The Middle East with American Leaders that Back Friends and Punish Enemies

On February 2, 2011, US President Obama gave the Middle East a clear unambiguous message: the United States will no longer back its allies.

Arab countries had hoped that the only US ally that Obama was going to abuse was Israel, as witnessed by the callous and abusive treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first two years of Obama’s presidency.

However, on that February day, Obama pulled the carpet out from Hosni Mubarak, the long-time ruler of Egypt and loyal US ally.

“We’ve borne witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country and a long-time partner of the United States,… [the transition] must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now.

Obama made clear that the future was in the hands of the people of Egypt, not its leader and long-time US partner Mubarak.

The rest of the Arab world was appalled by Obama’s actions. The leaders of American ally Saudi Arabia felt that Obama had no clue how things worked in the Middle East. You backed allies, not enemies.

In Syria, the regime of Bashar al-Assad bombarded his own people with missiles and chemical weapons, but Obama set down fake “red lines” without ramifications.

Enemies got a pass in the brutalization of its people. Friends were scorned, thrown out of office and arrested.

Seven years later, on January 30, 2018, the Trump Administration’s ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley made clear this administration’s break with Obama’s foreign policy after Donald Trump’s State of the Union address:

“For the first time in a long time, our friends know that they can count on the United States to have their backs, and our enemies know that we will no longer give them passes when they threaten American interests.”

It is still early too tell if the Middle East will be better suited under the model of protecting one’s allies. But it is all too apparent that enabling one’s enemies as under Obama, was a catastrophic failure.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Remembering the Terrible First Obama-Netanyahu Meeting

John Kerry: The Declaration and Observations of a Failure

Failures of the Obama Doctrine and the Obama Rationale

Obama’s Friendly Pass to Turkey’s Erdogan

Obama and the Saudis

Israel & the United States Repel the Force of the World

Trump’s Take on Obama’s “Evil Ideology”

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy on Israel is like the United Nations

Nikki Haley Will Not Equivocate on the Ecosystem of Violence

Comparing Nikki Haley’s and Samantha Power’s Speeches after UN Votes on Israel

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Israel & the United States Repel the Force of the World

“It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world.”

Thomas Paine, Common Sense
January 9, 1776

On January 9, 1776, exactly 242 years ago, the great American Patriot Thomas Paine published the first edition of his pamphlet “Common Sense.” In it he advanced the arguments why the colonies needed to break free from England, and argued for a new political system based on democracy and equality, quite dissimilar to England’s monarchy and class-based hierarchy. While he acknowledged that the colonies were outnumbered and outgunned, he declared that the unity of the American colonies in spirit and purpose would withstand the battles to come.

Those sentiments are being borne out again, this time, between the United States of America and Israel.

On December 6, 2017, US President Trump acknowledged the reality that Jerusalem is the capital city of the State of Israel. It was a move that was welcomed by the government of Israel, but not by much of the world.

Shortly thereafter, the United Nations Security Council voted to denounce USA’s decision in a vote of 14-to-1, with only the US voting against the measure. That single vote by a permanent member of the UNSG was enough to block the resolution.

The Arab states moved to have a similar vote at the UN General Assembly. The lopsided vote came in at 128 countries voting to condemn the American recognition, 9 votes supporting the USA and 35 countries abstaining. The overwhelming vote was non-binding and the US continued to take measures that were completely within its rights and jurisdiction .

Not seven weeks after the US declaration of the Jerusalem Acknowledgment, US Vice President came to Israel, to visit its capital city of Jerusalem and address its parliament, the Knesset. He loudly and clearly proclaimed the unity between the US and Israel:

US Vice President Mike Pence addressing the Knesset
(photo: January 22, 2018)

“Thanks to the [US] President’s leadership, the alliance between our two countries has never been stronger, and the friendship between our peoples has never been deeper. And I am here to convey a simple message from the heart of the American people: America stands with Israel.

We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight.

We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny.”

Pence made clear that the US stands with Israel in both the positive and negative; in the passive and the aggressive.

The US stands with Israel in the mundane. In a democratic way of life. In commerce and trade. In acknowledging truth and fact.

And the US also stands with Israel against the forces of hatred, racism and antisemitism. Against evil ideologies and terror. Against distortions and fake history.

Pence reiterated those comments, as he absorbed the history of the Jews and the history of America:

In the story of the Jews, we’ve always seen the story of America. It is the story of an exodus, a journey from persecution to freedom, a story that shows the power of faith and the promise of hope….

“And your story inspired my forebears to create what our 16th President called a “new birth of freedom.” And down through the generations, the American people became fierce advocates of the Jewish people’s aspiration to return to the land of your forefathers to claim your own new birth of freedom in your beloved homeland.”

