The Free Speech Nickel

Discussions surrounding free speech have many components, including the 5W’s (+how): what, when, where, how, who and why.

  • What? Should hate speech or fake news be allowed to spread on open, non-vetted platforms? Calls for violence are prohibited, but what about everything else?
  • Where? Facebook had declared itself as a platform, not a media company that vets articles or checks facts. The US Congress and many citizens have challenged the FB claim due to the company’s vast reach and influence.
  • Who? Should anonymous people be allowed to post opinions? What about non-US citizens? The accusation that Russians interfered with the US elections has prompted people to pressure for changes.
  • When? Should people be allowed to express their opinions when people have paid for an experience that does not include outside interference? Why should football fans watch players protest the national anthem after the fans spent a small fortune to come to the game? Should anti-Israel protesters take a free trip to Israel on a Birthright trip to hijack the discussion and experience from others?
  • How? Are marches through a residential neighborhood, anti-war protests at cemeteries, the burning of a flag, the drawing of a prophet, the burning of an effigy of a person, all captured under the same notion of free speech and expression?
  • Why? Does the reason behind the speech matter? If the goal is to upend an election, to get a woman to change her mind about an abortion, or to topple the government, should there be limits on free speech?

If a country that cherishes free speech begins to place restrictions around it, what are the tools that will be used to enforce those limits? If a person refuses to call a transgender person by their preferred pronoun, can an organization take actions such as expelling or fining him?

When

Several wealthy individuals have been paying for young people to attend a multi-day tour of Israel, in a program known as Birthright Israel. Recently, a group of anti-Zionists joined the trip in an attempt to tell their own version of history and facts that were not advanced by the organized tour. The agitators disrupted the special week for all of the other participants as discussed in a letter they wrote to the Jerusalem Post.

One of the co-founders of Birthright, Charles Bronfman, was particularly disturbed by the protesters’ actions and said

If people want to call Israel names and say bad things about the country, they certainly have the right to free speech. But they don’t have the right to do it on our nickel.

The essence of the complaint by both the organizers who sponsor the Birthright trip and the participants enjoying the trip was that the issue was not one of free speech, but one of a broken agreement. The founders paid for the trip which had a well-established and known itinerary. All of the participants on the trip accepted those terms but then a handful undermined it for everyone else on the tour.


Members of a Birthright trip to Israel enjoying a stop at the Kotel

The issue was not where the protesters opted to exercise free speech. Israel permits free speech and the Birthright protesters could have gone off to Palestinian Arab villages at the end of the tour. But they opted to ruin the experience for others with loud chants in the middle of their free trip.

The furor around players of the National Football League kneeling during the national anthem has a similar dynamic. If the players want to stand on Hollywood Boulevard and yell about their anger at perceived abuse by police, they are free to do so. However, they are doing it inside a forum where fans have paid to watch a football game. That is not the experience which people paid for.

Bronfman had it right when he objected to people undermining an experience “on his nickel.” The US president featured on the nickel, 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.”

The Birthright Israel trip has a clear and specific agenda and those people who oppose it are free to not go on the tour. But it is disgraceful (“sinful and tyrannical”) to invert the purpose of the sponsors’ funds in a manner in which they completely disbelieve and abhor.


Related First.One.Through articles:

We Should Not Pay for Your First Amendment Rights

Denying Entry and Citizenship

Uncomfortable vs. Dangerous Free Speech

New York Times Confusion on Free Speech

Selective Speech

When Power Talks the Truth

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Dick Pics

Blasphemy OR Terrorism

Stopping the Purveyors of Hateful Propaganda

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A Basic Lesson of How to be Supportive

There is a famous restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina called Hyman’s Seafood. Its menu is replete with non-kosher goodies like shrimp, crabs and calamari. The locals love the family run business – now in its fifth generation of management – as do the various celebrities and tourists who often must wait outside in line for up to an hour to enjoy the food and ambiance.

The warmth of the restaurant is very much part of the appeal. In addition to the many autographed pictures of movie stars that adorn the walls, are small cards sprinkled around the two-story building with sayings and words of advice. They include funny and off-color comments about relationships as well as more thoughtful sayings from important people such as Rabbi Israel Salanter. Yes, that’s a rabbi card in a traif restaurant.

The peculiarity keeps going. The storefront has mezuzahs on each door. There is even an option to have kosher food brought in from the local Chabad!

