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

On November 19, 2015, Palestinian Arab terrorists attacked Israelis which resulted in the death of five people.  On the same day, terrorists in Mali attacked a hotel and killed 20.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon commented on both terrorist attacks. As seen below, the approach to each incident was quite different.

November 19, 2015 UN Responses Terror attacks killing five in Israel Terror attack killing 20 in Mali
Words in press release 97 218
Condemnation “terror attack” horrific terrorist attack”
Condolences “condolences to the families”” sincere condolences to the Government of Mali and the bereaved families”
Support for fight on terror None. “Imperative to restore calm.” full support to the Malian authorities in their fight against terrorist and extremist groups”


The UN placed significant weight on its comments towards the Government of Mali. It extended condolences and offered “full support” to fight terrorists and extremists.

However, all such language and sentiment was absent for Israel over its wave of terrorism.

This has been true for every announcement made about deliberate murders committed by Palestinian Arabs against Israelis, whether the killing of the Henkins in front of their children (October 2015) or the slaughter of the Fogel family in their beds (March 2011).

The reason becomes clear when reviewing the various UN statements.

This November 19 attack was the first time that Ban Ki-Moon actually used the word “terror” about Israeli Jews (he used it when describing terror against Arabs such as the killing of an Arab teenager in Duma).  The reason for using it for this incident? Because a Palestinian was listed among those killed.  The language of the press release could just as easily lead a reader to conclude that the terrorism was CAUSED by Israel, rather than by Arab murderers.

That was the reason that the UN did not extend condolences to, or express support for the Government of Israel.  For the UN Secretary-General, Israel is as much part of the terrorist infrastructure as the jihadists.

Ban Ki Moon
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

Ban Ki-Moon on Attacks in Israel on November 19, 2015

“The Secretary-General condemns today’s terror attacks in Israel and the occupied West Bank. He expresses his condolences to the families of the five people killed today — three Israelis, a Palestinian and an American — and hopes for a full and speedy recovery for those injured. It is imperative now to restore calm

The Secretary-General calls upon all political, religious and community leaders to speak out against such brutal acts and refrain from incendiary language. He reiterates that only a negotiated solution to the conflict can bring peace and security to the peoples of this troubled land.”


Ban Ki-Moon on Attacks in Mali on November 19, 2015

The Secretary-General condemns the horrific terrorist attack at the Radisson hotel in Bamako which killed an unknown number of civilians and injured many more.  He expresses his sincere condolences to the Government of Mali and the bereaved families and wishes a speedy recovery to the wounded victims of this attack. The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has been assisting the Malian authorities in the handling of this crisis.

The Secretary-General notes with concern that these attacks are taking place at a time when the peace process is making good progress and the signatory groups to the Agreement on peace and reconciliation in Mali, in particular the Coordination des Mouvements de l’Azawad and the Plateforme, were in Bamako to attend the sixth meeting of the Comité de suivi de l’Accord (CSA) with the Malian Government and international partners.

The Secretary-General deplores any attempt to derail the implementation of the Agreement. He expresses his full support to the Malian authorities in their fight against terrorist and extremist groups. He welcomes the statements of the signatory parties to the Agreement that they remain committed to its implementation.  He also reiterates the commitment of the United Nations, through MINUSMA, to support the Malian Government and the parties to the Agreement at this critical juncture in the peace process.”

Related First.One.Through articles

UN Comments on the Murder of Innocents: Henkins

UN Press Corps Expunges Israel

UNRWA’s Ongoing War against Israel and Jews

UN Comments on the Murder of Innocents: Itamar and Duma

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Recognition of Acquiring Disputed Land in a Defensive War

On November 13, 2015, several resolutions were put forth at the United Nations to advance the cause of a Palestinian State.  Some of the statements made in the resolutions are self-contradictory and undermine the very foundation of the claims that Israel occupies “Palestinian territory.”

Claim of Israel’s Illegal Acquisition
of Land by War

In the Resolution Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (A/70/L.13), there is a claim that Israel illegally took control over Palestinian land:

“Reaffirming the principle of
the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war

This statement underlies the argument that many people have against Israel’s settlements in the “West Bank”: that Israel enlarged its boundaries when it “seized” (to quote the New York Times) Palestinian land in the Six-Day War in 1967.  The claim stems from some international laws in the United Nations:

  • UN Charter (1945) Article 2: Paragraph 3: “All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that peace and security, and justice are not endangered.”
  • UN Charter (1945) Article 2: Paragraph 4: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”
  • Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations (1970) Principle 1: “Every State has the duty to refrain in its international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. Such a threat or use of force constitutes a violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations and shall never be employed as a means of settling international issues.

What is peculiar in the condemnation of Israel, is that the UN and Palestinians already acknowledge that Israel “seized Palestinian land” in 1949 and have endorsed it, as detailed below.

