Black Hate Crimes of 2018

The FBI released its annual report of Hate Crimes for 2018 this week. It’s always a sad report to learn about the number of attacks committed against people for who they are, whether for their race, religion or sexual orientation. These are crimes between complete strangers, who simply attack other people because of bias.

Once again, crimes committed based on racial hatred were the most common, followed by religion. Once again, attacks against blacks were the most frequent and assaults on Jews were the most common for religious-based crimes. Those items received the headlines in the media.

What was not covered was that an average Jew was almost three times as likely to be attacked as an average black person (896 attacks against a Jewish population of 5.4 million compared to 2,325 attacks against roughly 40.5 million black people). The news also didn’t cover that Hispanics continue to commit the fewest number of hate crimes, even while they are trending upwards (committing 7.5% of all hate crimes in 2018, up from 6.0% in 2016, even though they account for close to 17% of the population).

More disturbing, was the enormous increase in hate crimes committed by black Americans.

While the number of total hate crimes in 2017 jumped by 15%, driven by a 20% spike in hate crimes committed by white people, the 2018 statistics were vastly different. The total number of hate crimes increased by just 1%, but hate crimes by black people jumped an astounding 32%. The most significant was the spike of black hate crimes committed against Jews, jumping 58% compared to 2017. Overall, black hate crimes account for 29.0% of all hate crimes, up from 25.4% in 2017, even though blacks account for just 12.3% of the total population.


Black gang in Brooklyn, NY attacking synagogue

Is black antisemitism on the rise because of the vile speeches of Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan? From the BlackLivesMatter platform that vilified the Jewish State as participating in apartheid? That the mayor of New York (who is married to a black woman) decided to ignore black antisemitism, where an average Jew is 13 times more likely to be the victim of a hate crime than an average black person? That progressives have embraced the notion of intersectionality and joined forced with radical black and Muslim voices in attacking Jews as part of the white elite establishment which must be torn down?

Eleven Jews were murdered in the United States in 2018, just for being Jewish, compared to four black people and three white people killed for the color of their skin. There were four times the number of anti-Jewish attacks as anti-Muslim. But the media will tell you that ‘Islamophobia’ is the major problem while the candidates for president solely focus on racism against blacks.

There was a time when blacks and Jews stood together against hatred and when black leaders celebrated the Jewish State. But those days seems to be long gone, with only a few voices like Chloe Valdary raising their voices in support of Jews and the Jewish State, and clearly rebuking antisemitism.

The black and Muslim progressive alliance may not only be pushing America against the Jewish State; it may be also be encouraging blacks to attack American Jews.


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Farrakhan’s Democrats

Examining Ilhan Omar’s Point About Muslim Antisemitism

Ilhan Omar Isn’t Debating Israeli Policy, She is Attacking Americans

Bitter Burnt Ends: Talking to a Farrakhan Fan

Anti-Semitism Is Harder to Recognize Than Racism

I See Dead People

Black People are Homophobic

Covering Racism

Where’s the March Against Anti-Semitism?

Fact Check Your Assumptions on American Racism

NY Times Discolors Hate Crimes

Leading Gay Activists Hate Religious Children

Ramifications of Ignoring American Antisemitism

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Palestinian Arabs De-Registering from UNRWA

The saga of the Stateless Arabs from Palestine (SAPs) which have cast their lot with UNRWA for generations may finally be coming to an end.

Since 1949, the United Nations has promised Arabs who used to live and work in what became Israel, that they would be entitled to move back to their old houses. It didn’t matter if they had just moved those homes a few months before, 70 years ago. It didn’t matter if they were just renters and didn’t actually own any property. It didn’t matter that they rejected the very existence of Israel and wanted to see it destroyed. It didn’t even matter if they are the grandchild of someone who was just renting a house for a few months in what became Israel, and both they and their grandparents seek the end of the Jewish State. UNRWA crafted a special designation of “refugees” from Palestine:

“’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.’ The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration.”

These “UNRWA Refugees” were given much more than free housing, education and healthcare from the United Nations. They were promised that, with the help of the UN, they would get to move to the thriving country of Israel.

With such benefits and promise, these SAPs opted to register themselves with UNRWA, despite being denied the ability to gain well-paying jobs by their host countries in Syria and Lebanon. While they had relatives who moved on with their lives and became citizens of various countries ranging from Chile to the United Kingdom, the UNRWA Refugees opted to remain stateless and to live on handouts.

But those days may be coming to an end.

The ongoing war in Syria has been devastating, not just on Syrian civilians but on the UNRWA Refugees living in Syria. The unrest in Lebanon has not been much better. Meanwhile, the UNRWA Refugees watch actual refugees from Syria and Lebanon who are treated by the UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) getting much better aid and a pathway out of the humanitarian disaster. Not surprisingly, the UNRWA Refugees are looking for a better deal.

On November 11, 2019, the acting officer in charge of UNRWA (as the prior head was fired for improper activities), Christian Saunders, addressed the UN about the current activities in the region. He noted at the end of his remarks:

“Emphasizing that the community of Palestine refugees from Syria inside Lebanon live in extremely difficult conditions, he said they are actively exploring ways to leave, with some demanding deregistration from UNRWA in the belief that it would offer access to resettlement opportunities available to other refugees from Syria.”