Pence addressed the lies spewed from the mouth of the acting-President of the Palestinian Authority and the UNESCO that the Jews have nothing to do with the land of Israel:
“The Jewish people held fast to a promise through all the ages, written so long ago, that “even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens,” from there He would gather and bring you back to the land which your fathers possessed….“The Jewish people’s unbreakable bond to this sacred city [of Jerusalem] reaches back more than 3,000 years. It was here, in Jerusalem, on Mount Moriah, that Abraham offered his son, Isaac, and was credited with righteousness for his faith in God.

“It was here, in Jerusalem, that King David consecrated the capital of the Kingdom of Israel. And since its rebirth, the modern State of Israel has called this city the seat of its government.

“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. And, as such, President Trump has directed the State Department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, and that United States Embassy will open before the end of next year.”

Pence further spoke of a revolution in the Arab world, where some countries are breaking with past hatreds and establishing ties with Israel:
“Over the past two days, I’ve traveled to Egypt and Jordan, two nations with whom Israel has long enjoyed the fruits of peace. I spoke with America’s great friends, President Al Sisi of Egypt, and King Abdullah of Jordan, about the courage of their predecessors who forged an end to conflict with Israel in their time.And those two leaders prove every day that trust and confidence can be a reality among the great nations who call these ancient lands home.

In my time with those leaders, and with your Prime Minister, we discussed the remarkable transformation that is taking place across the Middle East today, and the need to forge a new era of cooperation in our day and age.

The winds of change can already be witnessed across the Middle East. Longstanding enemies are becoming partners. Old foes are finding new ground for cooperation. And the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael are coming together in common cause as never before.

Last year, in Saudi Arabia, President Trump addressed an unprecedented gathering of leaders from more than 50 nations at the Arab Islamic American Summit. He challenged the people of this region to work ever closer together, to recognize shared opportunities and to confront shared challenges. And the President urged all who call the Middle East their home to, in his words, “meet history’s great test — [and] conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism together.”

And Pence spoke about the common threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism and the evil of the Islamic republic of Iran:
“Radical Islamic terrorism knows no borders — targeting America, Israel, nations across the Middle East, and the wider world. It respects no creed — stealing the lives of Jews, Christians, and especially Muslims. And radical Islamic terrorism understands no reality other than brute force.Together with our allies, we will continue to bring the full force of our might to drive radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the Earth.”
Just over 242 years since Paine’s call for unity to launch a new nation, the US administration declared its affinity for Israel, in maintaining and advancing the Jewish State, just 70 years after it was reestablished:
“How unlikely was Israel’s birth; how more unlikely has been her survival. And how confounding, and against the odds, has been her thriving. You have turned the desert into a garden, scarcity into plenty, sickness into health, and you turned hope into a future.Israel is like a tree that has grown deep roots in the soil of your forefathers, yet as it grows, it reaches ever closer to the heavens. And today and every day, the Jewish State of Israel, and all the Jewish people, bear witness to God’s faithfulness, as well as your own.

It was the faith of the Jewish people that gathered the scattered fragments of a people and made them whole again; that took the language of the Bible and the landscape of the Psalms and made them live again. And it was faith that rebuilt the ruins of Jerusalem and made them strong again.

The miracle of Israel is an inspiration to the world. And the United States of America is proud to stand with Israel and her people, as allies and cherished friends.”

The US is proud of Israel and Israel is proud of the US. That unity is a strength for both countries and will hopefully continue to “repel the force of the world” for many years to come.


Related First.One.Through articles:

In Defense of Foundation Principles

Israel’s Peers and Neighbors

Comparing Nikki Haley’s and Samantha Power’s Speeches after UN Votes on Israel

Israel’s Colonial Neighbors from Arabia

Both Israel and Jerusalem are Beyond Recognition for Muslim Nations

The New York Times Inverts the History of Jerusalem

The Invisible Flag in Judo and Jerusalem

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The War Preferred

Summary: When a country prefers to use military force over financial pressure, what does that tell you about the party’s temperament and goals?

USA’s Financial Pressure First

Over the past decades, the United States of America has made efforts to contain the nuclear ambitions of rogue states like the Islamic Republic of Iran and North Korea. The USA viewed those state sponsors of terrorism as too dangerous to be the guardians of weapons of mass destruction. But in each case, the USA used economic means of combating Iran and North Korea as a preferred course to launching into a military war.

These were not unique situations.

The US has engaged in economic warfare several times. In situations like Cuba, the US never opted to attack the country militarily. However, in other situations like Libya, the US imposed economic warfare initially in February 2011, before deciding to use its military force some weeks later.

For the United States, the preferred course of engagement was to use economic means of achieving it’s aims, whether it was for a country to reverse course on a nuclear program, or to stop a war. The USA wanted to save lives – both of its own soldiers as well as in the country it attacked – so it delayed the use of force as long as possible.

