Pro-Palestinians argue vehemently for an independent Arab state and complain about the treatment of Arabs in Israel. One rarely hears what an Arab State of Palestine would be like so perhaps it’s worth a review.
Israel’s Model in a Palestinian State
Minority population. Non-Jews make up roughly 25% of Israel. Were a Palestinian State to have 25% minorities, they would account for well over 1 million people. But the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded a country completely devoid of Jews. Pro-Palestinians want to see every Jew evicted from the West Bank, leaving it Jew-free, just as Israel did in the Sinai for Egypt (1982) and in Gaza for the PA (2005).
Land ownership. Israelis of all religions buy and sell homes around the country. In a unique and evil law, the Palestinian Authority calls for the death sentence or life of hard labor for any Palestinian Arab selling land to a Jew.
Freedom to Worship. Mosques with minarets dot Israeli cities. Jews, Muslims and Christians can pray throughout the country. However, the Palestinians demand that Jews be denied the right to pray at Judaism’s holiest location, the Jewish Temple Mount in Jerusalem. They clearly don’t expect synagogues in a Palestinian State that doesn’t contain any Jews.
Language. The street signs and currency in Israel are in Hebrew and Arabic as well as English. Upon entering Area A or Gaza which are under Palestinian control, all signs are only in Arabic.
Parliament. Israel’s parliament includes Jews, Muslims and Arabs. An extremist Arab party actually sits in the governing coalition.
Palestinian Model in Israel
Terrorist group as political party. HAMAS is a designated terrorist group according to the United States, the European Union and many western countries. Still, it sits as the majority of the Palestinian parliament, having won 58% of the seats in elections. If Israel used such format, the Meir Kahane-inspired group Kach would sit in parliament today, but the Israeli government banned them.
Paying for murder. The Palestinian Authority pays the families of terrorists who kill and maim Israeli, encouraging violence. No country in the world has such a “pay-to-slay” program as a cornerstone of public policy.
Naming schools and square for terrorists. The PA names girls schools, soccer tournaments, public squares and many other fora after Arabs who murder Jews. There is no school or basketball in Israel named for Baruch Goldstein, which Palestinian Arabs probably don’t understand.
If Palestinians sought to build a country with 1 million Jews as Palestinian citizens, with the ability to be in parliament, build synagogues and worship freely around the country, acquire property openly and have meaningful jobs without fear of violence, Israel would not only recognize such country but endorse its creation.
If Palestinians would use Israel’s model for dealing with a minority population there would be a Palestinian state today. The lack of a state stems from the PA’s refusal to coexist peacefully with Jewish neighbors.
The past month was already horrible. Members of Congress, most of them far-left Socialists, voted to defund Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. The New York Times wrote about one of the extremists, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who cried at the floor of Congress because she abstained from voting rather than “voting with her conscience” due to “influential lobbyists and rabbis.“
The anti-Zionist paper pulled the comment about rabbis in its online edition, trying to be clear that it only hates Israel supporters and not all Jews. However, the paper continues to insert its bias against any support for the Jewish State, even for its defenses.
In a soft piece about considering the new host of the television show “Jeopardy,” the Times wrote that the Jewish actress Mayim Bialik was a difficult choice, as she has been involved in a number of controversial topics. Sandwiched between her decisions about not vaccination her children and promoting a health supplement that was sued over false advertising, the opinion-paper f/k/a newspaper wrote “she blogged about donating money to buy bulletproof vests for the Israel Defense Force.“
When the Times reported on the far-left’s votes against Israel’s defenses, it was covering an event. Now the Times made clear its own identical opinion as the anti-Israel extremists: Israelis should not have protection and should be vulnerable to assailants from Gaza, Iran and elsewhere.
The spectacle of Congress voting to replenish the Iron Dome funding was heart-breaking. Voting to replenish the interceptor missiles that saved hundreds – if not thousands – of civilians in Israel was a no-brainer, but nine members of Congress thought that any support of Israel was too much.
Democratic leadership noted that their eight anti-Israel colleagues (there was one Republican that also voted to block the funding) were a small minority and the vast majority of Democratic members of congress voted in favor of defensive support. The leadership insisted that those who pointed out the fracturing of the party were trying to inflate the radicals.
But polls of American civilians show that the left-wing has already pulled away from Israel.
