In an effort to stay on top of current trends and remain relevant, the Reform Movement made a declaration about proper eating habits.
The head of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Nick Isaacs, noted that Americans were having a difficult time sticking with diets and often “cheated” leading to pangs of guilt. He said that those feelings of guilt could in turn lead to depression and further over-eating. “People should only feel guilt when they harm another living thing. It is nonsensical to have remorse for eating a cookie,” he said. “The Reform movement understands the very human nature of people and so declares that there is no distinction between a healthy diet and a non-healthy diet.” Isaacs went on to explain that his movement sought to obviate the negative sensation that ultimately pushes people further away from a healthy lifestyle. In his line of reasoning, removing any definition of what makes for a healthy lifestyle would thereby actually promote healthier living.
“And it’s really popular,” he added.
The Reform Movement is the largest denomination of American Jews and its latest proclamation is likely to attract more people, especially those that hate exercise.
Meanwhile the Orthodox movement – often the laggard of the three religious denominations – felt compelled to issue its own statement in response to URJ’s Non-Diet Diet. The Orthodox Union wrote “Orthodox Judaism is rooted in rules and tradition that have been core to our beliefs and practices for generations. A healthy diet consists of eating properly and exercise.”
Really? Amongst the chulent chow-hounds?
Rabbi Isaacs ridiculed OU’s statement, noting the rigidity of their position. “Orthodox Jews will remain a small niche movement of extremists until they realize that people have a range of desires. Pretending otherwise is foolishness.”
“And they’re so fat too. They never exercise. They’ve adopted an immovable position that makes them both self-righteous and self-loathing. How is that really healthy?”
The OU would not formally respond to Rabbi Isaacs. However, in response to this reporter’s question, all the OU would say is that “Judaism never said it isn’t a big world with lots of tasty treats, and busy schedules which make it difficut to exercise. All we said was that a healthy diet consists of eating properly and exercise. It doesn’t mean that some people don’t fall short.”
A noted author, David Horkis who identifies with the Conservative Movement noted the exchange between the Reform and Orthodox denominations, and added his own take on the direction of the Conservative Movement. “The Reform Movement is obsessed with numbers. It believes that its sole mission is to have as many members as possible. Stating that there is no such thing as a healthy diet is obviously ridicuolous, but the Orthodox take the opposite extreme, and leave no room for people acting like people. It’s too rigid. They [Orthodox] are going to be left with a bunch of fitness nuts who will probably have kids with eating disorders.”
“But I fear for my Conservative Movement as well,” Horkis said. ”We have been so focused on a pathway of balance, of trying to maintain a goldilocks equilibrium between strict rules and no rules. I fear that the recent actions of a few Conservative rabbis proudly eating bowls of ice cream from the pulpit in a direct nod to the Reform movement will result in some absurd positions from the Rabbinical Assembly.”
Rabbi April Summer, head of the Conservative Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly (RA) has been slow to wade into the diet debate. While she did not object to Horkis’s comments that Conservative Judaism sought a balance between tradition and popularity, she thought that chasing Reform’s position was crossing lines in the sand. “Our movement understands the reality of the science of the healthy diet and we understand the human desires to eat fatty foods and be lazy. Our focus is not demand complete obedience nor to sanction any-and-all behavior. Our goal is to focus on empathy, about the people struggling to have a healthy diet.”
Rabbi Summer said that the RA was not currently issuing an official position on the parameters of a healthy diet. Instead, it would issue a statement that it understood the challenges of people in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Horkis was none-too-pleased with that approach. “Is our denomination going to ever stand for something? Will we ever not cave in to our cravings? We’re stuck on not offending people. That’s become our mission statement.”
For their part, non-Jewish dieticians have been amused. “There are just a few million Jews on the planet, and they are caught up making declarations ranging from there’s no such thing as a diet; you must stick to a diet, and we feel for those trying to keep to a diet. They’ve got a lot of opinions for such a small community. And one thing is clear, 80% of the Reform movement will likely be overweight in short order.”
How does one label bathrooms for 30+ gender identities?
For thousands of years, the world operated on the premise that there were only two genders: male and female. Then the 21st century came along.
As a matter of modesty, various societies separated the two genders in various matters such as education, and most frequently, for private matters such as using the bathroom or locker room.
Bathrooms typically used language to denote the appropriate room for people to enter, such as “Men,” “Boys” or “Gentlemen” for males and “Women,” “Girls” or “Ladies” for females. Some decades ago, to address language barriers, many places began adding linear stick figures for men, and a stick figure which seemingly had a skirt or dress for women.
