed to refuse to welcome fellow Arabs, especially as Europe and America open its doors.  Only Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey (Muslim, but not Arab) have shown these refugees Islamic hospitality.

Welcoming “Others”
Israel: The phrase in the bible “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18) has been interpreted by various scholars as both a model for treating fellow Jews and for interactions with all of mankind.

  • When Israel declared independence in 1948, it granted 160,000 non-Jews citizenship.  When Israel reunited Jerusalem after Jordanian and Palestinian Arabs attacked it in 1967, it offered citizenship to all non-Jews.
  • When Menahem Begin became prime minister of Israel in 1977, he brought in and gave citizenship to roughly 300 Vietnamese people fleeing their country.
  • Today the country is grappling with how to deal with Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers as many Israeli Jews believe in the principal of hospitality, even while the government considers issues of safety.

Arab/ Muslim Countries: The Arab countries do very poorly in regards to their hospitality with non-Muslims.

  • When Jordan seized Judea and Samaria in 1949, it expelled all of the Jews in the area and forbade them from even visiting their holy sites in Jerusalem.
  • Today, Mahmoud Abbas has laws preventing the sale of any land by Arabs to Jews and has demanded a new country to be established devoid of Jews.
  • After Israel was founded, the Arab countries forced over 850,000 Jews to flee their homes where they had lived for generations.

Helping Others
Israel: Israel has a reputation of rushing to assist countries around the world suffering from natural disasters.  Whether from earthquakes in Turkey or Haiti or tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean, Israel is on the scene with disproportionate numbers with life-saving assistance.

Arab/ Muslim Countries: The Arab world typically does not send much assistance to countries in need.  That fact is surprising since it is a core tenant of Islam.  OnIslam states: “In Islam, hospitality extends well beyond the walls of the home. Being hospitable also means having good manners and treating others with dignity and respect. Hospitality can be applied to the greater community and Muslims must strive to help out whenever there is a time of need. Natural disasters, for example, often result in community turmoil as residents grapple with the aftermath. This provides Muslims with an excellent opportunity to pitch in, whether delivering hot meals to those affected or donating gently used items to someone who has lost everything.”

However, the Charities Aid Foundation did rank some Islamic nations among the most generous in the world, including: Malaysia; Indonesia; and Iran in the top 20.  However, none of those three countries is Arab.  Israel, the Jewish State, ranked number 32.

Abraham taught Jews and Arabs about the importance of hospitality.  Each group interpreted his acts of kindness through their respective prophets and teachers over the centuries, with Jews extracting a primary value of the kinship of men, while Muslims placed hospitality as just one of God’s commands to be observed.  Jews learned a life-lesson from Abraham; Arabs stifled that more human example and took the message of hospitality from the Quran.

The children of Abraham – the Jewish State and the Arab states – should all be mindful of the importance of hospitality in their dealings today.

Related First.One.Through artices:

The End of Together

Joint Prayer: The Cave of the Patriarchs and the Temple Mount

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Palestinian Job Fair for Peace

A sad satire

The United Nations took a special interest in the high unemployment rate of Palestinians, which has led to feelings of despair and hopelessness, leaving many to resort to violence against Israelis.  As such, the UN held a meeting in October 2015 in Vienna to listen to various leaders of the Palestinian community describe their occupations to see if the global community could help advance their livelihoods.

Here are some of the presenters:

Gaza exterminator
Pest Control

Pest Control: The UN was impressed with the first presenter, the owner of a pest control company.  According to the businessman, there was a large infestation in the region that guaranteed a significant amount of work for many unemployed people.

Gaza quarry owner
Stone Masons

Stone Masons: A cleric from the West Bank described the incredible blessings of the holy land to be filled with stones of many sizes. He described the various types of rocks in the region and how they could be used in different situations.  Qatar pledged $100 million for a new quarry on the spot.

Gaza gambling

Casinos: The casino in Jericho was reported to be doing very well.  The owner described “making a killing” in various games of chance.  He was happy to report that the gaming industry was actively hiring more people.

Gaza butcher

Butchers:  While the amount of available meat for food consumption declined since Hamas took over Gaza, butchers continued to hone their skills.  A cleric showed off tools of the trade and urged others to get involved.

Gaza cattle ranchers
Cattle Ranchers

Ranchers:  As described above, the meat business has not been great, but Palestinian leadership was confident in their ability to corral enough when the market improved.

Gaza outdoor backpacker
Outdoor Hiking

Outdoor Activities:  Gaza developed a range of sporting centers with special backpacks, belts and other gadgetry for time outside.  While repelling has been around for a few years, preachers were just starting to advocate the activity.