In the very same November 2015 UN resolution, the various countries that put forth the resolution (Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Comoros, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Nicaragua, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and State of Palestine), stated the following:

“Noting with concern that it has been 68 years since the adoption of its resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947 and 48 years since the occupation of Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, in 1967,” 

Note that “the occupation of Palestinian territory” is claimed to have started in 1967.  If there is a valid claim that Israel seized “Palestinian” land , the argument should extend to territory that Israel acquired in 1948-9. Yet the Palestinians curiously omit such claim not because they don’t view everything as Palestinian land, but because Israel has not sought to annex the West Bank.

November 29, 1947 to June 10, 1967

On July 24, 1922, the League of Nations (precursor to the UN) drafted a resolution that recognized “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home… [and] will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home… [and] shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.” It was on this basis that the world joined in the Zionist dream of further encouraging Jewish aliyah to Israel to create a Jewish homeland.

After several decades of Arabs fighting the law and seeking the end of Jewish immigration to Palestine, the British who oversaw the territory turned to the United Nations to implement a compromise solution.  On November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into distinct Jewish and Arab states. UN resolution 181 (which was specifically mentioned by the parties above in the 2015 UN resolution), was passed with 33 votes affirming; 13 against; and 10 countries abstaining.

On May 14 1948, as the British left Palestine, Israel declared itself as an independent state along the borders that were approved by the United Nations.  Several countries recognized the country including the US; the Soviet Union; Poland; Ireland; Yugoslavia; and South Africa, among others.  For their part, the Palestinian Arabs did NOT announce their own country along the UN stated borders.

1947 partition
Borders approved in UN resolution 181
November 29, 1947

Instead, with the approval of the Palestinian Arabs, several Arab countries – principally Jordan; Egypt; Syria; and Iraq, with forces also from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Yemen – invaded Israel.  In doing so those countries broke several international laws passed by the United Nations listed above about the “use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State.

At war’s end, Israel took additional land from the region that was originally allocated by the UN to be a Palestinian Arab state.  Armistice agreements between Israel and the various warring parties were executed in 1949 which included language that the Armistice lines were NOT to be construed as final borders.  Egypt assumed control of the Gaza Strip and Jordan took control of Judea and Samaria, later annexing it into an area referred to as the “West Bank” in a move that was never recognized by the United Nations.

israel 1949 map
Borders after 1948-9 War

The world recognized the incremental land that Israel captured in its defensive war against the Arab armies in 1949.  That incremental land was disputed, and not part of any independent country or member state of the UN.

Since June 10, 1967

Even with the Armistice agreements meant to assure peace, Egypt and Syria made many provocative statements and actions that threatened Israel in early 1967.  In response to those threats, Israel launched a preemptive attack on Egypt and Syria in June 1967.  Despite warnings to remain out of the conflict, Jordan (together with Palestinian Arabs who were granted Jordanian citizenship in 1950) launched an attack on Israel from its illegal territory in the “West Bank.”

Once again, the Arab countries broke international law as well as the Armistice agreements they had in place with Israel.  As in the 1948-9 War, Israel legally defended itself and captured additional land:

  • Gaza (held by Egypt but not legally part of any country);
  • Sinai (part of Egypt)
  • Judea and Samaria/ West Bank (annexed illegally by Jordan, but not legally part of any country);
  • the Golan Heights (from Syria)

Additional land added to Israel after
1967 Six Day War

When the Palestinian Arabs today discuss “the occupation of Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, in 1967,”  they are referring to land that is NOT, nor has it ever been part of a Palestinian state.  They are referring to lands that have been disputed for decades, that they would LIKE to have as a future Palestinian state.


The world accepted the acquisition of additional land by Israel in 1949.  The lands acquired were not “seized” in an offensive war against another country, but were disputed lands taken in a defensive war.  The West Bank and Gaza were taken similarly in 1967 (note that Israel left Gaza completely on its own in 2005).  The Sinai peninsula was returned to Egypt in 1982.

The Palestinians refused to accept Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947 and never declared an independent state.  While Israel has thus far only annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem that was divided in the 1948-9 War, it has left open the possibility of dividing Judea and Samaria, even though it was acquired in exactly the same manner as lands taken in 1948-9.

It is peculiar that countries acting on the Palestinian Arab’s behalf today should call out “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,” when several of those countries illegally warred against Israel in 1948-9, and the world gave Israel incremental disputed land at that time.  Arab countries repeated their illegal wars against Israel in 1967 and are now trying to recast history when the situation was identical to 1948-9.

The world accepted the additional land acquired by Israel in 1949 and the Palestinians admit as much when they only refer to land “occupied” since 1967.  The global community should accept Israel’s annexation of additional land when Israel chooses to annex it, and stop mischaracterizing the disputed land as “Palestinian territory,implying a history with claims that do not exist.

