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

On May 3, 2017, the acting-President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, came to the United States to meet US President Donald Trump. Is this the pathway to the “ultimate deal” of peace between Israel and its neighbors?

Unlikely.


President Donald Trump shook hands with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office on May 3, 2017. ( Photo: EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Abbas has no Legitimacy

Abbas was elected to a four year-term as President in 2005. That term ran out in January 2009, and he has refused to hold new presidential elections as he and his Fatah party are weak.

Abbas has no Control

A year after Abbas took office, the Palestinian Arabs elected the rival political party, Hamas, which is viewed by much of the world as a terrorist entity, to 58% of the parliament of the Palestinian Authority. In 2007, Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip and launched three wars against Israel (2008; 2012; and 2014). Abbas either supported those wars or he had no control over the region.

Abbas is Unpopular

The Palestinian Arabs poll themselves on a number of issues every three months. In September 2015, they began to ask people their thoughts of Abbas. In every poll since that time, between 61% and 65% of respondents wanted Abbas to resign.

The Palestinians Prefer War

While Abbas would have won several theoretical elections many years ago, his rival in Hamas has become the Palestinian favorite as a result of the wars against Israel. As evidence, in the September 2012 Palestinian poll, Abbas would have beaten rival Ismail Haniyeh by 11%, but he would have lost by 3% just three months later after the November 2012 Hamas war. Abbas’s popularity bounced back in the next quarter’s poll, but he has never been able to recover from his dramatic fall in popularity after the 2014 Hamas war: In the June 2014 poll Abbas would have beaten his Hamas rival by 12%; after the war, Abbas would have lost by 17%.

The Palestinians are done with Abbas and prefer to stake a future with terrorists.

Lack of Support for Two States

Since the 2014 Hamas war, Palestinians have become ambivalent about a two-state solution, with roughly even percentages supporting and opposing the plan. The notion reached the lowest point at the aggressive Palestinian push of the “stabbing intifada” in December 2015, when 54% of respondents stated they opposed two-states to 45% in favor.

Abbas has no Ability to Govern

In the last ten of the twelve years that Abbas has headed the Palestinian Authority, he has been unable to rule. He has not been able to control Gaza or reconcile with rival political parties. How can he possibly be expected to negotiate and deliver a peace deal with Israel?


Acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas

Abbas Continues to Attack Every Aspect of Zionism

Abbas has used every opportunity during his tenure to fight against the basic rights and beliefs of the Jewish State, laid out in international law (references to the 1922 Palestine Mandate below):

  • Citizenship: Abbas stated that no Israelis will be citizens of a Palestinian State, even while international law promoted Jewish citizenship. (Palestine Mandate Article 7: “facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews,” and Article 15: “No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.“)
  • History: Abbas routinely denies the 3000+ year history of Jews in their holy land and works with United Nations agencies to promote false narratives. (Palestine Mandate preamble: “recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine“)
  • Owning Land: Abbas has said that no Jews can own land in Palestinian areas, and PA law has a death sentence on any Arab that sells land to Jews. (Palestine Mandate Article 6: “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.“)
  • Immigration: International law in 1920 and 1922 explicitly encouraged Jews to move to the holy land. Meanwhile, Abbas has sought an international apology for the declaration. (Palestine Mandate Article 6: “shall facilitate Jewish immigration“)
  • Reconstituting the Jewish Homeland was the stated goal of the San Remo conference and the Palestine Mandate. Abbas has repeatedly refused to acknowledge that Israel is a Jewish State. (Palestine Mandate preamble: “grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country“)
  • Freedom of Religion and Worship was both part of the international laws calling for reestablishing the Jewish homeland, and part of Israel’s basic laws. However, Abbas seeks to prohibit Jews from accessing and praying at their holiest location. (Palestine Mandate Article 13: “securing free access to the Holy Places” and Article 15: “complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship.“)

The Freedom CHOIR are fundamental building blocks of long established international law underpinning the Jewish State.  And the weak and unpopular Abbas tramples on every aspect of it.

In case the aforementioned list wasn’t enough, Abbas peddles vile Holocaust conspiracies, as a further affront to the Jewish people.

The Ugly Straw Man

So the inept straw man came to Washington, D.C. to meet with the president of the United States. Is he the man that can negotiate and deliver peace. No.

Abbas serves as a fig leaf for both Israeli and Palestinian leaders that they are actually moving forward with a peace process.

If people wanted to take constructive steps towards peace, there are two different paths to take: 1) treat Abbas like the unpopular straw man that he is, and force him to accept the peace proposal that is put in front of him; or 2) let the Palestinian Arabs hold new elections with someone that has the backing of the people and can deliver on the results of the negotiations. If the Arabs elect someone who has no interest in peace, then the Israelis have no need to compromise on its cherished goals.

The failure of past peace processes was that they were based on a failed dynamic. There is no point in dealing with a cut-out. It is time to either treat Abbas like the straw man that he is, or show him the door.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Abbas Knows Racism

The Disappointing 4+6 Abbas Anniversary

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

Palestinians are “Desperate” for…

The Only Precondition for MidEast Peace Talks

The Israeli Peace Process versus the Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

“Mainstream” and Abbas’ Jihad

The Palestinian’s Three Denials

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

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Abbas demands R-E-S-P-E-C-T (Aretha Franklin)

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The New York Times’ Select Defense of a Civilian

The New York Times often decries bankers and the excesses of Wall Street. But only when associated with Republicans.