You see, the owners of Hyman’s are all about attitude. They envision a world that is inclusive, positive and happy. Their formula for creating that world includes spreading those messages throughout the store, and they live that credo by finding a way to enable every person to eat in their restaurant – even those that cannot eat the food because of dietary restrictions.

Pretty incredible.

Not surprisingly, the owners run their business in the same fashion. They have a sign on one of the walls that reads: “If you like us, tell others. If not, tell us!

It’s so simple and basic. Spread positive messages to everyone you can. Encourage others to frequent the establishment. Boost the store’s image and popularity.

However, if there are issues that bother you, don’t tell others about the perceived problems, but bring them up to management. Be constructive and the owners will make the effort to address the matter to the extent that they can. Don’t write letters to newspapers or get on social media with the bad news, as those actions would be detrimental to the business.

It is a simple concept that too many liberal self-declared “pro-Israel” groups and people fail to comprehend.

J Street and New Israel Fund

J Street’s tagline is that they are “pro-Israel,” even though it actively undermines Israel on the global stage. The group lobbied the Obama Administration to censure Israel at the United Nations and declare Jews living in the eastern part of the promised land to be illegal! How can such a group possibly be considered pro-Israel? Would someone who likes Hyman’s Seafood report them to the Department of Health? Trash them on Yelp?

The New Israel Fund supports Breaking the Silence which does media tours undermining the Israeli Defense Forces. How is that being constructive in working with the Israeli government itself to find ways to improve?

It’s not, and it’s not appreciated by the Israeli government.

Liberal “Balance”

Supporters of J Street and the New Israel Fund like Rabbi Sharon Brous believe that they truly love Israel and are simply trying to understand all sides of the situation with Palestinian Arabs. Brous penned a letter in the Los Angeles Times on August 26, 2018 about her taking her daughter to Hebron in an effort to show her “the other side,” which included “the harshest effects of the occupation.” Her letter described how difficult life was for the 200,000 Palestinian Arabs because some Jews wanted to reestablish the Jewish community there. She relayed how extreme and racist these Jews were.

Did she show a real balance to her daughter? Did she speak to the 93% of Palestinian Arabs that are antisemites? Did she tell her daughter that when the city was under Muslim control Jews were forbidden from even climbing the steps of the Tomb of the Jewish Patriarchs, let alone pray there? Did she educate her daughter that the Palestinian Authority has a law that calls for the death penalty for any Arab selling a home to Jews? That its president has demanded a Jew-free country?

Brous didn’t really show her daughter a complete or honest story. And that is her business to educate her daughter in a manner she desires.

However, her daughter wasn’t her real audience. The daughter was merely a tool for her to write to the whole world. Brous published her opinion piece marketed as a story in the widely read LA Times to publicly vilify Israel, written in a smug fashion of being an honest educator and parent.

The readers of paper understood the message: lovers of Israel think the country is vile too.


If groups like J Street and NIF, and public Jewish leaders like Brous want to be included in the pro-Israel community, they must learn a simple lesson from Hyman’s Seafood: if you have an issue, bring it up with directly with the party in charge. In public, sing the praises loudly to all.

Today’s self-declared “pro-Israel” alt-left groups and rabbis are harmful to Israel. Until these groups and individuals make major fundamental changes, they should be excluded from any pro-Israel forums, including schools, synagogues and umbrella Zionist organizations.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Unity – not Uniformity – in the Pro-Israel Tent

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

Denying Entry and Citizenship

The Non-Orthodox Jewish Denominations Fight Israel

The Evil Architects at J Street Take a Bow

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When the Democrats Opposed the Palestinian “Right of Return”

Israel’s Channel 2 reported over the weekend that US President Donald Trump was prepared to push the Palestinian Authority to end its so-called “Right of Return” in which millions of descendants of Palestinian Arabs that left homes in what is now Israel, be granted the right to return. Various news stories picked up the story as something new and fantastic including the Jerusalem Post and Arutz Sheva.


Senior Advisor Jared Kushner Meets with Acting-P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas
(Photo: AP)

It is remarkable to witness how the tenure of former President Obama was so pro-Palestinian, that people have forgotten that the Democratic Party also was against the “Right of Return” before Obama took office.

The 2008 Democratic Platform (drafted pre-Obama) stated clearly that:

“[t]he creation of a Palestinian state through final status negotiations, together with an international compensation mechanism, should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.

