The year 2021 saw a spike in readership during the May 2021 Gaza War and then a decline to much lower levels. The dynamic of Facebook pulling back on showing articles continues to impact readership with Facebook readership down by 50%.
Overall, there were 158 articles written during the year, averaging about 700 words each.
The top countries reading the articles remained the same as last year: United States, Israel, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa, with South Africa readership declining significantly. The biggest rise in readership came from Ireland, jumping to #7 from 15th place. Other countries with a jump in readership include: Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
The articles are being translated into more languages including German, Dutch and Norwegian. Hopefully more people will translate the pages and repost the articles in the coming year, including into French and Spanish. The only request is to include a link to the original articles.
I have now written over 1,000 articles totaling over 860,000 words since May, 2014, without any compensation from advertisements or requests for donations. The only asks are to share the articles with friends and elected officials, and have others subscribe to the blog.
There are many signs that society has lost its moorings.
‘Woke’ America makes the argument daily with inanity such as the charge that math is racist and the demand to ‘defund the police’ as if anarchy is a model society. Left-wing activists are similarly trying to change the very meaning of words with new spins that only White people can be racist by definition, and smears that Israel, the most liberal country in the Middle East, is an ‘apartheid‘ state.
Stupidity is not confined to alt-left sensitivities. Society as a whole is outraged by offenses much less grave than serious crimes which are ignored.
Consider The New York Times and its treatment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For years the left-wing paper gave a pass to one of the most repressive regimes in the world which doesn’t allow a woman to drive or leave the home without a male escort. It said nothing about the country’s policy of executing minors or its public beheadings.
In its see/hear/say no evil orientation, The Times sold expensive tourist packages to the country. At least, until the crown price was accused of killing the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Then the media conglomerate found its spine to cancel its lavish junket. Beheading juveniles was deemed a lesser offense than killing a fellow journalist.
It goes on today with American politics as well, like New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo.
And society cheered this man, until he did something truly unforgivable – he sexually harassed women in his office. Only at that point did society turn on him.
A healthy society can easily identify and call out depravity; but we are far from healthy. Even before the pandemic, we let our minds become infected with the adrenaline of righteous rage as we embarked on witch hunts of minor offenses, ignoring the glaring evil before our eyes. Now, trapped in the cycles of closures, our anger buys distrust, so we vilify counter opinions and embrace the tyrants who feed our faiths.
Vaccines and time we will eventually vanquish the coronavirus pandemic, but we must seek a cure for the mental illness which confuses the all-out assault to flatten society’s hierarchy, with blinding rage preventing people from seeing the spectrum between good and evil.
The United Nations was founded to promote peace among nations and has used the platform to try to eliminate the underlying causes of war which often include prejudice. It has recently begun to narrow its focus on certain types of hatred.
Since the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the global body started to focus on terrorism. It listed two particular groups, ISIS and al-Qaeda, which it considered a more global nature than many more localized terrorist groups like Boko Haram but sought to quell terrorism and violent extremism everywhere. It launched various committees to address the scourge.
On December 14, 2021, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, addressed the group focused on counter-terrorism with a message that broke from historical norms:
“As we scan the global horizon, the terror threat is more diverse, spreading offline and online amidst growing mistrust, polarization, weak governance, organized crime and conflict. We see a resurgence of terrorist and violent extremist groups motivated by xenophobia, white supremacy and other forms of racism and intolerance, including misogyny.“
The UN has long discussed the evils of xenophobia, racism and intolerance, general forms of hatred. Now, the head of the UN called out specific forms of hatred – white supremacy and misogyny – in a discussion about counter-terrorism. While these are undoubtedly important matters to call out, why were other forms of hatred ignored? Antisemitism is the most far-reaching hatred in the world. Islamic fundamentalism has killed millions but the UN declared “that selective application of the term “violent extremism” only to Muslim believers reinforces intolerance and discrimination.“
Seemingly, while Islamic fundamentalism is a term frowned upon, the UN is now comfortable calling out white supremacy.