On April 26, 2017, the Times ran an article about Hungary’s anger with billionaire George Soros. The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was upset with the various left-wing institutions funded in Hungary by Soros including NGOs and a university.

The Times came to the billionaire’s defense.

“It was an exceptional attack by a head of government against a private citizen, albeit a wealthy and powerful one. Mr. Soros has been a frequent target of criticism from right-wing news media organizations like Breitbart and Infowars, which deplore his affinity for Democratic and liberal causes. Supporters of Mr. Soros, who is 86, a native of Hungary and a Holocaust survivor, have detected a whiff of anti-Semitism in the attacks in the United States.”

Wow.

George Soros spent more money on US lobbyists than Goldman Sachs and the National Rifle Association COMBINED. But the Times made light of the powerful global lobbyist by stating that he had an “affinity for Democratic and liberal causes,” as if he were simply an observer and not the master puppeteer. It slandered those opposed to Soros’s agenda by suggesting that the opposition was driven by anti-Semitism (as if a huge percentage of Jews weren’t also appalled by Soros’s behavior and causes).

And the Times was of course shocked that a head of a government would attack a private citizen. In this case.

Joe Biden Attacked Israeli Citizen

In November 2015, the Union of Reform Judaism invited Vice President Joe Biden to speak at its biennial. During his public address, the Vice President chose to berate a private Israeli citizen for remarks that he had made about the Obama administration’s handling of the Iranian nuclear deal. Biden yelled as he stabbed his finger at the crowd:

There is no excuse, there should be no tolerance for any member or employee of the Israeli administration referring to the president of United States in derogatory terms. Period, period, period, period!

The crowd of Reform Jews applauded Biden’s rebuke of the Israeli (who was not employed by the Israeli government.) The New York Times decided not to cover the attack at all.

When the liberal head of the US government attacked a right-leaning Israeli citizen, there was no sound of alarm. But the Times came to the quick defense of the liberal billionaire.


George Soros
(photo: Niccolo Caranti)

Woe unto anyone criticizing a liberal – even a billionaire capitalist. The New York Times has ink for you.


Related First.One.Through articles:

New York Times Lies about the Gentleness of Zionism

New York Times’ Tales of Israeli Messianic War-Mongering

The New York Times Major anti-Netanyahu Propaganda Piece

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

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Is the Left-Wing Coming Back to Zionism?

The years from 2010 to 2016 were an abysmal abandonment of the left-wing in the United States from supporting the Jewish State. Their criticisms of Israel in public and private were not only demonizing of Israel, but of Jews generally.

Consider how left-wing politicians argued that Jewish schools should be denied police protection, arguing that Jewish schools had anti-gay curricula.  Consider how the Democratic party ripped up their pro-Israel platform in 2012 and then had their party head lead a walkout on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The far-left darling, Senator Bernie Sanders was the most anti-Israel presidential candidate in the running who drafted Israel-basher Cornel West to be part of the new Democratic mainstream.

Photo by: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx
1/29/16
Dr. Cornel West and Bernie Sanders are seen at a Bernie Sanders Rally in Davenport, Iowa.

Fortunately, there are signs that the tide may be turning.

On April 28, 2017, all 100 US Senators sent a letter to the new UN Secretary General to stop the anti-Israel bias at the United Nations. The letter was co-authored by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and signed by every Democratic senator.

One week before the US senators wrote their letter to the UNSG, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in a case related to using public funds for safety mats in playgrounds of religious schools. Even liberal judges like Elana Kagan and Stephen Breyer could not understand how the public could withhold safety and security from religious schools.

These are refreshing changes in liberal positions from just last year.

Whether the changes are stemming from the Democrats’ loss of the presidency or the nadir of the Obama administration permitting UNSC Resolution 2334 to pass, one can only hope that the Democratic party continues to move away from the left-wing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic fringe.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Israel, the Liberal Country of the Middle East

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

For Liberals, It’s Israelis, Palestinians, and Indifference

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

International-Domestic Abuse: Obama and Netanyahu

The Evil Architects at J Street Take a Bow

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

The Many Lies of Jimmy Carter

The Impossible Liberal Standard

Pride. Jewish and Gay

An Open Letter to Non-Anti-Semitic Sanders Supporters

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The Three Camps of Ethnic Cleansing in the BDS Movement

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) of Israel movement seeks to use global pressure on Israel force it to change its policies towards Palestinian Arabs. The pressure includes economic and cultural boycotts of Israel and denying any normalization of relations with the Jewish State.

The backers of BDS fall into three general camps. Those that seek to:

  1. Dismantle the Jewish State
  2. Remove all Jews from the West Bank
  3. Remove all Jews from historic Palestine

The first group wants to change the character of Israel by cleansing its ethnicity, while both the second and third groups promote ethnic cleansing the land of Jews themselves.

Dismantling the Jewish State

Many of the founders of the BDS movement despise the nature of the “Jewish State.” They find a system of Jewish preferences (such as automatic citizenship for Jews around the world) and Jewish symbols in the flag and national anthem as the antithesis of democracy and a burden for Israeli Arabs. Their goal is rid Israel of its “Jewishness.”

Some of the prominent supporters of BDS seek to accomplish this goal by forming a single state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. They seek the “right of return” of millions of Arabs to the region and the removal of all Jewish symbols and privileges in the state. Their goal is to turn Jews into a minority in the country, and to dismantle the Zionist Project.

As stated by Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement:

  • “I am completely and categorically against binationalism because it assumes that there are two nations with equal moral claims to the land.”
  • “A Jewish state in Palestine in any shape or form cannot but contravene the basic rights of the indigenous Palestinian population and perpetuate a system of racial discrimination that ought to be opposed categorically….Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”
  • “(The one state solution means) a unitary state, where, by definition, Jews will be a minority.”

