UNRWA’s Munchausen Disease

Munchausen syndrome is a mental illness in which a person considers himself to be sick even when they are actually fine. The person will act injured or sick and perhaps even harm themselves to elicit a sympathetic response from people around them.

WebMD notes that “People with Munchausen syndrome deliberately produce or exaggerate symptoms in several ways. They may lie about or fake symptoms, hurt themselves to bring on symptoms, or alter tests…. Although a person with Munchausen syndrome actively seeks treatment for the various disorders he or she invents, the person often is unwilling to admit to and seek treatment for the syndrome itself. This makes treating people with Munchausen syndrome very challenging, and the outlook for recovery poor.”

What a great description of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and the Palestinians themselves.

Perpetuating the Status of the Refugees
Perpetuating a Temporary Agency

UNRWA was created in 1950 to be a temporary UN agency to assist refugees that left the newly reestablished Jewish state of Israel. The situation arose when the Arab countries that invaded Israel refused to make peace with Israel, and Israel never allowed the roughly 711,000 hostile refugees to return to their homes. As the Arabs continued to wage war against Israel over the years, UNRWA opted to redefine a “refugee” in several unique ways:

  • For Palestinians, a refugee is someone that left a house or town, while for every other refugee in the world, it means leaving a country;
  • For Palestinians, a refugee is anyone that had a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent that left their home many decades ago, while the definition for every other refugee is specifically only for those people who actually fled a country (not descendants)

A fake symptom (refugee status) has enabled a temporary agency to become permanent.

 

Tons of Money Wasted to Ask for More Money

UNRWA has been spending billions of dollars on the stateless Arabs from Palestine (SAPs) for decades. Even though the schools and libraries have already been built, and the people are living in the same place with the same language as they have for decades, billions more is requested annually. The infrastructure has been paid for and the needs should be few. No matter.

UNRWA’s 2017 budget was $760 million serving 5.9 million registered people. That’s $129 per person on average. How many actual SAPs are there still alive from the 1948-9 war? Estimates are less than 30,000 people. That would mean that UNRWA is spending over $25,000 on average for actual refugees.

A fake definition of refugee produces a greater demand for money.

The ever-growing number of “refugees” and registered people asking for UNRWA assistance yields to an ever increasing number of staff. In 2017, there were 30,799 staff members on the ground in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza, and roughly 33,000 working at the agency globally. An estimated 98% of the 33,000 staff members – over 32,000 people – are SAPs themselves. There are more Palestinians working at UNRWA than there are actual Palestinian refugees.

UNRWA’s appeal for global contributions is simply a way to funnel money to thousands of Palestinian Arabs in fake jobs.

The Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Pierre Krahenbuhl, made an appeal to the world on January 17, 2018 stressing the need for more money for schools and hospitals. He barely mentioned the loans – tens of millions of dollars that UNRWA gives to Arabs for their businesses every year – now amounting to half a billion dollars overall.

The cries for money to help student and hospitals masks the reality of tens of millions of dollars going simply to make business loans.

As a benchmark to see how much money is needed for actual refugees with real housing, language and monetary needs, one can look at the UNHCR, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In 2016, the UNHCR counted 16.5 million actual refugees, plus millions of others that were internally displaced and stateless to whom it provided services, 67.8 million people in all. It spent just shy of $4 billion on these people, or $59 per person. In June 2017, the total broad refugee count serviced by UNHCR was 65.6 million, treated by just under 11,000 staff members. That’s a staff to refugee ratio of one staff member to every 5963 refugees, spread all around the world.

UNHCR, a global agency that helps millions of desperate people get their lives together spends $59 per registered person and has one staff person for every 6000 people, while the bogus UNRWA spends $129 on fake refugees who already have complete infrastructure and provides a staff person for every 179 people. That means that UNRWA is over-staffing by roughly 33 times.

The obscene UNRWA waste of money produces the pleas for more aid.


UNRWA in Jerusalem

Undermining Dignity While Claiming the Status
of Defender of Dignity

In his remarks asking the world for money, Krahenbuhl mentioned Palestinian “dignity” four times, making the point that UNRWA is the agency that will protect the dignity of the Palestinian refugees that are at risk.

But how does keeping people in a continuous state of taking the world’s charity instill any sense of dignity?

UNHCR helps refugees get settled in their new host country and learn skills to obtain jobs and become self-sufficient. But not UNRWA. In places like Syria, the SAPs are forbidden to get white collar jobs. In Lebanon and Jordan they are prohibited from obtaining citizenship (meanwhile in Jerusalem, Arabs are welcome to apply for Israeli citizenship). The SAPs are left to live off of UNRWA’s breast milk, never being weaned to become independent.

The very agency that keeps Palestinian Arabs as wards of the world, then claims that it is the protector of their “dignity.”

In short, like Munchausen syndrome, UNRWA created and has perpetuated a fake illness (millions of refugees). It then wastes hundreds of millions of dollars funneling money to these wards of the UN while convincing these SAPs that there was no other way to get homes or jobs. They became addicted to their refugee status and UNRWA money, and have let UNRWA beg for handouts to treat the disorder that it created and helped fester.

Treating Munchausen Syndrome

UNRWA is plagued with a terrible mental disease and it continues to lean on the world to treat its fake illness. It is time to break the fever.

WebMD proposes the following treatment for Munchausen:

“When treatment is sought, the first goal is to modify the person’s behavior and reduce his or her misuse or overuse of medical resources. Once this goal is met, treatment aims to work out any underlying psychological issues that may be causing the person’s behavior. Another key goal is to help patients avoid dangerous and unnecessary medical diagnostic or treatment procedures (such as surgeries), often sought from different doctors who may be unaware that physical symptoms are either being faked or self-inflicted.

As with other factitious disorders, the primary treatment for Munchausen syndrome is psychotherapy or talk therapy (a type of counseling). Treatment usually focuses on changing the thinking and behavior of the individual (cognitive-behavioral therapy). Family therapy may also be helpful in teaching family members not to reward or reinforce the behavior of the person with the disorder.”

Modify behavior: Stop pretending that there are over 5 million Palestinian refugees. Do not “misuse and overuse resources.” Modify the staffing and budget of UNRWA to accommodate the actual 30,000 refugees that are living just a few miles from where there grandparents once lived. Using the figures from UNHCR of $59 per person for the 30,000 people would yield an annual budget of $1.8 million, not $760 million.
Work out any underlying psychological issues: If acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas is indicative of the fake history of both Palestinians (they are not Canaanites) and Jews (it IS their holy land), then the entire school curriculum that UNRWA is so proud of should be flushed down the toilet. Teaching basic facts and the ability to reason must be advanced.
Change thinking and behavior: According to the ADL, almost every single Palestinian Arab is an antisemite. When factoring in the inability to acknowledge basic facts and the perpetual reinforcement that Palestinians are victims for whom relief will only come at the hands of the United Nations is a cocktail for extremism and terrorism.
The United States withdrawal of some funds from UNRWA in January 2018 was a useful first step. Folding UNRWA into the UNHCR, moving tens of thousands of Palestinian UNRWA employees to service real refugees from Syria, Yemen and Somalia, and redoing the entire UNRWA school curricula are the added steps needed to break the UNRWA Munchausen Syndrome.

Related First.One.Through articles:

UNRWA’s Ongoing War against Israel and Jews

Help Refugees: Shut the UNRWA, Fund the UNHCR

Delivery of the Fictional Palestinian Keys

How the US and UN can Restart Relations with Israel

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

The Palestinian’s Three Denials

A Response to Rashid Khalidi’s Distortions on the Balfour Declaration

First.One.Through videos:

The Hypocrisy of Queen Rania of Jordan

The Hamas Theme Song in the UNRWA Schools

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The Non-Orthodox Jewish Denominations Fight Israel

The tensions between the non-Orthodox Jewish denominations and Israel seemingly became tense over the Israeli government’s decision to postpone plans for an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, the Western Wall. In truth, the relationship between the Reconstructionist, Jewish Renewal and Reform branches of Judaism (the 3R’s) and the Jewish State have been terrible for a long time.

There are a number of Jewish organizations that actively seek to harm Israel in public fora. As detailed in “Unity – not Uniformity – in the Pro-Israel Tent,” the largest and most noxious of the left-wing organizations are: the Jewish Voice for Peace that advocates for a global boycott of Israel; J Street that advocates for sanctions against Israel at the United Nations; and the New Israel Fund, that supports organizations that go on global tours bad-mouthing Israel and groups that seek to destroy the Jewish character of Israel.

What that article did not convey and will be discussed and explored here, was that these anti-Zionist groups are uniquely backed by non-Orthodox rabbis.

Jewish Voice for Peace

Arguably the most proudly vocal anti-Zionist group is the Jewish Voice for Peace, JVP. The rabbis of JVP have supported the Gaza flotilla; written books demonizing Israel as a modern day blood libel; and arguably promoted the murder of Israelis.


JVP post supporting convicted terrorist Rasmeah Odeh

JVP’s rabbinic leadership almost exclusively comes from the Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal branches of Judaism. At their core, they seek a Judaism that has nothing to do with Zionism. Many are proudly anti-Zionist.

