For the Sins of 5777 of…

… not standing up against libel attacks (such as when left-wing radicals called Ben Shapiro a white supremacist)

… allowing anti-Israel activists to speak in my synagogue (such as members from Jewish Voice for Peace and New Israel Fund)

… being a political coward (for not condemning fellow Democrats that called Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino a “clever Nazi”)

… being a political opportunist tacking to the far left-wing extremists of the Democratic party and throwing Jews under the bus (supporting Linda Sarsour’s tirades against Israel and not backing anti-BDS legislation or the Taylor Force bill)

… subscribing to the New York Times

… saying that Obama is pro-Israel (even after he let UN Security Council Resolution 2334 pass)

… saying with a straight face that the Iranian Nuclear Deal was a “Great Deal”

… labeling those with whom I disagree a “deplorable,” a “racist” and a “misogynist”

… donating to the United Nations

collaborating with international bodies to harm the Jewish State

… being a hypocrite while donating to the most expensive US presidential in history where Clinton outspent Trump by over two times, and then complain that race was all about money

ignoring Israeli victims of Arab terror

ignoring the Jewish people’s historic connection, religious ties, human rights and security needs throughout the holy land

… suggesting that Hamas is not a terrorist organization and calling for its inclusion in the Palestinian Authority leadership

… promoting the notion that America has much more to fear from Republicans than jihadists

… never commenting when Islamic countries say that Israel is committing “ethnic cleansing,” but going ballistic when Israeli Prime Minister used the term for the Palestinian Authority after it demanded a Jew-free state

… not demonstrating for the rights of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount

… not protesting that the US should withhold funds from the Palestinian Authority until it negates its law which makes it a capital offense to sell land to a Jew

…demanding that Israel live with the security and religious compromises that I decide, to satisfy my personal sense of social justice while living thousands of miles away

… purchasing the New Israel Fund Haggadah

… condemning Jews for building homes in Area C of the West Bank, which the Palestinian Authority agreed is Israeli territory

… belittling the intelligence and integrity of Ivanka Trump, just because she’s pretty

… talking big about feminism, but doing nothing for the women in southeast Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan) where 25% of the women of the world live in barbaric conditions

… only talking about refugees when Trump became president, even though Obama did little to nothing to help them during seven years of his presidency

… calling PA acting-President Mahmoud Abbas a “moderate”

… saying that poverty causes terrorism, even when there is no study that supports such claim

… continuing to call Stateless Arabs from Palestine (SAPs) “refugees”

… not celebrating a rabbi giving the blessing at the US president’s inauguration – the first time a rabbi has done so in decades

… for supporting J Street, the organization that lobbied the Obama administration aggressively to abandon Israel at the United Nations

… living in my liberal echo chamber

… liking Jimmy Carter

… going to a Roger Waters concert

… watching Al Jazeera

… condemning Israel for installing security devices after a terrorist attack on the Temple Mount

… defending left-wing extremists that are anti-Semites

… not writing to my alma mater after anti-Israel and anti-Jewish activities occurred on campus

… for comparing a Muslim refugee from Syria to a Holocaust survivor

… for not advocating for any help in Syria throughout Obama’s presidency when 500,000 people were killed

… never understanding how much people hated Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, even while I repeated ad nauseam how much I despised Donald Trump

… the inconsistent logic of telling Trump supporters to be wary because he was supported by the KKK and the KGB, even while I supported the Iranian nuclear deal which was supported by Russia and Iran

… ending friendships with people that voted for Trump

For all these things, please pardon us.

 

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We Should Not Pay for Your First Amendment Rights

This past Sunday witnessed various protests during National Football League games with players refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem. This article does not address whether the protests have merit or do not. The players actions miss a basic point: people shouldn’t have to pay for your first amendment rights.

Americans have various rights under the first amendment, including to free speech. That right enables individuals who want to stand on a street corner and yell about how much they hate America the freedom to do so.

But the football stadium is not a public street.

