Trends in Anti-Muslim and Anti-Semitic Attacks Post-9/11

As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States approaches, various news outlets are discussing the animosity towards Muslims that became a reality in America after the terrorist attacks by nineteen Muslim men, directly killed nearly 3,000 people and many times that number indirectly in the years that followed. Other than giving a platform for American Muslims to talk about their experiences with prejudice, little analysis into the hate crime statistics has been shared.

So here it is.

Before the September 11th attacks, almost every religious-based hate crime reported by the FBI was against Jews. From 1998 to 2000, a total of 89 anti-Muslim hate crimes were reported, or about 30 per year. In comparison, over that time period, over 3,500 anti-Jewish attacks were reported by the FBI, or 39 times as many. That dynamic changed with the jihadist terrorism against the USA in 2001.

The spike was immediate and significant.

In 2001, a total of 546 anti-Muslim hate crimes were reported, a 16.5 times jump from the prior year. White people committed 200 of those offenses, a high number relative to the 29 attacks committed by Black people. The numbers declined rapidly in 2002, but the number of anti-Muslim attacks has remained significantly above the pre-9/11 days.

Anti-Muslim attacks increased again with the influx of Muslim refugees from Syria and elsewhere in 2015 and 2016, reaching a high of 381 in 2016. The number of incidents declined significantly since then, with 219 attacks reported in 2019, a 43 percent decline in three years.

In regards to the perpetrators of the offenses, from 2000 to 2009, Whites committed an average of 69.9 attacks per year, compared to 16.8 for Blacks. The numbers increased for both groups in the 2010-2019 decade, with Whites and Blacks committing an average of 97.3 and 25.2 attacks, respectively, representing a jump of 39% for Whites and 50% for Blacks.

By way of comparison, Jews suffer many more hate crimes than Muslims but the trend line is quite different.

Attacks against Jews was consistently above 1,100 attacks per year through the year 2001. It was only in 2002 that anti-Semitic attacks began to decline, reaching a low of 635 attacks in 2014. This was a period marked by the War on Terror around the world, and in Israel, it included the Second Intifada/Two Percent War (2000-2005), the election of a Holocaust denier to the Palestinian presidency and a jihadist terrorist group to a majority of the Palestinian parliament (2005 and 2006) and wars from Gaza after the Hamas takeover of the Strip (2008, 2012 and 2014). Perhaps Americans sympathized with Jews and the Jewish State in the global war on Islamic extremism, as attacks on Jews declined significantly over those thirteen years.

But the trend reversed as anti-Semitism began to spike at the same time as anti-Muslim attacks picked up in 2015. Most recently, crimes against Muslims have been declining while anti-Semitism has been rising.

A review of the offenders perhaps reveals some clues.

From 2000 to 2009, Whites committed an average of 181.0 attacks against Jews while Blacks committed an average of 17.8 attacks per year. But from 2010 to 2019, Whites committed an annual average of 137.3 attacks while Blacks committed 28.5. So while anti-Semitic attacks among Whites declined by 24% over the past decade, it increased 60% among Blacks.

The past decade witnessed a spike in religious-based hate crimes committed by Black people at a greater rate than White people, and against Jews in particular, as the average anti-Semitic hate crimes committed by Whites has declined by 24%. (source: FBI Hate Crime Statistics)

The sharp increase in Black anti-Semitism came most recently in 2018 and 2019, with all-time record levels of attacks by Blacks on Jews. This coincides with the election of the “Squad” to Congress – and two Muslim women, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, in particular – who pushed anti-Semitic tropes that Jews control the military, the press, the government and do it all as a means to profit from the poor. The ridiculous shouts of “from Ferguson to Palestine” shouted by the likes of CNN’s Marc Lamont Hill and “from Detroit to Gaza” shirts sold on Rashida Tlaib’s website, were malicious attempts to portray Jews as militant exploiters of Blacks and Muslims all around the world. Shockingly, Democratic leaders protected their anti-Semitic minority members and advanced anti-Islamophobia measures rather than protecting Jews.

Not surprisingly, attacks against Jews increased and those against Muslims decreased.

In 2019, an average American Jew was roughly three times more likely to suffer a hate crime than an average Muslim (1,032 Jewish victims in a population of 5.7 million versus 227 Muslim victims in a population of 3.3 million). Jews always suffered more than Muslims and the gap is growing.

In summary, there were almost no anti-Muslim attacks in the United States until the Islamic extremist attacks of September 11, 2001. The spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes went on for a year, and the situation then dramatically improved. That turnaround enabled American Muslims to assume positions of power in the United States, which they have used to further protect Muslims and fuel minority attacks against Jews.

Twenty years ago, foreign jihadists hijacked a small part of the U.S. transportation system to viciously attack America’s financial, military and political centers. Today’s jihadists are aggressively weaponizing the U.S. educational system, the government and the media, to attack Jews around the world.


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Torching Each Corner to Get Rid of the Jews

I had always been told that my paternal grandmother’s family came from Sighet, a decent sized town in Romania along the Ukrainian border. It was considered a small source of familial pride as it was the same home town for Eli Wiesel, the Nobel laureate who wrote about the Holocaust.

Some years ago, upon speaking to my grandmother’s brother about the place where the family grew up as my grandmother died before I was born, I learned that history takes a bit of time, both to happen and to explain.

My great uncle informed me that his family grew up in a small shtetl, a small Jewish village, some miles away from Sighet. One evening, when he was about eight years old, a fire broke out in a corner of the shtetl. All of the people in the town, including himself, rapidly lined up to pass buckets of water one to the other to help put out the flames. He recalled that while he was passing buckets he heard someone shouting that another fire had broken out on the other side of the village. The villagers started to shout how to break the line into two to deal with the second blaze, when they looked up to see a third blaze in another corner of the town. And then a fourth.

The local anti-Semites had come to incinerate their town.

