New Head of UNRWA is Another Hamas-Sympathizer Politician

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Philippe Lazzarini of Switzerland to be the new head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Upon hearing that the head was going to be from Switzerland and not England which is forever anti-Israel, one had a moment to be hopeful that the tainted agency that prevents peace in the Israeli-Arab conflict might have a chance of reform.

Philippe Lazzarini

Lazzarini had been the Deputy Special Coordinator for Lebanon and before that served in a similar capacity in Somalia, as well as a decade at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). His work often focused on “humanitarian assistance and international coordination in conflict and post-conflict areas,” so there was hope that the U.N. was making an active step to turn UNRWA into an organization of humanitarian assistance and not a political instrument to attack Israel.

Reading about Lazzarini’s work in Somalia gave a person a measure of hope. He said that “it is important to bear in mind that the humanitarian agenda will not be subordinated to political decisions,” an important point to make to gain support of people on the ground and to be effective and supporting people in need.

But that is seemingly only his concern in Somalia.

In September 2009, Lazzarini wrote a scathing peace about Gaza and the West Bank called “Putting dignity at the heart of the humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory.” It showed a complete deafness to the history of the region and to his own recommendations in Somalia of keeping politics out of his work.

Regarding the first “intifada” which killed hundreds of civilians in Israel between 1987 and 1993, Lazzarini wrote

“Although that period was violent, with daily mass demonstrations, confrontations,
arrests and casualties, it was at least possible to dream of a better future.” 

No mention of brutal killings, bombings or the slaughter of civilians. Just optimism.

He would continue that the situation at the time he wrote (2009) was worse, as there was little cause to be hopeful.

“The current crisis in Gaza was triggered by the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 and the unprecedented blockade imposed by Israel.”

Nowhere in the nearly 2,000-word article did Lazzarini mention that Hamas is recognized as a terrorist group by a dozen countries and sworn to the destruction of Israel. As such, the blockade appeared unjustified. He would keep his audience in the dark in writing about Operation Cast Lead of December 2008 – January 2009:

“The bulk of the 1,383 fatalities were civilians not involved in the fighting, including over 330 children. Tens of thousands were injured or traumatised. Enduring three weeks of daily bombardment from land, sea and air, the population had nowhere to seek refuge: borders were sealed and safe havens non-existent since even UN premises and schools, where civilians had taken shelter, were hit by direct shelling.”

Lazzarini failed to note that Israel launched the operation to stop the constant missile attacks coming from Gaza and to destroy hundreds of tunnels which Hamas used to bring in weaponry. He also did not mention that Israel allowed the flow of humanitarian goods throughout the conflict.

Regarding U.N. schools being safe havens, the question is safety for who? Just before Operation Cast Lead, Israel killed the principal of one of those UN schools, Awad al-Qiq, who built rockets for Islamic Jihad to fire into Israeli schools and playgrounds.

Lazzarini continued:

“Locked in by a medieval siege whose enforcers decide what items will be allowed in and what people will eat, Gaza has become a ‘humanitarian welfare society’ supported by the international community.”

The author of the Goldstone Report, Richard Goldstone said unequivocally, that “Israel, like any other sovereign nation, has the right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens against attacks from abroad and within.” The “medieval” behavior is by the antisemites who seek to kill Jews, not by those seeking to defend themselves.

Lazzarini then went on to blame Palestinian Arab child and spousal abuse on Israel:

“Women and children in particular are paying a high price, as shown by a recent UN survey revealing an increase in the prevalence of domestic and gender-based violence. Possible factors behind the increase in domestic violence include the
unprecedented levels of trauma and stress that emerged after the conflict.”

The obsession for blaming Israel for the situation continued, as did false political aspersions that “East Jerusalem” is “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” Firstly, East Jerusalem doesn’t exist, it was a 19-year blip in the city’s 4,000-year history and an artifice of war. Secondly, Jerusalem was NEVER designed to be Palestinian: not in the British Mandate; not in the 1947 U.N. resolution to divide the land for two peoples; not in the post-1948/9 war which saw the Jordanians illegally annex the city; not in the post-1967 war after Jordan attacked Israel and lost the eastern half of the city; and not in the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995, the last agreements signed by the Israelis and Palestinian Authority.

Lazzarini concludes his article with a notion that has proven untrue:

“Poverty, isolation and humiliation are recipes for extremism. ‘Unlocking’ Gaza by opening its crossing points and freeing up space for Palestinian development in the West Bank are the first steps towards averting a future explosion of violence.”

There is no correlation between poverty and “violence” a/k/a “terrorism.” Palestinians rioted in the 1920’s and 1930’s killing hundreds of Jews without “poverty, isolation and humiliation.” The perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks were from wealthy families.

The Palestinian Arab objection is the presence of Jews and the establishment of the Jewish State as Hamas made clear in its 1988 Charter with statements “Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Moslem people,” and “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” The Palestinian Arabs voted Hamas to 58% of the parliament in 2006 with this call for a religious war against the Jews.

It was not about “poverty.”

The new head of UNRWA looked at first blush as a man who could turn a terrible agency into a constructive organization solely dedicated to humanitarian assistance. Alas, he has shown that he is another political creature born in the UN swamp who will spare no ink to defend Hamas and berate Israel.


