Fertility Rates and Household Wealth

A new U.S. government report noted that the birth rate continues to fall, now with a fertility rate of just 1.6 children per woman. That rate is considered “below replacement rate” meaning that the next generation will be smaller than the current one and that the overall population will grow older on average.

According to the World Bank, the overall percentage of the global population under 14 years old in 2019 was just 25.6%. It was just 18.5% for the United States, down significantly from 30.8% in 1961 in the post-World War II boom years.

There is a meaningful divide between the western world and the rest in terms of the number of children and how it relates to household wealth which will be reviewed here.

Children and Household Wealth around the World

There are three parts of the world which have a very young population, with over 35% of the population being 14 years old or younger: sub-Saharan Africa, several Muslim countries, and the islands of the Pacific.

Roughly 42% of sub-Saharan Africa is under 14 years old. Most of the countries are very poor, with a GDP per capital under $2,000. Outliers like Seychelles (with a relatively low 24% of the population under 14 y.o.) and Mauritius (17%) have much higher GDP per capita (GDP/C) of $17,448 and $11,099, respectively.

The other regions have a more scattered correlation between GDP per capita and high percentage of children as seen in the chart below.

Countries with over 35% of the population under 14 years old fall into three buckets: sub-Saharan Africa (not shown), Muslim countries (yellow) and Pacific islands (blue)

The blue dots represent Pacific island countries and the yellow dots correspond to Muslim countries. Pakistan, Tajikistan, Yemen and Afghanistan have GDP/C of around $1,000 or less. The two subsidized Muslim economies of Iraq ($5,955) and the Palestinian Authority ($3,562) are outliers in their relatively higher income levels and young population. Only Tonga and Samoa have similar around $4,000 GDP/C outside of Africa.

The United States

The GDP per Capita in the United States crossed $65,000 in 2019 while the fertility rate plummeted. The country has a diverse population so a deeper review of the drivers of the fertility drop as well as the dynamics of household wealth are worth exploring to appreciate the underlying causes.

As seen in the US Fertility Rate table above, the fertility rate for women of all races declined significantly between 2008 and 2016. The drop was greatest for Hispanic women (-26%) and Native Americans (-24%), followed by Whites and Blacks (-12% each).

The census data on average household income by race and status adds further color.

CharacteristicAll racesWhite alone, not HispanicBlack aloneAsian aloneHispanic (any race)
No Children89,31596,08160,794113,35470,604
With children <18119,506138,97079,151165,79380,592
Married no kids127,016132,34099,595141,35096,487
Married with kids146,238161,392123,121178,51094,336
Unmarried, no kids103,795107,34278,588156,37791,062
Unmarried with kids87,86595,92571,381(B)78,031
Male, no kids92,13399,11874,695123,49282,112
Male with kids83,98394,73363,69388,76473,777
Female, no kids74,95379,14869,54392,75564,067
Female with kids57,27465,24846,90090,47652,923
Household income for various US groups in 2019 according to the U.S. census. Too small a data set for unmarried Asian households with children at home.

There’s a lot of data here, so some observations:

Households headed by married couples with children at home make more money. Households (HH) with children under 18 at home make more money than those without, but that is purely driven by married HH. Asian married HH that have kids at home make an average of 26% more than married Asian HH without children. For Blacks the difference was 24%. Meanwhile, Hispanic married HH – and only Hispanics – without children make slightly more money than those with kids.

Non-traditional” HH with no kids make more money. Unmarried HH and those headed by either a single father or mother have greater wealth if there are no children. The difference is the greatest for Black HH headed by a woman, where average HH income is 48% higher if there are no kids at home, and for HH headed by Asian men, who make 39% more money on average if no kids are at home. Only HH headed by Asian women have virtually no difference whether there are kids at home or not.

Asian and Blacks have dramatically different household wealth. Not only do Asians make significantly more money than Black HH (86% more in HH with no kids at home and 109% more in HH with kids at home), the biggest drivers were in unmarried HH without kids and woman-headed HH with kids.