He recalled how the following morning the family grabbed what belongings they could manage, and walked to Sighet as the smoke from his village filled the air. He told me the name of that former village, and as I quickly forgot the foreign sounding name, I internalized how history had forgotten it too.

So, yes, the family did live in Sighet, but it wasn’t really the town of his birth. Our family had already been routed by local anti-Semites a couple of decades before the Nazis came for the Jews of Sighet.

The alt-right relentlessly pursued the Jews of Europe and Russia for hundreds of years, sometimes as part of the ruling class and other times by the hands of a band of locals. In each circumstance, they knew how to rout the small collection of Jews.

The Four Corners of Anti-Semitism Today

In many parts of the world, the ruling class is being taken over by extremists. The alt-left made inroads in America’s Democratic Party with the Democratic Socialists of America getting seats in Congress with members including Bernie Sanders, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman. The DSA was following the playbook of the Labour Party of the United Kingdom, where Jeremy Corbyn pushed anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism and extremist ideas to take over the party.

The DSA invited disgraced anti-Semite and former leader of the British Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn to address their annual convention.

The alt-right still exists around the world and in America but shunned and sidelined by civilized society. Not so the alt-left, which has bonded with Islamic extremists to gain power, and with the alt-right in the cause of setting fire to Jewish homes.

American Jews are surrounded on all sides by anti-Semitic extremists, and there are neither sufficient volunteers to pass buckets to extinguish the flames of hatred nor to expel the sinister arsonists.


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Check Your Kippah Privilege

Jews have been the most persecuted minority around the world for centuries. Even in the United States, home to the second largest group of Jews (after Israel), an average Jew today is roughly three times more likely to suffer a hate crime than an average Black or LGBT+ person.

Yet Jews go on and live their lives in the U.S. They walk the streets and run businesses knowing that this incredible country is different than others where ancestors lived until pogroms, edicts and wars forced them to leave. The United States not only has the benefit of not having centuries of systemic Jew-hatred built into its history like many Christian and Muslim countries but was built on the notion of equality and liberty. Jews believe that there is finally a government that will protect them.

With such knowledge, Jews outwardly wear their Judaism, literally. Religious Jewish men wear kippahs / yamulkes (head coverings) on their heads throughout the day. They can be seen wearing their tallisim as they walk the streets on the Sabbath. They place mezuzahs on the doorposts of their homes and businesses and don’t even think about plastering the word “kosher” on their restaurants.

Perhaps, until now.

Amid the current spike in attacks on Jews from virtually every part of society – Blacks, Whites, Muslims and the alt-left – the Biden Administrations’ Jewish engagement director, Aaron Keyak, tweeted on May 21:

It pains me to say this, but if you fear for your life or physical safety take off your kippah and hide your magen david (Star of David).

This was not a yeshiva principal suggesting how Jewish boys could lessen the chance of being attacked. This was the president of the United States’ Jewish outreach person telling Jews that the environment in the United States today dictates that they should hide. President Biden’s liaison to the Jewish community delivered a message that the U.S. government cannot assure their safety.

Such a statement on its own is horrifying. When it is delivered the same week as Biden extolling Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) after her smear campaign that the Jewish State was intentionally murdering Arabs in a racist bloodlust (rather than defending itself from a genocidal HAMAS terrorist group), it’s terrifying.

“You’re a fighter. And God thank you for being a fighter,” Biden said to Tlaib,after she argued for him to stop the Jewish State’s defense against rocket fire from Palestinian Arabs in Gaza
(Photo/Evan Vucci) (AP)

Jews understand the combined message: the Democratic party is being increasingly taken over by shrill voices which seek to halt the protections that the United States once provided its Jewish citizens and Jewish allies. And the leadership is listening.

Jews in the United States in modern times have been blessed with safety and security and have prospered despite the anti-Semitism prevalent in society. If the government’s new policy is for Jews to check their religious privilege as the alt-left advances its distinctly anti-religion and anti-Zionist campaign, Jews will be forced to trade their prayer books for the Diary of Anne Frank as they canvas which neighbor will hide them from the mob.


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The Cultural Appropriation of the Jewish ‘Promised Land’

Various segments of western society have become critical about “cultural appropriation” in which the majority group adopts customs of another group without explicitly acknowledging its origins, as to do so would be both stealing and effectively wiping out the essence of the minority culture. The issue is even more concerning when the majority group’s acts of appropriation specifically target religious and holy items of minority groups.

There is no greater example of this trend than the broad theft of the Jewish “Promised Land.”

In Genesis 12, God tells Abraham to leave his home “to the land that I will show you.” When he passed through Shechem (Nablus) God said “I will assign this land to your offspring.” It is a speech which God would repeat throughout the Bible to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel) and the Children of Israel, that this specific land was promised “as an everlasting possession.” (Genesis 17:8) It is a core belief of Judaism.

Over time, non-Jewish musicians and poets would use the phrase “Promised Land” as a generic destination without noting its specific identity to the land of Israel for Jews. Chuck Berry sang about it (later covered by Elvis) in reference to California as a destination for his music to reach the masses. Bruce Springsteen sang about the “promised land” as a place of yearning, a mental and spiritual destination beyond current problems.

When Arab invaders brought Islam into Israel in the seventh and eighth centuries, they seized Jewish holy sites like the Tomb of the Jewish Matriarchs and Patriarchs in Hebron and turned it into a mosque. They built the Dome of the Rock atop the Jewish Temple Mount. The Muslims even adopted the notion of a “waqf” as a religious holy space. As opposed to Jews who viewed the land of Israel as holy because it was promised to them by God, Muslims believe that anywhere Muslims conquered and established the supremacy of Islam became a Muslim holy land. As such, Muslims attempted to erase the physical Jewish Promised Land as a land of their own.