Arabs’ Attack First

The Arabs in the Middle East have used the exact opposite approach.

When Israel announced its new state in 1948, five Arab countries invaded with an enormous military. Death was not only a means to an end but a goal: the destruction of the Jewish State.

In 1973, on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Arab armies attacked Israel again. The Israeli army eventually repelled the invading forces of Egypt, Syria and Iraq, after incurring significant loss of life. In response to their loss, the Arab countries imposed an oil embargo on those countries that assisted Israel militarily during the battle. As summarized by the US State Department:

“During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed an embargo against the United States in retaliation for the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military and to gain leverage in the post-war peace negotiations. Arab OPEC members also extended the embargo to other countries that supported Israel including the Netherlands, Portugal, and South Africa. The embargo both banned petroleum exports to the targeted nations and introduced cuts in oil production.”

The Arab countries were not concerned about the loss of life and rushed into battle to both destroy Israel having lost wars and land to Israel in 1948, 1956 and 1967. The Egyptian President Anwar Sadat said the following as it launched its attack on Israel on October 6, 1973:

“We have always felt the sympathy of the world but we would prefer the respect of the world to sympathy without respect.”

By 1973, the Arab goals’ had expanded to not only destroying Israel, but establishing a modicum of honor. As he conceded the war to the Israelis, Sadat said:

“We have been fighting Israel for the fifteenth day running. Israel fought us on its own in the first four days and its real position was exposed on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts; it [Israel] lost by its own admission, 800 tanks and more than 200 aircraft on both fronts. For the last 10 days, however, I have been fighting the United States on the Egyptian front, armed as she is with the most sophisticated weapons in her possession. I simply cannot fight the United States or bear the historical responsibility for having our armed forces destroyed once again.”

In launching the war, Egypt made clear that its honor was at stake, and in calling for a ceasefire, it opted to claim victory over Israel, but capitulation to the US. As the Arab state could not beat the United States militarily, it pivoted to an economic war, the Oil Embargo.

Palestinians’ Also Attack First

Like the other Arab countries, the Palestinian Arabs have opted to fight militarily as a first effort. However, lacking a standing army, the Palestinian Arabs have used terrorism against Israeli civilians and army alike.

After the formation of the Palestinian Authority in 1995 as a result of the Oslo Accords, Palestinians attacked Israelis throughout the 1990s. When the head of the PA, Yasser Arafat (fungus be upon him) failed to deliver a peace in September 2000, the PA launched a Second Intifada which claimed the lives of thousands of additional civilians. The end of the Intifada was brought about with the help of Israel’s establishing a security barrier which stemmed the flow of Palestinian terrorists into Israel, which propelled the Palestinians into a new war. The launch of the boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) effort in 2005 was designed to economically strangle Israel.

A Palestinian demonstrator raises a knife, during clashes with Israeli police, in Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The Palestinian Arabs – like the Arabs of the neighboring states – opted to use military force to try to destroy Israel. Only upon the failure of such efforts, did they switch to economic warfare.

  • Goals: The US took action to prevent the tremendous loss of life (rogue states with nuclear weapons), while the Arab goal was to kill and destroy.
  • Tactics. The US pursued economic pressure first to prevent the loss of life, whereas the Arab states immediately went to war.

The consistency of the goals and tactics of the United States and Arab world is a fabric of their world view: the US has a goal of preserving peace, so uses military force as a last resort. The Arab states have a goal of destroying Israel, so attack it first and only resort to a BDS campaign once they conclude that they cannot win militarily.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Israel and Wars

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

Paying to Murder Jews: From Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran to the Palestinian Authority

What do you Recognize in the Palestinians?

I’m Offended, You’re Dead

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Weddings are Religious Affairs

On December 5, 2017, the United States Supreme Court will hear a case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  The court will decide whether a baker has the right as a matter of religious freedom to not create a customized wedding cake for a homosexual couple, or whether turning down such clients is a matter of discrimination against gays.

Colorado baker Jack Phillips

The case will have Americans confront an issue that it has been pressing in the wrong direction for many years: the government should have NO ROLE in weddings, even while it maintains documents on marriages. The government should limit its involvement to a single legal document as to the selection of a civil partner and no more.

Judeo-Christian Society versus Freedom of Religion

American politicians have long stated that the country’s laws were based on the ethics and morals of Judeo-Christian teachings. But while American laws were established with such inspiration, a fundamental principle of American society is the separation of church and state. Nothing can be made more clear than the very first amendment in the Bill of Rights:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The core of this amendment is that US laws cannot infringe on a person’s practice of their religion.