That is, there are one of two ways that the Palestinian Arabs will be compensated for lost property: either through monetary compensation, or by permitting them to move to the new country of Palestine. There would be NO right of return into Israel.

Should President Trump move to close the return issue demanded by the Palestinians, he would simply be reverting back to the standard bipartisan approach that both Democrats and Republicans used before Obama’s aggressive push of the Palestinian Arab agenda. That Trump’s action is being viewed as novel says more about how far the Obama administration shifted the Democratic Party and the media away from Israeli-leaning positions than the Trump action itself.


Related First.One.through articles:

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The “Great Myth of Return”

Removing the Next Issue – The Return of 20,000 Palestinian Arabs

Time to Dissolve Key Principles of the “Inalienable Rights of Palestinians”

Losing Rights

The Democrats’ Slide on Israel

The UN Must Pay to Repair the Gaza Fence

Delivery of the Fictional Palestinian Keys

Palestinians are “Desperate” for…

UNRWA’s Munchausen Disease

How the US and UN can Restart Relations with Israel

First.One.Through video:

I Hate Israel – Right of Return

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John McCain 2008 / 2018

On November 4, 2008, a group of friends got together in a home in New York to watch the US presidential elections. The mood was gleeful. Mostly. The living room was room full of boisterous Obama supporters surrounding the TV. And me. I was the only one there who voted for John McCain. The ribbing and jokes came at me well before the first results came in.

I didn’t care.

I didn’t cast a vote simply to be part of the winning side. John McCain got it and Barack Obama didn’t have a clue. The stakes were high and only one person running had a clear understanding of the world, and it was John McCain.


Senator John McCain during 2008 run for President

The Atlantic published an article in May 2008 called “McCain on Israel, Iran and the Holocaust.” It outlined clear distinctions between McCain who called “Islamic extremism” and the fanatical regime in Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons as the principle threats to global peace and stability, in sharp contrast to an Obama approach of focusing on building bridges to the Islamic world and sitting face-to-face with the leaders of Iran. It showed a McCain standing steadfastly behind Israel and Zionism and a Obama which viewed the Israel-Arab conflict through the prism of a “constant sore.”

I feared an Obama presidency on the global stage, and over the following eight years, my fears were realized.

Obama’s eight years in office left a government in Iran still hell-bent on destroying Israel with a totally legal pathway to nuclear weapons to threaten the entire western world. He left Israel to burn at the United Nations Security Council. He wouldn’t even mention the words “Islamic extremism.” Internalize that: Obama gave a radical state sponsor of terrorism a legal course to nuclear weapons while also making it illegal for Jews to live in the eastern part of their homeland.

Domestically, Obama’s attacks on “the 1%,” on “fat-cat” investment bankers and others created a schism in America. He proudly said that he was not a president of all Americans, just a segment. His efforts created an opening that fellow Democrats would pile into, including Nancy Pelosi who ridiculed religious people, and Hillary Clinton who was very proud to make enemies of half of America.

By 2016, the country was so divided that friends who had gathered together to watch every presidential election were too angry and divided to even sit in a room to watch the results.

I voted for the losing side in 2008. And in 2012. But I still don’t care.

John McCain once said “No just cause is futile, even if it’s lost, if it helps make the future better than the past.

The future of 2008 is now the past in 2018, and the world is much worse off for not electing John McCain a decade ago. Perhaps if we remember his lifetime of courageous efforts and actions to put country ahead of party and politics, and friends before foes, we can still make the future a more peaceful and united place.


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Obama’s “Values” Red Herring

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J Street Saddened by Passage of Palestinian Basic Law

A satire.

 

J Street’s tagline is “the political home of pro-Palestinian, pro-peace Americans.” It is not surprising that a group with such orientation would voice its strong displeasure with the Palestinian Basic Law, sayingThis is a sad day for Palestine and all who care about its democracy and its future.

J Street noted some troubling clauses in the Permanent Constitution Draft. Consider Article 2:

“Palestine is part of the Arab homeland. The state of Palestine abides by the Charter of the League of Arab States. The Palestinian people are part of the Arab and Islamic nations. Arab unity is a goal. The Palestinian people work on behalf of its realization.”

J Street was horrified to only see “Arab” written throughout the text. Where was the space for non-Arabs? Why was Palestine ascribed to be part only of the Islamic nations? How were non-Muslims going to feel about such language?

The language would get even worse as the text continued to become more specific. Consider Article 4:

“Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine and seat of its public authorities.”