UNRWA Refugees are demanding de-registration from UNRWA to become regular refugees under the UNHCR which cares for every other refugee in the world.

The disgrace of UNRWA has been apparent for years, with corruption at the top, over-staffing, hiring of militants, warehousing of weapons to be used against Israel, textbooks which vilify the basic notion of coexistence and more. But it has taken a full 70 years since the establishment of UNRWA on December 8, 1949, for the organization to begin to devolve from within, from the very wards it was meant to assist declaring that they have had enough.

UNRWA was established to be a temporary agency in which “constructive measures should be undertaken at an early date with a view to the termination of international assistance for relief,” as noted in Article 5 in its founding declaration. World sympathy (with perhaps not an insignificant amount of anti-Israel animus) prevented those ‘constructive measures’ from being enacted and billions of dollars in aid were spent on the descendants of the Palestinian Arabs who had started the war to destroy Israel. But lifetimes of long-term promises may finally yield to the dreams of immediate normalcy.

Christian Saunders, new deputy commissioner general of UN agency for Palestinian refugees. UN


Related First.One.Through articles:

Help Refugees: Shut the UNRWA, Fund the UNHCR

Delivery of the Fictional Palestinian Keys

The Growth of UNRWA’s “Other” Wards

What’s Wrong with UNRWA

Shut UNRWA in Gaza Immediately

UNRWA’s Ongoing War against Israel and Jews

UNRWA’s Munchausen Disease

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There is No Jewish Temple Mount for The New York Times

The New York Times has earned and re-earned its anti-Israel bona fides over many years. It seems to want to burnish its anti-Jewish credentials as well.

In a November 11, 2019 article called “Jordan Reclaims Lands in 1994 Accord,” the Times wrote about a parcel of land which Israeli farmers had been working in the Jordan Valley which was recently reclaimed by Jordan. The Times framed the article that the land was legally Jordanian, and that the Jordanians had allowed the Israelis to work there for decades but how now reclaimed it as a matter of course in line with the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan struck in 1994.

The article continued to work a similar pattern, of Israelis living in lands which were rightfully Jordanian:

“Israeli-Jordanian tensions have flared periodically because of disputes with the Israelis over the handling of security at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, a hotly contested holy site over which Jordan has official custodianship.”

The article continued that Jordan had no choice to cancel the Jordan Valley land lease over “Israel’s repeated violations and actions… which were extremely provocative,” including placing metal detectors “at the mosque compound.

Note that the Times chose to only call the site by the Islamic name, the “Al Aqsa Mosque compound” and not also refer to it by the Jewish name, the “Temple Mount.” It is the holiest site in the world for Jews, and were forbidden to enter when Jordan illegally controlled the site from 1949 to 1967.

When Israel reunited Jerusalem in 1967, it allowed the Jordanian Waqf to have administrative control of the site, while Israel controlled all security matters. The Times neglected to tell readers that part of the equation, opting to make it appear that Jordan has “official custodianship” on all matters.

Additionally, the placing of metal detectors at the Temple Mount entrances were done in reaction to Arab terrorists killing Israelis at the site in 2017, another fact omitted by the Times.

Further, in an article which highlighted the 1994 Peace Accord, the paper could have mentioned that the treaty said in Article 9.2 that “Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.” Israel gave space for Jordan as it related to MUSLIM holy sites only, but not Jewish ones.

But the narrative of the Times distorted the entire picture.

The Times painted a picture that Jordan is the rightful owner and administrator of the Jordan Valley and the Al Aqsa Compound. It described these as purely Arab and Muslim sites in which they accommodated the Israeli Jews. These are #AlternativeFacts.

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in the world only for Jews, and Israel has maintained full security control over the site for over fifty years. It is Israel that has accommodated the Jordanians, not the other way around, as Israel has given full access to Judaism’s holiest site to Muslims as they revere the location as well. But the Arabs have harassed and killed Israelis on the site, necessitating more aggressive security measures by the Israelis who are responsible for such matters.

The New York Times has no patience to educate its audience about the history of Jews nor the rights of Israelis, as it morphs its newspaper into Al Jazeera’s opinion section describing the Jewish state as illegal invaders of Arab lands.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Oh Abdullah, Jordan is Not So Special

The Waqf and the Temple Mount

When You Understand Israel’s May 1948 Borders, You Understand There is No “Occupation”

Ending Apartheid in Jerusalem

Al Jazeera’s Lies Call for Jihad Against the Jewish State

It is Time to Insert “Jewish” into the Names of the Holy Sites

Visitor Rights on the Temple Mount

Jordan’s Deceit and Hunger for Control of Jerusalem

The UN’s Disinterest in Jewish Rights at Jewish Holy Places

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

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J Street is Only Considered “Pro-Israel” in Progressive Circles

J Street held its annual conference in late October 2019 where it had several Democratic presidential candidates address the left-wing crowd. The loudest applause was, not surprisingly, heard for the most progressive candidates: Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Sen. Bernie Sanders addressing J Street Conference October 28, 2019
It is interesting that J Street bills itself as “pro-Israel” when the crowd at its annual event gave a standing ovation to the most anti-Israel presidential candidate since the founding of the Jewish State. Sanders has accused Israel of war crimes, being racist and wants to divert funds meant for Israel’s security to the Arab people in Gaza who have launched three wars against Israel since 2008. Sanders may be the only Jew among the leaders of the Democratic presidential pack, but he is without question the most critical of the Jewish State.

