Jews In Jerusalem Still Fighting For ‘Social Justice’

Social justice is a concept that has been advanced by left-wing Americans into mainstream conversation. The idea covers a number of principles:

  • Access
  • Human rights
  • Participation
  • Equity
  • Diversity

The Jews in Jerusalem are slowly advancing in their movement on each of these principles, however, systemic anti-Semitism at the United Nations and for many Arab Muslim nations, has slowed progress.

Access

Despite the facts that only Jews consider Jerusalem as its holiest location and uniquely made the city its capital, Arab Muslim nations ethnically-cleansed the Old City of Jerusalem of its Jews in the 1948-9 Arab-Israeli war. Transjordan illegally annexed the eastern part of the city including the Old City and the west bank of the Jordan River, and subsequently denied any Jew the ability to visit their holiest sites.

Jordan attacked Israel again in 1967 but lost the ‘West Bank’ and eastern Jerusalem to Israel. While Israel once again allowed Jews to live and visit their holiest city, the Jordanian Waqf was given permission by Israel to administer the Jewish Temple Mount, and limits the time and number of Jews who can visit.

Human Rights

Not long after Jordan annexed lands west of the Jordan River in a move not recognized by almost every country in the world, it passed a citizenship law specifically excluding Jews in article 3. Now under Israeli rule, the Jews of Jerusalem – as well as Arabs – are afforded citizenship in a reversal to Jordan’s anti-Semitic law.

Jordan still enforces its ban on Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, a flagrant violation of the basic human rights of Jews. Remarkably, the world stays mum on the subject, fearing radical Islamic violence.

Participation

The Jews in Jerusalem are marginalized by the United Nations and much of the world. The UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334 which stated that “Israelis” could not move to eastern Jerusalem. The anti-Zionists call Jews who live and visit ‘settlers’, even if they are not Israeli, and do not use the label for Israeli Arabs who do the same, clearly demonstrating the anti-Jewish nature of the smear.

The UN has set up distinct agencies, committees and inquiries uniquely for the Jewish State and does not afford Israel an opportunity to participate on the same basis as others in a forum stacked against it.

As noted above, the administration of the Temple Mount which holds the al Aqsa mosque is administered solely by Arab Muslims of the Jordanian waqf. Such formulation does not allow Jews to participate in the administration of their holiest site, and has led to their being completely marginalized.

Equity / Restorative Justice

There has been some measure of restorative justice for Jews, in facilitating the migration of Jews back to their ancestral homeland over the past hundred years. Germany has paid the state compensation for its actions in the Holocaust. The United States has invested in the fledgling state and facilitated its ascendency out of a third world emerging state to a thriving liberal democracy. The most persecuted people who faced a genocide have established a safe haven.

But evil still lurks. The Islamic Republic of Iran has stated its desire to destroy Israel. It has several terrorist proxies abutting the Jewish State including Hamas and Hezbollah which have thousands of missiles directed at it. The world is debating how to handle the leading state sponsor of terrorism’s quest for nuclear weapons, even though the answer is obvious to any toddler.

In relation to Jerusalem, the world has done the opposite of restorative justice. It did – and still does not – facilitate and recognize Jews in the Old City of Jerusalem. Israel had to reunite the city on its own in a defensive battle. It rebuilds the synagogues (like the Hurva) that Jordan destroyed in the face of global condemnation.

The Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, shortly after its re-opening in March 2010 (photo: First One Through)

Diversity

Israel’s neighbors like Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, UAE, Iraq and others, are each over 90% Muslim. In contrast, Israel is only 73.9% Jewish and has over 26% of the population from a variety of religions including Muslims, Christians, Druze, Baha’i, Samaritans and others.

Israel’s diversity is seen in its schools and hospitals. The signs in the country are written in Hebrew, Arabic and English. Its parliament and Supreme Court have people of different religions, ethnic backgrounds, genders and orientation. All of those dynamics are lacking in the other countries of the Middle East.

Many of those same countries that lack diversity attack Israel economically, politically and militarily. They deny the history of the Jews, their rights and any acceptance of the Jewish State. They have stood against ‘normalizing’ the Jewish State in any manner in an aggressive campaign of ‘three denials.‘ These efforts are most pronounced regarding Israel’s capital of Jerusalem, which they seek to revert back to the Arab-only, Jew-free situation they enforced in the eastern half from 1949 to 1967.


Regarding the principles of access, human rights, participation, equity and diversity, Israel stands as a beacon in the Middle East. However, the country still faces many obstacles, mostly from the biased United Nations and at the Jewish Temple Mount. Hopefully those committed to social justice will engage in the hard work to end the systemic anti-Semitism, xenophobia, Islamic privilege, religious persecution and isolation of the indigenous Jewish people in their ancient homeland and in their holy capital city of Jerusalem.