There are Jewish anti-Zionist groups that also support this vision including the New Israel Fund. Norman Finkelstein, a Jewish professor and loud Israel-basher has called out his fellow BDS supporters for masking their desire to end the Jewish State, as opposed to their publicly-stated goals of ending the “occupation” of the West Bank.

“I mean we have to be honest, and I loathe the disingenuousness. They don’t want Israel. They think they are being very clever; they call it their three tier. We want the end of the occupation, the right of return, and we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever because they know the result of implementing all three is what, what is the result? You know and I know what the result is. There’s no Israel!”

Some pro-Zionists like Caroline Glick also support a one state solution (without Gaza). They do not believe the predictions of Jews becoming a minority in a state without Gaza and without permitting millions of descendants of Palestinian Arabs to move to Israel. The roughly 1.8 million Arabs living in Israel today plus the 2.5 million Arabs in the West Bank would be 2 million people fewer than the 6.5 million Jews living in the region. Israel would remain a democratic and Jewish State.

Removing Jews from the West Bank

A significant portion of the western world considers the goal of removing all Jews from the “West Bank,” a noble goal. They have advanced a notion at the United Nations Security Council (with the approval of the US Obama administration) that “Israel’s Settlements Have No Legal Validity, Constitute Flagrant Violation of International Law.” With such passage, they have opened legal venues for countries to advance boycotts of products made in the settlements.

The measure unfortunately ignores several important matters:

  • Jews have a legal basis for living east of the Green Line in international law. The 1920 San Remo Agreement and 1922 Mandate of Palestine clearly laid out the rights of Jews to live throughout Palestine. There was no such thing as a “West Bank” which was an artifice of the 1948-9 Israel war of independence. The arbitrary line (which Israel and the Arab states all agreed was NOT a border) has no bearing on where Jews can and cannot live.
  • There is no basis in law for “occupying” disputed territory. While the UN General Assembly voted to partition Palestine in 1947, the vote did not create the two states. Further, the Arabs rejected the partition, as they sought the entirety of the land. The land east of the Green Line (EGL) remains disputed and subject to various agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, including Oslo II (1995). International law uses the term “occupation” only in relation to a foreign force taking over another country, not disputed land. Lastly, international law forbids seizing additional territory in an offensive action, not as a matter of defense as was the case of Israel defending itself from Jordanian attack in 1967.

Jews have historically lived in the currently disputed lands for thousands of years. The ethnic cleansing of Jews from the region by Jordanian and Palestinian Arabs in 1948-9, and the Arabs subsequent refusal to grant any Jew in the region citizenship or visitation rights to their holy land, does not make such actions either legal or worthy of repetition.

Yet this is the publicly “accepted” face of the BDS movement, backed by the acting President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas adds fuel to the fire by stating that Israel is a “colonial occupier” that advances an “apartheid regime” in an effort to “ethnically cleanse” the area of Palestinians. All are inflammatory terms to paint Israel as an evil and malicious invader which should be expelled.

Removing Jews from Historic Palestine

For many Arabs and anti-Zionists, the term “colonial occupier” means the entirety of pre-Mandate Palestine, not just the West Bank and Gaza. They view the 1920 and 1922 international laws as fundamentally invalid, as they were made by foreign powers without input from the local Palestinians. As such, Abbas has demanded an apology from the British government for issuing the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which served as a basis for the international laws allowing Jews to reestablish a homeland in Palestine.

The popular Palestinian party Hamas, which was elected to 58% of the Palestinian parliament, is defined as a terrorist group by much of the world. Its charter calls for the complete destruction of Israel, as the success of Zionism undermines the supremacy of Islam.

The more “moderate” (only on a relative basis) Palestinian party Fatah also called for a complete destruction of the Jewish state in its constitution until August 2007, when it modified some of its official positions. It did this, as it prepared to launch the global BDS movement in November 2007 to appear as a more reasonable fight against the Jewish state.

Ethnic Cleansing

Ethnic cleansing is not a distinct crime under international law, and there is no precise definition. The United Nations took steps to define “ethnic cleansing” in the aftermath of the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. In its interim report it used a definition:

 “… rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area.

The final report was more stringent, and limited the term to the use of violence to achieve its goals:

a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.

The BDS actions of the past decade are the latest manifestation of anti-Zionists attempting to destroy the Jewish State after decades of failing to do so militarily, in actions that would clearly have fallen under “ethnic cleansing.”

Today’s BDS movement is attempting to use “force and intimidation” to ethnically cleanse all-or-part of the holy land of Jews, and to cleanse Israel of its Jewish ethnicity.


Related First.One.Through articles:

“Ethnic Cleansing” in Israel and the Israeli Territories

What’s “Outrageous” for the United Nations

Regime Reactions to Israel’s “Apartheid” and “Genocide”

The Israeli Peace Process versus the Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

The Cancer in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

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The 1967 “Borders” (Music by the Kinks)

Judea and Samaria (Music by Foo Fighters)

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In Inversion, New York Times Admits “The Truth is Hard to Find”

Ever since politics introduced the concept of “Alternative Facts” and “Fake News” some months ago, the mainstream media has been fighting back that it is the real authority on the truth. The New York Times has sought to portray itself as the media source that uncovers the truth and has pushed the tagline of “the Truth is Hard to Find,” as it features its journalists in large promotional advertisements.