And it is not a coincidence that Sanders if the most left-wing of the presidential contenders. It is only through the narrow prism of a progressive worldview that J Street and Sanders can be viewed as “pro-Israel.”

For most people, being pro-“fill-in-the-blank” means actively supporting that entity. It may be with words of support and encouragement to that entity. Perhaps its with active lobbying for trade and aid on that entity’s behalf. Speaking about it positively and with enthusiasm to others.

However, for J Street, being “pro-Israel” simply means believing that Israel has a right to exist and should have secure borders. I believe that Costa Rica should exist and have secure borders, but I don’t think that makes me “pro-Costa Rica.” Maybe if I associated with people who hated Costa Rica, I would be considered pro-Costa Rica for an otherwise benign point of view, but not among most of the world.

Which is precisely the J Street dynamic.

Inside the echo chambers of the progressive halls, suggesting that Israel has a right to exist is considered extraordinary and extreme. Vocalizing that it is and should remain the Jewish homeland is considered vulgar. That it has a right to defend itself against terrorism is deemed shocking.

That’s the sad reality among J Street’s peers. Groups like the New Israel Fund actively support organizations which try to dismantle any Jewishness of the Jewish State and fund global tours for people to demonize the Israel Defense Forces. IfNotNow fights to undermine Jewish presence in Jerusalem. Code Pink supports a boycott of Israeli products. Jewish Voice for Peace has supported terrorists who have killed Israelis. And the Reform and Reconstructionist rabbis on the boards of these institutions question whether Israel should exist at all.

The progressive stances on Israel can be seen in the “Women’s March” whose leaders are against “humanizing” Israelis and in BackLivesMatter which has a platform which calls Israel an “apartheid state” and advocates for B.D.S. (boycott, divest and sanctions of Israel). These are appalling statements and opinions.

With such a peer group of progressives, it should not shock people that in that narrow “coastal liberal latte-sipping politically-correct out-of-touch folks” as Barack Obama once said, J Street actually believes that saying the Israel should exist as a secure Jewish State is considered “pro-Israel.” Outside of the far-left extreme, that’s an opinion which is considered neutral – “pareve” as they would say in the Jewish community.

Actually being “pro-Israel” for groups like AIPAC means ensuring bi-partisan support for Israel, keeping trade and military cooperation intact, advocating for U.S. support for Israeli positions at the United Nations. J Street is against all of those ideas.

One could perhaps argue that it is useful for J Street to engage with their co-progressives and get them to upgrade their views on Israel. It is clear that the “Squad” of socialists in congress are not going to listen to AIPAC or the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC).

But it is horribly incorrect and out-of-bounds for the general public and media to quote J Street as the mainstream pro-Israel forum when it is nothing of the sort. It is merely the fringe “meh-Israel” segment of a radical leftist anti-Zionist ideology which is regrettably beginning to permeate the Democratic party.


Related First.One.Through articles:

J Street is a Partisan Left-Wing Group, NOT an Alternative to AIPAC

Bernie Sanders is the Worst U.S. Presidential Candidate for Israel Ever

The Left-Wing’s Two State Solution: 1.5 States for Arabs, 0.5 for Jews

The Evil Architects at J Street Take a Bow

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

J Street’s Select Appreciation of Transparency

Will the 2020 Democratic Platform Trash Israel?

Anti-Israel Lobbyists Dwarf Pro-Israel Lobbyists

BDS is a Movement by Radical Islamists and Far-Left Progressives to Block Your Freedoms

A Basic Lesson of How to be Supportive

Fake Definitions: Pluralism and Progressive / Liberalism

Unity – not Unanimity – in the Pro-Israel Tent

Enduring Peace versus Peace Now

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Dick Pics

The Three Camps of Ethnic Cleansing in the BDS Movement

The Anger from the Zionist Center

Rick Jacobs’ Particular Reform Judaism

The Democratic Party is Tacking to the Far Left-Wing Anti-Semitic Fringe

Black Lives Matter Joins the anti-Israel “Progressives” Fighting Zionism

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

Anti-“Settlements” is Anti-Semitism

Please Don’t Vote for a Democratic Socialist

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The Loss of Reality from the Distant Lights

On the fourth day of creation God set the Sun and Moon in the sky. Placed millions of miles from the Earth, the Sun did more than allow life to exist on the planet; it allowed time to be measured in seconds and seasons.

The distance between Earth and Sun changes throughout the year bringing warmer and colder weather, and the rotation of the Earth produces evolving shadows from the sunlight which enables people to tell time. As the seasons and time of day change, our views of the world around us also change. One minute the item before us may be almost black. The next it could be purple, followed by blue and red then brown. Our senses take in the natural world, and its constant evolution.