The change in household income adds additional color, with the table below showing the change from 2012 to 2019.

CharacteristicAll racesWhite alone, not HispanicBlack aloneAsian aloneHispanic (any race)
Married no kids38%38%40%39%35%
Married with kids44%42%51%49%50%
Unmarried, no kids35%34%37%62%20%
Unmarried with kids48%45%41%NA55%
Male, no kids38%41%42%37%32%
Male with kids41%41%35%34%44%
Female, no kids32%31%33%24%38%
Female with kids40%33%47%60%50%
Change in household income between 2012 and 2019 for various groups in the United States according to US Census

Households with kids have income growing faster. Income grew faster for households with children relative to those without kids between 2012 and 2019 for every type of household. Income grew fastest for those households headed by unmarried couples. Minorities faired better than Whites for female-headed homes with kids and married homes.

Hispanic households seeing the biggest gaps to an increase in income between having kids and not having kids. While Whites, Blacks and Asians mostly followed the averages or had mixed results, the Hispanic community saw big advances among those families which had children at home relative to the more modest gains among those with no children at homes.

In summary, the Hispanic community which accounts for 16.7% of the US population is having a steep decline in the number of children which is driving the overall low US fertility rates. While this is happening, the wealth for Hispanic households without kids is growing at a much slower pace than those HH with children. This is creating a gap in the Hispanic community between the wealthier HHs with children and the poorer ones which are having no kids.

Possible Reasons for Fertility Rates and Changes

There is clearly a correlation around the world that poorer countries have more children than richer countries.

The Guttmacher Institute estimates that 93 out of 1,000 pregnancies are unintended in poor countries compared to 66 in middle income and 34 in wealthy countries. Abortions are also more prevalent in wealthier countries with 40%, 66% and 43% of such unwanted pregnancies ending with an abortion in poor, middle and wealth countries, respectively. The net result is a higher fertility rate in poorer countries.

Religion should also be considered as a factor as many devout Muslim countries do not promote contraception and abhor abortions.

The low fertility rates in the United States goes beyond income and abortions.

Minority groups have the highest rates of abortion in the US. In 2016, 28% of abortions were by Black women even though they account for just 13% of the population. Hispanics accounted for 25% of abortions while they make up 17% of the population. This is in contrast to the global trend where poorer segments had fewer abortions.

In the US, Hispanics and Blacks still have higher fertility rates (2.1 and 1.9, respectively) than Whites (1.7) but the trends are much steeper for Hispanics as they are quickly adopting the more prevalent fertility rates found throughout America.

The lower fertility rates may seem strange relative to Pew Research which shows that women in America are having MORE children, albeit later in life as they prefer to pursue advanced degrees and build their careers. Pew notes that their work looks at the lifetime fertility rates of women whereas the standard definition of fertility is based solely on that one year’s accounting of births.

The Pew report also noted that one of the biggest changes in fertility is among women who were never married having children, where 55% of women aged 40-44 have had a child in 2014, up from just 31% in 1994. Incorporating the data above, this suggests that unmarried women are having children despite the fact that they are likely to be poorer for doing so, but the income level for this segment (unmarried moms) is growing the fastest.

Outlier

One country seems to be defying the trends in fertility, with a higher fertility rate and a high level of wealth: Israel.

From 2000 to 2019, Israel’s fertility rate stayed relatively constant, growing from 2.95 to 3.01. With a GDP/C of $43,600, this is a remarkable achievement.

The country’s ultra-Orthodox and Bedouin communities continue to have large numbers of children and the number of abortions in the country continues to hit new lows every year.


A quick read of the low and declining fertility rates in the US is certainly reason for concern, but a deeper dive into the numbers reveals some important facts. 1) Women are extending the period of time in which they have children to later in life so the total number of children they have is actually rising. 2) The drop off in fertility in the US is mostly due to the Hispanic community moving quickly towards the societal average. 3) The average income for the growing “non-traditional” households (unmarried, single parent) with children is growing faster than the rest of society.