Related First.One.Through articles:

The Legal Israeli Settlements

The Green Line

Names and Narrative: The West Bank / Judea and Samaria

Names and Narrative: Palestinian Territories/ Israeli Territories

The Narrative that Prevents Peace in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

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

Real and Imagined Laws of Living in Silwan

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The Nation of Israel Prevails

The weekly Torah portion of Vayishlach, describes a famous story in the life of Jacob.  It is a message that Israeli Jews continue to hold dear.


Jacob had left his parent’s home fearing for his life, as his brother Esau had threatened to kill him.  After many years away, Jacob prepared to return with his new large family, only to discover that Esau had a welcoming party for him of 400 men, an army.

Assuming a battle, Jacob prepared to meet his brother Esau by separating his family into two groups, hoping that one group could escape while the other fought Esau’s army.  Jacob did not anticipate that there would be another fight before he even encountered Esau.

Genesis 32:24-30 relays the story of Jacob being left alone after readying his family. Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” He  said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.”

Jacob Struggles with an Angel
Gustav Dore (1832-1883)

Sages relayed that the man with whom Jacob wrestled was an angel, both a physical man and divinely creature.  This angel was both a symbol and a messenger: Jacob had fought with men such as Esau and his father-in-law Lavan, but also in his relationship with God.  The angel let Jacob know that as he had prevailed in the past, he would again prevail when he encounters his brother.  As such, the angel renamed Jacob “Yisrael” which is a combination of Hebrew words conveying both the struggle and the success.

Yisrael Today

The Jews of today were originally called “the Sons of Israel” in the bible, not the sons of Jacob.  They carried Jacob’s new name and the knowledge that while they continued to struggle with both man and God, they would ultimately prevail.

Jewish history is full of difficult encounters with men, whether in the holy land or around the world.  Jews lost many more battles than they won which often led them to question their belief in God.  Sages debated whether that cause-and-effect was actually reversed, and considered whether Jews lost so many fights because they failed in their relationship with God.

The Holocaust is an example of the terrible struggle Jews had with man and God. The very government to which Jews remained loyal, turned on them and butchered them.  Holocaust Survivors were left to question both the morality of men as well as the role of God. Was “surviving” really prevailing? On a broader basis, was the establishment of the Jewish State of Israel after the slaughter of one-third of the global Jewish population, really “prevailing?”  Is the definition of “prevailing” staying alive, a tangible victory of a self-governing homeland, or simply maintaining faith?

Today, Jews continue to grapple with those relationships and questions.  In November 2015, an Israeli woman preparing for her wedding was informed that a Palestinian Arab terrorist killed her father and brother.  She delayed the wedding so she could bury her family members and sit shiva, seven days of mourning.  As she ended her mourning, she invited the entire country to join in the wedding celebration.  Her invitation carried a message from the prophet Micah:

Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall, I will rise”

The heavenly promise of overcoming battles was matched by human determination.  The bride said precisely from the pain in the month of courage before Hanukkah we will, together with all the nation of Israel, spread a great light of joy, giving and love that the nation of Israel has inundated upon us.

Her voice was echoed by thousands of Jews who came to the wedding in Jerusalem waving Israeli flags singing “The Nation of Israel Lives!”

The children of Israel continue to wrestle with God and man, but prevail. They prevail in being alive, in the Jewish State with complete faith in God.

Am Yisrael Chai.

Related First.One.Through article and video:

From Promised Land to Promised Home

The 2011 Massacre of the Fogels in Itamar (Gorecki)

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A Logical Approach to Immigration from Personal History

President Barack Obama and various religious groups stated their strong support for bringing fleeing Syrian refugees into the United States in the fall of 2015. In their effort to convince other Americans of the justice of bringing in those fleeing wars in the Middle East, they drew an analogy to the Holocaust and the ship the MS St. Louis which was turned away from Cuba, the United States and Canada and sent back to Europe, where the Jewish passengers perished in concentration camps.

For their part, various Republicans stated their opposition to admitting so many refugees at this time due to security concerns. They dismissed the analogy to the Holocaust for multiple reasons including the principal facts that in the past there was no terrorism going on in the United States, and the Jews in Europe were ordinary civilians not bearing any arms or involved in any fights.

Syrian refugees arrive on the Greek island of Kos
August 2015 (photo: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

There is room for an honest conversation and approach. Here, I lay out my family’s path to America and lessons that could be applied to refugees today.

Coming Alone

My paternal great-grandfather came to the USA from Russia in 1904.  He fled the various pogroms that were going on in Russia over many years, including the significant Kishinev Pogrom in 1903.  He set out for America alone via Great Britain.  Once he established himself in New York City, he sent for his wife and two children to join him in their new home nine months later.

Many other Jews were leaving Russia during those years for the United States.  The USA was also admitting many Irish, British, Scandinavians, Italians, Hungarians, Germans and Austrians at the same time.  Each group spoke a different language and they all needed to adopt to the common language and culture of America.

And they did.