The mountains of Las Vegas at 6:16, 6:20, 6:23, 6:29 and 6:45am
(photos: First.One.Through)

The moon and stars also enable mankind to chart its path during the night. The various natural sources of light enable people know where they stand in time and place.

Man’s Ever-Encroaching Light and Lit Content

Man was able to harness and control some of nature’s light in developing and using torches and lanterns over thousands of years. However, it was in 1878 with the creation of the first light bulb that mankind began to change the essence of how we see the natural world.

It its first decades of existence, light bulbs illuminated its immediate surroundings. The light bulb first lit up a circumference of several feet and then, as the power grew, it illuminated even larger areas. But in 1927, the very nature of man’s light changed, as it also became the focus of attention with the creation of the television. No longer was man’s light used only to appreciate the natural world; it was used as a replacement to the natural world. Man’s light became embedded with its own truth.

For decades, that source of light and content remained roughly eight to ten feet from our eyes. That abridged space still afforded our eyes the ability to incorporate some other items in our peripheral vision. But the distance would continue to shrink over time, as would our incorporation of the natural world.

The first computers came to corporations in the 1960’s and individuals began to acquire them in the 1980’s and 1990’s, bringing the lit screens just two to four feet from our eyes. The distance would shrink again in the 21st century, as smartphones with luminous screens were welcomed into the hands of the masses, shrinking the space between our eyes and the screens to just one to two feet. Now, with the advent of virtual reality goggles, all space has disappeared.

AT&T’s vision for new virtual reality games based on its DC characters

The distance which had afforded us the space to see God’s creations has been eliminated. The natural world is shut out in favor of man-made reality.

Man’s Reality: The Destruction of Time and of Man

For centuries, mankind did not only use the sunlight to tell the time of day, it understood the nature of how the world changed based on the sunlight.

In the 1890’s French artist Claude Monet painted a series of paintings of the Rouen Cathedral at different times of day. While the subject of the church’s facade remained constant, Monet changed the color scheme based on the lighting of the sun. In doing so, each work of art was inherently time-stamped. A viewer understood whether the painting of the church was from the morning, during the day or at sunset, based on the palette of colors.

In the 1960’s, pop artist Roy Lichtenstein recreated the Monet series in his own style.

Roy Lichtenstein’s Rouen Cathedral series at The Broad
(photo: First.One.Through)

The various colors used by Monet designed to show the cathedral under different lighting conditions in moments of time was replaced by Lichtenstein into uniform sets of color. Lichtenstein’s yellow Rouen no longer conveyed daytime, his red was not sunset and his navy could not be considered night. The pop artist eliminated the element of time, as color was just meant as color, available in any and all shades.

Lichtenstein’s style also replaced Monet’s varied and emotional brushstrokes with machine-like circles. While he painted the artworks by hand, Lichtenstein gave his artwork a poster-like, mass produced cold feeling.

In just 70 years, man migrated from personal, emotional expressions of how sunlight influenced the world around us, to art which minimized both time and man’s own unique creativity.

The “Triumph” of Man’s/ Computer’s Virtual Reality

Until roughly 2008, the use of the internet ran roughly along working hours as people logged into their computers at work. However, with the ubiquity of connected cellphones and tablets, data consumption during the morning and evening hours – all of the way until 11:00pm – has now matched, and in some cases surpassed, data usage at work. People are consuming video content during all of their waking hours, and doing it at closer and closer distances to their eyes.

Technology is eliminating the physical space which enables us to absorb God’s natural world, as we allow ourselves to be ensnared by man’s manufactured reality. While the circling sun let us know that time moved on, the digital lights blind us of those same lost moments.

The sad loss of reality afforded by God’s distant lights will be rapped in the future by an avatar during a cinematic sequence in a virtual reality game. And alas, the masses will never understand the reference, as they parry the poetry to pursue additional precious points.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Hidden Side of the Moon

The Relationship of Man and Beast

The Descendants of Noah

The Journeys of Abraham and Ownership of the Holy Land

The Jewish Holy Land

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The Descendants of Noah

After God destroyed most of the world in the flood, He promised that He would never use water to destroy all living things again. After that covenant, the three sons of Noah – Shem, Cham and Japheth – embarked on settling the world anew:

שְׁלֹשָׁ֥ה אֵ֖לֶּה בְּנֵי־נֹ֑חַ וּמֵאֵ֖לֶּה נָֽפְצָ֥ה כָל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole world branched out. (Genesis 9:19)

Genesis 10 relayed the descendants of the three sons and early bibles sought to educate people where each of those children settled by including maps inside the bound volumes. The most famous of these was one completed by a Benedectine Monk named Arias Montanus in the 16th century.

Benedict Arias Montanus Sacrae Geographiae Tabulam ex Antiquissimorum Cultor (1571)

Benito Arias Montanus (1527-1598) was born in Spain and entered the priesthood around 1559 where he gained a reputation as an important biblical scholar. In 1568, he was commissioned by King Phillip II to supervise a new polygot (multi-language) bible which would become part of the king’s scholarly volumes on the bible. This work was to replace the first “Royal Bible” completed by the Escorial Library in 1514.