Double page advertisement in The New York Times about Jodi Ruduren
April 23, 2017

On April 23, 2017, the Times featured an enormous spread to convey how its Middle East reporter, Jodi Roduren, went deep into a hidden Hamas tunnel to tell a story behind the Gaza War in 2014. The caption in the advertisement read: “Forty-six feet underground, Jodi Rudoren, Jerusalem bureau chief, ventured into a secret tunnel used by Hamas insurgents to launch surprise attacks from Gaza into Israel.”

If only the New York Times actually reported such events during the war in 2014.

As detailed in “The New York Times’ Buried Pictures” about Rudoren’s story when it was written on July 28, 2014, Rudoren mischaracterized the entirety of the story about the terror tunnels:

  • It took three weeks for the NYT to post a single picture of the terror tunnels, even though they were the root cause of the war;
  • On the day that the paper finally showed a picture of the tunnels, it only placed a small black-and-white photograph on page A6, even while it posted a large color picture on the front page of Palestinians mourning, and a large black-and-white picture of Palestinians mourning above the picture of the tunnel;
  • Rudoren’s article made light of Israeli concerns about the tunnels, referring to the Israeli invitation to tour the tunnels as a “propaganda push,” rather than a chance to report on the nature of the battle from a first-hand encounter;
  • Roduren wrote that “Israelis exchange nightmare scenarios that are the stuff of action movies” about the tunnels, as if the threat was simply imagined.
  • Compare Rudoren’s late and under-emphasized report during the 2014 war, with the front page story on May 21, 2016 that Palestinian Arabs are scared about the tunnels (because Israel will destroy them).

Yet the Times describes itself as the discoverer of “truth,” even while it misleads readers.

Consider two stories on the next day, July 30, 2014, when the Times repeatedly blamed Israel for bombing a power plant even though there was no proof that it was not done by Hamas, either intentionally or not. The two articles also did not mention the dozens of rockets that Hamas fired into Israel, nor that Hamas refused to accept a ceasefire.

Just two days before Rudoren’s article about the Hamas tunnels, she wrote that anti-Israel riots in Europe had an “anti-Semitic tinge,” belittling the thousands of people storming streets in Paris yelling “Hitler was right” and attacking Jews and Jewish stores.

Roduren was a key player in the New York Times’ biased and terrible coverage of Israel:

  • In October 2012, Roduren wrote an article about “honor killings” in Gaza and the West Bank. Rather than point the finger squarely at the disgraceful Islamic practice performed by Palestinian Arabs on their own family members, Rudoren repeatedly blamed Israel. How? Read the fact-altering “news” for yourself.
  • Rudoren’s May 2014 coverage of the Pope’s visit to Israel was disgraceful in repeatedly stretching facts to fit a narrative that Palestinian Arabs are victims of racist Israeli policies
  • On July 6, 2014, Rudoren wrote about the Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, making it sound like an ancient Arab neighborhood rather than an ancient Jewish neighborhood
  • In September 2014, when Palestinian Arabs were firebombing Jewish homes and a gas station in an attempt to create a large explosion, Roduren minimized the riots and that Israeli soldiers over-reacted to the Arabs’ “crude gestures toward Israeli soldiers.”
  • Her front page article on March 13, 2015, “As Israeli Settlements Take Root, So Do Complications,” repeated Palestinian propaganda as fact when she claimed that a few thousand Jews living in the West Bank threatened the “viability” of a Palestinian State.

The examples of Roduren’s anti-Israel bias and deliberate misrepresentation of the facts were present in almost every article that she wrote for the Times. Her bias was so intense, that when Foreign Press Association wrote about threats its journalists received from Hamas about its reporting on the war, Roduren took to Twitter to defend Hamas. Yes, that same anti-Semitic terrorist group that dug terror tunnels into Israel.


On September 17, 1993, A.M. Rosenthal wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about the Oslo Accords. He concluded with a prescient comment about the news media confusing their biased narrative and hope for the future with actual facts: “[There] is the tendency to confuse hope for the future with present reality….Pray for peace but add another prayer for truth upon which it depends.”

The New York Times may write that the “Truth is Hard to Find.” In truth, for the liberal paper, the facts are difficult to print.


Related First.One.Through articles:

New York Times Lies about the Gentleness of Zionism

New York Times’ Tales of Israeli Messianic War-Mongering

The New York Times Refuses to Label Hamas a Terrorist Group

Educating the New York Times: Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood

The New York Times Thinks that the Jews from Arab Countries Simply “Immigrated”

Every Picture Tells a Story: Goodbye Peres

Every Picture Tells a Story: Arab Injuries over Jewish Deaths

Every Picture Tells a Story- Whitewashing the World (except Israel)

Every Picture Tells a Story: The Invisible Murdered Israelis

Every Picture Tells A Story: Only Palestinians are Victims

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

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The Anger from the Zionist Center

Yossi Klein Halevi penned a piece in the left-wing journal by the Forward, Sh’ma Now called “A Jubilee For Our Political Certainties.” The article advanced the notion that both the right-wing and left-wing camps have valid points regarding Israel’s administration of Judea and Samaria/ the “West Bank.” However, Israeli society – and increasingly the American one as well – has become more polarized and is unwilling to listen to the validity of the other side’s arguments. The goal of the center should therefore be to not have someone adopt their position, but to appreciate some elements of the counter argument.

In short, he argues for balance.

As someone right-of-center, I appreciate the sentiment of the article, but I disagree with the author’s contention that American Jews are simply engaging in “that dysfunctional Israeli debate.” Such language suggests that some American Jews are simply expressing a personal opinion. They are not.