How could the Palestinians state that Jerusalem is its capital when the Israelis claim the city for its eternal capital? Such a declaration spits in the face of Israel and diminishes a chance for peace and reconciliation.

Article 5 added to the problems:

“Arabic is the official language and Islam is the official religion in Palestine. Christianity and all other monotheistic religions are accorded sanctity and respect. The constitution guarantees equality in rights and duties to all citizens irrespective of their religious creed.”

J Street was apoplectic about this clause. Why wasn’t Hebrew included as an official language? Why was Islam declared as the only official religion? The Basic Law mentioned that Christianity would be accorded “sanctity and respect,” but the law would not even mention the word “Judaism.” What kind of respect was the Palestinian Law truly giving when it could not even bring itself to mention Jews and Judaism?

J Street’s press release was biting:

“The Israeli minority that lives in the West Bank already face terrible job persecution and have a difficult time buying land due to Palestinian law that forbids any Arab from selling land to a Jew (subject to penalty of death). The laws laid out in the Constitution further reiterate that Israeli Palestinians are second class in their own homeland.

“This is an alarming trend of Palestine pulling back from its commitments to become a liberal democracy and moving in an increasingly theocratic, authoritarian and xenophobic direction.”

J Street commented that it was concerned about Mahmoud Abbas’s recent comments that he will continue paying the families of murderers monthly stipends. “Several left-wing NGOs receive some of that money,” J Street noted. “But not enough.

J Street’s President Jeremy al-Ami, said that “We need more outspoken opposition to the far-right policies of xenophobia shown by Abbas and his cronies. We need more voices questioning the horrible laws and declarations in the Palestinian Constitution to make a better life for Israelis and Palestinians and Israeli Palestinians and Palestinian Israelis.


Arab MK Ayman Odeh at J Street Conference was given a warm welcome.
Odeh would later refuse to meet with Jewish leaders because the meeting
was on the same floor as the Jewish Agency.


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Palestinian Job Fair for Peace

Fun With Cause-and-Effect: Gaza Border Protests

Israel’s Kite Business Gets a Second Wind

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NY Times Disgraceful Journeys

As media companies have come under financial strain due to the availability of plentiful free and immediate news sources online and the collapse of the print advertising industry, the companies have sought new methods of generating revenue.

As part of such endeavor, The New York Times got into the travel business.

The Times markets its “Journeys” as a way to not only see the world, but to gain an understanding of the “history & context” of the countries with “featured experts.” Not surprisingly, the paper’s infamous pro-Arab and anti-Israel orientation fills the Times’ brochures.

Consider the Times description of its trip to Iran (below). The main headline of “How Much Do You Understand?” seems to beg the reader into an opportunity to learn. The text for Iran is as follow:

“Iran: Tales from Persia

Persia. Iran. For 2,500 years, this powerful country has entranced, mystified and beguiled the world. Discover the ancient secrets and modern complexities of this influential land on a 13-day itinerary, visiting some of the world’s oldest archaeological sites and the family home of the religious leader who engineered Iran’s transition to an Islamic republic. Welcome to the once-forbidden land of Iran.”

The featured expert is “Gary Wintz, a writer and lecturer, has traveled to Iran regularly since the 1980s and is an expert on the cultural and political landscape there. He joins all our departures.

The trip sounds very exciting. So much intrigue and history.

There is no mention that this country is one of the most repressive in the world. This is a government that hangs gays by cranes in the street – literally. It has fomented civil wars in Yemen, Iraq and Syria. It has publicly called for the destruction of Israel. It leads the entire Middle East in executions  (more than every country in the region COMBINED). It executes minors.

No worries. The NYTimes will tell you that its mysterious and beguiling.

At least this year’s “featured expert” has been to Iran. In 2016, the featured expert was the notorious Op-Ed Israel-basher, Roger Cohen. He probably told the tour participants how terrible it was that Israel opposed Iran getting nuclear weapons.

There is only one other country in the world that executes minors: Saudi Arabia. The Times will gladly take you there too.

Saudi Arabia and the Emirates: The Past and Future of Oil

Oil transformed the Arabian Peninsula, bringing wealth into a region steeped in tradition and heightening tensions with oil-dependent Western nations. On this 10-day journey accompanied by New York Times journalists, learn more about Saudi Arabia, on the cusp of change. Explore the conservatism that still grips Saudi Arabia (women, you may need to bring a head scarf), then see the modern architectural gem that is Abu Dhabi.