People pay hundreds of dollars to enter the stadium to watch a football game, not to watch players express their political opinions. Fans at home also spend lots of money for cable and satellite TV to watch their favorite teams. More specifically – to watch their teams play football.

The only way that a player should have a right to express his feelings about politics is with the approval of the team’s owner and the NFL. Should those governing bodies deem it appropriate to sanction certain behavior, then it becomes part of the game like a black bandage on a jersey in memory of a player.


NFL players take a knee during the national anthem
(photo: Michael Dwyer/AP)

If the NFL and team owners approve the actions of the players expressing their political opinions during the game, then the audience can decide whether they want to spend their time and money watching such activity. But until the league and owners approve the players’ actions, it should be banned or fined.

Thomas Jefferson once said:

“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is both sinful and tyrannical.”

Even if you agree with the sentiments of the protesters, it is “both sinful and tyrannical” to be forced to pay to propagate such expressions.


Related First.One.Through articles:

New York Times Confusion on Free Speech

Selective Speech

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

Elie Wiesel on Words

Active and Reactive Provocations: Charlie Hebdo and the Temple Mount

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Reviewing the Rhetoric of Palestinian Arabs and Israelis

On September 25, 2017, Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process submitted a report to the UN Security Council. In it, he gave his thoughts about how the Israelis and Palestinian Authority were performing in regards to upholding the UNSC Resolution 2334.

Nickolay Mladenov

Here was his statement reviewing the rhetoric of both sides:

Mr. President, Security Council resolution 2334 called upon both parties to refrain from acts of provocation, incitement, and inflammatory rhetoric, and to condemn all acts of terrorism.

At the height of the July crisis around the holy sites of Jerusalem, officials and representatives on all sides employed provocative rhetoric.

In the midst of what were largely peaceful protests, Hamas and senior Palestinian Authority officials called for an escalation and a “day of rage” across the occupied Palestinian territory. Hamas and others continued to openly glorify attacks, describing the murder of three Israelis at their home in Halamish as “heroic.”

Meanwhile, President Abbas explicitly condemned the 14 July attack, and, in an attempt to calm tensions at the holy sites, some Palestinian leaders and religious authorities on both sides called on protestors to avoid violence and provocation.

With regard to settlements, Israeli officials continued to use provocative rhetoric in support of expansion. On 3 August, the Israeli Prime Minister delivered an inaugural speech at the launch of construction for 1,000 new housing units in the Beitar Ilit settlement in which he praised the achievements of his Government in promoting settlement construction. On the 28th of August, he said that “there will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel (…) we will deepen our roots, build, strengthen and settle”. Other senior Israeli politicians also made repeated calls for annexation of the West Bank, with one Member of Knesset expressing his desire to “destroy” hopes for Palestinian statehood, and stated that “there is room to define and realize the national aspirations of one people only — the Jewish people.”

The statement is remarkable in several respects.

  1. Abbas Gets Congratulated Rather than Admonished. The lopsided anti-Israel UNSC resolution included few calls on both parties. One was for both Israelis and the PA to stop incitement and provocations to violence. The Mladenov report to the UNSC praised Palestinian leadership, and Mahmoud Abbas in particular. In doing so, it ignored Abbas’ incitement to violence – specifically his bounty payments to the families of terrorists that kill Israelis. The US Congress is about to vote to withhold aid to the PA in the Taylor Force Act because of such incitement. Abbas’s political party repeated its incitement the following day on September 26, as a Palestinian Arab killed three Israelis, Fatah party once again praised the work of the “martyr.”
  2. Netanyahu’s Call for Calm Ignored. Mladenov praised Abbas’ condemnation of the July 14 Palestinian terrorist attack which killed Israelis, and noted that some Palestinian leaders called for calm. But he made no mention of Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders that repeatedly called for calm after the murders.
  3. Palestinian Arab incitement to violence equated with Israelis calls for building homes. The Palestinian Arabs call for the murder of Israelis time and again, while the Israeli government builds homes for Israelis in disputed territory. How can the UN seriously equate the construction of homes and schools with the calls for murder?
  4. The UN Wants Hamas to be part of the Palestinian Authority Leadership. While Mladenov admitted that Hamas openly glorifies attacks on Israelis, the UN still continues to push forward the notion of including such terrorist organization in the Palestinian government. Why?