Politicians mostly avoid using the term “Promised Land.” They might note that Israel is a “Holy Land” which is “sacred to Jews and Christians and Muslims” as President Obama noted in a national prayer breakfast in 2014, stripping the uniqueness of the Promised Land for Jews. When Obama did use the term “Promised Land” it was as a metaphor for when Black children will have full equality to live in an America devoid of bigotry and racism.


The worst and most feared element of cultural appropriation happens constantly in regards to the “Promised Land,” in which it is either used generically as a metaphor without any connection to Jews, or when applied to the physical land of Israel, it is noted as holy to the three monotheistic faiths and not uniquely promised to the Children of Israel.

We should aspire to follow the example of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. whose final speech in 1968 pulled together the story of the Jewish Promised Land in connection with his desire for a more perfect society:

Something is happening in Memphis; something is happening in our world. And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, “Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?” I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there…

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

The “promised land” is commonly used as a metaphor for a perfect society. Let’s strive for that perfection by acknowledging that its foundation is the Jewish State of Israel.


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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


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Jews, Judaism and Israel

There are many debates being waged around the world about whether anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, how it is possible that some Jews may be against Israel, and why some Jews who do not believe in either God or religion are still considered Jews. This article will not tackle all of those issues but will seek to define, segment and size the nature of Jews, Judaism and Israel to better frame discussions on those topics.

Judaism

Judaism is a religion that takes the source of its teachings from the Five Books of Moses. Biblical scholars over thousands of years have interpreted the various events and commandments found in the Old Testament to frame how a Jewish person should act and live. The approaches changed over the millenia, with some sects like Sadducees, Essens and Karaites fading away while the Pharisees survived with the publication of the Talmud.

Over the last few hundred years, newer religious denominations came about including Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism. Each adopted different approaches as to whether the Bible was written by God or was simply divinely-inspired, and how to translate the ancient stories into relevant lessons for today.

Jews

Jews are most often defined by their lineage. Abraham, the father of monotheism, is considered the first Jew in Judaism. His grandchild Jacob became known as Israel and Jacob’s sons were the basis for the twelve tribes and the nation of Israel. Jews consider themselves direct descendants of these biblical characters.

According to the Orthodox and Conservative streams of Judaism, a person’s religion is decided by matrilineal descent (the religion of the mother), while the Reform and Reconstructionist groups have a broader allowance, in that they include patrilineal descent as well. Converts are also welcomed as Jews (although they are not encouraged) and tradition maintains that the new Jews do not only take upon themselves the religion, but the ancestry of Jews as well. A convert’s new Hebrew name will be “______ son of Abraham” or “_____ daughter of Sarah” to show that they are now included as part of the heritage of Jewish peoplehood.

Israel

Judaism is a unique religion in that it has ties to a specific piece of land. The Bible clearly relays to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the descendants afterwards that the land of Canaan is their inheritance. The Bible describes specific commandments that can only be kept in Israel, and to this day, every Jew around the world prays facing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jews have always lived in the LAND of Israel. Indeed, they were the only religious group to move to the holy land throughout the 19th century and Jews have been a majority in the city of Jerusalem since the 1860’s, BEFORE the push for Jewish sovereignty and advent of Modern Zionism.

Jews, Judaism and Israel

Despite the intersection of Jews, Judaism and Israel, not every Jew follows the religion nor lives in Israel.

Religion and Zionism In Israel

There are roughly 14.2 million Jews alive in the world today. Of that total, roughly 6.7 million live in the Jewish State of Israel. There are another 2.3 million non-Jews that live in Israel, with a population that now exceed 9 million.

  • Religious Jews 3.4 million
  • Secular Jews 3.3 million
  • Non-Jews 2.3 million
    • Total 9.0 million people in Israel

The Pew Forum estimates that Haredi and Orthodox Jews account for 10% and 12% of Israeli Jews, respectively, with Conservatives and Secular Jews accounting for 28% and 49% of the Israeli Jewish population, respectively. Using a Venn diagram, one can plot the 3.3 million Secular Israelis as being Jews connected to the land of Israel (People + Land) but not to the Religion.

Among the religiously-affiliated Israeli Jews, the Haredi Jews are the least Zionistic, while most of the other streams are very passionate about Israel having Jewish sovereignty. The black hat/ Haredi community is less enamored with the Modern Jewish State as it is not based on Orthodox religious law and many believe that such a state should only come into being with the arrival of the Messiah.

Denomination Population% Total Zionist% Total
Haredi 10% 0.7 10%            0.1
Orthodox 12% 0.8 100%            0.8
Conservative 28% 1.9 95%            1.8
Secular 49% 3.3 90%            3.0
Total in millions 6.7 5.7

If one were to assume that only 10% of the Haredi population are Zionists and almost all of the other denominations are Zionists, roughly 1 million Jews in Israel today would not be considered ardent Zionists.

This is not an oxymoron, and goes to the nature of the confusion of different people’s opinions about Zionism. Many Jews living in Israel are against the GOVERNMENT, not the idea of Jews living in the land. Haredi Jews consider themselves anti-Zionist because they think a secular Jewish state has no legitimacy in the Jewish holy land. However, they believe very strongly that the land is the Jewish holy land and they have the right to live Israel. This is in sharp contrast to Muslim anti-Zionism around the world which believes both that the Israeli government should be destroyed and that Jews should be expelled from the land.

Diaspora Jewry on Israel and Judaism

A little more than half of world Jewry lives outside of Israel, roughly 7.5 million people. The vast majority of diaspora Jews live in the United States (over 5 million) with France, Canada and the United Kingdom accounting for over 1 million more.

The United States is a bit of an anomaly compared to Jews around the world, with strong Conservative and Reform movements. In much of the rest of the world, Jews are either Orthodox or secular. In considering the breakdown of Jews in the Venn diagram, assumptions are made for the 5.3 million Jews in the U.S. and then for the rest of the world.