Religious Limits on Marriage

There are some laws found in the Bible that limit certain relationships, including bans on incest and homosexuality. For the first two centuries of America’s existence, the law of the land followed the Judeo-Christian ban on these two marriages. However, due to American society’s more accepting attitude towards homosexual relationships, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not prohibit gay marriages in June 2015. The ban on marriages between family members still remain.

The US lawsuit that brought about the legalization of marriage was filed because of American law that prevented the plaintiff, Jim Obergefell, from putting his name on the death certificate of his late husband. He was completely correct in being outraged that US law prevented him from doing so.

But our society has been making the wrong arguments in its defense of gay marriage, in advancing a bad set of arguments forcing a baker to create a cake against his religious sensibilities.

Religious Ceremonies versus Civil Documents

The US legal system uses many civil documents, including birth certificates, death certificates and marriage certificates. They are simple legal notices that must be filed to keep an appropriate record of people in the United States.

Anyone should be free to fill out these documents in a manner that fits their personal beliefs without ANY intervention by the government. That means that the government cannot object to someone naming their child Mohammed any more than two women filing a marriage certificate. (The government should also be prohibited from banning a civil union between siblings or close family members, which it still does).

Put simply, it should not be up to the government to put its Judeo-Christian founding above the principle of a separation of church and state.

In a similar vein, the government should not be able to infringe on people’s practice of religion.

Just as the government should not be allowed to ban the practice of circumcision (the Jewish custom of a bris when the boy is eight days old), it cannot interfere in a wedding ceremony.

Bris/Baptism/Wedding versus Civil Documents

There are certain life events that are religious in nature, where the participants use a priest or rabbi to officiate the ceremony. They often hold the event in a church or synagogue and invoke God’s name and recite prayers. Baptisms and weddings are such occasions.

US laws do not much care about the nature of the religious ceremony. While a priest may declare the couple to be man-and-wife, the legal system still requires a civil marriage certificate to be filed. It is that legal document that falls under the government’s purview, not the wedding itself.

Similarly, a rabbi may name a child in the synagogue at a child’s bris. But the parents must still fill out paperwork in the courts declaring the child’s legal name.

Ceremony and Party Participants

Should everyone be compelled to participate at a bris? Of course not. A photographer should not be compelled to take pictures at a bris just because she takes pictures at baptisms.

Should a baker be forced to design a custom wedding cake for homosexuals or an incestuous couple which goes against his religious beliefs? Absolutely not. It is every vendor’s right to not actively engage in a religious service to which he doesn’t subscribe.

In the case of Masterpiece Cake, the baker made clear that he would sell any ready made item in the store to any person who walked in, regardless of sexual orientation. However, Colorado law compelled him to design and create a cake against his religious beliefs. While that activity does not reach the level of a priest officiating the ceremony, it stands well above the electric company’s providing power to the event. The latter is “blind” to the religious ceremony, and the activity would be identical if the event were a convention. The baker crafts his cake for the ceremony.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom: “no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.” The converse is just as true, that no person should be compelled to violate their religious beliefs.

To actively compel a person to engage in a religious practice – and a wedding ceremony is a religious practice – is wrong. And overturning the Masterpiece Cake Colorado ruling would have no impact on homosexual couples filing for government-approved civil unions.

It is time to clearly delineate between religious ceremonies and legal documents, and to give both gay people and those that have religious objections to gay marriage the freedoms they all deserve.


Related First.One.Through article:

The Baker and Government Doth Protest Too Much

Leading Gay Activists Hate Religious Children

Black People are Homophobic

Pride. Jewish and Gay

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Black People are Homophobic

There is a lot of back-and-forth about whether-and-why black people are more homophobic than white people.

One gay man took to HuffPo to say that black homophobia is a myth conjured by white people because of “society’s disproportional expectations of racial masculinity through pillars of class and privilege.” Quite a mouthful that there’s a false impression that rich white people are OK with homosexuality, and that poor black people aren’t because they are all about “hyper-masculine figures of sexuality, athleticism, and aggression.

But the statistics speak for themselves.

In September 2017, the FBI released its 2016 Crime Statistics which broke out hate crimes. The raw data spoke to the fact that racism – and against black people in particular – continued to be the most common form of hate crime in the United States. But breaking down the data by proportionality, revealed a great deal about the likelihood of any group to commit a hate crime.

According to the US Census information, white people accounted for 76.9% of Americans and blacks accounted for 13.3% in 2016. That meant that there were 5.78 times more white people in the United States than black people. If an average white person and average black person were just as likely to commit a hate crime, one would expect to see a similar ratio of attacks.

Hate Crimes around Religion

The FBI listed 156 and 34 attacks against Jews by whites and blacks, respectively. That meant that white people committed 4.6 times more attacks than black people, lower than the expected 5.78 times. That suggested that an average black person was 25% more likely to commit an anti-Semitic attack than an average white person.