Liberal societies soon challenged those stereotypes. Is a woman defined by wearing a skirt while many females wear pants? Does a man stop being a man if he dons a dress? The liberal advance pushed for more general symbols to replace the stick figures. Circles were used to represent women and triangles were rolled out to denote men’s rooms. Why these shapes? It is unclear. But the migration to circles and triangles has been taking over.
The question now remains of what to do with the newly minted dozens of gender types that municipalities have started to recognize.
International Federation of Red Cross and
Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
For almost 60 years, the IFRC refused to admit the Israeli emergency group, the Red Magen David to its ranks because Israel insisted on using the Jewish Star of David instead of a Christian cross or Islamic crescent as its logo. It took several years of United States pressure – including withholding dues – for the IFRC to admit Israel in 2006.
But the IFRC still refused to allow Israel to use its Star of David.
Muslim countries originally offered the excuse of barring Israel’s entry because they objected to Israel’s control of land it captured in the 1967 Six Day War (they could not remember why they objected to admitting the organization in the many decades that preceded the war). Christian countries objected to including the Jewish Star as there were many other religious countries (such as Buddhist Thailand) which would create a confusing string of logos.
Perhaps that will become the official symbol of all non-dominant actors such as non-males and non-females in bathrooms: a diamond which conveys the mass of minorities, the “Others.”
If and when the world adopts the bucket diamond category, will the world similarly be dismissive and persecute the diamonds outside of the dominant genders, the same way that the world attacks the only Jewish State?
“The United States reiterates its commitment to stand with Israel against these forces of terror.
Hamas is one of these forces of terror that yet again showed its true colors to the world earlier this month. It is a terrorist organization so ruthless that it will not hesitate to put the lives of innocent children on the line….
Make no mistake, Israel did not cause the problems in Gaza… we should never forget the responsibility for this humanitarian crisis rests squarely with the one group that actually controls Gaza: Hamas….
Hamas remains a terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction. Its goal is to defeat Israel by force. It will use all the resources it can to continue the fight.
This Security Council must stand up to condemn Hamas’ terror. Hamas represents yet another regional threat that this Council far too often ignores. While UN agencies and Member States dissect Israel’s actions, few speak out against the terror that Hamas continues to plot. Some Member States of this organization even maintain ties to Hamas and other terrorist groups that flourish in Gaza.
The Security Council must unite to say that enough is enough. We need to pressure Hamas to end its tyranny over the people of Gaza. We should condemn Hamas in this Council’s resolutions and statements. We should name Hamas as the group responsible when rockets are fired from Gaza, or when fresh tunnels are discovered. And we should designate Hamas as a terrorist organization in a resolution, with consequences for anyone who continues to support it.“
His actions and statements were appalling. And they were echoed in liberal media.
Both CNN and The New York Times have continued to go out of their way to avoid calling Hamas a terrorist organization in article after article. Most recently, in an article about Qatar written on June 24, 2017, the Times wrote:
“Qatar has opened its doors to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates consider a terrorist organization; to members of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group; and to the Afghan Taliban.”
Hamas is not simply a “militant” group, and it is certainly not “the” militant group of the Palestinians, as if there were only a single one. It is a designated terrorist group by many countries, just as the Muslim Brotherhood is labeled as such. Even more, it is one of several Palestinian groups that the United States labels a Foreign Terrorist Organization, including: Palestine Liberation Front (PLF); Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ); Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLF); PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC); and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB).
Nikki Haley has taken that argument head on. She has clearly articulated the problem of the terrorist group Hamas for both Israel and the people of Gaza and has directed the United Nations to take specific actions against such organization.
It is a long overdue and welcome change that will hopefully lead to peace in the region.
Bret Stephens had an award-winning career writing columns on the top of the Op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal. His conservative take on politics was thoughtful and balanced, as he appreciated nuance in the topics that he covered. He is continuing that insightful analysis over at The New York Times.
In an article printed on June 15, 2017 entitled “The Indigenous American Berserk Strikes Again,” Stephens wrote about the shooting of a Republican politician at the hands of a liberal wacko. He cautioned both liberals and conservatives to not draw any particular conclusions from the actions of a sole operator from the margins of society. A “one-off” does not mean that all liberals will be out to attack conservatives, any more than the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011 meant that conservatives were out to physically harm liberals. (Liberals made such an argument at that time).
It is a lesson that his new colleague at the NY Times, Thomas Friedman, needs to learn.