Written in Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Syriac, and printed in Antwerp between 1569 and 1573, the polygot bible caused a stir. Montanus was reported to the Spanish Inquisition for purportedly giving preference to the Jewish rabbinic reading of the scriptures. His trial lasted several years and the Inquisition was finally convinced by the biblical scholar Juan de Mariane that Montanus’s interpretation of the text did not contradict Catholic dogma, acquitting him in 1580.

Montanus’s world map above shows the descendants of Shem, Cham and Japheth in Hebrew and Latin. Japeth’s sons are listed in the center of the map in Roman numerals; Shem’s sons are listed on the right side and indexed with numbers, while Cham’s sons are indexed with letters.

Japhet’s sons are portrayed as covering Europe. Sepharad is located in modern Spain, Sarphat is placed in France and Yavan in Greece – just like the modern Hebrew names for those countries. The lone exception is Madai who is placed in modern Iran. Biblical scholars consider Madai to be connected to the ancient Persian people of Medes.

Cham’s sons are placed throughout the Middle East and Africa, stretching from modern Iran to Morocco and Kenya. Mizrayim and Pelishtim are both located in northern Egypt, while Canaan is found in modern Jordan.

The children of Shem, from whom Abraham and the Jewish people are descended, were placed on the map from eastern Europe, Iraq and Kuwait eastward over China and Russia with a land bridge to the Americas. In a fascinating placement, Montanus placed Ophir both in modern-day California and Peru. It is a curious placement because Ophir was the city from which King Solomon imported gold to the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 10:11). While it was known at this time that the Aztecs in Mexico had considerable gold, gold was not discovered in California for another 275 years.


The descendants of Noah scattered over the planet as described in Genesis 11:31, “according to their families, their languages, their lands and their nations.” They are part of the opening of the bible, before the text narrows its focus to the foundation of the Jewish people relocating from modern Iraq to modern Israel in the story of the Jewish patriarch, Abraham. Much like the nations of the world, the Jews would establish their nation in their land with their own language as descendants of their families’ ancestors of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Relationship of Man and Beast

The Journeys of Abraham and Ownership of the Holy Land

Abraham’s Hospitality: Lessons for Jews and Arabs

The Jewish Holy Land

Ruth, The Completed Jew

Kohelet, An Ode to Abel

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Kohelet, An Ode to Abel

The book of Kohelet, Ecclesisates, always struck me as a peculiar portion to read on the holiday of Sukkot. The Sukkot holiday is described in Jewish prayers as “Zman Simchateynu,”‘ meaning the “time of our happiness.” Yet the book of Kohelet does not inspire such emotions.

From its opening sentences, the author appears intent on giving us full warning about the dark philosophical lesson to be shared over twelve chapters:

דִּבְרֵי֙ קֹהֶ֣לֶת בֶּן־דָּוִ֔ד מֶ֖לֶךְ בִּירוּשָׁלִָֽם׃

The words of Koheleth son of David, king in Jerusalem.

הֲבֵ֤ל הֲבָלִים֙ אָמַ֣ר קֹהֶ֔לֶת הֲבֵ֥ל הֲבָלִ֖ים הַכֹּ֥ל הָֽבֶל׃

Utter futility!—said Koheleth— Utter futility! All is futile!

King Solomon, the wisest man in the world who built the holy Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, declared that “everything is futile and without meaning.” Quite a jarring and alarming sentiment. If someone of his intellect, who ruled the united kingdom of Israel at its peak can state that everything is pointless, what should an average person believe? How is such a sentiment to be read and internalized on the happy holiday?

In chapter after chapter, Solomon laid out that every human effort and emotion is for naught. Labor (1:3), beauty (1:8), wisdom (1:13-16), laughter (2:1-2), building projects (2:4-6), amassing wealth (2:7-11) are fleeting and without substance or longevity:

“10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

A man with all the wisdom, power and wealth a person could ever imagine had reached the conclusion that his efforts amounted to nothing. His existence was but a whiff of air.

So a reader is left empty. Sitting in synagogue seats on a Sabbath morning during Sukkot, a person squirms and pivots from Zman Simchateynu, a time of happiness, to depression. Is the true message of the season less about surviving the Day of Judgement at Yom Kippur the week before, to internalizing the temporary nature of life, like the huts Jews live in today during the holiday to commemorate the tents which Jews lived in during their forty years wandering from Egypt to Israel, and the pillar of cloud which God placed to protect them (Exodus 13:20-22)? Hooray, we live! But so what?

Such thoughts are depressing and stand at odds with the sentiment of the holiday. One must imagine that the rabbis who advocated reading Kohelet on Sukkot may have had another message for people to extract from Solomon’s words.

Solomon’s Intent

It is possible that the wise king was simply being modest in Kohelet or did not want to be the focus of the world’s envy regarding his status and accomplishments. It is also conceivable that Solomon was so wise that he was able to see into the future and saw that the kingdom which he ruled would soon be torn apart and that the Temple which he built would one day be destroyed.

“הֲבֵ֧ל הֲבָלִ֛ים אָמַ֥ר הַקּוֹהֶ֖לֶת הַכֹּ֥ל הָֽבֶל׃

Utter futility—said Koheleth— All is futile!” (12:8)

But there is another point worth considering.