America Population% Total Zionist %  Total 
Orthodox 10% 0.5 50%            0.3
Conservative 18% 1.0 70%            0.7
Reform 35% 1.9 40%            0.7
Unaffiliated 37% 2.0 20%            0.4
Total in millions 5.3 2.1

The Pew Forum estimated the breakdown of Jewish denominations in the United States and the percentages for people who consider themselves Zionists are educated guesses. The Conservative denomination is assumed to be the most pro-Israel, as the Orthodox group includes Anti-Zionist Haredi factions. Using these figures would suggest less than 40% of American Jewry is pro-Israel.

Different percentages are used in making estimates in the rest of the world, below:

ROW Population% Total Zionist %  Total 
Orthodox 25% 0.6 60%            0.3
Conservative 10% 0.2 70%            0.2
Reform 30% 0.7 40%            0.3
Unaffiliated 35% 0.8 40%            0.3
Total in millions 2.2 1.1

The figures for the 2.2 million Jews in the rest of the world are broad estimates. In some countries like France, 60% of the population is Sephardic which almost always considers itself Orthodox, even when not actively practicing Judaism. In general, the unaffiliated/ Reform account for a majority of the population.

Among the diaspora Jews outside of the U.S., Israel holds a more significant role as they suffer more discrimination and are much more likely to emigrate to the Jewish State. Using these figures – which are arguably low – approximately half of the Jews in the rest of the world would be considered active Zionists, 10% more than American Jewry.

Laying out these figures in the Venn diagram above shows that there are about 5.6 million affiliated Jews, of which roughly three-quarters are pro-Israel. This compares to approximately 8.5 million unaffiliated Jews of which only 45% are pro-Israel.

**This breakdown might be viewed by many as unfair. For example, according to Pew, 87% of American Reform Jews consider themselves only Jews through Peoplehood and not religion, while 50% of Unaffiliated Jews felt the same way. This would suggest 4.0 million Affiliated American Jews (both People and Religion) as opposed to the 1.5 million used in the chart above.**

However, the concept remains the same. There are Jews who consider themselves only Jews in the notion of peoplehood, those who consider themselves both Jews by peoplehood and religion, and further, those within each camp who consider themselves tied to Israel (whether they live there or not) and those who do not. The warring factions within the Jewish people of Zionist/anti-Zionist and Jewish anti-Semites often breakdown among these categories.


Jews, Judaism and Israel are all deeply connected yet are distinct at the same time. Before delving into the nuances related to antisemitism and anti-Zionism, it is important to understand the important interrelationship of land-government, people and religion while also acknowledging the varied preferences among Jews in how they define themselves and convey their passions.


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

The common refrain surrounding the Arab-Israeli Conflict is that the Israelis and Arabs need to find a compromise solution that will work for both parties. People on the left believe that Israel, as the entity which is much stronger than the Palestinian Authority, must make the majority of that compromise. For those on the right, Israel is the smaller party that has always been under attack by the surrounding Arab and Muslim world, and therefore will demand that Arabs must make significant concessions.

This viewpoint is valid in concept, but lacks any nuance to capture the situation as it exists today. In reality, it is the Palestinian Arabs themselves and the Israelis themselves who are torn on the path towards an enduring peace. Until each party can arrive at a consensus internally, the only bridge with consensus regarding a two state solution is found between the Palestinian Authority leadership and far left progressive Jews; a failed partnership, as the PA is despised by the Arab masses and fellow Jews in Israel and the diaspora consider the progressives a dangerous fringe group, as discussed below.

The Arabs

The Palestinian Arabs have three distinct viewpoints regarding the conflict, and a fourth approach among Israelis Arabs who share some commonality with Jews.

  1. Hamas. Hamas has no interest in a two-state solution as they believe that Israel has no right to exist. While it may make some short-term accommodations related to a cease-fire or an interim acceptance for a two-state solution, the concept of an enduring peace between two countries is abhorrent to Hamas and all of its supporters.
  2. The Palestinian Authority. The PA is a corrupt and inept kleptocracy which seeks a two-state solution to empower and enrich themselves. It has stated it will make the great “compromise” of not demanding the entirety of Israel as part of its state and “very reasonably” demand that its country be stripped of any Jews while refusing to accept Israel as a Jewish State. From such perch, the PA flies around the world with honor, pomp and circumstance while fattening their bellies as foreign nations pour money into the wallets of its leadership.
  3. The Palestinians. The Palestinian Arabs have no interest in a two-state solution according to their own polls, even if they get everything which the PA demands. They are fed up with everybody – the PA, Hamas, the Israelis and the Arab world which has forgotten about them. They view any and every deal with deep distrust.

This is not very promising. The only Palestinians who want the two-state solution today is a leadership which has no legitimacy as it is ten years past its stated term limit, and the majority of Palestinians want the acting leadership to resign.

A softer position in the Arab world which is closer to the Jewish positions on two states is held by Israeli Arabs.

Israeli Arabs. The Israeli Arabs are eager for a two state solution which looks very different than what the PA has proposed. They want NO RETURN of any Palestinian refugees into Israel. They want Israel to be recognized as the nation state of the Jewish people. They demand institutions that are transparent and devoid of any fraud – all desires which the PA will not accept.


Arabs in the Old City of Jerusalem
(photo: First.One.Through)

The wide range of opinions regarding a two state-solution is not limited to Arabs, as Jews also have their own spectrum of ideas.