Related First One Through articles:

What’s Wrong with UNRWA

The United Nations Once Again “Encourages” Hamas

While Palestinians Fire 400 Rockets, the United Nations Meets to Give Them Money

The Dangerous Red Herring Linking Poverty and Terrorism

The Parameters of Palestinian Dignity

Palestinian Arabs De-Registering from UNRWA

UNRWA’s Ongoing War against Israel and Jews

UN’s Confusion on the Legality of Israel’s Blockade of Gaza

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

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Members of Knesset and the Jerusalem Program

The World Zionist Congress just finished its elections on March 11, 2020. There were few conditions to voting in the United States such as being Jewish and 18 years old. However, there was another requirement to have one’s diaspora voice heard in Israel: a confirmation of supporting the Jerusalem Program. As detailed by the American Zionist Movement, those beliefs are:

  • The unity of the Jewish people, its bond to its historic homeland Eretz Yisrael, and the centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem, its capital, in the life of the nation;
  • Aliyah to Israel from all countries and the effective integration of all immigrants into Israeli society.
  • Strengthening Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state and shaping it as an exemplary society with a unique moral and spiritual character, marked by mutual respect for the multi-faceted Jewish people, rooted in the vision of the prophets, striving for peace and contributing to the betterment of the world.
  • Ensuring the future and the distinctiveness of the Jewish people by furthering Jewish, Hebrew and Zionist education, fostering spiritual and cultural values and teaching Hebrew as the national language;
  • Nurturing mutual Jewish responsibility, defending the rights of Jews as individuals and as a nation, representing the national Zionist interests of the Jewish people, and struggling against all manifestations of anti-Semitism;
  • Settling the country as an expression of practical Zionism.

Yet these same principles are not held by many members of Israel’s own parliament, the Knesset.

The Joint List – a collection of four Arab parties – received 15 seats out of the 120 in Knesset, a 12.5 per cent tally. The party is led by Ayman Odeh, a man who called on Palestinian Arabs across the Green Line to fight against Israel and refused to attend a meeting in New York City held on the same floor as the Jewish Agency, the group that helps facilitate “aliyah to Israel,” as called for in the Jerusalem Program. The party also includes Ahmed Tibi who has said that Hamas is “not a terror organization,” even with a charter calling for the total destruction of Israel and the murder of its Jewish inhabitants.

The Joint List of Arab parties celebrates its showing in the March 2, 2020 Israeli elections with Odeh and Tibi at center (Photo: AFP)

This collection of Arab parties includes people against the Jerusalem Program and Israel itself.

In the past, Arab List Members of Knesset (MKs) included people like Hanin Zoabi who saidI do not represent the State of Israel nor do I speak for the State of Israel, but rather in the name of a struggle that performs the exact opposite of the role of the Israeli Knesset, according to its vision.” Current MK Yousef Jabareen is a member of Hadash (part of the Joint List) who openly calls Israel a racist society and speaks of ending the national identity of Israel.

Israelis somehow don’t seem to mind.

Hadash-member Raja Za’atra founded the B.D.S. (boycott, divest and sanction) movement in Israel and has compared Israel to ISIS and Nazis. While not a member of Knesset he is welcomed as a member of the Haifa City Council.

The State of Israel demands more Zionist affirmation from Jews in the diaspora than from its own citizens with zero effect. The March 2020 elections concluded with openly hostile anti-Zionist Israelis securing a considerable showing in the Knesset, while the alt-left Hatikvah slate had to lie about its Zionist bona fides to participate in the United States’ WZC elections and also secured a sizable vote.

These anti-Zionists are inside the power structure regardless of approach, so a decision should be made whether the Jerusalem Program be scrapped as irrelevant or actively enforced in both Israel and the diaspora to discharge the venom within.


Related First One Through articles:

Ayman Odeh Doesn’t Speak for Arab Israelis, Jewish Israelis or Peace

“Peace” According to Palestinian “Moderates”

In Defense of Foundation Principles

Arabs in Jerusalem

Jews, Judaism and Israel

Israeli Arabs SUPPORT Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People

The Debate About Two States is Between Arabs Themselves and Jews Themselves

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Israel Stands Out Regarding Equality for Women

March 8, 2020 was celebrated as the International Day of Women. To mark the occasion, the United Nations produced a study which tracked how women are doing regarding equality around the world. It was called “The 2019 Human Development Reportand it was produced by The Human Development Report Office (HDRO) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The study took into account a number of factors including violence against women, economic power, ability to obtain an education and political power. It tracked the results by country and region and tried to assess why certain “social norms” existed in certain societies. It did this focusing strictly on the statistical data for most of the report, but the introductory comments spoke generally about how certain societies viewed women:

Social norms cover several aspects of an individual’s identity—age, gender, ability, ethnicity, religion and so on—that are heterogeneous and multidimensional. Discriminatory social norms and stereotypes reinforce gendered identities and determine power relations that constrain women’s and men’s behaviour in ways that lead to inequality. Norms influence expectations for masculine and feminine behaviour considered socially acceptable or looked down on. So they directly affect individuals’ choices, freedoms and capabilities.

Social norms also reflect regularities among groups of individuals. Rules of behaviour are set according to standards of behaviour or ideals attached to a group’s sense of identity. Individuals have multiple social identities and behave according to identity-related ideals; they also expect others sharing a common identity to behave according to these ideals. Norms of behaviour related to these ideals affect people’s perception of themselves and others, thus engendering a sense of belonging to particular identity groups. The beliefs people hold about appropriate behaviour often determine the range of choices and preferences that they exercise—in that context norms can determine autonomy and freedom, and beliefs about social censure and reproach create barriers for individuals who transgress. For gender roles these beliefs can be particularly important in determining the freedoms and power relations with other identities—compounded when overlapping and intersecting with those of age, race and class hierarchies.”