In June 2021, a AP-NORC poll showed the left was pushing the administration for greater support of Palestinians over Israelis. Three times as many (47% to 15%) liberal Democrats as Conservative Republicans thought that the United States is too supportive of Israel. Three times as many (61% Conservative to 17% Liberals) thought that the US wasn’t supportive enough of Israel.
The same poll showed the opposite in relation to support of Palestinian Arabs. Eight times as many (58% Conservatives to 7% Liberals) think the US is too supportive of Palestinians, while seven times as many (62% Liberals to 9% Conservatives) thought the US should devote more support to Palestinian Arabs. To lay that out more directly, 62% and 47% of Liberals think the US should be more supportive of Palestinians and less supportive of Israel, respectively. That’s in sharp contrast to 61% and 58% of Conservatives who think the US should be more supportive of Israel and less supportive of Palestinians.
A University of Maryland poll held around the same time yielded similar results with different questions. Regarding the May fighting between Israel and Gazans, ten times as many Democrats as Republicans blamed Israel for the violence (34.8% Democrats to 3.7% Republicans). Conversely, seven times as many Republicans as Democrats blamed the Palestinians (59.1% Republicans to 8.1% Democrats). Not surprisingly, seven times as many Democrats than Republicans (43.7% to 6.3%) want the US to apply more pressure on Israel, including withholding aid. Many more Republicans (49.0%) prefer applying pressure including withholding aid on the Palestinians than Democrats (8.5%). Independents were much more neutral on the issue.
These poll results show a very different dynamic than argued by Democratic politicians. The far-left (and growing) fringe of their party is becoming more anti-Israel. This makes it easier for the leaders of deep blue districts to vote against Israel in concert with their base.
The redistricting that is occurring around the country based on the 2020 census will certainly change Congress at the next election. It will also likely produce a large increase in the anti-Israel voices in congress.
Turkey has been descending into one of the most intolerant and dangerous promoters of terrorism under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan for several years, but the United Nations seems intent on blessing this particular brand of anti-Semitism and barbarism.
Erdogan promotes blood libels against Jews. In May 2021, he said that the “Jewish Prime Minister” in Israel’s “greatest pleasure” was killing Palestinians because it “is part of their nature” as “they are only satisfied by sucking blood.” The United States senate quickly issued a bill condemning “Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s invocation of the blood libel myth, which has historically been used to justify violence against Jews.”
The anti-Semitic slurs are consistent with Erdogan’s desire to kill Jews. The country was granting citizenship to members of the political-terrorist group HAMAS which the European parliament noted would allow them to set up a base in Turkey and freely travel, affording them “greater freedom in planning attacks on Israeli citizens around the world.“
Turkey’s crimes are not confined to only being against Jews. Turkey’s military invaded Syria in 2018 and continues to control Afrin, home to thousands of Kurds. The Kurds used to account for 96 percent of Afrin’s population and has now been driven down to 25 percent as Turkey has turned the area into a haven for Syria’s Islamic population fleeing the war zones. Turkey treats the minority group as pariahs inside Turkey as well, and has extended its oppressive reach against them and Yazidis until today. A number of senators have urged U.S. President Biden to “forcefully condemn President Erdogan’s escalating efforts to disband the country’s largest pro-Kurdish political party,” as Erdogan continues to purge non-Islamists from the region.
Remarkably, none of this seems to irk the leader of the United Nations.
On September 20, 2021, UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres issued a proclamation praising Turkey as the UN General Assembly gathered to meet. Guterres said:
“Turkey is engaged across the spectrum of our work, as we deal with challenges from the climate crisis to long‑standing threats to peace and security. I am personally familiar with enormous generosity of Turkey and Turkish host communities towards refugees. I offer my sincere appreciation for your support to people in need of protection.
“The number of people fleeing wars, violence, persecution and human rights violations is at record levels. I count on Turkey to continue doing its utmost, with the support of the international community. This is an act of solidarity that concerns us all.
“Peacemaking is another critical dimension of our work. I welcome Turkey’s consistent support to our mediation efforts, including by co-chairing the Group of Friends of Mediation — one of our most important tools to reduce, manage and end conflict.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight the leadership of His Excellency, Volkan Bozkir, as President of the of the seventy-fifth session of General Assembly. We have been fortunate to rely on him through a difficult year.
“I look forward to our continuing close cooperation with the Government and people of Turkey, and wish you many years of productive work in the new Turkish House. Thank you.“
Gutteres had no similar comments for any other countries’ efforts on behalf of refugees.