The death of George Floyd, the January 6 Capital riot and the dearth of COVID vaccines to poor countries are coalescing at the UN as an indictment of the western world as the current noxious source of violent extremism in the world. Will this distract the global body from the terrorists backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran and elsewhere as the leading state sponsor of terrorism pursues nuclear weapons?
College campuses have become extremely hostile places for Jews. The spike in anti-Semitic actions and anti-Israel vitriol spewed by both teachers and students are forcing many Jewish students and their parents to seek a course that is both safe and rewarding.
Those concerns and desire to find a blueprint forward brought fifty people to a Westchester synagogue to hear from two notable speakers.
On December 13, 2021, Tikvah’s Jewish Parents Forum presented a panel on “Raising Courageous Jews: A Guide Through the Cultural Minefield” at the Young Israel of Scarsdale. The group dedicated to “Preserving Jewish, Zionist, and American Values for the Rising Generation,” featured Jonathan Silver, Editor of Mosaic, and Liel Leibovitz, a Senior Writer for Tablet.
After Silver’s opening remarks, Leibovitz took the podium and essentially offered the audience his “Get Out” advice which he summarized in four points:
Jewish institutions won’t save you; the forces of culture are too great
Know who your friends are; it is now the moment to choose sides
‘Do’ Jewish. Membership cards are meaningless; one needs deep engagement in Jewish life
Stop going to the expensive universities which despise your values
The approach made many in the audience uneasy. Several were the products of Columbia University (like Leibovitz) and other well-regarded institutions and hoped that they would hear methods for giving their children courage to stand for their Jewish values and the Jewish State. Instead, Leibovitz asked for the parents to have the courage to buck their instincts and send their kids elsewhere – or nowhere.
Silver seemed a bit uncomfortable with the suggestion as well, but for a different reason. Tikvah is dedicated to “bringing Jewish thinking and leaders into conversation with Western political, moral, and economic thought,” not to flee from the conversation.
So let me offer some of my own thoughts here which will be expounded upon in future articles in the FirstOneThrough blog and elsewhere where the articles are openly shared.
I start with a quote from a hero of Roger Hertog, the president of Tikvah, Winston Churchill:
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Success and failure come-and-go, rise-and-fall like a spinning wheel, but courage is the engine that keeps propelling people forward through the various ups-and-downs. If we want to raise courageous Jews who will not break with Jewish values and the Jewish State, we need to give them life skills that will allow them to flourish in the good times, sustain them in the difficult times and a desire to stay on the path.
Asking a child to be a proud Jew and supportive of the Jewish State begins with instilling those values from a young age. Starting the conversation in the senior year of high school or once they’ve entered university is oftentimes too late.
Children are sponges and learn behavior from watching. When they are brought up appreciating Israel and Judaism and see that their family actively engages in the great aspects of the religion and peoplehood and stands up to fight and defend Jews, Judaism and Israel, their instincts are already trained.
Belong to a synagogue and attend classes
Donate to Jewish causes
Write to government officials and the media when anti-Semitic and anti-Israel articles are posted
Talk about Israel and Judaism at the dinner table
Attend seminars both on education and political matters
Vote in elections
Bring your children to protests
Be involved in Jewish activities at your children’s school
Education and Conviction
It is much easier to have courage when one has conviction about the cause.
Sending children to Jewish schools and camps is a critical way to make them appreciate their history, culture, religion and the remarkable nature of the Jewish State. Being in Israel with peers is a wonderful way to connect with Jewish history, such as made available from Birthright Israel.
College campuses tend to be much more liberal than society at large. Liberals’ focus on empathy drives them to support those perceived as weaker and more vulnerable. Pro-Palestinian supporters have leaned into this theme to draw progressives to their cause. Young adults need to understand that Israel is the most liberal country for over 1,000 miles in any direction, as it lays the foundation for deeper engagement.
Our educational system needs a different approach for discussing Zionism, doing so via teaching critical thinking, critical listening and engaging narratives. That is a longer discussion for another article.