Rabbi Joseph Berman (Non-Denominational)
Rabbi Linda Holtzman (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Buzz Bogage, Denver, CO
Rabbi Brant Rosen, Evanston, IL (Reconstructionist)
Student Rabbi Leora Abelson
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Lev Baesh (Reform)
Rabbi David Basior (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Haim Beliak (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Joseph Berman (Unaffiliated)
Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Meryl Crean (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Michael Davis (also backed by the Students for Justice in Palestine which has supported terrorist groups)
Rabbi Art Donsky (Non-denominational)
Rabbi Michael Feinberg
Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Sarah Bracha Gershuny (Egalitarian)
Rabbi Shai Gluskin (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Borukh Goldberg
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Julie Greenberg
Rabbi Edward Klein
Rabbi Alan LaPayover (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Eyal Levinson (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom (Conservative)
Rabbi David Mivasair (Progressive)
Rabbi Dev Noily (Progressive)
Rabbi Alexis Pearce (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Michael Ramberg (Progressive)
Rabbi Ken Rosenstein (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Shifrah Tobacman (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Brian Walt
Rabbi Lew Weiss (Reform)
Rabbi Alissa Wise (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Joey Wolf (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Rain Zohav (Jewish Renewal)

The Anti-Defamation has essentially labeled JVP a hate group stating:

“JVP has consistently co-sponsored demonstrations to oppose Israeli military policy that have been marked by signs comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and slogans that voice support for groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. JVP has not condemned or sought to distance itself from these messages.”

The rabbis of these communities put politics front-and-center of their religion. And their politics are anti-Zionism.

J Street

J Street officially states that it is not in favor of the BDS movement, but has supported many speakers who do call for the boycott of Israel. More, J Street actively lobbied the Obama Administration to allow the censure of Israel at the United Nations and enabling the resolution labeling Israeli territory east of the Green Line to be deemed illegal.

The rabbinic core of J Street is slightly more “traditional” than the rabbis from JVP, counting many Reform rabbis. The list of hundreds of rabbis is too long to review here, but a sample highlights the trend:

Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Brooklyn, NY (Reform)
Rabbi Lauren Henderson, Chicago, IL (Conservative)
Rabbi Alexander Kress, Abington, PA (Reform)
Rabbi Marisa Elana James, New York, NY (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie, New York, NY (Conservative)
Rabbi Amanda Schwartz, New York, NY (Conservative)
Rabbi Scott Aaron, Pittsburgh, PA (Reform)
Rabbi Alison Abrams, Deerfield, IL (Reform)
Rabbi Ruth Adar, Oakland, CA (Reform)
Rabbi David Adelson, New York, NY (Reform)
Rabbi Katy Z. Allen, Wayland, MA (Independent)
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, Philadelphia, PA (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Thomas Alpert, Needham, MA (Reform)
Rabbi Steven Altarescu, Bronx, NY (Reform)
Rabbi Camille Shira Angel, San Francisco, CA (Reform)
Rabbi David Ariel-Joel, Louisville, KY (Reform)
Susan J Averbach, San Francisco, CA (Humanistic Judaism)
Rabbi Benjamin Arnold, Evergreen, CO (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Melanie Aron, Los Gatos, CA (Reform)
Rabbi Arik W. Ascherman, Jerusalem, Israel (Reform)
Rabbi Aura Ahuvia, Woodstock, NY (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Larry Bach, Durham, NC (Reform)
Rabbi Lev Baesh, Lexington, MA (Reform)
Rabbi Chava Bahle, Suttons Bay, MI (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Justus Baird, Princeton, NJ (Reform)
Rabbi Rachel Evelyne Barenblat, Williamstown, MA (Jewish Renewal)
Rabbi Benjamin H. Barnett, Corvallis, OR (Pluralistic)
Rabbi Bernard Barsky, Dayton, OH
Rabbi Lewis M. Barth, Encino, CA (Reform)
Rabbi Geoffrey Basik, Baltimore, MD (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi David Dunn Bauer, San Francisco, CA (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Renee H. Bauer, Madison, WI
Rabbi David Baylinson, Atlanta, GA (Reform)
Rabbi Micah Becker-Klein, Hockessin, DE
Rabbi Martin Beifeld, Richmond, VA (Reform)
Rabbi Anne Belford, Houston, TX (Reform)
Rabbi Marc J. Belgrad, Buffalo Grove, IL (Reform)
Rabbi Arnold Mark Belzer, Savannah, GA (Reform)
Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appel, Highland Park, IL (post-denominational)
Rabbi Karen Bender, Tarzana, CA (Reform)
Rabbi Olivier BenHaim, Seattle, WA (Reform)
Rabbi Allen Bennett, San Francisco, CA (Reform)
Rabbi James Bennett, St. Louis, MO (Reform)
Rabbi Philip J. Bentley, Hendersonville, NC (Reform)

The Reform movement isn’t explicitly anti-Israel the way that much of the Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal movements are currently. However, the current head of the Reform movement, Rabbi Rick Jacobs is particularly political and claims that the official stance of Reform Judaism is anti-settlements. How he declared that his personal anti-Jews living in Judea and Samaria politics should frame the entire movement is something that members of Reform Judaism need to address.

New Israel Fund

The New Israel Fund gives money to groups like Adalah that have a stated purpose of ending any Jewishness in Israel. It lures people to donate money stating that it is about equality in Israel – and by that it means ending the Jewish Law of Return; the Hatikvah; Jewish star on the national flag, et cetera.

The international council of NIF features a number of non-Orthodox rabbis:

Rabbi Rachel Mikva (Reform)
Rabbi Bernard Mehlman (Reform)
Rabbi Anson Laytner (Reform)
Rabbi Daniel Weiner (Reform)
Rabbi David Levin (Reform)
Rabbi Morris Allen (Conservative)
Rabbi Norman Cohen (Reform)
Rabbi Alexander Davis (Conservative)
Rabbi Shosh Dworsky (Conservative)
Rabbi David Freedman
Rabbi Yosi Gordon (Conservative)
Rabbi Michael Adam Latz (Reform)
Rabbi Cathy Nemiroff (Reform)
Rabbi Debra Rappaport (Reform)
Rabbi Alan Shavit-Lonstein (Conservative)
Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker (Reform)
Rabbi Sharon Stiefel (Reconstructionist)
Rabbi Aaron Weininger (Conservative)
Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman (Reform)
Rabbi Sharon Brous (Conservative)
Rabbi Rachel B. Cowan (Reform)
Rabbi Jerome K. Davidson (Reform)
Rabbi Marion Lev-Cohen (Reform)
Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon (non-denominational)
Rabbi Aaron Panken (Reform)
Rabbi Gordon Tucker, White Plains (Conservative)

Relative to JVP and J Street, the New Israel Fund has many more Conservative rabbis joining its leadership ranks. But still, none of these anti-Zionist organizations that have thousands of rabbis in leadership positions have a single Orthodox rabbi.

Why?

Beyond Liberal Politics

There is no question that some of these forms of Judaism revolve around liberal politics more than religion. Many of the synagogues state clearly on their websites that they are focused on tikkun olam (repairing the world), and they do this not through Torah-inspired commandments like helping the widow and orphan, but in new imagined ways like raising the minimum wage and saving the planet.

But there are many liberal rabbis in the Orthodox community too, and they support the Jewish State. They are proud to point out that Israel is one of the most liberal countries in the world, and certainly within the xenophobic, antisemitic and misogynistic Middle East. When liberal Orthodox rabbis find a need to criticize the Israeli government, they do it directly with the government in a constructive manner, not through antagonistic actions on the global stage.

Therefore, the issue cannot be simply attributed to the politics of many rabbis in the non-Orthodox world. There must be something systemic in the religious philosophy of those denominations that make them embrace Israel-bashing.

Who Is a Jew

The key Jewish prayer Shemoneh Esrei recited several times every day begins with the blessing of “our God and the God of our fathers.” It encapsulates the notion that Judaism is both a religion of being, passed down physically from our ancestors, as well as one of choice – “our God” – in which each person takes ownership of his faith.

In regards to being a Jew, Orthodox Judaism (and Conservative Judaism, at this point in time) have held the line on using traditional halacha in critical life events that define “who is a Jew.” Two of those are birth and marriage.

Both the Orthodox and Conservative movements believe that the child of a Jewish mother is a Jew, regardless of the religion of the father. The other denominations believe in patrilineal descent, that religion can be passed down via the father’s religion. This is a fundamental breakdown between the religious denominations regarding “who is a Jew.”

Similarly, Orthodox and Conservative rabbis do not perform interfaith weddings. The rabbis in the other movements are very proud to perform such ceremonies and openly advertise their services.

These two life events are obviously interconnected. An interfaith couple will have a non-Jewish parent, and about half of the time, produce a non-Jewish child according to the traditions of matrilineal descent practiced by Orthodox and Conservative Judaism. Sanctioning interfaith marriages has produced a chasm between the Reform/Reconstructionist/Jewish Renewal (3R) movements with other Jewish denominations, AND with Israel itself.

Israel created a Law of Return in 1950 that allowed any Jew to move to Israel. In 1970, the law was amended to clarify that a Jew “means a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion.” While the 1970 amendment made provisions for the non-Jewish spouse and children of a Jew to move to Israel, the Law of Return used a definition of matrilineal descent that only Conservative and Orthodox used, upsetting other denominations that support patrlineal descent. However, the law’s clause on conversion did accept non-Orthodox conversions performed outside of Israel, as decided by the Israeli Supreme Court in March 2016.

