The Monumental Gap between Nikki Haley and Donald Trump

There were two events that occurred in June 2015 that have defined race relations in the South. One of them has been seized by the media as the root cause of the explosion of racism embodied by the fights in Charlottesville, VA in August 2017. Yet the other is arguably the more clearly identified source of the tension.

June 2015

On June 16, 2015, real estate titan and media personality Donald Trump announced that he would run for president of the United States. The political novice declared that it was time to turn the country around and bring back jobs – good jobs – to America, to “make our country great again.” The Trump tagline was coined “Make America great again,” and he would go one to become the 45th president of the United States.

On June 17, a white supremacist named Dylann Roof walked into a church in Charleston, South Carolina and shot and killed nine black worshipers. Roof’s “manifesto” was found in his house which detailed the many reasons he hated blacks and Jews.

Roof’s view of patriotism had nothing to do with Trump’s pride in America, but a pride in being white.

“I hate the sight of the American flag. Modern American patriotism is an absolute joke. People pretending like they have something to be proud while White people are being murdered daily in the streets…. How about we protect the White race and stop fighting for the jews as well.”

One week in June began a process of bringing a political lightweight to the presidency to “make America great again,” while a racist sought to “make America White again.” Each set in motion a series of actions and reactions in America which were deeply felt in August 2017.

Nikki Haley Talks Down Hatred
and Takes Down the Confederate Flag

The Governor of South Carolina was quick to respond to the shooting of the black church-goers. Gov. Nikki Haley spoke to her state and the country on June 22nd in a remarkable speech. She spoke of her pride in her state and gave consolation to the wounded and injured. She was clear in her rejection of hatred and bigotry, while also noting that many people who are proud of their southern heritage have no malice toward minorities. In short, she brought comfort to all sides and stabilized the situation.

And then she addressed the flag. The Confederate flag that flew by the state capital.

“For many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble. Traditions of history, of heritage, and of ancestry.

The hate filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people in our state who respect and, in many ways, revere it. Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity, and duty. They also see it as a memorial, a way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict. That is not hate, nor is it racism…

The evil we saw last Wednesday comes from a place much deeper, much darker. But we are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the Capitol grounds. It is, after all, a Capitol that belongs to all of us.”

Nikki Haley called for taking down the Confederate flag over the government grounds. She did it while noting that most people in the state respect the flag, but there are some that use it as a vehicle to violence. She said that she respects people that chose to keep that flag in their homes; it is a matter of free speech and expression. However, she concluded that in light of the history of pain and suffering in the name of the flag, the Confederate flag no longer should be endorsed by the government.


Gov. Haley after shooting at black church
June 2015

A Republican female minority governor decided it was time for the southern states to remove the emblems of the Civil War fought 150 years earlier. Standing beside two Republican senators from South Carolina she declaredThis flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state.” Mainstream media would barely recognize the fact that it was Republicans – and a female minority Republican – that would shake the south.

Haley’s actions set in motion a rethinking of the various symbols of the Confederacy. In May 2017 several statutes were removed from public spaces in New Orleans. Other southern states were in the process of reviewing the status of their Confederate statues – which is what brought the White supremacists to Charlottesville, VA in August 2017: a protest to stop the removal of the statue of General Robert E. Lee.

Donald Trump Talks Up Division
and the Press Focuses on Trump Instead of Hate

Donald Trump’s road to the presidency from June 2015 was remarkable in many respects. He not only beat out a field of respected Republican politicians to win the nomination, but he did so while alienating many groups along the way.

Muslims were insulted by his call to ban Muslims from entering the country until the country devised a more thorough vetting process. Women were outraged when they heard a recording of his proudly groping women. The Latino community was appalled when he referred to the many immigrants that came to the USA from south of the border as “bad hombres.” The list would go on.

Along the way his colleagues in the Republican party would abandon him. In a remarkable occurrence in American politics, one Republican leader after another would say that they were appalled at Trump’s comments and would not vote for him. The press ate it up. They ridiculed Trump and blamed him as the source for disunity and bigotry in the country.

But he won the presidency anyway.

Trump would not give roles in his cabinet to the Republican politicians that bad-mouthed him. Only Governor Nikki Haley – who distanced herself from Trump’s comments, but not the man – would get a role in his administration, as US Ambassador to the United Nations.

Over the first months of his presidency, Trump would continue to make remarks that angered wide swaths of the country. The media continued to state that Trump was a racist, by not disavowing the support of White supremacists, and making laws alienating minorities – whether a ban on Muslim refugees or edicts to expel illegal immigrants.

By August 2017, when the Charlottesville, VA White supremacy protest came to town, Trump’s comments could be predicted.

Once again, Trump fueled the media’s wrath with his comments. They admonished him for endorsing racism and allowing it to rear its ugly head in the country once again.

The monumental gap between Nikki Haley and Donald Trump was clear. Haley took decisive action to turn back divisive symbols in the country, while Trump called for keeping them in place. Haley calmed the situation with language that reached out to ALL parties, while Trump used language that only appealed to a sliver of the public.

And the media gave Haley little credit for calming the situation while it blamed Trump for everything.

Racism has always existed in the United States; it is not new in the age of Trump. White racism has actually been on the decline for several years according to FBI reports, and it is much less common in the South than liberal northern states like Massachusetts.

