Is Hungary Evil or Saintly?

There are a few countries that seemingly have dual personalities. To read about the country in one forum gives a particular viewpoint, while in other sources, the picture is starkly different.

Consider how the New York Times writes about Hungary. Here is a selection of its headlines over the recent past:

The Times paints the country in a very unflattering light. It states that the country is run by a tyrant, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and is the worst illiberal democracy in the European Union.


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban

But a very different picture of Hungary was touted by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. On September 28, 2018, Haley spoke about the plight of religious persecution around the world in places like Burma and South Sudan. While she highlighted the problems in the Middle East, she contrasted the incredible work that Hungary was doing to protect Christians.

“Today, we shine a spotlight on persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East. Hungary has provided an example for all of us in the work it has done to support persecuted minorities, including Christians and Yazidis.

Hungary is on the ground, doing the hard work of caring for a too often overlooked population. Hungary is helping rebuild homes, hospitals, schools, and churches in Iraq, Lebanon, and other parts of the Middle East. And they’re taking the long view in helping protect and preserve religious pluralism in the Middle East. Its scholarship program for Christians from conflict-affected countries is giving persecuted minorities a high-quality education that they can take back home and use it to rebuild their communities. We all should be grateful for Hungary’s leadership on this issue. This is good and honorable work – not just because so many people are denied their right to worship, but because defending that right makes for a safer and more peaceful world for all of us.”

Can a country be both saintly and illiberal? Can it fight against illegal immigrants at home while attempting to rebuild the shattered lives of the immigrants’ homeland?

Is this simply two sides of the same coin, when viewed through the lens of Christian Identity?

Orban saidLet us confidently declare that Christian democracy is not liberal. Liberal democracy is liberal, while Christian democracy is, by definition, not liberal: it is, if you like, illiberal.” Orban advanced the notion that there are different types of democracy in the world, and religious democracies have a different framework than those based on the separation of church and state. He doesn’t dispute the charge that his democracy is illiberal; he states that it is a completely different type of democracy.

Perhaps like Turkey’s Recep Erdogan who fights for Muslims, Orban views his form of religious democracy in a particular framework, which is why Orban gave Erdogan such a warm welcome to his country on October 8. Both Orban and Erdogan appreciate the unique nature of their respective countries (Christian for Hungary and Islamic for Turkey) and want to keep it that way. It’s very much about democracy within a framework of particularism and not about liberal universalism.

Hungary can attempt to achieve this as it is predominantly a Christian country. It is roughly 71% Christian, 27% undeclared, with a few percentage of other. Turkey has an easier time, with 99% of the population being Muslim. Either way, there are few minorities to feel actively betrayed.

However, the younger generation in each country is less religious and more secular than the older generation. The younger people seek less religion in their lives and certainly do not want any religion imposed by their government. But both Orban and Erdogan are betting that even the younger generation will still be proud of their religious identity.

Being proud may mean asserting an illiberal nationalistic identity at home, or it may mean fighting for people with whom they share an identity abroad. Asserting a Christian identity alarms the E.U. and liberals in the U.S.A. when it comes to Hungary, but is given a wide pass when asserted by Turkey regarding Islam. In regards to fighting for Christians or Muslims being persecuted abroad, all people – including the US Ambassador to the United Nations – can easily show support.

What do you think – Is Hungary evil or saintly, and how does it compare to Turkey?


Related First.One.Through articles:

UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants September 2016

The United Nations Absolves Turkey’s Erdogan

Pope Francis in Turkey

New York Times Talking Turkey

The Happy and Smug Bigots of Denmark

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

The Churlish Turkish Leadership

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The Free Speech Nickel

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

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

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

When

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Related First.One.Through articles:

We Should Not Pay for Your First Amendment Rights

Denying Entry and Citizenship

Uncomfortable vs. Dangerous Free Speech

New York Times Confusion on Free Speech

Selective Speech

When Power Talks the Truth

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Dick Pics

Blasphemy OR Terrorism

Stopping the Purveyors of Hateful Propaganda

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Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

NY Times, NY Times, What Do You See? It Sees Rich White Males

I loved the Eric Carle / Bill Martin Jr book, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” I loved it both as a child and as a parent reading it to children. The text was clear and the pictures were beautiful. It taught us how to see and identify basic things like colors and animals in a straightforward and enjoyable manner.

But the world is seemingly not so simple in a world pounding out millennial “my truths.” Simple pictures of animals are now Rorschach tests subject to varied interpretation. Colors are now blinded through a reverse prism of everything exiting as a blinding white – as in white male privilege.

Consider an important study performed at Stanford University of 260 million standardized test scores taken by third to eighth graders in the United States. The graphic pointed to remarkable and scary outcomes regarding the performance differences between boys and girls in school.

Hundreds of red circles marked the top of the chart showing girl test scores ranging anywhere from half to more than a full test grade level over boys in every part of the country, whether in the poorest or richest segments. The graphic clearly illustrated how girls scored dramatically higher on English tests all around the United States.

Further down on the page, clustered near the parity line between boys and girls, were the blue dots representing the math scores. Here the graph was more balanced, with girls out-performing boys by just a little in some markets, with boys outperforming girls by just a bit in more markets. The blue cloud appeared to have a slope indicating that boys in richer neighborhoods performed slightly better than those in poorer neighborhoods. In no sample did the maximum out-performance of boys in math even reach the smallest out-performance by girls in English. In English, girls outperformed boys by about 3/4 of a full grade, and in math the boys outperformed girls by roughly 1/3rd of a grade.