Saudi Arabia, where Islam was born, remains a deeply conservative country where women are only now being allowed to drive and alcohol is not served. It’s also one of the most important allies of the United States, even though they don’t always see eye-to-eye. Journey to Jidda, Al-Ula, Riyadh and Dammam to better understand the relationship between these two nations. Hear perspectives from oil industry and government officials and learn how Saudi Arabia keeps its grip on its past even as it tries to embrace its future. Then travel to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, and see how it has used its oil wealth to create a city of culture.”

The Times pointed out that the country is “deeply conservative” but ignored that it is rated one of the “worst of the worst” repressive countries by Freedom House. It is the only country in the world that has public beheadings. Seriously, even today.

No worries. You’ll get to see a “modern architectural gem” with the Times.

In regards to Egypt, the Times could not be bothered to mention anything “conservative” about the country.

Egypt is the land of “powerful dynasties” and “New York Times experts will help you piece together the life and times of a powerful ancient civilization and share their vision for the country’s future.”

How wonderful! Not an iota of anything controversial. Did the Times mention that Egypt is one of the worst countries to be a Christian according to Open Doors? That the Arab Spring swept out one long-time strongman, and a military coup took out his replacement? Terrorism targeting tourists? Why would it? This is the Times.

Morocco? It’s gorgeous! “A land of of legend and intrigue… delve deep into this colorful nation.” Illegal annexation of Western Sahara? Never heard of it.

For some of the worst murderous regimes in the world, involved with human rights abuses in their own countries as well as active participation in killing many tens and hundreds of thousands of people, the most the NY Times could muster about the Islamic countries was that Saudi Arabia is “deeply conservative” and “don’t always see eye-to-eye” with the United States. Remarkable.

But it gets worse.

You can perhaps try to forgive the Times that is trying to sell a vacation package to make a few more dollars. Why highlight the bad (actually evil) when marketing a trip for several thousands of dollars?

The NY Times also offers a trip of Israel. Surely the Times would highlight the miracle that is the rising star of the Middle East.

The paper which claims to be “a leader in its evenhanded coverage of Israel,” seems to think that the only democracy in the Middle East, the technological and environmental leader, the most liberal country for thousands of miles in any direction, needs some “balance” in its “Journeys” packages. Not Iran nor Saudi Arabia nor Egypt nor other Middle eastern lands. Only Israel.

This is from the Times Journey’s website on the Israel trip:

In 2018, Israel will observe its 70th anniversary as a nation. But its history goes back more than 5,000 years, and even now, its future promises many difficulties. On this nine-day itinerary, travel with experts from The New York Times, a leader in its evenhanded coverage of Israel, Palestinians and the Middle East. Enjoy extraordinary opportunities to hear from opinion makers, scholars, grassroots activists and media experts.

Travel behind the media lens to explore the broad spectrum of the Israeli-Palestinian experience on a journey through millennia of history, politics and religion. Explore one of the most fascinating destinations in the world, and seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the next chapter of history. Learn about the evolution of Israeli and Palestinian identities by understanding the region’s past struggles while considering its current political reality and contemplating its future. With unparalleled access and New York Times guidance, this unforgettable trip will present this volatile region in a new light.”

How is it that a trip of Israel, a country with so many incredible things to cover in both ancient history, religion, economy, arts and technology, could get wrapped into a discussion about Palestinians (three times!)? Why is Israel uniquely described as having “difficulties” and “struggles” in a “volatile region”? More people have died in the wars that Iran and Saudi Arabia have been fighting over the past three years than the entire 70-year history of Israel.

Saudi Arabia is noted as the place “where Islam was born.” Is it too much for the Times to point out that Israel is the Jewish homeland?

In Iran, people are invited to visit “some of the world’s oldest archaeological sites.” Are there not enough ruins in Israel to highlight?

The Times puts on a unique lens for Israel. Consider the itinerary on the first full day of the trip, called “Jerusalem: Understanding the Borders and Territories.” The schedule includes: “This morning, attend a talk by Avi Issacharoff, an Israeli journalist who specializes in Palestinian affairs. Learn about his work, including the geopolitical TV thriller “Fauda” (Arabic for “Chaos.”) Then, drive north to the Qalandiya checkpoint to enter the West Bank for a guided tour led by Rami Nazzal, a Palestinian and New York Times contributor. Visit a Palestinian refugee camp, the city of Al-Bireh and homes near the Psagot Israeli settlement. After lunch at a local Palestinian restaurant, meet with a senior Palestinian official to discuss the history and current state of Israeli-Palestinian affairs. End the day with a driving tour through Ramallah, which serves as the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority.” On the New York Times’ trip to Israel, visitors adopt the Palestinian narrative from the outset.