It is both unfortunate that Trump aggravates a tense situation, and that his impulse to attack the media – and the media’s impulse to attack him – takes away from the important debate about the symbols of the Confederacy in our country. Haley talked about it clearly and with conviction. But Trump and the media can only talk about each other.


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New York Times Finds Racism When it Wants

New York Times’ Small Anti-Semitism

Your Father’s Anti-Semitism

“An anti-Semitic Tinge”

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Fact Check Your Assumptions on American Racism

White nationalists held a rally in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017 claiming that America was throwing out its white, Christian and southern traditions. Counter-protestors showed up in an attempt to rebut their views. Violence ensued. A death.


White Nationalists in Charlottesville, VA August 2017

President Donald Trump issued a statement that condemned hatred and violence, in a statement that was ridiculed by both the right and left-wing for not calling out the white nationalists.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides. What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.

The statement of “many sides” evoked the disgraceful statements of the United Nations condemning “all” acts of violence after Palestinian Arab terrorists slaughter innocent Israelis. “Et tu, Brute?”

The mainstream media has used the Charlottesville incident to foster a narrative that has been building for the past two years: that racism is principally a white-male issue, and that it predominantly stems from the south. These white racists have become emboldened under President Trump, who has done little to stem the violence and vitriol.

It’s worth doing a fact check.

Southerners are Less Racist Than Yanks

The FBI does an analysis of hate crimes every year, the last complete year of data being 2015. The frequency of hate crimes in the South is less than in the Northeast.

Bias Attacks in 2015, Average Incident per Number of People

Frequency of Attack
Massachusetts            13,595
Connecticut            31,767
New York            38,381
New Jersey            25,663
Maryland          139,684
Virginia            45,545
North Carolina            48,277
South Carolina            69,946
Georgia          163,086

Massachusetts – which elected the most left-wing senator in the country – was the most racist state by a far margin. A person in Massachusetts was 3.5 times more likely to suffer a hate crime than an average person in Virginia or North Carolina.

Blacks Commit More Racist Attacks Than Whites

The FBI report also broke down the hate crime statistics by offender. The statistics go against the commonly held narrative.

History of Racist Attacks Broken Down by Race of Offender

White Black
2000 4111 1021
2001 5149 1157
2002 3712 1082
2003 3670 942
2004 4327 1408
2005 4117 1357
2006 4293 1513
2007 4378 1448
2008 4229 1399
2009*
2010 3522 1104
2011 3384 1195
2012 2909 1242
2013 3046 1410
2014 2699 1203
2015 2657 1336

*No data for 2009

The numbers show that white people commit more racist attacks than black people. However, there are approximately 5.75 times more white people than black people in the USA, so the data must be viewed by the likelihood of an average white or black person committing a bias crime.

Bias Attacks, Average Attack per Number of People

Year White Black Difference
2000            54,379      38,129 43%
2001            43,417      33,647 29%
2002            60,224      35,979 67%
2003            60,914      41,326 47%
2004            51,665      27,649 87%
2005            54,300      28,688 89%
2006            52,074      25,730 102%
2007            51,063      26,885 90%
2008            52,862      27,827 90%
2009
2010            63,473      35,262 80%
2011            66,062      32,577 103%
2012            76,849      31,344 145%
2013            73,392      27,609 166%
2014            82,828      32,360 156%
2015            84,137      29,139 189%

In every year, the likelihood of an average black person committing a hate crime was much greater than an average white person.

Bias Trend Related to Leadership

The chart above shows some interesting trend lines. From 2000 to 2003, an average black person was 47% more likely to commit a racist crime than a white person. That likelihood jumped to 92% in the years 2004 to 2011. It escalated yet again in the years 2012 through 2015, when an average black person committed 164% more racial attacks than an average white person.

The trends related both to blacks committing more hate crimes and whites committing fewer.

White people were pretty consistent in the frequency of their attacks in the 2000-2003 and 2004-2011 periods. However, the frequency of black attacks jumped significantly in the 2004-11 span. But in the 2012-2015, it was the sharp decrease in white racism that accounted for the dramatic change, when attacks by blacks were relatively consistent.

If leadership accounted for the difference in bias attacks, why would white people not change their actions during the first Obama term? Why did black people suddenly change the frequency of their bias attacks in 2004, and not earlier in Bush’s term?

Was Trump’s election a cause for a change in the frequency of attacks by both whites and blacks? The FBI hasn’t completed its 2016 report at this time. But the leap to conclusions about the connection also has a leap to the nature of cause-and-effect.

Why would a black president make white people commit fewer hate crimes, but a white president make blacks commit more? There was no particular race riot in 2004 or 2012 that could account for a particular tipping point in race relations. Is it possible that the trends are outside of leadership influence?


The lazy mainstream media will fill you with stories that support your own biases. Consider looking at actual statistics before jumping to incorrect conclusions that white southerners are more racist than black Yankees, and that leadership is responsible for all of the disgraceful actions of racists.


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Dignity for Israel: Jewish Prayer on the Temple Mount

I went to see the new play Oslo at Lincoln Center in New York City. It is always a fun New York moment when people in the news – in this case Joe Lieberman who just withdrew from a potential job at the FBI – are in line with you to enjoy the many great activities that the vibrant city has to offer.

The show was quite good. It relayed the behind-the-scenes activities that brought the Oslo Accords of 1993 into being. It tried to be balanced to the narratives of both Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, while not getting into a debate about particular issues. The emphasis was much more on the process, than the merits of either sides’ arguments.

