The New York Times Knows It’s Israeli Right from It’s Palestinian Moderates

The New York Times has seemingly more journalists covering Israel than it has covering all of South America. There are some days, that the Times has so many people covering Israel, that it actually gives two reporters the opportunity to write about the exact same story, even from the same perspective.

Consider November 15, 2018, when the Times devoted a full page to describe the resignation of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The Times posted two articles with the same story and viewpoint, one by David Halbfinger and the other by Isabel Kershner.


New York Times November 15, 2018 page A8

Both articles reflected the Times’ view that Israel’s government is unrepentantly right-wing and hawkish.

Halbfinger’s article was called “A Hawk Storms Offstage. Is This His Finale?”  He described Lieberman and the Likud party as “right-wing,” “unremittingly hawkish” and “hard line” five times. In the three times that Halbfinger referred to the Palestinian group Hamas, he included no adjectives. He did not mention that it is a designated terrorist group by the United States; he did not refer to the Hamas Charter which calls for the destruction of Israel; and he did not even refer to the group as “militant.”

Kershner’s article covered the same ground as Halbfinger and was called “Israeli Defense Minister Quits Over Cease-Fire.” In ten different spots in the article – seemingly to hammer the point home – Kershner defined Lieberman, his party and the government of Israel as “hard-line,” “hawkish,” “right-wing,” “ultra-nationalist,” and “bellicose.” He described the current coalition government as “the most right-wing and religious government Israel has known.

Kershner mentioned Hamas five times. Only ONCE did he state that it was “militant.” The one time he mentioned the President of Palestinian Authority, he described Mahmoud Abbas as “more moderate.

In total, in the two articles covering the same news, the Israelis were described as “right-wing” 15 times. Hamas was described as “militant” once and the Palestinian Authority was called “moderate.”

According to the New York Times, which side do you think is the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict? Which party is unreasonable and should be pressured? Which party should get American support? In case you cannot figure it out, the Times will tell you. Twice.


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Educating the New York Times: Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood

Has the “Left-Wing” Joined the UN in Protecting Iran and the Palestinians from a “Right-Wing” Israel?

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The New York Times Wrote About Computer Hackers Charged by the US and Israel. Differently.

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Looking at Gaza Through Swedish Glasses

It is amazing to review how “enlightened” governments in Europe consider the situation in Gaza and Israel.

Firstly, how few governments understand and internalize simple facts:

  • Gaza was part-and-parcel of Palestine. That means that it was designated to be part of the Jewish homeland as outlined in international law in 1920 and the 1922 Palestine Mandate.
  • Gaza was seized and occupied by Egypt in 1948-9. Egypt made no attempt to establish Gaza as an independent Arab state while it administered the area. No international movement pressured Egypt to create such entity.
  • Gazans are not refugees. The Arabs from other parts of Palestine which became Israel in 1948 who moved to Gaza cannot be called “refugees,” but “internally-displaced people” who relocated to another part of the territory.
  • Gazans are independent. This is first time in history that the local Arabs in Gaza rule over themselves, since Israel uprooted every Israeli Jew – soldier and civilian – in 2005.
  • Gazans are ruled by their favorite terrorist group, Hamas. Hamas is designated as a terrorist group by much of the world including the United States, European Union and Israel. It calls for the destruction of Israel in its 1988 charter and was democratically elected to a majority of the Palestinian Parliament in 2006. It continues to lead in Palestinian polls should another election ever be held.
  • Egypt and Israel imposed the Gaza blockade because of Hamas. Israel and Egypt did not have any blockade of Gaza in 2005 when it gave the region independence. The countries established the blockade after Hamas routed the Palestinian Authority from the region in a mini- civil war between Hamas and Fatah in 2007.
  • Hamas launched three wars from Gaza in the past decade. In 2008, 2012 and 2014 the Palestinians in Gaza ratcheted up their attacks on Israel into full-blow wars.
  • The Palestinian attacks from Gaza have not stopped. In between each of the three wars, the Arabs in Gaza continued to attack Israel through incendiary devices, mortar shelling, sniper shots, tunnel infiltration and bombings.

These are plain historic facts which should not be subject to interpretation. Israel abandoned territory to which it had international and historic rights, to watch it be taken over by a group sworn to its destruction which battles against it constantly. You would imagine that such data points would inform how diplomats view the situation there.

But today, the European Union is a haven for Israel-bashers.

Consider Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog’s address to the United Nations Security Council in May 2018 on the fighting between the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza and Israel. His comments showed an interesting perspective.


H.E Mr. Olof Skoog, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations and the President of the Security Council for the month of July 2018

Palestinians are protesting peacefully, so by definition, Israel is using disproportionate force:

  • Israel, as the occupying power, has a responsibility to protect Palestinian civilians and must fully respect the right to peaceful protest, protect civilians and ensure that the use of force, and other measures taken, are strictly proportional.”
  • “We urge the Israeli security forces to refrain from the use of force against unarmed civilian protestors and representatives of the media. We also call on Hamas, and those organising the demonstrations, to avoid any provocations and ensure that protests remain non-violent and peaceful.”