Gaza behead
Bowling and entertainment

Indoor Activities:  The owner of one of the few Middle Eastern bowling alleys discussed “spares and strikes” and hoped to educate the community about fun “date-night” activities.

Gaza hide and seek

Teachers: The Palestinian schools always need new teachers with new methods to teach the young.  A teacher presented an innovative method of teaching religion and history via a game of hide-and-seek with the children.

Gaza cheerlreader

Cheerleaders and Sports:  The UN was impressed with the progressive nature of the Palestinian schools that had a very large percentage of male cheerleaders.

Gaza surgeon

Doctors: The healthcare industry was still in shambles, particularly in Gaza.  However, the United Nations was heartened to listen to Palestinian doctors promoting their profession to the young.

Gaza zookeeper
Veterinary Medicine

Vets and Zoo:  The UN heard Palestinian requests to refurbish their zoos and teach veterinary medicine.  Apes and pigs were the primary attractions.

Gaza arms dealer
Arms Dealer

Arms Dealer:  Well, it is the Middle East.  The UN blessed Iran’s nuclear weapons program, so Palestinians thought they would have an easy time advancing an arms dealership in the region.  Turkey pledged to send a boat right away.

gaza journalist

Journalism: Palestinians have taken to social media like African bees to a sweaty field worker. The United Nations promised to not only promote their posts, but to pay Palestinians for the news stories as well.

Gaza charm school
Charm School

Vocational Schools:  This was a hot topic in Vienna.  By teaching older adults new skills, more people would be able to earn livelihoods.  The graduates of Palestinian Charm Schools have a reputation of being so endearing, that they get speaking engagements paying handsome sums, even when they have little to say. The University of California school system has speakers booked through May.

Gaza ghost costume
Retail: Kids clothing

Retail: Clothing was historically a tough business in the territories, as large family sizes ensured a good supply of hand-me-downs.  This year, the UN promoted celebrating Halloween and paid for advertisements selling ghost and other costumes to stimulate the economy.

Gaza shapeshifters

Shape-shifters:  This occupation stumped the members of the UN commission.  They had heard of Jews controlling animals and sharks with their minds, but they were unsure about the nature of changing physical form.  The panel agreed to meet again later to learn more about the phenomenon and how it could be used to help the Palestinian cause.

Gaza shoe shine
Shoe Repair

Shoe Repair: The acting-President of the Palestinian Authority spoke about the basic needs of shoe repair and foot hygiene. His display of humility left the committee speechless.  One member of the committee from Ecuador commented that Abbas reminded him of the new pope.

The United Nations concluded the day-long session with a statement of support from Fodé Seck (Senegal), the Committee Chairperson.  The US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power remarked that the session showed a way forward for the Palestinian economy.  “As Obama says,” remarked Power, “once economic and political despair is overcome, peace will prevail.

In Middle East parlance, it is called putting the cart before the rocket launcher, a tried-and-true method of controlling the population.

Related First.One.Through articles:

Snack-Pack Inspections

Silwan Circulars, Christmas 2014

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An Inconvenient Truth: Palestinian Polls

There were a growing number of violent attacks by Palestinians against Israelis in October 2015.  Various politicians such as the US Secretary of State John Kerry blamed the root cause as Palestinian frustration about ongoing Jewish “settlements” east of the Green Line.  Acting President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas pointed the finger at defending Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem from Israelis changing the status quo.  United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon considered that it was due to Palestinians frustration about the failed peace talks and lack of progress towards creating a Palestinian state.

Why all of the guessing for identifying the root cause when the Palestinians poll themselves every three months?

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducts a poll every quarter on a range of issues.  It breaks the analysis between Palestinian Arabs living in the West Bank/ east of the Green Line and the Gaza Strip.  A review of the poll numbers gives a much better sense of Palestinian Arabs sentiments about their situation than biased and bogus statements from Kerry, Abbas and Ban Ki-Moon.

A Growing Majority of Palestinians Support Attacking Israeli Civilians

The poll figures do show a growing support of attacking innocent Israeli civilians.  In December 2013, the percentage of Arabs supporting unprovoked attacks was 34% and 58% in the West Bank and Gaza, respectively.  Those figures jumped to 48% and 68% for WB and Gaza in September 2014 and then to 50% and 70% in September 2015.  Overall, a clear majority of 57.2% of Palestinians were in favor of terrorism as of September 2015, up from 42.9% in December 2013.

Terrifying numbers about terrorism in both the absolute percentage and in the terrible trendline of support.