The study states that societies have certain normative behaviors and gender is very integral to that configuration. A break from accepted patterns risks a rupture in the community to which one belongs. As such, a seemingly small break from community norms like young Pakistani woman Malala Yousafzai insisting on going to school, got her shot.

Reviewing the study from a country and regional standpoint highlights certain trends in what are considered “societal norms.”

The leading countries in gender equality are from western Europe, North America and Australia. The worst performing countries are from sub-Saharan Africa. The Arab States and South Asia were right behind sub-Saharan Africa.

It was a curious label to see “Arab States” as a category under “Region,” (Table 1) as it is not a region the way “South Asia” and “Latin America” are. One would have expected the report to call the region “Middle East and North Africa (MENA)” the way the United Nations usually refers to that part of the world.

But it could not because of an anomaly in the MENA region in its treatment of women which broke statistically from all of the Arab and Muslim countries: Israel.

As seen in the chart above, Israel is statistically much more like the leading western countries in the world in its treatment of women and not like its neighbors in the Arab world. The western countries in the chart above include Norway; Germany; Australia; Netherlands; Canada; United Kingdom the United States… and Israel. The Arab states include The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Qatar; Iran (not actually Arab but Muslim), Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Palestinian Authority, Iraq and Syria.

The differences in every category are striking:

  • Maternal Mortality. The West is 7.4 and Arabs 35.4, while Israel is 5 deaths per 100,000 births
  • Adolescent Birth Rate. The West is 10.0 and Arabs 35.0, while Israel is 9.6 births among women 15-19 years old per 1,000
  • Per cent Seats in Parliament. The West is 31.6% and Arabs 13.2%, while Israel is 27.5%
  • Per cent of Women with Secondary Education. The West is 91.9% and Arabs 60.1%. Israel is 87.8%
  • Per cent of Women in Labor Force. The West is 58.3% and Arabs 22.5%. Israel is 59.2%

Israel is not only an outlier in the Middle East in being the only Jewish state in the middle of Muslim states, it is an outlier in its progressive treatment of women as well.


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A Flower in Terra Barbarus

The Color Coded Lexicon of Israel’s Bigotry: It’s not Just PinkWashing

Is Israel Reforming the Muslim Middle East? Impossible According to The NY Times

The Impossible Liberal Standard

Dancing with the Asteroids

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Ever-Elections, Never-Elections and Controlling Elections

On March 1, 2020, the Israeli public went to the voting polls – again. It was the third time in just a year in which the Jewish State sought to establish a government. While the final results are not in, it looks like Israeli Prime Minister’s Likud Party won 36 seats while the Blue and White Party won 32 seats. Overall, the Right-Religious block appears to have secured 59 seats, short of a 61 seat majority.

Israeli elections again?

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority continues to do nothing. The PA last held elections for Parliament in 2006, in which the Hamas, a U.S., a designated terrorist organization, won 58 percent of the seats, an over-whelming majority. In 2005, the Palestinians voted for president and elected Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah to a four-year term. That term expired in January 2009, over eleven years ago, but Abbas refuses to relinquish power or hold elections.

The Palestinians have divided their areas of control with Hamas ruling in Gaza and Fatah administering Palestinian territories in the West Bank. The two parties cannot reconcile between themselves to form a unity government and refuse to let the people hold new elections as a way out of the impasse, as each party fears losing the little control it does wield.

And in the United States, the presidential contest is set like clockwork, moving towards a November vote, as it does every four years. This year, the Democratic establishment is so fearful of the leading position of Socialist Bernie Sanders, that it effectively pushed two moderates – Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg – off of the Super Tuesday ballots and to endorse Vice President Joe Biden for president, in the hopes of giving the moderates of the party a chance to coalesce behind a single person to defeat the extremist Bernie Sanders. The leaders of the Democratic Party know that a brokered convention will tear their party apart – either in blocking Bernie Sanders and making the progressive wing of the party go to war, or by giving the ticket to Bernie and watching all of the Democratic candidates around the country go down to defeat.

Such is the state of elections today: Israel forever holding elections, Palestinians never having elections and the United States attempting to control the election outcome. It brings to mind a quote by Winston Churchill, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Naked Democracy

Liberal’s Protest Bubble Harms Democracy

The U.S. is Stealing Real Choices from the Voters

A Country Divided

John McCain 2008 / 2018

Let’s Make America VOTE Again

Michael Bloomberg Talks to America about Marrying a Prostitute

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At AIPAC, Joe Biden Waves His Finger While Bernie Sanders Flips the Bird

The annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) gathering kicked off in Washington, D.C. on March 1, 2020 during the highly unusual backdrop of both an election in Israel (March 2nd) and the thick of the presidential campaign in the United States (March 3rd). It was an highly opportune time for politicians and candidates to feed red meat to the pro-Israel crowd.

The politicians with some sanity understood that.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) addressed the audience in an unambiguous style that Israel is a strongly bi-partisan matter for Republicans and Democrats alike. He said that a strong Israel is vital for American interests and that he would always stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the strong American ally and oppose any notion of boycotting the Jewish State. Unfortunately, his time slot was right before dinner so much of the crowd was already out the door and didn’t hear it.