They are actively pushing Israel’s largest benefactor – the USA – to abandon Israel.

Since 2008/9, the left-wing of the American Jewish community took a much more aggressive stance amid a backdrop of new wars from Palestinian Arabs and the ascendency of a liberal American president.

  • November 2007: Palestinians launched a push for a global boycott (BDS) campaign of Israel
  • April 2008: J Street founded
  • July 2008: J Street pushed against naval blockade of Iran, as sanctions were pushing Iran to the negotiating table
  • November 2008/ January 2009: Election and inauguration of President Barack Obama
  • December 2008/ January 2009: First Gaza War
  • May 2009: First meeting between Obama and Israeli PM Netanyahu in which Obama ignored Netanyahu’s argument for aggressively countering Iran and instead demanded settlement freezes
  • October 2009: Daniel Sokatch takes over as head of the New Israel Fund
The election of a liberal to the White House with absolutely no international experience was an opportunity for liberal Jews to actively advance a new set of policies towards Israel. J Street falsely billed itself to the Obama administration as an alternative to AIPAC (a non-partisan pro-Israel lobby) rather than an alternative to the Republican Jewish Coalition. J Street told Obama that many American Jews were against the “occupation of the West Bank,” and preferred a negotiated settlement of the Iranian nuclear program.
The left-wing “pro-Israel” group told Obama that American Jews hated Israel’s policies (counter to actual facts), and advocated that he take actions directly opposite the desires of the Israeli government.
Such activity is not joining Klein Halevi’s “debate,” but manipulating a judge to determine the outcome.

Peaceful protest against Iran nuclear deal in Times Square, NYC July 2015
(photo: First.One.Through)
Over the past decade left-wing American Jews:
  • pushed the US administration to allow anti-Israel resolutions to pass at the United Nations
  • pushed BDS proposals in universities, so schools could not invest in Israel and would ban Israeli speakers on campus
  • rewrote Jewish texts (the NIF Haggadah) in a shared assault with anti-Zionists to undermine Jewish history
  • supported a pathway for Iran, a state-sponsor of terrorism that has called for wiping Israel from the map, to obtain nuclear weapons

In short, the left has become an active participant in the attacks on Israel, not just a protestor. And they are pushing such arguments with Israel’s prime supporter, the United States.

And that is the main issue with Yossi Klein Halevi’s approach.

Klein Halevi is correct that the center can see the merit of the arguments of both the left and right. But many in the center cannot agree with ACTIONS taken.

While the right-wing may give money to support the “settlements,” those actions are: 1) supportive of Israelis; 2) limited in scope; and 3) can be reversed (such as Israel’s removal of settlements in Sinai in 1982 and Gaza in 2005, or adjustments to the path of the security barrier).

However, the actions of the left-wing are: 1) harming Israelis by advocating for Israeli boycotts and Iranian nuclear weapons; 2) done on an international level; and 3) becoming permanent international law.

As the left-wing has moved from personal opinions to dangerous global actions, the split in the American Jewish community has moved passed a civil exchange on matters of policy. It has become a fight between people.

As such, Klein Halevi’s conclusion for “each side to concede the enormity of our dilemma and the compelling arguments of the other,” is insufficient. The two sides need to withdraw the weapons and from the forums of their disagreement:

  • The debate should be internal: Make the arguments about Judea and Samaria with the government of Israel, not with Israel’s key ally, the United States. It certainly should not be with Israel’s enemies or at the United Nations.
  • The actions should not be malicious: Calling for boycotts of Israeli businesses and people is harmful to Israel on many levels. Argue about policies; do not hurt people with whom you disagree.

The “centrist” article ultimately suggests “an invitation to humility,” to appreciate the merits of both sides of the Israel/Palestinian Arab debate. I would suggest another form of humility: that American Jews realize that they are not Israeli citizens. While they are deeply engaged and attached to Israel for many reasons, the day-to-day ramifications of policies are only felt by the people who live there. Have some humility about the actions that you advocate to advance your personal sense of “morality” on the backs of people living in a dangerous part of the world thousands of miles away.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

The Evil Architects at J Street Take a Bow

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

For Liberals, It’s Israelis, Palestinians, and Indifference

Squeezing Zionism

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

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A Seder in Jerusalem with Liberal Friends

I am “right-of-center” when it comes to politics about Israel. I firmly believe that Israel has unquestioned legal, moral and historic right to live as a free, independent, democratic Jewish state, and that the borders of such state should include the holiest city for Jews, the united city of Jerusalem as its capital for the previous reasons, as well as based on fundamental security needs.

This year, I had the fortune of celebrating my Peach seder in Jerusalem. My hosts were liberal friends that believe that the eastern part of the city – a few hundred feet from where we ate the festive dinner – should become the capital of a new state of Palestine. I was not sure how this fact would impact the seder: how would the meal remain a celebration and educational for the dozen children, while not ignoring the momentous 50-year jubilee of the united city without a contentious debate?

The Community Obligation

I tried to stay on safe ground.

Before Pesach each year, I purchase a new Haggadah to share some new thoughts at the seder. Knowing of the attendees at this year’s meal, I decided to buy Erica Brown’s “Seder Talk,” as I considered that her essays would appeal to the more progressive crowd (compared to past year selections of R. Soloveitchik, R. Lamm, Lord Sachs, Sfas Emes among others).