The balance made me recall one of the statements that came out of the Oslo accords:

REAFFIRMING their determination to put an end to decades of confrontation and to live in peaceful coexistence, mutual dignity and security, while recognizing their mutual legitimate and political rights;”

It is a concept that has lost meaning regarding Israel today.

Security

Over the eight years of the previous presidential administration, Barack Obama repeatedly boasted about his bona fides regarding Israel because he had “Israel’s back” when it came to matters of security. He helped fund the Iron Dome defense shield. He shared a lot of intelligence about security threats. He signed a new $38 billion military aid package.

Obama assumed that by focusing on Israel’s need for security, he could abuse the dignity of its leader and country.

Obama felt that he could solely focus on Palestinian Arab dignity and Israeli security. In doing so, he abused the Jewish State and has helped lead to a twisted “progressive” approach to Israel which denies Israel its dignity today.

Dignity

Much of the reason that Israelis have warmly embraced the new US President Donald Trump is that they believe that he will not only focus on Israeli security, but on its dignity as well.

 

Donald Trump at the Western Wall
May 22, 2017

Trump was the first sitting US president to ever visit the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, a sacred site for Jews. And when he spoke to a crowd at the Israel Museum, he spoke of “dignity” four times:

  • “Today, gathered with friends, I call upon all people — Jews, Christians, Muslims, and every faith, every tribe, every creed — to draw inspiration from this ancient city, to set aside our sectarian differences, to overcome oppression and hatred, and to give all children the freedom and hope and dignity written into our souls.”
  •  “There are those who present a false choice.  They say that we must choose between supporting Israel and supporting Arab and Muslim nations in the region.  That is completely wrong.  All decent people want to live in peace, and all humanity is threatened by the evils of terrorism.  Diverse nations can unite around the goal of protecting innocent life, upholding human dignity, and promoting peace and stability in the region.”
  • “But even as we strengthen our partnership in practice, let us always remember our highest ideals.  Let us never forget that the bond between our two nations is woven together in the hearts of our people, and their love of freedom, hope, and dignity for every man and every woman.  Let us dream of a future where Jewish, Muslim, and Christian children can grow up together and live together in trust, harmony, tolerance, and respect.”
  • “Today, in Jerusalem, we pray and we hope that children around the world will be able to live without fear, to dream without limits, and to prosper without violence.  I ask this land of promise to join me to fight our common enemies, to pursue our shared values, and to protect the dignity of every child of God.”

The Jewish State demands more than security. It demands dignity that has been denied it around the world.

  • At the United Nations under Ban Ki Moon, where the nations of the world stood silent while Iran threatened to wipe Israel off the map and lambasted the Jewish State more than every country in the world combined.
  • In Europe, where the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanction) movement has taken hold, even though no other country with a territorial dispute is subject to such actions.
  • In the US “progressive” camp today, where “activists” like Linda Sarsour can be lauded by Democratic senators and given honors at universities, even after she extolled terrorists that killed innocent Jews and berated feminist Zionists.

It is time for both Israel and Jews to demand their dignity again. Especially on the 50th anniversary of the defeat of the Arab nations that sought to annihilate every Jew in its small homeland.

Aside from the terrible negotiation tactics utilized by Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry in foreign affairs, he ignored a basic decency: the dignity of Israel and the Jewish people. It is time to bring it back to the fore.


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The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

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Is Trump Seeing Mid-East Countries to Combat Religious Extremism, or Visiting Religious Sites to Promote Coexistence?

On May 4, 2017, US President Donald Trump announced that he will visit the Middle East. He saidThe purpose of this meeting is to bring together all the different countries and all the different religions in the fight against intolerance and to defeat radicalism.” The destinations on the trip included the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Israel and the Vatican. The GOALS of the visit were to fight against intolerance and radicalism.


President Trump announcing intention to visit the Middle East
May 4, 2017

Can Trump “bring together” the countries and religions in such an effort?

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

KSA is just one of 50 Muslim-majority countries, so Trump could have visited any of the fifty to make a point of connecting with Islam.

But KSA has a number of key attributes that the other Islamic countries do not have:

  • It holds the two holiest sites for Islam, Mecca and Medina
  • It is a US ally, compared to several Muslim countries that are not
  • It is a major opponent to Iran, which is a US-designated state-sponsor of terrorism
  • KSA has received billions of dollars in US military equipment and is engaged in joint strikes against targets in war zones like Yemen

Trump will not get to visit Mecca or Medina, the central places holy to Muslims because KSA forbids non-Muslims from visiting the Islamic holy sites. However, his meeting with the custodian of the holy sites – the KSA royal family – will make clear that the trip is not simply a visit to any Muslim country, but one that is willing to fight alongside America.

Is KSA a repressive regime? No question. It’s human rights record is appalling and many Trump critics think it outrageous to give the royal family such honor. But Trump made clear in his remarks:

“Our task is not to dictate to others how to live, but to build a coalition of friends and partners who share the goal of fighting terrorism, and bringing safety, opportunity and stability to the war-ravaged Middle East.”

Trump’s focus is narrow: the war on terror. However, KSA is actually a supporter of Wahabism and radical Islam. It happens to be a foe of Iran which earned its designation of a sponsor of terrorism well before it got involved in regional wars in Syria and Yemen, wars in which KSA is opposing Iran.