The Jews

  1. The Far Right. Israel has a number of political parties including Yisrael Beiteinu, United Right (each with 5 seats in the new Knesset), Zehut and the New Right (which got zero seats in the 2019 election) who support annexing Judea and Samaria/ the area east of the Green Line (EGL) commonly called the “West Bank.” The extent of Palestinian “sovereignty” would be limited to Gaza which will be denied any standing army, and essential be an entity with autonomy but will likely need to be a territory of either Egypt, Jordan or Qatar. Israel would likely never permit it to be aligned with Turkey.
  2. The Right. Is represented by the majority Likud party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is in favor of annexing blocs of the West Bank such as the Gush Etzion area and Maale Adumim, but would give the Palestinian Authority large sections of the West Bank where the majority of Palestinian Arabs live including Areas A and B and parts of Area C. There would be no admittance of any Stateless Arabs from Palestine (SAPs). Good news is that the Israelis just held elections so there is clarity that this is the majority consensus view.
  3. The Left.The left is represented by the Blue and White party which came in second in the Israel elections. They would allow as many as 100,000 SAPs into Israel as part of a peace deal and give virtually the entirety of the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem to the PA. A bit further to the left in Israel are the Labor and Meretz parties in Israel (6 and 4 seats, respectively) and in the diaspora in groups like J Street and the Israel Policy Forum who oppose the notion of Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish people.
  4. The Far Left. Believes that Israel should cease to exist as a Jewish State. They advocate for folding all of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza into a bi-national state with no special rights or privileges for Jews. Essentially the Hamas platform, without the murder of Jews, but with all of the demonization. There is virtually no one in Israel with such views, but is in vocal extremist diaspora organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace, the New Israel Fund and Code Pink.

Lining up the groups against each other reveals interesting bedfellows between Arabs and Jews:

  • Hamas <> JVP/ Code Pink
  • the PA <> Labor/ J Street
  • Israeli Arabs <> Likud/ Republican Jewish Coalition
  • some Israeli Arabs <> Yisrael Beiteinu/ the New Right
  • The Palestinians <> everyone who has given up hope for any solution

Hamas, JVP, Code Pink, Students for Justice in Palestine and similar groups have tried to gain legitimacy in the public sphere. Former US President Jimmy Carter blessed Hamas despite its vile antisemitic charter and the United Nations has sought to fold it into the Palestinian Authority. Groups like SJP are getting awards on college campuses like New York University. These are hate groups and should be condemned and boycotted by everyone who wants to see an enduring peace in the Middle East. They will never be accepted by any Israeli administration forging a peace settlement, and will only make Israelis move further rightward.

J Street and progressives around the world have been reaching out to the PA as the best chance for peace. However, the PA is despised and disrespected by Palestinians. Until there are legitimate Palestinian elections, reaching out to the PA is a fool’s errand. Most Jews and conservatives see through the chimera and think J Street’s moves to weaken Israel and go against the Israeli government by advancing condemnations at the United Nations and promoting a deeply flawed Iranian nuclear deal are dangerous and divisive. The liberal media mostly follows this narrative and will promote the PA as “moderate” which is counter-factual and J Street as “mainstream” which is liberal wishful thinking. However, if they can tack towards the center instead of continuing to lurch leftward, perhaps they can be part of forging an enduring solution instead of today’s alt-left miasma.

For their part, Israeli Arabs and Likud consider the past decade a tremendous success. While the neighboring region had wars killing nearly a million people in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and other countries; with millions of war refugees scattered around the world; military coups taking over Egypt and almost Turkey; and heads of state chopped off in Libya, Israel was relatively calm. When the financial markets took the western world into an abyss, Israel emerged unscathed and its economy boomed. Riding the status quo has worked, and selectively extending that secret sauce with more global partnerships and annexing blocs of the West Bank are logical next steps.

However, the masses are unhappy. The lack of self-determination for the SAPs is not in anyone’s interest and everyone should want to see a resolution to their status. But with no consensus between the Arabs themselves and Israelis themselves, there is little hope for an enduring peace anytime soon.

It may therefore be time for some Israeli Arabs to assume a leadership role in the negotiations to help both the Arabs and Jews each reach a centrist consensus among themselves, and then ultimately with each other.


Israeli Arab women entering the Western Wall Plaza
(Photo: FirstOneThrough)


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Reuters Can’t Spare Ink on Iranian Anti-Semitism

There are very few news services that remain unbiased in the Arab-Israel Conflict. Progressive media like The New York Times report over and again that Israel is a far right-wing racist country while the Arab countries are moderates. Meanwhile, Fox News will forever take Israel’s side in the conflict. It often seems that the only party to report on the news while providing context in a neutral fashion is Reuters.

That had been the hope anyway.

On February 16, 2019, Reuters posted an article called “Iran Rejects Anti-Semitism Allegation by Pence.”  In the first two paragraphs, Reuters relayed the charge by the US Vice President against Iran, without including a single word of an actual quote. Over the next three paragraphs, the media outlet relayed the response by Iran that the Pence accusation was ridiculous and quoted two Iranian officials, using 71 of their own words.


US Vice President visits Auschwitz Death Camp in Poland

Reuters had quoted a few words from Pence a few days earlier when he made the comments about Iran after to visiting the Auschwitz Nazi Death Camp in Poland. In that article, Reuters sought to give some context to the state of Jews in Iran:

“Iran’s ancient Jewish community has slumped to an estimated 10,000-20,000 from 85,000 at the time of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but it is believed to be the biggest in the Middle East outside Israel.”

It would repeat the exact sentence in the February 19 article.

How is a drop in the Jewish population by 82% over the past 40 years not underscored with horror? Why did Reuters add the word “but,” to make it sound that the Islamic Republic of Iran isn’t ruthless and horrible in its treatment of the minority Jewish population? First, the only reason why Iran has more Jews than other Arab countries in the region including Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Iraq was that those countries wiped out their ancient Jewish populations between 1948 and 1978, while the pre-1979 Islamic Revolution Iran (headed by the American ally, the Shah) retained most its Jews. But once Iran declared war on the West in 1979, it has been rapidly ridding its Jews. Second, to put the 82% decline of the Jewish population in perspective, the Arab population in Israel over the past 40 years has grown by 166%, from 706,000 to 1.88 million. If the Israeli Arab population had gone the way of Iranian Jews for the past 40 years, the current Arab population in Israel would be just 127,000, less than 7% of the current total. Where is the false outcry of ethnic cleansing and where is it actually happening, and why is Reuters failing to point it out?