Fleeing en Masse

My maternal grandmother fled Austria with her immediate family after Kristallnacht in December 1938.  They were part of an enormous wave of Jews fleeing Europe in those months before the start of World War II.

The whole family fled at one time.  Before coming to the US, they were sent to Cuba where they were vetted and processed.  My grandmother and her two children were allowed to travel to New York three months after their arrival, however, her husband was not permitted to join them right away.  My grandfather waited in Cuba for over a year while the US vetted his background, and protected the jobs and security of Americans by slowly introducing thousands of men.

He waited in Cuba with hundreds of other men in the same predicament.

Lessons for Today

When my paternal great-grandfather came to America in 1904, he was part of a wave of immigrants coming to the US for a variety of reasons from a variety of countries.  Over five decades (1880-1930), the US more than doubled its population (from 50 million to 123 million), while the percent of foreign-born people in the country grew to a high of 15 percent.

The situation today is different:

  • Many foreign-born Americans today. Today, the United States is already at a 15% foreign-born population, the highest level in 200 years. Will such a huge and growing percentage hurt the US economy as they migrate into the workforce? Consider that 100 years ago the country was expanding and there were many jobs for manual labor; today the job market requires more skills and technical expertise.
  • Concentration of New Immigrants’ Culture. The immigrants that are coming today do not speak dozens of different languages (Hungarian; Russian; Italian; Swedish; English; German; etc.), but predominantly, just one: Spanish.  Such a large concentration has hurt Spanish integration into American society where many communities remain Spanish-speaking only or bilingual, at best.  The US instituted affirmative action programs uniquely for these Spanish-speakers, while no other immigrant group is afforded such assistance.  Will a large concentration of new Arabic speakers create another permanent sub-group in the US?
  • Current Battlefield.  The United States has been targeted by various radical Islamic groups.  When the MS St. Louis was turned away in 1939, America was not attacked and not at war.  The battlefield is now here.  Therefore, it is more time-sensitive and important to sort those fleeing harm in the Middle East, from those that intend to harm the United States.

The US should indeed consider the history of Jews fleeing Europe before WWII, but appreciate the differences when it is now considering the admittance of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The current refugees are using the methodology of my paternal great-grandfather and sending men before the rest of the families.  According to the UNHCR, 62% of current immigrants in the Mediterranean area are men. They are fleeing into Turkey and then quickly spreading throughout Europe.  That is a bad and potentially dangerous situation and the US should pivot to a more logical approach:

  • Processing: When refugees come en masse, it is important to have a place to process the people. Displaced Person camps are not a new phenomenon. The various Islamic countries which are allies with the US such as Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states should not only permanently settle many of their fellow Arabs and Muslims, but should establish DP camps so there is time for other countries to appropriately vet those fleeing harm, while keeping the refugees out of harm’s way.
  • Woman and children first. While not all men are terrorists, the vast majority of terrorists are men. As in the 1930s, women and children should be admitted first while extra vetting is done on the men.  Canada has taken such approach.  In addition to giving time for more extensive background checks, it allows the country to more gradually introduce a large number of adult men into society.

Most men are not terrorists and most Muslims are not terrorists.  But the majority of people attacking the US and its allies are Muslim men.  Proper time and attention is needed to protect people.

Jews from Europe in the 1930s went through a long process of coming to America.  The lesson of WWII is not simply to not turn back refugees to the place where they are fleeing like America did with the MS St. Louis. It is also to use a system to effectively admit refugees.

All governments must take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of its citizens as it welcomes new immigrants.  It is shameful that there is finger-pointing and name-calling from both Democratic and Republican parties as the country attempts to welcome those fleeing war and prosecute those seeking war.

We should incorporate the best suggestions of both parties to help the refugees while placing priority on protecting Americans.

Related First.One.Through articles

The Explosion of Immigrants in the United States

Crises at the Borders

Help Refugees: Shut the UNRWA, Fund the UNHCR

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Every Picture Tells a Story: Arab Injuries over Jewish Deaths

On November 19, 2015, a Palestinian Arab murderer shot up cars in the Gush Etzion district of Judea and Samaria. Among the three Jews that were killed in that incident, was an American citizen who was studying in Israel for the year.

Ezra Schwartz was an 18 year old from Sharon, MA. He went with some friends to bring food and candies to Israeli soldiers who were guarding an intersection where three Israeli boys were abducted and killed in July 2014. On his way back to school, he was shot and killed along with others while sitting in traffic.

The New York Times did not think much of this Jewish American teenager.

The story of the murder was placed at the very bottom of page A6. There was no accompanying picture. No caption. No one saw this American victim of Palestinian Arab barbarity.  As a matter of fact, if you wanted to know the name of this American victim, you would have to wait until the tenth paragraph of the article.

NY Times November 20, 2015, page A6

This was in sharp contrast to how the New York Times covered the story of an American Arab who was beaten up while engaged in a riot in Israel.

