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.

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

On October 20, 2016, the New York Times profiled a rising Israeli member of Knesset, Miri Regev.  The article, “Miri Regev’s Culture War,” highlighted her background in Israel’s “periphery,” as part of the Mizrachi or “Eastern” communities.

The Times stated that “Mizrachi” is “a catchall term that includes Jewish communities from Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the Sephardic Jews, whose origins can be traced to Spain and Portugal, who settled there. These communities immigrated to Israel in mass waves after its founding in 1948 and into the early 1950s, upending its demographic makeup. The Jewish population, almost exclusively Ashkenazi, became more than 40 percent Mizrahi. But it wasn’t just the country’s ethnic composition that changed. The Jewish population that predated the founding of the state was primarily young, secular and idealistic; it was also heavily male. By contrast, the new Mizrahi arrivals tended to be large families from traditional societies. In their ethnic garb, often with no knowledge of Hebrew, they struck the native-born Israeli sabras and the European Ashkenazim as provincial and uneducated.”

Read the passage again.  It sounds like these Jews simply left the MENA region because they wanted to go to the newly reestablished Jewish State after Israel was founded in 1948.  Nowhere in the article is there any sense that these Mizrachi Jews suffered any persecution by the Muslim nations. Such poor treatment was only under the elitist Ashkenazi Jews from Israel.

This was a continued insult and mischaracterization of history by the media of the over 850,000 Jews that were forcibly expelled or fled for their lives from communities that they had lived in for centuries, due to Muslims anger over the founding of the Jewish State in a place that they deemed “Arab land.

nyt-jews-in-arab-lands
New York Times announcing the danger to Jews in Moslem countries, 1956

The Muslim Expulsion of the Jews

Roughly two-thirds of the Jewish refugees from the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) went to Israel, while one-third fled to France.  France was a natural place for Jews to flee French-speaking Arab countries such as Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

Algeria. Pogroms in Algeria began shortly after the Palestine Mandate to reestablish a Jewish homeland took effect, killing dozens in the 1920s and 1930s. During World War II, Jews were stripped of their citizenship when Nazis took over France, As Algeria was technically part of France. The French Vichy regime was particularly harsh to Jews, stripping them of most rights and ability to work.

Even as the war ended, Muslims put in place their own anti-Jewish laws. In 1962, when Algeria declared independence from France, virtually the entire Jewish community fled, seeing the Nuremberg-type laws in Muslim countries, and the fate of Jews in the rest of the MENA region. The majority of Jews went to France, while many moved to Israel.

Egypt. Nationality Laws in 1927 and 1929 gave preference to Egyptians who were Arab-Muslim. The laws made it difficult for Jews to gain citizenship, and in 1947, it is estimated that only 10,000 of the 75,000 Jews in Egypt had citizenship, while the rest were either stateless or were foreign nationals.

Jews came under direct attack at the founding of Israel, including bombings of Jewish neighborhoods in 1948 which killed 70, and a bombing in the Cairo Jewish Quarter in 1949 that killed 34.

When the Suez War with Israel broke out in 1956, there was no more room for Jews.  On November 23, 1956, the Egyptian Minister for Religious Affairs declared that “all Jews and Zionists are enemies of the state,” as Egypt moved to expel the Jews and confiscate their property.

Iraq. In the 1920s, Jews were prohibited from teaching Hebrew or Jewish history. In July 1948, Iraq made Zionism a crime, punishable with up to seven years in jail. In October 1948, all Jews who held positions in government were fired. In May 1950, Jews in Iraq were stripped of their citizenship and the government began to seize all Jewish property.

In response to the edicts, in 1951 and 1952, Israel launched Operation Ezra and Nechemia to airlift the Jews out of the country to safety. The Jewish community in Iraq that had stood had close to 130,000 people was quickly down to a mere 3000.

After the Arab armies were defeated in another war in 1967, the remnant of Jews in Iraq would find the situation unbearable. On January 27, 1969, the government hanged nine Jews in the public square to the cheers of Iraqis. The Jewish community in Iraq was soon no more.