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Voting All of the Above

Democrats and Republicans are taking aim at each other about voting rights. Each has portrayed the other as racist, naive or dishonest. In truth, each makes fair points and the best policy is to incorporate suggestions from each.

Issue Suggestion Comment
Automatic registration <Democrat> Get all citizens registered easily
Accessible ballots <Democrat> Allow for big fonts, multiple languages
Picture ID <Republican> Prevent fraud and insure integrity of vote
Early voting <Democrat> Make it easier for people to cast vote
No Mail-in vote <Republican> Prevent fraud and insure vote integrity
Suggestions to overhaul current voting system incorporating suggestions of both parties

Many of the above recommendations complement each other. Allowing early voting minimizes the need for mail-in votes. Requiring a picture ID to prevent fraud is logical and also dovetails with eliminating mail-in voting.

The most important thing regarding voting is for it to accurately reflect the desire of legal voters. Fraud and the legitimate fear of fraud undermine our democracy, the government and unity of the republic. For the sake of that unity, incorporate the logical proposals of both Democrats and Republicans.


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Capture The Flag

January 6, 2021 was a spectacle in Washington, D.C. when protesters stormed the U.S. Capital building which was convening to certify the results of the presidential elections. The overrun of the capital came just as Democrats won two Senate run-off seats in Georgia giving the party full control of Congress. One person was shot and killed and members of Congress needed to be escorted to secure rooms as the building was put in lock down. A curfew was imposed on the city.

U.S. Capital building stormed by pro-Trump protestors, January 6, 2021

People bemoan that the United States has become a Banana Republic which cannot peacefully hold elections or have a transition of power. They wonder how a powerful and wealthy country could descend into such chaos. Quickly pointing to President Donald Trump as the instigator for the event is a missed opportunity to expose the root causes of the mayhem. The danger of not exploring it is the casual dismissal of needed changes to society that go beyond January 20th when Trump leaves office and when the world moves passed the pandemic, hopefully in the coming months.

The instigating reasons include the notion that there is theft, the normalization of violent protest and the breakdown of trust and respect. All of this in the backdrop of a broader move to extremist views by many Americans and the relatively newer belief that government actually matters.

On Stealing

People become enraged when they feel deeply wronged, especially when it comes to something being stolen. If rights, liberties, lands or votes are viewed as being stripped away, then people will actively resist such wrongs.

President Donald Trump actively fed the narrative that peoples’ votes were being stolen which was the reason he lost the election, with “Stop the Steal” exclamations. He told his supporters to not even bother voting in the Georgia Senate run-off, as the system wouldn’t let their voices be heard.

This is not new, as Democrats often make claims of “voter suppression.” A conspiracy theory came out of Hillary Clinton’s mouth four years ago when she said as she lost “they were never going to let me be president.” Her backers believed her and held “Not My President” rallies during Trump’s early months in office.

The United Nations also promotes the notion of theft when it comes to Israel. It uses racist language that Israelis are “stealing Arab land” as if dirt can be inherently “Arab” (imagine someone saying that Alabama is inherently “white”). It established a special agency, UNRWA, which promises to enable millions of Arabs to “return” to Israel, actively fueling anger at the Jewish State.

Normalizing Violent “Protests”

The world actively promotes Palestinian “resistance” and normalizes terrorism. The 2% War which began in September 2000 killed and maimed thousands of Israeli civilians is commonly called the “Second Intifada” meaning “uprising,” softening the crimes of the murderers. Left-wing media states that Palestinians are only “resorting to violence” even when all their foundational charters and glorification of terrorists are plain to see.

In the United states, when the Black Lives Matter protests burned cities to the ground the media said that the protesters were “mostly peaceful” despite the videos of massive looting and scenes of charred buildings. The public seemingly gave a pass to the anarchy. When anarchists seized downtown Seattle and declared their alt-left caliphate with a concocted flag, the police were ordered to not engage.