On July 7, 2014, the New York Times placed a large color picture on the front page of an Arab youth surrounded by policemen.  The caption read “Tariq Abu Kheidar, 15, arrested in the unrest, is a cousin of the victim and was shown on a video being beaten by Israeli officers.” Tariq led the world news, on a day when over 100 people were slaughtered in various attacks.

Front page of the New York Times July 7, 2014

The beating of an Arab American who participated in a riot got front page attention, while the murder of a Jewish American who was simply riding in a car got nothing.

The New York Times has a long history of ignoring Israeli deaths and highlighting Palestinian injuries as detailed in the articles below. The New York Times has extended its bias against American Jews as well.

Related First.One.Through articles:

Every Picture Tells a Story: The Invisible Murdered Israelis

Every Picture Tells A Story: Only Palestinians are Victims

Every Picture Tells a Story: Versions of Reality

The New York Times’ Buried Pictures

Every Picture Tells a Story, the Bibi Monster

Every Picture Tells a Story, Don’t It?

The New York Times Picture of the Year, 2014

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Not Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the Girders

In November 2015, right after terrorists attacked Paris, France again, US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke of the logic of Islamic terrorists killing the people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January:

“There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that.”

The statement highlighted many flaws in Kerry’s worldview:

  • A desire to find a logic in the minds of the terrorists, with a very narrow focus (as Obama would say “legitimate grievances”)
  • An implication that the victims were to blame for causing such “legitimate grievances”
  • A desire to assume the entire world shared this flawed worldview.

Part of the Eiffel Tower
(photo: First.One.Through)

As detailed in “I’m Offended, You’re Dead,” a narrow focus on blasphemy misses the bigger agenda of radical Islam. Refusing to listen to terrorist groups’ own words and charters in which they call for the killing of infidels and destruction of countries is a blindness that simply is unacceptable in the Secretary of State of the most powerful country on earth.

Kerry and the Obama administration’s hyper-narrow focus on these so-called “legitimate grievances” led them to explore ways of trying to placate terrorists:

Is the failure of the US administration’s foreign policies due to blindness from narrow-focus, open-mindedness that the jihadists have “legitimate grievances,” or just bad policies and/or implementation of those strategies?

What do you think?

Related First.One.Through articles:

The Banners of Jihad

Failures of the Obama Doctrine and the Obama Rationale

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

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Select Support in Fighting Terrorism from the US State Department

The month from October 13 to November 13, 2015 witnessed many terrorist attacks in the MENA region and Europe. The US State Department loudly condemned the large scale attacks in Chad, Lebanon and France, but was more muted in its condemnation of the attacks in Israel. Most significantly, the State department voiced its support for the various governments to combat the terrorism, but did NOT give any support to the government of Israel.

Further, over the entire month when numerous Arab terrorist attacks felled Israelis, the US State Department did not issue any additional condemnations.

  October 13 Attack in Israel October 27 Attack in Chad November 12 Attack in Lebanon November 13 Attack in France
Words in statement 88 140 118 149
Condemnation condemns in the strongest possible terms condemns” “strongly condemns” outrage and sadness”
“Terrorism” Once Once and “horrific and indiscriminate attacks” Four times Twice and “heinous, evil, vile acts.”
Condolences “We mourn any loss of life” deepest sympathies and condolences” “deepest condolences” “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected”
Innocent Life Israeli or Palestinian innocent civilians” None “innocent people”
Support to battle terror None. Requests “all sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm” support the governments and people of the Lake Chad Basin region in their ongoing struggle to defeat Boko Haram fully support the Lebanese authorities as they conduct their investigation… reaffirms its commitment to Lebanon’s security, and will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Lebanon in confronting terrorism “must do everything in our power to fight back against what can only be considered an assault on our common humanity…. we stand ready to provide whatever support the French government may require”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called all of the terrorism in the region as a single phenomena of radical Islamic terrorism. “The time has come for the world to wake up and unite in order to defeat terrorism. The time has come for countries to condemn terrorism against us to the same degree that they condemn terrorism everywhere else in the world

Based on the various remarks by the US State Department, it clearly disagrees.

State Department Spokesman John Kirby

October 13, 2015 about Israel:

“The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, which resulted in the murder of three Israelis and left numerous others wounded. We mourn any loss of innocent life, Israeli or Palestinian. We continue to stress the importance of condemning violence and combating incitement. We are in regular contact with the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. We remain deeply concerned about escalating tensions and urge all sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm and prevent actions that would further escalate tensions.”

October 27, 2015 about Chad:

The United States condemns the horrific and indiscriminate attacks at the Jambutu Mosque in Yola, Adamawa State, the Central Mosque of Polo Ward in Maiduguri, Borno State, and other locations in Maiduguri on October 23 and 24, 2015. We offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and loved ones of the many innocent civilians who were killed and injured.