Libya.  Jews were attacked by Libyans in the immediate aftermath of World War II, with 140 murdered in a pogrom. The Libyan government’s Nationality Law of 1951 prohibited Jews from having Libyan passports, and Jews were no longer allowed to vote or hold public office. By 1953, Jews in the country were subject to broad economic boycotts. The community of roughly 40,000 Jews dwindled to just 6 people.

Morocco. The Jewish community in Morocco was one of the largest in the MENA region, estimated at over 250,000 people.

After Israel’s declaration of independence in May 1948, two pogroms broke out in Morocco, in the towns of Oujda and Djerrada. The attacks killed 47 people, wounded hundreds and lefts hundreds homeless. Not surprisingly, 10% of the country’s Jews quickly fled the country.

After Morocco declared independence in 1956, an Arabization of the country commenced, cutting Jews off from parts of society. At the same time, the government prohibited emigration to Israel, which lasted until 1963. In 1961, roughly 90,000 Moroccan Jews had to be ransomed in Operation Yakhnin, bringing Jews to Israel. In the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, another 40,000 Jews fled to Israel.

Syria. In 1947, the sale of any real estate to Jews was prohibited, Jews were discharged from public office, and in 1949, the governments seized Jews’ financial assets.  In 1950, Jews were forced to leave the farming industry.  Syrians took the message, an initiated pogroms from November 1947 through August 1949, killing many as they looted Jewish homes and stores.

As Jews fled, the country had their assets seized by the state.

More edicts would follow for the Jews that remained.  In 1967, Muslims were placed as principals of all Jewish schools. In 1973, with the onset of the Yom Kippur War, new edicts were enforced that Jews could no longer communicate with anyone outside of Syria.

Tunisia. Tunisia’s independence in 1956 led to an Islamification of society and placed Jews in a secondary dhimmi status. From that point on, all Jewish businesses were forced to take on a Muslim partner.

The old Tunis Jewish cemetery was expropriated in 1957, and the great Tunis synagogue was destroyed in 1960. As Jews began to flee the country in 1961 as they had in the rest of the MENA region, Tunisia only allowed Jews to take one dinar with them, as the country confiscated the rest of their possessions.

Yemen. Sharia law was instituted in 1913, and all Jewish orphans were forcibly converted to Islam. In the 1920s, Jews became excluded from the army and public service.

In 1947, riots in Aden killed 82 Jews, and in 1948, Yemeni Jews began to lose control of their possessions, with laws forcing Jews to transfer all crafts to Arabs before leaving the country.

As a result of the crisis, Operation Magic Carpet airlifted 49,000 Jews out of the country between June 1949 and September 1950.

TOTALS. The number of Jews that fled persecution from homes they lived in for centuries was between 850,000 and 1 million people.

  • Algeria 140,000
  • Egypt 75,000
  • Iraq 135,000
  • Lebanon 5,000
  • Libya 38,000
  • Morocco 265,000
  • Syria 30,000
  • Tunisia 105,000
  • Yemen 55,000

This total of 850,000 Jews does not include the Jews who fled Iran and Afghanistan.


Yet the New York Times chose to write that Jews “immigrated” to Israel, implying no malice on the part of Arabs, nor fear in the hearts of Jews.  The paper implies that the Mizrachi Jews sought to take advantage of the new Jewish State. Maybe for economic opportunities.

This characterization comes from the same media source that makes every effort to describe Palestinian Arabs as “refugees,” and despondent, even when they are living just a few miles from the homes where their grandparents sought to destroy the nascent Jewish state.

The New York Times has a long history of only parroting the Palestinian Arab narrative in their collective fight against Israel. It has now further chosen to whitewash the crimes of the entire Muslim Arab world that forcibly rid their nations of Jews as they robbed them of their dignity, lives and property.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants September 2016

Help Refugees: Shut the UNRWA, Fund the UNHCR

Palestinian “Refugees” or “SAPs”?

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A Native American, An African American and a Hispanic American walk into Israel…

Restoring the indigenous population to their land

Native Americans: Native Americans lived in the United States for millennia before Europeans discovered the land. Within a few hundred years, the Europeans overwhelmed the native population and effectively banished them from their lands and homes. To add insult to the injury, the invaders forced new religions onto the remaining tribes.