In visiting KSA, Trump will be visiting a country that is both a custodian of religious holy sites and a military partner. He will not get to visit religious sites nor showcase religious tolerance.

The Vatican

There are dozens of countries with a majority of Christians that Trump could have visited. And the Vatican isn’t even a country according to the UN.

But Catholicism is the largest of the Christian denominations, and the Pope is unique in being a central figure of a church. No other single individual has a command over such a flock.

While the Pope has no army to engage in a military battle against violent extremism, his message of tolerance is one that Trump seeks to connect with and spread throughout the world.

Israel

There is only one Jewish majority state, which makes the choice of Israel apparently simple in rounding out the Trump tour of the monotheistic faiths. In the other two countries with a significant Jewish populations – the United States and France – the Jews make up just a small percentage of the overall population, 2.1% and 0.8%, respectively.

For many decades, Israel has been America’s closest ally in the entire Middle East. It is the only true democracy in the region and Americans and Israelis share many of the same values. Israel has also been an important ally for the US in the ongoing War on Terror.

But there are large differences between Israel and the other stops on Trump’s trip:

  • Israel is the only country in Trump’s Mideast tour to tamper radicalism, that suffers from ongoing terrorism
  • Israel is the only country that had the (former) United Nations Secretary General stand up and state that he supports a terrorist regime (Hamas) and their inclusion in a Palestinian Authority government
  • The Jewish State is the only country where the world doesn’t recognize its holiest location and where the Muslim Waqf forbids Jewish prayer.

Israel promotes religious tolerance but receives none. It does this while confronting ongoing terrorism.

Trump will visit the holiest site in Judaism accesible to Jewish prayer today – the western wall of the Jewish Temple Mount. But he will do so WITHOUT Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the US is not comfortable stating that the Jewish state is the custodian of the religion’s holiest site.

It is an interesting backdrop on which to draw further comparisons.

The War on Religious Radicals and
the Promotion of Religious Tolerance

As Trump navigates the Middle East, he will attempt to promote two messages: of religious tolerance and of the battle to stamp out religious violence.

Religious Tolerance:

  • Saudi Arabia is 100% Muslim and the Vatican is 100% Christian. Only in Israel is there a mix of religions (75% Jewish and 25% non-Jewish)
  • Saudi Arabia restricts access to its holy sites only to Muslims. The Vatican welcomes all religions to the city. In Jerusalem, the Islamic Waqf which is overseen by Jordan, prohibits Jews from praying at its holiest site, the Temple Mount.
  • Saudi Arabia restricts bringing religious artifacts like a cross or Jewish bible into the country. The Vatican and Israel have no such restrictions.

The list goes on. Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia clearly has nothing to do with rewarding it for promoting religious tolerance. Perhaps that is an aspiration. Israel is the prime example of religious tolerance to be emulated in the Middle East

War on Radicalism:

  • In the attacks of 9/11/01, fifteen of the 19 terrorists were from KSA. Saudi Arabia continues to fund a radical form of Islam in schools around the world. For its part, the Catholic Church tries to convert people to Catholicism, but not by force and it does not promote violence. Israel and the Jewish State do not attempt to convert anyone in any manner and is not engaged in terrorist activities around the world.
  • Saudi Arabia does not fight radical Islam; it fights Iran and the Islamic State as discrete entities in an ongoing war between Sunni and Shia Islam. The Vatican has no army to participate in any war. For its part, Israel is actively fighting terrorism in its homeland, principally against an enemy that is rabidly anti-Semitic that wants to rid the region of Jews.

In short, only in Israel will Trump find both a partner in promoting religious tolerance and a partner in combatting violent religious extremism. Only in Israel will Trump see a people that faces terrorism on a daily basis.

Together:

Trump stated that he sought to bring parties “together.” With the exception of Egypt and Jordan, the rest of the Arab countries have refused to recognize the legitmacy of the State of Israel. Perhaps Trump hopes that this initiative to eradicate radical jihadists will change that dynamic. It would appear to be wishful thinking: The Saudi royal family has funded the families of Palestinian terrorists for years.

 

These are important points for Trump to address during his Mideast visit. A key victory in advancing both agendas of combatting religious violence and promoting religious tolerance would be to get the Palestinian Authority to finally rip up the anti-Semitic law which calls for the death sentence for any Arab that sells land to a Jew. Nothing demonstrates the vileness of intolerance and radicalism as much as the Palestinian Land Law.


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How the US and UN can Restart Relations with Israel

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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?


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A “Viable” Palestinian State

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

Mediators serve an important role in conflicts. They attempt to bridge the gap between parties to arrive at a mutually-agreed upon compromise to conclude the disagreement. If the mediator cannot resolve the matter, it is most likely that a judge would be tasked at making – and imposing – a final ruling.

Take divorce as an example. A mediator may be brought in by the parties to resolve issues related to child custody. If the mediator cannot get the parties to agree to terms, the case would go to court to rule on the matter.

Obama and Trump as Mediators

In February 2017, US President Donald Trump seemed to take a new stance in trying to mediate the Israeli-Arab conflict. In response to a reporter’s question about how the US will approach its role as a mediator, Trump said:

“So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.  (Laughter.)  I’m very happy with the one that both parties like.  I can live with either one.  

I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two.  But honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians — if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”

The media went wild. They printed headlines that Trump abandoned the two-state solution.