The Jewish calendar is arranged so that Kohelet is always read publicly a few days before the Torah is finished and restarted on Simchat Torah. The Torah concludes with the end of Jewish wandering and entering the promised land of their forefathers, paired with the opening stories of the bible relaying the creation of the world and mankind.

Finishing the bible and restarting it has been a cycle which Jews have continued for thousands of years, rereading the first thousands of years of Jewish history over and again.

That history had ups and downs with heroes and villains. In restarting the Torah, Jews have a moment to connect to the stories of their favorite characters. Perhaps it was Noah who saved mankind from the destruction of the flood, or Abraham, the original monotheist, or Joseph who saved the world from starvation or Moses who took the Jewish people out of bondage.

The bible is replete with people who helped form the Jewish people into the nation which would enter their holy land by the end of the Torah. Each had a hand in crafting the character of the people.

That excitement about retelling the stories of the biblical forefathers who charted the history of the Jews is seemingly directly counter to Solomon’s Kohelet message. Solomon wrote that everything is meaningless, but we read the bible and conclude otherwise: people make a big difference.

King Solomon’s message may be more nuanced than our plain reading of Kohelet.

Consider that King Solomon had a different hero than most of us who are pulled by the classic narratives of champions and leaders. His hero was seemingly a more simple person whose only mark was worshiping God wholeheartedly. That person’s name covers the entire book of Kohelet: Abel.

Much is lost in the translation from Hebrew, as “הֶ֙בֶל֙” in Genesis is not transliterated as Hevel but translated as “Abel”, and in Ecclesiates it is translated as “futile” or “meaningless.” However, in Hebrew, the words are identical.

We know little of  הֶ֙בֶל֙/Abel other than he was a shepherd and offered the best of his flock to God for an offering (Genesis 4:4). God accepted the offering and Abel was killed by his brother shortly thereafter. Unlike King Solomon, הֶ֙בֶל֙/Abel had no wife or children, no riches or possessions. We never even learn about any of Abel’s emotions like his family members who were embarrassed (Adam and Eve) or angry (Cain). הֶ֙בֶל֙/Abel simply watched sheep and made an offering to God.

And that was the totality of his life.

For Solomon, הֶ֙בֶל֙/Abel’s name will forever live in its purest form, while his murderer will forever be marked as a villain who could not escape his secret crime.

ט֥וֹב שֵׁ֖ם מִשֶּׁ֣מֶן ט֑וֹב וְי֣וֹם הַמָּ֔וֶת מִיּ֖וֹם הִוָּלְדֽוֹ׃

A good name is better than fragrant oil, and the day of death than the day of birth.” (Kohelet 7:1)

Solomon ended Kohelet with a clear message:

וְיֹתֵ֥ר מֵהֵ֖מָּה בְּנִ֣י הִזָּהֵ֑ר עֲשׂ֨וֹת סְפָרִ֤ים הַרְבֵּה֙ אֵ֣ין קֵ֔ץ וְלַ֥הַג הַרְבֵּ֖ה יְגִעַ֥ת בָּשָֽׂר׃

A further word: Against them, my son, be warned! The making of many books is without limit And much study is a wearying of the flesh.

ס֥וֹף דָּבָ֖ר הַכֹּ֣ל נִשְׁמָ֑ע אֶת־הָאֱלֹהִ֤ים יְרָא֙ וְאֶת־מִצְוֺתָ֣יו שְׁמ֔וֹר כִּי־זֶ֖ה כָּל־הָאָדָֽם׃

The sum of the matter, when all is said and done: Revere God and observe His commandments! For this applies to all mankind:

כִּ֤י אֶת־כָּל־מַֽעֲשֶׂ֔ה הָאֱלֹהִ֛ים יָבִ֥א בְמִשְׁפָּ֖ט עַ֣ל כָּל־נֶעְלָ֑ם אִם־ט֖וֹב וְאִם־רָֽע׃

[סוף דבר הכל נשמע את־האלהים ירא ואת־מצותיו שמור כי־זה כל־האדם]

that God will call every creature to account for everything unknown, be it good or bad. The sum of the matter, when all is said and done: Revere God and observe His commandments! For this applies to all mankind.” (12:12-14)

Solomon wrote many books during his lifetime and his father, King David, wrote many psalms. But for Solomon, those don’t really matter. At this time of year, the Jewish people are once again about to read together about their foundation story: the central canon of Judaism, the Five Books of Moses. It is the nation’s time to connect to its ancestors.

Kohelet is not read on Sukkot as a way of adding to the happiness of the holiday; it is the preamble to the Torah to consider the way our ancestors lived and how to model our lives. For the rabbis concerned that people will be drawn to the biblical kings and warriors, leaders and builders, the call to read the text through a prism of connecting to God was captured best in Solomon’s Kohelet.

Solomon’s wisdom is summed up with a simple solitary suggestion: to revere God. Every other action or emotion is inconsequential.

A good name lives forever in a story which is read forever. For King Solomon, the purest person who focused solely on God and nothing else was הֶ֙בֶל֙.