Normalization by definition creates a new normal.

The Loss of Trust and Respect

There has been a continued erosion in the trust of institutions in the United States over several years. Blacks and liberals have distrusted the police for a long time but the nature of distrust has broadened and deepened.

The Internet is a great tool in allowing people to connect and find areas of interest but its use has had broad ramifications for businesses and society.

The personalization capabilities of search engines has allowed people to narrowly focus on topics and points of view that interest them. Such model and migration of eyeballs has shifted advertising dollars from television and newspapers to online giants like Google and Facebook. It forced the legacy media to pivot their businesses from neutral providers of information to highly-biased disseminators of propaganda. The media’s business model became #AlternativeFacts. When the Internet giants then followed suit during this election and shut down opinions which it found offensive, there became a deep resentment to all of the media.

Amid this backdrop, liberal society endorsed the idea that people’s perceptions of race and gender trumped science, undermining the foundation of truth. Even language became “weaponized” as people received daily addenda to the dictionary.

As the foundations of language and science were being shaken, woke society came after America’s founding fathers and institutions.

Kneeling for the national anthem, and the blitzkrieg of tearing down statues of Jefferson and Washington and renaming buildings and institutions were taken by many Americans as not protests but a profound disrespecting of America. The nation’s capital building became a symbol to either defend or mock.

A Move to Polar Extremes and Suddenly Government Matters

Moderate politicians have been forced out of both the Democratic and Republican parties for the past twenty years. The primary system has favored those who can activate a loud loyalist base and targets politicians who have preferred bipartisanship. The test of party purity advanced more extreme right-wing and left-wing politicians, who resemble the talking points of narrow slices of extremist ideology fed on social media and the Internet.

As bipartisan politicians leave Congress and state houses, extremist opinions and laws get enacted. This leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of the minority as the majority advances its agenda without fear of being voted out of office. When a blue state sees a red state dramatically limiting abortion access, it passes laws allowing for legal abortion up until birth, essentially blessing infanticide.

Extremism doesn’t exist in a vacuum; each side feeds the other. Both sides see that government matters as they adopt extremist laws so it drives people to the polls, with the 2020 presidential election having the biggest turnout in 120 years.

Path Forward

There is not one single thing that needs to be done to become a more perfect union and a more perfect planet. The change of administration and broad vaccinations that are underway will certainly help, but much more needs to be done, as the storming of the U.S. Capital building has been years in the making.

  1. Leaders must stop promoting false narratives of “theft.” While there was certainly a media frenzy against Trump (as there was in 2016), there is no proof of massive voter fraud. Republicans must loudly denounce Trump’s comments, not just Democrats. In other parts of the world, we similarly need to stop inflammatory language such as saying “Arab land” which undermines a chance for peace and the UN promoting the notion that Israel is a “colonialist enterprise.”
  2. Don’t normalize violence and calls for violence. Watching U.S. cities burn and Palestinians blowing up buses and pizza stores and then excusing those actions as “justice” and “natural protest” encourages more violence. Denounce the violence, arrest perpetrators and strip those who call for such actions of any funding.
  3. Build Trust and Respect. It will be difficult for the media to turn back the tide and become neutral providers of information, and social media’s business model is built on giving people what they crave. As such, it is important that the source of all articles and information be included with articles. People understand that Fox tilts right and MSNBC tilts left and can thereby understand that they are only presented with half of the story. Regarding respect, people must understand that revolutions produce counter-revolutions and consider that a casual disrespect of someone or something will likely come full circle.
  4. Embrace the Center. While people encourage the idea of a “wide tent” and talking to the “other side” it must be acknowledged that the fringe must remain on the fringe and not have seats of power. People in the right-of-center and left-of-center can have constructive dialogues of compromise while those at the polar extremes can only battle. If the extreme right or left are aiming to “primary” an incumbent in your district, understand that a vote for such politician will leave them off any committees of significance in the capital.