In the 20th century, Americans began to slowly reverse course and offered more rights to the Native Americans, including American citizenship in 1924. At present, the United States recognizes several hundred Native American tribes and gives them some degree of autonomy in lands of their own.

Jews: Jews have lived in the land of Israel for roughly 3700 years. They had two independent kingdoms in the land and built their holiest Temples there. Roughly 1900 years ago, Romans destroyed the Second Jewish Temple, forced conversion on thousands of Jews, banned Jews from Jerusalem, and renamed their holy land “Palestine”. While some Jews continued to live in the Holy Land, most were dispersed throughout the world.

In the 1800s Jews began to move back to their holy land in greater numbers. While much of the land had been taken over by Arabs who invaded Palestine in the 7th century, the world sought to reconstitute the Jewish homeland as so declared in the the 1922 League of Nations Mandate of Palestine.  The British assumed their Mandate of Palestine to encourage Jewish immigration, land ownership and citizenship in Palestine in 1924, the same year that America offered all Native Americans citizenship.

From Slavery

African Americans: While the Europeans came to conquer the New Worlds of North and South America, they brought Africans with them to be their slaves.  It took hundreds of years for the United States to abolish the inhuman treatment of African Americans.

Jews: The Jewish people became a nation when they emerged from hundreds of years of slavery in Egypt 3500 years ago.  It was only at that time that they received the Bible and entered the promised land.

On January 1, 1863, US President Abraham Lincoln freed the black slaves in America, and just three days later, he abolished the most anti-Semitic decree in US history when he overrode General U.S. Grant’s order to expel the Jews.  In one week, Lincoln actively asserted the self-evident rights and dreams in the US Constitution, “that all men are created equal,” including blacks and Jews.

MLK

Advancing Minorities’ Interests

Hispanic Americans: Hispanics were always a decent segment of the United States population from the earliest colonies.  However, in 1964 and 1965, new laws were passed in the United States which dramatically increased their number and visibility.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made discrimination unlawful, and the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 ended a quota system from certain countries.  With those actions, the number of immigrants coming to the USA from Latin America jumped from 9% to 44% from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Jews: Jews were an unwelcome minority in many countries in the world, and in many parts of the United States.  Golf Clubs, universities and private clubs would not admit any Jews – some publicly, and others, privately. The same laws that addressed inequalities for black and Hispanic minorities, also helped Jews in America.

Beyond America’s shores, just a few years after the acts of 1964 and 1965, the Kingdom of Jordan which had evicted and banned every Jew from the area of Palestine it conquered in 1949, attacked Israel again.  In so doing, it lost that region of Palestine it had illegally annexed, the “West Bank.”  Israel quickly repealed the anti-Semitic bans and welcomed Jews once more.

American Minorities Come to Israel

Minority groups in America “get” the Jewish State of Israel.  African-Americans understand a history of slavery and persecution.  Native Americans understand being torn from land, culture and religion.  Hispanic Americans understand being excluded.

When these groups look at Israel, they instinctively get why the world made some attempt to rectify the long history of expelling and murdering Jews throughout Europe, Russia and northern Africa.  They have sought the same kind of consideration themselves.

But even more, when they come to Israel – to the reconstituted Jewish State – they see a success story.  They see that the vanquished can be victorious.  Where the excluded are now the leaders.  Where the defenseless are now a military powerhouse. Where a forgotten language has been reestablished.  Where a barren land has become an environmental leader.  Where a bankrupt society has become a financial success story.

Minorities that come to Israel see a country where minorities count.  Where women account for 24% of the Israeli Knesset, compared to only 16% in the US Congress.  Where Arabs represent 14% of the Knesset, versus only 8% black representatives in the US Congress.

Martin Luther King saidPeace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect her right to exist, its territorial integrity and the right to use whatever sea lanes it needs. Israel is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security, and that security must be a reality.

Israel is not just a success story for Jews; it is a beacon of hope for minorities around the world.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Israel, the Liberal Country of the Middle East

In Israel, the Winner is… Democracy

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The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

The world has a long established track record of telling Jews where they can and cannot live. It is a phenomenon that uniquely relates to Jews which continues to this day in the holy land.