The apparent use of children – particularly young girls – to commit these attacks is especially heinous, and it provides yet more examples of the horrific measures Boko Haram is willing to take to terrorize civilians in northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region.

The United States continues to support the governments and people of the Lake Chad Basin region in their ongoing struggle to defeat Boko Haram. We will continue to assist these vital efforts in every appropriate way.”

November 12, 2015 about Lebanon:

“The United States strongly condemns today’s terrorist attack on civilians in the Burj Barajneh neighborhood of Beirut, Lebanon. We extend our deepest condolences to the Lebanese people, particularly the families of the victims, and wish a swift recovery to the wounded.

Today’s events are a troubling reminder of the tremendous challenges Lebanon still faces. Terrorism, such as today’s attacks, seeks to undermine the freedom and security that the people of Lebanon have worked so hard to achieve. We fully support the Lebanese authorities as they conduct their investigation into this act of terror. The United States reaffirms its commitment to Lebanon’s security, and will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Lebanon in confronting terrorism.”

November 13, 2015 about France:

“I share President Obama’s outrage and sadness over the terrorist attacks tonight in Paris.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this assault on innocent people, going about their lives. And I am deeply concerned by ongoing reports of hostages.

These are heinous, evil, vile acts. Those of us who can must do everything in our power to fight back against what can only be considered an assault on our common humanity.

Our embassy in Paris is making every effort to account for the welfare of American citizens in the city, and in the days ahead we stand ready to provide whatever support the French government may require. France is our oldest ally, a friend and a vital partner. We stand with the French people tonight, as our peoples have always stood together in our darkest hours. These terrorist attacks will only deepen our shared resolve.”

Related First.One.Through articles:

US State Department Comments on Terrorism in Israel and the Territories

The US State Department’s Selective Preference of “Status Quos”

Failures of the Obama Doctrine and the Obama Rationale

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Obama’s Select Religious Compassion

US President Obama spoke about the United States’ plan to admit refugees from Syria, while he was in Turkey for the G20 Summit. He spoke with emotion in his voice as he dismissed the suggestion that America would not admit Muslim refugees due to security concerns, after the terrorist attacks committed in Paris by the Islamic State killed 129 people just days before.

Obama saidwhen I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.

Obama G20
President Obama speaking at G20 Summit in Turkey
(photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivals/QP)

It is interesting that Obama suddenly feels that religion should not be a test for allowing people to live in certain places.

Just last year, Obama’s White House Spokesman made the following comment about Jews moving into apartments they recently purchased in the eastern part of Jerusalem: “The US condemns the recent occupation of residential buildings in the neighborhood of Silwan by people whose agenda provokes tensions.”

Those “people whose agenda provokes tensions” were ordinary Jews moving into apartments they purchased.

The White House condemned Jews from moving into their legal residences because Palestinian Arabs were angry about having Jewish neighbors. Does Arab anti-Semitism dictate American policy or “compassion”? Why did the anger of Palestinian Arabs get an endorsement, while the concerns of Americans about their own safety get condemnation from Obama?

Obama is correct that America was founded on the principle of religious tolerance. That is who “we” are.

That Obama would uniquely advocate for the banning of Jews from living in their own homes, says who he is.

Related First.One.Through articles:

Real and Imagined Laws of Living in Silwan

Obama’s “Values” Red Herring

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Failures of the Obama Doctrine and the Obama Rationale

Historians have begun to debate the “Obama Doctrine” and its impact on global stability. The Doctrine itself is not so novel or controversial.  It is the “Obama Rationale,” his underlying worldview, and how he applies the doctrine’s principles, that are causing the destabilization of global security.

Obama Doctrine
President Obama defining his “Obama Doctrine” with Thomas Freidman
April 2015 (photo: New York Times)

The Obama Doctrine
We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities”

In April 2015, New York Times Op-Ed columnist Thomas Freidman penned a piece called “Iran and the Obama Doctrine.” In a long interview with US President Barack Obama, Freidman came to conclusions about Obama’s approach to foreign affairs. In short:

  • Engagement over Sanctions, Isolation and War. Obama stated a problem ignored is not a problem solved.  However, dialogue opened a possibility to change people’s hearts and minds. Diplomacy should always be the first option, both with allies and foes.
  • A Single Foreign Policy. The Executive Branch of the United States government must be the sole representative of US foreign policy. Senators and congresspeople should not engage with world leaders with messages that contradict those decided by the president.

Liberals and Conservatives may agree or disagree with this formula for engaging the world. Presumably, many would agree with these approaches in general.

Then why the terrible polls for Obama’s foreign policy?

Failed Implementation

There is a significant percentage of Americans who strongly disagree with Obama’s handling of foreign policy. Those reasons may have less to do with the Obama Doctrine itself, but how it is applied.