In such worldview, Israel is the party responsible for the people of Gaza and for the violence. Hamas is not responsible for Gaza; it organizes peaceful demonstrations.

Both sides use children as pawns:

  • We urge all parties to act with the utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life and to protect civilians, particularly children. This means never making children the target of violence as well as not putting children in harm’s way or encouraging them to participate in violence.

It is true that children are inherently innocent; the violence in which they engage is at the direction of adults. But how does one address a violent mob of thousands of children?

Israel should lift Gaza blockade:

  • we must not forget that the people of Gaza have lived in intolerable conditions for far too long, in a humanitarian situation that is now deteriorating even further. To tackle this situation and to enable Gaza to recover, movement and access restrictions must be eased.”

Even with the restrictions of goods, the Arabs of Gaza have amassed hundreds if not thousands of missiles and built additional underground tunnels into Israel, yet the Swedes want to ease the blockade?

Israel does not provide free access in Jerusalem to all religions:

  • “The position of Sweden and the whole European Union on the status of Jerusalem as a final status issue is clear and will not change. All three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – have strong bonds to Jerusalem that must be preserved. A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states, in line with relevant UN resolutions.”

Israel is the ONLY country that respects the three monotheistic faiths and allows all religions to worship in their holy locations. For centuries, the Arab Muslims forbade Jews from even climbing the steps of the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs in Hebron! If the goal is freedom of access and respect for religions, then Jerusalem MUST remain the capital of Israel; to suggest otherwise is the inverse of reality and logic.

Western Jerusalem is not part of Israel:

  • In line with longstanding policy of the European Union, we will continue to respect the international consensus on the status of Jerusalem embodied in, among others, Security Council resolution 478, including on the location of diplomatic representations until the final status of Jerusalem is resolved.”
  • “As was stated in December last year, we regret the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It runs counter to international law and this Council’s resolutions.”

The United States relocated its embassy to Israel in the western part of Jerusalem. Has Sweden declared that even the Knesset is on disputed land?

Refusal to comprehend that Hamas seeks the destruction of Israel:

  • “There is unanimity around this table, I believe, in calls for restraint, for de-escalation, to break the cycle of violence, relieving the dire situation in Gaza and for a resumed serious negotiation towards peace.

How does a party negotiate peace with another party that seeks its destruction?

Pre-ordaining outcome of two-state solution including Jerusalem and no Jews:

  • “ We must, more than ever, urgently engage to bring the parties back to negotiations to advance the two-state solution. Intra-Palestinian reconciliation and the Palestinian Authority’s reestablishment in Gaza are also needed. A halt to settlements and an end to the ongoing Israeli occupation are fundamental.”

The Swedish diplomat claims to seek a two-state solution to be negotiated between the parties, but also demands the conclusion of such negotiation with “Jerusalem as the capital of both states” and a Palestine free of any Jews through halting Israeli “settlements.”


An address meant to quell violence in Gaza became a forum for the Swedish diplomat to dictate his desired outcome of a “negotiated” two-state solution. Skoog sanitized the Gaza protests as “peaceful,” and its intentions as noble.

With such a mindset, is it any wonder that Sweden became the first major EU country to recognize Palestine as a country. One can imagine it continuing to wage further diplomatic battles against Israel in the years ahead.


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The Recognition Catch Up

J Street’s Select Appreciation of Transparency

What do you Recognize in the Palestinians?

Failing Negotiation 102: Europe

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The Happy and Smug Bigots of Denmark

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A Basic Lesson of How to be Supportive

There is a famous restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina called Hyman’s Seafood. Its menu is replete with non-kosher goodies like shrimp, crabs and calamari. The locals love the family run business – now in its fifth generation of management – as do the various celebrities and tourists who often must wait outside in line for up to an hour to enjoy the food and ambiance.

The warmth of the restaurant is very much part of the appeal. In addition to the many autographed pictures of movie stars that adorn the walls, are small cards sprinkled around the two-story building with sayings and words of advice. They include funny and off-color comments about relationships as well as more thoughtful sayings from important people such as Rabbi Israel Salanter. Yes, that’s a rabbi card in a traif restaurant.

The peculiarity keeps going. The storefront has mezuzahs on each door. There is even an option to have kosher food brought in from the local Chabad!

You see, the owners of Hyman’s are all about attitude. They envision a world that is inclusive, positive and happy. Their formula for creating that world includes spreading those messages throughout the store, and they live that credo by finding a way to enable every person to eat in their restaurant – even those that cannot eat the food because of dietary restrictions.

Pretty incredible.

Not surprisingly, the owners run their business in the same fashion. They have a sign on one of the walls that reads: “If you like us, tell others. If not, tell us!

It’s so simple and basic. Spread positive messages to everyone you can. Encourage others to frequent the establishment. Boost the store’s image and popularity.