In actuality, Trump said that he is happy if the parties themselves are happy. The role of the mediator was not to dictate the outcome but to resolve the conflict so that the parties themselves reach a consensus. The goal was peace between the parties, not necessarily a particular formula to get there.

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

Consider the contrast in Obama’s approach to the negotiations and the response of the media. In May 2011 Obama said:

“I said that the United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.  The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps — (applause) — so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.”

The media noted that Obama laid out a conclusion of what the final result of the compromise would look like: two states.

The Obama speech irked the Israeli government that was clear in its intention of not returning to the “Auschwitz” lines of 1967.  Obama countered that he had not laid out a conclusion that was not a matter of consensus, as he specifically included language that there would be “mutually agreed” land swaps.

From Mediator to Biased Mediator to Judge

If a mediator in a divorce announced that she was open to the father having custody or the woman having custody of the children, whichever conclusion could be worked out by the parties, her position would be considered open and balanced. However, if she stated that the mother would have custody and that the only matter to work out was whether the father would see the children on Tuesdays or Fridays, her position as mediator would be seen as clearly biased. The inclusion of a minor clause that the only point being considered was a matter of visitation, while the broad parameters were already concluded, would be seen as a jaundiced farce.

And so was the position of Obama.

He did not focus on a bringing peace agreed to by each party, but stated an outcome that he viewed as fair. Obama abandoned his position as a private unbiased mediator. Not surprisingly, the Israeli government not only questioned the content of Obama’s statement, but his role as both a mediator and important ally.

In November 2016, when Obama’s preferred presidential successor Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic election, Obama decided that ANY role for the United States as a mediator had concluded, as he did not believe that Donald Trump’s administration would be fair, competent or effective. It was therefore time to pass the Israeli-Arab Conflict to a judge: the United Nations.

In December 2016, Obama directed his UN ambassador Samantha Power to abstain from an important vote, thereby allowing United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 to pass which declared that Israelis living east of the Green Line was illegal. Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry then went on to berate Israel (still under the guise as a “mediator”):

“Provide for secure and recognized international borders between Israel and a viable and contiguous Palestine, negotiated based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed equivalent land swaps.”

Team Obama again left the “mutually agreed” clause at the edges – literally. And Kerry added a new dimension that the land swaps should be “equivalent,” echoing a phrase (“comparable”) introduced by the Arab League.

President Obama moved his team from an impartial mediator to a biased one, happy to hand the situation to a judge that shared his animus for Israel. As he left office, Obama chose to belittle and undermine both the Trump administration and Israel, by enabling the UN and world to begin boycotting and suing the Jewish State.

Obama was well aware that the UN was anti-Israel at its core as it moved to sideline a negotiated solution between the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. Samantha Power read a prepared statement right after UNSC 2334 passed:

“But in reality this vote for us was not straightforward, because of where it is taking place – at the United Nations. For the simple truth is that for as long as Israel has been a member of this institution, Israel has been treated differently from other nations at the United Nations. And not only in decades past – such as in the infamous resolution that the General Assembly adopted in 1975, with the support of the majority of Member States, officially determining that, “Zionism is a form of racism” – but also in 2016, this year. One need only look at the 18 resolutions against Israel adopted during the UN General Assembly in September; or the 12 Israel-specific resolutions adopted this year in the Human Rights Council – more than those focused on Syria, North Korea, Iran, and South Sudan put together – to see that in 2016 Israel continues to be treated differently from other Member States.”

In other words, Obama knew that the judge would eviscerate Israel, but if Team Obama could not bring peace, this was the best that could be hoped for.

Trump’s Two Fronts: A New Mediator and Sidelining the Judge

The Trump administration now has a two-pronged effort to resolve the century old conflict: as a new unbiased mediator, and as an active player in managing the judge.

As the UN officially declared (with Obama’s blessing) that Jews are illegally living in their homeland in a reversal of the League of Nations declarations of 1920 and 1922, the Trump administration is actively fighting back.

On March 18, 2017, after a UN agency released a report that Israel is an “apartheid state,” the US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley pressured the UN to withdraw the report. The diplomat that co-authored the report refused and resigned. Haley applauded the move, saying “When someone issues a false and defamatory report in the name of the U.N., it is appropriate that the person resign.

Earlier in the week, Trump’s new envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, met with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and acting President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas in an effort to re-launch the peace process that was crippled by the Obama administration. After the meeting with Abbas, the US Consulate General said that the two men “reaffirmed the commitment of both the Palestinian Authority and the United States to advance a genuine and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”


Obama concluded his tenure regarding the Israeli conflict as a disgrace. He proved to be a terrible and biased mediator. To add an exclamation to his failure, his hubris compelled him to undermine the Trump Administration’s role of mediator, and passed the conflict into the hands of anti-Semitic judges at the United Nations.

Obama made the odds of achieving peace in the Middle East more remote. But perhaps under the watch of Nikki Haley and Jason Greenblatt, the peace process will get another chance.


Related First.One.Through articles:

How the US and UN can Restart Relations with Israel

The Illogic of Land Swaps

Obama’s “Palestinian Land”

A “Viable” Palestinian State

John Kerry: The Declaration and Observations of a Failure

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Remembering the Terrible First Obama-Netanyahu Meeting

On May 18, 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to Washington, D.C. to meet the new president of the United States, Barack Obama. It was the beginning of a terrible friendship.