Related articles:

Israel, the Liberal Country of the Middle East

The Jews of Jerusalem In Situ

Zionism is Justice

Arabs in Jerusalem

Considering Israel’s Model for Arabs Applied to Jews in a Palestinian State

Israel’s Peers and Neighbors

Examining Ilhan Omar’s Point About Muslim Antisemitism

It Is NOT Israel Independence Day But Israel REESTABLISHMENT Day

The Jewish calendar runs at a different pace than the Gregorian or other calendars. Based on the cycles of the moon, it starts with the creation of the world which correlates to the year 3761 BCE. That means that the year 2022 CE is the year 5782 in the Jewish calendar.

In the Hebrew Bible, the first monotheist and forefather of the Jewish people is Abraham. Born as Abram in the year 1948 in the Jewish calendar, he lived his early years in present day southern Iraq in Ur-Kasdim and then Haran. At 75 years old, in the year 2023, he heard the voice of God tell him to move to Canaan, present day Israel. It was there that God told him that the land was an ever-lasting inheritance to his descendants Isaac, Jacob (later Israel) and all of the Children of Israel.

Judaism is not like other religions or even the other monotheistic faiths of Christianity and Islam. Judaism is a particular religion for a particular group of people. It does not have designs to spread to the corners of the Earth in an effort to make others convert. It was designed to be local – to the land of Israel – for the Jewish people. That is why the Bible commands the Jews to visit Jerusalem THREE TIMES EVERY YEAR – Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot – while Islam asks of its adherents to visit Mecca only once in a lifetime. Jews were supposed to stay in the land (certainly before planes and automobiles) while Islam knew that Muslims would live thousands of miles away from its holy city.

From 722BCE onward, many invaders and colonists forced Jews out of their land of inheritance. Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and others came into the Jewish holy land, killing or hauling Jews to foreign lands, and planting their own flag in Jewish soil.

Yet some Jews remained in the land, and a greater influx of world Jewry commenced during the 19th century. By the late 1860’s CE, Jerusalem was majority Jewish.

In 1948 CE (a curious coincident to the birth of Abraham in 1948 in the Jewish calendar) the modern State of Israel was established on the 5th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar. People often refer to the anniversary of the founding as “Israel Independence Day” but that is a misnomer, as Israel did not become independent from anyone. Jews waited for the British to leave the land and end their mandate before declaring itself a new state, the REESTABLISHED Jewish State in the Jewish homeland.

Next year, May 2023, will mark the 75th year of Israel’s Reestablishment Day, correlating to when the land of Israel was promised by God to the Children of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob/ Israel when Abraham was 75 years old in the year 2023 of the Jewish calendar. Let’s celebrate this entire year with particular revelry, as a plurality of Jews now live in the thriving Jewish State with a united Jerusalem once again as its capital.

Israeli flag at the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple Mount (photo: First One Through)

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Zionism is Justice

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

The Cultural Appropriation of the Jewish ‘Promised Land’

A Core Tenet of Zionism Is Combatting Anti-Semitism

Zionism has been defined as the “Jewish nationalist movement that has had as its goal the creation and support of a Jewish national state in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews.” Gil Troy, a historian and author of a new book “The Zionist Ideas,” expanded upon that definition and says Zionism has three principle components: that Jews are a nation; that Jews have ties to their particular homeland in the land of Israel; and that Jews have a right to establish a state in that homeland, much like other people have rights to their own country.

That view of Zionism purely through a nationalistic lens enables many people to view Zionism as inherently racist. While Zionist advocates – like Troy – clearly articulate that Jews’ attachment to Israel does not mean that other people do not have attachments to the land as well, and that Israel welcomes the one-quarter of its population that is not Jewish with full rights, the anti-Zionists consider the core of the movement as exclusionary. The sentiment that nationalist populism inherently poses a risk “to the fundamental human rights principles of non-discrimination and equality” as stated in a 2018 United Nations report, puts Zionism in the crosshairs. The phrase “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination” as once declared in UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 of 1973, gets new air.

Zionism is more than the nationalistic movement of Jews reestablishing a thriving community in their homeland. It is a mission to combat anti-Semitism by providing a safe haven and a base from which to attack the noxious hatred.

Historic Zionism

Jews have always been Zionists. For thousands of years, Jews have prayed facing Jerusalem. Their daily prayers are replete with calls to rebuild their holy city. Jews have lived in and moved to the land of Israel throughout their history. The Jewish nation and religion are bound to the land. Jews were a majority in Jerusalem decades before the first Zionist Congress.

The connection of Jews and their Promised Land is a bedrock laid down in the bible and thousands of years of history. It naturally set the foundation for viewing the modern Jewish State through a three-part nationalist lens of people, religion and land. And it led humanitarians like Henry Dunant (1828-1910) to call for the rightful restoration of Jews to their homeland many years before Jewish Zionists articulated their vision.

But modern Zionism is more than the nationalist yearnings of thousands of years as articulated in Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah, written in 1878. It is a clarion call to fight and end Jew hatred.