No heightened Palestinian fear regarding Annexing the West Bank and Changing the Status Quo on the Temple Mount. Palestinians are ALWAYS afraid.

Despite Kerry’s assertion that Palestinians are increasingly fearful of Israelis living east of the Green Line and Abbas’s statement about Israel changing the status quo on the Temple Mount, the statements are untrue.

kerry harvard
John Kerry at Harvard attacking Israeli settlements
(photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Settlements: Palestinians have always been afraid of Israeli intentions regarding annexing land. In December 2013, 85.3% and 80.5% of Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza, respectively, believed that Israel would annex the entire region.  Those figures dropped after the 2014 Gaza War to 81.2% and 75.3% in September 2014, before rising again to 88.5% and 78% one year later.

In every quarter over the past two years, between 80% and 90% Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank thought Israel was intending to annex both the West Bank and Gaza.  The range was 70% to 82.5% for Palestinians living in Gaza.  Presumably the Arabs in Gaza did not have as great a fear as the Arabs in the West Bank since they clearly saw that Israel left Gaza in 2005.  The question remained why the fear factor numbers remain so consistently high, even in Gaza.  In any event, there was no correlation between the increased Arab desire to kill Jews and their fear of Israelis annexing territory.

Al Aqsa: The poll numbers show similar results for the Temple Mount/ Al Aqsa.  In March 2014, the PCPSR asked whether people were concerned that Israel would change the status quo on the Temple Mount.  Almost everyone – 93% – believed Israel intended to make changes to access and prayer rights.

In December 2014, 66.2% of West Bank Arabs, and 38.8% of Gazans thought that Israel intended to completely destroy the Al Aqsa mosque.  In the most recent September 2015 poll, those figures dropped to 60% and 33.4% for the West Bank and Gaza, respectively.  Again, there was no correlation between the uptick in violence due to Palestinian fears, despite the October 2015 protestations of John Kerry and Mahmoud Abbas.

The UN Fantasy of Palestinian Support for a Two State Solution
and Negotiated Process

Despite the United Nations repeated comments that the key to peace lies in a two state solution, it has never been a particularly popular dream of the Palestinians. In March 2014, a slim majority of 51.2% of Palestinians supported the idea. In the last poll of September 2015, 47.9% of Palestinians were in favor of two states.

Further, throughout 2015 a majority of Palestinians favored an armed struggle with Israel more than negotiations.  In December 2014, Arabs broke down as 41.9%, 25.6% and 28.3% in favor of using either violence, negotiations and non-violent protests, respectively. In September 2015, the polls showed little movement, with a breakdown of 41.6%, 29.2% and 24.2%.

The Palestinian polls show that the two state solution has never been a very popular idea, and those that favor it believe it can best be accomplished through violence. The recent uptick in actual violence actually accompanied a move from a preference for negotiations, counter to expectations.

Safety and Social Media

The poll numbers do show some trends that correlate to the spike in what Wall Street Journal’s Brett Stephens referred to as a Palestinian “blood lust.”

Safety: In December 2013, a majority of Arabs east of the Green Line (54.4%) and in Gaza (61.7%) felt safe.  That changed dramatically after the 2014 Gaza war.  Between June 2014 and December 2014 the sense of safety in the West Bank dropped from 51% to 38.3%, and in Gaza from 63.9% to 46.1%.  The numbers continued to stay low over 2015, with a perceived safety growing from 38.3% to 48.7% in September 2015 in the West Bank, and dropping further in Gaza from 46.1% to 39.5%.  Those are very dramatic declines from two years earlier.

Social Media: Palestinians, particularly those in the West Bank, have been getting their news from social media in much greater numbers.  In the West Bank, Arabs that use Facebook and Twitter jumped from 14.7% (June 2014) to 19% (December 2014) to 26.4% (September 2015). The numbers in Gaza over that time period went from 21.3% to 21.6% to 24.1%.  These are significant changes, particularly in the West Bank.

The survey does not cover what kind of items people are watching and sharing on social media.  According to some news reports, videos of Israeli forces shooting Palestinians and “how to” videos showing ways to stab Jews, have gone viral.

The Palestinian Authority

The Palestinian Authority has always been viewed as corrupt by Palestinians according to polls.  Anywhere from 78% to 84% of West Bank Arabs that live under the PA consider the government corrupt according to every poll.  In Gaza, the percentage is lower, from 72% to 82%, but the overall sentiment is the same.