The head of the United Nations singled out for praise an anti-Semitic, authoritarian regime which crushes free speech and minority rights during the latest gathering of world leaders. It is a clear indication that the extremist Islamist factions have assumed control of the global body.
By the eleventh chapter of the Bible, it appeared that mankind had reached perfection. United in time, place and purpose, the whole world appeared ready to accept the word of God. Yet God rejected this model of the human race, and instead opted to give his holy texts to a sliver of the world in entirely inverted circumstances. The message embedded in the choice is as timeless as it is important.
The Tower of Babel and the State
About 300 years after God destroyed the world in the flood, “the entire earth was of one language and uniform in words.” They assembled together in “a valley in the land of Shinar” and decided to make bricks to “build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens to make ourselves a name, lest we be scattered upon the face of the earth.” (Genesis 11:1-4)
This Tower of Babel was an incredible accomplishment. Ten generations – from Noah through Abraham – lived in this city and tower. The people were not just “of one language” but coordinated in a common goal. To a modern reader, this situation appears too good to be true – mankind working constructively to build a place where everyone could live together. It seems so aspirational that it puzzles the reader as to why God was upset and said “Lo! they are one people, and they have one language, and this is what they have commenced to do? Come let us descend and confuse their language, so that one will not understand the language of his companion’. And the Lord scattered them from upon the face of the earth and they ceased building the city.” (Genesis 11:6-8)
To appreciate God’s objection, biblical commentators compared this generation to that of the flood.
The Bible states that God destroyed the world in the flood because of “חָמָֽס” (Genesis 6:11) which is translated as ‘robbery’ by Rashi and the Ramban. While at first, robbery doesn’t seem so terrible a crime worthy of destroying a world, it does invite a reader to imagine the nature of such society.
If the world operates on the basis of theft – that the ownership of personal property has no inherent meaning – people prioritize stealing over work. In such environment, a person will invest his or her efforts in how to take the fruit, cattle or spouses of their neighbor rather than engaging in the actual work of cultivating such things. There would be no effort in saving or developing anything as it could be stolen, making people live for the day rather than invest in the future. Such a world cannot mature nor endure.
The society that built the Tower of Babel had a different notion about personal property. Rather than one person stealing another’s belongings for themselves, they collected it for the state. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik said “the generation… had a strict political code. The were not weakened by abundance [like those in the Flood]…. They were aggressive in undertaking, bold in design, and arrogant in execution. The ideology of Marxism as interpreted by Lenin and Mao Tse Tung could not have been better portrayed than in these verses.”
Rabbi Solveitchik combined two principles in his critique of this society – one led by an authoritarian leader and one based on Socialism. He criticized this society that “tried to create a new social world order. In order to realize this ideal, they destroyed individual freedom, dictating to everyone what to do and how to live.” People can see this at play today in the alt-left’s efforts to institute a new social order under the marketing banner of the common good as it advocates for “canceling” those who break with their orthodoxy while they attempt to redistribute personal property.
Rampant robbery for personal gain that existed before the Flood was obsessed with the indulgence of living in the moment and needed to be wiped out as it destroyed the possibility of long-term development. The seizing of personal property for the state during the Tower of Babel, needed to be disrupted as well. God had previously directed Noah and his children to “be fruitful and multiply upon the earth” three times (Genesis 8:17, 9:1 and 9:7) and instead they constrained themselves to a small valley, thereby limiting their progeny and directed their efforts to building man-made structures rather than cultivating the land for personal use.
God “came down” (Genesis 11:7) to this authoritarian socialist society and did not see an ideal society worthy of receiving his holy words, and decided to “confuse their language” and “scattered them from there upon the face of the earth, and they ceased building the city.“
Which makes one consider the society that actually did receive the Torah.
The Tower of Babel and Mt. Sinai
God handed the Ten Commandments to a very different society in a very different place. Mount Sinai and the Tower of Babel could not be more different:
Tower of babel
Man made structure
Located in remote desert away from people
Center of the world with all humanity
In the afterglow of the Exodus and destruction of Egyptian army
In the shadow of the destruction of every living thing in the Flood
Only Moses ascended the mountain and the Israelites barred from approaching it
The entire world inhabited the tower
God “descended” to Mt. Sinai to see a man he had spoken to before who had followed his command
God “descended” to find a society which ignored the direction he had given to some of them (Noah and his children)
Laws given to a single man to teach to a single tribe over time
Laws not given to the entire world at a moment in time
That tribe was scared and acting out, looking for leadership as the commandments were being given to Moses
The world was working seamlessly in concert, building their man-made city and tower which didn’t need a God as it reached the heavens via the work of its own hands
When God dispersed mankind in the year 1996 after Creation, He set in place the ability for humanity to follow his command to “be fruitful and multiply upon the earth” but simultaneously made engaging with everyone more difficult, as God’s preference for speaking to one person at a time would require multiple prophets to interact with local communities and tribes, even as the miracles would capture the attention of the whole world.