The graph was alarming in how poorly boys performed relative to girls in English. It begged the question of how to redo the entire English curriculum to address the failure of schools to educate boys. Are more male teachers needed? Are the choice of texts not appropriate for boys? Should there be a change in the classroom setting? In the creative writing syllabus?

But these questions that immediately sprang to anyone’s mind from the picture were missing in the New York Times coverage of study on June 17, 2018.

In an article titled “Math’s Variable: Boys Outperform Girls in Rich, White Suburbs,” the Times inverted the story into a different narrative. The Times wrote “In school districts that are mostly rich, white and suburban, boys are much more likely to outperform girls in math, according to a new study from Stanford researchers, one of the most comprehensive looks at the gender gap in test scores at the school district level.” For 24 paragraphs, the Times would explore the advantages of rich White and Asian households that “invest in more stereotypical activities,” like “daughters in ballet and their sons in engineering.” Because rich people are sooo stereotypical and non-progressive.

Only in the 21st paragraph of the article did the Times devote attention to the obvious and important conclusion of girls DRAMATICALLY outperforming boys in English. It wrote: “Girls continue to outperform boys in reading in school districts across the United States, regardless of income, and in most other rich countries. Parents have been found to talk more to girls from the time they are infants. Teachers say girls concentrate more on reading. Perhaps boys’ reading skills mature later. There could also be a role model effect: Women say they read more than men, while boys are steered more towards sports and video games.

This article is a travesty of #AlternativeFacts and it undermines helping children that are truly falling behind. Our progressive society that looks to spend as much public money as possible to produce equal outcomes for poor-and-rich; White-and-Blacks and Latinos; boys-and-girls, focuses only on the narrow out-performance of rich white boys. The article noted how a wealthy white township where “the students are about 60% white and 30% Asian-American,” had “Boys and girls both perform well, but boys score almost half a grade level ahead of girls in math…. Boys are much more likely to sign up for math clubs and competitions, he said, to the point that the district started a girls-only math competition this year.” But there was NO mention of what is being done to help millions of boys perform better in English. Just “perhaps boys’ reading skills mature later.” Sorry. Nothing we can do to help boys in English. Move on.

Consider that the Times published this article at the same time as discussing the ultra-liberal New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s plans to upend the city’s strongest math and science high schools to reduce the number of Whites and Asians and increase the number of Blacks and Latinos. Are there any efforts to get more boys or Whites into the best arts high schools, like Fiorella LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts which is 74% female and 56% minority? Nope.

Our schools are grossly failing our boys in English and there is zero effort on their behalf, either by progressive politicians or left-wing newspapers. Boys are just younger versions of the ‘patriarchy’ that are future enemies for the racial and gender justice warriors. Stay on message: it’s all about rich white male privilege.

Perhaps that observation is part of the grade gap between boys and girls in English and language arts: boys and girls see the world differently, just as conservatives and liberals do. While math and science have strict rules about what is correct, the language arts are more fluid and subject to interpretation. And if women and liberals continue to dominate the teaching profession and direct the narrative of interpretation, the nation’s boys will likely continue to suffer.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

Fake Definitions: Pluralism and Progressive / Liberalism

The Right Stuff, Then and Now

Magnifying the Margins, and the Rise of the Independents

NY Times Discolors Hate Crimes

Leading Gay Activists Hate Religious Children

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The Recognition Catch Up

The United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 6, 2017 in a move that President Donald Trump said was a “long-overdue step.” Many countries disagreed, and viewed the announcement as premature, claiming that such recognition should be done in conjunction with a broader peace process and mirror whatever the Israelis and Palestinian Authority themselves agree to.

If anything, Trump’s move was very late considering the recognition that had been afforded to the Palestinian Arabs over the previous decade.

Recognition of Palestine

In 1988, the Palestinian Liberation Organization declared its independence. Israel and the western world ignored the declaration of the noted terrorist organization, while fellow Arab and Muslim countries quickly recognized the State of Palestine.

Within a few years of the PLO declaration, the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs signed the Oslo Accords (in 1993 and 1995) which put in motion a peace process, including the creation of a Palestinian Authority (PA). As part of those agreements, both parties agreed that the PA would have limited powers regarding international relations (Article IX), including having no ability to obtain official recognition from other governmental bodies.

In accordance with the DOP, the Council will not have powers and
responsibilities in the sphere of foreign relations, which sphere includes the
establishment abroad of embassies, consulates or other types of foreign missions and posts or permitting their establishment in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, the
appointment of or admission of diplomatic and consular staff, and the exercise of
diplomatic functions.”

When the leader of the PA, Yasser Arafat (fungus be upon him) failed to deliver on peace and launched a second intifada in September 2000, the peace process ground to a halt. Any movement by world organizations and governments to provide additional recognition on key issues for the Israelis and PA was put on hold.

Yet the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas pushed forward with seeking global recognition, even as he lost control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Abbas began with Costa Rica (2008) and Venezuela (2009) before making significant headway with the major countries in South America.

In 2010, Abbas got Brazil and Argentina to recognize Palestine, despite commitments in the Oslo Accords that the PA would not take such steps. The Israeli foreign ministry released a statement that  “Recognition of a Palestinian state is a violation of the interim agreement signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1995, which established that the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be discussed and solved through negotiations….  All attempts to bypass negotiations and to unilaterally determine issues in dispute will only harm the trust of the sides and their commitment to agreed upon frameworks for negotiations.