Somehow the United Nations believes that promoting those that call for murder while slandering those that call for coexistence is a recipe for a “peace process.” How? I don’t know.


Related First.One.Through articles:

UN Secretary General Guterres is Losing the Confidence of Decent People

The United Nations’ Incitement to Violence

What’s “Outrageous” for the United Nations

The United Nations Once Again “Encourages” Hamas

The Only Religious Extremists for the United Nations are “Jewish Extremists”

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

The United Nations’ Ban Ki Moon Exposes Israeli Civilians

The Hollowness of the United Nations’ “All”

The United Nations’ Remorse for “Creating” Israel

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Paying for Preference. The Fallacy of Net Neutrality

Americans have long understood the ecosystem of capitalism.

Money enables people to buy things that they desire and spending greater amounts of money gives a person the opportunity to purchase a superior product.

Consider an item like a car. A car might have a basic sticker price for a base model, and also higher prices for additional features such as leather seats or a sunroof. More money yields a better product.

Such a concept is not limited to products, but to services as well.

An expensive first class airplane seat gives a passenger a better seat on a flight (a product) and also preferential boarding (a service). Similarly, people willing to spend more money at a Disney theme park could purchase a FastPass which enables visitors to bypass the long waiting lines for rides. Those unwilling to shell out for the additional pass need to remain in the slow lane while the FastPass customers pass in front of them.

Businesses also pay premiums to provide better service to their customers.

Consider supermarkets. While a customer may not think about the reason Heinz Baked Beans are at eye level while the competing Bush’s beans are towards the floor, there is a dollars-and-cents backstory. Heinz pays the supermarket extra money – known as a slotting fee – to be at eye level so that consumers see the product right away. Heinz benefits by increased visibility and sales, while the consumer benefits by not having to bend down for the item. The supermarket uses those slotting fees to help manage the costs of running the store.

The ecosystem works. For everybody.

Net Neutrality

The Obama administration pushed forward a regulation through the FCC advancing “net neutrality.” The premise was to regulate companies that provide high-speed internet access (HSIA) to ensure that they do not favor some sites over others.

For example, if a website that offers videos (like Netflix) wants to make sure that it has a smooth viewing experience for its customers, it would spend money to build an ecosystem to have its content distributed effectively. It would have its popular content housed around the country and establish “transit” and “peering relationships” to expedite the flow of content through the web.

Advocates of net neutrality fear that the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) might use their position to manage the content that people see. They fear that large companies like Netflix may be able to pay for a better experience than smaller companies, thus stifling the emergence of newer and smaller companies. In particular, they note that the ISPs that own content would prioritize their own sites in a “fast lane” while relegating everyone else to a slow lane. The net neutrality promoters warn that the ISPs could even shut down competing websites completely.

To advance their “neutrality” goals, the Obama administration’s FCC declared that the Internet would be regulated like a public utility. Damn the billions of dollars spent by ISPs like Verizon and Comcast to lay fiber around the country to access the internet (and the billions of dollars more that are due to be spent), the government sought to control their infrastructure and business model, much like an electric company or public road.

There are many flaws with the net neutrality approach.

Slotting fees: As described above, businesses have always sought a way to improve their service as well as competitive position. Product companies pay slotting fees to gain better visibility and stores accept the fees to help manage their business. The behind-the-scenes relationships are hidden from customers, but it does not mean that there is an anti-competitive conspiracy.

In many supermarkets, there are additional layers of relationships. Many supermarket freezers are owned by third parties which have their own brands of ice cream. The freezer companies likely prioritize their own products on shelves by putting them at eye level. But the freezers also include competing products, as it would undermine the company’s business to have a half full freezer.