For Muslim attacks, the statistics were more dramatic, with 135 and 49 attacks by whites and blacks, respectively. With whites attacks being only 2.8 times the number of attacks by blacks, it suggested that an average black person was more than TWICE as likely to commit an anti-Islamic attack.

Hate Crimes around Gender and Sexuality

The frequency of hate crimes by black people was even more stark in matters of gender and sexuality.

In 2016, there were 414 and 326 attacks, respectively, by whites and blacks regarding people’s sexual orientation. The nominal gap between the numbers implied that an average black person was four times more likely to attack someone in the LGBT community.

When it came to gender identity, the numbers were even more staggering, with 30 and 57 attacks by whites and blacks, respectively. The average black person was 10 TIMES more likely than a white person to commit a hate crime based on gender identity.

These statistics are dramatic, and cannot be dismissed by black anger or white privilege. Articles such as the one in Black Enterprise magazine entitled “Black Homophobia Is Rooted in the Struggle Against White Supremacy,” that call for “avoid[ing] amplifying the false narrative that black people are disproportionately or egregiously homophobic,” is patently false.

Real solutions come from looking at real facts, then attempting to understand the situation and developing a strategy. Spinning a narrative that is politically correct that denies reality will not help create solutions for a peaceful planet.


Related First.One.Through articles:

NY Times Discolors Hate Crimes

Fact Check Your Assumptions on American Racism

If a Black Muslim Cop Kills a White Woman, Does it Make a Sound?

Leading Gay Activists Hate Religious Children

I’m Offended, You’re Dead

Pride. Jewish and Gay

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Enduring Peace versus Peace Now

There have been many failed attempts at forging a peace deal in the Israel-Arab Conflict. In 2017, the Trump Administration stepped into the situation with a very different approach than the Obama Administration. While there are many facets to the new methods, a clear distinction is Trump’s goal of an “Enduring Peace” versus Obama’s goal of “Peace Now.”

Team Trump’s “Enduring Peace”

Trump placed two people with seemingly little diplomatic experience – but significant deal experience – to try their hands at crafting a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians: Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt. While unfamiliar with diplomatic protocol, both Kushner and Greenblatt visited the region many times over their lives. They were joined in their effort by Dina Powell, an Egyptian-American who is the US deputy national security adviser for strategy.

A White House spokesperson made its goal clear for the talks on August 11, 2017 when it stated:

“Trump has previously noted that achieving an enduring Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement will be difficult but he remains optimistic that peace is possible.”

Jason Greenblatt echoed those words in November after visiting the region several times stating:

“We have spent a lot of time listening to and engaging with the Israelis, Palestinians and key regional leaders over the past few months to help reach an enduring peace deal. We are not going to put an artificial timeline on the development or presentation of any specific ideas and will also never impose a deal. Our goal is to facilitate, not dictate a lasting peace agreement.”


Jason Greenblatt and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(photo: Kobi Gideon, GPO)

Team Trump’s stated mission is to forge a lasting peace that would endure for the future. The negotiators will take the time to work with the parties to structure an agreement that would provide lasting peace and security. This is a break from the Obama Administration.

Obama’s Progressive “Peace Now”

Obama had less international experience than Donald Trump when he assumed the office of the presidency in January 2009, and relied on his “progressive” liberal colleagues to educate him on the Israel-Arab conflict. Those left-wing parties included J Street and Americans for Peace Now. These groups advocated that the administration put “daylight” between America and Israel, as negotiations under President George W. Bush (which was viewed as very close to Israel), came up short of a deal. Obama made clear – to the delight of the far-left wing groups – that he was going to push the Israelis hard to stop building homes for Jews east of the Green Line (EGL).

The far-left groups believed that strong pressure on Israel was key to getting to a peace deal. They were ecstatic when Obama won a 10-month settlement freeze a few months after they met with Obama in July 2009 at the beginning of his term. They celebrated at the end of the Obama administration in December 2016, when Obama let United Nations Resolution 2334 pass declaring it was illegal under international law for Jews to live in EGL.

Jeremy Ben Ami, head of J Street said after the July 2009 meeting with Obama: “I left the room feeling we are at a truly historic moment of opportunity.  There may never be another American President who so clearly gets the issues strategically and has the political capital to try to pull off an agreement.”

The differences between Obama and Trump are both stark and clear.

The left-wing radicals believed that they had a moment in time, and that their anointed Messiah had a unique chance to forge peace in the Middle East. They felt both emboldened by Obama’s presidency and felt the urgency of time. They pushed the Obama Administration to get to a deal as quickly as possible by pushing a solution onto Israel.