Universalism versus Particularism

Being a Jew is simply part one. The actions and demands of the religion, the mitzvot, are part two, and the breakdown between Orthodox Judaism and the branches that seek to harm Israel are profound.

Orthodox Judaism believes that the Torah has 613 commandments for a Jew to live by. Some are clear-cut, like “Do not kill,” while others are subject to broader interpretation like “keep the Sabbath holy,” as there may be many different methods of keeping the Sabbath holy. Conservative Judaism basically follows the concept of the 613 mitzvot, but interprets them differently (for example, Orthodox Jews will not use electricity on Sabbath to “keep it holy,” while Conservative Jews will often use electricity.)

In contrast, the 3R branches of Judaism have revamped the mitzvot in a way that fits a “new age” rewriting of the laws. They have made the commandments about human-centered spirituality that spreads out to God and all mankind, rather than commandments that are passed down from God to man.

The Jewish Renewal site makes its mantra clear, stating it’s “a transdenominational approach to revitalizing Judaism.” Its reach is to everyone: “Renewal is an attitude, not a denomination,” with “an emphasis on accessible spiritual experience.” In other words, this is a movement without demands, such as only eating kosher foods. It is more akin to a yoga retreat. Not only is there no need to be Jewish, a person needn’t perform ancient rote rituals. Just engage in new age meditation.

Reconstructionist Judaism is more traditional than Jewish Renewal, but far from “traditional.” Its emphasis is on “Jewish Identity,” as its website states: “what primarily gives Jews our identity is not belief but rather the feeling of belonging to the Jewish civilization itself. We observe Jewish holidays, rituals and customs, not because a divine being commanded us to, but because it is our primary method of reinforcing Jewish identity.” In other words, God’s commandments are not really commandments (or God doesn’t exist) for Reconstructionist Jews. The basis for observing any tradition is simply a matter of keeping the “Jewish identity” around, not because of any higher authority.

These days, the Reform movement has put the world front and center. It’s mission is to build “communities that transform the way people connect to Jewish life, building a more whole, just, and compassionate world.” It does this through tikkum olam, “repairing the world.” The movement’s leader, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, speaks of Reform Judaism as operating in concert with the global community: “the heart of a tikkun olam that embraces always both the universal and the particular.

These three branches of Judaism approach religious practice very differently than Orthodox Judaism. Their Judaism is centered on global mankind’s yearning to connect – to the planet and the people around the world – to achieve a personal fulfillment of serenity. Jewish rituals are props to achieve that state of zen. Similarly, non-Jews bring their own props to their encounters with God and mankind. Universalism and particularism (of props) coexist in a human-centered meditative state of bliss.

This 3R approach towards religion is an inversion of Orthodox Judaism that is premised on a top-down philosophy. The Bible and Ten Commandments began with God, not man. The 613 commandments given to Jews were just that – commandments – not guides to validate one’s own sense of social justice. These commandments were uniquely given to Jews, as Orthodoxy believes that non-Jews were given only seven commandments which relate to universal morality.

The orientation of particularism of Orthodox rabbis extends broadly: to Jewish people (they do not perform interfaith weddings); the Bible (with unique commandments only for Jews); and to the holy land itself, which they believe was given to the Jewish people. According to a Pew poll in 2013, 84% of Orthodox Jews believe that God gave Israel to the Jews. That compares to only 54%, 35% and 24% of Conservative, Reform, and non-denominational Jews, respectively. By way of comparison, 55% of Christians believe that God gave Israel to the Jews. How remarkable is that? Christians are more Zionistic than non-Orthodox Jews.

This dichotomy between Orthodox and non-Orthodox denominations is at the core of different approaches to the Jewish State and the holy land. For Orthodox Jews, the Jewish State is particular, just like the bible and Jewish people. In contrast, the non-Orthodox denominations focus on universalism, and shun particularism as a form of tribalism and nationalism, with more than a whiff of racism.

It is therefore not a surprise that Jewish denominations that shun particularism in favor of universalism also denounce Zionism.

But why would universalists attack Israel on the global stage?

The fundamental approaches to Judaism, Jews and the holy land do not just lead to a difference of opinions; it destroys the baseline of communication, making discussion virtually impossible. In mathematical terms, the universalists are speaking in base 10 and the particularists are speaking in base 7. They can both understand each other in simple matters, like single digit numbers or that Abraham is the father of monotheism. But on complicated matters like a democratic Jewish State living in peace and security in the heart of the Arab Muslim Middle East, the interaction falls apart like discussing the number 242 (equal to 242 in base 10, but just 170 when converting base 7 to base 10). They are just not talking about the same thing. So rather than talk to each other, they talk to people with a similar language. The 3R rabbis take their version of tikkun olam to the global stage, like the United Nations.

Whereas Orthodox liberal Jews can call out for rights for Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs without vilifying Israel, non-Orthodox rabbis seemingly cannot. Orthodoxy can approach equality within the rubric that the holy land as special and unique for Jews, while the non-Orthodox only see tribalism and primitive thinking. The 3R rabbis burnish their bona fides by burning ties that could reek of particularism as they engage with the global community.

The Current Dynamic

The universalism / “anti-tribalism” movement within the 3R denominations often attacks both Orthodox Jews and the Jewish state. It has sometimes provoked a backlash.

In September 2015, the Reconstructionist movement announced a new policy to allow rabbis to marry non-Jews as a reaction to the movement’s conclusion that “many younger progressive Jews, including many rabbis and rabbinical students, now perceive restrictions placed on those who are intermarried as reinforcing a tribalism that feels personally alienating and morally troubling in the 21st century.” With such declaration, several Reconstructionist rabbis became fed up.

In April 2016, twenty Reconstructionist rabbis left the denomination to form Beit Kaplan, as they felt that the Reconstructionist movement had lost its way. They said that “the decision to form the association was sparked, in part, by the recent RRC policy shift that muddled the definition of what it means for a rabbi to have a Jewish family. Other contributing factors include a desire to return the focus of liberal Judaism to Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan’s vision of Jewish peoplehood and a desire to affirm connections to the Jewish people globally, including in Israel.”

Several Reconstructionist rabbis became infuriated with the official positions of Reconstructionist’s universalism. Their new assembly felt compelled to clarify that not only did it think that sanctioning rabbis intermarrying was a destructive force on the Jewish family, it said that it “unequivocally reject[s] any movement to delegitimize Israel in the community of nations,” because the Reconstructionist movement had become a haven for demonizing the Jewish State.

In short, Beit Kaplan felt that the Reconstructionist movement had lost the basic concept of the definition of being a Jew and the special nature of the Jewish State.

The 3R rabbis’ Israel-bashing had started to gain momentum during the 2014 Gaza War, when many non-Orthodox rabbis actively vilified the Jewish State. The lunatic rabbinic fringe even held fasts for the people of Gaza, but not for anyone in Israel.

Consider Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, the leader of an enormous gay Reconstructionist congregation, member of J Street and listed in Newsweek’s list of 50 Influential Rabbis. Her radical left-wing politics were mostly blessed by her members, but her tirades against Israel became too much for many to bear. In 2014, one of the board members of her congregation resigned, publicly stating the “recent [2014 Gaza War] events have demonstrated that CBST [the gay synagogue] is far more committed to a progressive political agenda than to the Jewish people….  I don’t want to raise my kids in a synagogue that’s praying for people firing rockets.

The attitude was pervasive. Leading rabbis of JVP and J Street – all non-Orthodox – called for a divorce between Judaism and the Jewish State, and between the holy land and Jews.

Consider Rabbi Brian Walt, a member of JVP and coordinator of the Jewish Fast for Gaza, who gave a talk entitled “Affirming a Judaism and Jewish identity without Zionism,” in which he declared: “political Zionism violates everything I believe about Judaism.” Or Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, on the board of J Street and signatory to the fast for Gaza who penned a letter for Code Pink to support the BDS movement, stating she “saw the destruction that is wrought by too many Israeli settlers,” making her change “my mind about the purchase of products made in the Jewish West Bank.

Non-Orthodox rabbis comfortably argued that there are too many Jews in the holy land because they segmented the religion, the people, the land and their identity. As they believe that religion is defined solely by identity, there is no need for a particular land, and no narrow definition of the Jewish people, as identity is self-selected.


Non-Orthodox rabbis wrap themselves in a tallit as a mere Jewish prop in a universalistic and humanistic approach towards meditation, while they shudder at the particularism of the God of Orthodox Judaism and the Jewish State.