Does a supermarket only sell its own brand of iced tea or peanut butter? Of course not. Does Disney only offer rides to those people who pay for FastPass? It couldn’t afford to keep the parks open if they took such an approach.

Similarly, an ISP that owns content would likely make sure that it is delivered on its “fast lane” if it didn’t harm its overall business. But it would certainly make all content accessible.

Not a monopoly: The federal government actively seeks to regulate businesses that are monopolies. For example, there are not a dozen electric plants in a neighborhood that compete to supply a home with electricity. As such, the government regulates the return that the utility can earn for its product (the electricity) and service (delivery of the power).

But there is no monopoly on HSIA. There are many telecom companies competing for your broadband business. There are cable companies and satellite companies that would be happy to supply your content and HSIA too. And wait until 5G – everyone will be surfing the web on their mobile devices and abandon their PCs. There is choice.

If AT&T would own CNN, would it make sure that it was great viewing experience without latency? I would imagine so. Would AT&T also scramble Fox News? Of course not, as doing so would undermine its business model of getting as many customers as possible. The ISPs are not going to divide their business on ideological lines between liberals and conservatives.

Vital service: Electricity and Disney theme parks are not equivalent in terms of their necessity. Someone can live a long fruitful life without going to Magic Mountain. No electricity or gas for heat, hot water, refrigeration… not so much.

Where does broadband sit?

During the early years of broadband, the internet was used by individuals to watch silly entertainment like dancing cats (Jake Paul is the latest incarnation of a dancing cat). But there have been significant changes in the usage of broadband over the past decade:

  • OTT. Many consumers have been dropping their television service and opting to go “over the top,” using HSIA for their television content. Broadband is eating cable TV.
  • Death of newspapers. Advertising dollars have moved out of print into digital, destroying the business model of many media companies. Broadband is controlling the news.
  • IoT. The “Internet of Things” is the movement to connect devices to the internet. Refrigerators, thermostats, cars and other items will be viewable and controlled remotely. Broadband will control all electronic devices.

That is the real story. The ISPs are well on their way to taking over the access to the news and media and they will ultimately control the access to the future of things.

And the government is unwilling to let such power remain unregulated and uncontrolled.

The “net neutrality” sponsors are campaigning about a fake issue of unfair ISP “fast lanes” and that ISPs will block content. The ISPs are as likely to do that as Disney banning Universal Studios employees from its theme Parks. Paying for Preference is ubiquitous in our capitalistic economy. #FakeIssue

This campaign is about the future. On the one hand, how does one make sure that an ISP does not use the information about your driving and shopping habits in illegal or inappropriate ways? On the other, how do we make sure that the government doesn’t read Americans’ emails and review their surfing habits? We have seemingly granted Google and Facebook carte blanche to do so – will there be no end?

Broadband will be an integral part of all our lives, and the companies that provide access to the Internet will have a unique window to all of our activities. Today, net neutrality addresses an irrelevant non-issue while the government fails to focus on the critical issue: managing privacy in an always-on IoT world.

More on that to come.


Related material from First.One.Through:

Are you trying to understand “net neutrality”?

 

UN Secretary General Guterres is Losing the Confidence of Decent People

The last UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was an Israel hater. As detailed in many articles in FirstOneThrough, he sided with the Palestinian cause and castigated Israel at every turn. In particular:

And now the new UNSG Antonio Guterres is taking that same course.


UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

On August 30, 2017, Guterres visited Gaza. His remarks were a disappointment:

  • He said “I am very proud of the work that the UN staff,” even though it was recently exposed that Hamas builds terror tunnels at UNRWA schools and Hamas stored weapons and fired missiles at attack Israel in UNRWA schools;
  • Guterres made “an appeal for unity. Yesterday, I was in Ramallah. Today, I am in Gaza. They are both parts of the same Palestine. So, I appeal for the unity, in line with the principles of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The division only undermines the cause of the Palestinian people.” What about Israelis? When will Guterres loudly condemn Hamas and say that it cannot exist in any political fashion until it explicitly recognizes Israel’s right to exist and renounces any and all forms of violence?
  • The best that Guterres could muster was “It is important to avoid the buildup of the militantism that can undermine the confidence between the two people.” Does the leader of the United Nations think that the Hamas military is merely a matter of “confidence?” Israelis are being murdered by Hamas. Hamas is engaged in war to destroy the Jewish State. Guterres saying that Hamas’s militantism is simply a problem of confidence is willful ignorance of the essence of the organization which is an anti-Semitic terror group that seeks to destroy Israel.