Recognize Audience / Be a Critical Listener
Today’s mainstream media is growing ever more hostile about Israel. The media has normalized an anti-Zionist lexicon that is also increasingly anti-Jewish. Understanding language and the forum is critical for knowing how and when to show courage.
There was a time when society at large resembled a bell curve. Most people sat in the middle on particular issues and there were fewer people on the extremes of right and left. Social media and the death of news in favor of editorials have now magnified those margins. In the beginning, it just appeared that the fringe was large as they were loud. Unfortunately, society continues to move towards a barbell shape with people and politicians in the middle lurching to more openly radical positions.
On campuses in particular, students are being asked to take sides on issues which they may or may not have any vested interest or real concern. Leaders, followers and participants now show up at rallies in calls for “allyship,” the comfort of belonging, or simply classic peer pressure. While they may look like a menacing horde, they are still individuals.
Courage requires intelligence. It does not mean taking on every situation in the same way, responding to every action or to every person in the same manner. It is important to help our young adults listen critically to their classmates and distinguish between those groups and individuals that should be engaged in conversation and those that should be confronted aggressively, both directly and indirectly.
The anti-Semites and anti-Zionists have playbooks which are being shared in universities around the world. They include: “die-ins” and “apartheid weeks”; boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) resolutions; keeping Jews and Jewish organizations out of school clubs and student government; taking over Middle East Studies departments with anti-Zionist lecturers; anti-Israel and anti-Semitic speakers on campus; etc. These are the manifestations that make campuses feel unwelcoming to Jews which showcase the animus towards the “Chosen People” and God’s “Promised Land.”
It can be very overwhelming to young adults who are simply looking for a quality education and a nice time on campus to deal with such organized hate. Fortunately, there are groups who can help students understand that they are not alone in confronting the mob. It is easier to be courageous with company.
College groups like Students Supporting Israel are springing up on various campuses. StandWithUs gives students materials and information to stand up to misinformation and malicious activities. Fuel for Truth focuses on pro-Israel education for young adults. Club Z is helping train teens to be articulate proactive Zionist leaders. Hillel provides students a Jewish experience on campus. The Louis Brandies Center helps students understand their legal rights when confronting abuse. Students should visit these institutions on a regular basis and not be reactive to negative events on campus.
Each organization uses a variety of approaches in combatting the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel venom. An example may be handing out notices in front of the “apartheid wall” exhibit, about Neta Sorek, an Israeli teacher and feminist who was a strong supporter of making peace with Palestinian Arabs. She was slaughtered while walking in a monastery garden by two Palestinian men who slipped through that “apartheid wall.”
Of course, there’s always the excellent choice of attending Yeshiva University, a proudly Jewish and Zionist university, among the top ranked universities, where the demand to be courageous for Jewish values and the Jewish State is commonplace.
It is a sad state of affairs that one has to talk about the courage required to be Jewish and a proud Zionist on college campuses today. We must prepare our children appropriately, and support those organizations which stand with them in these critical and volatile years.
In just a single week, two governments took long overdue steps to label all branches of terrorist groups as part of the same poisonous tree. It was not without reason.
On November 19, 2021, the United Kingdom announced that it would add the political wing of Hamas onto the list of terrorist groups, joining the military branch which already had the designation. On November 24th, the government of Australia announced that it was adding all branches of Hezbollah to its terrorist list. They joined many countries in recognizing that the entirety of these organizations mobilized forces of hatred and terror, and facilitated the actual attacks of its military wings.
The propaganda arms of the two groups – al Aqsa and al Manar – are no longer fringe sources of extremism. They have been growing in popularity and are now at parity with more mainstream Muslim Arab media.
Al Manar is the media arm of Hezbollah in Lebanon. It routinely puts out the statements of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah demonizing the United States and Israel. The group defines itself as the official Islamic resistance of Lebanon to combat the atrocities and invasions of western powers.
Al Aqsa is the media arm of Hamas. It also defines itself as the official Islamic resistance of the Palestinian people against western and Jewish forces, advocating violence in its various programming.
al Arabia & Al Jazeera
al Manar & Al Aqsa
Media viewership in Gaza over time.Gazans preferences for terrorist sources has grown according to Palestinian polls
As the table above shows, the preference for the programming of mainstream media like al Arabia from Dubai and al Jazeera from Qatar has dropped dramatically, even though those media outlets also demonize the west. The Gazans have become drawn to more radical calls for terrorism.