In the morning, Senator Amy Klobuchar who is running for president spoke to the crowd via a pre-recorded message. With the U.S. Capital placed on the green screen behind her, she spoke of her long, strong support for Israel and her desire to see peace emerge in the Middle East.

Foreign leaders took the stage to address the 18,000 people, including from Serbia and Congo, who spoke of their strong affinity for the Jewish people. The president of Serbia recalled how his country was quick to back the Balfour Declaration and has always been proud of its relationship of the Jewish community and stated his desire to deepen the connections to the Jewish State. The leader of the Congo quoted scriptures and spoke of his country’s expanding ties with Jerusalem.

President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, addressing AIPAC in Washington, D.C., March 1, 2020 (photo: First On Through)

President of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, saying he will appoint an ambassador to Israel during the AIPAC conference on March 1, 2020 (photo: First One Through)

And then there was former Vice President Joe Biden. He spoke to the audience via a pre-recorded message that looked like he stepped out of a tour bus into an alleyway to quickly say something to a crowd of people he really preferred not to address. While he said he was pro-Israel, he was not convincing, as he sternly warned the crowd that actions by the Israeli government to approve Jewish housing east of the Green Line risked making Israel a wedge issue in American politics. His meaning was clear: only Republicans would give Israelis unconditional support and the green light to live in Judea and Samaria; a Biden administration would come down hard on Israel.

Vice President Joe Biden addressing AIPAC in a pre-recorded message

The Biden video went off with a thud. Whereas the president of Serbia received a standing ovation, the audience was puzzled why Biden would opt to give a speech that was seemingly crafted by staffers from Code Pink and the New Israel Fund.

The thinning Democratic herd just lost Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer, and the leaders of AIPAC were faced with the realization that despite their repeated assertions that the group works closely with both Democrats and Republicans, the two front runners of the remaining Democrats were either hostile or ambivalent about Israel and the US-Israel relationship: Bernie Sanders called AIPAC a racist “platform for bigotry,” and Joe Biden said that real friends told friends when they were drunk and took away their car keys.

The new president of AIPAC, Betsy Berns Korn sounded the alarm bell. The emergence of politicians against the U.S.-Israel relationship is not limited to a few fringe freshmen members of Congress. It is working its way through the entire political power structure.

In November 2015, Vice President Biden addressed a progressive Jewish crowd and stabbed a finger at Israel, admonishing the entire Jewish State for something a private Israeli citizen had once said about Obama. In March 2020, Biden continued to admonish the Jewish State with a wave of his finger that the American-Israeli bond was very, very conditional, while Senator Bernie Sanders flipped AIPAC the bird. Will the pro-Israel community raise their hands in surrender or take a fighting stance?


Related First One Through articles:

While Joe Biden Passionately Defends Israel, He Ignores Jewish Rights and the History of the Jewish State

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

Mike Bloomberg, Where #NeverTrump Meets #NeverBernie

The New York Times’ Select Defense of a Civilian

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Background Checks, a Palestinian Military and Israeli “Military Occupation”

Senator Bernie Sanders, Democratic Socialist and candidate for United States president, has been vocally against the Israeli government which he has called “racist,” and against Israel’s “military occupation” of Palestinian land which denies the Palestinians “dignity.”

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the notions of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being a racist, or whether there is a “military occupation,” it requires a certain twisted logic for Sanders to condemn Israel and advocate for Palestinians, while simultaneously advocating for strong background checks in regard to gun safety.

Liberals may note that Sanders spent twenty years opposing any gun control including background checks as a senator from a rural state but he has taken to aggressive background checks now that he is running for president. His campaign specifically calls out:

support [for] “red flag” laws and legislation to ensure we keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers”

Under current federal law, those convicted of domestic abuse can lose their guns if they are currently or formerly married to their victim, live with the victim, have a child together or are a victim’s parent or guardian. Sanders supported a 2019 amendment expanding the law to stalkers and current or former dating partners. His current campaign pledge of “red flag” laws would further extend those laws to enable law enforcement to seize guns from people who are accused of being a potential threat, even if they have not been convicted of anything.

So Sanders believes that the second amendment of the United States, “to keep and bear Arms,” is not really a right but a privilege, and one which can not only be taken away once convicted by a court, but even with a mere accusation.

Advocates like Sanders argue that such legislation is required to address gun violence – against women in particular – even if it may mean that some Americans are able to own guns while others are not.

Which brings us back to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Sanders objections to Israel.

For decades, the working assumption of a two-state solution included the proviso that a new Palestinian state would be demilitarized, meaning that it would have no standing army. The Trump peace plan advocates for the same, specifically calling for Israel to have full control of border crossings and control of the air. Objectors have stated that such ruling denies Palestinians their dignity and leaves them under Israeli military control. These objectors claim that a Palestinian state without an army is no country at all.

Curiously, many of these detractors in the United States are also progressives who support strict gun control to protect victims and curb violence. However, they excuse the wars, intifadas, stabbings, rockets and bombings of Palestinian Arabs against Israelis. They ignore the incitement to violence and the demonization of Jews from the Arab media and leadership. They discount the antisemitic laws which call for the death penalty for any Arab selling land to Jews. They scoff at polls which show that 93 per cent of Palestinian are antisemitic. For them, the Palestinian Arabs are the victims and any law or aggression they take are purely defensive in nature. It is a “resistance.”