One of Brown’s essays discussed the basis for the seder’s “Four Sons.” She considered that the bible wrote in four different places the need to educate one’s children about the exodus from Egypt, and each mention correlated to a different type of child:

  • Exodus 12:26-27: And when your children ask you “What is this service to you?” you will say, “It is a Pesach offering for the Lord, for He passed over the houses of the Children of Israel in Egypt while He struck the Egyptians, but saved those in our homes.”
  • Exodus 13:8: And you shall explain to your son on that day, “Because of this the Lord acted for me when I came out of Egypt.”
  • Exodus 13:14: And when, in time to come, your son asks you saying, “What is this?” you shall say to him, “With a string hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the grip of slavery.”
  • Deuteronomy 6:20-21: When in time your children ask you, “What re the testimonies, the statutes and laws, that the Lord our God commanded you?” you shall say to your children, “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and the Lord our God brought us out of there with a strong hand.”

The four different types of children in the Haggadah are the hacham (wise son), the rasha (evil son), the tam (simple son), and the she’eino yo’dea lish’ol (the one that doesn’t know how to ask). Brown wrote that the rabbis believed that the role of the parent is to explain to each child according to that child’s abilities. There are “four different recipients, whose learning needs vary. All must be told the story. All must learn it and be able to transmit it.

Brown continued that the mission to tell the story of the Exodus actually extends beyond parental responsibility. The Jerusalem Talmud used an alternative term for the “tam,” the simpleton, instead calling that son a “tipesh,” a stupid child.  Brown said that “the child of the Jerusalem Talmud is the child with limited mental capacity…. This child is a child of not only the family but of our entire community.” It is not only the responsibility of the parent to educate their own children, but in certain circumstances, it is also the obligation to assist others raising those kids. To make an important adjustment to the words of Hillary Clinton – it does not “take a village” to raise children – it is the responsibility of each parent to rear their own. However, there may be extraordinary circumstances in which the broader community should be involved in educating and raising a child with special needs.

I opted to end my comments there, as the reception at the seder was lukewarm. I do not think I won fans with terms for children of “stupid” and “mentally challenged,” even though the remarks were from Erica Brown herself. Had I continued with some extended thoughts of my own about community, it would have surely gone downhill.

The Community Declaration

Shortly after the description of the four sons, the Haggadah quotes and analyzes a different selection from the bible.

  • Deuteronomy 26: 5-8: [Then you shall declare before the Lord your God:] “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor.  Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders.

The Haggadah uses many pages to expound on these biblical verses, however, it does not give the context for the long history leading up to the exodus.

This declaration in Deuteronomy is ordered by God at the time of bikurim, the bringing of the first fruits in Jerusalem.

  • Deuteronomy 26: 1-2: When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it,  take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name

God demanded that the story of leaving Egypt be repeated in the chosen place of the chosen land for the chosen people: at the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, in the heart of the Jewish holy land.

Nachmanides (1194-1270), also known as the Ramban considered the rationale of the bikurim commandment. Why would an offering of first fruits in the Jewish Temple be accompanied with the history leaving Egypt?

The Ramban noted that bikurim is ONLY made in public in Jerusalem; such an offering cannot be made on an individual basis. The personal declaration of thanks for the riches of the holy land is made before the entire community. The acknowledgement of the gifts of the holy land began with the exodus from Egypt, and is something that each person must publicly declare: my gift of fruit is simply a portion of our collective gifts: we are a nation that was collectively brought from Egypt to Jerusalem. The offered fruit is really the nation’s fruit, just as the freedom from slavery was a national liberation.

The bible and Haggadah are clear in the command to educate one’s own children, and Erica Brown noted the need of the community to also educate other children in the community about our freedom from slavery. We stand as part of the community helping individuals learn the lesson of God’s gifts.

But we also have a need to stand before the community to acknowledge God’s gifts to that same community. Those gifts extend beyond our freedom from slavery, to the gift of the holy land and its produce. And that declaration is to be made in Jerusalem on the Jewish Temple Mount.

Being part of the community means helping those in the community that need assistance. And that same community is also a witness to our public declarations as we internalize the message that our freedom and fruits of the holy land are gifts from God.

When left-wing radicals like the New Israel Fund rewrite the Haggadah from “Next Year in Jerusalem” to “Next Year in Palestine and Israel,” they are rewriting the centrality of God’s gifts and the role of our community. In doing so, have they rejected God’s gift and being part of our community? Or must the community not give up, and teach this wayward son (or tipesh) as well?


Related First.One.Thrugh articles:

Here in United Jerusalem’s Jubilee Year

Squeezing Zionism

Today’s Inverted Chanukah: The Holiday of Rights in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria

Rick Jacobs’ Particular Reform Judaism

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

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Here in United Jerusalem’s Jubilee Year

Biblical Command to Come to Jerusalem

There are commandments in the bible that are clear and explicit, while there are others that are deduced by the rabbis. For example, “Do not kill” is easily understood, while the commandment to not eat dairy and meat together was derived by the rabbis from different parts of the bible.

The commandment for Jews to go to Jerusalem three times a year is a combination of both clear and deduced commandments.

1Observe the month of Aviv and celebrate the Passover of the Lord your God, because in the month of Aviv he brought you out of Egypt by night. 2 Sacrifice as the Passover to the Lord your God an animal from your flock or herd at the place the Lord will choose as a dwelling for his Name. 3 Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste—so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt. 4 Let no yeast be found in your possession in all your land for seven days. Do not let any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until morning.

5 You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the Lord your God gives you 6 except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name. There you must sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversary of your departure from Egypt. 7 Roast it and eat it at the place the Lord your God will choose. Then in the morning return to your tents. 8 For six days eat unleavened bread and on the seventh day hold an assembly to the Lord your God and do no work.