FILE - In this May 18, 2009 file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. For six years, Obama and Netanyahu have been on a collision course over how to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a high-stakes endeavor both men see as a centerpiece of their legacies. The coming weeks will put the relationship between their countries, which otherwise remain stalwart allies, to one of its toughest tests. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

May 18, 2009 file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Netanyahu was extremely distressed about the state of the Iranian nuclear weapons program and urged Obama to set a hard, near-term timetable to reach a conclusive deal with the Iranians, or use military force to dismantle the dangerous program. Obama rejected both the idea of a timetable and the threat of military force.

Quite to the contrary, Obama used the public forum with Netanyahu by his side, to PRAISE IRAN, even though the US State Department defined it as a state sponsor of terrorism and the country’s leadership had threatened to destroy Israel. In his remarks before Netanyahu, Obama said:

“I [Obama] indicated to him [Netanyahu] the view of our administration, that Iran is a country of extraordinary history and extraordinary potential, that we want them to be a full-fledged member of the international community and be in a position to provide opportunities and prosperity for their people, but that the way to achieve those goals is not through the pursuit of a nuclear weapon.”

It would take SIX YEARS for Obama to conclude a deal with the Iranians that left their entire nuclear weapons infrastructure in place and permitted the country a legal path to nuclear weapons in a decade. Netanyahu considered the negotiation a collosal failure and argued against it. Obama walked out on him.

Along the way Obama did threaten to use force against another state sponsor of terrorism – Syria – but ultimately decided to retreat from his August 2012 “red line.” A couple of hundred thousand dead Syrians later, Obama announced the legalization of Iran’s nuclear program while millions of Syrian refugees swarmed the western world.

And now Netanyahu is meeting a new US president.

Netanyahu is meeting with Donald Trump to discuss a range of issues. Like Netanyahu, Trump thought that Obama’s handling of Iran and Syria were complete failures. So it is unlikely that Trump will treat Netanyahu like a cuckold the way that Obama did in publicly lauding Iran in his face.

Will this meeting set the tone and restart the US-Israel relationship? Time will tell.


Related First.One.Through articles:

International-Domestic Abuse: Obama and Netanyahu

Some Global Supporters of the P5+1 Iran Deal

Netanyahu’s View of Obama: Trust and Consequences

Obama’s Iranian Red Line

Seeing Security through a Screen

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The Media Finds Religion in Matters of Security. Sometimes.

Several news sources described President Donald Trump’s suspension of admitting refugees from war-torn countries as a “Muslim ban.” The media called out the “seven Muslim-majority countries,” highlighting the religion of those countries.

Why?

There are approximately 50 Muslim-majority countries in the world. That means that there are many more Muslim-majority countries that are NOT banned by the Trump order.

What the seven countries – Syria; Yemen; Libya; Somalia; Sudan; Iran; and Iraq – do have in common are unstable governments. Syria and Yemen are in embroiled in civil wars. Libya and Iraq are failed states that have been taken over by terrorists. Somalia and Sudan are combinations of both.

And Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world (just ahead of Syria and Sudan).

trump-ban

So why does the media not state that these seven countries are failed states that cannot be relied upon to vet the citizens? It is not as though the media has a record of discussing religion in matters of American security.

In 2014, the Obama administration opted to cancel US flights to Israel after a missile fired by Palestinian Arab terrorists fell close to the Israeli airport near Tel Aviv. It uniquely cancelled flights for Israel, even though planes had been shot down in various countries, including Ukraine, Russia, Indonesia and Egypt. Actually shot down; not just a missile landing near an airport causing minimal damage.

Did the media debate whether the ban was unconstitutional or unwarranted? Did it point out that it was Muslim terrorists that shot at the Israeli airport? That Obama created a ban against the only Jewish-majority country in the world? Did protestors take to the streets around the United States to lift the ban?

No, no, no and no.

Israeli officials protested loudly. Ephraim Sneh, a retired general and deputy defense minister of Israel, was sharply critical of the decision to suspend flights. He said that it was a dream of the Hamas leadership “to disconnect Israel from the outer world.” A reward for the terrorists.

But virtually no one – other than New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg – voiced outrage at the ban. More than voicing his outrage – Bloomberg actually flew to Israel in spite of the ban.


The media and Democrats long ago concluded that Trump is a “deplorable” racist. They have been telling the world for many years to be wary of “Islamophobia,” and America’s biggest security threat is really from the right-wing.

Therefore, when a racist (Trump) passively harms Muslim refugees (it must be Islamophobia), the religion must be called out. But when a peace-loving liberal (Obama) harms Israel (not ever really innocent according to mainstream media), there was no need to discuss religion (the Jewish-majority country) or anti-Semitism (which Obama couldn’t possibly harbor.)

That jaundiced narrative of no anti-Semitism/ real Islamophobia and liberal purity/ Republican racism certainly won’t stop now.


Related First.One.Through articles:

NY Times Discolors Hate Crimes

New York Times Finds Racism When it Wants

Obama’s Select Religious Compassion

The Invisible Anti-Semitism in Obama’s 2016 State of the Union

If you Only Loved Refugees as Much as you Hate Donald Trump

The Presidential Candidates on Islamic Terrorism: The Bumblebee, the Crocodile and the Pitbull

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A Country Divided

Politicians have a long history of throwing mud at each other. However, over the past ten years, our elected officials have turned from attacking each other, to attacking sectors of Americans. It has divided our nation.