Similarly, Guterres has refused to stand by Israel when it faced terror at the hands of Palestinian Arabs. Consider that on September 12, 2017, Guterres said the following about an attack on policemen in Egypt:

“The Secretary-General condemns the terrorist attack yesterday on a police convoy near el-Arish in northern Sinai in Egypt. He conveys his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Egypt.  He also wishes a swift recovery to the injured. 

The Secretary-General hopes those responsible for this act will be quickly brought to justice.”

But when an Israeli policewoman was stabbed to death in Jerusalem on June 16, 2017, the UN Secretary General issued no statement.

When three Israeli policemen were killed by Israeli Arabs in July 2014, Guterres neither condemned the attack nor offered condolences to Israelis. He told the Israelis to show “restraint” in their response.

A few days later, when a Palestinian Arab stabbed to death members of an Israeli family in their home, Guterres wouldn’t even call the attack “terrorism,” even though he did so when terrorists killed members of the Egyptian army. Gutteres would not demand that the Palestinian terrorist “be quickly brought to justice,” as he did for the attack in Sinai.

There was hope that Antonio Guterres would be different from Ban Ki Moon and treat Israel differently. When he took over in January 2017, he condemned Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks against Israeli soldiers and called for the terrorists to be brought to justice.

Alas, the United Nations is pit of vileness and anti-Israel bias that swallows all.

The latest statements of Guterres are “undermining the confidence” that decent people have for his leadership and the United Nations overall.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Goodbye Moon

The United Nations’ Ban Ki Moon Exposes Israeli Civilians

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

Ban Ki Moon Defecates on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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The Baker and Government Doth Protest Too Much

On September 7, 2017 the Trump administration’s Department of Justice came out with a ruling that supported a baker that refused to create a cake for the wedding of a same-sex couple. The DOJ filed the motion in response to a pending Supreme Court ruling on religious liberty.

In August 2015, the state of Colorado ruled that the baker, Jack Phillips, broke Colorado law by not making a customized cake for a gay wedding, stating that his refusal to do so went against Colorado’s law that prevented discrimination based on sexual orientation. Phillips argued that baking the cake went against his religious beliefs as a devout Christian. The courts were not swayed and ruled against him.

Many people – including me – believed that the court was wrong, and in June 2017 the Supreme Court agreed to review the case.


Colorado baker Jack Phillips

In advance of a ruling, the DOJ backed up Phillips arguing that the baker’s creations involve his personal artistic talents and expression, and as such, should be protected by his rights to express his beliefs.

But such an argument also falls flat.

The crux of the issue of discrimination versus religious liberty has to do with the willingness to sell a product that is produced to any and all customers.

If the baker has cookies on the shelf for sale, he must sell it to everyone regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. Similarly, if the baker makes a customized item – say a wedding cake without any couples or comments on it – he should be forced to sell such cake to any willing buyer, gay or straight.

However, neither state nor federal laws should ever be able to force someone to create a unique item. Ever.

The baker should be able to refuse to make a wedding cake with two men on top of it if he never makes such cakes, in the same manner that a vegetarian restaurant refuses to sell any meat items. The vendor need not cater to a client’s unique demands that are outside the universe of items sold.

Should a baker be forced to bake a swastika cake? Of course not. However, were he to make a cake in the shape of a swastika, he should be obligated to sell it to anyone interested in purchasing it. The baker must similarly sell a wedding cake to a gay couple if it is the same kind of cake that he sells to heterosexual couples.