No matter.

In 2011, other South American countries recognized Palestine including Chile and Uruguay. UNESCO followed suit and admitted the “State of Palestine.” Shortly thereafter, Iceland became the first country in western Europe to recognize Palestine, with borders based on the 1949 Armistice Lines. By the following year, the United Nations began calling the entity the “State of Palestine” in all official documents.

Remarkably, at the end of the third Hamas war on Israel in 2014, Sweden became the second western European country to recognize Palestine.

Recognition of Jerusalem

While Abbas’s PA actively sought recognition of a state since 2008, Israel was fighting three wars from Gaza and a “stabbing intifada.” Israel was not busy lobbying the world to recognize Jerusalem as its capital, but focused on getting the world to stop the Islamic Republic of Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons while it declared its intention of destroying Israel.

While the Palestinian Authority was playing offense, Israel was playing defense.

At this point in time, with over 20 countries and United Nations entities recognizing Palestine over the past decade despite the explicit statements in the Oslo Accords, isn’t it well past time for countries of the world to recognize the capital of Israel?

Alternatively, if countries are truly concerned with the peace process, they can strip their recognition of Palestine, and leave the Israelis and PA to negotiate their peace, including matters related to borders, settlements and Jerusalem, and ultimately embrace the conclusion of the parties. Impartiality demands one or the other.


Jerusalem from the air, facing north


Related First.One.Through articles:

Both Israel and Jerusalem are Beyond Recognition to Muslim Nations

Recognition of Acquiring Disputed Land in a Defensive War

The US Recognizes Israel’s Reality

The UN’s #Alternative Facts about the 1967 Six Day War

Welcoming the Unpopular Non-President (Abbas) of a Non-Country (Palestine)

What do you Recognize in the Palestinians?

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Uncomfortable vs. Dangerous Free Speech

The month of September brings the most perfect weather to much of the world. Not too hot during the day and not too cold in the evening, people can be comfortable without the need for artificial air conditioning or heat.

Those are the Goldilocks days, which are, unfortunately, just a few weeks long.

However, as the autumn moves on to October and the nights get colder, people turn on their heating systems that had been dormant for months. Several states have laws that demand that beginning October 1, landlords must begin to provide heat. Yet there is no equivalent requirement for landlords to provide air conditioning in the hot summer months.

The rationale for forcing landlords to provide heat is about safety. People could become extremely sick or freeze to death if the temperature drops too low. Such a situation would likely force the individuals to turn on their stoves and ovens or light candles for heat, all of which could produce a massive fire killing many people and destroying property. The dangerous situation would stem from primary (the freezing cold itself) and secondary (the actions that people would take in reaction to the cold temperature) events.

The dynamic in the summer months is not so dire. People could dress lightly and use fans to cool off. The probability of someone dying from heat would only happen in extreme circumstances. As such, governments do not force landlords to supply air conditioning to their tenants.

The government intervention in matters of heat and air-conditioning revolves around safety, not comfort. Just as it does for free speech.

Free Speech

The First Amendment to the US Constitution gives people the right to free speech. Some people have argued that such right is absolute and that the government cannot provide any exceptions which ban people’s expressions. However, the government has placed laws which curtail some forms of speech.

Consider Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s 1919 opinon in Schenck v. United States, which limited free speech in certain situations. Holmes wrote that “The most stringent protection of free speech, would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic…. The question in every case, is whether the words are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.”

The courts clarified this opinion in 1969’s Brandenburg v. Ohio when it wrote”the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.

The courts ruling on free speech are similar to the rules on providing heat: the line between what is allowed and disallowed surrounds safety. It has nothing to do with the comments themselves nor around discomfort.

While this may appear basic, it has been upended and questioned in recent times.

Politicians and media sources recently argued that only right-wing racist calls to violence should be illegal. However the courts make clear that ALL calls for violence are illegal, including from far left extremists.

Free speech has NOTHING to do with political views and everything to do with safety.

There is a lot of speech that is hateful and offensive. Consider Pamela Geller’s Draw Mohammed Contest in 2015 which offended Muslims, or students at University of California Berkeley that wore shirts “White Man Bow Down” in 2017 which deliberately targeted and offended white men. The Draw Mohammed contest did ultimately result in violence while the racist behavior of the black Cal Berkeley students did not. But both initial expressions were considered lawful as there was no incitement to violence in the present.

The vast majority of speech is benign and enjoyable, like the Goldilocks days of September. Yet as more people take to the streets and social media to express themselves in more confrontational ways, we should be mindful of whether the temperature of the language is simply hot and uncomfortable, or dangerously cold that must be stopped. University students can escape to “safe spaces,” much like running to an air-conditioned mall on a hot summer day. But we must be mindful that the lines of safety not be crossed from either side of the political spectrum.

The right to free speech extends to the right and the left. It does not cover calls for violence from either the right or the left.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Active and Reactive Provocations: Charlie Hebdo and the Temple Mount

The UN is Watering the Seeds of Anti-Jewish Hate Speech for Future Massacres

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

Selective Speech

We Should Not Pay for Your First Amendment Rights

The Monumental Gap between Nikki Haley and Donald Trump

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Dick Pics

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Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

Totalities

The United States got a chance to view a solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Most of the country only saw a partial eclipse, with a narrow band of the country from South Carolina to Oregon witnessed the solar eclipse in its totality.