However, if there are issues that bother you, don’t tell others about the perceived problems, but bring them up to management. Be constructive and the owners will make the effort to address the matter to the extent that they can. Don’t write letters to newspapers or get on social media with the bad news, as those actions would be detrimental to the business.

It is a simple concept that too many liberal self-declared “pro-Israel” groups and people fail to comprehend.

J Street and New Israel Fund

J Street’s tagline is that they are “pro-Israel,” even though it actively undermines Israel on the global stage. The group lobbied the Obama Administration to censure Israel at the United Nations and declare Jews living in the eastern part of the promised land to be illegal! How can such a group possibly be considered pro-Israel? Would someone who likes Hyman’s Seafood report them to the Department of Health? Trash them on Yelp?

The New Israel Fund supports Breaking the Silence which does media tours undermining the Israeli Defense Forces. How is that being constructive in working with the Israeli government itself to find ways to improve?

It’s not, and it’s not appreciated by the Israeli government.

Liberal “Balance”

Supporters of J Street and the New Israel Fund like Rabbi Sharon Brous believe that they truly love Israel and are simply trying to understand all sides of the situation with Palestinian Arabs. Brous penned a letter in the Los Angeles Times on August 26, 2018 about her taking her daughter to Hebron in an effort to show her “the other side,” which included “the harshest effects of the occupation.” Her letter described how difficult life was for the 200,000 Palestinian Arabs because some Jews wanted to reestablish the Jewish community there. She relayed how extreme and racist these Jews were.

Did she show a real balance to her daughter? Did she speak to the 93% of Palestinian Arabs that are antisemites? Did she tell her daughter that when the city was under Muslim control Jews were forbidden from even climbing the steps of the Tomb of the Jewish Patriarchs, let alone pray there? Did she educate her daughter that the Palestinian Authority has a law that calls for the death penalty for any Arab selling a home to Jews? That its president has demanded a Jew-free country?

Brous didn’t really show her daughter a complete or honest story. And that is her business to educate her daughter in a manner she desires.

However, her daughter wasn’t her real audience. The daughter was merely a tool for her to write to the whole world. Brous published her opinion piece marketed as a story in the widely read LA Times to publicly vilify Israel, written in a smug fashion of being an honest educator and parent.

The readers of paper understood the message: lovers of Israel think the country is vile too.


If groups like J Street and NIF, and public Jewish leaders like Brous want to be included in the pro-Israel community, they must learn a simple lesson from Hyman’s Seafood: if you have an issue, bring it up with directly with the party in charge. In public, sing the praises loudly to all.

Today’s self-declared “pro-Israel” alt-left groups and rabbis are harmful to Israel. Until these groups and individuals make major fundamental changes, they should be excluded from any pro-Israel forums, including schools, synagogues and umbrella Zionist organizations.


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The Non-Orthodox Jewish Denominations Fight Israel

The Evil Architects at J Street Take a Bow

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When the Democrats Opposed the Palestinian “Right of Return”

Israel’s Channel 2 reported over the weekend that US President Donald Trump was prepared to push the Palestinian Authority to end its so-called “Right of Return” in which millions of descendants of Palestinian Arabs that left homes in what is now Israel, be granted the right to return. Various news stories picked up the story as something new and fantastic including the Jerusalem Post and Arutz Sheva.


Senior Advisor Jared Kushner Meets with Acting-P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas
(Photo: AP)

It is remarkable to witness how the tenure of former President Obama was so pro-Palestinian, that people have forgotten that the Democratic Party also was against the “Right of Return” before Obama took office.

The 2008 Democratic Platform (drafted pre-Obama) stated clearly that:

“[t]he creation of a Palestinian state through final status negotiations, together with an international compensation mechanism, should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.

That is, there are one of two ways that the Palestinian Arabs will be compensated for lost property: either through monetary compensation, or by permitting them to move to the new country of Palestine. There would be NO right of return into Israel.

Should President Trump move to close the return issue demanded by the Palestinians, he would simply be reverting back to the standard bipartisan approach that both Democrats and Republicans used before Obama’s aggressive push of the Palestinian Arab agenda. That Trump’s action is being viewed as novel says more about how far the Obama administration shifted the Democratic Party and the media away from Israeli-leaning positions than the Trump action itself.


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The Democrats’ Slide on Israel

The UN Must Pay to Repair the Gaza Fence

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NY Times Disgraceful Journeys

As media companies have come under financial strain due to the availability of plentiful free and immediate news sources online and the collapse of the print advertising industry, the companies have sought new methods of generating revenue.

As part of such endeavor, The New York Times got into the travel business.

The Times markets its “Journeys” as a way to not only see the world, but to gain an understanding of the “history & context” of the countries with “featured experts.” Not surprisingly, the paper’s infamous pro-Arab and anti-Israel orientation fills the Times’ brochures.

Consider the Times description of its trip to Iran (below). The main headline of “How Much Do You Understand?” seems to beg the reader into an opportunity to learn. The text for Iran is as follow:

“Iran: Tales from Persia

Persia. Iran. For 2,500 years, this powerful country has entranced, mystified and beguiled the world. Discover the ancient secrets and modern complexities of this influential land on a 13-day itinerary, visiting some of the world’s oldest archaeological sites and the family home of the religious leader who engineered Iran’s transition to an Islamic republic. Welcome to the once-forbidden land of Iran.”