As noted above, God opted to give the Ten Commandments to a people who were just freed from slavery and eager for leadership and a new society. This was in sharp contrast to the people on the Tower of Babel who may not have been receptive to taking upon themselves the word of God, having seen the impacts of global devastation. Consider that they decided to build their city and tower in a valley. They were highly confident in their own abilities to reach the skies, almost as a further insult to God as they didn’t want any advantage from the natural world.
The Shortened Life
The dispersion had ramifications beyond the change in language, the abandonment of the tower and setting in motion the establishment of nations around the world. The lifespans of people dropped considerably as well.
Peleg, a descendant of Shem, died during the dispersion. Curiously, he was either named with prophesy as the name was derived from the Hebrew word for dispersion, or he was renamed at his death כִּ֤י בְיָמָיו֙ נִפְלְגָ֣ה הָאָ֔רֶץ (Genesis 10:25).
Peleg died when he was 239 years old, considerably less than his father, grandfather and great grandfather who were 464, 433 and 438 years old, respectively. The reduction of 225 years of Peleg’s life relative to his father is the numerical equivalent of the word scattered in Hebrew “הֱפִיצָ֣ם” (Genesis 11:9). From this day on, the lifespan of people continued to decline – all the way to 120 years old, the lifespan of Moses, the great teacher of the Torah.
There are people today – like Senator Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Socialists – who view the idea of collective global action on behalf of a powerful state that shuns religion as an ideal to be pursued. The Bible clearly instructs otherwise, as conveyed in the short story of global unity at the Tower of Babel.
“The universe is a pretty big place. If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space.”
– Carl Sagan (1934-1996)
For thousands of years, people thought of themselves as the center of the universe. People believed that they were the most sophisticated animal and assumed that Earth was the only planet to house life, let alone intelligent life.
Religions encouraged such beliefs. The story of Genesis made humans the pinnacle of God’s creation and center of His plan, as the master of all other life forms. As late as the early 17th century, when Galileo posited that the Earth rotated around the sun, not the other way ’round’, the Catholic Church called him a heretic, banned his books and sentenced him to prison.
Religion appeared vain, anchored in self-absorption, and in opposition to science.
As science became widely accepted over the following hundreds of years, people came to appreciate how small the Earth is in a remote edge of the galaxy. Mankind shifted from writing mythology about Gods in the stars, to scripting stories of alien life traversing the universe. Man seemingly embraced science and eschewed religion.
But people remained equally as arrogant.
Beyond the wave of science fiction books and movies over the past sixty years, sci-“fact” shows like the new “UFO” documentary have considered that aliens from other planets have come to Earth. The guise of awe for the unidentified flying objects at first conveyed humbleness in considering that humans are neither alone nor the center of the universe. Yet that premise fell completely flat. What kind of unbridled arrogance must someone have to believe that in the vastness of space, an alien managed to find earth and visit that one special person. Such remarkable conceit!
A profound faith in either religion or science could mask the same egotism with a different veneer of humility.
Carl Sagan, an astronomer and popular author about space strongly believed in science and of life on other worlds, and also believed in religion. He once said that “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.” Despite the appreciation for both belief and science, he nevertheless acknowledged the issue with fundamentalism in his book ‘Contact‘ and how religion and science could be at odds for those with profound faith.
At its worst, profound religion acts as a cudgel, enabling those who believe they speak with divine authority to dictate demands. Deep faith facilitates massacres like the Christian and Muslim crusades as well as the Inquisition.
This stands in sharp contrast in humble faith. Humble religion serves as a guide for people to act towards one another with kindness. The belief in a powerful God who judges people’s seen and unseen actions is designed to shepherd society with humbleness as a check on power.
Faith can act as rein or a weapon. It depends on whether it is embraced with humility or conceit.
Jews have often been accused of arrogance as they believe that much of the bible is particular and not universal. Yet it is a unique monotheistic religion in believing that all people can ascend to heaven: Jews need to follow 613 commandments while non-Jews only need to follow the seven Noahide Laws related to universal morality. That is why Judaism does not try to convert people as their souls do not require “saving.”