  • Negotiations with Foes. Engaging with friend or foe should yield results to one’s liking. Many Americans criticized the Obama team in that it did not extract enough concessions from negotiations.
    • Cuba was opened up with nothing to show for it.
    • Syria was given a pass for using chemical weapons even though Obama threatened the country with military force.
    • Iran was left with an enormous nuclear infrastructure, even though sanctions had pushed the country to the brink.
    • Russia actively established itself on the world stage including annexing part of Ukraine, as it knew that Obama would not take military action.
    • Engagement is okay, if it achieved the desired outcome, but Obama showed a pattern of coming away with only modest achievements at great costs. He resorted to touting the engagement itself as the victory, rather than tangible goals.
  • Engagement with Allies. Foreign policy is equally about managing relationships with allies. Yet Obama has shown an inability to keep allies close, work for American interests and make reforms, as necessary.
    • Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was a longtime ally of the United States, and Obama made a point of visiting Cairo in his first international trip. Yet Obama quickly turned on this one-time ally and blessed his overthrow.
    • Israel has rarely had such a cold treatment form any US administration. The lack of trust has not produced an environment conducive to peace negotiations.
    • Saudi Arabia is an oppressive regime that is nevertheless a US ally. The kingdom has never been so unsure of America’s leadership, nor has it beheaded as many of its own citizens.
    • Turkey’s leader Erdogan has been described by Obama as being one of his closest allies.  Yet Turkey has dragged its feet in allowing the US to use its territory to fight ISIS and prefers using its Turkish troops to bomb Kurds than ISIS.
    • Despite an established agreement with Ukraine, Obama let the country fall to Russia.
  • Terrorism. More than almost any issue since 9/11/2001, has the world been focused on terrorism. Obama has been unsure how to utilize his “Doctrine” when the counter-party is not an official government, but a terrorist organization.
    • Islamic State/ ISIS has been targeted for destruction by Obama in words, but he has engaged in militarily confronting the group only sporadically. Meanwhile, the group continues to expand its attacks in Lebanon, Egypt (against a Russian airliner) and France.
    • Boko Haram; Al-Shabaab, Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups do not get any engagement from Obama at all. Obama considers them local problems for local governments to handle and does not consider the global aspirations of the affiliates groups.  Never mind that these group like Ansar al-Sharia in Libya have attacked and killed Americans, including Ambassador Stevens.

The Obama Doctrine by itself is not that controversial to many Americans, however, it’s implementation is roundly criticized.  Further, the underlying Obama worldview which governs his approach to engagement is considered a disaster.

The Obama Rationale

President Obama has spent seven years outlining his thoughts as to why people use terrorism. The rationale leads directly to his proposed solutions, so appreciating those views is key to understanding his tactics.

In February 2015, not long after the terrorist attacks in Paris in January 2015, several world leaders met to discuss ways of combatting terror. President Obama addressed the American people and outlined his thoughts about the root causes of terrorism and his associated game plan:

  • Frustration with Injustice and Corruption. Obama stated that “anger that festers when people feel that injustice and corruption leave them with no chance of improving their lives.
  • No Outlet other than Through Violence. He added that the frustration was exacerbated by “[g]overnments that deny human rights play into the hands of extremists who claim that violence is the only way to achieve change
  • Misguided Belief that West is at War with Islam. Obama stated that some clerics and groups have a “twisted interpretation of religion” and that “al Qaeda and ISIL peddling the lie that the United States is at war with Islam

The Obama rationale for terrorism is that there is a very small number of people who have twisted religion and then prey upon people’s “legitimate grievances” (his words).  His approach to addressing this terrorist threat is an extension of his Obama Doctrine.

The Obama Solution to Terrorism

  • Broadcast the Voices of Muslim Moderates. “The world must continue to lift up the voices of Muslim clerics and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of Islam”  Americans should show “support of their family, friends, teachers and faith leaders.”
  • Export Democracy.  While Obama has shown a reluctance to nation-build, he nevertheless thinks that advancing democracy would help stop terrorism: “Efforts to counter violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the democratic process and express themselves through strong civil societies.
  • Community Development.  Showing his roots as a community organizer, Obama advocates for local job creation, whereby “economic, educational and entrepreneurial development so people have hope for a life of dignity.” That’s why spokespeople like Marie Hart from the State Department continue to push the notion that a jobs program is the key to stop terrorism.
  • Repeat that the US is NOT at war with Islam. Obama consistently repeats over and again that America is not at war with Islam and that Islam is a religion of peace.  Such efforts, he believes, keep the terrorism from spreading to America’s shores and allies.

These approaches to terrorism are very much like the Obama Doctrine: engage and assist people in reaching democratic aspirations.  The small number of terrorists with hateful ideology would be eliminated (using “all capabilities”), while the masses should be “engaged”.  As Obama said:

Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence
is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds.”

However, this approach has not slowed the advance of terrorism which continues to kill in France; Egypt; Israel; Lebanon; Nigeria; Kenya and elsewhere.