Friedman described Israel as having a “right-wing” government, simply because it included a nationalistic party that had just 5% of the seats in the parliament. He neglected to mention that Israelis voted much more for the anti-Zionist Arab Joint List to 14% of the parliament
He described acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas as a “moderate,” while labeling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an extremist, even though it is Abbas that: argues for a country free of Jews; has capital punishment for Arabs that sells land to Jews; has laws that excuse men for the honor killing of their wives; incites violence against Israeli Jews; etc.
The vast majority of Israelis favor a peaceful settlement with the Stateless Arabs from Palestine (SAPs), while 93% of Palestinian Arabs are anti-Semites, more than any other region in the world. The SAPs voted the terrorist group Hamas to 58% of the seats in the Palestinian Authority government.
Stephens argued convincingly that actions of a lone radical should not tarnish the majority: “the fact that events are frightening, bloody and tragic doesn’t necessarily make them especially meaningful…. In 2011 the left wanted to blame millions of Americans for the acts of one crazed man. The indictment served nobody.”
Bret Stephens speaking at an event in Westchester, NY July 2015
Meanwhile Friedman – and many liberals – seemingly use an inverted approach, whereby the actions of the PA leadership and majority of SAPs should be ignored, while the opinions of a minority of Israeli Jews should be scrutinized.
Why do liberals exaggerate the fringe while conservatives concentrate on the majority?
Self-Reliance versus Helping Out
Historically, liberals and conservatives could agree to disagree on a particular policy, say abortion. The action was debated about whether it should be legal or banned. Tax policy and welfare were topics to be debated. Climate change. Gun policy. Healthcare.
But the conversation has changed. Today political pundits talk about people. Defining the conservatives/liberals themselves is the focus, not policies.
According to Pew Research. conservatives primarily value responsibility, faith and hard work. In contrast, liberals are more drawn to empathy and helping others. This split in focus helps explain the different approaches to people in the margins of society.
In a conservative mindset, someone’s position in society is a result of actions for which they are responsible. In a traditional bell curve in which the vast majority sit in the middle, everyone – including those in the margins – got there as a result of their own actions. The successful people were the beneficiaries of hard work and risk, while the failures at the other end of the spectrum got there because of poor decisions and/or the lack of determination.
Conservatives study the habits of the successful as they attempt to emulate their path.Those at the top are their focus. When they look at the downtrodden, they are as case studies of actions to avoid.
Meanwhile liberals do not necessarily focus on what actions got a person into their predicament as much as how to get them out. The value of helping others puts liberals into an active mode of assistance. The successful outliers do not need help; they are not part of the liberal orientation. The liberals only attach themselves to the downtrodden – a select segment of those on the margins.
Conservatives and liberals are drawn to opposing ends of the spectrum because of their underlying value system. But conservatives use a common approach to all segments of society and learn from each; liberals end up only relating to a small segment of society. Right-leaning people extract data from both the majority and minority to validate their opinions, while left-leaning people can best apply their values of empathy to a select minority.
Liberal “Progessivism” versus Conservative “Traditionalism”
Not everything that divides conservatives and liberals can be divided between the attractions to the successful and the downtrodden. Sometimes it is the approach to religion and tradition.
Liberals are much less religious than conservatives. Pew polls found that only 36% of liberals found religion as important in their lives, while that figure was almost double – 70% for conservative Americans.
Free from traditional religious constraints, liberals have embraced homosexuality (which has been traditionally viewed as a sin) more than conservatives. Are most people homosexuals? No, they are a minority.
Liberals have also been drawn to the current trend of “self-identity.”
How many truly transgender people are there? It’s infinitesimal. But liberals have taken up this minority as consistent with their credo for empathy and helping others. They have pushed society’s traditional view of gender and advanced that the public must accommodate this new self-identity in matters such as public bathrooms. Conservatives have been appalled at both the new non-binary view of gender, and the demand that the public must adopt to their worldview.
The more religious and traditional conservatives have mostly remained with the majority in these matters of gender and sexual preference, while liberals have loudly campaigned for the minority.
The Parties in the Margin
While the two main political parties have hemmed to the margins, the parties themselves have become marginalized.
Democrats are much more liberal than ever in history, as the liberal wing grew to 44% of the party in 2016 from just 30% in 2000 according to Gallup. Not surprisingly, this liberal Democratic party has rushed to embrace far-left extremists like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. As they have done so, Gallup polls show that the percentage of Americans that identify as Democrats has declined to 30%.
The beneficiaries are Independents who now account for 43% of Americans, more than Democrats or Republicans. These independents may share some values of liberals and conservatives, but have a negative feeling about the main policy issues and leadership of the two parties.
Those at the margins are part of our society, but they do not define our society.