The spike in West Bankers watching Hamas media has a lot to do with Palestinians dislike of PA President Mahmoud Abbas from the rival Fatah party, his cancelling elections earlier this year and Hamas’s missile attacks against Israel in May, a war crime celebrated by West Bankers as a defense for Jerusalem. But the overall trends are much the same as in Gaza: Palestinians are now watching terrorist television at the same rates as mainstream Arabic media.
The United Nations long ago realized that terrorist propaganda fuels violence, but it primarily focused attention on ISIS and al Qaeda and their usage of social media. Hopefully the recent actions of Australia and the UK in labelling the political and media arms of Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist organizations will help reduce the vile calls to violence.
On the first night of the Jewish holiday of Chanukah, Israeli President Isaac Herzog lit a menorah at the Tomb of the Jewish Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron. At the ceremony he said “The historic connection of Jews to Hebron, to the tomb of the patriarch, to the heritage of the patriarchs and matriarchs is unquestionable. Recognition of this connection must be beyond all controversy.“
Herzog took the opportunity to preach for peace and unity with Arabs, who are also descendants of Abraham through his son Ishmael, stating “we all have shared roots from this cave. Alongside that, we have to remember that our roots are not the only ones that go back to this cave. Especially today, and especially here, in this holy space dedicated to all sons of Abraham, we have to continue dreaming of peace, between all faiths and creeds in this land, and to condemn any type of hatred or violence.“
The Arabs were not interested in the Israeli president’s talk of peace between brothers.
Just as they had banned Jews from visiting their second holiest location (on par with Medina for Muslims) for hundreds of years until Israel took control of the site in 1967, the Arab Muslims spoke about the candle lighting ceremony with disdain and threats of violence.
The Palestinian political-terrorist group Hamas said that lighting a candle was “a provocation” and “a flagrant violation” of the site’s sanctity, calling on Palestinians to confront Israelis at the scene.
The Arab League said it was angered by Herzog’s “storming” of the site and that it showed “the continuation of their official and organized terrorism against the Palestinian people, their rights, and sanctities, in the same approach they practice in Judaizing Jerusalem, and targeting Al-Aqsa Mosque and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory.” It called upon the international – and the United Nations specifically – to “reject the targeting of Islamic and Christian sanctities, including this intrusion, and to assume responsibilities to take the necessary measures to confront this aggression.“
One expects vile anti-Semitic calls for violence from Hamas. Even though the United Nations won’t say it explicitly, it knows that the highly popular group is against a two-state solution and seeks to destroy Israel.
But the UN warmly embraces the Arab League.
In January 2021, United Nations Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo said that cooperation between the UN and the Arab League has been critical in the search for a two-state solution. The head of UNRWA, Phillipe Lazzarini, addressed the Arab League in September 2021 in an appeal for monies.
The UN shamefully considers the Arab League an important partner in the Middle East, even as the group flagrantly ignores Jewish history and rights, and inflames the region with outrageous claims of “terrorism” for lighting a menorah during Chanukah. It is well past time for the UN to finally begin confronting and condemning these enemies of coexistence.
The temporary United Nations agency tasked with caring for refugees from the Arab-Israeli War of Independence has abused language and brutalized the Arabs.
How Long an Immigrant or Refugee
My father’s grandfather came to the U.S. as an adult fleeing pogroms in Russia, while my mother came as a toddler fleeing the Holocaust in Austria. Each arrived as both refugee and immigrant, and ultimately each became a citizen and raised a family in this amazing country.
I never considered myself to be either an immigrant or a refugee, although I descend from them. I imagine most people who consider themselves natives may have immigrant parents or grandparents who may or may not have also been refugees.
An immigrant is defined as “a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country“, and a refugee is defined as “a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.” Both relate to that specific person and not to offspring.