Critics of Obama say the battle is not “FOR the hearts and minds” but “OF the hearts and minds” of a broad number of Muslims.  They point out the murderous governments throughout the Muslim world, and the gross intolerance of their societies, that are not just offended by what people say or do, but who they are.

Many of these critics believe that the terrible state of global security is solely because of Obama’s worldview.  They argue that there is no administration failure to execute; the team is executing the Obama Doctrine according to the Obama Rationale: Give the various regimes money, jobs, trading, asylum and the like.  Remove American troops from the MENA region, engage economically, and peace will prevail (or if it doesn’t, it will be a local problem).

Obama’s critics dismiss this approach and believe the “clash of civilizations” goes beyond a handful of terrorists.  The world is too flat and integrated to believe such a naïve approach will keep America and its allies safe.

As Americans consider their next president, it will be important to not just consider whether they agree with the Obama Doctrine, but with the Obama worldview. If terrorism continues to occur over the election season, the Obama Rationale will take center stage in the debates.

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Rick Jacobs’ Particular Reform Judaism

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) held its biennial in Orlando, FL in November 2015. The head of the URJ, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, gave opening remarks that laid out his personal politics and worldview as the belief system of Reform Judaism.

Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs
November 2015


Rabbi Jacobs is not a stranger to politics. In November 2014, Jacobs urged the state of Israel to not go forward with legislation to reaffirm its Jewish character. His position was that Israel needs more pluralism than Judaism; more universalism than particularism. In his opening speech to the Reform Movement one year later, he made clear that Judaism itself needed more of that approach too.

Jacobs spoke about Jewish values that are rooted in the Torah such as loving the stranger in your midst. He said that “thirty-six times the bible reminds us ‘v’ahavtem et ha’ger’ – to love the resident alien and treat the stranger as ourselves.” Indeed, such quotes are throughout the bible such as:

  • “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:34)
  • You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21)
  • He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)

However, Jacobs opted to then announce his own personal political views as being the official mantra of the Reform Movement: specifically that Jews living east of the Green Line (EGL) in Judea and Samaria is wrong and should be opposed. He stated the “Reform Movement has long opposed Israeli settlement policy in the West Bank. The occupation threatens the very Zionism that we hold dear: the living expression of a Jewish democratic state.

Ignore for a moment that the global community endorsed Jews living throughout Palestine in the British Mandate of 1922.  How does a movement that prides itself on universalism advocate that anyone should be banned from living somewhere? How does a Jewish movement call for Jews being barred from living anywhere? How can a rabbi advocate for an anti-Semitic policy that is also directly against the bible?

Jacobs wants to see peace in holy land; he has no monopoly on that desire.

But why does a policy of welcoming strangers, mean adopting their hateful agenda? While Palestinian Arabs may demand Jews be prevented from buying and living in homes east of the Green Line (EGL), why should Jews endorse the same policy? There are many paths to a two state solution – and actual peace – that would not bar Jews from living in parts of the holy land.

The vast majority of Jews living EGL/ Judea and Samaria, want to live at peace with their Arab neighbors. These are lands that Jews have lived in for thousands of years and without any prohibitions from the League of Nations nor under the Ottomans before them.

While many Reform Jews may agree with Jacobs and his J Street view, does Reform Judaism leave no room for Jews with different views? Is Reform Judaism only open to radical liberals?

A Failure to Educate and Celebrate Israel

Jacobs did passionately defend Israel and spoke clearly of his opposition to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS).  He continued that many young people “feel that Israel has become too intolerant, not only of Arab citizens, but also of non-Orthodox Jews, Ethiopian Jews, LGBT Jews, asylum seekers and others.” He tacitly agreed to this viewpoint.

Exactly how does Jacobs believe that he defends Israel?  Just by saying that he is against BDS?

Why doesn’t he educate people and celebrate the accomplishments of Israel? Why isn’t he and the Reform Movement at the forefront of telling fellow liberal friends that Israel is the most liberal country in the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and in much of the world?

Jacobs called for a Reform Judaism that welcomes everyone in something he called “audacious hospitality.” He advocated a universalistic approach to the world over one of particularism.

Yet the leader of the Reform movement put forth a narrow political agenda regarding Israel that only spoke to a slice of its members, and by doing so created a wedge within the community about Israel. He failed to educate the community about Israel’s values that it shares, and thereby left a gap between Reform Judaism and the Jewish State.

There is a lot to love about Israel and much to learn about the different approaches to peace in the Middle East.  It would be better – and more consistent – for Rabbi Jacobs to understand that Reform Jews have a range of opinions about Israel that are consistent with Judaism and “loving one’s neighbor as thyself”, not in priority over oneself.

It would also go a long way to healing rifts between the broader Jewish community, and between the diaspora community and Israel.

Related First.One.Through articles:

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

A Disservice to Jewish Community

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

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