As Democrats become more liberal and place an exaggerated focus on the margins, they will continue to marginalize their own political party. It will also continue to benefit Independents and thoughtful writers like Bret Stephens that do not get caught up in trendy thinking that obfuscates truths.
There are times when a Democracy recalls its seminal moments and rises to its defense. The US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley did just that in elegant fashion. Will other leaders do so as well?
Human Rights as Foundation of the USA
In 1776, the United States of America declared its independence from Great Britain. The US’s foundation principle laid out the argument that God gave people basic human rights and the primary role of government was to protect them. If the government could not do so, it no longer served its basic function and thereby lost its legitimacy and reason to exist.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
“My country has a unique beginning, founded on human rights, holding self-evident the truth that all men are created equal with rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Of course America did not invent these rights – God did. Simply by our birth, human beings are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. These rights belong to all of us. They are not the gift of any government. They cannot legitimately be taken away by any government.
The American idea is that government exists to serve the people, not the other way around. Government should secure our rights, not violate them.”
Haley went on to admonish the global agency for neglecting its basic purpose of defending human rights by simply politicizing human rights:
“The Human Rights Council has been given a great responsibility. It has been charged with using the moral power of universal human rights to be the world’s advocate for the most vulnerable among us. Judged by this basic standard, the Human Rights Council has failed.
In case after case, it has been a forum for politics, hypocrisy, and evasion – not the forum for conscience that its founders envisioned. It has become a place for political manipulation, rather than the promotion of universal values. Those who cannot defend themselves turn to this Council for hope but are too often disappointed by inaction.
Once again, the world’s foremost human rights body has tarnished the cause of human rights. The United Nations must now act to reclaim the legitimacy of universal human dignity….This is a cause that is bigger than any one organization. If the Human Rights Council is going to be an organization we entrust to protect and promote human rights, it must change. If it fails to change, then we must pursue the advancement of human rights outside of the Council….In the end, no speech and no structural reforms will save the members of the Human Rights Council from themselves. If they continue to put politics ahead of human rights, they will continue to damage the cause that they supposedly serve.”
Not everyone in the United States believes in God, but almost everyone still believes that people have a basic right to liberty and a pursuit of happiness. Some liberals – like former president Barack Obama – may mock fellow citizens that “cling to God and guns,” but they will still promote expanding the protection of liberties aggressively. On the other end of the political spectrum, conservative Americans may believe that ever-expanding government regulations impede personal liberties. All of these groups debate the tactics of defending human rights, but each believes in the foundation principle of the country of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as the ultimate goal.
Holy Land as Foundation of Israel
Judaism is a unique religion in that it has a tie to a specific piece of land.
Laid out clearly and repeatedly throughout the Old Testament, God first promises the land of Canaan to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendant in Genesis, and then to the Children of Israel on their return from Egypt in the other four books of the Bible. The later prophets add a third chapter of the promise of the land: that Jews will return home to the land of Israel from their period of exile.
International law did not focus on God’s gift of the land of Israel for the Jewish people, but it recognized Jewish history and the rights of Jews to their homeland in 1920 and 1922. It would take until 1948 for the Jewish State to be reborn, in just a portion of their homeland. Similar to the 1920 San Remo agreement and the 1922 Mandate of Palestine, Israel laid out its foundation principle in 1948 as based on history, not religion, in the Israeli declaration of independence:
“The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.
After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.
Impelled by this historic and traditional attachment, Jews strove in every successive generation to re-establish themselves in their ancient homeland. In recent decades they returned in their masses. Pioneers, defiant returnees, and defenders, they made deserts bloom, revived the Hebrew language, built villages and towns, and created a thriving community controlling its own economy and culture, loving peace but knowing how to defend itself, bringing the blessings of progress to all the country’s inhabitants, and aspiring towards independent nationhood.
In the year 5657 (1897), at the summons of the spiritual father of the Jewish State, Theodore Herzl, the First Zionist Congress convened and proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national rebirth in its own country.
This right was recognized in the Balfour Declaration of the 2nd November, 1917, and re-affirmed in the Mandate of the League of Nations which, in particular, gave international sanction to the historic connection between the Jewish people and Eretz-Israel and to the right of the Jewish people to rebuild its National Home.”
These days, the United Nations has sought to undermine Israel’s foundation principle that it clearly understood a hundred years ago.
It is not too dissimilar to Haley’s complaints about the pathetic actions at the United Nations. However, a stark difference is that all Americans know and defend America’s foundation principle, but many members of the Israeli government and population do not defend Israel’s foundation principle.