The February 19 article went on to quote an Iranian leader that “the Holocaust was a disaster,” seemingly refuting Pence’s charge. However Reuters would write nothing about the annual Holocaust cartoon contest  that Iran holds each year. It made no mention of the Supreme Islamic Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei questioning whether the Holocaust ever happened. A curious omission, considering the basis of Pence’s comment stemmed from his visit to a Nazi Death Camp.

The February 19 article would continue with another paragraph meant to provide context for the reader, this one about the nature of Iran’s threats against Israel:

“A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander in January threatened Israel, which Iran does not recognize, with destruction if it attacks Iran, state media reported.”

Note that Reuters wrote that Iran said it would destroy Israel as a matter of self defense, seemingly a reasonable stance. Reuters neglected to write about Khamenei’s comment that Israel is a “cancerous tumor” that must be fought and removed to realize the “complete liberation of Palestine.” Those vile Iranian comments from its Supreme Leader have absolutely nothing to do with Iran responding to an Israeli attack; they were simply threats of destruction.

Biased reporting against Israel is a hallmark of outfits like The New York Times and CNN. It is distressing to see more balanced media like Reuters whitewashing the genocidal calls and actions from Iran. #AlternativeFacts


Related First.One.Through articles:

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

In the Shadow of the Holocaust, The New York Times Fails to Flag Muslim Anti-Semitism

The Holocaust and the Nakba

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

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

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

On July 19, 2018, Israel signed a new Basic Law called “The Nation-State of the Jewish People.” It has been called controversial by many liberal media outlets in what it purports to do with minority rights.

The notion that there is a major curtailment of Israeli Arabs’ rights is a gross exaggeration. However, what should be discussed is the novel stance whereby Israel has now assumed the responsibility for the security and the “cultural, historical and religious legacy” of Jews in the diaspora.

Below is the text of the latest Basic Law in Israel, with a review below each point.

  1. The State of Israel
    a) Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people in which the state of Israel was established.
    b) The state of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, in which it actualizes its natural, religious, and historical right for self-determination.
    c) The actualization of the right of national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.

Review:

The comments in parts 1a and 1b are actually found in international law, in both the San Remo Conference Resolution of 1920 and the 1922 Mandate of Palestine. Specifically, international law acknowledged the historic ties of the Jewish people to the land of Israel and the goal to reconstitute such national home:

  • in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”
  • “recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country”

It’s an established fact that Jews have a long history in the land of Israel going back thousands of years. For over 100 years, Jews and the international community have been working to re-actualize the Jewish right to self-determination in that homeland. Sections 1a and 1b are seemingly innocuous and superfluous.

However, section 1c went a step further. It states that the national right of self-determination is ONLY for Jews. While the clause does not limit the INDIVIDUAL rights of non-Jews to live openly and freely in Israel, the intention of the clause is seemingly that non-Jews have no NATIONAL right of self-determination. Non-Jews in Israel have personal rights of self-determination as citizens of the state, while Jews have an added right as a people.

Why:

The State of Israel has very few Basic Laws. As such, why would the country opt to state the obvious points of 1a and 1b in a new Basic Law, and add the additional point of the uniqueness of Jewish self-determination in section 1c?

For the past several years, Palestinian Arab leaders have voiced their belief that Jews are not native to Israel and that only Palestinian Arabs are indigenous to the region. They have turned a blind eye to history and have been effective in getting various United Nations’ bodies to similarly cut off the deep historic and religious ties between Jews and their holy land. They have gotten the UN to decry that Jews are eliminating the natural and historic “Arab character” of Judaism’s holiest city and capital of Jerusalem where Jews have been a majority for over 150 years.

Further, Arabs contend that Jews are not even a people and therefore cannot have a claim of national self-determination. Jews are simply people that believe in a religion – Judaism – and are a diverse mix of cultures and nationalities from around the world, who descended on Palestine as tools of global powers to insert a foreign democracy in the heart of the Arab world. The Arabs have promoted the notion that these Israeli Jews are simply foreign interlopers, who are negating the Palestinian Arab right of self-determination. The acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas gave a long lecture to this effect in April 2018.

If the rants of these wild fools would have been given no ear, perhaps this Basic Law would not have been drafted as is. But the mean and angry words have no longer just been echoed in the Muslim and Arab world, but are repeated in European capitals and at the United Nations. Consequently, Israel felt compelled to declare that the land of Israel has always been the homeland of the Jewish people and that the country of Israel is uniquely the nation-state of the Jewish people.

That the liberal press would be shocked at this section of the Basic Law is particularly surprising, noting how much they championed the idea of “two states for two people: one for Jews and one for Arabs,” for so many years.

  1. National symbols of the State of Israel
    a) The name of the state is Israel.
    b) The flag of the state is white, two blue stripes near the edges, and a blue Star of David in the center.
    c) The symbol of the state is the Menorah with seven branches, olive leaves on each side, and the word Israel at the bottom.
    d) The national anthem of the state is “Hatikvah”
    e) [Further] details concerning the issue of state symbols will be determined by law.

Review:

None of the items listed in section 2 is news to anyone that has ever been to Israel or knows anything about the country. These are all established facts.

Yet, it is curious that nowhere in this section is there a specific reference to Jews or Judaism. The symbols that are highlighted – Israel (Jews are known as the Children of Israel in the Bible); Star of David (King David was a leading unifying king in Jewish history); the Menorah (a symbol of religious Judaism from the Temple); the “Hatikvah” (a song of modern Jewish longing for a return to self-determination in the Jewish holy land) – are all based on Judaism and Jewish history, yet “Jews” and “Judaism” are absent in this section.