The Solar Eclipse 

The “totality” was a remarkable site to behold. The sun was completely eclipsed by the moon passing before it, rendering the sun as a dark orb, and bringing darkness to that section of the country during daylight hours. The phenomena was short – just three minutes – but its impact on those in its path was amazing.

Total Solar Eclipse
(photo by Ari Mendelow, August 21, 2017)

One would imagine that witnessing such a dramatic event would be easy to see and capture, but it wasn’t. Due to the overall brightness of the sun, one needed to look at the sun through special glasses to capture the sight.


The eclipse through special glasses
(photo: Ari Mendelow)

For those not in the path of totality and without the special glasses, the hours from the very beginning of the eclipse through the end passed without incident. There was no perceptible difference in sunlight during the hot summer day.

Visible Anti-Semitism

August 2017 also brought to light the scourge of anti-Semitism in the United States.

A protest march in Charlottesville, VA about the removal of Confederate war heroes revealed ugly shouts against Jews by White supremacists. Their hatred was laid bare and much of the nation was in shock at the vile display of hate.

However, many advocacy and educational groups – including First.One.Through – have been writing about the rampant anti-Semitism for years. They have repeatedly shown the bias of the media to downplay anti-Semitism, whether in the United States or in Europe; the sad slanders in governmental bodies such as the United Nations and the Obama Administration.

But despite the many articles and videos about prevalent Jew-hatred, people have been dismissive. Much like the millions of people in the United States that did not wear special eclipse glasses, they could not see the hatred that was happening all around them.

Anti-Semitism – like solar eclipses – have always been present. Sometimes the blatant anti-Semitism – a “totality” – is so overwhelming that the ground becomes darkened as it was in Charlottesville, VA. The hatred was actually visible, and people were astonished.

But such moments come and go. The solar eclipse moves on, to appear in another part of the world, in part and in totality. We will read about the events far from our shores. We will be unmoved.

People trying to highlight the incessant anti-Semitism in the world may benefit from a moment of pause, even in the shadow of the great solar eclipse of 2017. One cannot convince people to view the world through the special glasses which highlight the anti-Semitism. It may be there, but only those people that go through the effort of donning the glasses or happen to be in the path of totality will recognize it.

It may be that the best form of education is general in nature. Educating people to not look at the sun or it will damage their eyes benefits from being both simple and selfish. Perhaps the best message for combating anti-Semitism is similar – to avoiding hating anyone. The blanket messages covers sunny and cloudy days, those with eclipses and those without, hating Jews, Muslims, gays or anyone else.

Totalities are moments in time to acknowledge prevailing realities – not just the unusual moment itself. The moon always circles the earth and anti-Semitism is all around us. Let’s acknowledge the moment and absorb important lessons for a healthy life and society.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Your Father’s Anti-Semitism

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Dick Pics

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Liberal’s Protest Bubble Harms Democracy

I still remember the inauguration of Ronald Reagan in January 1981. It was not Reagan himself that made the day memorable, but the thrill of seeing the incompetent Jimmy Carter leave the White House.

I had spent my mornings during my 1979-80, 1980-81 high school years driving to school past a gas station which posted the number of days that the American hostages were held in captivity in Iran. Each day the sign would update the count, and my anger would rise along with the revised total. But on January 20, the day of Reagan’s inauguration, the hostages were finally released, just as the embarrassment of a president vacated Washington, DC.

On that day, my liberal high school classmates chose to wear black armbands, in protest of the election of a Republican. They had convinced themselves that there was nothing so terrible as capitalism and free markets, and they opted to show the world their disgust at Reagan’s ascent. While the country celebrated the release of hostages and dawn of a brighter future, these liberal teenagers saw a dark day.

I would see the silent liberal protests again. In January 2001, liberals would claim that George W Bush wasn’t really their president. I saw bumper stickers all over town that had a “W’ with a slash through it. I read about how Bill Clinton’s staffers removed all of the “W”s from the computer keyboards in the White House. Real mature.

This year’s election of Donald Trump has brought yet a new wave of liberal protests. Some schools cancelled exams after the election. Family celebrations which had once included a wide range of divergent political views began with declarations “No political discussions!” before anyone had a chance to say hello.  Now we are hearing that many elected Democratic officials are going to boycott the inauguration. Some liberal rabbis have even said that they will mark the day by fasting – I kid you not.

notmypresident

I don’t know what kind of president Donald Trump will be at this moment in time, any more than predicting Reagan 36 years ago. I do know that I am glad to say goodbye to eight terrible years of foreign policy, and am not surprised at the immature liberal cries of anguish I have seen for decades.

The silent protests don’t upset me. Free speech is an American right, and everyone is allowed to express themselves.

Granted I do not know any non-liberals that carried on in such a fashion over the past eight years. I never met someone that placed a “Nobama” sign on their front lawn or fasted at Obama’s election. I couldn’t catch any black armbands when Bill Clinton asumed office or any Republican officials boycotting the ceremony. No matter.

The problem with the liberal actions are not the protests themselves. It is the withdrawal from reality and debate.

For the last eight years people debated issues ranging from transgender bathrooms to the use of drones to kill Americans to Obamacare. People accepted the presidential election results and engaged in a discussion about policies.