Members of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in the southern Gaza Strip [File: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]

But the reality is clear: Jews are the most persecuted people in history. Arabs have attacked them since they began coming back to the land of Israel in the 1920’s. To this day, the Palestinian Arabs continue to pay people who kill Jews and voted Hamas to 58% of parliament with the most antisemitic charter in the history of the world.

So the future of a possible two-state solution will have Israel controlling Palestine militarily. It may not meet Bernie Sanders’ ideal of Palestinian “dignity,” but there has never been a group which failed a background test so fantastically.


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Losing Rights

Time to Dissolve Key Principles of the “Inalienable Rights of Palestinians”

International-Domestic Abuse: Obama and Netanyahu

Israel and Wars

The Parameters of Palestinian Dignity

Half Standards: Gun Control and the Iranian Nuclear Weapons Deal

Empowering Women… To Murder

The New York Times Excuses Palestinian “Localized Expressions of Impatience.” I Mean Rockets.

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To Serve Jews, United Nations Style

In 1962, the television show The Twilight Zone aired a show called “To Serve Man.” The show featured aliens arriving at the United Nations in New York City who presented themselves as saviors who would bring forth a new era of peace and prosperity for mankind, ending starvation and wars on Earth. Their proposal was greeted warmly, and their manifesto, “To Serve Man,” was understood as a friendly call to service mankind. Only as humans alighted the alien spacecraft to embark on a mission of bi-planet relations, was it revealed that their manifesto was actually a cookbook and humans were on the alien menu.

The friendly face of the United Nations itself is such an alien creature, whose stated mission to service is limited to its authoritarian masses, while it places Jews and the Jewish State in its cross-hairs for devouring.

The United Nations in New York City

The UN was formed at the end of World War II as an outgrowth of the League of Nations. Its new mission was more aggressive than its predecessor, and sought to ensure human rights and promote coexistence as a reaction to the terrible global war and genocide of Jews. But the years after 1945 witnessed the emergence of dictatorships, monarchies and authoritarian regimes around the world which joined the UN, changing its mission to a distorted notion of human rights and decency.

The sole Jewish State became the most targeted country by the United Nations. The various UN agencies advanced specific standing items which called out Israel. So it was a regular day at the UN when the General Assembly passed a resolution in 1975 that equated the national aspiration of Jews as uniquely detestable, with the Zionism is Racism resolution. It was more of the same when the UN Security Counsel declared in 2016 that no Israeli Jews should be allowed to live east of the 1949 Armistice Lines.

The hunger for Jews continued in February 2020, as the antisemitic UN added to its menu, featuring not only Jews but also companies that service Jews.

A February 12, 2020 report to the UN Office of Human Rights listed 112 companies which are “involved in certain activities relating to settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” A total of 94 companies are Israeli and the balance are headquartered in six other countries including the United States. American companies listed include Expedia, Trip Advisor and Airbnb.

So imagine the following scenario: an Israeli Jew and and Israeli Arab who both live in the Israeli city of Jaffa decide to move to the Old City of Jerusalem. The United Nations brands the Israeli Jew as an illegal settler, but not the Israeli Arab. When each of them decides to rent a room in their apartment on Airbnb, the action of the Jew is considered a grave human rights issue, but not when the Arab uses the Airbnb service.

This backward Taliban mentality has become a core of the UN, as anti-Zionism fervor has characterized the reestablishment of the Jewish State as an appalling injustice which must be righted by serving it up whole to its rightful Arab owners.


In 1945, Jews welcomed the creation of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In theory and in hope, the new world order was designed to protect everyone including Jews who would be guaranteed the right to own property (Article 17) and pray at Judaism’s holy sites (Article 18). At inception, the UN seemed to be an organization meant to service all of mankind, but like an episode of the Twilight Zone, the UN blueprint became a recipe book to devour Jews, the Jewish State and any person or organization who services Jews.


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Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

Real and Imagined Laws of Living in Silwan

The Nerve of ‘Judaizing’ Neighborhoods

The New York Times All Out Assault on Jewish Jerusalem

Anti-“Settlements” is Anti-Semitism

The United Nations Bias Between Jews and Palestinians Regarding Property Rights

Google to Stop Displaying Pictures of Israeli Flags in East Jerusalem and West Bank

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A Review of the Fifteen US Slates for the World Zionist Congress

The World Zionist Congress is holding elections through March 11, 2020. There are fifteen slates running from across the political and religious spectrum. They represent roughly 1,800 individual candidates.

In the last election held in 2015, there were eleven slates representing 1,100 candidates. Reform Judaism took the greatest number of votes by a wide margin, surpassing the combined total of the Conservative and Orthodox slates.

2015 World Zionist Election
United States’ Election Results

Slate Votes Seats
ARZA – Reform Judaism 21,766 56
Mercaz USA – Conservative Judaism 9,890 25
Vote Torah: Religious Zionists 9,594 24
American Forum for Israel 3,773 10
HATIKVAH: Progressive Zionists 3,148 8
ZOA 2,738 7
Zionist Spring 2,696 7
World Sephardic Organization 1,650 4
Alliance for New Zionist Vision 735 2
Green Israel 443 1
Herut North America 304 1

In this WZC election, one of the 2015 slates – Green Israel – did not run again. Two slates modified their names and there are five new slates including Eretz HaKodesh (#1); Dorshei Torah V’Tziyon (#7); Kol Yisrael (#14) and Shas (#15, which was part of Ohavei Zion in the US).