The capture of the nation’s capital did not happen in a vacuum and it is incumbent on all of us to take actions to reverse course on multiple fronts.


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Vote Purple

American society has fractured. Badly.

The middle has been collapsing for some time. Senators like Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and John McCain (R-NV) could no longer exist in today’s political climate. The moderates in both the Republican and Democratic parties have been expunged in their respective primary seasons.

Fringe parties like Democratic Socialist and the Working Families Parties have successfully inserted themselves into America’s main parties. Far left extremists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are no longer on the outside looking in, but have seats in Congress, are members of important committees and been endorsed by the heads of the Democratic National Committee and the Speaker of the House.

In New York State, Democrats forcibly retired politicians that considered bi-partisanship a noble idea. The majority Democratic Party is now looking to seal the fate of the state by actively looking to expel the last of the moderates and achieve a super-majority to advance extremist ideas. The terms “DINO” and “RINO,” Democrats In Name Only and Republicans In Name Only have become slurs.

The dynamics extend beyond state politics and congress. The Democratic Party has selected, Kamala Harris, the most liberal and least bipartisan member of the Senate to be Vice President. They have made clear their intentions to establish long-term changes to America in packing the Supreme Court and adding Washington, D.C. as a new state.

For their part, the Republicans can’t stand the incumbent president of their own party, with dozens upon dozens shunning Trump. It’s an unheard of dynamic in the history of American elections: Republican hate Republicans and Democrats hate Republicans. It sounds like an easy vote this election.

Not so.

The cleft in society will not be bridged with endorsing a party that has swung far from the center. It will also not be cured with a vote for an Independent or Libertarian, which might feel like good, but does as much as throwing a pebble into the trench.

In this contentious election, the best path forward to heal the country is to vote purple – not all blue (Democratic) or pure red (Republican) up and down the ballot, but to vote for a mix of both parties. If you live in a deep blue state, vote straight red, and if you’re in a deep red state, vote blue in every race. Americans must force the parties to find common ground, as a sweep for Democrats or Republicans in 2020 is a vote for extremist ideologies and policies.

The protests in the streets of America have ranged from Black Lives Matter, COVID-19 lockdowns, abortion, immigration policies and more

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The Mason-Dixon Plaid

The Mason-Dixon Line was known as the demarcation between the northern states and the southern states in the US Civil War. The line clearly separated those states in which slavery was prohibited (the Union north of the line) and the slave states (the Confederacy south of the line).

The Civil War waged from 1861 to 1865 and was the bloodiest war in American history with 618,000 killed, more than all other U.S. wars combined (WWII and WWI had 405,000 and 116,000 fatalities, respectively). The death total was roughly 2 per cent of the country, equivalent to over 6 million people today. It is remarkable to think about the millions who fought to preserve (and counter) a preferred form of government, rather than let the country divide seamlessly.

It is difficult to imagine how the Civil War would have played out if the warring parties were not delineated by the neat Mason-Dixon line but a patchwork of alternating states. Would the war have ended faster and with fewer deaths if a few surrounding states ganged up on a common enemy in the middle? Or would the destruction have been far longer and worse for each side with alternating gains and losses on multiple fronts? Imagine if the dynamics were even narrower, with alternating cities and neighborhoods which pit neighbor against fellow neighbor.

A civil war between standing armies would be nearly impossible in such configuration. It would more likely resemble a series of micro-battles in which one square of the plaid pattern attacked another rectangle. A raging riot would break in part of one city and a pogrom in another. Lawlessness would prevail as police forces fragmented between the sides.

It is doubtful such war could conclude with long-term stability and peace. The tensions would likely come to the fore every so often, much like the hundred-year battle between the Arabs and Jews in Israel. Competing visions for a single land is unsustainable as simmering feuds between neighbors and clans never dissipate as people mourn for the loss of family, friends and illusion that the past can be recreated.