Yet now, liberals claim “he’s not my president” and shout at friends “no talking politics!” when they dislike the results of their democracy. After eight years of a constant comfortable exchange while the president echoed and enshrined their worldview, will people discuss important matters with people with whom they disagree, or just rely on the liberal mainstream media to attack Trump?

President Obama saw the problem in his own party. In his farewell address, he asked people to get out of their bubbles and engage in a healthy debate with people with different opinions:

“For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.

This trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.”

I strongly disagreed with Obama on many of his policies, and I made my case to people of all political persuasions. But in this instance, I agree with him. Healthy debate is critical for a healthy democracy. I wish Obama would have followed his own advice during his presidency, and not walked out on people, such as boycotting speeches (as Democrats did to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), or supporting Democrats when they fled the Wisconsin state house, or the Indiana state house. Or as Democratic officials now plan to do in boycotting the inauguration of President Trump.

I don’t care about your armbands, your fasts or your walkouts. If you have a coherent argument, make it. Engage in the debate and understand your fellow Americans without name-calling. Our democracy will be better off if you left your liberal bubble.


Related First.One.Through articles:

“Coastal Liberal Latte-sipping Politically-correct Out-of-touch Folks.”

Magnifying the Margins, and the Rise of the Independents

A Deplorable Definition

American Hate: The Right Targets Foreigners, The Left Targets Americans

Older White Men are the Most Politically Balanced Demographic By Far

Libertarian Validation and Absolution

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The Selfishness, Morality and Effectiveness of Defending Others

There is a well known quote from a Protestant minister named Martin Niemoller (1892-1984) who argued for the defense of others:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

The argument is by all accounts a practical one, not a moral one. The quote suggests that people should stand up against prejudice because hatred is a slippery slope. The selfish reasoning has different aspects: fight for others before the evil comes for you; and fight for others, and hopefully they will fight for you as well due to the same logic.

Do world leaders actually use such self-motivating arguments in practice?  Are the arguments effective in curbing hate and attacks driven by hatred?

Rallying for the Victims

Consider the situation of Jews in France over the past few years.

The Anti Defamation League did a study of anti-Semitism in 2014 which it updated in 2015.  The study found that while most countries in the world witnessed very small changes in the level of hatred against Jews, France saw a dramatic drop.

  • Christians: In 2014, 40% of French Christians held anti-Semitic views. That number dropped to 17% in 2015.
  • Business: In 2014, 51% of France believed that Jews had too much control of the financial markets. One year later, only 33% held such views – mostly Muslims (63%)
  • Global Affairs: In 2014, 46% of France believed that Jews had too much control over world affairs, a number that dropped to 22% in 2015 (again, predominantly French Muslims, 54% compared to Christians at 21%)
  • Pompous: In 2014, 33% of France thought that Jews thought themselves superior to others, dropping almost in half to 17% in 2015 (Muslims were more than twice as likely as Christians to hold this view)
  • Media: In 2014, 44% of France thought that Jews had too much control of the media, which dropped to only 21% in 2015 (Muslims were almost 3 times more likely to hold that view).
  • World Wars: In 2014, 18% of the French considered the Jews behind major world wars. In 2015, that number was one-third, 6% (with Muslims FOUR times as likely as Christians to hold such view).

What happened between the two polls in France to cause such a dramatic shift in the perception of Jews? ADL commented that various terrorist attacks and violence against Jews over 2014 brought a sense of solidarity for the Jews in France, as well as in Germany and Belgium where other attacks occurred:

“The poll found a marked increase in concern about violence against Jews in all three countries.  The results indicate that heightened awareness of violence against Jews fosters a sense of solidarity with the Jewish community and that strong condemnation by political and civic leaders makes expressing anti-Semitism less acceptable.”

Such statement from the ADL would seem to confirm that speaking up in defense of a persecuted group improves their situation, and indeed that may have been a contributor to the dramatic improvement of the French perception of Jews.

Rallying for the Perpetrator

In June 2015, the Pew Research Center did a survey of the French in their attitudes towards Muslims in the aftermath of deadly attacks committed by Islamic terrorists.  In a surprising finding, the French viewed the group that perpetrated the violence MORE favorably than before, going from a 72% favorability rating to 76%.  The improvement in opinions went across all political ideologies, including the far right which saw a movement of 60% to 63%, including a strong favorability rating doubling from 8% to 16%.

This dynamic happened in the United States after the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks as well. Overall, Americans’ positive impressions of Muslims jumped from 45% to 59%, with the far right jumping the most, from 35% favorable feelings to 64%.

Pew reached a similar conclusion as the ADL, and attributed the increased positive feelings towards Muslims stemming from the call for unity among leaders such as President George W Bush who said: “These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.  And it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that.

The famous Niemoller quote considered people’s selfish motivations to defend others, while world leaders appealed to people to turn away from hatred in pursuit of unity. Whether in France or the USA, those calls seemed effective in changing attitudes, but did they lower the number of attacks?

Effectiveness

In the United States, the number of attacks inspired by radical Islam has accelerated since the middle of 2015, with roughly 30 incidents over the past year (compared to 62 in the prior 14 years). Have the number of attacks increased because of the calls by President-elect Donald Trump to perform “extreme vetting” of Muslims interested in coming to the United States from countries at war with the US? Possibly. It is certainly an extreme jump in jihadist attacks.