Supporting Israel is not a battle of political orientation between liberal and conservative Jews. It is a philosophical break in the Jewish community with a fault line regarding the uniqueness of Jews and the Jewish State. The non-Orthodox denominations’ religious philosophy will only let it embrace an Israel that is: about people, not God; about rights not rituals; more secular than religious; more democratic than Jewish; and more universal than particular.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Dick Pics

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

The Reform Movement’s Rick Jacobs Has no Understanding of Tolerance

A Seder in Jerusalem with Liberal Friends

There are Standards for Unity

The Three Camps of Ethnic Cleansing in the BDS Movement

The Anger from the Zionist Center

Tolerance at the Temple Mount

The Impossible Liberal Standard

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

During the Palestinian hijacking heydays of the 1970’s, the United Nations passed an infamous resolution equating Zionism as a form of racism. While particularly odious during the years until its repeal in 1991, the underlying anti-Zionism has remained a plague at the global forum. Part of the disease lies in timeless antisemitism, while part is a fault of the flawed approach to settling the “Question of Palestine” that the UN endorsed and has continued to exacerbate.

On November 22, 1974 the UN General Assembly passed A/RES/3236 (XXIX). That resolution became the baseline of the “inalienable rights of the Palestinian people” that expanded and evolved until the present day. The text is distorted at its core, with declarations without equivalents nor precedent. The rights enumerated are gross exaggerations that cannot – and should not – ever be met.

While the resolution had a kernel of truth, it was overwhelmed with fatal flaws:

“no just solution to the problem of Palestine has yet been achieved and recognizing that the problem of Palestine continues to endanger international peace and security,”

If the Middle East has taught the world anything since the resolution was passed in 1974, it is that the Arab and Muslim nations do not need the “question of Palestine” to endanger the global community. Whether it was a war between Iran and Iraq or Iraq and Kuwait, civil wars in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen or Libya, or the terrorism in Niger, Chad, Egypt and Ethiopia, the Arab violence is seeded from and breeds its own hatreds.

“the Palestinian people is entitled to self-determination in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations”

This is probably the only true statement in the resolution of which anyone concerned with peace in the Middle East would like to see achieved. The Stateless Arabs from Palestine (SAPs) should have citizenship somewhere. When this resolution was drafted, they had Jordanian citizenship, which was given to them in 1954 but repealed by Jordan in 1988. The Israelis also offered the Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem citizenship, but only a few thousand Arabs have taken it. A broader solution should be found.

“Expressing its grave concern that the Palestinian people has been prevented from enjoying its inalienable rights, in particular its right to self-determination,”

As noted above, the Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank had Jordanian citizenship and Israel offered Jerusalem Arabs citizenship, but it must be noted that the Arabs in Gaza were not afforded Egyptian citizenship. Was this resolution language only related to Gazans? Did it also cover the Arabs in the West Bank, since Yasser Arafat (fungus be upon him) failed to overthrow the Jordanian monarchy in 1970?

“1. Reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in Palestine, including:
(a) The right to self-determination without external interference;”

What does the phrase “without external interference” mean? That they will not be a puppet state like Lebanon is to Syria? That they won’t become a terrorist group like Hezbollah with the backing of Iran? That Palestinian Arabs are entitled to have a full-standing army that could attack Israel? When Turkey and Qatar backed Hamas in Gaza, was that considered “external interference?”

“(b) The right to national independence and sovereignty;”

This is a key fatal flaw of the 1974 resolution, which has regrettably been elaborated upon over the decades: There is no such inalienable right to independence and sovereignty. For anyone.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights established in 1948 enumerated dozens of rights that every human on the planet must have. Article 15 of the UDHR stated that “everyone has a right to a nationality.” That is it. A nationality, not a new specialized new one. Are the Kurds getting a unique UN resolution for their “independence and sovereignty?” Is Tibet? What about Western Sahara? The SAPs should have a nationality, but they have absolutely no inalienable right to national independence and sovereignty.

“2. Reaffirms also the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return;”

There is no basis in the rights of mankind to afford the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of people who left homes many decades ago to return to such homes. Especially homes that no longer exist.

Article 13 of the UDHR stated that “everyone has a right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country.” A COUNTRY. Not a town. Not a house. Only to the country of which they were a citizen. The grandparents of today’s SAPs were not Israeli citizens when they left, and the SAPs today most certainly are not Israelis.

If this is a real issue, are the 1 million Jews that were displaced from Muslim Arab countries getting the right to return to their homes and to recover all of their property? Not only did the Jews leave homes and property, but they actually left A COUNTRY. I have yet to see any UN General Assembly resolution drafted asking for such “inalienable right” for the Jews from Arab lands. Maybe Yemen is working on a draft resolution now.

“3. Emphasizes that full respect for and the realization of these inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are indispensable for the solution of the question of Palestine;

The question of Palestine revolves around giving the SAPs citizenship – either in a new country of Palestine or Israel or Jordan or somewhere. Returning to homes and property is neither a right nor part of “the solution.”

“6. Appeals to all States and international organizations to extend their support to the Palestinian people in its struggle to restore its rights, in accordance with the Charter;”

This UN resolution called for the countries of the world to “support the Palestinian people in its struggle.” Such a statement is not just a flawed call for rights that do not exist as detailed above, but a call to take sides in the conflict. It declared that “all States” should work against Israel. How could the UN possibly imagine that Israel would ever take any UNGA resolution seriously, after declaring openly that it is a biased party in the dispute?


Palestinian flag at the United Nations in New York


The Israelis and Palestinian Authority were last able to reach mutual agreements when they signed the Oslo Accords in 1993 and 1995. Those agreements NEVER mentioned a “two state solution” anywhere. They also do not mention any rights to “homes and property,” just the generic issue of “refugees.” And the accords do not ask the world to advocate on behalf of fake “inalienable rights.”

On December 17, 1991, the UNGA finally rescinded the Zionsim is racism resolution after intensive lobbying and threats by the United States under President George Bush. At that time, US Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger said that rescinding the resolution improved the “reputation for fairness and impartiality” of the UN. It arguably helped create the environment for the Oslo Accords.

It is similarly time to rescind UNGA Resolution 3236 and to put the parties on a course for an enduring peace that is actually achievable, with a fair and responsible United Nations as a facilitator as oppose to a perpetual hindrance.


Related First.One.Through articles:

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

The United Nations’ Remorse for “Creating” Israel

Losing Rights

Ban Ki Moon Defecates on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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

Delivery of the Fictional Palestinian Keys

A “Viable” Palestinian State

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

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Religious Countries Respond to Israel’s Jerusalem

The media has focused on US President Trump’s threats to withhold funds from countries that condemned the US for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the announcement that it will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the capital city, as an impetus for some countries to fund in a particular manner. Perhaps it is worth at least discussing – on Christmas Day – the vote on the basis of religion.

There were nine countries that voted against the United Nations General Assembly resolution of condemnation (in other words, supportive of the United States and Israel). They were Christian and Jewish countries:

  • Guatemala: Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs
  • Honduras: Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs
  • Israel: Jewish 75.5%, Muslim 16.8%, Christian 2.1%, Druze 1.7%, other 3.9%
  • Marshall Islands: Protestant 54.8%, Assembly of God 25.8%, Roman Catholic 8.4%, Bukot nan Jesus 2.8%, Mormon 2.1%, other Christian 3.6%, other 1%, none 1.5%
  • Micronesia: Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 47%, other 3%
    Nauru: Nauru Congregational 35.4%, Roman Catholic 33.2%, Nauru Independent Church 10.4%, other 14.1%, none 4.5%, unspecified 2.4%
  • Palau: Roman Catholic 41.6%, Protestant 23.3%, Modekngei 8.8% (indigenous to Palau), Seventh-Day Adventist 5.3%, Jehovah’s Witness 0.9%, Latter-Day Saints 0.6%, other 3.1%, unspecified or none 16.4%
  • Togo: Christian 29%, Muslim 20%, indigenous beliefs 51%
  • United States: Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4%

There were also thirty-five countries that abstained from the UN vote.