Judaism encourages a humble faith in God and science, pursuing both knowledge and coexistence.
The notion that there is a dichotomy between religion and science is widely touted and deeply false. The divide is between profound faith and humble faith. The latter will serve to the betterment of all mankind.
In back-to-back days, The New York Times again proved it knows nothing about Israel.
On September 24, the paper wrote that “progressives” were against Israel repeatedly as it described nine members of Congress who voted against funding Israel’s missile defensive system:
“The episode captured the bitter divide among Democrats over Israel, which has pit a small but vocal group of progressives who have called for an end to conditions-free aid to the country against the vast majority of the party, which maintains that the United States must not waver in its backing for Israel’s right to defend itself.”
“After the vote, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez drew condemnations on social media both from supporters of Israel, who savaged her for failing to support the funding, and from progressives and pro-Palestinian activists, who expressed outrage that she ultimately did not register her opposition to it.”
“The debate on the House floor grew bitter Thursday as some progressive Democrats who were opposed called Israel an “apartheid state,” an accusation that at least one proponent of the bill called antisemitic.”
“The dispute began this week, after progressives revolted at the inclusion of the Iron Dome funding in an emergency spending bill, effectively threatening to shut down the government rather than support the money.”
“Some progressive lawmakers grew furious with Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat, who pushed for the swift vote on Iron Dome funding. “
Ocasio-Cortez and many of the other people who are against Israel maintaining a defense program against the thousands of missiles launched by HAMAS, the US-designated terrorist group, are anti-Israel Socialist extremists. Most are members of the Democratic Socialists of America, a group of extremists peddling in anti-Semitic tropes.
True liberal-progressives, like Rep. Ritchie Torres who proudly supports Israel, understand that Israel is a beacon of liberal values in a radical, authoritarian, Muslim Middle East. Whether regarding women’s rights, gay rights, animal rights, climate change, recycling, freedoms of press, religion, assembly or any of a variety of issues, Israel is by far the most democratic and liberal country for a thousand miles in any direction. No liberal-progressive would ever side with the Palestinian political-terrorist group Hamas over Israel.
The New York Times peddled much of its typical inanity on September 23rd but added its own anti-Semitism to the article. It said that Ocasio-Cortez wanted to vote against the Iron Dome funding but the “powerful” Israel lobby made her simply vote “present.”
This charge is a classic anti-Semitic smear, and echoes anti-Semites like Henry Ford and Adolf Hitler who claimed that powerful Jews run the press, politicians, the banks and all of society. It is a line that the former liberal-progressive and now anti-Semitic Socialist extremist newspaper repeats frequently.
True liberal-progressives proudly stand with Jews and Israel both because of their commitment to human rights and that they are the most persecuted minority in the world. It is the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel Socialist extremists that are vilifying Jews and the Jewish State, and they must be repudiated completely.
There were three epicenters of the terrorists attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001: New York City; the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.; and a field in Pennsylvania which took the place of the U.S. Capitol Building due to the efforts of heroes aboard an ill-fated flight. The jihadists attacks on the hearts of America’s financial, military and political centers was deliberate, evil and immediate. The ramifications reverberated in the years that followed.
I worked across the street from New York City’s World Trade Centers in 2001 and the impact on me was direct.
I first felt the vocal rumblings of 9/11 during the prior week. I spent Labor Day weekend in New York City while most of the city’s residents were on vacation. As I picked up some late night foods at the Fairway market on the Upper West Side, I stood on line behind a woman who was nearly blind, who I guessed hailed from Pakistan. She talked for some time to the cashier, a much younger man, about how everything was about to change forever and that the world would finally wake up. The conversation made me extremely uneasy and I relayed to my wife how I had suddenly felt like a vulnerable minority in New York for the first time.
That sense of dread gained credence as news trickled in from the weeklong UN-sponsored Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa which ended on September 8. Rather than serve as an opportunity to address xenophobia and racism’s oldest form – anti-Semitism – the conference twisted the notions of “colonialism”, “imperialism”, and rights of “indigenous peoples” as condemning articles against Israel, labeling it as an “apartheid” state, in a slur to resuscitate the UN’s 1975 “Zionism is Racism” resolution.
On the morning of Monday, September 10th, I boarded a flight bound for Kansas City for business. As the plane pulled away from the gate, it clipped the wing of a plane parked next to it in a freak accident, grounding both planes. Instead of having a full day meeting in KC and then continuing on to a conference in San Diego, I ended up spending the day and the next in New York, and planned on flying out to California late on 11th.