However, what has not stayed the same is the confidence in Abbas.  While coming in dead last in a theoretical three-person presidential election each quarter, his support has plummeted in the West Bank, while it has grown in Gaza.  In the WB: 32.1% (12/13); 28.5% (6/14); 26.7% (12/14); 21.5% (9/15). In Gaza: 17.2% (12/13); 27.1% (6/14); 20.8% (12/14); and 27.4% (9/15).  By September 2015, 62.9% of West Bank Arabs and 67.4% of Gazans wanted Abbas to resign.


Principal players in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are using stale and incorrect information to describe the current violence, and as such, are focused on irrelevant solutions.  The settlements and the Temple Mount are not reasons for violent attacks.  A negotiated two state solution was never popular, despite the many efforts of those who strongly advocate for it.  Like the corruption of the Palestinian Authority, these things are constant white noise that don’t suddenly motivate people to murder.

Today’s violence is erupting due to concerns over safety, and fueled by the credibility and incitement of Palestinians on new media.

Abbas announced the beginning of his retreat from the Oslo Accords and managing security in the West Bank. The West Bank Arabs now feel more threatened and communicate directly with each other over social media about attacks and injuries.  The raw videos of families and friends being injured make them feel more unsafe and angry.  They, in turn, make videos for their friends to attack Israelis and reject Palestinian leadership, which fuels the security fears on all sides.

World and regional leaders are rehashing old misconceptions about a pathway towards peace and security in the region.  They should look at what Palestinians are actually saying: they are ambivalent about of a negotiated two state solution. They do not believe or trust their own leadership any more than the intentions of the Israelis.

With such understanding, it is time to rethink always propping up Abbas, ignoring Hamas and condemning the Israelis. It is time to stop obsessing about the settlements and Temple Mount and focus on security and communications.

The inconvenient truth is that Palestinians don’t like and don’t trust any of today’s leaders, and those same leaders refuse to listen to what the Palestinians are telling them.  It is hard to imagine peace and security emerging from such a dynamic.

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Palestinians of Today and the Holocaust

The New York Times berated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for tying Palestinians to the Holocaust in its editorial pages on October 23, 2015 “Mr. Netanyahu’s Holocaust Blunder.”  It is interesting for the Times to be so angry about this remark while failing to note certain current truths about the Palestinians and the Holocaust:

  • Acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas wrote his doctoral paper on Holocaust denial
  • Abbas’s April 2014 disturbing comments trivializing the Holocaust when he said that Palestinians understand genocide because they suffer “ethnic discrimination and racism” from Israelis was celebrated by the NY Times
  • Regular NY Times contributor Roger Cohen suggested a pathway to peace between Israelis and Palestinians was that “Jews should study the Nakba. Arabs should study the Holocaust” trivializing the torture and killing of millions of innocent people with a conflict about land.
  • Abbas repeatedly said that Israel is engaged in “a war of genocide” against Palestinians, in a deeply insulting distortion of both the conflict and the Holocaust.
  • Palestinian leaders forbid Holocaust education in UNRWA schools in Gaza, counter to the United Nations wishes and curricula.
  • The list goes on

The Palestinians are the most anti-Semitic people in the world, with almost every person (93%) holding negative feelings about Jews according to a May 2014 poll.  By almost every measure, the Palestinians today are more extreme than Germans were in 1933, whether in passing laws that forbid Jews entry onto Palestinian college campuses; laws that prevent land sales to Jews; or the stated desire to have a country free of any Jews.  Shouldn’t that be the main focus of the Times?  Why does it perpetually give a pass to the vile anti-Semitism and trivialization of the Holocaust by the Palestinians, but immediately attack of Netanyahu?

The Times stated that Netanyahu attempted “to distort history in order to draw a straight line between Mr. Husseini’s Nazi views and the current Palestinian leadership.”  Netanyahu didn’t need to do that. Palestinians do that themselves.

Pal nazi2Pal naziFatah nazimufi Jlem Nazi
Palestinians with Nazis yesterday. Palestinians acting like Nazis today.

Related First One Through articles:

Abbas Knows Racism

What do you Recognize in the Palestinians?

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

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UN Press Corps Expunges Israel

The United Nations has a long history of insulting, disparaging and attacking Israel.  It’s press corps now seems to want to selectively remove Israel from its records.

On October 16, 2015, the UN Security Council met to discuss the violence in the Middle East.  US Ambassador Samantha Power delivered her remarks about her “deep concern… about the current situation.”  She specifically condemned the violence in “Jerusalem, the West Bank, Israel and the Gaza Strip.”  However, when the UN media center summarized her remarks, it stated that the US condemned the violence in “Jerusalem, West Bank, Gaza and elsewhere.”   “Elsewhere”?  Really? Was writing “Israel” too difficult? Was acknowledging the stabbings and attacks in Israel too controversial?