The featured expert is “Gary Wintz, a writer and lecturer, has traveled to Iran regularly since the 1980s and is an expert on the cultural and political landscape there. He joins all our departures.

The trip sounds very exciting. So much intrigue and history.

There is no mention that this country is one of the most repressive in the world. This is a government that hangs gays by cranes in the street – literally. It has fomented civil wars in Yemen, Iraq and Syria. It has publicly called for the destruction of Israel. It leads the entire Middle East in executions  (more than every country in the region COMBINED). It executes minors.

No worries. The NYTimes will tell you that its mysterious and beguiling.

At least this year’s “featured expert” has been to Iran. In 2016, the featured expert was the notorious Op-Ed Israel-basher, Roger Cohen. He probably told the tour participants how terrible it was that Israel opposed Iran getting nuclear weapons.

There is only one other country in the world that executes minors: Saudi Arabia. The Times will gladly take you there too.

Saudi Arabia and the Emirates: The Past and Future of Oil

Oil transformed the Arabian Peninsula, bringing wealth into a region steeped in tradition and heightening tensions with oil-dependent Western nations. On this 10-day journey accompanied by New York Times journalists, learn more about Saudi Arabia, on the cusp of change. Explore the conservatism that still grips Saudi Arabia (women, you may need to bring a head scarf), then see the modern architectural gem that is Abu Dhabi.

Saudi Arabia, where Islam was born, remains a deeply conservative country where women are only now being allowed to drive and alcohol is not served. It’s also one of the most important allies of the United States, even though they don’t always see eye-to-eye. Journey to Jidda, Al-Ula, Riyadh and Dammam to better understand the relationship between these two nations. Hear perspectives from oil industry and government officials and learn how Saudi Arabia keeps its grip on its past even as it tries to embrace its future. Then travel to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, and see how it has used its oil wealth to create a city of culture.”

The Times pointed out that the country is “deeply conservative” but ignored that it is rated one of the “worst of the worst” repressive countries by Freedom House. It is the only country in the world that has public beheadings. Seriously, even today.

No worries. You’ll get to see a “modern architectural gem” with the Times.

In regards to Egypt, the Times could not be bothered to mention anything “conservative” about the country.

Egypt is the land of “powerful dynasties” and “New York Times experts will help you piece together the life and times of a powerful ancient civilization and share their vision for the country’s future.”

How wonderful! Not an iota of anything controversial. Did the Times mention that Egypt is one of the worst countries to be a Christian according to Open Doors? That the Arab Spring swept out one long-time strongman, and a military coup took out his replacement? Terrorism targeting tourists? Why would it? This is the Times.

Morocco? It’s gorgeous! “A land of of legend and intrigue… delve deep into this colorful nation.” Illegal annexation of Western Sahara? Never heard of it.

For some of the worst murderous regimes in the world, involved with human rights abuses in their own countries as well as active participation in killing many tens and hundreds of thousands of people, the most the NY Times could muster about the Islamic countries was that Saudi Arabia is “deeply conservative” and “don’t always see eye-to-eye” with the United States. Remarkable.

But it gets worse.

You can perhaps try to forgive the Times that is trying to sell a vacation package to make a few more dollars. Why highlight the bad (actually evil) when marketing a trip for several thousands of dollars?

The NY Times also offers a trip of Israel. Surely the Times would highlight the miracle that is the rising star of the Middle East.

The paper which claims to be “a leader in its evenhanded coverage of Israel,” seems to think that the only democracy in the Middle East, the technological and environmental leader, the most liberal country for thousands of miles in any direction, needs some “balance” in its “Journeys” packages. Not Iran nor Saudi Arabia nor Egypt nor other Middle eastern lands. Only Israel.

This is from the Times Journey’s website on the Israel trip:

In 2018, Israel will observe its 70th anniversary as a nation. But its history goes back more than 5,000 years, and even now, its future promises many difficulties. On this nine-day itinerary, travel with experts from The New York Times, a leader in its evenhanded coverage of Israel, Palestinians and the Middle East. Enjoy extraordinary opportunities to hear from opinion makers, scholars, grassroots activists and media experts.

Travel behind the media lens to explore the broad spectrum of the Israeli-Palestinian experience on a journey through millennia of history, politics and religion. Explore one of the most fascinating destinations in the world, and seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the next chapter of history. Learn about the evolution of Israeli and Palestinian identities by understanding the region’s past struggles while considering its current political reality and contemplating its future. With unparalleled access and New York Times guidance, this unforgettable trip will present this volatile region in a new light.”

How is it that a trip of Israel, a country with so many incredible things to cover in both ancient history, religion, economy, arts and technology, could get wrapped into a discussion about Palestinians (three times!)? Why is Israel uniquely described as having “difficulties” and “struggles” in a “volatile region”? More people have died in the wars that Iran and Saudi Arabia have been fighting over the past three years than the entire 70-year history of Israel.