The full list of slates is as follows (with the ordering / numbering having been chosen by the AZM at random):

  1. Eretz Hakodesh: Protecting the Kedusha and Mesorah of Eretz Yisrael
  2. Vote Reform: ARZA Representing the Reform Movement and Reconstructing Judaism
  3. Israel Shelanu (Our Israel)
  4. Orthodox Israel Coalition – Mizrachi: Vote Torah
  5. Vision: Empowering the Next Generation
  6. MERCAZ USA: The Voice of Conservative/Masorti Judaism
  7. Dorshei Torah V’Tziyon: Torah and Israel for All
  8. Hatikvah: Progressive Israel Slate
  9. Ohavei Zion: World Sephardic Zionist Organization
  10. Herut Zionists: The Jabotinsky Movement
  11. ZOA Coalition: Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Torah from Sinai, Make Israel Great (MIG) & National Pro-Israel Partners – Courageously Defending Israel, Sovereignty & the Jewish People
  12. American Forum for Israel
  13. Americans4Israel: Unity, Peace & Security
  14. Kol Yisrael: For the love of Israel – Making Zionism Compelling in the 21st Century
  15. Shas Olami

As in the past election, the main distinction between the slates mostly breaks down according to religious and political philosophy as portrayed on the graphic below.

 

Religiously Oriented
From Most Right to Most Left

Shas Olami (#15)
Eretz Hakodesh (#1)
Orthodox Israel Coalition – Mizrachi (#4)
Dorshei Torah V’Tziyon (#7)
MERCAZ USA (#6)
ARZA-Vote Reform (#2)

Politically Orientated
From Most Right to Most Left

ZOA Coalition (#11)
Herut Zionists (#10)
Israel Shelanu (#3)
Hatikvah (#8)

Outside of Religion and Politics

Kol Yisrael (#14)
Americans4Israel (#13)
Vision (#7)

Many of the groups have a philosophy combining both politics and religion, and only a few have tried to stay out of politics and religion at all such as Americans4Israel.

The Jerusalem Program
and the Deserved Disqualification of Hatikvah (#8)

There are not many requirements to vote in the WZC elections. Most are basic criteria such as being Jewish, 18 years old, a permanent resident of the United States and not having voted in the latest Knesset elections. The more affirmative declaration asks people to accept the “Jerusalem Program.”

The Jerusalem Program was first established in Basel, Switzerland at the First Zionist Congress in 1897 and has changed very little since that time. Small modifications were made after significant events in the life of Israel, including modifications in 1951, 1968 and 2004. All modifications were made by consensus.

Key points of the Jerusalem Program highlight the particularity of Israel as the home of the Jewish people. For example:

  • Strengthening Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic society…”
  • “Ensuring the future and distinctiveness of the Jewish people by furthering Jewish, Hebrew and Zionist education…”
  • “… representing the national Zionist interests of the Jewish people…”
  • “Settling the country as an expression of practical Zionism.”

The program clearly focuses on Israel as a Jewish State, not a bi-national state. The focus is on Jews, Judaism and Hebrew, not on Arabs, Islam and Arabic.

Yet one of the slates running for the WZC – Hatikvah (slate #8) – opposes those basic principles. Its members include The New Israel Fund, J Street, T’ruah, Americans for Peace Now. The New Israel Fund is actively trying to promote a bi-national state and tear down the distinctiveness of the Jewish State. J Street lobbied the US’s Obama Administration to enable United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which labeled the Old City of Jerusalem as illegal Occupied Palestinian Territory, the very opposite of settling Jews and strengthening the Jewishness of the country. Leaders of T’ruah loudly came to defense of Linda Sarsour, a vocal anti-Zionist. According to the philosophy of the far-leftist groups of Hatikvah, 11 million Palestinian Arab refugees from across the world – including Israel – should similarly have their own “World Palestinian Congress” to direct Israeli money towards Arab priorities inside of Israel.

While the groups in the Hatikvah slate stated they support the Jerusalem Program to get on the ballot, it has the equivalent honesty of the Pope saying he’s Jewish. It is a Trojan horse to break the very Jewishness of the Jewish State.

Suggested Slates

Competing slates hurt each other as there is a defined number of seats available. Two similar parties might end up losing a seat by dividing their votes, so it makes the most sense for everyone to rally around a single slate within a cluster which best represents their preferences.

Below are suggested slates to improve the probability of your vote having impact. While there are fifteen slates running, only six of them should be given serious consideration.

Right Religiously/ Right Politically: Vote Slate #4, Orthodox Israel Coalition. OIC has a proven ability to get votes. Don’t dilute and divide the focus among Shas Olami (#15) and Eretz Hakodesh (#1).

Right Religiously / Left Politically: Vote Slate #7, Dorshei Torah V’Tziyon. There is no other option.

Non-Religious / Right Politically: Vote Slate #11, ZOA. A proven vote-getter, avoid the smaller Herut (#10) and the niche Sephardic (#9) and Russian (#12) groups.

Non-Religious / Left-Politically: Vote Slate #3, Israel Shelanu. As noted above, Hatikvah (#8) should not be allowed to participate in the WZC as its actions and deeds are counter to the Jerusalem Program. The best platform is therefore with Israeli-Americans.

Non-Religious / No Politics: Vote Slate #14 Kol Yisrael. This group is about countering antisemitism and promoting Israel without getting into the common fights around the role of religion and politics. It’s appeal and mission are broad and inclusive. While Americans4Israel slate #14 has roughly the same mission, the two will dilute each other so people should rally around one. Vision, slate #7 is much the same.