US Ambassador Samantha Power
(photo: AP)

When the Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs at the UN, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, gave an update on the situation, he described the violence in “the West Bank, Jerusalem and East Jerusalem,” but the press corps just mentioned a “deadly week in the West Bank” removing any mention of Jerusalem.

Tayé-Brook Zerihoun
Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun
(UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras)

Most alarmingly, the Assistant Secretary General welcomed “Prime Minister Netanyahu’s repeated assurances that Israel has no intentions of changing the historic status quo at the holy sites,” but the UN media completely omitted the statement in its coverage.  As the Temple Mount rumor was the rallying cry for Palestinian extremists to engage in violence, shouldn’t that have been prominently highlighted, not ignored?

The UN press continued to ignore Israel three days later when it mentioned attacks in seven cities – all east of the Green Line/ the West Bank of the Jordan River. The attacks in seven Israeli cities were omitted.

It seems to not be sufficient for Israel to contend with numerous hostile countries at the United Nations and a UN leadership with an anti-Israel bias.  Israel must also deal with an internal UN media team that selectively removes it from its records.

Related First One Through articles:

The United Nations Audit of Israel

The United Nations “Provocation”

UN Comments on the Murder of Innocents: Henkins

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UN Concern is only for Violence in “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” not Israel

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon arrived in Israel on October 19, 2015 with the claim that he hoped to stop “the dangerous escalation in violence across the occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, especially in Jerusalem,” according to the UN official press release.

PM Netanyahu meets with UN Sec. Gen. Ban Ki-moon

PM Netanyahu meets with UN Sec. Gen. Ban Ki-moon (photo: GPO Kobi Gideon)

In discussing the situation, the United Nations opted to highlight certain cities where attacks took place: “in East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jenin, Tulkarm and Nablus.” Note that every city that was mentioned was east of the Green Line. Seven cities, and not one west of the Green Line, where several attacks occurred including:

  • Petach Tikva (Stabbing October 7)
  • Kiryat Gat (stabbing October 7)
  • Tel Aviv (stabbing October 8)
  • Afula (stabbing October 8 & 9)
  • Jerusalem, west of the Green Line (stabbing and beating October 9 & 14)
  • Raanana (stabbing October 13)
  • Beer Sheva (shooting October 19)

Are these seven cities west of the Green Line not important? Is violence a concern to the United Nations only if it happens in “occupied Palestinian Territory?”

In case anyone thinks that mentioning seven random cities happened to coincidentally be east of the Green Line, the United Nations repeated those same seven cities the following day on October 20 in the press release mentioning:  “A series of deadly clashes between Palestinians and Israelis, including Israeli security forces, has marked much of October, with violent incidents reported in more than 50 different locations, including in East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jenin, Tulkarm and Nablus.

When Ban Ki-Moon said that “No society should have to live in fear. No society can afford to see its youth suffer in hopelessness,” did he really only mean Palestinian Arabs?

Related First One Through articles:

The Narrative that Prevents Peace in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Eyal Gilad Naftali Klinghoffer. The new Blood Libel.

Every Picture Tells a Story: The Invisible Murdered Israelis

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The Journeys of Abraham and Ownership of the Holy Land

One of the most famous cartographers in the world was Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598). Appointed as cartographer to King Phillip II of Spain, the religious Christian Flemish cartographer is credited with creating the first world atlas called “Theatrum Orbis Terrarum” or “Theatre of the World.” The atlas was originally printed in 1570 and became one of the most popular books of its time and resulted in a few printings. In total, there were 178 plates amounting to approximately 730,000 printed copies of the various maps.

In addition to the maps printed in the atlas, Ortelius also produced “Parergon” maps of interesting places. These “classical” maps were produced by Ortelius himself, as opposed to some maps in “Theatrum” which were adopted from other cartographers. The 56 such plates produced roughly 143,000 printed maps.

One of the maps of the Parergon was called “Abrahami Patriarchae” which chronicled the life of the biblical patriarch Abraham. The first map was printed between 1590 and 1595 (975 copies made) with a second plate produced 1592-1624 (2925 copies made). The map shows the journey and life of Abraham with an inset map of his journey from Ur to Canaan, as well as 22 medallions of significant life events. The map highlights Ortelius’s gift as cartographer, artist and historian.