But the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) uses a distinct definition of refugees. By its own account, it has cared for “four generations of Palestine refugees, defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration.“
This transfer of refugee status is just one of UNRWA’s many abuses.
Palestine or Israel? Why Only Arabs?
The timeframe to qualify for UNRWA care was set from “1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948,” – specifically from the day after Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948 to two years prior. The qualifier of the “normal place of residence” in “Palestine” is either the entirety of the Palestine Mandate which included Israel, Gaza and the area commonly called the “West Bank,” or only the area which is now Israel, as one would imagine based on the date range chosen.
If it’s the entirety of the Palestine Mandate, then all Jews who lost their homes when Jordan ethically cleansed the region of Jews should be entitled to receive services from the agency as well. Banning Jews from UNRWA services is blatantly anti-Semitic. Alternatively, if the definition of “Palestine” is not all of historic Palestine but just Israel, than the agency should state that it is handling Israeli Arab refugees, not “Palestine refugees”. It also does not address why the UN did not set up a comparable agency for the Jews who fled eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
This is a mistreatment of Jews and Israel. The abuse of the Palestinian Arabs is far worse.
UNRWA does not only provide free education and health services to descendants of refugees and other poor people in its five fields of operations. It promises these wards that if they stay registered with the agency, they will either get to move out of the third world camps to the wealthy country of Israel or receive compensation from the Jewish State.
While there are 5.7 million people registered as Palestinian refugees with UNRWA as of December 2020, there are roughly the same number of Arabs who lost their homes in Palestine but went on to start new lives in Canada, Chile and other countries around the world. Those five million Arabs who moved around the world have the same definition of “refugee” as everyone else (like the story above) and do not pass on the inherited status that UNRWA uniquely affords.
That is insane.
For those people who point to UN Resolution 194 which stated that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible,” it is obvious that those “refugees” should not be bound to be registered with UNRWA. If an Arab American now living in Michigan lost the family home in Jaffa in 1948, she should be entitled to the same compensation as a man now living in Gaza who lost the home next door in 1948.
UNRWA Wards Trapped in the Fiction
The tension between the various Palestinian refugees – those registered with UNRWA and those that are not – is significant. Billions of dollars are at stake.
Consider the situation where a family is due $1 million for a home lost in Jaffa in 1948. If there are 20 surviving family members registered with UNRWA, each person would get $50,000. However, if 20 other family members not registered with UNRWA also become entitled to compensation, each person would only get $25,000. Effectively, monies would be “transferred” from UNRWA refugees to non-UNRWA refugees. That dynamic makes UNRWA refugees determined to keep those not officially registered with UNRWA out of the “refugee” definition and simultaneously keeps all registered people locked into the ridiculous system, lest they lose the windfall. All this keeps the temporary agency afloat well past its expiry date, as the UN maintains the fiction that it is helping these stateless people.
While the UN established UNRWA in 1949 to temporarily house and care for actual refugees, the agency morphed over the decades into Palestine-in-Waiting, which must be sustained at all costs. In doing so, UNRWA has imprisoned the stateless Arabs of Palestine in a permanent bribe to keep it wedded to the agency, artificially extending its mandate and the misery of Arabs in a gross choreography of munchausen syndrome.
The spokesperson for the global United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, Shabia Mantoo made an appeal to wealthy nations to take in more refugees on September 21, 2021. She said that “90 per cent of the world’s refugees [are] hosted in some of the poorest countries in the world,” directly suggesting that wealthy countries needed to do more in regards to resettlement.
Worldometers listed 57 countries that had a Gross Domestic Capital per Capita (GDPC) of over $25,000 in 2017. Sixteen of those had populations under 2.5 million, suggesting that they are not well equipped to take in a large number of refugees. Two countries – Singapore and Hong Kong – are extremely dense leaving little room for further absorption. That meant that there are 39 countries which are theoretically well-situated to take in refugees.
GDP per Capita (2017)
Population demsity (pop / Sq.km.)