Left Religiously / Left Politically: Vote Slate #6 Mercaz USA. While the ARZA Reform movement has been a dominant slate in the WZC for many years, its leadership has spent too much time bashing the government of Israel publicly and not using its platform to advocate for the Jewish State. Meanwhile, the Mercaz Conservative Movement has been a more constructive progressive voice while also demonstrating its ability to attract voices and advance its agenda.

Whatever your leanings, take the time to vote at zionistelection.org


Related First One Through articles:

J Street is Only Considered “Pro-Israel” in Progressive Circles

A Basic Lesson of How to be Supportive

Unity – not Unanimity – in the Pro-Israel Tent

There are Standards for Unity

The Anger from the Zionist Center

The Anti-Israel Community in a Jewish House of Worship

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Facts and Stats about the World Zionist Congress Elections

The World Zionist Congress, the organization started by Theodor Herzl in 1897, is having elections again through March 11, 2020.

The organization’s continued existence – let alone the election – is seemingly a curiosity. Why continue an assembly whose mission has already been achieved? The dream of Jewish sovereignty in part of the Jewish homeland was reached in 1948, and throughout Jerusalem in 1967. Is the dream of Zionism still unfulfilled? Does it morph over time?

Or is the WZC simply a manifestation of a collective aspiration, no different than Israel’s national anthem, the Hatikvah, which still speaks of “The Hope” of returning to the land of Zion. Does it remain the country’s national anthem to this day because the hope remains unfulfilled as being free doesn’t end with sovereignty but with true enduring freedom, that the hope is sovereignty that stretches over the entirety of the Jewish homeland, or because one doesn’t stop aspiring to something like love, once already in love?

The Election

The American Zionist Movement is in charge of running the elections in the United States. AZM has been around for 80 years and is an umbrella group of 33 Zionist groups. Its staff includes three full-time people and three consultants.

The election is open to every Jew over 18 years old (as of June 30, 2020). It costs $7.50 to register for the elections, down from the $10 fee in 2015, as AZM is striving to increase voter turnout.

At stake is the direction of roughly $1 billion, which is the collective budgets of the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency, JNF-KKL and Keren Hayesod. Various WZC sub-committees will influence the allocation of resources and policies of those organizations. For example, the international program “Birthright” which brings young Jews for a free trip to Israel might either visit Judea and Samaria or be restricted from visiting it depending on whether right-leaning or left-leaning slates get elected to the WZC.

There are fifteen slates in this 2020 election, representing roughly 1,800 candidates with a wide range of viewpoints. A review of those slates can be found HERE.

The WZC Election by the Numbers

The draw of the WZC appears to have faded over the last few decades, at least in the United States. The 56,450 votes cast in 2015 at the last WZC election, was a paltry sum by historical standards. While WZC elections are supposed to be held every five years, it was not held in 2010. In 2006, a total of 75,686 Americans voted in the elections, a total of 88,753 in 2002, and in 1997 the total was 107,832. If those drops of 18%, 15% and 25% between elections look depressing, consider that the 1987 WZC election had 210,957 Americans voting, meaning that during the eventful decade between 1987 and 1997 – those years which included the First Intifada and the Oslo Accords – American apathy towards Israel doubled, if one could use votes in the WZC as a proxy.

Perhaps it is unfair to state that American Jews were distancing themselves from Israel in the 1987 to 1997 decade. The Oslo Accords were controversial for many, and maybe Americans concluded that the concept of the Israeli government considering the views of American Jews when making policy was either historical or a marketing ploy. Just as the national anthem of Israel, “The Hope,” would appear as a more logical dream for people OUTSIDE of Israel than its inhabitants, the idea of being a “free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem,” may have held – and holds – different meanings for Israeli and Diaspora Jews: for the former it is a dream of daily peace, while for Diaspora Jews it is an aspiration to bond the Jewish collective of the people, religion and land. Zionism means different things to people around the world, and certainly on a daily practical level for Israelis living in a hostile neighborhood. The Israeli government may care about the opinions of Diaspora Jews, but within limits, and certainly as it relates to daily security.

In regards to the WZC elections, the United States is unique in that it reaches out to its Jews to vote for its representatives. Of the 525 seats in the World Zionist Congress at this election, the United States is allotted 152, or 29% of the seats. Roughly 37% of the seats go to Israel and 34% to the rest of the world based very roughly on the world’s global Jewish population. Israel allocates its seats based on the members of Knesset and the countries of the world allow their major Jewish organizations to directly decide on their representatives.

The WZC voter turnout has been spotty. The United States has eleven states with populations which are over two per cent Jewish. These “Jewish states” did not have great turnouts at the 2015 WZC elections, with fewer than half having one percent of their populations voting. Meanwhile, some smaller states like Oklahoma and Arizona had great turnouts in 2015, with 4.9% and 2.9% of the Jewish populations voting, respectively. As a consequence, the Jews of Oklahoma had a greater impact than the Jews of Oregon, even while the Jewish population was less than one-tenth the size.