As it turned out, staying home on the 11th allowed me to vote during the New York Democratic primary. I voted for whoever was running against Mark Green and then walked to the Broadway and 72nd street subway station to head to my office downtown. I boarded the number 2 express train which would take me on my regular route to Chambers Street before switching to the 1 train for one stop to Cortland St. That train station was under the World Trade Center and I would normally walk out one of the corridors to my office at 130 Liberty Street, a 39-story tower known as the the Deutsche Bank Building, sometime around 9:00am each weekday. I was running slightly later that day because of my morning visit to the polling station.
A woman on the subway said in a loud voice that filled the subway car, that she heard that a plane just hit the World Trade Center. I worked on the 30th floor of the Deutsche Bank building facing south towards the Statue of Liberty and would often see planes flying up the Hudson River, sometimes seemingly way too low. I assumed one of those flights lost control and hit one of the tall towers. Before the subway doors closed, I switched to the local train to work out of the firm’s midtown office on 52nd street to avoid the craziness of the incident.
When I emerged from the 50th Street subway stop a short time later, a Black middle-aged woman walking on Broadway said to me that she just heard that both towers were hit. I replied that I heard that a plane hit one tower and she said “no, it’s both of them.” I ran to my office where there were a number of colleagues already standing and watching the television screen that was suspended from the ceiling. We would watch it for a few hours as the towers came crashing down to our utter shock. As we stared, people from our downtown office started to arrive in that midtown location. One of them was a former marine who said he had never seen anything like what he had just witnessed as he fell into my arms, exhausted. He said the sound of bodies popping as they hit the pavement as they jumped from the burning buildings would never leave his mind.
By early afternoon people began to head home, if they could, as the transportation system came to a halt. I walked towards my apartment and stopped for lunch at a pizza store named Pizza Cave on 72nd Street between Broadway and West End Avenue. I saw a friend who was shaken up by the events and had no way of getting home to Riverdale in the Bronx. He came to my apartment and hung out until he was able to figure out a way home.
After he left, I grabbed a video camera and headed with my wife and two young kids to Riverside Park. Hundreds of people went out to the pier that stretched into the Hudson River to watch dozens of ambulances race down the west side highway towards the giant cloud coming from downtown Manhattan. People stared overhead to see military aircraft race across the skies of New York City. Some just sat in the warm September sun.
The days that followed in New York were not moments of coming together as described by politicians today but a range of manifestations from post-traumatic stress disorder. I was glued to the television set so purchased a second one so my children could keep watching their kids shows. Everyone in the city talked about taping up their windows as the smell of ash, smoke and unknown scents hung over the city. People put up posters of “missing” family members all over walls of buildings, even though everyone understood they were dead in the rubble.
The days turned to weeks as people learned who died from their firms and apartment buildings.
The South Tower fell into my office building, shearing the entire front of the building and the debris filled the first floors, killing the security guard. One of the junior people on my team was allowed to go into the building in full hazmat attire to retrieve a handful of items left behind. He brought me back a cookie jar with my kids handprints and footprints which my wife had given me a few months earlier for Father’s Day. The tefillin from my bar mitzvah, which I kept in my desk drawer for situations when I worked late or needed to fly somewhere last minute did not make it out. The building was ultimately demolished in 2011, almost ten years after the attacks because human remains continued to be discovered as they methodically removed one floor at a time.
During those initial weeks, I would stop on various Manhattan streets to watch ceremonies of firefighters honoring the memories of fallen colleagues who died in their attempts to rescue people from the towers. The whole city felt a huge debt to these heroes who did their best to save hundreds of people. I would have personal encounters with some of those people in the following years.
The Diameter of 9/11
The Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai’s poem “The Diameter of the Bomb,” captures the essence of people and places impacted by destruction beyond those in the immediate vicinity of the blast radius. The diameter of the 9/11 attacks covered the entire planet.
On a personal level, my work relocated to Baltimore for several months after the attacks. The Amtrak train ride to the city was loaded with tension of people shuttling between the epicenters of New York and Washington. I recall the voices of riders expressing their disgust with members of Congress standing on the steps of the Capitol in a canned photo op, as people noted it was those very people who had failed to protect America.