Countries with highest GDP per capita with populations over 2.5 million, showing population density from the World Bank
Reviewing the table above shows that there are four wealthy countries which are sparsely populated which have the ability to easily absorb large numbers of refugees: Australia; Canada; Kazakhstan and Russia. There are eight other countries which also have lots of room: Norway; USA; Saudi Arabia; Sweden; Finland; Oman; New Zealand and Lithuania. Six additional wealthy countries with ample room include: Ireland; Spain; Malaysia; Greece; Romania and Croatia.
Based on the combined factors of wealth and space to settle refugees, the ten bolded countries should assume the lead in absorbing refugees.
A deeper analysis of the wealthiest countries shows an interesting trend regarding welcoming immigrants to their countries. The European countries tend to have a modest level of immigrants, between 10 and 17%, while the oil rich Arab states have extremely high level of immigrant workers, ranging from 40 to 75% of the total population. The wealthy countries with the highest population densities clustered in three groups: Europeans; southeast Asians which have virtually no immigrants, and Israel.
GDP per capita
Population Density (pop per sq. km.)
Israel uniquely has a high immigration rate for dense wealthy countries, according to data from the World Bank
As the world looks to wealthy countries to absorb more refugees and immigrants, it can look at the success of Israel in welcoming newcomers, as it turns to sparsely populated countries like Australia and Canada, homogeneous countries like Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, and Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia and Oman to do their fair share.
The eye-spy game began from the moment the taxi pulled up to the international terminal at the airport. Who else is going to Israel?
The car doors popped open quickly as the airport police pushed people to unload quickly. Eyes scanned the crowd. Who will see someone they know first? The four family members entered the terminal in a tie; zeros all around.
I sensed disappointment from my daughter. It’s Thanksgiving and Chanukah all in one. Where were her peeps?
Arriving the recommended three hours before scheduled departure has both advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, there’s no time panic in going through the long security process but unfortunately, people-watching was light.
We were directed by airport personnel to join a line quite a distance from the counter. Within five minutes the first familiar faces appeared – a couple we knew from high school going to visit their son studying in Israel for the second year. It became the familiar line of questions among the many people we saw at the gate: Who are you visiting? Where are they studying? Were you able to get in at any time before this during the pandemic?
While Israel led the world in vaccinations, it also cycled through various lockdowns. Some people with immediate family members living in Israel (not just studying in school) were able to come during COVID but others had to wait until now.
It was interesting how many people were coming just to visit family members and how many were combining it with business. Over the past decades, the country emerged as a leading technology powerhouse. It did not suffer the financial meltdown of 2008-9 that caught most of the world, and today its currency stands out as one of the strongest.
We landed at Ben Gurion Airport and met more people we knew as we waited at passport control. The exchanges continued: Mivaseret second year. Netiv Aryeh first year. Harova first year. The line seemed to go quickly.
After picking up luggage we went through a very efficient COVID-19 testing area which was set up to process all inbound visitors and then exited the building to the taxi stand. Visitors congregated outside to welcome guests, including those surprising their parents who came in to visit.
We headed to Jerusalem to be reunited with our son. It was wonderful having all of the kids together again.
The kids slept while we grabbed morning coffee at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Arab and Jewish hotel workers were busy arranging for the morning tourists as we had the place for ourselves. We then went to morning prayers around the corner and got to hear the priestly blessings, a tradition that happens every day, only in the holy land.
Israel is fortunate to be a thriving multi-ethnic democracy with remarkable economy amid a region in freefall. Jews are fortunate to be able to live, learn, visit and pray in the holy land even in the backdrop of a crazy world.