Why:

While section 1 underscored historical facts and repudiated the Arab narrative about Jews in Israel, section 2 put forward some modern manifestations of the Jewish State. As symbols, each item is simply a marker and note of Jewish pride. Each item does nothing to impact the day-to-day lives of Jew or non-Jew living in Israel.

Perhaps section 2e leaves open the idea that new state symbols might include items that are not inherently Jewish, such as a state bird.

  1. [The] unified and complete [city of] Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

Review:

Jerusalem has always been the capital of Israel, and Israel enshrined this fact in the 1980 Basic Law about Jerusalem that was issued solely for such purpose. This section is seemingly wholly redundant.

Why:

While much of the world has not recognized Israel’s annexation of the eastern part of Jerusalem, the United Nations took additional steps against part of Israel’s capital in December 2017. UN Security Council Resolution 2334 declared that all lands that Israel won in its defensive war against Jordan in 1967 were illegally obtained, including the eastern part of Jerusalem.

It would appear that Israel opted to repeat its claim on the entirety of Jerusalem because of the recent action of the United Nations. If there were broader goals such as declaring the city as the holiest site for Jews, the statement would have been broader and discussed the holy sites in the city. Perhaps the drafters of the Law decided that they did not want to provoke the Muslim world, despite the Arabs’ constant belittling of Jewish sites and rights in Jerusalem.

  1. The Language of the State of Israel
    a) Hebrew is the language of the state.
    b) The Arabic language has a special status in the state; the regulation of the Arab language in state institutions or when facing them will be regulated by law.
    c) This clause does not change the status given to the Arabic language before the basic law was created.

Review:

Since the Mandate of Palestine of 1922, English, Arabic and Hebrew have been the official languages in Palestine (Article 22). When Israel declared itself a state in 1948, it continued to give preference to the Arabic language. This Basic law’s section 4b is seemingly a demotion of Arabic as an “official” language, but section 4c seems to ensure that there is no practical impact of such demotion, as Arabic will continue to be used in all governmental items such as monies, stamps and signage.

Why:

Section 4 can best be viewed through the same lens as section 2 – a symbolic note that has no practical impact on day-to-day life. Only the Hebrew language was called out with pride by David Ben Gurion in the country’s Declaration of Independence in May 1948. This section is seemingly another marker of the Jewishness of the State of Israel, even while it makes accommodations for people who speak Arabic.

  1. The state will be open to Jewish immigration and to the gathering of the exiled.

Review:

This statement is seemingly WEAKER than international law laid out in the Mandate of Palestine. In Article 6, that document specifically sought to “facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.” The word “facilitate” is an active verb compared to simply being “open” to Jewish immigration.

More specifically, section 5 is completely redundant with the country’s Declaration of Independence which stated “THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles.”

Why:

Once again, this Basic Law is seemingly redundant with international law and the country’s foundation document. Which might give a clue as to why the country’s lawmakers decided to issue such clauses in a rare new Basic Law.

The United Nations acted against its own international laws as it related to Jews and the Jewish homeland. The Mandate of Palestine clearly stated that no person could be excluded from living anywhere in the Mandate because of their religion (Article 15), but the British promptly separated half of the Mandate region into the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and allowed the country to become Jew-free. When Jordan attacked Israel in 1948 and subsequently banned all Jews from the west bank of the Jordan River, including eastern Jerusalem, and then gave citizenship only to Arabs – specifically excluding Jews – the United Nations said nothing. The UN continues to declare that the vast majority of the Mandate – Jordan, the “West Bank” and Gaza – should be Jew-free today.

Israel clearly felt the need to state in its own laws that it is going to welcome the Jewish exiles from around the world, as it has for years, and not rely on the neutered international laws from 1922, nor its own foundation document.

  1. The Diaspora
    a) The state will labor to ensure the safety of sons of the Jewish people and its citizens who are in trouble and captivity due to their Jewishness or their citizenship.
    b) The state will act to preservethe cultural, historical and religious legacy of the Jewish people among the Jewish diaspora.

Review:

Of the eleven sections in the 2018 Basic Law on The Nation State of the Jewish People, this is the only one that is truly new. It is not found in international law (1920 and 1922) nor in Israel’s Declaration of Independence (1948). It has no appearance in any of the country’s prior Basic Laws. It is extraordinary in every facet.

That a sovereign country would extend its safety net to a select group of non-citizens around the world is remarkable. It is without parallel.

The second underlying rationale of this new Basic Law becomes clear in this section. It is not only about echoing facts and laws that the world has chosen to ignore, but establishing this new one. The notion of a nation-state is a two-way street: Israel is the Jewish State, and the Jewish State is there for all Jews around the world.

This language stands against the carefully worded text of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that specifically did not bias the Jewish communities outside of Palestine, that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights… or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

While Jews are not in jeopardy of losing their “political status” as citizens of countries around the world, they now seemingly have a foreign country protecting them and their culture.

Why:

The 2014 War from Gaza unleashed waves of antisemitism around the world, particularly in Europe. Jews were attacked and killed in capital cities and small towns. It reached such a point that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Paris in early 2015 and asked the Jewish community whether it was time to leave France and move to Israel. It was an outrageous act, but also effective: the number of people from France making Aliya (moving to Israel) tripled after the events and Netanyahu’s visit.

Many people in France were angry at Netanyahu’s statement. The government of France appealed to its Jews that France would be considered a failure if it could not protect its Jewish population, but in fact, the Jewish community in France was broadly resentful that France was no longer a secure home for them.

Netanyahu came to Europe to state that times are different: the 1939 British White Paper which prevented Jews from fleeing the Holocaust to come to Israel was no more. Israel was a reality and ready to welcome anyone fleeing persecution as the nation-state for all Jews around the world.