Consider that the Arab Joint List is the third largest political party in Israel’s 20th Knesset. One its members, Hanin Zoabi, has stated: “we threaten the Jewishness of the state. It’s true, but it’s not my problem, this is the problem of the racist definition of the state (of Israel) as a Jewish state… I do not represent the State of Israel nor do I speak for the State of Israel, but rather in the name of a struggle that performs the exact opposite of the role of the Israeli Knesset, according to its vision.”
Another Arab MK in the Joint List, Masud Ganaim, has denied basic Jewish history, that the Jewish Temples existed on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, stating “historically, religiously, it is a Muslim site, period. The State of Israel knows that Jews and Israel have no legitimacy to the site, except for their legitimacy as an occupier — a legitimacy (won) by force.”
Many left-wing radical Jews welcome this negation of Israel’s foundation principle and Jewish history.
Left-wing extremists then continue to advance the cause of BDS – boycotting Israel – to the cheers of other members of the Joint List like Ayman Odeh. The circle of #FakeNews and hatred reinforces itself.
Nikki Haley is fully aware of the foundation principles of the United States and is not shy about taking her passion to the global stage. She knows that she has the support of Americans of all political leanings.
However, the situation in Israel is peculiarly dysfunctional. There are many Jews and members of the Israeli government that have politicized their emotions. In their desire to assist beleaguered Palestinian Arabs, they have attacked the fundamental underpinnings of Israel, that by right of history, Jews have an inalienable right to live as independent sovereign people throughout their homeland.
When Jews and many members of the Israeli government undermine the foundation principle of the Jewish State, how can it expect fair treatment on the global stage?
The poisonous venom of denying Jewish history and rights must end, as it corrodes the foundation of the state. It must be given no air. Starting at the Israeli government itself.
It is right and commendable that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes the floor of the United Nations to proudly review Jewish history in the Jewish homeland. It is time for him to do more in Israel itself.
Father’s Day in the US is a nice holiday. While it is a chance for children to express their appreciation for their fathers, in the end, the greatest gift is the joy and pride of seeing a child’s accomplishments.
With that in mind, consider the comments of some Palestinian Arabs about their children who murder Israelis.
The father of Baha Alyan who killed three Israelis who were riding a public bus in October 2015 said on Palestinian Authority TV “I’m proud of what he did.”
The father of Murad Bader Abdullah Adais,16, who stabbed Dafna Meir to death while she was at home in January 2016, said “I am proud of him.“
In Israel, many fathers use Father’s Day to remember their children that were victims of Palestinian Arab terrorism. That is true in the United States as well.
The daughter of Senator Robert Kennedy spoke about her father’s assassination on June 5, 1968, a year after the Six Day War. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend spoke to Israeli news about her father’s support for Israel as being the motivation of Palestinian terrorist Sirhan Sirhan killing him.
“He [RFK] wrote about the courage of the Israelis and how they were determined to build a new country, and that they would build this country, and that they had seen such horror in Europe, and that they would build a country of courage, of democracy, of values, and that he realized when he saw the Israelis that the United States had a special relationship with this country and needed to make sure that that relationship stayed firm. And as you know in 1968 he was fighting for the 50 jets that would be given to the Israeli army and he was killed because of his support.”
On this Father’s Day, do not only consider why you are proud of your father and/or your children. Ponder the Palestinian pride of the slaughter of Jews.
On June 5, 2017, the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres made a statement about the 1967 Six Day War. His opinion piece laid out a distinct narrative, or in common parlance, #AlternativeFacts. Below is a review of his actual remarks with a First.One.Through review of the same facts.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary General, UNSG: “Today marks 50 years since the start of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, which resulted in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Syrian Golan and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and Syrians.”
First.One.Through, FOT: “Today marks 50 years since a miracle thwarted Arab countries’ stated goal of annihilating the only Jewish State and millions of Jews.”
UNSG: “This occupation has imposed a heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people. Among them are generation after generation of Palestinians who have been compelled to grow-up and live in ever more crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children.”
FOT:“Israel has built an amazing thriving democracy among its Jewish and non-Jewish populations since its brush with annihilation in 1967. Regrettably, the UN has continued to make the Arab population in Gaza and elsewhere its wards, pretending that descendants of internally displaced people have any rights as refugees. Worse, the SAPs continue to deny the basic history and rights of Jews to live in their holy land, offering little hope for living together in peace.“
UNSG: “The occupation has shaped the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis. It has fuelled recurring cycles of violence and retribution. Its perpetuation is sending an unmistakable message to generations of Palestinians that their dream of statehood is destined to remain just that, a dream; and to Israelis that their desire for peace, security and regional recognition remains unattainable.”