Passover in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:1-8)

9 Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. 10 Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the Lord your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the Lord your God has given you. 11 And rejoice before the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites in your towns, and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows living among you. 12 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees.

Shavuot in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:9-12)

13 Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. 14 Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. 15 For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.

Sukkot in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:13-15)

16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed: 17 Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.

Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:16-17)

There is no question that God commanded Jews to make a pilgrimage three times a year to “the place He will choose.” However, that place was not clearly specified by God and changed over time.

When Jews emerged from Egypt and came back to the holy land roughly 3300 years ago, they first set up the holy Tabernacle in the town of Shiloh in Samaria. It remained there for 369 years.

“The whole assembly of the Israelites gathered at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The country was brought under their control,”

(Joshua 18:1)

The Jews set up the “tent of meeting” in Shiloh and made their pilgrimages to Shiloh as directed in the bible. The Israelites themselves chose this location, which is not exactly what the text in the bible prescribed stating that God will choose the location. Presumably, the Jews chose Shiloh with divine inspiration and blessing.

After Shiloh was destroyed, the Tabernacle had temporary homes for fiftyseven years in Nob and Gibeon. When King David took over the leadership from King Saul around 1000BCE, he sought to unify the various tribes and establish a new capital. David seized the Jebusite city of Jerusalem which sat in the center of the kingdom. After David died, his son King Solomon built the First Jewish Temple there in 950BCE. From that time until the present day, it has been the center of Jewish worship.

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem,
with thousands of Jews at the Kotel plaza on chol hamoed Pesach

The Incomplete Jerusalem

Whether the Jews were self-governing, or living under Assyrians, Greeks or Romans, Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was the focus of annual pilgrimages. That began to break down in 70CE.

The Romans destroyed the Second Jewish Temple in 70CE and then banned all Jews from the city in 135CE after the Bar Kochba Revolt. While Jews continued to live in the holy land, they could not visit Jerusalem.

Eventually Jews were allowed back to their holiest city, and they resumed pilgrimages even though there was no longer a Temple. But during the Christian Crusades in the 1200s, the Jews were evicted from Jerusalem again, and only able to reestablish themselves in the city in the middle of the 13th century. By the 1860s, Jews were the largest religious group in Jerusalem, exceeding both the number of Muslims and Christians, even while the city was under Ottoman rule.

That changed in 1949.

In 1948, five Arab armies invaded Israel after it declared its independence. At war’s end, the Jordanians went about an ethnic cleansing of the Jews in Jerusalem.

  • They evicted all of the Jews from the eastern half of the city, including the entire Old City
  • They destroyed over 100 synagogues in the Old City, including the Hurva Synagogue
  • They annexed the eastern half of the city in a move not recognized by most of the world
  • They established a land law which made it a capital offense for any Arab to sell land to a Jew
  • They gave Jordanian citizenship to all Arabs in the lands they annexed, and specifically excluded Jews from gaining citizenship
  • They refused to allow Jews to visit the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Kotel and Temple Mount, even on holidays

From 1949 to 1967, anti-Semites ruled in Jerusalem, and the holiest place in the world for Jews was out-of-reach.

But that changed 50 years ago.

Jubilee is for Redemption

In June 1967 the Jordanians attacked Israel after Israel pre-emptively attacked Egypt and Syria in the Six Day War. The Jordanians lost all of the land that they had illegally annexed, including Judea and Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem.

Jews once again moved into their holy reunited city.

The bible notes that 50 years is a jubilee, a time of redemption.

8 Count off seven Sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven Sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years.  Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.

13In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property.”

50 years is freedom (Leviticus 25:8-13)

Fifty years ago Jews were able to walk their streets again, to rebuild their synagogues and live in their homes. The anti-Semitic Arab laws were nullified as the Jewish State proclaimed liberty in their holiest city.

Celebrations in Jerusalem’s Old City
(photo: First.One.Through)

Just one week ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a new town in Samaria near Shiloh, the first new development in decades. The new town is adjacent to the ancient Jewish holy site. A return and redemption of sorts, thousands of years later.

Passover starts next week around the world. The seder ends with a song “HaShana HaBa B’Yerushalyim,” “Next year in Jerusalem. Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem.” While there are still more obstacles to overcome in Jerusalem (such as the ban on Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount), the city has been revitalized and home to thousands of Jews.

Passover 2017 marks anniversaries of both the redemption of the Jews from being slaves, and the redemption of Jerusalem from being Judenrein. Celebrating Passover in Jerusalem is performing a mitzvah, a positive deed, which combines a clearly delineated action with those divinely inspired. God saved us, and blessed us when we took actions to celebrate His gifts.

Happy Passover from Jerusalem.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Shabbat Hagadol at the Third Hurva Synagogue, 2010

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

Today’s Inverted Chanukah: The Holiday of Rights in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria

Jordan’s Deceit and Hunger for Control of Jerusalem

The Arguments over Jerusalem

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Israel Plans to Build in Israeli Territory. It’s News

On March 30, 2017, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans for a new town in Area C of Judea and Samaria for the residents of the demolished settlement of Amona. The new US Trump administration gave its tacit approval for the homes for the Israeli families.

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) laughs with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The move was seen by many as very controversial, as it came just a few months after the UN Security Council passed UNSC Resolution 2334 that deemed Israeli homes east of the Green Line (EGL) as having no legal validity. The development was also the first one announced by Israel since it signed the Oslo Accords with the Palestinian Authority in 1993.