It perhaps comes at a moment of security and smugness that Israel now offers its help to world Jewry, after decades of calling on world Jewry to help the nascent state. As Ben Gurion said on that fateful day in May 1948, “WE APPEAL to the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to rally round the Jews of Eretz-Israel in the tasks of immigration and upbuilding and to stand by them in the great struggle for the realization of the age-old dream – the redemption of Israel.” Israel has now turned the table and is assuming the role of the guardian for world Jewry as opposed to the other way around.

But Jewish memory extends beyond the 1940s.

In 1917, British Jews made sure that the Balfour Declaration did not ensnare Jews outside of Palestine. However in 2018, Israel did not consult with world Jewry when it extended its sheltering tabernacle over their homes in the diaspora.

A very awkward step for a government that stated it had the interests of world Jewry in mind.

 

  1. The state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.

Review:

Section 7 is a repeat of international law as mentioned above in Article 6 of the Mandate of Palestine.

Why:

Settling the land has always been a priority of Zionists. It was true in the 1890s and remains true in the 21st century. The tie between the Jewish people and the Jewish holy land has been true for thousands of years, and no law that sought to connect the nation-state of Jews and Israel could possibly ignore the land of Israel. The Jewish ties to the Jewish holy land existed before the Modern State of Israel, and the government of Israel would be failing its basic mission of self-determination if it did not wholeheartedly promote the development of the land itself.

  1. The Hebrew calendar is the official calendar of the state and alongside it the secular calendar will serve as an official calendar. The usage of the Hebrew calendar and of the secular calendar will be determined by law.

Review:

Not news for anyone living in, or doing business in Israel.

Why:

As with the other items in this Basic Law, it seeks to affirm particular Jewishness of how the state operates. Like many of the sections, it does nothing to harm not-Jewish citizens, any more than some countries declaring Christmas a national holiday harms non-Christians.

  1. National Holidays
    a) Independence Day is the official holiday of the state.
    b) The Memorial Day for those who fell in the wars of Israel and the Memorial Day for the Holocaust and heroism are official memorial days of the state.

Review:

Beyond stating that the holidays and calendar of Judaism will be officially recognized in Israel’s calendar (sections 8 and 10), section 9 ascribes important moments in Israel’s history as national holidays in a typical fashion of any country, but adds a new dimension. Placing a historic event that occurred OUTSIDE of the country’s borders, which impacted a subset of its citizens is highly unusual. The Holocaust did not just have minimal impact on the non-Jews in Israel, but it had little direct impact on the majority Mizrachi Jews from countries including Iraq, Yemen, Egypt and Morocco.

But the Holocaust stands apart from the terrible persecutions suffered by Jews in Arab lands. The Holocaust was so evil and heinous, that it forced the world to create the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Even the United Nations marks the day and encourages all member nations to remember the Nazi atrocities.

Of course the Jewish State would be one of those countries to recognize Holocaust Remembrance Day.

  1. Saturday and the Jewish Holidays are the official days of rest in the state. Those who are not Jewish have the right to honor their days of rest and their holidays. Details concerning these matters will be determined by law.

Review:

See section 8 above.

  1. This Basic Law may not be altered except by a Basic Law that gained the approval of the majority of the Knesset members.

Review:

Self explanatory.


The 2018 Basic Law is seemingly a reaction to world events since early 2014. While Israel has had to contend with an Arab world that rejects coexistence in favor of terrorism for decades, it has been the world’s more recent embrace of fake history and vile antisemitism that necessitated the Basic Law of the Nation State of the Jewish People at this time.

That the Basic Law would include language that Israel will act to protect Jews around the world, gives some insight of how Israel expects antisemitism to play out in the years ahead.


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Every Picture Tells a Story: No Christians Targeted

A horrific terrorist attack on a Coptic Church in Cairo Egypt killed dozens on December 11, 2016. The coverage in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal could not have been more different, and underline an ongoing difference between the two papers: the WSJ does not shy away from telling its viewers about radical Muslims targeting Christians and Jews in the Middle East, while the NYT would rather minimize that story, and highlight the Muslims are also victims in the wave of jihadists.

20161212_191610

Cover of The Wall Street Journal
December 12, 2016

The cover page of the WSJ had a single large color photograph of the carnage in Cairo. The boldface title of the picture read” “Bombing in Cairo Kills Dozens of Christians, Mostly Women.”  The caption continued: “Targeted: A nun surveys a church attached to Cairo’s Coptic cathedral, where at least 25 were killed in a bombing on Sunday. A8” The paper did not seek to place the blame on radical Muslims on the cover, but it did make clear that Christians were specifically targeted in the attack.

Now consider the coverage in the Times.

20161212_191628

Cover of The New York Times
December 12, 2016

The main picture on the NYT cover page was about discrimination against poor people. It was part of a multi-day story of the Times about injustices faced by people of color and the indigent.  The smaller picture on the bottom of the page discussed how ISIS marked up the pages of children’s books, presumably of Muslim children. There was no coverage of the attack on the Christian community in Egypt.

20161212_191712

Page A4 in the Times, December 12, 2016

The Times did cover the story in the middle of the paper. On page A4 there was a copy of the same picture that the Wall Street Journal posted in color on the front page. However, the Times posted it in black-and-white.  The Times shrunk the picture to such a level, that it was almost hard to notice it compared to the giant picture of Nigerian refugees (people of color) in the middle of the page. The headline of the bombing attack did state that the “Bombing Targets Egypt’s Christian Minority,” however, it is a question of whether anyone would pause to read the article compared to the prominent article on the page “Niger Feels Ripple Effect of Boko Haram.

The Times coverage of world affairs follows a familiar pattern: Christians and Jews do suffer, but hardly as much as Muslims and people of color. Racism and Islamophobia are the themes of the Times. Do not get distracted by tinges of hatred of Christians and Jews. To do so, would be to invert victim and perpetrator.


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Every Picture Tells a Story: Arab Injuries over Jewish Deaths

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