Abrahami Patriarchae Peregrinatio et vitae, 1592

Some notable medallions in the map are detailed below which underscore the belief that God gave Jews the holy land:

  • Medallion 6. Genesis 13: 14-15 “The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.”
  • Medallion 10. Genesis 15: 17-21 “17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
  • Medallion 12. Genesis 17:3-8 “Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.
  • Medallion 18. Genesis 21: 27-31 (ownership of Beersheba) “27 So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek, and the two men made a treaty. 28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelek asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?” 30 He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.” 31 So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there.
  • Medallion 20. Genesis 23: 19-20 (ownership of Hebron) 19 Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.”

This map was made by a religious Christian, not a Jew. Many evangelical Christians and others that believe in the Old Testament firmly hold that while the holy land may be holy to all of the monotheistic faiths, the land itself is God’s gift to Jews. Indeed, God is the original Zionist.

Framing the Israeli-Palestinian Arab Conflict: WSJ and NY Times

The portrayals of the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict in the two main New York newspapers could not be more different.  Snapshots of the two papers on October 17, 2015 and the editorials from the prior days frame the conflicting attitudes.

In Pictures

On October 17, 2015, each paper posted a picture of an attack that occurred in Hebron. The Wall Street Journal captured the Palestinian who posed as a journalist stabbing an Israeli soldier.  The New York Times showed a picture of two Israeli soldiers standing over the dead Palestinian.

Wall Street Journal front page picture of Israeli soldier attacked by Palestinian
October 17, 2015

New York Times front page picture of armed Israeli soldiers standing over dead Palestinian October 17, 2015

The Wall Street Journal covered this story – and many of the stories over October 2015 when Palestinians attacked Israelis – as Palestinians as the aggressors and Israelis as defending themselves.  However, The New York Times almost uniformly showed all Palestinians as victims and Israelis as the armed aggressors.

In Editorials

New York Times: On October 15, the Times ran an editorial entitled “The Cycle of Violence in Israel.” The title and the opinion piece described a country that is in a never-ending cycle of “attacks and reprisals“, blaming neither party as being aggressor or instigating the violence.  The attacks were referred to as Palestinian “uprisings,” and the Times pointed the finger at a few parties:

  • “Yasir Arafat, could speak for all Palestinians” back in 1993 so there was a better prospect for peace according to the Times behind a unifying leader.  It neglected to state that the same Arafat walked away from a serious peace offer and then launched the Second Intifada in 2000, killing thousands.
  • The Times correctly stated that “Mahmoud Abbas is bitter and unpopular” which makes it difficult for him to lead and deliver peace negotiations. The paper failed to point out that Abbas has constantly incited violence against Israelis and never put forth any public comments on his willingness to compromise on his demands to create peace.
  • “Netanyahu has demonstrated little interest in a two-state solution” according to the Times, even though he is the only person that specifically has demonstrated a desire for peace: handing over half of the “Holy Basin”, Bethlehem, in 1996; a ten month settlement freeze in 2010; releasing dozens of terrorists; and repeatedly stating his willingness to engage in direct peace talks anytime, anywhere.

The New York Times described the only solution to ending the cycle of violence as “creating an independent Palestinian state alongside an Israel whose right to exist is fully acknowledged by all Palestinians.”  Note that the Times language specifically does not mention any Israeli demands of “security” and recognition as a “Jewish State.”  According to the Times, the only thing creating violence is the lack of a Palestinian state.

Wall Street Journal: On October 16, 2015, the WSJ had an editorial calledThe Knives of Jerusalem.The Journal’s attitude about the violence and approach could not be more different than the New York Times:

  • The WSJ called the Palestinian Arab attacks “terrorism” five times, a term never used by the Times (nor by the Obama Administration for that matter)
  • “[A] deep-seated culture of hate” among Palestinian Arab society was at the core of the attacks
  • Blame is specifically placed on Palestinian leaders including Abbas spreading “rumors” and “lies” about Israel to incite the Arabs.

The WSJ noted that Israel will need “to ride out another storm of terror.”  Peace will ultimately come when Palestinians realize that the Jews are not going to leave: “The sooner they [Israelis] impress on Palestinians that they will never bow to knives or bend to terror, the sooner the stabbings will end.”

The Times placed the principal blame for the attacks on Israeli “occupation” and therefore the solution is a peace agreement / a separation accord. Their pictures and articles repeatedly use images of Palestinians as victims and Israelis as militant occupiers.