But the Oslo Accord of 1993 and the subsequent Oslo II signed in 1995 made clear that the majority of EGL – known as Area C – was under complete Israeli civilian and military control: it was Israeli Territory. So even though the Israeli government did not announce any new Israeli developments, there was no question as to the administrative authority of the Israeli government to do so.

These facts were not found in the mainstream media.

CNN’s story “Israel approves construction of first new settlement in more than 20 years,” included the following statements:

  • Israel’s Security Cabinet on Thursday unanimously approved the construction of a new settlement in the West Bank, according to a message from the Prime Minister’s office, marking the state’s first new settlement in Palestinian territory in more than 20 years.” only calling the region “West Bank” and not including the Israeli name “Judea and Samaria” or neutral nomenclature like EGL. It further misstated that the town was in Palestinian administered land, not Israeli.
  • The new settlement, which will be constructed north of the Palestinian city of Ramallah,” anchors the location to a “Palestinian city” and not the Israeli town of Shiloh.
  • It included this quote from a Palestinian Arab, but quoted no Israelis in the article: “”Israel’s policies remain unchanged as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist, racist coalition government continue to persist with their systematic policies of settler colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, showing a total and blatant disregard for Palestinian human rights, independence and dignity,” Ashrawi said in a statement.” Nice propaganda language to promote.
  • “The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution in December condemning Israeli settlements constructed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal. These territories, occupied by the Israeli military since 1967, are where Palestinians plan to create their future state.” No education to readers that EGL was taken from JORDAN in a DEFENSIVE WAR and that the new town is located in the Israeli Territory of Area C where Israel has civilian and military rule as agreed by the Palestinian Authority.

Reuters had a story called “Israeli cabinet approves first West Bank settlement in 20 years.” Sound familiar? The article stated:

  • Israel’s security cabinet on Thursday approved the building of the first new settlement in the occupied West Bank in two decades, even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu negotiates with Washington on a possible curb on settlement activity.” Adding the word “occupied” gave the deliberate misrepresentation that the land was Palestinian, and not Israeli territory.
  • Like CNN, Reuters also chose to quote Hanan Ashrawi “”Today’s announcement once again proves that Israel is more committed to appeasing its illegal settler population than to abiding by the requirements for stability and a just peace,” said Hanan Ashrawi, an executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization,” but it did also quoted Netanyahu: “I made a promise that we would establish a new settlement … We will keep it today.” Further, Reuters omitted the highly offensive vitriol spewed by Ashrawi.
  • Reuters also added this rationale: “Such settlements, in territory that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war, are deemed illegal by most of the world. Israel cites biblical, historical and political links to the land, as well as security interests, to defend its actions.” It added a few reasons why Israel has “links” to the land, but never mentioned international law of 1920 and 1922 permitting Jews to live in the area, nor political AGREEMENTS signed with the Palestinian Authority.

The Wall Street Journal’s article titled “Netanyahu Pushes New West Bank Settlement,” tied the decision to Netanyahu, not the Israeli cabinet, and did not include any time period relaying how “new” this settlement was.

  • At least until the opening sentence of the story. “Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday proposed the first new settlement in decades,” so readers got the history that this was a break from recent norms.
  • The WSJ spent the first eight paragraphs of the story giving some background on the approval process of the new town as well as the tacit approval of the White House to move forward with the project. Only at the ninth paragraph did the paper discuss the controversy around the development, before it quoted Ashrawi. This compared to CNN and Reuters which quoted Ashrawi much earlier in the fourth paragraph to set the tone of the article.

There was not a single article in any major media that mentioned the reality that the new development will be in Israeli administered territory. Of the major media, CNN was the most offensive, airing hateful Palestinian Arab propaganda and actually calling the land “Palestinian Territory.”

Is Trump wrong about CNN being #FakeNews?


Related First.One.Through articles:

Heritage, Property and Sovereignty in the Holy Land

“Settlements” Crossing the Line

CNN’s Embrace of Hamas

Names and Narrative: CNN’s Temple Mount/ Al Aqsa Complex Inversion

Stopping the Purveyors of Hateful Propaganda

A “Viable” Palestinian State

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Can YouTube Understand Hatred?

In March 2017, YouTube was criticized for placing advertisements next to videos that were considered disturbing expressions of hate, including racist and anti-Semitic videos. Large brands like AT&T, HSBC, Starbucks, Volkswagen and Walmart, pulled their ad campaigns from the media giant as they did not want to be associated with such ugly videos.

The Internet is rife with extremist videos, but Google has had a difficult time using algorithms to flag them.

Consider the channel FirstOneThrough, which posted over a dozen videos to COMBAT the hatred of Israel. The titles of its video series was deliberately called “I hate Israel” to counter the arguments against Israel:

The videos were headed with “I hate Israel” to CONFRONT hatred and push the videos with actual evil bias off of the front search pages. But YouTube has a hard time discerning the content of the videos and has labeled each video as “Not advertiser-friendly.

FirstOneThrough does not seek profit from any of its videos, so the removal of advertisements is not a source of concern. However, the action underscores the difficulty of algorithms to distinguish between a simple phrase and the broader discussion in the videos.

In the meantime, supporters of Israel should continue to watch and share the videos in the series to not only become further educated about the incredible democracy, but to push anti-Israel videos off of the first page of the YouTube search screen.


FirstOneThrough’s Series “I hate Israel”


Related First.One.Through articles:

Take Names in the Propaganda War

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

NY Times Discolors Hate Crimes

New York Times Finds Racism When it Wants

Your Father’s Anti-Semitism

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