FOT:“The denial of Jewish history, rights and dignity, and the Palestinian Authority leadership’s incitement to violence have continued a poisonous venom that has permeated the local Arab population since 1920. Until the Palestinian Arabs recognize the Jewish State’s rights in the land, the desire of both people for peace and security is just a dream. Recognition of the Jewish homeland is a means, not an ends to peace and security for all parties.”
UNSG: “Ending the occupation that began in 1967 and achieving a negotiated two-state outcome is the only way to lay the foundations for enduring peace that meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty. It is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”
FOT: “The path of the Palestinian Arabs’ quest for legitimacy on the world stage is disappointing. Since Israel gave the local Arabs in Gaza the first taste of sovereignty by leaving the coastal strip in 2005, the local Arab population has squandered every opportunity. They elected a terrorist group, Hamas, to a majority of parliament. They spent most of their global aid building attack tunnels into Israel rather than developing their economy. They launched three wars against Israel, in 2008, 2012 and 2014. Their actions make this global body question the basic logic of statehood and sovereignty for the local Arabs, rather than having portions of the disputed land be incorporated into Egypt, Jordan and Israel.“
UNSG: “Now is not the time to give up on this goal. Continued settlement construction and expansion; violence and incitement; and the illicit arms build-up and militant activity in Gaza risk creating a one-state reality that is incompatible with realizing the legitimate national and historic aspirations of both peoples. Now is the time to return to direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, agreements and international law. Now is the time to end the conflict by establishing an independent Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel. ”
FOT: “Based on past actions, it is time to reconsider the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority – which hasn’t held elections in years and cannot control its own people and territory – and to bring in Egypt and Jordan into the process now. Those two countries have made peace with Israel, and those two countries had administered the two areas in question.“
UNSG:“Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will remove a driver of violent extremism and terrorism in the Middle East and open the doors to cooperation, security, prosperity and human rights for all.”
FOT: “The turmoil in the Middle East including in: Syria; Iraq; Yemen; Sudan; and Libya have finally put an end to the argument that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the driver of violent extremism. It proves conclusively that radical Islamic ideology and the goal for a pure Muslim caliphate drives terrorism. Combatting radical Islamic teachings will stop terrorism in Israel and the world, and help bring peace everywhere.”
UNSG: “In 1947, on the basis of UN General Assembly Resolution 181, the world recognized the two-state solution and called for the emergence of “independent Arab and Jewish states”. On 14 May 1948, the State of Israel was born. Almost seven decades later, the world still awaits the birth of an independent Palestinian state. The Secretary-General reiterates his offer to work with all relevant stakeholders to support a genuine peace process.”
FOT: “In 1947, the Arab world flatly rejected UNGA Resolution 181 and made clear that it rejected an independent Jewish State anywhere in the region. When Israel declared statehood, the Arab countries fought a war to destroy the Jewish State completely. In 1967, the Arabs again threatened to annihilate every Jew in the land. Even today, the Arabs state that they want a Jew-free state, have laws that call for the capital punishment for any Arab selling land to a Jew and refuse to recognize Israel as the Jewish State. The Secretary-General reiterates that human rights, decency and dignity demand that Arabs recognize the Jewish State and Jewish rights, and thereby put the region on a pathway to long-term peace and prosperity.”
The world has been long educated by Palestinian Arabs about the “Nakba”, the “disaster.” It was during 1948-9 when the newly established country of Israel withstood the onslaught of five Arab armies to not only survive, but to accumulate additional territory. All of that land was considered by the Arabs to be “Arab Land,” and Israel’s victory was not only an affront to their sensibilities as the rightful owners of the land, but was exacerbated by the fact that Israel did not allow the Arabs that left the region during the war – which they themselves had started – to return to their houses.
The Palestinian Nakba of 1948-9 was the founding of a Jewish State that the Arabs considered without merit, and the status of 711,000 Arabs who lost their homes to such foreign transplant. Adding insult to their situation was Egypt taking over Gaza without giving the local population citizenship. The Arabs on the west bank of the Jordan River at least got Jordanian citizenship.
In solidarity with their Arab brothers, over the following years the Arab countries from the MENA region evicted 1 million Jews from their midst, performing an ethnic cleansing of Jews for thousands of miles. Many of those Jews moved to Israel, to become citizens alongside the 160,000 Arabs who were already granted Israeli citizenship.
Israeli flags over Latrun Tank Museum, scene of important battles in the Israeli War of Independence
The Palestinian Nakba would repeat in 1967.
Once again the surrounding Arab armies poised to destroy the Jewish State.