A visit to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset in Jerusalem? To it’s Supreme Court? No way! The trip to Israel and a tour starting in Jerusalem visits “the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority.” Heaven-forbid actually spending a trip to Israel in Israel’s capital city.

The New York Times is not remotely fair to Israel even while it tries to make a few bucks on its travel packages. Do you think there’s an iota of even-handedness in its news stories?


Related First.One.Through articles:

Murderous Governments of the Middle East

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Is Israel Reforming the Muslim Middle East? Impossible According to The NY Times

The New York Times will Keep on Telling You: Jews are not Native to Israel

First.One.Through video:

Saudi Arabia’s Repressive Regime (music by The Cars)

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Every Picture Tells a Story: Fire

The summer of 2018 was a story of fire.

Fires raged through California, consuming thousands of acres. Fires raged in Greece, killing scores.

The front pages of The New York Times featured color photographs of these horrible incidents. The pictures captured the roaring flames, the burnt forests, the exhausted firefighters.

The daily front page articles showed the destruction. The captions under the pictures gave readers a sense of the unfolding efforts to contain the blaze, even as it updated the daily loss of life.

But not in Israel.

Every day for the length of the summer, Palestinian Arab arsonists sent firebombs aloft into Israel. Using kites and healium filled balloons and condoms, the terrorists sought to inflict damage to Israelis with a new approach that let the masses participate in the battle against Israel.

Yet despite the thousands of acres burned, The New York Times never posted a front page picture of the Arab arsonists. It never broadcast clearly the terrible damage of the scorched fields which Israelis had cultivated.

It never posted a caption clearly describing the terrorist and the victim.

For the New York Times, tragedy is a dish best served among friends.


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Every Picture Tells a Story: The Invisible Murdered Israelis

Every Picture Tells a Story: The Invisible Killed Terrorists

Every Picture Tells a Story: Arab Injuries over Jewish Deaths

Every Picture Tells A Story: Only Palestinians are Victims

Every Picture Tells a Story: Goodbye Peres

Every Picture Tells a Story, the Bibi Monster

Every Picture Tells a Story, Don’t It?

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Turkey’s Erdogan Likely Sending Military Towards Gaza

There is arguably no greater authoritarian leader today than Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. He has cemented his powers over the last dozen years, quashing the press and anyone that stands opposed to him.

That authoritarian leader is now under serious threat.

The Turkish economy has become incredibly weakened over the past several weeks due to various economic decisions by Erdogan and a series of tariffs imposed against Turkey by US President Donald Trump. The Turkish lira is in a state of serious decline and there is a real risk of the country’s economy collapsing.

It is very doubtful that the Turkish egomaniac will accede to the demands of Trump to release an American pastor that Turkey arrested. It is unlikely that Turkey will stop buying weapons from Russia. It is also unlikely that Turkey will only “look for other friends and allies” as Erdogan headlined in his op-ed on the online edition of the New York Times on August 10.

Erdogan is too crafty and mean-spirited to simply “look for friends.” He will provoke. Aggressively.

Erdogan knows that he cannot combat the United States either militarily or economically, so will only resort to some bad-mouthing, when it comes to the U.S.

However, Erdogan will enjoy provoking a war against an American ally, particularly one close to Trump: Israel.

Erdogan has long been allied with the Palestinian Arab terrorist group Hamas that controls Gaza. He has allowed his Turkish ports to be used for “flotillas” to break the Israeli blockade of the region in the past. He is likely to use his current weak economic situation to take a much more aggressive stance to gather support from the greater Arab and Muslim world.

Erdogan had an interview on Al Jazeera in 2011 where he made indirect threats against Israel in relation to Israel’s work with the government of Cyprus in extracting oil, and for the situation in Gaza. Erdogan reiterated Turkey’s claims in Cyprus (which no country in the world believes), and his concern for the people of Gaza. He stated that he would begin using his navy ships to protect Turkey’s interests in both Cyprus and Gaza.