However France has also seen a dramatic increase in the number of Islamic attacks, which began to spike in December 2014.  There have been roughly 20 attacks over the past two years, which roughly equals the prior 25-years’ of attacks. Various pundits speculate a number of causes including the French colonialist past and the marginalization of Muslim immigrants in French society. But those excuses must be dismissed, as those dynamics have been at play for dozens of years.

Others point out to the rise in the number of Muslim immigrants from the war-torn Middle East.  These immigrants arrived into France, Belgium and other countries, bringing their anger with them. The stories they tell of the destruction of their homes fuels the anger of the resident Muslims that were already in the country.  Rather than be grateful for their safety, they attack the liberal society which replaced their Muslim world. While the attacks by Muslims has led to the growth of far-right nationalist parties that argue to stem the flow of Muslim refugees, the far-right has overall been more positive towards the Islamic community.

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It would appear that calls for calm and unity by government leaders is effective in reducing hatred, but does little to curtail terrorism.  To reduce terrorism, the most effective course may be to end the wars in the Middle East, including Iraq, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Peace at home is achieved with peace abroad.


Related First.One.Through articles:

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The Trump Pinata Preserving the False Obama Messiah

Summary: Democrats have been pounding on Trump and his loss in the popular vote to defend the legacy of their anointed liberal messiah. Stating that Clinton Hillary lost just because of “racists and misogynists” as the New York Times declares, is to ignore the facts of the failed Obama policies.

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Democrats burning an effigy of Donald Trump on Easter

Barack Obama was hailed as the deliverer when he was elected president in 2008. Indeed, in the election of 2008, the Democrats swept all branches of government, including adding 8 seats in the Senate, 21 seats in the House of Representatives, plus a governorship. When Obama was sworn into office in January 2009, Democrats held 57% of the Senate, 59% of the House and 58% of the state governors. Quite a victory and mandate.

The Democrats chose to use their mandate to advance a liberal agenda.  Their primary focus was healthcare which had been increasing in costs at rates that far surpassed inflation. Rather than implement solutions that would cut to the core of the cost structure like major tort reform, they advanced a program for Americans to subsidize the millions of uninsured, creating a new, complicated entitlement program.

The American people balked at the Democrats’ actions.

In the 2010 election, the Democrats were trounced, losing 6 seats in the Senate, 63 seats in the House and 6 governorships. Did the population that had just elected Obama two years earlier suddenly become racist and xenophobic?

In the 2012 election, Obama won the presidency again, and brought along some Democratic victories in the Senate (+2) and House (+8), while it lost another state governor to the Republicans. But the net losses for the Democrats over Obama’s first term were still huge: -2 Senate seats; -56 House seats; and -10 governors, from 29 down to 19. All of these losses were realized before the rise of Donald Trump.

The 2014 election witnessed another thrashing of the Democrats. The Democrats lost 9 Senate seats, 13 House seats, and another 3 governorships.  And Donald Trump had still not declared that he was running for office.

By the time Barack Obama steps down from office in January 2009, he will have stood watch as his party was eviscerated over his eight years. The Democrats would have lost the majority of the Senate (from 57% to 48%), the majority in the House (from 59% to 45%) and state governors (from 58% to 30%).  The vast majority of all of the losses happened during Obama’s first term, post passing of Obamacare.

How has the Democratic party reacted? What did the liberal press claim was the reason for Democrats losing the White House?

Racism. Xenophobia. Misogyny. Anti-Semitism.

The Democrats could not reevaluate the party’s stances and actions. It could not fathom that the American people did not care for the failures in US foreign policy, doubling down on entitlements rather than entitlement reform, or a sloppy economy. The Democrats chose to look through a lens of hatred as it considered an America that turned on its messiah and his second coming, in Hillary.

What are the facts?

Men preferred Obama in 2008 by a small margin, but turned against him by a spread of 7 points in 2012. By 2016, men preferred Republican Donald Trump by an incremental 5 points (a total 12% spread). The liberals ignored the facts and trends. They declared that men are misogynists because they didn’t vote for Hillary. The reality that men turned away from Democratic policies – by an even wider margin – four years earlier is seemingly irrelevant to people who view things from a singular biased vantage point.

Hillary preached to her liberal base as she proudly called Republicans enemies.  She did not bat an eyelash as she labeled half of America “deplorables.” Only white racists and misogynists could possibly turn from Obama and Hillary in this world view. To fathom that America would reject this woman, or reverse course in undermining the legacy of the first black president, was too much for the liberal psyche.

So the liberals continue to paint their political opponents as the “alt-Right,” as they double-down on a more “progressive” approach against a stupid and racist populace. They have chosen to nominate a far left black Muslim to head the Democratic Party.

The Democratic approach seems to be: if you challenge us because of poor policies, we can accuse you of racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, or any slur that seems appropriate.

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Rep. Keith Ellison was a listed speaker at a pro-BDS, anti-Israel conference

And who is better to represent that liberal view of a biased America, than the new President-elect, who has made comments that offend Muslims, women and illegal immigrants?

Democrats will pound on the Trump piñata and burn the American flag as they try to protect the legacy of their liberal messiah. The divisive America will not abate until people focus on core issues, instead of name-calling.


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The Many Lies of Jimmy Carter

It is not particularly surprising that Jimmy Carter, former US president and author of “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid,” chose to commemorate the UN’s official Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (November 29), to launch another attack on Israel. Carter did this through lies and half-truths in a New York Times Op-Ed (printed below).