On January 20, 1942, Germans met in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee to develop the “Final Solution to the Jewish Problem.” The persecution of Jews was already well underway, and on that day, the Nazi regime put into place a program to push the Jews to extinction. They succeeded in wiping out nearly all of … Continue reading →
A British Muslim flew thousands of miles to take Jewish hostages in Texas in an attempt to secure the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a noted anti-Semite serving time for trying to kill American soldiers and plot a mass casualty attack in New York City. The hijacker, Malik Faisal Akram, yelled at the people praying on … Continue reading →
Sabbath broke, so the phones turned on to check emails and the news of the prior 25 hours. The horrible reports coming out of Colleyville, Texas were not just disturbing but unsettling. Yet again, Jews were targeted by anti-Semites/ anti-Zionists to free other anti-Semites / anti-Zionists. Between calls and community tehillim, I opted to find … Continue reading →
The United Nations has many special agencies and offices devoted uniquely for the Stateless Arabs from Palestine (SAPs), a non-member entity. The most infamous is UNRWA, an agency which gives aid to the descendants of Palestinian refugees and other people who live in the area, which is distinct from the UNHCR which handles every actual refugee fleeing wars around the world. The global body also has an office devoted to Palestinians which is marketed as “Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO).”
At the UN, the “Middle East Peace Process” has nothing to do with giving Israel an iota of security, aid, defense or support. It is solely about giving SAPs money, programming, infrastructure and a new country.
Money, Money, Money
A wonderful example can be seen in the November 17, 2021 UNSCO report. The 15 page report reviewed the financial crisis of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and suggested remedies. Israel was mentioned in the report a few times, mostly in regards to either positive or negative actions it took in relation to the PA economy.
At paragraphs eight and nine, the tension between between Israel and the PA – including fighting in May 2021 and steps taken to reduce tensions – was broached. It was a delayed but welcome sign that the office tasked with “Middle East Peace” would actually discuss the topic and make constructive suggestions. Alas, by paragraph ten – and for the remainder of the document – UNSCO could only describe the financial situation of the PA.
The report laid out its grand view of the core problem (presumably to peace) and then an action plan to address those issues:
“Nevertheless, a piecemeal approach to addressing these challenges, along with a lack of progress on the broader political issues, risks perpetuating a continuous cycle of crisis management. Rather, to stabilize the economic and security situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in and around Gaza, and to strengthen the fiscal situation of the PA and its institutions, a broader framework of engagement—including parallel steps by all parties—needs to be re-established between the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the international community. This will allow for moving beyond the current impasse and refocusing on building an independent, democratic, contiguous, viable, and sovereign Palestinian State living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security. The present report to the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee charts out a framework for stabilizing the economic and security situation, undertaking reforms, and promoting development. We propose a three-track approach focusing on initiatives to 1) address the immediate economic and fiscal situation facing the PA and strengthen PA institutions and basic service delivery, 2) solidify the cessation of hostilities and support economic development in Gaza, and 3) generate longer-term economic growth and sustainable livelihoods across the OPT. Some of these initiatives are already underway, but other initiatives need urgent donor support or policy changes from the parties.”
The goal of the report, as highlighted above, is to build a Palestinian State. The three courses of action to achieve such mission are all about supporting the financial condition of 1) the PA, 2) Gaza and 3) the West Bank. The rest of the report provided recommendations for building the PA economy and then appealed for money for Palestinians.
With such an approach – throwing additional billions of dollars at Palestinian Arabs – without addressing core issues blocking peace such as systemic antisemitism, denial of Jewish history and rights, incitement to violence and refusal to coexist with Jews, the report from the UN office tasked with Middle East Peace read like a donor appeal pamphlet rather than a roadmap for coexistence.
In regards to pursuing “peace” the report offered the following as hurdles:
“Meaningful progress, however, will be impossible without resolving the broader context: a grim reality of military occupation, violence, internal Palestinian divisions, illegal settlement expansion, demolitions, displacement, settler-related violence, and the ever-present threat of escalation, including rocket attacks by armed groups, in the Gaza Strip. The continued deterioration on the ground threatens not only Palestinian development and the enjoyment of human rights, but also makes building a Palestinian state and achieving a lasting peace more difficult.“
According to the UN office devoted to peace, the obstacles to peace are solely Israeli actions and the division between Fatah and Hamas/ the West Bank and Gaza. The “threat of escalation” towards violence is from unnamed “armed groups in the Gaza Strip.” This is outrageous on multiple levels and speaks to the heart of the failure of the UN to advance peace in the region.