Recep Erdogan interview on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks
against the United States

He did not send military vessels into the eastern Mediterranean Sea at that time nor to Cyprus, as Netanyahu apologized to Erdogan for killing attackers on the Mavi Marmara boat in 2010 at the urging of US President Barack Obama. But Erdogan’s situation today is much more precarious.

In his August 2018 NY Times Op-Ed, Erdogan said “Turkey has established time and again that it will take care of its own business if the United States refuses to listen.” It is not far-fetched to imagine that an authoritarian leader with his back to the wall, will now come after Israel in a real concerted way.

It will not be surprising to see Turkish military ships off the coast of Cyprus and/or Gaza in the coming months. The only question is whether this be the start of a broader war.


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Turkish Hypocrisy – Erdogan’s Line of Defense

Obama’s Friendly Pass to Turkey’s Erdogan

The United Nations Absolves Turkey’s Erdogan

Names and Narrative: Genocide / Intifada

The Churlish Turkish Leadership

New York Times Talking Turkey

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Netanyahu apology to Erdogan (Joe Cocker)

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Shut UNRWA in Gaza Immediately

The arguments to defund and shut UNRWA are plentiful, but as the established and embedded “way of living,” (to quote Queen Rania of Jordan) of Palestinian Arabs in the five regions in which it operates, the process of closing the organization may take some time to implement.

But the time is now in Gaza.

  1. There is no basis for calling anyone in Gaza a “refugee.”

While the United Nations long ago abused the definition of “refugee” as something that can be passed down through generations like an inheritance uniquely for Palestinian Arabs, the situation in Gaza is all the more ridiculous. A “refugee” is not defined as someone that left a specific house. It refers to leaving a country.

Even under UNRWA’s contorted definition of a refugee, the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza are living in the same land and country that their parents and grandparents left at the time of the Jewish State’s reestablishment in 1948, as defined by UNRWA:

“persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”

“Palestine” between June 1946 and May 1948 included the areas now known as Israel, Gaza and the area commonly known as the “West Bank,” which was seized and annexed illegally by the Jordanians at the end of the 1948 conflict.

At best, the “refugees” in Gaza can be described as “internally-displaced” people.

  1. Independent

While the Arabs in the West Bank are also only descendants of internally-displaced people like those in Gaza, they have limited autonomy in much of the region. Only in Area A is the Palestinian Authority in charge of both the civilian and military life.

However, the situation is completely different in Gaza. Israel removed every Israeli civilian and soldier in 2005. For the first time in history, local Arabs in Gaza control their own territory. The Gazans held elections for president of the Palestinian Authority in 2005 and for parliament in 2006.

But UNRWA has stayed put in Gaza anyway.

  1. Taking Sides in an Armed Conflict

While the United Nations adoption of the Palestinian cause has long made the organization a biased actor in the Israeli-Palestinian Arab dispute, the situation is much more problematic in a war zone.

Hamas, the ruling government in Gaza is a designated terrorist organization according to many countries in the world including Israel, the United States, Canada and the European Union. Hamas has launched three full-blown wars against Israel since it took over the region: in 2008, 2012 and 2014. And the group has continued to incite and launch terrorist attacks against Israel during intervening “ceasefires.”

UNRWA does not sit in the middle as a neutral party in these battles. Over 99% of UNRWA employees are the local Palestinian Arabs, not European peace forces. UNRWA teachers have been active in the terrorism against a UN member state, building bombs for terrorist groups. They have allowed the schools to be used to store weapons and as missile launching sites.

And many of the students and their family members are part of the terrorist infrastructure itself, belonging to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups.


Rocket launcher next to UN building in Hamas’s 2014 war against Israel
(source: UNWatch)

How can the United Nations continue to take an active – or at a minimum, abetting – role in terrorism and violence against a member state?

The world is finally waking up to the travesty that is UNRWA. The UN should take immediate action to close down all of the facilities that it operates in Gaza. #ShutUNRWA


Related First.One.Through articles:

UNRWA’s Ongoing War against Israel and Jews

Help Refugees: Shut the UNRWA, Fund the UNHCR

The Gross OVER-Staffing of UNRWA Schools

UNRWA’s Munchausen Disease

UNRWA Is Not Just Making “Refugees,” It’s Creating Palestinians

The UN Must Pay to Repair the Gaza Fence

The United Nations Can Hear the Songs of Gazans, but Cannot See Their Rockets

The UN Wants “Real Stories on REAL Refugees”

The UN Fails on its Own Measures to address the Conditions Conducive to the Spread of Terrorism

Ban Ki Moon Stands with Gaza

Delivery of the Fictional Palestinian Keys

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Israel’s Nation-State Basic Law Advances a Two-State Solution

In November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly approved a plan (UNGA Resolution 181) to be implemented in the Holy Land for when the British ended their administration of Palestine. The resolution proposed that two states be established in the area west of the Jordan River: a Jewish State and an Arab State. The resolution mentioned the term “Jewish State” a full 27 times.