About two and a half years after the attacks, I sold my Upper West Side apartment to a 9/11 widow. She had lost her firefighter husband on that dreadful day, and then married his best friend, also a firefighter. Her new husband divorced his wife a year after the attacks, and this new couple opted to start a new life together in my old home, with the help of millions of dollars she received as compensation for the bravery of her deceased spouse.
Thousands of additional people would die in the “global war on terror (GWOT)” and the “wars of terror (WofT)” in the months and years ahead.
The United States enlisted dozens of countries to help fight the scourge of Islamic extremist violence, principally in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also in Libya, Nigeria and Somalia. As the GWOT fought on, the WofT hit England, France, Spain and Israel, as genocidal jihadists continued to fight perceived infidels. Sometimes the WofT attacks were on a large scale, like the 2004 Madrid bombings, while at other times it was personal, like the beheading of the Jewish Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.
After the relief from the assassination of Osama bin Laden in 2011, the global fear of extremist Islamic terrorism came to the fore again in 2014 and 2015 when a new brand of radicals – ISIS – showed shocking videos of its members burning people alive and decapitating them. It declared a new Islamic caliphate in Syria and Iraq as it sought to reverse “western imperialism” which divided the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Islamic radicals went on to kill cartoonists and Jews in Paris, France in January 2015; celebrants of Bastille Day in Nice in July 2016 and hundreds in London and Manchester, England throughout 2016 and 2017.
While new epicenters emerged, the mayhem largely stayed off of American shores.
Twenty years after the infamous attacks, America pulled its troops from Afghanistan and prays that the silence from the paucity of successful jihadi attacks in the United States, continues.
But in that silence, a drumbeat of new local jihadists on America’s college campuses and the halls of Congress, echo the sentiments of al Qaeda and ISIS.
Professors from Rutgers University and San Francisco State marked the 20th anniversary of the slaughter of innocent Americans with a forum that blamed the original attacks and the responding war on terror on the false idea of “US and Israeli exceptionalism” and promoted the absurd notion that each country needed a new adversary after the fall of the Soviet Union, so they manufactured Islam as the new bogeyman. One speaker said that “For me, the horror wasn’t 911 itself, which I experienced back when I was living in North Carolina. For me the horror was George W. Bush’s speech, I found his speech to be completely horrific, because here he was openly declaring, quote, forever wars.” In short, the murder of nearly 3,000 innocent Americans did not bother the professor as much as the advance of “American imperialism” against Islamic countries, now under the guise of a “war on terror.”
Those same outrageous chants are now heard repeatedly in Congress, with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) decrying the United States’ “western imperialism” and claiming that the U.S. and Israel foster racism for profit. The talking points of the Durban Conference, al Qaeda and ISIS are coalescing and becoming embedded in left-wing America.
On 9/11/01, Islamic extremists killed thousands of innocent civilians in the United States, vandalized America’s skyline and instilled a deep fear of their disregard for human life, in what President Obama referred to as an “evil ideology“, copied by a variety of jihadists groups. Those Islamic groups are fighting the wounds from end of World War I, which they perceive as western powers defeating the Islamic Ottoman Empire, carving it up in the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 and inserting a colonial beachhead of Jews in Palestine with the Balfour Declaration of 1917. They are slowly gathering support for their cause against “western imperialism” and “Zionism” as they muster influence in the west.
The scars of 9/11 may have healed for some, making it easier to consider that the need for a global war on terror should come to an end. But the jihadist war is only entering its next phase, as it enlists westerners to undermine its own interests and values.
As Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, I appreciate your involvement in foreign policy and engagement on matters in the Middle East. However, your approach to the region is seemingly a departure from official U.S. foreign policy, at odds with the idea of bipartisanship, belittles the danger of Palestinian terrorist groups and undermines the relationship with Israel.
I note the opening paragraph of the letter your office distributed to people who have written to you about the Arab-Israeli Conflict, about your recent trip to the region, copied here:
“Because you have written to us concerning Israel and Palestine, I wanted to share this important update. Senator Murphy, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, returned from foreign travel this month which included visits to Israel and the West Bank. He led a congressional delegation of his Senate colleagues to discuss regional security and democracy in the region. He was joined by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.).”
To start, the United States does not recognize any country called “Palestine.” As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, it is imperative that you not unilaterally begin to upgrade the status of the Palestinian Authority.
Please share the reason that you only traveled to the region with fellow Democrats, especially as President Biden repeatedly stated his desire to keep support of Israel a bipartisan matter between Democrats and Republicans. Was Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) or any of the Republicans on the Foreign Affairs committee unwilling to join the delegation?