Conversely, Team Trump has not shown such hubris. Their focus is not to get to a deal in the fastest time possible, but to establish an enduring peace. They recognize the fact that when Israel uprooted all of its settlements in Gaza and gave the land to the Palestinians it did not result in peace, but in three wars. Greenblatt and Kushner are content to take time to get to a lasting resolution, not the gratification of an immediate deal. They have stated that they are not going to let the UN impose a solution, like the Obama Administration advanced in December 2016.

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry failed to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians and watched the region descend into chaos. Their creation of “daylight” between Israel and the US; the use of international fora to attack Israel; and their rush to embrace the approach of “Peace Now” neither got to a deal nor set the parties on the path to enduring peace.

Hopefully the new approach of seasoned negotiators Greenblatt and Kushner to take their time to get to an “enduring peace” will yield much better results.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Jared Kushner’s Parents Donate $20 million to the First Hospital Likely to Win the Nobel Peace Prize

Mutual Disagreement of Mediators and Judges in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

John Kerry: The Declaration and Observations of a Failure

The Evil Architects at J Street Take a Bow

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

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

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New York Democratic Committee Doubles Down Calling Pro-Israel Republican Candidate an Anti-Semite

Politics has always been an ugly business. It would appear that the Democratic machine in New York will stoop to new lows in broadcasting disgusting libelous lies to protect the shortcomings of their candidates.

In August 2017, the senior Democratic politician in Westchester County called County Executive Rob Astorino a “clever Nazi.” Almost no Democrats condemned the heinous remark of the staunchly pro-Israel Republican.

And no one seemed to care. So the entire Democratic machine got into the game.

Just two months later – two weeks before the election – the New York State Democratic Committee sent out a mass mailing to residents in Westchetser. The revolting text accused Astorino of placating anti-Semites.

Referring to an incident in November 2016 when a swastika and “White Power” were painted on a bike path, the Democratic committee claimed that Astorino said that the perpetrators had a point. That is a complete lie. The fact is Astorino stated that the graffiti was “vile,” “disturbing,” and would be prosecuted as a hate crime.

It is understandable that the Democratic political machine would need to lie to support George Latimer who owes over $40,000 in back taxes, who is challenging Astorino in the November 7 election. That is why one of the flier’s many lies claims that Astorino wants to raise taxes (even though he has never raised property taxes in his eight years in office, while Latimer wants to raise taxes) is not a surprise. Lying to cover the shortcomings of your own candidate while pulling down your opponent has a long history in politics. Have a problem with paying taxes and being on record for wanting to raise taxes – lie that your opponent raised taxes!

But to call your opponent a Nazi and anti-Semite? What could the Democrats be trying to conceal? Is Latimer a Nazi? Are Astorino’s pro-Israel credentials simply too much to overcome?

Did Astorino visit too many area synagogues where he stated his pride in representing such an ethnically diverse and Jewish county? Are Democrats nervous about Astorino’s trips to the Republican Jewish Coalition where he met with hundreds of like-minded pro-American and pro-Israel people?

Maybe it is because anti-Israel groups like WESPAC and Jewish Voice for Peace despise Astorino and actually like Democrat George Latimer. George Latimer visited and was welcomed at WESPAC events, while WESPAC protested against Astorino often.

Westchester is the eighth most Jewish county in the USA and voted for Rob Astorino, a pro-Israel Republican for County Executive two times in a row. So the New York State Democratic machine has opted to brand him as an anti-Semite. A Nazi. With outright and outrageous lies.

“Dear New York State Democratic Committee,

Is there no floor to vile slander? Don’t some red herrings reek even too much for you? Are your candidates that weak that you need to call pro-Israel Republicans “Nazis” and “anti-Semites?”

When I think that the Democratic party can stoop no lower, you are there to depress me again.

Sincerely – and definitely not faithfully,

A fading Democrat”


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Democrats’ Slide on Israel

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

Politicians React to Vile and Vulgar Palestinian Hatred

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

In The Margins

A Country Divided

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There are Standards for Unity

The Jewish holiday of Sukkot (Tabernacles) is one that emphasizes unity more than any other Jewish holiday.

In addition to the commandment to stay in huts (sukkahs) over the holiday, Jews are commanded to gather four species and hold them together in commemorating the holiday. The four species are the lulav, the aravot, the hadasim and the etrog. The four different natural items are said to represent four different types of people. Just as the four species have different characteristics – smell & taste / no smell & taste / smell and no taste / no smell & no taste – similarly these items represent people with a different mix of good deeds and Torah learning. Just as it is necessary to hold all four of these species together to execute the biblical command, so it is with welcoming all kinds of people into our communal tent.

As such, the holiday of Sukkot is a demonstration of unity.

Many progressive rabbis emphasize the nature of unity during the holiday but overlook a critical component of the laws surrounding the lulav: minimum standards.