  • Antigua and Barbuda: Anglican 25.7%, Seventh Day Adventist 12.3%, Pentecostal 10.6%, Moravian 10.5%, Roman Catholic 10.4%, Methodist 7.9%, Baptist 4.9%, Church of God 4.5%, other Christian 5.4%, other 2%, none or unspecified 5.8%
  • Argentina: Roman Catholic 92% (less than 20% practicing), Protestant 2%, Jewish 2%, other 4%
  • Australia: Catholic 26.4%, Anglican 20.5%, other Christian 20.5%, Buddhist 1.9%, Muslim 1.5%, other 1.2%, unspecified 12.7%, none 15.3% (2001 Census)
  • Bahamas:
  • Benin: Christian 42.8% (Catholic 27.1%, Celestial 5%, Methodist 3.2%, other Protestant 2.2%, other 5.3%), Muslim 24.4%, Vodoun 17.3%, other 15.5%
  • Bhutan: Lamaistic Buddhist 75%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: Muslim 40%, Orthodox 31%, Roman Catholic 15%, other 14%
  • Cameroon: indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%
  • Canada: Roman Catholic 42.6%, Protestant 23.3% (including United Church 9.5%, Anglican 6.8%, Baptist 2.4%, Lutheran 2%), other Christian 4.4%, Muslim 1.9%, other and unspecified 11.8%, none 16%
  • Colombia: Roman Catholic 90%, other 10%
  • Croatia: Roman Catholic 87.8%, Orthodox 4.4%, Muslim 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, others and unknown 6.2%
  • Czech Republic: Roman Catholic 26.8%, Protestant 2.1%, other 3.3%, unspecified 8.8%, unaffiliated 59%
  • Dominican Republic: Roman Catholic 95%, other 5%
  • Equatorial Guinea: nominally Christian and predominantly Roman Catholic, pagan practices
  • Fiji: Christian 64.5% (Methodist 34.6%, Roman Catholic 9.1%, Assembly of God 5.7%, Seventh Day Adventist 3.9%, Anglican 0.8%, other 10.4%), Hindu 27.9%, Muslim 6.3%, Sikh 0.3%
  • Haiti: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16% (Baptist 10%, Pentecostal 4%, Adventist 1%, other 1%), none 1%, other 3%
  • Hungary: Roman Catholic 51.9%, Calvinist 15.9%, Lutheran 3%, Greek Catholic 2.6%, other Christian 1%, other or unspecified 11.1%, unaffiliated 14.5%
  • Jamaica: Protestant 62.5% (Seventh-Day Adventist 10.8%, Pentecostal 9.5%, Other Church of God 8.3%, Baptist 7.2%, New Testament Church of God 6.3%, Church of God in Jamaica 4.8%, Church of God of Prophecy 4.3%, Anglican 3.6%, other Christian 7.7%), Roman Catholic 2.6%, other or unspecified 14.2%, none 20.9%
  • Kiribati: Roman Catholic 55%, Protestant 36%, Mormon 3.1%, Bahai 2.2%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.9%, other 1.8%
  • Latvia: Lutheran 19.6%, Orthodox 15.3%, other Christian 1%, other 0.4%, unspecified 63.7%
  • Lesotho: Christian 80%, indigenous beliefs 20%
  • Malawi: Christian 79.9%, Muslim 12.8%, other 3%, none 4.3%
  • Mexico: Roman Catholic 76.5%, Protestant 6.3% (Pentecostal 1.4%, Jehovah’s Witnesses 1.1%, other 3.8%), other 0.3%, unspecified 13.8%, none 3.1%
  • Panama: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%
  • Paraguay: Roman Catholic 89.6%, Protestant 6.2%, other Christian 1.1%, other or unspecified 1.9%, none 1.1%
  • Philippines: Roman Catholic 80.9%, Muslim 5%, Evangelical 2.8%, Iglesiani Kristo 2.3%, Aglipayan 2%, other Christian 4.5%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.6%, none 0.1%
  • Poland: Roman Catholic 89.8% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, other 0.3%, unspecified 8.3%
  • Romania: Eastern Orthodox (including all sub-denominations) 86.8%, Protestant (various denominations including Reformate and Pentecostal) 7.5%, Roman Catholic 4.7%, other (mostly Muslim) and unspecified 0.9%
  • Rwanda: Roman Catholic 56.5%, Protestant 26%, Adventist 11.1%, Muslim 4.6%, indigenous beliefs 0.1%, none 1.7%
  • Solomon Islands: Church of Melanesia 32.8%, Roman Catholic 19%, South Seas Evangelical 17%, Seventh-Day Adventist 11.2%, United Church 10.3%, Christian Fellowship Church 2.4%, other Christian 4.4%, other 2.4%, unspecified 0.3%
  • South Sudan: Christianity 60.5%, traditional African religions 32.9%, Muslim 6.2%
  • Trinidad and Tobago: Roman Catholic 26%, Hindu 22.5%, Anglican 7.8%, Baptist 7.2%, Pentecostal 6.8%, Muslim 5.8%, Seventh Day Adventist 4%, other Christian 5.8%, other 10.8%, unspecified 1.4%, none 1.9%
  • Tuvalu: Church of Tuvalu (Congregationalist) 97%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.4%, Baha’i 1%, other 0.6%
  • Uganda: Roman Catholic 41.9%, Protestant 42% (Anglican 35.9%, Pentecostal 4.6%, Seventh Day Adventist 1.5%), Muslim 12.1%, other 3.1%, none 0.9%
  • Vanuatu: Presbyterian 31.4%, Anglican 13.4%, Roman Catholic 13.1%, Seventh-Day Adventist 10.8%, other Christian 13.8%, indigenous beliefs 5.6% (including Jon Frum cargo cult), other 9.6%, none 1%, unspecified 1.3% (1999 Census)

The countries that abstained from the vote were all majority Christian countries. A handful of countries had populations with more than 5% Muslims, including Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Malawi, Philippines, South Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uganda. Only Bosnia and Herzegovina had a Muslim population of over 25%.

Meanwhile, there were 128 countries that voted against the United States and Israel (for the UNGA resolution). Almost all of the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) voted against the US, with the exceptions of Benin, Cameroon and Togo. Four of the five countries with OIC Observer status also voted against the US.

Why did Muslim countries vote against the United States and Israel, while Christian countries were much more likely to vote for Jerusalem? Some possibilities:

  • Muslim antisemitism: The Arab and Muslim world is much more antisemitic  (74%) than the Christian world according to various polls by the Anti Defamation League. It found that almost every Palestinian Arab was an anti-Semite, and that antisemitism was much less prevalent in the Americas (19%) and among Christians in western Europe (Muslims were 3-5 times more anti-Semitic). Voting against the Jewish state is basically de rigueur in Islamic societies.
  • Jewish and Christian history in Jerusalem: Muslim nations have been lobbying the United Nations for the past several years that Jews are recent colonialist with no history in the holy land and that the Jewish Temples never existed in Jerusalem. Palestinian Arabs have further inflamed Christian ire by claiming that Jesus was not a Jew but a Palestinian Arab. This is a direct affront to billions of Christians that believe in both the Old and New Testaments.
  • Israel’s Freedom of religion. Christians appreciate the freedom of religion afforded by Israel. They note that the Israeli government helped the Mormons build their church in Jerusalem, allow the Baha’i church to thrive in Haifa, and welcome pilgrims from around the world. They note that the surrounding Arab and Muslim countries have no such freedoms and tolerance. Where Muslim fanatics behead non-believers, and Arab and Muslim governments have laws against converting from Islam, Israel is an island of religious pluralism and freedom.
  • Christians in Jerusalem under Arabs and Jews: Christians note that when the Arabs ruled Jerusalem from 1949 to 1967, the Christian population dropped in half, but has seen a modest growth since Israel reunified the city in 1967. That is quite a comparison to Bethlehem, where the Christian population which stood at roughly 40% in December 1995 when Israel handed control to the Palestinian Authority, is now almost completely gone.
  • Access and Maintenance of Holy Sites: Christian pilgrims wander the streets of Jerusalem, Nazareth and the entirety of Israel every day of the year, and witness Jews and Muslims similarly accessing their holy places. But they remember clearly how Palestinian Arabs ransacked the Jewish holy site of Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus (Shechem) in October 2000 and attempted to convert it into a mosque, and how the Arabs forbade Jews from visiting the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs in Hebron and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem when they held control from 1949 to 1967.

The situation in Israel is not unique. Christians have witnessed the horror that has befallen minorities like the Yazidis who have been hunted by Islamic jihadists. They see the turmoil and terror in the Islamic countries of Syria and Yemen. And they note the Christian persecution in the world is almost exclusively in Muslim majority countries.


ADL’s map of antisemitism

The Christians appreciate Israel’s control of Jerusalem. Whether it is because of their faith, understanding of history, appreciation of tolerance, desire for the freedom of religious practice, or the availability to live and access holy sites, Christians see holy sites and cities flourish under Israeli sovereignty and control. Unfortunately, the opposite is found in Arab and Muslim countries.

The Muslim nations seek complete authority and control. The notion of Jewish or Christians rights in their holy city of Jerusalem is irrelevant, and undermines the supremacy of Islam.


Various Pilgrims in the Old City of Jerusalem
(photos: First.One.Through)

As the world becomes less reliant on oil from the Arab world, one can expect more Christian countries to actively support Israel’s Jerusalem on the world stage.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Christian Persecution in the Middle East, not in Israel

Israel, the Liberal Country of the Middle East

Murderous Governments of the Middle East

Every Picture Tells a Story: No Christians Targeted

The United Nations and Holy Sites in the Holy Land

The Arguments over Jerusalem

First.One.through videos:

BDS Movement and Christian Persecution (Hovhaness)

I hate Israel – Christian Persecution

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The US Recognizes Israel’s Reality

On December 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump announced that the United States officially recognized the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Noting that “Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the prime minister and the president. It is the headquarters of many government ministries…. we finally acknowledge the obvious. That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality.

It is indeed a plain reality.

And it is also a reality that pains many Arab and Muslim nations. Therefore, some people and nations that have sympathy for those angry parties have continued to deny reality. They have tried to isolate Israel. To deny the Jewish State the air of normalcy.


President Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
December 6, 2017

This is not new.

But true leaders through the decades since Israel’s founding distanced themselves from the angry Arab and Muslim mob, and placed reality and decency first.