Saudi Arabia is noted as the place “where Islam was born.” Is it too much for the Times to point out that Israel is the Jewish homeland?

In Iran, people are invited to visit “some of the world’s oldest archaeological sites.” Are there not enough ruins in Israel to highlight?

The Times puts on a unique lens for Israel. Consider the itinerary on the first full day of the trip, called “Jerusalem: Understanding the Borders and Territories.” The schedule includes: “This morning, attend a talk by Avi Issacharoff, an Israeli journalist who specializes in Palestinian affairs. Learn about his work, including the geopolitical TV thriller “Fauda” (Arabic for “Chaos.”) Then, drive north to the Qalandiya checkpoint to enter the West Bank for a guided tour led by Rami Nazzal, a Palestinian and New York Times contributor. Visit a Palestinian refugee camp, the city of Al-Bireh and homes near the Psagot Israeli settlement. After lunch at a local Palestinian restaurant, meet with a senior Palestinian official to discuss the history and current state of Israeli-Palestinian affairs. End the day with a driving tour through Ramallah, which serves as the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority.” On the New York Times’ trip to Israel, visitors adopt the Palestinian narrative from the outset.

A visit to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset in Jerusalem? To it’s Supreme Court? No way! The trip to Israel and a tour starting in Jerusalem visits “the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority.” Heaven-forbid actually spending a trip to Israel in Israel’s capital city.

The New York Times is not remotely fair to Israel even while it tries to make a few bucks on its travel packages. Do you think there’s an iota of even-handedness in its news stories?


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Every Picture Tells a Story: Fire

The summer of 2018 was a story of fire.

Fires raged through California, consuming thousands of acres. Fires raged in Greece, killing scores.

The front pages of The New York Times featured color photographs of these horrible incidents. The pictures captured the roaring flames, the burnt forests, the exhausted firefighters.

The daily front page articles showed the destruction. The captions under the pictures gave readers a sense of the unfolding efforts to contain the blaze, even as it updated the daily loss of life.

But not in Israel.

Every day for the length of the summer, Palestinian Arab arsonists sent firebombs aloft into Israel. Using kites and healium filled balloons and condoms, the terrorists sought to inflict damage to Israelis with a new approach that let the masses participate in the battle against Israel.

Yet despite the thousands of acres burned, The New York Times never posted a front page picture of the Arab arsonists. It never broadcast clearly the terrible damage of the scorched fields which Israelis had cultivated.

It never posted a caption clearly describing the terrorist and the victim.

For the New York Times, tragedy is a dish best served among friends.


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Every Picture Tells a Story: The Invisible Killed Terrorists

Every Picture Tells a Story: Arab Injuries over Jewish Deaths

Every Picture Tells A Story: Only Palestinians are Victims

Every Picture Tells a Story: Goodbye Peres

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Every Picture Tells a Story, Don’t It?

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Israel’s Nation-State Basic Law Advances a Two-State Solution

In November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly approved a plan (UNGA Resolution 181) to be implemented in the Holy Land for when the British ended their administration of Palestine. The resolution proposed that two states be established in the area west of the Jordan River: a Jewish State and an Arab State. The resolution mentioned the term “Jewish State” a full 27 times.

But the world never quite understood what a “Jewish State” meant. The modern world never had witnessed such a thing.

Conversely, an “Arab State” seemed clear. There already were many Arab countries in the world. There were also many Muslim countries. People had a pretty good understanding of what such countries looked like and how they operated. The number of both Arab and Muslim countries would grow over the following decades.

After the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995, the Palestinian Arabs would begin to define what their proposed Arab State would look like. In the waning days of the five year transition period that began in September 1995, Yasser Arafat (fungus be upon him), ordered a draft Palestinian Constitution be prepared. The initial draft Palestinian constitution was completed in 2001.

It made a few points abundantly clear: a State of Palestine would be Arab and be Muslim.

  • This constitution is based on the will of the Arab Palestinian people.” (Article 1)
  • The Arab Palestinian people believe in the principles of justice, liberty, equality, human dignity, and their right to practice self-determination and sovereignty over their land.” (Article 2)
  • The Palestinian people are a part of the Arab and Islamic nations.” (Article 3)
  • Arabic shall be the official language.” (Article 5)
  • Islam shall be the official religion of the state. The monotheistic religions shall be respected.” (Article 6)
  • The principles of the Islamic Shari`a are a primary source for legislation. The legislative branch shall determine personal status law under the authority of the monotheistic religions according to their denominations, in keeping with the provisions of the constitution and the preservation of unity, stability, and advancement of the Palestinian people.” (Article 7)
  • Sovereignty belongs to the Palestinian Arab people. Its prerogatives shall be exercised by the people directly, by means of elected representatives, by referendum, and through their constitutional institutions.” (Article 10)

It goes on, and the point is underscored: a new Palestinian State would be Arab and Islamic.