Each of the four species cannot be contaminated in any way. For example, the tip of the etrog must be intact; the hadasim cannot be dried out. If any one of the four species is damaged, the mitzvah cannot be performed.

So too there are limits to unity.

In theory, all types of people should be allowed in the communal tent. However, there are thresholds at which actions or statements render people unfit and unwelcome into the collective.

Hillary Clinton made a point of describing racists and misogynists as “deplorable,” during her presidential campaign. While she was right in stating that there are some people that are deplorable, she chose that label for 25% of the US population. That is and was an absurd libel.

Liberals have held on to Clinton’s claim post the election of Donald Trump. They continue to state that one in four Americans is a pariah. A disgrace. Unfit to wield a vote.

As such, liberals concluded that the 2016 election was flawed. Like a lulav with dried out hadasim, the process itself was compromised. They held placards that “He’s not my president,” and blamed the loss on a variety of issues like Russian meddling and late breaking revelations about her emails.

But at the core, it was really about their perception of the American deplorables.

Protesters hold signs during a protest against the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in downtown Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Similarly, for many pro-Israel Americans, there is a divide over acceptable approaches to Israel. Some left-wing extremist groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, the New Israel Fund and J Street are viewed as beyond the pale for many in the pro-Israel community due to the groups’ approaches of punishing Israel economically and politically. They are the Jewish “deplorables.”

Does one in four pro-Israel Americans really support such left-wing extremist groups? Unlikely. Just as the number of racists in America is much lower than 25%.

America and the pro-Israel community are strong enough to manage a handful of “deplorables.” But it is incumbent on all of us to make sure that our society does not reach a tipping point where one in four people have such hateful views.

The fabric of decency and unity has limits.


Related First.One.Through articles:

A Disservice to Jewish Community

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

Selective Speech

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Dick Pics

A Deplorable Definition

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There’s No White Privilege for Prostitutes in Minnesota

The FBI recently released its crime statistics report of 2016. In contains a breakdown of Human Trafficking by state which includes “commercial sex acts” and “involuntary servitude.” One state stood out from all of the others regarding human trafficking: Minnesota.

State Population Sex Offenses, 2016 Offenses per MM
Massachusetts 6,873,018 3          0.44
Tennessee 6,705,339 55          8.20
Indiana 6,663,280 4          0.60
Missouri 6,123,362 16          2.61
Maryland 6,068,511 17          2.80
Wisconsin 5,795,147 35          6.04
Colorado 5,658,546 34          6.01
Minnesota 5,554,532 235        42.31
South Carolina 5,030,118 22          4.37
Alabama 4,884,115 NA
Louisiana 4,714,192 123        26.09
Kentucky 4,450,042 NA

Among mid-sized states of 4.5 million to 7 million, only Louisiana and Minnesota had over 100 cases of human trafficking, and Minnesota had almost twice as many as Louisiana. Minnesota had seven times the number of incidents as its neighbor (and similarly sized) Wisconsin.

Are there more women in Minnesota than other states? Greater poverty? More lenient laws about prostitution, whether on the streets or escort services? What could account for such a disparity?

The male/ female breakdown in Minnesota and Wisconsin is identical at 49.6%/50.4%, and the number of people in poverty in Minnesota is among the lowest in the country. Large metropolitan areas like Minneapolis-St. Paul have seen dramatic improvements in poverty, bringing it to the second to lowest of any major city in the United States.

So prostitution is not correlated to the number of women or poverty (terrorism is also not related to poverty, although the United Nations and the Obama administration often argued that it was).

Maybe it has to do with state laws regarding prostitution.

Every state has laws making it illegal to pay for sex (which many believe are completely illogical, including Amnesty International). However, the penalties for prostitution vary significantly by state.

Minnesota has relatively light punishments for the first offense (up to 90 days in jail and/or $1000. Afterwards it jumps to up to 1 year in jail and $3000 per offense. The penalties in Wisconsin are much steeper: up to 9 months in jail and/or fines of $10,000. That is a significant difference and would seem to suggest that penalties – not ubiquity or economic situation – correlate to human trafficking.

However, there is no broad-based correlation. Missouri has even more lenient penalties (30 days to 6 months and/or $500) with only 1/16th the number of arrests. Similarly, South Carolina (first offense 30 days and $200; second offense 6 months and $1000; thereafter 1 year and/or $3000) had 1/10th the number of arrests as Minnesota.

So a large number of prostitution-related arrests does not correlate to laws permitting the practice or the penalties associated with breaking the law.

Then what would account for the difference? How is Minnesota different than every other state that would cause such a disproportionate number of prostitutes?

A deeper look into the FBI tables may yield some clues.