  • Country (1948): In 1948, US President Harry Truman recognized the State of Israel, even while Arab nations went to war to destroy the nascent country. To this day, many of those angry Arab and Muslim nations still refuse to acknowledge the existence of Israel.
  • Borders (1949): In 1949, at the end of Israel’s War of Independence, the US and many nations recognized Israel’s expanded borders beyond those outlined in the 1947 UN Partition Plan, even when the Arab countries refused to recognize them.
  • Citizenship (1954): In 1954, the world recognized the importance of citizenship by awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in dealing with the millions of refugees from Europe after World War II and the Middle East. Many of those refugees were Jews that survived the Holocaust and others expelled from nearly a dozen Arab countries. Meanwhile, in that same year, the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, that had expelled all of the Jews from eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank, specifically excluded Jews from getting citizenship.
  • Peace (1948, 1967): The world recognized the importance of settling disputes in a peaceful manner through negotiations, as enshrined in UN Charter (1945) Article 2, but Syria, Egypt and Jordan went to war against Israel again in 1967. After the Arabs lost, the entire Arab world implemented the Khartoum resolution: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel.
  • Freedom of Movement (1968 to today): Civilized nations recognize that people should be allowed to travel by airplane freely. Unfortunately, Palestinians upset with Israel, began hijacking planes in 1968 and through the 1970s, including the infamous 1976 Entebbe hijacking. Angry Arab countries continue to deny the basic rights of movement to Israelis, such as the November 2017 ruling that Kuwait Airlines refuses to transport Israelis.
  • Athletes (1972 to today): The world recognizes and appreciates the camaraderie and competition of international sports. However, angry Palestinian Arabs murdered Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics. Arab countries today continue to refuse to compete against Israelis, show the Israeli flags or play the Israeli national anthem at competitions.
  • Self-Determination (1975 – 1991): US Ambassador to the United Nations Daniel Patrick Moynihan recognized that Zionism is a natural movement for self-determination like all nations display. However, the Arab and Muslim nations put forward UN Resolution 3379 equating Zionism as a form of racism. It would not be repealed until 1991. Arab leaders continue to call Zionism a form of colonialism.
  • Rights to Holy Places (1949-1967; 1980 / 2000): Israel recognized the importance of freedom of access to the holy places of Jerusalem and enshrined such commitment into law, the exact opposite of how Arabs governed the Temple Mount under Jordanians from 1949-1967 when they denied Jews any access to the Old City of Jerusalem. When Ariel Sharon visited Judaism’s holiest site in 2000, the Palestinian Authority launched a multi-year “Intifada” killing thousands.
  • Terrorism (1997, 2006): The US labeled Hamas and several other Palestinian groups as foreign terrorist organizations, in recognizing their incitement and acts of terror against Israeli civilians. Meanwhile, Palestinians happily support these terrorist organizations, and elected Hamas to 58% of the parliament in 2006.
  • Land Purchases (2010): The US instituted the Fair Housing Act of 1968 which recognized the importance of allowing all people to buy homes without any discrimination. In 2010, the Palestinian Authority affirmed the death penalty for any Arab that sells land to a Jew, quite an inversion of international law of 1922 that “No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.
  • Defense (2008, 2012, 2014): The United States recognized that Israel had a right to defend itself against the incoming rockets from Hamas in Gaza. However, the Muslim and Arab world was appalled at Israel’s actions and wanted Hamas to defeat Israel. Allies of the Arabs wanted Israel to be investigated for war crimes.
  • History (2009, 2015-): The United States and some western countries recognize the 3000-year history of Jews in Jerusalem. However, Arab and Muslim nations put forward resolutions at the United Nations which denied the history of Jews in Jerusalem and condemned Israel for “Judaizing” Judaism’s holiest city.
  • Capital (2017): US President Donald Trump recognized that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, while Arab countries refused to entertain the idea and threatened “days of rage.”

What’s next? Will Arab and Muslim states push forward the notion that today’s Jews have nothing to do with the children of Israel in the Bible? Will they say that Jews are not human beings but “sons of apes and pigs?” Will they advance a notion that the Jewish Temple never existed or that it was not located in Jerusalem? Will they contend that the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem is not the Jewish matriarch but a famous Muslim?  That the Holocaust never happened? Maybe they will come up with conspiracy theories that the Israelis planned the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and that the Mossad uses sharks to attack tourists in Sinai.

Should the world recognize reality or Palestinian lies which make Arabs more comfortable? Should world opinion be framed by the Arab view of history, attitudes of decency, and perception of reality?

Many Arab countries like Syria, Lebanon and UAE refuse to recognize Israel to this day. Muslim countries like Indonesia also refuse to recognize Israel. Iran won’t even mention Israel by name.

Should the US refuse to recognize the reality of Israel because of the insane attitudes of Arab and Muslim countries?

Should the US refuse to recognize the reality of Jewish history in Israel because it offends Arab and Muslim sensibilities?

Should Israelis just shrug off the insult of not having its flag and national anthem played during sporting events in Arab countries, because they know the reality of their victory?

Or is it time to stop the insanity of ignoring reality because of the noxious antisemitism pervasive in the Arab and Muslim societies?

President Truman will be forever remembered by Zionists for his willingness to recognize the new country of Israel within minutes of its declaring independence, even as Arab nations attacked Israel with weapons. Ambassador Moynihan’s passionate speech at the United Nations decrying the “Racism is Zionism” resolution while Arab nations pounced on Israel on the international stage, remains a highlight in the dark history of the United Nations.

This week, President Trump joined those leaders and took a stand in the shadow of UN Resolution 2334 denying Israel’s rights in Jerusalem. Reality cannot be held hostage to hatred.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Invisible Flag in Judo and Jerusalem

The Custodianship of a Child and Jerusalem

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From the Balfour Declaration to the San Remo Conference

On November 2, 1917, Lord Arthur Balfour wrote a letter to Lord Walter Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, that the British government supported the establishment of a Jewish home in the land of Palestine. It became known as the Balfour Declaration:

“Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours,

Arthur James Balfour”

The letter became the basis of international law in following years which expanded on the principle of a Jewish homeland.

In April 1920, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan met in San Remo, Italy to consider what to do with the collapsed Ottoman Empire after its defeat in World War I. On April 24, the powers decided to adopt the key essence of the Balfour Declaration (being in favor of a Jewish homeland) as a basis for the disposition of Palestine. The language of the San Remo Convention expanded on the theme with several additional declarations:

  • Historical basis for the Balfour Declaration:Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connexion of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country;
  • Provide safety for the Jews: “The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion.” (Article 2)
  • Jews to have autonomy (possibly an independent state or something short of it): “The Mandatory shall, so far as circumstances permit, encourage local autonomy.” (Article 3)
  • Facilitate Jewish immigration and land ownership: “The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.” (Article 6)
  • Citizenship. “The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine.” (Article 7)
  • Access to Holy Places. “All responsibility in connexion with the Holy Places and religious buildings or sites in Palestine, including that of preserving existing rights and of securing free access to the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites and the free exercise of worship, while ensuring the requirements of public order and decorum, is assumed by the Mandatory, who shall be responsible solely to the League of Nations in all matters connected herewith, provided that nothing in this article shall prevent the Mandatory from entering into such arrangements as he may deem reasonable with the Administration for the purpose of carrying the provisions of this article into effect; and provided also that nothing in this Mandate shall be construed as conferring upon the Mandatory authority to interfere with the fabric or the management of purely Moslem sacred shrines, the immunities of which are guaranteed.” (Article 13) “A special Commission shall be appointed by the Mandatory to study, define and determine the rights and claims in connection with the Holy Places and the rights and claims relating to the different religious communities in Palestine. The method of nomination, the composition and the functions of this Commission shall be submitted to the Council of the League for its approval, and the Commission shall not be appointed or enter upon its functions without the approval of the Council.” (Article 14)
  • Freedom to Worship and Live throughout the land:The Mandatory shall see that complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals are ensured to all. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.” (Article 15)
  • Hebrew an official language.English, Arabic and Hebrew shall be the official languages of Palestine. Any statement or inscription in Arabic on stamps or money in Palestine shall be repeated in Hebrew and any statement or inscription in Hebrew shall be repeated in Arabic.” (Article 22)

As detailed above, the San Remo Conference took many more exhaustive steps in broadening the rights of Jews to a homeland beyond the simple statement of support in the brief Balfour Declaration.

It would ultimately be the Palestine Mandate of 1922 that would repeat the terms laid out in the San Remo Convention and cement them into international law. The British would assume their role as the administrator for the Mandate in 1924.


On November 2, 2017, Zionists around the world celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration which declared Britain’s approval of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. That short letter became the basis for the global powers formally laying out the historical and legal rights of Jews to reconstitute their autonomy and live, worship, own property and have citizenship throughout Palestine.

As they celebrate, they appreciate the emergence of the Jewish State as a leading democracy, military and economic powerhouse, and environmental and technological marvel. Unfortunately they will have to also acknowledge that much of the world  refuses to recognize Jewish history in the land, thinks that Israel should be limited in its defenses against hostile forces, believes Jews should not have rights to worship at their holiest location, and not be allowed to live and own land throughout Judea and Samaria.

Still much to do 100 years on.


Related First.One.Through articles:

In Defense of Foundation Principles

Heritage, Property and Sovereignty in the Holy Land

Dignity for Israel: Jewish Prayer on the Temple Mount

The Original Nakba: The Division of “TransJordan”

Obama’s “Palestinian Land”

Squeezing Zionism

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

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The Custodianship of a Child and Jerusalem

The moral and legal standing of men and women as it relates to abortion and custodianship have been debated for many years. The courts have typically sided with women regarding abortion, but have become more open to the desires of men in matters of custodianship. Is there any lesson here for the status of Jerusalem?