2015 World Zionist Election
States with Highest Percentage Jewish Population

State Per Cent Jewish Population Per Cent of Jews Voting in WZC
California 3.2% 0.5%
Connecticut 3.3% 0.8%
Washington, D.C. 4.3% 1.6%
Florida 3.3% 0.4%
Illinois 2.3% 1.4%
Massachusetts 4.1% 0.8%
Maryland 4.0% 1.2%
New Jersey 5.9% 1.4%
Nevada 2.7% 0.1%
New York 8.9% 1.0%
Pennsylvania 2.3% 0.7%

The global community got seats according to their Jewish populations. While Israel and the USA got 190 and 145 seats at the 2015 election, respectively, other countries received significantly fewer seats: France (23), Canada (20), England (19), Australia (13) and Argentina and Russia each with 10. There were 25 countries with fewer than ten seats. Some countries received “penalties” from the Zionist Supreme Court which reduced their seats, resulting in Germany and the Netherlands each having no representation.

The political leanings of the various countries’ ruling authorities were clear. France voted 30% of their members to Likud and England 36%, while Australia only allotted 8% of the seats to Likud. Putting the various parties into groupings of Left, Center and Right shows an interesting divide in the Jewish world’s orientation towards their religious and political leanings as shown in the table below:

2015 World Zionist Election
Global Religious and Political Leanings

Left Center Right
Israel 29% 21% 50%
US 61% 5% 34%
ROW 47% 14% 39%

Note: Left consists of Kadima, Mercaz Olami, Zionist Union, Arzenu and Meretz; Center consists of Yesh Atid, Kulanu, Confederation, Over the Rainbow and undefined; Right consists of Likud, Mizrachi, Beiteinu Olami and Ohavei Tzion

Israel is more right-leaning and the United States is much more left-leaning than the rest of the world. Almost no Jews in the US vote for centrist slates, a unique phenomenon.

If you want to have your opinions reflected in the direction of Zionism over the next five years, register and vote at zionistelection.org


Related First One Trough articles:

I am a Zionist. A Deep Zionist. An Amazed Zionist. A Loud Zionist.

The Anger from the Zionist Center

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The Best Palestinian Response to the Trump Initiative is Welcoming Jews to Palestine

US President Donald Trump put forward a new Middle East Framework called “Peace to Prosperity” (P2P). It was the first Middle East framework offered since the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002 (API). The API was, not surprisingly, heavily biased towards the Palestinian Arabs’ demands and not Israeli security. It did not advance peace but rather ushered wars from Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014, a war from Lebanon in 2006 and a “stabbing intifada” from the West Bank in 2015.

Unlike the API, Trump’s P2P plan was focused on Israel’s security (and Palestinians’ prosperity), and the Palestinian Authority considered it a non-starter before they even saw it. The acting-President of the PA Mahmoud Abbas has refused to even entertain discussing it.

That is a mistake.

The underlying issue of Israel’s security manifests itself in the plan in a few ways, most notably, that all Palestinian border crossings must be managed by Israel and that a future State of Palestine must be demilitarized. If the PA were to refuse to accept those two principles, there is indeed nothing to discuss regarding any of the other key items for Palestinians such as land, refugees and Jerusalem.

However, if Abbas accedes to those two Israeli security points, he will likely be able to gain much on the other issues that matter to him and to the Palestinians.

Consider the land.

The P2P plan has Israel assuming sections of the West Bank including the entirety of the Jordan Valley. It leaves the Palestinian territory as a patchwork of parcels, with the towns in which Jews reside being annexed by Israel dotted, in between.

However, the Palestinians might be able to obtain almost the entirety of the West Bank if it grants Palestinian citizenship to all of the inhabitants of the Jewish towns. This action would be much like the Jewish State’s in 1948 when it granted Israeli citizenship to all of the Arabs. The Jews would make up a much smaller percentage of Palestine than Arabs’ in Israel today.

As the border would be controlled by Israel, only a sliver of land between Palestine and Jordan would be required to be Israeli instead of the whole Jordan Valley, much like the plan assumes Israel having a thin sliver of land buffering Palestinian territory in the Negev and Egypt. The net result would be the Palestinians gaining almost the entirety of the West Bank other than a sliver along the Jordan River.

The willingness to accept Jewish citizens into Palestine might also open a window for Israel to accept many Arab refugees into Israel, rather than just giving them compensation as mapped under the P2P plan. A new Arab spirit of coexistence might stimulate Israel to take as many as 50,000 Arab refugees per year for a number of years, with the balance receiving compensation and settling in a new Palestinian State.

The capital of a Palestinian State could also become more dynamic, with Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem becoming parts of a Palestinian capital.

In short, Palestinians can gain a lot on all of their key negotiating points by working off of the Trump peace initiative if they endorse coexistence and welcome Jews into a new state. In contrast, the current path of continued demonization of Israel and the denial of Jewish history and rights will only further cement the stagnation for Palestinians in regards to both peace and prosperity.

Palestinians should call the Israeli bluff, and see if hundreds of thousands of Jews are willing to live as a minority in Palestine. If the Israelis balk, then the BDS movement will likely advance globally. However, if the Israelis endorse the principle, Israel will be blocked from annexing any land (pro-Arab), while United Nations Resolution 2334 will be deemed moot and the global BDS movement will come to an end (pro-Israel).


Related First One Through articles:

The Palestinian’s Three Denials

The Peace Proposal Monologues

Taking it Straight to the People: Obama and Kushner

The Cancer in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

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

Palestinian Arabs De-Registering from UNRWA

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

Palestineism is Toxic Racism

The Parameters of Palestinian Dignity

Considering Carter’s 1978 Letter Claiming Settlements Are Illegal

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