Even without a state, the Palestinian Authority created a framework of what it meant to be a Palestinian State. Yet, Israel, which had been a country since May 1948, never defined what it meant to be a Jewish State.

Until 2018.

Israel – like the United Kingdom and New Zealand – does not have a constitution. Instead, it issues a series of “Basic Laws.” These laws enumerate key principles of the country. Until July 2018, the government of Israel did not declare what it meant to be a Jewish State in any of the Basic Laws, even while it enumerated other key attributes such as human dignity and liberty. There were Jewish symbols and Jewish holidays used in Israel, but those could easily be replaced with any new law. The State of Israel was only de facto a Jewish State. Nothing more.


Emblem of Israel, the seven branched menorah, as depicted in the Arch of Titus in Rome, celebrating the sacking of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE.

That de facto existence has been more than enough for Arabs and anti-Zionists. Thirty Arab and Muslim countries still refuse to recognize the existence of Israel. For his part, the acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has stated that Palestinian Arabs “will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel.” The PA would make peace with the government of Israel simply as a counter-party to an agreement. However, it still objected to the basic formula laid out since 1947 of two states for two people: a Jewish State and an Arab State.

And Abbas could comfortably delude himself into that reality because Israel never proclaimed itself in its own Basic Laws that it is the nation-state of the Jewish people. The country operated like a Jewish man wearing a baseball cap instead of a kippah, acting religiously without the public declaration of being Jewish. The Jew and anti-Semite could play the farce of doing business and getting along with each other with the fig leaf of deniability.

No longer. The public declaration has been made. The Jew is out of the closet. Deal with your anti-Semitism if you want to live next to Israel, and strike treaties and do business with the Jewish State.

In 2018, the State of Israel declared itself the Nation-State of the Jewish people. For anyone that held out hope for a two state solution built on a solid foundation, there is only cause for optimism and joy.


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Israel’s Nation-State Basic Law is Not Based on Religion

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The Palestinian State I Oppose

No Jews Allowed in Palestine

Maybe Truman Should Not Have Recognized Israel

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Denying Entry and Citizenship

In 1950, Israel enacted the Law of Return which enabled all Jews from around the world to move to Israel and quickly obtain citizenship. In that declaration, the law gave the state room to exclude certain kinds of individuals, specifically any Jew who:

“(1) is engaged in an activity directed against the Jewish people; or

(2) is likely to endanger public health or the security of the State.”

The threshold for deciding on granting citizenship was left to the Minister of Immigration. Presumably there were many people who were denied citizenship over the decades since the law was enacted.

The government of Israel does not limit its scrutiny of Jews who arrive in Israel to make aliyah to become citizens, but also deciding who should be granted entry to the country at all.

In January 2018, the Knesset decided to bar entry to members of 20 organizations that threaten the state through calls for BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) of the Jewish State. Those organizations included:

From Europe

  • AFPS (France-Palestine Solidarity Association)
  • BDS France
  • BDS Italy
  • ECCP (The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine)
  • FOA (Friends of al-Aqsa)
  • IPSC (Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
  • Norge Palestinakomitee (The Palestine Committee of Norway)
  • Palestinagrupperna i Sverige (PGS-Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden)
  • PSC (Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
  • War on Want
  • BDS Kampagne

From the United States

  • AFSC (American Friends Service Committee)
  • AMP (American Muslims for Palestine)
  • Code Pink
  • JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace)
  • NSJP (National Students for Justice in Palestine)
  • USCPR (U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights)

Other groups

  • BDS Chile
  • BDS South Africa
  • BDS National Committee

In July 2018, a prominent voice for Code Pink and BDS activist, Ariel Gold, was denied entry into Israel. After being denied entry, she said that she would entertain making aliyah to the country she was lobbying against. She was perhaps not aware of the caveat in the Law of Return that would prohibit her being granted citizenship.

Ariel Gold of Code Pink at the Western Wall in Jerusalem
The Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan saidThe policy I have set is clear: anyone who acts consistently to boycott us will not enter the country. The rules have changed and the State of Israel will not hold back anymore against those who try to harm us.

Another BDS promoter from Netherlands was similarly denied entry in July 2018.

In August 2018, a leftist activist was detained at the Sinai border with Israel. She belonged to a group called Gisha which advocates for Gazans, but was not on the BDS list. She was eventually allowed entry after a few hours of questioning.

The trend of denying people entry to a country because of the perception that they will foment hatred or violence is occurring in several democracies.

The United Kingdom has barred several right-wing journalists. Since 2009, the UK has prohibited the conservative talk show host Michael Savage from entering the country. In March 2018, the UK denied entry to Canadian right-wing journalist Lauren Southern, and some other YouTubers from Austria. Both Savage and Southern were denied entry because of their comments about Islam. The UK stated “Border Force has the power to refuse entry to an individual if it is considered that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good.” The UK phrase of “public good” seems to have a much lower threshold than Israel’s “harm.”