But the world never quite understood what a “Jewish State” meant. The modern world never had witnessed such a thing.

Conversely, an “Arab State” seemed clear. There already were many Arab countries in the world. There were also many Muslim countries. People had a pretty good understanding of what such countries looked like and how they operated. The number of both Arab and Muslim countries would grow over the following decades.

After the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995, the Palestinian Arabs would begin to define what their proposed Arab State would look like. In the waning days of the five year transition period that began in September 1995, Yasser Arafat (fungus be upon him), ordered a draft Palestinian Constitution be prepared. The initial draft Palestinian constitution was completed in 2001.

It made a few points abundantly clear: a State of Palestine would be Arab and be Muslim.

  • This constitution is based on the will of the Arab Palestinian people.” (Article 1)
  • The Arab Palestinian people believe in the principles of justice, liberty, equality, human dignity, and their right to practice self-determination and sovereignty over their land.” (Article 2)
  • The Palestinian people are a part of the Arab and Islamic nations.” (Article 3)
  • Arabic shall be the official language.” (Article 5)
  • Islam shall be the official religion of the state. The monotheistic religions shall be respected.” (Article 6)
  • The principles of the Islamic Shari`a are a primary source for legislation. The legislative branch shall determine personal status law under the authority of the monotheistic religions according to their denominations, in keeping with the provisions of the constitution and the preservation of unity, stability, and advancement of the Palestinian people.” (Article 7)
  • Sovereignty belongs to the Palestinian Arab people. Its prerogatives shall be exercised by the people directly, by means of elected representatives, by referendum, and through their constitutional institutions.” (Article 10)

It goes on, and the point is underscored: a new Palestinian State would be Arab and Islamic.

Even without a state, the Palestinian Authority created a framework of what it meant to be a Palestinian State. Yet, Israel, which had been a country since May 1948, never defined what it meant to be a Jewish State.

Until 2018.

Israel – like the United Kingdom and New Zealand – does not have a constitution. Instead, it issues a series of “Basic Laws.” These laws enumerate key principles of the country. Until July 2018, the government of Israel did not declare what it meant to be a Jewish State in any of the Basic Laws, even while it enumerated other key attributes such as human dignity and liberty. There were Jewish symbols and Jewish holidays used in Israel, but those could easily be replaced with any new law. The State of Israel was only de facto a Jewish State. Nothing more.


Emblem of Israel, the seven branched menorah, as depicted in the Arch of Titus in Rome, celebrating the sacking of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE.

That de facto existence has been more than enough for Arabs and anti-Zionists. Thirty Arab and Muslim countries still refuse to recognize the existence of Israel. For his part, the acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has stated that Palestinian Arabs “will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel.” The PA would make peace with the government of Israel simply as a counter-party to an agreement. However, it still objected to the basic formula laid out since 1947 of two states for two people: a Jewish State and an Arab State.

And Abbas could comfortably delude himself into that reality because Israel never proclaimed itself in its own Basic Laws that it is the nation-state of the Jewish people. The country operated like a Jewish man wearing a baseball cap instead of a kippah, acting religiously without the public declaration of being Jewish. The Jew and anti-Semite could play the farce of doing business and getting along with each other with the fig leaf of deniability.

No longer. The public declaration has been made. The Jew is out of the closet. Deal with your anti-Semitism if you want to live next to Israel, and strike treaties and do business with the Jewish State.

In 2018, the State of Israel declared itself the Nation-State of the Jewish people. For anyone that held out hope for a two state solution built on a solid foundation, there is only cause for optimism and joy.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Deciphering the 2018 Basic Law in Israel – The Nation State of the Jewish People

The Basic Law’s “Unique” Problem

Israel’s Nation-State Basic Law is Not Based on Religion

A “Viable” Palestinian State

The Palestinian State I Oppose

No Jews Allowed in Palestine

Maybe Truman Should Not Have Recognized Israel

Abbas’s Speech and the Window into Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism

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