The United States is an increasingly polarized society. Radical leftists are taking over the Democratic Party while the Republican Party disembowels itself under President Trump. The alt-left and alt-right visions for America are radically different as the country that once touted itself as the home of the middle class has jettisoned the political moderates. While the deep blue is mostly on the coasts and deep red is predominantly in the middle of the country, the depth of colors offends every non-zealot in every corner.

At this same moment in time, the pandemic has introduced a mindset that one’s neighbors can literally kill them. The notion of “give me liberty (to not wear a mask) or give me death” is being shouted at the man on the street, not a monarch thousands of miles away. The stresses of financial and physical health against a backdrop demanding purity of thought at the risk of losing one’s job have pushed people to the edge.

The Mason-Dixon Plaid has crisscrossed the country amid a pandemic setting the stage for a long and brutal battle pitting neighbor against neighbor. It is being launched with ostracizations and evictions, boycotts and theft, and weapons are being drawn. This civil war will not end when the pandemic eases, but with a turn towards the center where neighbors can speak and listen to jointly compromise on a shared vision for the land.


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End the Civil War Before It Starts: Vote Engel and Schleifer

The tension in U.S. politics has grown progressively worse over the past few years. The center began to crumble several years ago when centrist Democrats felt like there was no room for them in a party lurching leftward (goodbye Evan Bayh (IN) and Joe Lieberman (CT)) and the moderate wing of the Republican party took a whipping with John McCain’s failed run for president in 2008. By 2016, outsiders began to take over each party, when Bernie Sanders (VT), an Independent on the far left extreme had a real shot at being the Democrat’s nominee, and a political novice who spent virtually his entire life as a Democrat named Donald Trump ran through the establishment Republican candidates.

The far left-wing of the Democratic Party was livid with the way Sanders was treated by the party establishment and even more that Trump became president. They organized themselves as “Justice Democrats” and pushed to elect socialists into congress and to rewrite the Democratic platform. They had success in 2018 with the election of a few of their favorites including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (nicknamed “AOC”) and three other women including Rashida Tlaib (MI), Ilhan Omar (MN) and Alyssa Pressley (MA), a group which became known as “The Squad”. These individuals would normally have only been found running on the Working Family’s Party or the Green Party with no shot at winning a seat in a system dominated by two-parties. But they have pushed their way in and are transforming the Democratic Party in a very toxic way, much the way Trump has in the Republican party.

The Justice Democrats are targeting additional seats long held by centrist Democrats in 2020. Two are in lower New York State, including Eliot Engel (NY-16) and the seat vacated by retiring Nita Lowey (NY-17). Their candidates are every bit as extremist as the Squad but with more up-to-date woke initiatives, and will push jobs and people out of the region and add fuel to the budding civil war in the United States.

Adam Schleifer versus Mondaire Jones

There are eight Democrats running for Nita Lowey’s seat, and Jones is currently in the lead according to polls. His vision for America is more radical than AOC, Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, all of whom endorsed him. His goal is best described as give everything away for free and let corporations and the rich pay for it. The fact that the numbers don’t add is irrelevant.

Behind Jones in the polls is Evelyn Farkas and Adam Schleifer. Voting for Farkas is equivalent to voting for former Secretary of State John Kerry (who endorsed her). She is well versed in foreign affairs but that doesn’t mean she has good ideas or capabilities to effectuate good US policies. Adam Schleifer is tied with her for second. He is so mainstream that the New York Times refused to mention his name even while profiling the other seven candidates.

New York Times endorsement of all alt-left candidates, refuses to even mention Adam Schleifer’s name

If you want to avoid being represented by an even worse-AOC or a John Kerry-clone, vote for Schleifer.

Eliot Engel versus Jamaal Bowman

Like Jones, Jamal Bowman is endorsed by the alt-left fringe. His pedigree as a middle school principal makes him as qualified for congress as Trump was for the presidency.