Here are some lying lowlights:

Lie: Israel cannot take control of any of the “West Bank” which it seized during a war. Carter wrote that Israel and Egypt concluded a peace deal because it was based on UN resolution 242 which included the clause “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.” The peace agreement with Egypt has nothing to do with the Palestinian Arabs.

  • The “West Bank” was taken during a DEFENSIVE war. While it is a matter of debate whether Israel’s 1967 preemptive attack on Egypt which was ready to attack Israel was offensive or defensive, there is no debate that the Jordanians (and Palestinian Arabs who had taken Jordanian citizenship) attacked Israel first. The laws about the inadmissibility of taking land have to do with a “belligerent party,” not the defensive party.
  • The international community recognizes Israel’s taking land in a defensive war. After the Arab armies attacked Israel in 1948-9, Israel seized much more land than was granted to it under UN Resolution 181, known as the 1947 Partition Plan. The dynamic of taking more of the “West Bank” in yet another defensive war follows the same principle.
  • The Sinai peninsula was never part of the Palestine Mandate.  Israel returned land to Egypt that it took in the 1967 war, land that was never part of the Palestine Mandate which sought to reestablish a Jewish homeland. However, the “West Bank” is part-and-parcel of the Palestine Mandate, just as the land west of the 1949 Green Line was part of the Jewish homeland.

Lie: The Palestinians seek “a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every state in the area can live in security.” Carter continued to recite language from UN resolution 242, but failed to connect Palestinians to the clause.

  • The Palestinian Arabs have voted for war, not peace. The Palestinian Arabs voted Hamas, a recognized terrorist group that seeks the destruction of Israel, to 58% of the parliament in 2006. Palestinian polls show Palestinian Arabs favoring the group in every poll. This is a group that has the most anti-Semitic charter in the world, which specifically calls for killing Jews and destroying all of Israel. The Hamas leadership continues to incite violence against Israelis.

Lie: Carter implied that “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict,” meant withdrawal from the West Bank. It does not.

  • A withdrawal from “territories” but not “all of the territories.”  The language in the UN resolution was approved with specific amendments in the final text. It specifically did not call for Israel to remove troops from all of the new lands, as the 1949 Armistice Agreements with Egypt and with Jordan specifically stated that the Armistice Lines / the Green Line was NOT to be considered a new border.

Lie: Carter stated that Jewish homes in the West Bank were “constructed illegally by Israel on Palestinian territory.” Carter has adopted the anti-Israel United Nations language in describing “settlements” as illegal. He might as well also state that “Zionism is racism,” as stated in UN Resolution 3379 which was passed in 1975 under his watch.

  • Jews living throughout the West Bank is LEGAL. International law in 1920 (San Remo Agreement) and 1922 (Mandate of Palestine) specifically stated that Jewish immigration was to be encouraged throughout Palestine and that “No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief” (Mandate Article 15). You cannot bar Jews from living in the West Bank as a matter of moral and legal principle.

Lie: Carter wrote that Obama declared that the border between Israel and Palestine “should be based on the 1967 lines.”   This is a half-truth that is a complete lie.

  • Obama stated that borders should be negotiated between the two parties and include land swaps to account for current realities. Carter deliberately misled his liberal fans and Israel-bashers by only using half of Obama’s suggested course to peace. Obama stated that the borders would NOT look like the 1967 borders, but Carter piecemealed Obama’s quote into a distortion, a lie.  It should be further noted that Obama’s language was much softer than the assurances that President George W. Bush gave Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004 that “it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.”

Lie: Carter implied that the Israelis’ “commitment to peace is in danger of abrogation,” and said nothing about Palestinian Arabs lack of desire for peace.

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated repeatedly he seeks to commence negotiations immediately to resolve the conflict. It is Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas that refuses to engage with Israel. It is Mahmoud Abbas that incites terror against Israelis and seeks to deny Jewish rights and history in Jerusalem. Only Israeli leadership has declared the goal of two states for two peoples, while Abbas has called for an Arab state of Palestine devoid of Jews, and Israel, which should be a bi-national state.

Lie: Carter calls all of the West Bank “Palestinian Land,” which are “occupied.”

  • The West Bank includes “Palestinian Authority territory” which is administered by the PA, and Israeli territory, administered by Israel – according to the Oslo Accords, agreed to by both parties. The Oslo I and Oslo II Accords signed in 1993 and 1995 by the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority handed over certain lands to the PA. Those areas, known as Area A, are where the vast majority of Arabs in the West Bank live. They are not under Israeli military control. Area C, which is under Israeli military control, is where the vast majority of Israelis live in the West Bank, and include a minimal number of Arabs.

Lie: Carter claims that the world condemns Israel since Arabs east of the Green Line cannot vote, while Israeli Jews living in EGL can. That is wild distortion of reality.

  • Arabs in Jerusalem can become citizens and vote in Israeli elections. Israel reunited the city of Jerusalem in 1967, and expanded the borders of the city in 1980. Israel gave ALL people living in the city the option to become Israeli citizens, just as the other million-plus non-Jews in Israel enjoy Israeli citizenship. Thousands of Arabs from Jerusalem have become citizens of Israel.
  • People in territories around the world don’t vote. Puerto Ricans, Guam and other US territories, are not eligible to vote in US elections. Does the world condemn the US for this structure? No. Citizens are entitled to vote – regardless of where they live. An American living in Germany for 20 years still gets to vote in US elections, while a Puerto Rican will not. Similar for Israeli citizens that opt to live in EGL/ the West Bank.