Abortion and Custodianship

US court rulings in abortion cases almost always side with the woman. Consider the two extreme cases of dispute: if a woman decides to have an abortion but the father of the fetus does not, the courts rule in favor of the woman and do not make her go to term with an unwanted pregnancy. Conversely, if the man wants the fetus to be aborted but the mother does not, the court will not force a woman to have an unwanted abortion.

The situation becomes more morally murky on the next level: financial support for the unwanted child or abortion. Men have argued that it is unreasonable and unfair to make them pay for an outcome that they didn’t desire. If they want to keep the baby but the woman does not, how cruel is it to make the man pay for the abortion? In the other extreme situation where the man wanted the fetus to be aborted, the courts not only ignore their wishes, but further compel the man to give financial support to a child that they never wanted.

In almost every situation of contention related to having and supporting a child, the US courts almost exclusively come down on the side of women. While the legal system may recognize that the rulings are unfair to men, it ultimately concluded that the woman is the more vested party: she’s the one who must carry the fetus to term.

But what about custodianship?

Once a child is born and both parents want to have custody, why should the mother’s desire outweigh those of the father? If the mother wants sole custody, should her wishes be automatically granted? Courts have begun to move away from such approach.

The US legal system has started to award custody based on the child’s best interests, not the desires of the warring parents. A mother is not considered to be inherently the better parent, nor to have greater love for the child. The court examines a range of matters regarding the child’s well-being.

Is there a basis of considering the custodianship of the city of Jerusalem using such rationale?

Jerusalem

The three monotheistic religions all consider the city of Jerusalem holy and have fought for centuries over every one of its stones. Each religion has fought on the battlefield to control the city’s holy places, and in modern times, each has also battled in international fora and the media.

If a city could have a mother, Jerusalem’s would be Judaism. Tradition states that Abraham bound the heir to the Jewish people, his son Isaac, as a sacrifice at the very location that Isaac’s descendants would use as a capital city and build two holy Temples. Over a thousand years after Abraham and Isaac, Christianity would see Jesus walk the city streets to his death. Hundreds of years later, Islamic tradition would consider that its prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven from the city.

The city was not born from a consensual union. Jerusalem was stripped from Judaism in a pagan fire. Over time, the pagans adopted Christianity and the city took on a Christian character. With the Arab invasion of the seventh century, the Christians and Muslims battled for the city on-and-off for 500 years, with the Muslims ultimately prevailing. Just fifty years ago, the Jewish State retook control of the city.

Since losing the city of Jerusalem in a war that it started, Arab Muslims have sought to sue for control over the city. Palestinian Arabs declare that they want a new state with Jerusalem as its capital. Jordanian Arabs argue that they are the custodians of the holiest site, as they have invested and managed the Temple Mount for a long time.

And the Jewish State has made its claim known: it has come home. Jerusalem and Judaism is a family reunited.

The United Nations has weighed in on the matter. It is not a logical, fair or legal arbiter, as the decisions at the UN are advanced by majority vote, and a single Jewish State doesn’t perform well against a phalanx of over 50 Islamic countries. And the results bear that out: UNESCO voted that Jerusalem is “in danger” because the Jewish State controls it.

What if Jerusalem were viewed from the prism of what is best for the city, as the US courts do now in considering the custodianship of a child?

  • Jerusalem was neglected under 400 years of Muslim Ottoman rule; it has flourished under Jewish rule
  • The Muslim population in Jerusalem declined under Ottoman rule, but under Jewish rule, both the Muslim and Jewish populations have grown
  • When Arab Muslims ruled the city from 1949-1967, it forbade Jews from living in the city, or even entering to visit Judaism’s holy places, but since Jews have ruled the city, all religions have been welcomed to live and pray§

Under Israeli sovereignty, Jerusalem has thrived. All “parents” have been able to visit and enjoy their “child.” This is in sharp contrast to a city besieged for centuries under competing custodianship.


People have suggested dividing the city as the most fair manner to resolve the competing claims between Jews and Muslims. But such a division is deadly, much like King Solomon’s proposed cutting of a baby in two to satisfy the claims of two mothers: the baby could not possibly survive.

US courts evaluate what’s in a child’s best interests in deciding custodianship; it does not award it based on avoiding a parent going on a violent bloodbath. Similarly Jerusalem’s sovereignty should be in the hands of the only party that has nurtured it: Israel.

The best interest for both the city itself and for all of those that love it is to see Jerusalem remain under the sole custodianship of its natural mother which has nurtured the city back to health, blossoming as it hasn’t in centuries. Israel.

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§ Israel has continued to maintain a ban on Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, to calm the Muslim world. Several Jewish activists are pushing to end the ban.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Arguments over Jerusalem

Arabs in Jerusalem

750 Years of Continuous Jewish Jerusalem

Jerusalem, and a review of the sad state of divided capitals in the world

Jordan’s Deceit and Hunger for Control of Jerusalem

Oh Abdullah, Jordan is Not So Special

The United Nations and Holy Sites in the Holy Land

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

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The Gulf Between the Views of Nikki Haley and The New York Times on Hamas

The US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley spoke to the United Nations Security Council on June 20, 2017. Her comments about the Palestinian group Hamas could not have been more clear about what the organization represents and how it should be treated on the world stage:

The United States reiterates its commitment to stand with Israel against these forces of terror.

Hamas is one of these forces of terror that yet again showed its true colors to the world earlier this month. It is a terrorist organization so ruthless that it will not hesitate to put the lives of innocent children on the line….

Make no mistake, Israel did not cause the problems in Gaza… we should never forget the responsibility for this humanitarian crisis rests squarely with the one group that actually controls Gaza: Hamas….

Hamas remains a terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction. Its goal is to defeat Israel by force. It will use all the resources it can to continue the fight.

This Security Council must stand up to condemn Hamas’ terror. Hamas represents yet another regional threat that this Council far too often ignores. While UN agencies and Member States dissect Israel’s actions, few speak out against the terror that Hamas continues to plot. Some Member States of this organization even maintain ties to Hamas and other terrorist groups that flourish in Gaza.

The Security Council must unite to say that enough is enough. We need to pressure Hamas to end its tyranny over the people of Gaza. We should condemn Hamas in this Council’s resolutions and statements. We should name Hamas as the group responsible when rockets are fired from Gaza, or when fresh tunnels are discovered. And we should designate Hamas as a terrorist organization in a resolution, with consequences for anyone who continues to support it.

Haley’s words are a sharp turn from the approach seen at the United Nations about Israel and Hamas. The past UN Security General Ban Ki Moon never said that he stood with Israel against terror, while stating that he stood with Gaza in the fields where Hamas fired rockets upon Israel. Ban Ki Moon repeatedly tried to fold Hamas into the Palestinian Authority unity government.

His actions and statements were appalling. And they were echoed in liberal media.

Both CNN and The New York Times have continued to go out of their way to avoid calling Hamas a terrorist organization in article after article. Most recently, in an article about Qatar written on June 24, 2017, the Times wrote:

“Qatar has opened its doors to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates consider a terrorist organization; to members of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group; and to the Afghan Taliban.”

Hamas is not simply a “militant” group, and it is certainly not “the” militant group of the Palestinians, as if there were only a single one. It is a designated terrorist group by many countries, just as the Muslim Brotherhood is labeled as such. Even more, it is one of several Palestinian groups that the United States labels a Foreign Terrorist Organization, including: Palestine Liberation Front (PLF); Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ); Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLF); PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC); and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB).

During the course of the 2016 US presidential debate there was an argument put forth that labeling and understand a threat was essential to combating it.

Nikki Haley has taken that argument head on. She has clearly articulated the problem of the terrorist group Hamas for both Israel and the people of Gaza and has directed the United Nations to take specific actions against such organization.

It is a long overdue and welcome change that will hopefully lead to peace in the region.


New York Times article on Qatar June 24, 2017


Related First.One.Through articles:

Differentiating Hamas into Political and Military Movements

The New York Times wants to defeat Terrorists (just not Hamas)

Cause and Effect: Making Gaza  

The United Nations Once Again “Encourages” Hamas

Why the Media Ignores Jihadists in Israel

The Palestinians aren’t “Resorting to Violence”; They are Murdering and Waging War

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In The Margins

Bret Stephens had an award-winning career writing columns on the top of the Op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal. His conservative take on politics was thoughtful and balanced, as he appreciated nuance in the topics that he covered. He is continuing that insightful analysis over at The New York Times.

In an article printed on June 15, 2017 entitled “The Indigenous American Berserk Strikes Again,” Stephens wrote about the shooting of a Republican politician at the hands of a liberal wacko. He cautioned both liberals and conservatives to not draw any particular conclusions from the actions of a sole operator from the margins of society. A “one-off” does not mean that all liberals will be out to attack conservatives, any more than the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011 meant that conservatives were out to physically harm liberals. (Liberals made such an argument at that time).

It is a lesson that his new colleague at the NY Times, Thomas Friedman, needs to learn.

As described in “Thomas Friedman thinks Palestinians are Crazy in the Margins, While Israel is Crazy in the Mainstream,” Friedman has a long history of exaggerating marginal Israeli “radicals” and minimizing the mainstream Palestinian “radicals.”