“The problem before the Arab countries is not whether the port of Eilat should be blockaded or how to blockade it – but how totally to exterminate the state of Israel for all time.” – President Gamal Abdel-Nasser of Egypt, May 25, 1967
“The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united. I believe that the time has come to begin a battle of annihilation.” – Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Al-Assad (later President)
“Those [Israelis] who survive will remain in Palestine. I estimate that none of them will survive.” – PLO Chairman Ahmed Shukhairy
However, once again Israel would defeat those that were ready to annihilate them. Once again the Israelis would take over more land. And once again the local Arab population would cry out to the world that they were the victims, and ask the world to isolate the Jewish State.
Nakba #2 left more of the local Arab population under Israeli authority. The Arabs in Gaza, Sinai, “West Bank”, and even the Golan Heights were no longer under Arab control or authoritarian rule. They were now subject to a democracy; and a Jewish one at that.
The Arabs claim that Nakba #1 had its roots in the western powers of Britain, France, Italy and Japan carving up the Ottoman Empire to fit their global ambitions. Those democracies chopped up “Arab land” (note that the Ottomans are not Arab) into fiefdoms and added an alien Jewish democracy squarely into the middle of it. To this day, Palestinian leadership asks Britain for an apology for the actions of 100 years ago, and Iranian leadership declares that the region needs to “cut out the cancer of Israel.”
Nakba #2 of June 1967 continued to spread the foreign democracy into the Middle East, but only in part. Israel only annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem and gave everyone – Jews and non-Jews – in the area full rights. However, Israel declined to annex the other regions in the hope of trading portions of the land for peace. In 1979 it traded Sinai (which was never part of the Palestine Mandate) with Egypt for peace. It abandoned Gaza for war. And it negotiates with the Palestinian Authority about the future of the land east of the Green Line (EGL).
The short windows of Israeli control failed to instill long-term democratic values into the areas. Sinai is just another part of Egypt that is quickly removing the removing its Christian minority. Gaza is run by the terrorist group Hamas that is backed by the local radical Islamist population. And Area A of the West Bank where the Palestinian Authority has control, is managed by a corrupt regime that refuses to hold elections.
The newborn democracy survived an Arab onslaught in 1948, and the fledgling democracy would not be annihilated by the forces of hate and intolerance in 1967. While countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran still threaten to destroy the region’s only democracy, others have since given up on the pledge. Still, regrettably, Israel’s lessons of tolerance and democracy seem to be a hard tradition to instill in its neighbors.
For the Palestinians, the Nakba is that the foreign democracy still exists in their midst. For the western world, the disaster is that the Arabs in the region still cannot tolerate democracy.
There is a myth that has spread into every corner of the world that Jews are foreign transplants in the holy land, even in their holiest city of Jerusalem.
The lie has become so pervasive, that even people that believe that Jews lived in Jerusalem since King David took the city as a capital in 1000BCE, still imagine that virtually no Jews lived in the city from the time Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70CE until modern Zionism.
But Jews have had a continuous presence in Jerusalem since 1267. For 750 years.
From 70CE Until 1267
After the Romans destroyed the Second Temple, Jews became scattered throughout the holy land. Many moved to Yavne and points north of Jerusalem, while others left the land completely. But Jews continued to live in and around Jerusalem, and made three attempts to rebuild the Temple:
During the Bar Kochba Revolt (132-135), Jews believed that they would be able to evict the Romans and build a Third Temple. They failed in their attempt, and it was at that time that the Romans evicted the Jews from Jerusalem and renamed the city Aelia Capitolina.
On July 19, 362, a new Roman emperor Julian (the Apostate) had a softer approach to the Jews and announced “I shall endeavor with the utmost zeal to set up the Temple of the Most High God.” The Jews hired craftsmen and began the process of rebuilding the Temple, but the materials were destroyed in an earthquake on May 27, 363. When Julian came to the city on June 26, a Christian soldier killed him.
On May 21, 614, a Persian king named Khusrau (who was Zoroastrian) and his general Shahrbarz (the Royal Boar) came to Jerusalem to put down a Christian revolt. After he defeated them in three days, he deported 37,000 Christians to Persia and gave the city to the Jews. However, within three years, the Royal Boar concluded that the Christians were a more valuable ally and returned the city to the Christians.
The Arabs then came to the Holy Land and Jerusalem in 638, and the Muslim invasion ultimately led to battles with Christians from Europe. The Crusades ran from 1099 to 1250, with the Muslims generally allowing Jews to live in Jerusalem, while the Christians killed all non-Christians and banned them from the city while they ruled.