In most states, the number of people arrested were disproportionately black. In Wisconsin, 77% of those arrested were black, in a state that is 80% white. Tennessee had an equal number of whites and blacks arrested (and a few Asians) in a state that is 73% white. South Carolina did not list the race of many of those arrested, but for those that it did, 83% were black in a state where 26% of the residents are black.

But in Minnesota, 69% of the arrests were of white people (in a state that is 80% white). It was the only state which had a somewhat proportionate number of white people arrested as resided in the state. Without the prosecution of white people, the statistics for Minnesota would more closely resemble the rest of the country.

These white people were not recent arrivals to American shores. While Minnesota may have a reputation of being home to Scandinavian immigrants (hence the NFL football team being called the Vikings), the state had 8.3% of the people being foreign-born with only 29.1% of those immigrants being white. That compares to Wisconsin with 44.7% of the foreign-born population being white.

So are there simply more white prostitutes and johns in Minnesota than everywhere else in the country? As the state of Minnesota uses a greater number of undercover cops to catch the buyers and sellers of sex, could they be actively selecting white people for arrests? As the MN police departments have shifted to viewing women as victims, are they more likely to arrest only men?

Quite possibly. It would appear that “white male privilege” in prostitution has hit a wall in Minnesota.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Misogyny of Treating Women like Victims

The Gender Diamonds

Republican Scrutiny and Democratic Empowerment of Muslims in Minnesota

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For the Sins of 5777 of…

… not standing up against libel attacks (such as when left-wing radicals called Ben Shapiro a white supremacist)

… allowing anti-Israel activists to speak in my synagogue (such as members from Jewish Voice for Peace and New Israel Fund)

… being a political coward (for not condemning fellow Democrats that called Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino a “clever Nazi”)

… being a political opportunist tacking to the far left-wing extremists of the Democratic party and throwing Jews under the bus (supporting Linda Sarsour’s tirades against Israel and not backing anti-BDS legislation or the Taylor Force bill)

… subscribing to the New York Times

… saying that Obama is pro-Israel (even after he let UN Security Council Resolution 2334 pass)

… saying with a straight face that the Iranian Nuclear Deal was a “Great Deal”

… labeling those with whom I disagree a “deplorable,” a “racist” and a “misogynist”

… donating to the United Nations

collaborating with international bodies to harm the Jewish State

… being a hypocrite while donating to the most expensive US presidential in history where Clinton outspent Trump by over two times, and then complain that race was all about money

ignoring Israeli victims of Arab terror

ignoring the Jewish people’s historic connection, religious ties, human rights and security needs throughout the holy land

… suggesting that Hamas is not a terrorist organization and calling for its inclusion in the Palestinian Authority leadership

… promoting the notion that America has much more to fear from Republicans than jihadists

… never commenting when Islamic countries say that Israel is committing “ethnic cleansing,” but going ballistic when Israeli Prime Minister used the term for the Palestinian Authority after it demanded a Jew-free state

… not demonstrating for the rights of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount

… not protesting that the US should withhold funds from the Palestinian Authority until it negates its law which makes it a capital offense to sell land to a Jew

…demanding that Israel live with the security and religious compromises that I decide, to satisfy my personal sense of social justice while living thousands of miles away

… purchasing the New Israel Fund Haggadah

… condemning Jews for building homes in Area C of the West Bank, which the Palestinian Authority agreed is Israeli territory

… belittling the intelligence and integrity of Ivanka Trump, just because she’s pretty

… talking big about feminism, but doing nothing for the women in southeast Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan) where 25% of the women of the world live in barbaric conditions

… only talking about refugees when Trump became president, even though Obama did little to nothing to help them during seven years of his presidency

… calling PA acting-President Mahmoud Abbas a “moderate”

… saying that poverty causes terrorism, even when there is no study that supports such claim

… continuing to call Stateless Arabs from Palestine (SAPs) “refugees”

… not celebrating a rabbi giving the blessing at the US president’s inauguration – the first time a rabbi has done so in decades

… for supporting J Street, the organization that lobbied the Obama administration aggressively to abandon Israel at the United Nations

… living in my liberal echo chamber

… liking Jimmy Carter

… going to a Roger Waters concert

… watching Al Jazeera

… condemning Israel for installing security devices after a terrorist attack on the Temple Mount

… defending left-wing extremists that are anti-Semites

… not writing to my alma mater after anti-Israel and anti-Jewish activities occurred on campus

… for comparing a Muslim refugee from Syria to a Holocaust survivor

… for not advocating for any help in Syria throughout Obama’s presidency when 500,000 people were killed

… never understanding how much people hated Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, even while I repeated ad nauseam how much I despised Donald Trump

… the inconsistent logic of telling Trump supporters to be wary because he was supported by the KKK and the KGB, even while I supported the Iranian nuclear deal which was supported by Russia and Iran

… ending friendships with people that voted for Trump

For all these things, please pardon us.