His platform includes:

  • Defunding the police
  • Abolishing the immigration department
  • Quick release bail reform
  • Medicare-for-all
  • Cancelling student debt
  • Free college
  • A full green new deal
  • Pouring additional tens of billions of dollars into the failed public school system rather than restructuring it completely the way he has proposed for the police
  • Expanding labor unions
  • Taxing the rich
  • Making tax payers spend $638 billion to bail out under-funded luxurious union pension funds
  • Paying people to have babies
  • Pushing programs to get the poor to own homes (like the initiatives that created the housing and market collapse in 2008).
  • Using financial pressure on Israel to end the “occupation of the Palestinian people
  • Re-entering the Iranian nuclear deal which gave the leading state sponsor of terrorism a legal pathway to nuclear weapons.

In the same breath as stating support for Iran’s nuclear weapons aspirations, he wrote that the US must “stand up to this far-right authoritarian movement that’s taking place across the world, not cozy up to them, whether that’s in Saudi Arabia, Hungary, Brazil, India, Israel.” Not Iran. Not North Korea. Not China or Venezuela. Israel.

New York voters have a chance to turn the tide against the growing cleft in America by rejecting the extremists running for office and push aggressively to get the vote out for Adam Schleifer (NY-17) and Eliot Engel (NY-16). Primary is June 23.

Adam Schleifer running for Congress


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Ever-Elections, Never-Elections and Controlling Elections

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

Israeli elections again?

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

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

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

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


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Republicans Do Not Believe There is Any “Occupation”

The terminology used by the United Nations that Israel is “illegally occupying Palestinian Land” has angered Israelis for a long time. The Israelis do not believe that the land is “Palestinian,” that they are “occupying it” or that living in and controlling such land is “illegal.”

The Trump Administration agrees with this approach.

The 2016 Republican platform discussed Israel in several sections, including the B.D.S. (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement which it labeled antisemitic, in prioritizing the security needs of allies like Israel over foes, and in moving the U.S. embassy to Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem. It also clearly mentioned Israel’s control over disputed land:

“We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier”

The logic behind such attitude has been voiced by Israel and Israeli advocates for a long time, although it gets no air in the left-wing media. In short:

  • International law in 1920 and 1922 specifically called for Jews to reestablish their homeland throughout Palestine, covering all of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River;
  • The “Green Line” or “1967 border,” is no border at all, but simply the armistice lines of 1949 which were deliberately and specifically not called borders but temporary lines too be negotiated for final settlement;
  • Jordan illegally evicted all the Jews from the area between the Green Line and the Jordan River (an area which later became known as the “West Bank”) and annexed the land in a move which was not recognized by almost the entire world;
  • Jordan broke the Jordanian-Israeli Armistice Agreement by attacking Israel in June 1967;
  • Israel took the “West Bank” in a defensive war, which makes the situation completely distinct from laws regarding taking land in an offensive war, especially when such land was not part of a sovereign nation, and was designated to be part of the acquiring country in any event

In summary, Israel took the “West Bank” back from a country which had illegally evicted all Jews, illegally annexed the land and illegally attacked it (the “Three Illegal Actions”).

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration sided with the United Nations, a group dominated by over 50 Arab and Muslim countries, the majority of which do not recognize Israel in any form. The United States, as part of the “Middle East Quartet,” co-signed a joint statement in September 2016, the final declaration before the Trump Administration took over which included the following:

“The Quartet reiterated its call on the parties to implement the recommendations of the Quartet Report of 1 July 2016, and create the conditions for the resumption of meaningful negotiations that will end the occupation that began in 1967 and resolve all final status issues.”

“The Quartet stressed the growing urgency of taking affirmative steps to reverse these trends in order to prevent entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict that is incompatible with realizing the national aspirations of both peoples.”

The Obama Administration followed this up in December 2016 when it allowed UN Security Council Resolution 2334 to pass which stated:

“the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;”

The Republican and the Democratic Party/UN could not be further apart on this issue.