Pluralistic World, Narrowly Defined

The “Western World” likes to think of itself as modern and “progressive.” Its leaders believe they have largely overcome rampant bigotry in their societies. For example, western leaders would never suggest that black people be only allowed to live in certain cities, or declare that gays be confined to ghettos. Even during this wave of radical Islamic terrorism, no leader would ever say that all Muslims should be expelled from the country. Modern civilized society would never tolerate such positions.

The “Western” pluralistic approach is not confined to opinions within its own borders. Wherever there is ethnic strife, western officials promote parties getting along.  In northern Cyprus, Christians and Muslims are urged to reconcile.  In Myanmar, the US calls for Muslims and Buddhists to try to live together in peace.

However, the attitudes change when it comes to Jews in the Middle East. Pluralism is passé east of the Green Line.

Jews are Treated Differently

Today, it has become all too common for Europeans to protest in the streets chanting “Free Palestine” in calls for the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel. University professors give legitimacy to Hamas, a terrorist group, which openly calls for killing Jews and destroying Israel. The leaders of the European Union call for Jews to be expelled from Judea and Samaria. And the President of the United States, Barack Obama, condemned Jews living in apartments they legally purchased in eastern Jerusalem.

While pluralism is an embraced ideal, the open tent does not cover Israel.  The western world that prides itself on fraternity, believes that Jews should be banned from living in predominantly Arab neighborhoods.  The modern culture that seeks a global community, wants to deny Jews the right to live in their homes. The progressive left which advocates for human rights, condemns Jews rather than Palestinian Arabs who fight for a Jew-free state.

Ideally, everyone should be able live anywhere.  Except for Jews who should be banned from living east of the invisible Green Line.

It should not surprise people that the Jewish State is treated differently. These same “progressive” countries have a long history of forcing Jews into ghettos and expelling them from their homes.  Dictating where Jews are allowed to live is second nature. It’s the Jewish “Pen Policy.”

Here is a list of the Pen Policy in action, after the Crusades. This list ignores the brutal slaughter of millions of Jews over that time.  There is no comparable treatment of any other ethnic or religious minority.

History of Expelling Jews

Many governments expelled all of their Jewish inhabitants, both on the local city level and on the national level.

Austria: Jews expelled from Vienna in 1670.

Brazil: Jews expelled from Recife in 1654.

Czech Republic: Jews expelled from Prague in 1745.

England: Expelled all of the Jews in 1290. Jews could not live in England for another 360 years.

Egypt: Jews expelled in 1956.
Israel removes Jews from Sinai in peace deal with Egypt in 1982.

France: 100,000 Jews expelled in 1306 and then again in 1322.
Charles VI expelled the Jews in 1394.
In 1420, the Jews were expelled from Lyons.

Germany: Jews expelled from Brandenburg in 1510.
In 1593, Jews expelled from Bavaria.
In 1614, Jews expelled from Frankfurt.

Hungary: Marie Theresa (still an all-time favorite leader among Hungarians) expelled all Jews from Hungary and Bohemia in 1744.

Italy: Jews expelled from Southern Italy in 1288.
In 1491, Jews expelled from Ravenna.
In 1492, Jews expelled from Sicily and Sardinia.
In 1494, Jews expelled from Florence and Tuscany.
In 1510, Jews expelled from southern Rome.
In 1541, last Jews evicted from Naples.
In 1550, Jews expelled from Genoa.
In 1558, Jews expelled from Recanati.
In 1569, all Jews forced out of Papal states by decree of Pope Pius V.
In 1571, Venice decides to evict all remaining Jews, but does not carry it out.
In 1593, Pope Clement VIII evicts Jews from all papal states, except Rome.
In 1597, almost all of the Jews of Milan are expelled.

Lithuania: Jews expelled in 1495.

Martinique: King Louis XIV ordered all Jews expelled from French colonies in the New World in 1683.

Netherlands: Jews banned from Utrecht in 1444.