I have additional questions as it relates to the second paragraph of your letter:
“The delegation’s visit to Israel came after the formation of a new government under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in June, and was the first to travel to the country after President Biden met with Prime Minister Bennett at the White House. The senators also met with President Isaac Herzog, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and Ra’am Party leader Mansour Abbas to discuss the priorities of the new government and the path forward to ensure that both Israelis and Palestinians can live safely and securely and equally enjoy freedom, prosperity and democracy.The senators also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and young Palestinian leaders in the West Bank. In addition, the senators also engaged with USAID partners who are implementing programs on the ground.“
I understand why members of the US Foreign Relations committee would meet with Israel’s prime minister, president and foreign affairs minister. But why would the U.S. delegation meet the head of a small Arab party in the coalition government who is not a member of Israel’s own foreign affairs committee? Do you believe that Israeli Arabs are actually ‘Palestinians’ and wanted to be sure that Israel’s Arab citizens “enjoy freedom”? Or do you think that only an Israeli Arab perspective can shed light on what Palestinian Arabs feel, even though the delegation also met with leaders of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank? If you wanted a perspective of minority groups, did you also visit Israeli Jews living in the West Bank?
I note that you referred to Palestine as a country again when you called Mohammad Shtayyeh the Prime Minister of “Palestine” instead of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Does the subcommittee you head have its own foreign policy apart from the United States?
In your letter’s final paragraph, you decided to gratuitously and falsely accuse the former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu:
“Upon his return from travel, Senator Murphy joined CNN International’s Amanpour with Christiane Amanpour to discuss the United States’ role in the world following the withdrawal from Afghanistan. In recounting his visit to Israel and the West Bank, Senator Murphy said: “[I]t is important to note that this government has taken some really important steps: one, to do outreach with the Palestinians, the first government-to-government meetings at the highest levels in over a decade. And they have begun to open up humanitarian pathways into Gaza. They’re trying to relieve the suffering there in a way that the Netanyahu government would have never contemplated. This is obviously a very unique coalition government… but I left pretty impressed with the seriousness of the government, and some of the early steps that they have taken to lower the temperature, both inside Israel and in the relationship with Palestinians.”
I am baffled how your recollection of a visit to America’s strongest ally in the Middle East begins with the “outreach with the Palestinians.” You falsely stated that the meetings were the first held in “over a decade” between the US and the PA, seemingly forgetting the debacle of a flawed 2014 peace process shepherded by the Obama Administration’s Secretary of State John Kerry.
You stated that the goal of the mission was regarding “regional security and democracy,” yet offered nothing on the remarkable Abraham Accords that the Netanyahu government cemented with several Arab nations over the prior year. Instead, you implied that Netanyahu helped create the suffering in Gaza, rather than note that a US-designated foreign terrorist organization launched several wars against Israel, and the Netanyahu government responded in a restrained manner. Further, Netanyahu enabled Gaza exports to hit record levels in the beginning of 2021 and allowed monies from Qatar to flow into the terrorist-run enclave, much more than the current Israeli Prime Minister Bennett.
Senator, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, Americans expect you to call out the evil of the US-designated terrorist group Hamas, to not upgrade the PA to a state, to acknowledge the expanding circle of diplomatic relations Israel recently forged in the region, and to follow protocol in regards to visiting Israel, America’s strongest ally in the region, without gratuitously bad-mouthing the prior government. Your approach simply leads Americans to believe that the Democratic Party is pulling away from Israel.
The spike in antisemitic incidents in the United States over the past few years is alarming. Jews are being physically attacked, killed and verbally assaulted, while their properties are being vandalized.
With the onset of the coronavirus and fighting in the Middle East, things have gotten even worse.
As the first known patient with COVID-19 came from the Orthodox Jewish community of New Rochelle, antisemitic slurs have become more common for Jews walking the streets and shopping in stores. When fighting broke out among Arabs and Jews in Israel, a mob brutally beat a Jew walking the streets of Manhattan.
Westchester County, sitting in the intersection of the tri-state region and home to one of the largest concentrations of Jews in the United States, must take action.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) developed a working definiton of antisemitism in 2016 to help countries and municipalities develop policies to help fight the scourge. The IHRA definition of antisemitism is endorsed by major Jewish organizations including the ADL and the AJC. Major counties and cities in New York have begun endorsing the definition including Nassau County and the Village of Great Neck.