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Turkey’s Hajj of Hypocrisy

The leader of Turkey, Recep Erdogan, was given the floor at the United Nations in September 2019. The brutal ruler who denies the Ottoman genocide of the Armenian people which killed over one million people, even while he accuses Israel of genocide for defending itself against Palestinian Arab terrorist resulting in the deaths of over 1,000 Arabs, used the global platform to once again christen the halls of hate with a harangue of hypocrisy and hubris.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Erdogan took turns slamming various countries in the region. He dressed down competing Islamic countries of Egypt and Saudi Arabia for their violations of human rights and democracy but did not blink in a moment of self-reflection at his own government’s incitement of terror in Israel and jailing of journalists in Turkey. He lambasted Saudi Arabia’s participation in the war in Yemen at its borders, and then showed the world how he planned on invading Syria to clear out thousands of Kurds to make room for millions of Muslims who had fled Syria to Turkey. A torrent of hypocrisy so full and rich, it left a mustache on his brow.

At 22:13 of his remarks, he pivoted to Israel, a longtime favorite target, on par with the Kurdish people, both of whom he feels deserve no rights or lands. He pulled out a map of the region in an effort to portray Israel as gobbling up Arab land. “Where was Israel in 1947?” he asked the audience.

Where was Palestine from 1517 to 1917 one might wonder? It was part of the Ottoman Empire, his country’s empire. It stretched out from Constantinople (what the Turk’s call Istanbul today) to cover much of the region and was pared back after World War I, allowing countries like Greece, Lebanon, Syria – and yes, Israel – to emerge. Erdogan’s predecessors made no attempt to promote an independent locally-governed Arab country. No matter. His country’s failings and atrocities cannot be acknowledged.

Seemingly bored with his own hypocrisy, Erdogan pivoted his talk towards a mix of Jew-hatred and Fake History. He pointed to a map and claimed that “Palestine” (represented in green) in 1947 was everywhere where Arabs were a majority or where there were no people living at all. Places where Jews consisted of a majority were shown in specs of white, and said “there is seemingly no Israeli presence on these lands.” This is an echo of the anti-Semitic screed that only Arabs have ever been Palestinian, while in fact Jews, Christians and others also referred to themselves as Palestinian. The Palestinian Liberation Organization charter of 1964 created the new definition that only Arabs were Palestinian and connected to the land. Erdogan extended that foolishness by saying that any neighborhood which was majority Jewish was “Israeli.” Does he similarly think that current Jewish neighborhoods in Istanbul are “Israeli?” Heaven help those poor remaining Jews in Erdogan’s racist Turkey.

Erdogan continued:

“The year 1947 the Distribution [Partition] Plan takes place, gets ratified, Palestinian lands start shrinking and Israel starts expanding. And from 1947 to 1967 Israel is still expanding; Palestine is still shrinking.”

Left out from Erdogan’s remarks was that the entire Muslim world rejected the Partition Plan. Ignored facts include that five Arab armies invaded Israel in 1948 to destroy it completely, but the Arabs lost and Israel took over more land in its defensive war. Omitted from his history lesson was that the remaining “Arab” lands were taken over by Egypt (Gaza) and Jordan which annexed the West Bank. Palestine was not just “shrinking,” it ceased to exist in any form.

If Erdogan really feels that international law is paramount and that Jews are the same as Israel, then why not acknowledge the international law of the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations, which called for “reconstituting their national home” of Jews in Palestine in the 1922 Mandate of Palestine. That law was for the ENTIRETY of the land he highlighted in his map – all of the green and all of the white areas – for Jewish settlement. And for Erdogan Jews equals Israel, ergo all of the land is Israel.

Erdogan was far from done. At 24:45 he went after Judaism’s holiest city, its capital in Jerusalem:

“The current Israeli government and the administration right next to these murders and atrocities is busy with intervening and attacking the historical legal status of Jerusalem and holy sacred lands and artifacts. As Turkey we have a very clear stance on this issue. The immediate establishment of an independent Palestinian State with homogenous territories on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital is the only solution. Any other peace plan other than this will never have a chance of being fair, just and it will never be implemented.”

Israel has been the only country to permit access and rights to people of all religions in Jerusalem. When Muslim Arabs ruled the city from 1949 to 1967, Jews were banned from entering or living in the city. The Ottoman Empire forbade Jews from even climbing all of the steps of Judaism’s second holiest location, the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs in Hebron.

But beyond Erdogan’s fake history and selective memory is his long-standing love affair with hypocrisy.

Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and took over the northern half of the island-country. In the war, Turkey seized half of the capital city of Nicosia, in a move condemned by the United Nations and the world. To this day, Turkey continues to claim its rights to the seized lands including half of the capital, in a long-simmering dispute. Yet the world’s admonition of Turkey’s actions does not seem to bother Erdogan, even as he claims lands which were seized in an offensive war which were never deemed part of Turkey. Quite a bit of hypocrisy, relative to Erdogan’s stance on Israel’s reclaiming Judaism’s holiest city in a defensive war.