Lie: Carter calls the Palestinian Authority a “moderate Palestinian leadership.”

After laying out a package of outright lies and half-truths, Carter calls on President Obama to act quickly and: 1) recognize a Palestinian State; and 2) passing a UN Security Council Resolution that all Israeli “settlements” are illegal.  He added “Recognition of Palestine and a new Security Council resolution are not radical new measures, but a natural outgrowth of America’s support for a two-state solution.

It is beyond “radical.” It is wrong and dangerous.

To this day, Carter remains the only US president to call Israelis living in EGL/West Bank “illegal.” Obama, Bush and others used terms like “illegitimate” (Obama) or “unhelpful” (Bush) or even an “obstacle to peace,” but no other president claimed that settlements in disputed territory are “illegal.” Such a declaration is radical, and the left-wing extremist was the only president to use such terminology.

Further, recognizing a Palestinian State completely ends the Oslo Accords and a negotiated solution. It doesn’t “restart” talks, but puts both parties on the course for unilateral actions, such as annexation of additional lands. It will most likely lead to war.

Carter (like the anti-Israel UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon) has urged Hamas and Fatah to reconcile. They seek to insert a genocidal Nazi party into the Palestinian government as a pathway to peace. These are the same people that recommend these two radical actions.

While Carter and Ban are correct in recognizing that it is unsustainable to have a Palestinian state with distinct governments controlling different parts of the country, that just underscores why there cannot be recognition of a Palestinian state today. It doesn’t mean rewarding a dysfunctional and anti-Semitic government with recognition.

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Jimmy Carter New York Times Op-Ed November 29, 2016

Seeing Jimmy Carter write again is a reminder of the far left fringe’s inability to see or grasp the truth of the Middle East.  Carter’s adoration of Hamas, underlines his insanity. He imagines and hopes for a world that doesn’t exist, and makes suggestions that are dangerous for civil society.


Here is Carter’s Op-Ed of lies in full. The boldface is meant as reference for the notes above.

ATLANTA — We do not yet know the policy of the next administration toward Israel and Palestine, but we do know the policy of this administration. It has been President Obama’s aim to support a negotiated end to the conflict based on two states, living side by side in peace.

That prospect is now in grave doubt. I am convinced that the United States can still shape the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before a change in presidents, but time is very short. The simple but vital step this administration must take before its term expires on Jan. 20 is to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership.

Back in 1978, during my administration, Israel’s prime minister, Menachem Begin, and Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat, signed the Camp David Accords. That agreement was based on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which was passed in the aftermath of the 1967 war. The key words of that resolution were “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every state in the area can live in security,” and the “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”

The agreement was ratified overwhelmingly by the Parliaments of Egypt and Israel. And those two foundational concepts have been the basis for the policy of the United States government and the international community ever since.

This was why, in 2009, at the beginning of his first administration, Mr. Obama reaffirmed the crucial elements of the Camp David agreement and Resolution 242 by calling for a complete freeze on the building of settlements, constructed illegally by Israel on Palestinian territory. Later, in 2011, the president made clear that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines,” and added, “negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.”

Today, however, 38 years after Camp David, the commitment to peace is in danger of abrogation. Israel is building more and more settlements, displacing Palestinians and entrenching its occupation of Palestinian lands. Over 4.5 million Palestinians live in these occupied territories, but are not citizens of Israel. Most live largely under Israeli military rule, and do not vote in Israel’s national elections.

Meanwhile, about 600,000 Israeli settlers in Palestine enjoy the benefits of Israeli citizenship and laws. This process is hastening a one-state reality that could destroy Israeli democracy and will result in intensifying international condemnation of Israel.

The Carter Center has continued to support a two-state solution by hosting discussions this month with Israeli and Palestinian representatives, searching for an avenue toward peace. Based on the positive feedback from those talks, I am certain that United States recognition of a Palestinian state would make it easier for other countries that have not recognized Palestine to do so, and would clear the way for a Security Council resolution on the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Security Council should pass a resolution laying out the parameters for resolving the conflict. It should reaffirm the illegality of all Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 borders, while leaving open the possibility that the parties could negotiate modifications. Security guarantees for both Israel and Palestine are imperative, and the resolution must acknowledge the right of both the states of Israel and Palestine to live in peace and security. Further measures should include the demilitarization of the Palestinian state, and a possible peacekeeping force under the auspices of the United Nations.

A strong Security Council resolution would underscore that the Geneva Conventions and other human rights protections apply to all parties at all times. It would also support any agreement reached by the parties regarding Palestinian refugees.

The combined weight of United States recognition, United Nations membership and a Security Council resolution solidly grounded in international law would lay the foundation for future diplomacy. These steps would bolster moderate Palestinian leadership, while sending a clear assurance to the Israeli public of the worldwide recognition of Israel and its security.

This is the best — now, perhaps, the only — means of countering the one-state reality that Israel is imposing on itself and the Palestinian people. Recognition of Palestine and a new Security Council resolution are not radical new measures, but a natural outgrowth of America’s support for a two-state solution.

The primary foreign policy goal of my life has been to help bring peace to Israel and its neighbors. That September in 1978, I was proud to say to a joint session of Congress, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” As Mr. Begin and Mr. Sadat sat in the balcony above us, the members of Congress stood and applauded the two heroic peacemakers.

I fear for the spirit of Camp David. We must not squander this chance.


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