When Barack Obama ran for office, he took aim at the top 1% of wage earners in the country. He blamed “fat cat” bankers for making too much money and further blamed them for pushing the country into financial ruin (“you guys caused the problem,“) conveniently ignoring the government failings for pushing banks to lend to credit-challenged people to buy homes. Obama continued to attack wealthy Americans as people that did not pay their “fair share” of taxes. His attacks appealed to the masses – the 99% of Americans – that would be the beneficiaries of his wealth redistribution. He bought votes by dividing a slice of Americans.

Obama’s class warfare was enhanced by far-left wing politicians like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Sanders claimed that “the business model of Wall Street is fraud,” attacking the entire financial sector, not just some “fat cats.” Warren wouldn’t even allow a banker, Antonio Weiss, to leave his position at an investment bank to help fix the economy of Puerto Rico which was in crisis, because she viewed him as part of the evil Wall Street, even though Weiss had nothing to do with the financial meltdown.

The radical socialists in Congress were no longer satisfied only picking the pockets of “fat cats,” they wanted them either in jail or unemployed.

What these left-wing politicians failed to appreciate, was that there were professions more reviled by Americans than bankers. Specifically, politicians and the news media.

According to polls – both by Pew and Gallup – politicians were ranked as the least trust-worthy group by Americans. The October 2016 Pew poll ranked the military, scientists, school principals, religious leaders, the news media, business leaders and then elected leaders in order of highest to lowest in regards to confidence. A total of 73% of Americans had little or no confidence in their elected officials.

The December 2016 Gallup poll had similar results, with people in the medical profession scoring as the most honest and ethical, with the least trust-worthy professions being state senators, business executives, stock brokers, HMO managers, Senators, advertising people, insurance salespeople, car salespeople and members of Congress. A total of 59% and 50% of Americans had either low or very low views of members of Congress and Senators, respectively. That compared to 30% for bankers and 41% for journalists.

Donald Trump understood this. He rode Americans distaste for their elected officials, and became the first non-public official in the White House.

Rather than attack bankers, Trump has taken aim at the media, another industry that is not trusted by Americans. He called out “fake news” which the public has long believed. One of his advisors sited “alternative facts” in an interview with the press in an ongoing debate with the media.

trump-fake-news

Donald Trump in first news conference as President-elect labeled CNN as “fake news”
January 11, 2017
The press, which has long enjoyed crafting a narrative to fit the political agenda of their editorial boards, are appalled.  Already under threat from changes in technology that is making their work uneconomic, they are attacking every move being made by Trump, in sharp contrast to the gentle treatment of Obama for eight years.


It would be nice to have politicians debate issues rather than resort to personal attacks. Unfortunately, that has never been proven effective in political campaigns.

But politicians have moved passed throwing mud at a single opponent to attacking the American people they are meant to serve.

Obama decided to splinter off only a small number of Americans – the “fat cats.” He made fun of Americans that “cling to guns or religion,” but he didn’t vilify them as bringing down the country. We are past that now.

Hillary Clinton said that she was proud that Republicans hated her, and then described half of America as “deplorables.” Warren and Sanders have continued the attack broad swaths of America.

For his part, Trump narrowed his attacks on those that were unpopular in America. When Americans said that they were more scared of terrorism than mass shootings, he attacked radical Islamic terrorism and went light on gun control. When Americans showed their hatred for politicians and the news media, he berated them to their faces, to the cheers of many.

It is ugly. It is popular. It is the voice of protestors and people angry with the state of our world.

It is us.

Our leaders contributed to our division. Do we rely on them to fix it?

We are all media pundits in a world of social media. We celebrate and castigate politicians with whom we agree and disagree. But we are also doing so with friends and colleagues.

That splinter that Obama opened with the top 1% has opened a chasm in our country and our relationships.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Political Pinatas: Populist Greed Meets Populist Anger

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

An Open Letter to Non-Anti-Semitic Sanders Supporters

Naked Democracy

Eyes Wide Shut

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If you Only Loved Refugees as Much as you Hate Donald Trump

There have been many protests launched against President Trump’s Executive Order slowing the number of refugees coming to the United States from particular war-torn countries. People have debated about whether the EO was specifically targeting Muslims as each of the seven countries on the list were Muslim-majority countries. Democratic politicians have called out Trump as being “backward and nasty.”

Here are statistics about refugees coming to America from war-torn countries since 2002 – covering the George W Bush and Barack Obama presidencies. Periods which had NO protests about refugees.

First a review of the countries not impacted by Trump’s EO.

Afghanistan

The United States has been battling in Afghanistan since the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. Thousands of people have been killed and many more injured and displaced as the USA fought to eliminate al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

From 2002 through 2016, the US allowed 14,072 refugees into the USA. The annual average under Bush was 966 people per year, slightly higher than the 913 average under Obama.

There were no protests that not enough people fleeing the war were let into America.

Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon

Boko Haram launched numerous attacks in the Lake Chad Basin for several years. The United States has responded with… allowing almost no refugees into the US.

From 2002 through 2016, the USA permitted a total of 557 refugees from the three countries confronting terrorism combined. President Bush allowed an annual average of 49 refugees, about twice the annual average of 27 under Obama. The large difference was mostly due to the discrepancy in how each administration treated Nigeria, with Obama only allowing an average of 3 people per year, compared to 34 by the Bush administration.

Ethiopia and Kenya

While the majority of the attacks by the terrorist group al-Shabaab occurred in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya have also suffered attacks.