The UN willfully ignores this reality and advocates for throwing money at the anti-Semitic jihadists in the belief that it will make them change their minds and pursue peaceful coexistence.
It’s worse than willful ignorance. It’s a coverup, a sanitization of the core problems.
The report called for aid to Gaza in regards to materials and money in a manner that will avoid “diversions.” The casual phrase the report used twice obfuscates the nefarious actions of Hamas which uses the materials and money to kill Jews.
So it’s actually worse than a coverup. The UN seeks to empower these genocidal jihadists, if not openly and directly, then at least indirectly.
That’s why the report did not name the political-terrorist group Hamas and just generic “armed groups” from Gaza. That’s why it bemoaned the “internal Palestinian divisions.”
It’s a disgrace that in a three step plan for promoting peace, UNSCO did not demand the end of Hamas and the handing over of all its weapons to the PA. Those should be priority items one and two.
Ignoring Israelis, Even Those Murdered by Terrorists
A document and office about peace should have a basic understanding that there are two parties to consider. When writing about children’s trauma from the cycles of violence, the report only discusses the kids in Gaza. What about the kids in Israel who live under the rain of missiles and arson kites overhead and terrorist tunnels underground? Is their safety and trauma not important?
Nothing encapsulates the complete disregard for Israeli lives as much as the discussion in the report around so called “prisoner payments.” These are funds that the PA pays to the families of Arab terrorists who attack Israelis, essentially paying for terror. The US, European Union and other countries have lambasted the PA for this activity which incentivizes violence.
Rather than explicitly call out the noxious incitement, the report notes that Israel’s deduction of tax receipts in the same amount of the terror payments hurts the Palestinian economy!
“From January through June 2021, based on 2018 legislation, Israel was deducting and holding NIS50 million per month from the transfer of clearance revenues delivered to the Palestinian Authority in response to the “prisoners payments.” Starting in July, the monthly deductions were increased to NIS100 million. These monthly deductions represent a significant strain on the Palestinian fiscal situation. The payments made to Palestinian prisoners, their families, or the families of those killed or injured in the context of attacks also greatly complicate Palestinian relations with Israel and key donors. International technical assistance could help the Palestinian Authority instead strengthen its existing cash transfer program that targets the most vulnerable Palestinian households.“
That this report can be published under the title of “peace” by the United Nations is an outrage. It effectively summarized all one needs to know about how the UN views Israeli lives and security. The maimed Israeli civilians are insignificant and not even an worthy of mention. Dead Jewish children are not even an afterthought in the quest to fund Palestinians. The UN is worried about the Arab terrorists “killed or injured in the context of attacks” on Jews, and the financial impact to their families, inverting the perpetrator to a victim, and the Jewish souls to the dustbin.
If the UN wants to promote two states living side-by-side in peace, it should lambast the “prisoner payments,” and pay to fix and strengthen the security fence between Israel and Gaza, as well as the bomb shelters in schools and playgrounds in Israel. It should fund counseling for Israeli children suffering from trauma due to the genocidal jihadists living next door, rather than continue to support those terrorists, thereby adding to the kids’ distress.
The report concludes as one would expect – an appeal for money for Palestinians:
“As always, we stand ready to assist the PA with its own ambitious reform and development agenda, as articulated at successive donor meetings and in the renewed National Development Plan. In support of these efforts, the UN will continue consulting with our international partners and with the Palestinian Authority to implement an integrated response strategy to the ongoing crises, such as the framework proposed above.“
UNSCO lost all semblance of being an office to promote peace between two parties and noted that it stands ready to assist only one party – the Palestinian Authority – raise money. That’s what the United Nations has essentially become – a redistribution arm which seeks to boycott Israel and transfer the monies to Palestinians. Is it a surprise that the report lifted from the American Democratic agenda a line “building back better” in its report?
The UN Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace should properly rebrand itself as the UN Coordinator for Palestinian Appeals. It may be more successful at raising more money from countries which have become more open about their own antisemitism and anti-Israel bias, and long ago stopped trying to get Palestinian Arabs to abandon their localized jihadist aspirations.