Palestinian Authority: After massacre of 69 Jews by local Arabs, British forces remove remaining Jewish community of Hebron in 1929.
In 1949, after attacking Israel when it declared independence, Jordanians expel all Jews from Judea and Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem which they illegally annex.
In 2005, Israel removes all Jews from Gaza Strip.

Poland: Jews expelled from Warsaw in 1483.

Portugal: Some Jews expelled in 1483.
In 1497, choice of conversion or expulsion of all Jews.

Spain: Jews expelled from Seville in 1483.
All 200,000 Jews expelled from country in 1492.

Switzerland: Jews expelled from Basel in 1349.

Tunisia: Jews expelled or massacred in 1535.

Ghettos

Some governments did not expel their Jews, but forced them to live in concentrated areas. Street signs can still be found in European cities named “Street of the Jews.”

Austria: Vienna’s Leopoldstadt goes back hundreds of years.

Czech Republic: Prague has one of the most famous Jewish Quarters, which was created as a restrictive ghetto.

Italy: Venice instituted the first ghetto by papal decree in Europe in 1516.  Others were developed in Ferrara (1624) and Rome (1555).

Germany: Created over 1000 in Germany and Poland during World War II, including the infamous Warsaw Ghetto.

Russia: Jews were confined to the “Pale of Settlements” in 1791.  Jews were forbidden to live in 75% of Russia.

DSC_0121
“Jew Street” in Obernai, France
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

The world has grown very comfortable dictating where Jews may live. It is well past time for Europeans to condemn the racist Jew-free attitudes of Jordanians (1949-1967) and Palestinian Arabs today, and adopt a pluralistic and welcoming approach towards Jews in Judea and Samaria.

In November 2015, in a speech about attitudes towards Muslims, US President Barack Obama said, “we don’t have religious tests for our compassion… We don’t discriminate against people because of their faith.” If only he and others held such feelings about Jews as well.


Related First.One.Through articles and videos:

Names and Narrative: The West Bank / Judea and Samaria

Names and Narrative: Palestinian Territories/ Israeli Territories

Video: Judea and Samaria (Foo Fighters)

Video: The “1967 Borders” (The Kinks)

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The Relationship of Man and Beast

18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.
I will make a helper suitable for him.”

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found.”  (Genesis 2:18-20)

 

Biblical Review:
Man’s Superiority over Animals

Humans believe they are the smartest animals on Earth. While our three pound brain is not the largest in the animal kingdom (sperm whales have 17 pound brains), we humans tend to commend ourselves for our ability to walk upright, develop sophisticated machines, consider things beyond our senses and create the selfie stick.

Religion has cemented this bias. The Old Testament unveiled the story of the creation of the world with plants and animals arriving first and then man – Adam – being the final ultimate act of creation.  Man’s creation was preceded with a statement:

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26)

Man was the only creature “made in God’s image” and the only creation which was specifically tasked with “ruling” over other species. The superiority of Man over animals could not be more clearly laid out.

The Quran similarly detailed man’s dominion over beasts: “And the cattle, He has created them for you.  You have in them warm clothing and (other) advantages, and of them you eat.  And therein is beauty for you, when you drive them back (home) and when you send them out (to pasture).  And they carry your heavy loads to regions which you could not reach but with great distress to yourselves.  Surely your Lord is Compassionate, Merciful.  And (He made) horses and mules and asses that you might ride upon them and as an ornament.  And He creates what you know not.” (Quran 16:5-8)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, by Wenzel Peter

Man’s Relationship with Animals

Interestingly, the story in the Old Testament quickly moved past man’s supremacy over beasts. We soon read about a lonely man needing companionship so God brings the animals to man to ease the pain of solitude.  While the Quran relayed some benefits of ruling over animals (food, clothing, beasts of burden), the Old Testament relayed that animals could be a source of company and intimacy.

The bible pivots from man’s dominant position quickly.  When a snake tricked man into eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden (maybe it was mad at being passed over by Adam?), man lost his place in paradise. Suddenly, man understood that he was not only naked, but had reason to fear animals as well.

Despite this more complicated relationship between man and beast, during the story of Noah and the flood, man was given the responsibility for saving all of the animals.  God could have instructed Noah to build a small boat to save only himself and his family, but instead tasked man with helping animals as well. Superiority and fear yielded to responsibility and care.