750 Years of Jews in Jerusalem
After the Ramban (1194-1270) won a religious disputation in Spain, he was forced to flee and went to the Holy Land. When he arrived in Jerusalem in 1267 he found only two Jews in the city out of a total of 2000 people (0.1% of the total Jerusalem population in 1267). He set up a synagogue there, which became the center of the Jewish Quarter.
Over the Mamluk period (1250 – 1517) there were reports of Jews ascending to the Temple Mount to pray, according to Rabbi Menachem Meiri (1249-1316) and Rabbi David ben Solomon Ibn Zimra, (known as the Radbaz, 1479–1573). In general, the city became more Islamic and run down. In 1405, the city had only grown to 6000 residents, of which 200 were Jewish (3% Jewish in 1405).
In 1553 Suleiman I came to Jerusalem and decided to fix up the city, including rebuilding the city walls that surround the Old City today. With his investment, the city grew to 16,000 people of which 2000 were Jews (12.5% Jewish in 1553). Not surprisingly, most were Sephardi Jews who had escaped the Spanish and Portuguese expulsions of 1492 and 1497, respectively.
Ashkenazi Jews from Europe and Russia tried to establish their presence as well. In 1694 the first Hurva synagogue was built in the Jewish Quarter, only to be burned down in 1720 when debts went unpaid.
When Napolean came to the holy land in 1799, he issued a “Proclamation to the Jews”:
“…the unique nation of Jews who have been deprived of the land of your fathers by thousands of years of lust for conquest and tyranny, Arise then with gladness, ye exiled, and take unto yourselves Israel’s patrimony. The young army has made Jerusalem my headquarters and will within a few days transfer to Damascus so you can remain there [in Jerusalem] as ruler.”
Napolean failed and the city fell into disrepair again by the 1820s.
Things changed significantly in the 1830s and 1840s, as blood libels came to Damascus, and Druze riots and earthquakes shook Tsfat and Tiberias bringing more Jews to Jerusalem. The Ottoman rulers allowed non-Muslim communities to renovate houses of worship, and four synagogues in the Jewish Quarter –Sephardic and Ashkenaz – were in service. Wealthy and influential British patrons began to focus on Jerusalem, including Moses Motefiore and Benjamin Disraeli, and tourists began to flow into the city – an estimated 10,000 per year in the 1850s – prompting the opening of the first hotels in the city. Montefiore financed the rebuilding of the Hurva Synagogue (opened 1856, only to be destroyed by the Jordanians in 1949).
At this point, the first permanent settlements outside of the Old City walls of Jerusalem popped up in the 1860s. With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, trade emerged in earnest throughout the region, as the British invested further to connect Britain to its colony in India. The Jaffa-Jerusalem road (to the Jaffa Gate of the Old City) was paved leading to the faster growth of neighborhoods such as Nahalat Shiva (1869) and Me’a She’arim (1874). In 1869, the estimated population of the city was 18,000, of which 9,000 were Jews (50% Jewish in 1869). Said differently, over 300 years of Muslim Ottoman rule from 1550s to 1860s, the Muslim population in Jerusalem declined from 14,000 to 9,000 (-36%) while the Jewish population of Jerusalem grew from 2,000 to 9,000 (+350%).
Jerusalem has had a Jewish majority continuously since 1869.
Theodore Herzl (1860-1904) is considered the founder of modern Zionism. He penned “The Jewish State” in 1896 and convened the First Zionist Congress in 1897. His efforts helped propel the reestablishment of the Jewish homeland in the Jewish holy land. It also helped advance the First Aliyah (1882-1903) of Jews from Russia.
But these events all came years after Jews were already an established majority in Jerusalem.
The city of Jerusalem became divided for the first time in its 4000 year history in 1948, when Arab armies invaded the nascent State of Israel. In 1950, the Jordanians annexed the western bank of the Jordan River all of the way through the Old City of Jerusalem, in a move that was not recognized by almost every country in the world (exceptions being Jordan itself, the United Kingdom and Pakistan). The Jordanian Arabs expelled all of the Jews from the lands they seized and awarded citizenship to everyone, while specifically excluding Jews. Jordan passed a land law that made it a capital offense for any Arab to sell land to a Jew (a law that the Palestinian Authority continues to keep in place).
The acting-President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas stated that Israel is trying to “Judaize” Jerusalem, but Jerusalem has been majority Jewish for almost 150 years, has had a continuous Jewish presence for 750 years, and been the holiest city for Jews for 3000 years – even before the creation of Christianity or Islam. The Arabs’ illegal activities and anti-Semitic laws that removed Jews from the eastern part of Jerusalem for 19 years never had any legal validity, nor the power to erase history.