The WSJ placed the blame on Palestinian Arabs who have denied the right of Jews to live in the holy land as self-governing people since the League of Nations gave Jews that legal right in 1922.  Peace will only come when Palestinian Arabs give up the fight and accept that the Jews are never going to leave. Their articles are more likely to show Israel as at the frontlines in the battle against Islamic radicals, similar to much of the western world.

The pictures and articles of the two papers have been consistent in their coverage of the conflict, and the weekend of October 17, 2015 brought the contrast into clear focus.

Related First One Through articles

Every Picture Tells A Story: Only Palestinians are Victims

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Every Picture Tells a Story: Versions of Reality

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Every Picture Tells a Story: Versions of Reality

The New York Times published an article on October 16, 2015 entitled “Conflicting Accounts of Jerusalem Strife Surround Wounded Boy“.  The article described a 13-year old Palestinian boy who stabbed a 13-year old Israeli boy who was riding a bicycle.  The acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas claimed that the innocent Palestinian was executed by Israelis, while in fact he was recuperating at an Israeli hospital.

Normal logic would suggest that the pictures that accompany the article have something to do with the story.  Indeed, the Times did post a small black-and-white photograph of the 13-year old Palestinian recuperating in a hospital bed.  However, the Times decided to post a much larger photograph on top of that picture – of Israelis with machine guns standing over Palestinian Arab women.

Times leading with a picture of armed Israelis standing over Arab women in a story about a 13-year old Palestinian terrorist being described as “executed” by Mahmoud Abbas

Why didn’t the Times also post a picture of the wounded Israeli boy? Why didn’t it have a picture of Abbas declaring the boy “executed”?  Or Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointing out the lies and incitement of Abbas? Because for this “progressive” newspaper, the real story about Arabs attacking innocent Israelis is about Israelis fighting Palestinians, not the other way around.

The Times wrote a piece about “conflicting versions of reality” between Israelis and Palestinians. The reality of the Times constant portrayal of Israelis “occupying” Palestinian victims is another disturbing story in the “conflicting” (read “false”) narratives that fan the flames in the region.

Related First One Through articles:

Every Picture Tells A Story: Only Palestinians are Victims

Every Picture Tells a Story: The Invisible Murdered Israelis

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Every Picture Tells A Story: Only Palestinians are Victims

The “Every Pictures tells a Story” series reviews newspapers through a lens focused only on their pictures and captions. The brutal attacks that occurred in Israel during the week October 7-14 provide a good snapshot for how the New York Times viewed the conflict – the only victims in the Middle East are Palestinians.

To set the background for the two weeks of violence: on October 1, 2015, Palestinians shot an Israeli couple who were driving on a road with four of their children. After shooting up the car, the Palestinians approached it once it came to a stop and executed the parents. The Times did not post any pictures of the Henkins, the murdered Israelis along the story. If one were to only focus on the pictures and captions, their murders would never have occurred.

In the following days, the number of Palestinian Arab attacks against Jews continued to grow in frequency. Yet remarkably, the Times pictures showed one story: Palestinians as victims.

October 7 Page A4. “At top, the mother of Abdulrahaman Obeidallah, 13, who was killed by Israeli forces, at his funeral on Tuesday near Bethlehem. Above, a Sunday funeral in Jerusalem for Aharon Benita-Bennett, an Israeli killed by a Palestinian.” This was the Times only attempt at providing a “balanced” picture of deaths on both sides. However, there was no attempt to convey that the Palestinian was not shot intentionally, while the Palestinians deliberately were murdering Israelis.

Only NY Times photo showing Israelis attacked during week October 7-14, 2015
included picture above of Palestinian killed

October 8 Page A6. “A Palestinian man in a flooded tunnel that was used to smuggle goods between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Egypt has been flooding the tunnels to deter smuggling.” The large color picture and caption leads one to feel sorry for the Palestinian. Of course, what was not mentioned was that the “goods” that were being smuggled into the tunnels included weapons to target Israelis and Egyptians.  The article continued on page A14 with two black and white pictures.  The large picture’s caption “Juma Abu Shaer and his wife Masouma Abu Shaer, at home in Rafah. They fear they may have to leave because of flooding.” Names are given of people living in fear. You will not see that for Israelis over the week of terror attacks. The last small photo has a caption “The border between Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, and Egypt on the right. Egypt has flooded part of the nine-mile border area twice.” Such picture and caption confirms that the Times knows that many readers only glance over the articles and rely on the pictures and captions only.

The article about “Unrest Spreads in Israel Despite Tighter Security” which reviewed more Palestinian’s attacking Israelis had no pictures.  No Israelis were injured in unprovoked attacks for the news-in-pictures.