Later generations in the bible would principally treat animals as inferior life forms for man to enjoy, whether by eating them, dressing with their skin, using them to work the fields, and offering them for sacrifices.  The bible principally describes helping animals only to keep the animals alive for future service; there was no discussion of them as companions.

Overall, the Pentateuch discussed plant life in a much more gentle fashion than animals.  Consider Deuteronomy 20 which discussed going to war:  All living things – including animals – were to be killed when fighting people with detestable belief systems.  The animals belonging to those people were considered corrupted by the actions of the people and therefore worthy of annihilation.  However, the fruit trees that belonged to those same people were spared.

All items from the ground are kosher and permissible to eat, but animals are more complicated: they are innately kosher or non-kosher. But even kosher animals can become corrupted.

Pets Today:
Companions Again

Americans have grown very close to their pets and have begun to “humanize” them. People are now more inclined to give their pets human names (Bo) versus “pet names” like “Rover” a generation ago. Approximately 76% of pet owners consider their pets to be full members of the family and they treat their pets accordingly.

Pet ownership in the United States rises every year. There are an estimated 78 million dogs and 86 million cats in the US in 2015 (APPA). That figure compares to 74 million children under the age of 18 in the country. Yes, there are more cats and dogs than kids. Consider further that the US pet industry is about $60 billion. That is more than the entire planet spends on babies.

Entirely new industries have sprung up around pets over the past several years: pet insurance; pet day care, pet-friendly hotels and restaurants. There is even a special TV channel, DogTV, just for dogs to watch.

We have taken animals from the fields into our homes and call them members of the family.


The biblical story of superiority over animals evolved over time. The power of creation imbued man with power over animals. Stories of destruction were coupled with man’s responsibilities.  But the biblical discussion of animal companionship was very fleeting. Man rejected animals right at the beginning of history, so God created woman to be his partner.  Thereafter, the role of animals became utilitarian.

Today, animals give us comfort.  We have added pets to our families in even greater numbers than children. We read stories of the flood to our children and skim the vileness of man and their annihilation, and celebrate the many animals in the world’s first zoo.

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is that all living things had a common ancestor. Beyond considering man’s physical evolution, it is worth noting mankind’s emotional evolution in its relationship with his fellow creations.

Related First One Through article:

Israel, Mother Nature’s Son

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Je Suis Redux

The famous French mathematician and philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650) once famously said: “Je pense, donc je suis,” or in English “I think, therefore I am.” That statement as well as his other works earned him the title of the father of western philosophy.

The concept Descartes put forth of the centrality of “thinking” and “being” is profound on several levels and had a significant impact on western society.  The expression has an interesting sequel today.

thinker
French Sculptor Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker

Descartes did not call out overt action verbs like eating, running or talking to prove his existence. He argued that something as fundamental as brain activity proved that he was alive. Such an approach has led to interesting debates about brain death and the status of life today.

On a philosophical level, Descartes was plagued with doubt about everything: not just about ethereal matters such as the existence of a supreme being, but whether the world as he saw it existed at all. He considered whether it was all just his imagination, just a dream. He concluded that the actual process of considering whether anything at all existed, proved that he indeed did exist.

Je Suis 2015

The world was given a brief tutorial of French in 2015. In response to the horrible killings at the offices of Parisian magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, people around the world held signs and banners that read “Je Suis Charlie,” “Je Suis Juif (Jew),” “Je Suis Policier (Police)”. A few weeks later, when another terrorist shot people in Copenhagen, the signs “Je Suis Danois (Danish)” showed support for the people of Denmark.

jesuisjuif
“Je Suis” rally in Paris,
January 2015

The expression “Je Suis…”, “I am…” in those contexts expressed people’s solidarity with the cause for which people died (freedom of press, speech or religion), essentially reaffirming that those liberties live on. While individuals may have been killed, there are others that cherish those same beliefs who remain alive. While the victims are dead, the freedoms are not vanquished.