Members of the Israeli Defense Forces “sing” Hatikvah in sign language in 2013.

Modern Zionism as a Safe Haven

The man credited with founding modern Zionism is Theodor Herzl (1860-1904). While completely assimilated and secular, Herzl saw a world which only saw him and others like him as foreign Jews.

He was horrified at the conviction of a secular Jew, Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935) in France on trumped up espionage charges. The anti-Semitism on bold display in the courtroom and media convinced Herzl that Jews would never be tolerated anywhere if they could not find peace in a liberal society like France. He said:

The Jewish question exists wherever the Jews live, however small their number. Where it does not exist it is imported by Jew immigrants. We naturally go where we are not persecuted, and, still persecution is the result of our appearance.

The pogroms in Russia (Ukraine, Poland) from 1881 to 1884 as well as Kishinev in 1903 and 1905 further cemented the opinion of Herzl and many other early Zionists that Jews would never be able to live in peace where they were treated as despised foreigners. Zionism was a tool to address systemic anti-Semitism. The principle was that only in a place where Jews governed themselves could they escape persecution.

The situation for the Jews in Europe and the USSR actually got worse after Herzl. On January 20 1942, the Wannsee Conference in Berlin, Germany, developed the “Final Solution to the Jewish Problem,” calling for their extermination. Nazi Germany and its supporters killed one-third of the global Jewish population. The horrors of the European Holocaust which confirmed the radical anti-Semitism prevalent in the world, most likely encouraged many nations to support the reestablishment of the Jewish State just a few years later.

Modern Zionism Fights Anti-Semitism

Today, Israel does not simply seek to be a safe haven for Jews but actively fights anti-Semitism and anti-Semites around the world.

  • In 1960, years after the Holocaust, agents of the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, captured former Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and brought him to Israel to stand trial for his crimes.
  • In 1976, after Arab terrorists hijacked an Air France plane to Uganda, Israeli commandos flew in to rescue the innocent.
  • In 1991, when the situation of Ethiopian Jews became dire, Israel launched Operation Solomon which air-lifted 14,325 people out of the country and resettled them in Israel.
  • In 1994, after Iran and Hezbollah blew up the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina killing 85 people, Israel sent a team to investigate.
  • In 2015, after Muslim terrorist targeted killing Jews in a kosher supermarket in Paris, France, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed French Jews and saidany Jew who chooses to come to Israel will be greeted with open arms and an open heart, it is not a foreign nation, and hopefully they and you will one day come to Israel.

The government of Israel has a special division for world Jewry called The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. A core mission of the office is “monitoring and treating the scourge of anti-Semitism.” No other government in the world has an office dedicated to its diaspora and to fighting the terrible hatred it endures.

Anti-Zionism Is Not Anti-Racism But Anti-Semitism

Using the false precept that all forms of nationalism are inherently racist and that Zionism is a particular exclusionary Jewish supremacist movement, schools are indoctrinating students that anti-Zionism is anti-racism and should be embraced. Similarly, the Black Lives Matter movement endorsed boycotting Israel, and the Democratic Socialists of America have all guns blazing with vile smears that Jews in Israel and the United States exploit Black and Brown bodies as a way to turn a profit.

When Zionism only portrays itself as the rightful national aspiration of Jews to self-determination in their homeland, it opens itself up to noxious attacks. A core tenet of Zionism is the fight against anti-Semitism which should be broadcast, as it makes abundantly clear that anti-Zionism is inherently anti-Semitic.

Related articles:

The Anti-Zionist Lexicon – Vilifying Israel

To Answer the Question Tying Anti-Semitism, Understand The Two Types of Anti-Zionists

To Serve Jews, United Nations Style

Time to Define Banning Jews From Living Somewhere as Antisemitic

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.


Related First One Through articles:

David Duke, Ilhan Omar and the Three Lenses of Anti-Semitism

The Insidious Jihad in America

Criticizing Muslim Antisemitism is Not Islamophobia

Victims of Preference

Mum on Black, Brown and Leftist Anti-Semitism

The Global Intifada

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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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Bernie Sanders’ Antisemitic and Anti-Zionist Friends

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The Right Number of Anti-Semites in Congress

Mum on Black, Brown and Leftist Anti-Semitism

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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.


Related First One Through articles:

David Duke, Ilhan Omar and the Three Lenses of Anti-Semitism

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Ilhan Omar Isn’t Debating Israeli Policy, She is Attacking Americans

Will Biden Enable Hamas’s Sponsors of Iran, Qatar and Turkey

Examining Ilhan Omar’s Point About Muslim Antisemitism

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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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The Cave of the Jewish Matriarch and Arab Cultural Appropriation

Linda Sarsour as Pontius Pilate

The Remarkable Tel Jerusalem

The Jewish Holy Land

Jews, Judaism and Israel

The Nation of Israel Prevails

“Flowing with Milk and Honey”

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

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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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