Under the Obama administration, the United States prevented journalists from entering the country with little information as to the reason. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol denied Canadian journalist Ed Ou entry in 2016. The CBP said that it examined Ou’s files and phones because “keeping America safe and enforcing our nation’s laws in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully examine all materials entering the U.S.” Under the Trump administration, several journalists have been denied visas to enter the country, including Afrah Nasser from Yemen, as her country was on a travel ban.

Many countries – including the U.S.A., the United Kingdom and Israel – deny both citizenship and visitation rights to people who are deemed to be not conducive to the public good / promoters of harm. Activists and journalists from both the right-wing and left-wing have been caught in these nets for decades. But one can be sure that American and British Jews have only called out Israel for such activity, while remaining silent on activities executed by their own governments.


Related First.One.Through articles:

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

Unity – not Uniformity – in the Pro-Israel Tent

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Dick Pics

Journalists in the Middle East

The United Nations’ Incitement to Violence

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The Basic Law’s “Unique” Problem

After Israel announced its 2018 Basic Law of the Nation State of the Jewish People, many people became incensed. Some were the usual suspects who hate anything that Israel does such as the President of Turkey, Recep Erdogan. Others were parties that say they are pro-Israel while they attack the State, like the left-wing group J Street, which declared on its website that it was “a sad day for Israel and all who care about its democracy and its future.” Other left-wing groups and non-Orthodox rabbis made similar comments.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not care much about the complaints from these left-wing groups and non-Orthodox rabbis. It was a somewhat surprising reaction to chose to ignore them considering that one of the points in the 2018 Nation-State Law stated clearly that Israel was the nation state of all Jews, including the left-wing Jews that despise his administration.

However, Netanyahu did become upset when he learned that the Law upset the Druze minority that account for roughly 1.7% of Israeli citizens. The Druze have always been loyal Israeli patriots and are found in every aspect of Israeli society. When Netanyahu learned of the Druze protest, he announced that he would review the language of the law.


Druze protest in Tel Aviv, August 2018

Much of the Basic Law did not break new ground. For example, the national symbols of Israel have always been Jewish symbols. Jerusalem has always been the nation’s capital, and was already so noted in a Basic Law in 1980.

So why did the Druze protest? Why have so many non-Orthodox Jewish rabbis denounced the declaration?

The major reason for the controversy surrounds clause 1c, and the use of the word “unique.”

“The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

The other statements the law’s items 1a and 1b were simply factual statements for anyone that understands Israel and history. International law in 1920 (San Remo Conference Declaration) and 1922 (Mandate of Palestine) underscored that the land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, and it is there that the Jewish people fulfill their “natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination.

Item 1c went a step further, declaring that ONLY Jews had the right to national self-determination.

Those in favor of the law saw nothing exceptional about the clause. There was no threat to the nation’s democratic ideals as every citizen – Jew and non-Jew – still had an individual rights to self-determination and full protection under the country’s laws.

However, the Druze and non-Orthodox Jewish community saw things very differently.

The Druze Community

The Druze community came about in the 11th century as an offshoot to Islam. Most of the Druze view themselves as predominantly connected to other Druze, while still remaining loyal to the country in which they reside. The majority live in Syria and Lebanon, with roughly 15% living in northern Israel. Today, the Druze number roughly 1 million people in total.

Like the Kurds, the Druze never had an independent country, and the global powers did not carve out a space for them when the Ottoman Empire collapsed at the end of World War I. Unlike the Arabs in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, they did not seek to destroy the Jewish State at its founding in 1948.

The Israeli Druze view themselves as completely part of the Israel. Roughly 60% of Druze have served or are serving in the Israeli military, just slightly less than the 75% of Israeli men that have served or are serving. That compares to fewer than 1% of Israeli Arabs who serve in the Israeli army.

The Druze’s proud participation in Israeli society is drastically different than Israeli Arabs. They have no qualms in calling themselves “Israeli Druze,” in sharp contrast to many Israeli Arabs that prefer to call themselves “Palestinian citizens of Israel,” leading with their allegiance to a combatant entity that has warred against the Jewish State since its inception.

For many Druze, the Nation-State Basic Law made them question the nature of patriotism: was it a one way street? Several Druze army officers resigned in protest.

Non-Orthodox rabbis and Left-Wing Groups

For the non-Orthodox rabbis in the United States, the issue was philosophical. Their approach to Judaism and Israel is about universalism and not particularism as detailed in this article. As such, the word “unique” produced a knee-jerk protest.

Left-wing groups (which have more than a few non-Orthodox rabbis in leadership positions) claim their own version of universalism: a world in which everyone and everything is the same. That means no special rights or preferences for anyone that is in the majority or position of power, especially if they are white men. Any move to create rights and protections issued by such powerful white men on behalf of the majority must be inherently bigoted and racist.

Most fundamentally, the Basic Law calling for a “unique” right for the Jewish people in Israel undermines the far left’s two-state solution of 1.5  states for Arabs and 0.5 state for Jews, instead promoting a single state for Jews and a single state for Arabs.