Three sad Palestinian Arabs

October 9 Page A14. “An Israeli man looked over the body of a Palestinian assailant who was shot dead after carrying out a stabbing attack on an Israeli soldier and three civilians in Tel Aviv on Thursday.” Another article with larger picture “Palestinian protestors took cover during clashes with Israeli security forces on Thursday in Beit El, West Bank. Disputes over Jerusalem have added to tensions.” The pictures again show dead Palestinians and those under fire. There were no pictures of Israeli civilians who the Palestinian stabbed in unprovoked attacks. The “protestors” are not shown throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks.

Dead Palestinian and one under attack

October 10 Page A4. Small color picture of soldiers over small boys “With security increased, Israeli border police told Palestinians on Friday they could not enter the Noble Sanctuary in Jerusalem’s Old City.” The caption fed a Palestinian narrative that the unrest is from Israeli soldiers keeping innocent Palestinians from praying at their holy site. The image of soldiers with weapons directing small boys add to the drama of the story. There were no pictures of Arabs harassing Jewish visitors on the Temple Mount nor firing firecrackers at the soldiers.

Sad Palestinians Turned away by Israeli soldiers

Page A8: 2 color pictures. Very large crowd of Palestinians carrying wounded “Palestinians carried a wounded man on Friday in Gaza. It was the first time in the latest outbreak that significant unrest spread to the territory” smaller picture of man throwing stones “A Palestinian protestor hurled some stones at Israeli soldiers on Friday amid clashes on the Israeli border.” Again, Palestinians are shown injured, not Israelis.

Page A8 another article with medium color picture of Israelis taking wounded away “Israeli emergency personnel loaded a Palestinian into an ambulance on Friday after violent confrontations in the West Bank.” In the third article of the day, the Times once again chose to only show injured Palestinians in attacks that they provoked. None of the injured Israelis is pictured.

Dead Palestinian

October 12 Page A6. Black and white of father over dead child “The bodies of Noor Hassan, 30m and Rahaf Hassan, 2, at their funeral. They were killed by an Israeli retaliatory strike in Gaza.” While the caption at least mentioned that the Israeli did a “retaliatory strike” conveying that Palestinians initiated the fight (compared to earlier language of a generic “confrontation”) the pictures are again only of Palestinians hurt in the conflict.

Two dead Palestinian Arabs

October 13 page A4. Two black and white photographs. The large photo caption reads “The body of a Palestinian in the Pisgat Zeev section of Eat Jerusalem. Security forces shot him on Monday after he carried out a stabbing attack.” The body of a partially dressed man lay on the ground surrounded by police.  The smaller photo showed women crying with a caption “Relatives on Monday mourned a Palestinian teenager killed during clashes with Israeli forces. A cycle of violence has defied Israel’s latest crackdown.

Dead Palestinian and Grieving Palestinians

October 14 COVER PAGE: On a particularly violent day with Palestinian Arabs hacking people with meat cleavers and killing three, the Times covered an alternative news in its pictures. The front page large color photo of Palestinians running from Israeli tear gas with a caption “Palestinian demonstrators scattered Tuesday after Israeli forces fired tear gas during clashes in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Cover page picture of Palestinians fleeing from Israeli forces

Page A8: The cover page story continued on page A8 with another large color picture of Israeli forces before Palestinians running from tear gas. The caption: “A member of the Israeli security forces stood guard as Palestinian stone throwers fled from tear gas during clashes on Tuesday in Bethlehem. The current violent uprising has a very different character than the second Palestinian intifada.”

Palestinians fleeing tear gas

Page A8: Another story about the attacks medics pulling someone out of a bus. The caption: “Israeli emergency responders removing the body of a Palestinian from  bus where an attack took place in Jerusalem in Tuesday.” No Israeli victims covered from an unprovoked attack by a crazy Arab- note that no blame assigned for the “attack” in the caption.

Dead Palestinian removed from a generic “attack”

In a week that saw dozens of unprovoked attacks on Israelis, it cannot be an oversight that the New York Times repeatedly chose to show only injured Palestinians. The Times deliberately decided to feed the narrative of Palestinian victimhood. The Israelis were seemingly untouched.

There are some researchers that argue that the media and social media are fanning the flames of the unrest in the Middle East by fanning “misinformation.” If so, the Times’ irresponsible journalism might be viewed as a war crime.

Related First One Through articles:

Every Picture Tells a Story: The Invisible Murdered Israelis

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

Every Picture Tells a Story, the Bibi Monster

Every Picture Tells a Story, Don’t It?

The New York Times’ Buried Pictures

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