Je Suis…” attested to the strength of people’s convictions.  While the terrorists were killed by police in both Paris and Copenhagen, people did not deceive themselves that there were many other would-be-terrorists who might commit similar acts. Yet they stood defiantly with placards held high and passions held firm.


Consider that hundreds of years ago the father of western philosophy made a statement that was born from his complete doubt in anything and everything. He imagined that nothing was real, even his own existence. Doubt Affirmed Life.

In 2015, people rallied because of the murder of people who shared a similar western philosophy. In mourning the deaths, people realized the depth of their own convictions. Death Affirmed Belief.

The sequel of Je Suis in France may be a perfect mirror image of the original. But the central theme remains the freedom and ability to question and believe.


Other First.one.Through article:

Dancing with the Asteroids: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/dancing-with-the-asteroids/

 

Bibi’s Paris Speech in Context

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu came to Paris, France in January 2015 to show his support for free speech and to confront anti-Semitism in the wake of terror attacks at the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket. He addressed a large Jewish audience at the Grand Synagogue where he invited the Jews to make aliyah – to move to Israel.netanyahu paris shul

“Any 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.”

Many people criticized his statement including, not surprisingly, his Israeli political opponents during an election season.  The French were also unhappy with the call to move to Israel. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that “if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”
French President Francois Hollande made a similar statement a few days later: “French people of the Jewish faith, your place is here, in your home. France is your country.

It is right and proper that the leaders of France seek to assure the country’s Jewish citizens that France is their home and they should not flee the country from fear.  But to berate Netanyahu for his remarks does not take into account the climate in which the invitation to move to the Jewish State was made.

Consider that Netanyahu did not come to France and invite the French Jews after attacks targeting their community in 2012 or 2006. But he felt that the situation for Jews in Europe had deteriorated significantly throughout 2014 which compelled him to invite the largest Jewish population in Europe, with an estimated 500,000 people, to move to Israel:

In summary, the year before the Paris shootings was a cascade of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish activities in Europe.  The year 2014 began with Netanyahu releasing terrorists to push forward a peace initiative (of which he was very skeptical) at the urging of the USA and Europe.  It proved meaningless to the peace process and world opinion; Israel and Jews in Europe were attacked throughout the year, first by Palestinians and then by Europeans.

For Netanyahu, the prior twelve months had:

  1. Israel release prisoners, including Palestinian murderers of Israeli civilians, at the direct urging of allies
  2. Their Palestinian counter-party break peace talks by joining with Hamas and international organizations
  3. A summer in which: three teenagers were abducted and murdered; Israel located an extensive Hamas tunnel network from Gaza into Israel to launch attacks; Israel combated thousands of incoming missiles from Gaza. Yet Israel was still criticized by Europe and the global community for defensive actions
  4. European cities launch multiple riots against Jews
  5. European countries reward the Palestinians with admission to more world bodies and votes of endorsement
  6. The European Union remove Hamas from its terrorist list

For Netanyahu – and many Jews – the year in Europe echoed back 75 years to a period in which the continent nearly annihilated its Jewish citizens.  It was bad enough that Israelis contend with Palestinian Arabs that are more extreme than the Nazis of the 1930s.  But that Europeans embraced this ideaology was truly frightening, particularly as it stood in contrast to values they claimed to support.

In 1939, at the early stages of the Holocaust, Britain drafted the White Paper at the behest of Arabs in the Middle East, which limited Jewish immigration to Palestine at the outset of the Holocaust – a move which likely killed over 100,000 Jews – despite the specific mandate to facilitate the immigration of Jews to their homeland.

In 2015, the Prime Minister of Israel heard the calls to kill Jews, and made clear that a world with an established Jewish State will not allow a repeat of the European Holocaust.


Related First One Through articles:

Europe hurting the peace process: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/failing-negotiation-102-europe/

Europe penalizing Israel even though Palestinians are the reluctant peace partner: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/european-narrative-over-facts/

Jews continue to move out of Europe to Israel and the US music video (Diana Ross): https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/the-loss-of-jews-in-europe-continues/

Ignoring Jihad only when it comes to Israel: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/radical-jihadists-in-europe-and-dislocated-and-alienated-palestinians-in-Israel/