Next Steps

As Netanyahu considers making alterations to the law, he might be able to satisfy both the Druze community and left-wing groups by dropping the word “unique” in statement 1c, but that would make it redundant with clause 1b.

However Netanyahu must know that the Druze have never fought for an independent state and never had one, let alone in northern Israel.

Netanyahu certainly realizes that the Druze did not protest the 1950 Law of Return which only granted Jews an expedited pathway to citizenship.

Israeli leaders can see that the Syrian Druze are loyal citizens to the Syria Arab Republic which has stated in its constitution that it opposes the very existence of Israel and is only an Islamic state. Did Druze loyalty in Syria collapse because of its warring stance and its view of religious hegemony? Not at all.

The handful of protests by Israeli Druze are sparked by the knowledge that the Jewish left and European funded-NGOs will embrace its cause and fight side-by-side in the streets. In Syria, disloyalty is addressed with expulsion and extinction. But in the Jewish State there is a left-wing army that is willing to join their protests in a manner that never existed in 1920, 1948, 1950, 1967 or 1980. The far left-wing will now combat the Israeli government in the streets of Israel, throughout the parliaments of Europe and in the halls of the United Nations.

Perhaps Netanyahu could replace clause 1c with a declaration that Judaism is the official religion of the State of Israel, just as many other democracies have official national religions. It would be interesting to see if the Basic Law opponents would be more comfortable with such declaration.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Deciphering the 2018 Basic Law in Israel – The Nation State of the Jewish People

Israel’s Nation-State Basic Law is Not Based on Religion

Israel’s Colonial Neighbors from Arabia

The United Nations and Holy Sites in the Holy Land

Oh Abdullah, Jordan is Not So Special

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Israel’s Nation-State Basic Law is Not Based on Religion

There are a few democratic countries that do not have formalized constitutions such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the State of Israel. These governments occasionally issue broad laws to outline the basic principles of government. Israel did just that in July 2018.

Israel’s 2018 Basic Law of the Nation-State of the Jewish People was interesting for what it omitted as much as for what it included.

The focus of the law was about the connection between the nation, the land and the people. Specifically, the law outlined the connection between the modern state of Israel, the Jewish people and the Jewish Holy Land.

But the law clearly omitted the religion of the Jews, Judaism.

The law had no preamble about the God of Judaism’s forefathers of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the way that Ireland begins its constitution about Jesus and the Trinity.

The law did not declare Judaism as the State of Israel’s official religion, nor did it declare that there was an official “church” or head rabbi in the country. Such laws are found in several democracies such as for Roman Catholicism in Costa Rica and for the Eastern Orthodox Church in Greece.

Israel’s Basic Law did not declare that the leader of the country needed to belong to the official government church. Such a law can be found in Denmark’s constitution regarding the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The law did not mandate that Judaism must be taught in school, a law that is found about Catholicism in Malta.

The law did not even state that Israel’s laws are based on Jewish values and inspired by the Jewish prophets as was stated in the country’s Declaration of Independence. Such a statement about Christianity features prominently in the constitution of Norway. Panama’a constitution mentions “Christian morality,” while Peru’s constitution calls out the “Catholic Church as an important element in the historical, cultural, and moral formation” of the country.

As a matter of fact, the Basic Law seemed to go to pains to not even refer to religion.

The law refrained from using the words “God,” “Judaism,” “Holy Land,” “sacred,” or “religion” anywhere in the text. While the law declared the “Hatikvah” as the national anthem, that anthem similarly avoids using any religious language. That’s in sharp contrast to 34 democracies that use “God” or “Lord” in their anthems including Canada, Italy and Switzerland, and others that specifically refer to Christianity such as in the Netherlands and Romania .

The 2018 Basic Law simply detailed that the Jewish people were connected to the land of Israel because of history. Yet in doing so, the law opted to not also underscore the deep religious and unique connection that Jews have for all of the land of Israel, and particularly for Judaism’s holiest city of Jerusalem.


Seal of King Hezekiah found at the southern Temple Mount in Jerusalem
who reigned c.715 – 686 BCE

The emphasis of Israel’s 2018 Basic Law related to the essence of Jews are a people, not adherents to a religion. International law in 1920 recognized “the historical connexion of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” In 2018, Israel took that same step of laying out the long and deep connection between the Jewish people to the land of Israel, realized in the modern state of Israel.


Tel Dan Stele from c.840 BCE found in southern Syria referring to the “House of David”

Jews are the modern Israelites that had kingdoms in Canaan, Israel and Judah. Israel’s 2018 Basic Law affirmed that historical connection between the people and the land, and laid out the initial markings which characterize the reincarnation of the indigenous people in the modern State of Israel.

It is remarkable that Israel chose not to define itself by religion when so many democracies do so.


Related First.One.Through articles:

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

750 Years of Continuous Jewish Jerusalem

Abbas’s Speech and the Window into Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism

From the Balfour Declaration to the San Remo Conference

In Defense of Foundation Principles

Squeezing Zionism

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

Gimme that Old-Time Religion

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