September at the United Nations is the hajj of hypocrisy, where Islamic tyrants and dictators lecture the world about rights and laws which they trample upon with abandon. Recep Erdogan has long been the hajj’s mascot.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The United Nations Absolves Turkey’s Erdogan

Both Israel and Jerusalem are Beyond Recognition for Muslim Nations

The Churlish Turkish Leadership

New York Times Talking Turkey

Pakistan’s Muslim Leader Cannot Address Fellow Muslim Leaders

Goodbye Mahmoud Abbas

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Pakistan’s Muslim Leader Cannot Address Fellow Muslim Leaders

The leader of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan, took to the floor of the United Nations for almost an hour in September 2019. He covered four principle areas, including “Islamophobia” and the conflict in Kashmir. He shared his thoughts and observations and asked the western world and the United Nations to take particular actions; actions he did not consider for fellow Muslim leaders.

Pakistani President Imran Khan at United Nations, September 2019
(photo: AFP)
Consider his remarks about Islamophobia which he claimed came into being after the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. At 23:27 of the speech he said:

In the western society, and quite rightly, the Holocaust is treated with sensitivity, because it gives the Jewish community pain. That’s all we ask. Do not use freedom of speech to cause us pain by insulting our holy prophet.”

Nazi Germany’s butchering of one-third of the world’s Jews is “rightly… treated with sensitivity” in the western world. But it is not treated with any sensitivity in the Muslim world.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been hosting Holocaust cartoon contests since 2005, shortly after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s inauguration as president. The contests have continued after he left office, including a contest in 2016 which awarded $50,000 towards the top three winners.

Palestinian Arabs elected Mahmoud Abbas to the presidency of the Palestinian Authority in 2005. Abbas wrote his doctoral thesis on Holocaust denial. For its part, Abbas’s rival political party Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization, has a charter lifted from the anti-Semitic forgery the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In Hamas’s enclave in Gaza, it refuses to allow the United Nations to teach about the Holocaust in UNRWA schools.

And while Pakistan’s leader was asking the western world to use the same care in talking about the Islamic prophet as it does in talking about the Holocaust, the Prime Minister of Malaysia was spitting Holocaust denial uptown at Columbia University.

Khan did not care about reciprocal respect, common courtesies or similar sensitivities. He knew that Muslim leaders would never insult the Islamic prophet, and narrowly addressed his remarks to the non-Muslim world, even when he fully understood that the Muslim world offered no comparable concern for Jews.

The hajj of hypocrisy at the United Nations would continue.

The main focus of Khan’s remarks were about the disputed territory of Kashmir. At 47:47 he said:

What is the world community going to do? Is it to appease the market of 1.2 billion [people in India] or is it going to stand up for justice and humanity? If this goes wrong – you hope for the best but be prepared for the worst – if a conventional war starts between the two countries, anything could happen. But supposing, a country seven times smaller than its neighbor is faced with a choice: either you surrender or you fight for your freedom until death, what would we do? I ask myself this question. And my belief is that there is no God but one. And we will fight. And when a nuclear armed country fights to the end, it will have consequences far beyond the borders. It will have consequences for the world… This is a test for the United Nations. You are the ones who guaranteed the people of Kashmir the rights of self-determination.”

The words were unmistakable: the Pakistani leader urged the United Nations to take action to protect the people of Kashmir, or the outnumbered people of Pakistan would resort to using nuclear weapons against India, and maybe elsewhere.

But how did Pakistan and the United Nations react in early 1967, when the leaders of the Arab Muslim world threatened to wipe Israel off of the map? The population in Egypt was 32.5 million, in Syria 5.7 million, and in Jordan 1.4 million, a combined total that was 14 times the Israeli population of 2.75 million, or twice the disparity between India and Pakistan today.

During the Six Day War, Pakistan sent members of its air force to fight alongside its Muslim brothers, despite its overwhelming numerical superiority. To clear a pathway for the genocide of the Jews, the United Nations pulled its UNEF observer force from the Sinai peninsula and Gaza in May 1967 at the urging and direction of Egypt. Both the UN and Pakistan participated in the stated goal of destroying the nascent Jewish State, not two decade post the Holocaust.

The leader of Pakistan was no doubt sincere about his long-winded requests and warnings before the United Nations. His hypocrisy was equally as true.


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Goodbye Mahmoud Abbas

September in New York means the United Nations General Assembly is in session and the maniacs of the world show their colors.

Acting-President of the Palestinian Authority, a man who has refused to hold elections and is a decade past his expiry date, took the to floor of the UN for his annual address. He effectively called for a religious war for the Old City of Jerusalem and said that he would never stop paying money to the families of terrorists, while peppering his remarks about non-violence and legitimate rights.

Proudly announcing the funding of terrorism and inciting terrorism at the floor of the United Nations is the answer to Abbas’s own question about why the PA cannot be allowed to become a country in its current orientation.

It is also an answer as to why he should never be allowed onto the floor of the United Nations again.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Palestinian State I Oppose

The United Nations Applauds Abbas’ Narrative

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

Mahmoud Abbas’s Particular Anti-Zionist Holocaust Denial

Abbas’s Harmful East Jerusalem Fantasy

Abbas’ European Audience for His Rantings

Abbas Knows Racism

Palestineism is Toxic Racism

The United States Should NOT be a Neutral Mediator in the Arab-Israel Conflict

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