  • Friedman described Israel as having a “right-wing” government, simply because it included a nationalistic party that had just 5% of the seats in the parliament. He neglected to mention that Israelis voted much more for the anti-Zionist Arab Joint List to 14% of the parliament
  • He described acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas as a “moderate,” while labeling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an extremist, even though it is Abbas that: argues for a country free of Jews; has capital punishment for Arabs that sells land to Jews; has laws that excuse men for the honor killing of their wives; incites violence against Israeli Jews; etc.
  • The vast majority of Israelis favor a peaceful settlement with the Stateless Arabs from Palestine (SAPs), while 93% of Palestinian Arabs are anti-Semites, more than any other region in the world. The SAPs voted the terrorist group Hamas to 58% of the seats in the Palestinian Authority government.

Stephens argued convincingly that actions of a lone radical should not tarnish the majority: “the fact that events are frightening, bloody and tragic doesn’t necessarily make them especially meaningful…. In 2011 the left wanted to blame millions of Americans for the acts of one crazed man. The indictment served nobody.

Bret Stephens speaking at an event in Westchester, NY July 2015

Meanwhile Friedman – and many liberals – seemingly use an inverted approach, whereby the actions of the PA leadership and majority of SAPs should be ignored, while the opinions of a minority of Israeli Jews should be scrutinized.

Why do liberals exaggerate the fringe while conservatives concentrate on the majority?

Self-Reliance versus Helping Out

Historically, liberals and conservatives could agree to disagree on a particular policy, say abortion. The action was debated about whether it should be legal or banned. Tax policy and welfare were topics to be debated. Climate change. Gun policy. Healthcare.

But the conversation has changed. Today political pundits talk about people. Defining the conservatives/liberals themselves is the focus, not policies.

According to Pew Research. conservatives primarily value responsibility, faith and hard work. In contrast, liberals are more drawn to empathy and helping others. This split in focus helps explain the different approaches to people in the margins of society.

In a conservative mindset, someone’s position in society is a result of actions for which they are responsible. In a traditional bell curve in which the vast majority sit in the middle, everyone – including those in the margins – got there as a result of their own actions. The successful people were the beneficiaries of hard work and risk, while the failures at the other end of the spectrum got there because of poor decisions and/or the lack of determination.

Conservatives study the habits of the successful as they attempt to emulate their path.Those at the top are their focus. When they look at the downtrodden, they are as case studies of actions to avoid.

Meanwhile liberals do not necessarily focus on what actions got a person into their predicament as much as how to get them out. The value of helping others puts liberals into an active mode of assistance. The successful outliers do not need help; they are not part of the liberal orientation. The liberals only attach themselves to the downtrodden – a select segment of those on the margins.

Conservatives and liberals are drawn to opposing ends of the spectrum because of their underlying value system. But conservatives use a common approach to all segments of society and learn from each; liberals end up only relating to a small segment of society. Right-leaning people extract data from both the majority and minority to validate their opinions, while left-leaning people can best apply their values of empathy to a select minority.

Liberal “Progessivism” versus Conservative “Traditionalism”

Not everything that divides conservatives and liberals can be divided between the attractions to the successful and the downtrodden. Sometimes it is the approach to religion and tradition.

Liberals are much less religious than conservatives. Pew polls found that only 36% of liberals found religion as important in their lives, while that figure was almost double – 70% for conservative Americans.

Free from traditional religious constraints, liberals have embraced homosexuality (which has been traditionally viewed as a sin) more than conservatives. Are most people homosexuals? No, they are a minority.

Liberals have also been drawn to the current trend of “self-identity.”

How many truly transgender people are there? It’s infinitesimal. But liberals have taken up this minority as consistent with their credo for empathy and helping others. They have pushed society’s traditional view of gender and advanced that the public must accommodate this new self-identity in matters such as public bathrooms. Conservatives have been appalled at both the new non-binary view of gender, and the demand that the public must adopt to their worldview.

The more religious and traditional conservatives have mostly remained with the majority in these matters of gender and sexual preference, while liberals have loudly campaigned for the minority.

The Parties in the Margin

While the two main political parties have hemmed to the margins, the parties themselves have become marginalized.

Democrats are much more liberal than ever in history, as the liberal wing grew to 44% of the party in 2016 from just 30% in 2000 according to Gallup. Not surprisingly, this liberal Democratic party has rushed to embrace far-left extremists like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. As they have done so, Gallup polls show that the percentage of Americans that identify as Democrats has declined to 30%.

Republicans similarly have become more conservative, and their share of Americans stands at only 26%, even less than Democrats.

The beneficiaries are Independents who now account for 43% of Americans, more than Democrats or Republicans. These independents may share some values of liberals and conservatives, but have a negative feeling about the main policy issues and leadership of the two parties.


Those at the margins are part of our society, but they do not define our society.

As Democrats become more liberal and place an exaggerated focus on the margins, they will continue to marginalize their own political party. It will also continue to benefit Independents and thoughtful writers like Bret Stephens that do not get caught up in trendy thinking that obfuscates truths.


Related First.One.Through articles:

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

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

Magnifying the Margins, and the Rise of the Independents

Liberal’s Protest Bubble Harms Democracy

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

Libertarian Validation and Absolution

Palestinians are “Desperate” for…

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Journalists Killed in 2016 #AlternativeFacts

There were several dozens of journalists killed around the world in 2016. The exact number seems hard to pin down.

According to UNESCO, 101 journalists were killed. It considered Syria as the most dangerous country for journalists, and elaborated that “the most lives were lost in the Arab States, where the armed conflicts in the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq and Yemen have claimed the largest share. Media operating in Latin America and the Caribbean saw 28 casualties, including bloggers and freelancers, constituting the region as second deadliest in 2016.

However, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) counted 93 journalists as targeted and killed. They note that another 29 were killed in accidents or natural disasters bringing the total to 122. IFJ listed the most lethal country for journalists as Iraq (15 killed) followed by Afghanistan (13). Syria ranked as  #6 with 6 killed.

Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) tallied 74 journalists murdered, including non-professional “citizen-journalists.” RSF tagged Syria as the deadliest country. “Syria continues to be the world’s deadliest place for journalists, followed by Afghanistan. Worldwide, two thirds of the journalists killed this year were in war zones. Almost all of them were local journalists, now that news organizations are increasingly reluctant to send their reporters to dangerous hotspots abroad.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) announced that 48 journalists were killed in 2016, with clear motives. Syria led the list with 14, followed by other Arab and Muslim countries: Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

So how many journalists were killed in 2016? 122? 101? 93? 74? 48?

How did four “non-partisan” and “reputable” organizations come to such different conclusions? Did some organization include accidents while others did not? Perhaps one included civilian-journalists and bloggers while another just counted professionals. Maybe some groups did not include peripheral casualties if the journalist wasn’t specifically targeted.

All possibilities. As is bias.

Consider that IFJ has a history of declaring that anyone who self-declares as a journalist is a journalist. So if a terrorist operative used press credentials to infiltrate certain areas to commit murder, that person counted as a journalist by IFJ, but not always by other organizations.

In searching for a reason, maybe one could argue that a higher total of injured journalists heightened the importance of umbrella organizations like IFJ. But that would leave a question of why RSF and CPJ would post such low totals compared to UNESCO.

Maybe the reason for one country getting a higher total was purely innocent. If a Syrian journalist was killed in Turkey maybe one organization listed the murder as happening in Turkey, while another focused on the place where the journalist reported.

journalist-killed
Anti-ISIS Syrian journalist Zaher al-Shurqat killed in Turkey in May 2016

Beyond listing the raw “facts,” UNESCO, RSF and CPJ reached conclusions based on those facts that the most lethal country in the world for journalists was Syria, even though IFJ announced that the country wasn’t even in the top five. IFJ stated that the most dangerous place in the world to be a journalist was the Asia-Pacific region, specifically Philippines, Pakistan and India. UNESCO, RSF and CPJ claimed that it is the Arab states.  Which was right?

The IFJ website covers the entire world by region and claims to be devoted to a mission beyond politics. “The IFJ does not subscribe to any given political viewpoint, but promotes human rights, democracy and pluralism.”  But the English site reserves reporting about the Middle East to only be in Arabic – clearly limiting the audience of readers to a narrow segment of the world population. Why would it deliberately produce an entire section in Arabic? To educate the region that it scores the lowest in regards to “human rights, democracy and pluralism?” To make it impossible for non-Arabic speakers to read about the state of journalists in the Arab world?

 

In 2017, the world was intrigued by the term “Alternative Facts,” and reacted to it as if it were a new phantom reality. In truth, people and organizations have always looked at the same situation and extracted DIFFERENT FACTS, not only different conclusions. Sometimes the reasons are apparent and other times not. Often one can see the motivating factors which led to a party extracting and expressing particular facts and conclusions, and there are times when the listener is simply stumped.

Does it make the party sharing the facts a liar? Biased? Uninformed? Maybe, maybe and maybe.

As the consumers of information that is oftentimes murky, seek the source and basis of the “facts,” and don’t only rely on someone’s conclusions.


Related First.One.Through articles:

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

Journalists in the Middle East

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

New York Times Confusion on Free Speech

Selective Speech

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