The Department of Justice was right in arguing that the sate of Colorado went too far in fining the baker. However, the DOJ’s rationale for absolving the baker on the basis of his creative talents being a form of expression went in the wrong direction by inserting the baker into the end-product, rather than focusing on the end-product itself.

Whether an item is already on the shelves or is made custom, the threshold of discrimination should be on the willingness of the vendor to sell that product to anyone. However, a product need not be created or customized to a specification that falls outside the vendor’s desires – whether they be for religious reasons or any other.

Thomas Jefferson understood the possible tyranny of government when he said:

“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

As part of a common community, all Americans should treat each other respectfully, but the government should never be allowed to obligate a person to create a unique, alien and distasteful product to satisfy the desires of others.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Leading Gay Activists Hate Religious Children

Pride. Jewish and Gay

The Gender Diamonds

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Nicholas Kristof’s Crocodile Tears

On August 29, 2017, Nicholas Kristof penned an opinion piece in the New York Times called “The Photos the U.S. and Saudi Arabia Don’t Want You to See.” The article relayed the terrible suffering of the people of Yemen due to a civil war that has been exacerbated by competing interests of the Iranians and Saudis. The United States has supported the Saudi effort, and as such, held partial blame for the killing of hundreds of civilians in Yemen.

Children have suffered terribly, both from Saudi bombing campaigns and from malnutrition, as the Saudis have been effective at blocking aid relief to the country.

And all of this is unquestionably horrible, as Kristof relates.

However, what was somewhat maddening was Kristof’s take that the Saudis (and Americans) had effectively blocked the world from highlighting the suffering in Yemen. In paragraph after paragraph, Kristof described a deliberate campaign of censorship:

“Yet victims like Buthaina aren’t on our television screens and rarely make the news pages, in part because Saudi Arabia is successfully blocking foreign journalists from the rebel-held areas. I know, because I’ve been trying for almost a year to get there and thought I had arranged a visit for this week — and then Saudi Arabia shut me down.

With commercial flights banned, the way into rebel areas is on charter flights arranged by the United Nations and aid groups. But Saudi military jets control this airspace and ban any flight if there’s a journalist onboard. I don’t think the Saudis would actually shoot down a plane just because I was on it, but the U.N. isn’t taking chances.

This is maddening: Saudi Arabia successfully blackmails the United Nations to bar journalists so as to prevent coverage of Saudi atrocities.

The Saudis don’t want you to see children like this one, Alaa, severely malnourished and photographed by a World Food Program team. Two days later, Alaa died.”

Kristof claimed that the government of Saudi Arabia actively stopped journalists from covering stories, which was why the media – like him – did not show pictures of innocent victims in Yemen.

But what about the actions of his own paper, the New York Times?

I have no doubt that Saudi Arabia impedes reporting of its war crimes and that Kristof is upset both at his access to the stories as well as for the fate of the war’s victims. But his crocodile tears over the media being unable to show the world the suffering of victims is pathetic when he has long written for a paper that refused to show Israeli victims of Palestinian Arab terrorism.

Why didn’t Kristof care to write such an article when Barack Obama was president supporting the Saudis in their campaign? Is his newfound concern simply because it would show President Trump in a bad light?

Mr. Kristof: the failure to show pictures of innocent victims does not simply lie with the Saudis or the Trump administration. Your paper is part of the problem.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Every Picture Tells a Story, Don’t It?

Every Picture Tells a Story: Anti-Semitism

Every Picture Tells a Story, the Bibi Monster

The New York Times’ Buried Pictures

Every Picture Tells a Story: Arab Injuries over Jewish Deaths

Every Picture Tells A Story: Only Palestinians are Victims

Every Picture Tells a Story: The Invisible Murdered Israelis

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

Every Picture Tells a Story: Goodbye Peres

In Inversion, New York Times Admits “The Truth is Hard to Find”

Social Media’s “Fake News” and Mainstream Media’s Half-Truths

Israel’s Freedom of the Press; New York Times “Nonsense”

New York Times Confusion on Free Speech

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