Between 2002 and 2016, the USA admitted 14,890 refugees from the two countries, almost all of them from Ethiopia. The Bush administration welcomed an annual average of 1,292 per year, 77% more than the 731 annual average under Obama.

Saudi Arabia

People have questioned why Saudi Arabia – home to 15 of the 19 September 11 terrorists – was not on Trump’s refugee order. In truth, the US barely admits any refugees from the country – a total of 7 people since 2002.

 

In summary, for seven countries that have been involved in terrorism, the US barely admitted any refugees over the past 15 years. The Obama administration let in many fewer refugees than the Bush administration, even though the terrorism was much more prevalent in the countries over the past eight years than during the Bush years.

And no Americans protested.

So let’s consider the countries in Trump’s Executive Order.

Libya

Obama overthrew the Libyan government and then watched as jihadists took over the country; a real moment to celebrate. Not surprisingly, there were no refugees from Libya under Bush (since there was no war or mayhem). However, Obama barely allowed any refugees from the country he actively dismantled – a grand total of 12 people over his eight-year presidency.

Yemen

Yemen has been in on-and-off again civil war for decades. In recent years, the situation deteriorated as the government fell while Iran and Saudi Arabia engaged in a proxy war to control one of the poorest countries in the world. The US sided with its ally Saudi Arabia in the war, and involved with killing many civilians.

Even while thousands died, the Obama administration only admitted 123 Yemeni refugees over his entire tenure. Bush admitted just 25.

Sudan

Sudan has suffered from both ongoing civil war and terrorism for a long time and the USA has been more forth-coming granting refugees asylum – a total of 21,180 people since 2002. President Bush welcomed an annual average of 1,678, about 42% more than the 1,179 granted by Obama.

Iran

Iran has had a repressive government since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. It remains one of the leading countries that executes gays and one of the only countries that executes minors.

The US has consistently granted asylum to over one thousand refugees from Iran every year. Since 2002, 45,791 refugees have come to America, with an annual average of roughly 3000 per year under both Bush and Obama.

Somalia

Somalia has been a mess for 30 years, undergoing a variety of civil wars. The unrest was so bad that in 2006, that Ethiopia sent troops in 2006 to help repel the advance of the Islamic Courts Union, which soon splintered into the al-Shabaab terrorist group. Mayhem continues to this day.

The US allowed entry to 100,930 refugees from Somalia from 2002 to 2016; a great number of whom have settled in Minnesota. Both Presidents Bush and Obama allowed roughly 6700 Somalis to enter each year.

Iraq

The United States entered Iraq shortly after the attacks of 9/11 and overthrew the government. While the long war under Bush finally helped settle the country, the rapid withdrawal under Obama and the decision to not leave any US troops behind led to chaos and the emergence of ISIS.

Over 140,000 refugees have come to the US from Iraq since 2002. The majority have come under the watch of Obama, with over 15,000 coming annually, compared to an average of 2800 under Bush.

Syria

Syria has been in a civil war since March 2011, in a war that has killed roughly half a million people.

Before the war began, there were few people fleeing the country, and President Bush admitted about 14 people per year. From 2009 through 2013, the number of refugees welcomed to America barely changed, but gradually increased towards the end of Obama’s presidency, with 249, 2192 and 15,479 coming in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively.

refugees

Aside from the spike of Syrian refugees in 2016, Obama did less for refugees – over a much more tumultuous period – than Bush.

Observation

The number of refugees admitted under Bush and Obama were roughly the same, even though the situation for people in the Middle East was much worse since the “Arab Spring” began in early 2011. Further, the terrorist threats from groups like ISIS, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and others grew dramatically during the Obama years. In a time of greater instability and violence, Obama barely acted in providing sanctuary.

But there were no protests in the streets of America to let in more refugees.

Even as millions of refugees fleeing the war-torn countries overwhelmed Europe, Obama did not increase the numbers entering the US until the final two years of his second term- and only for Syria.

Why the lack of protests in the streets of the USA?

Presumably it was because American liberals loved Obama and trusted his liberal instincts. They assumed that he was doing whatever he could – even though it was clear that Europe was doing much, much more than the US in protecting refugees.

Conversely, liberal protesters assume the very worst of President Trump. They have listened to his campaign promises about banning Muslims and concluded that his executive order was really a step to ban all Muslims from entering the US. They have channeled their hatred today in regards to refugees. Yesterday it was for abortion rights. Tomorrow it may be about bank reform.

In other words, the protestors hate Trump much more than they care about refugees. Their protests are masked as concern for the weak and disenfranchised, as it lends a smug self-righteousness to conceal their ugly anger.

It is emotional, not fact-based.

refugees
Protestors at JFK Airport January 28, 2017
(photo: Reuters: Stephen Yang)

So why review the facts above? Why combat or discuss #AlternativeFacts or #FakeNews? Americans stopped paying attention to facts long ago and have relied on screaming and sharing their emotions.

It is our new reality, the lack of reality. As conveyed in “Eyes Wide Shut,

“In a world where facts are extraneous, we are only left with a clash of emotions.”


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Arab Middle East Makes Refugees, They Don’t Help Them

UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants September 2016

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

Murderous Governments of the Middle East

The Presidential Candidates on Islamic Terrorism: The Bumblebee, the Crocodile and the Pitbull

Republican Scrutiny and Democratic Empowerment of Muslims in Minnesota

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