Since the Trump Administration has taken office, it has followed through on its position on this matter:

  • It has curtailed the announcements made by the Quartet, and none of them refer to an “occupation” of “Palestinian territory” being “illegal”;
  • In June 2019, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that “Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,“; and
  • U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt also stated in June that “We might get there [to peace] if people stop pretending settlements, or what I prefer to call ‘neighborhoods and cities,’ are the reason for the lack of peace.

US Envoy Jason Greenblatt speaks at the Israel Hayom forum in Jerusalem on June 27, 2019. (photo: Gideon Markovitz)


While the two positions seem incompatible, they need not be.

The Republican position is completely logical. Further, how can there really be an enduring peace assuming the Democratic position of blessing an Arab Jew-free state? How can “progressives” support the antisemitic notion that Jews should be banned from living somewhere, let alone, in parts of their homeland?

The Democratic position also has logic. The Palestinian Arabs and the broader Arab world are insistent on Palestinian sovereignty. While sovereignty is NOT an “inalienable right” which the biased United Nations bestowed upon the Palestinians uniquely (only self-determination is an inalienable right of all people), it might not be a bad solution to the current impasse. Should the Palestinian Arabs obtain sovereignty, they will require defined borders. However, such new state of Palestine need not – and should not – be based on the antisemitic notion that Jews cannot live there.

The blend of the positions might be that Palestinians obtain sovereignty over a portion of the land, say in Gaza and land east of the security barrier which Israel built to stem the waves of Palestinian terrorists. It is consistent with both the Democrats and Republicans stated positions of caring about Israel’s security, while acknowledging the substance of the Republican position that the “1967 borders” are arbitrary and not borders, and the Democratic position that a two-state solution is the best path towards a peaceful settlement.

The Trump administration has not yet revealed the political portion of its Middle East plan and may not do so until after the Israeli elections scheduled for September 17. It might call for a new independent Palestinian State on the lines above, or it might suggest some sort of confederation with Jordan, which poses its own issues for Jordan’s King Abdullah.

Either way, the Republicans have clearly broken with the notion endorsed by the Unsavory UN and the Democratic Party that Israel illegally occupies Palestinian Land, and will advance a peace proposal on such basis.


Related First.One.Through articles:

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Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

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The Israeli Peace Process versus the Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

“Settlements” Crossing the Line

Anti-“Settlements” is Anti-Semitism

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The United States Should NOT be a Neutral Mediator in the Arab-Israel Conflict

A “Quartet” of official bodies was set up in 2002 to help facilitate peace between Israel and the Arab world. The four entities include the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia. The principal parties of the Quartet (the U.N. Secretary General, the U.S. Secretary of State, the Russian Foreign Minister and the High Representative of E.U. Foreign Affairs) meet regularly to assess the latest developments in the region.

Roughly 17 years later, there has been little advancement towards a broader peace agreement.

Lately, the acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas (whose term expired a decade ago) said that the United States was too biased in Israel’s favor to be considered a mediator in the conflict sayingby recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel the US government has proved that it is not neutral, which led us to reject its peace plan.” Other complaints include America cutting aid to the Palestinian Authority and U.N. agencies which provide assistance to Palestinians (Abbas did not mention that the aid was cut because he helps fund terrorism).

However, the United States is just one member of the Quartet. Why shouldn’t it have its own bilateral relationship with Israel and approach toward the peace process?

Consider that the United Nations is extremely biased in favor of the Palestinians, essentially adopting them as a child decades ago. It has set up separate agencies just for the Palestinians, condemned Israel more than any country in the world, created new forms of “inalienable rights” uniquely for Palestinian Arabs, and generally has taken actions that make clear it regrets its role in helping establish Israel. The global body has over 50 Arab and Muslim countries, of which the majority do not even recognize the existence of the Jewish State. It is unlikely to ever side with the Jewish State in negotiations with a Muslim state.

The European Union has also been a biased actor in favor of the Palestinians. Several of its members have recognized the State of Palestine, and have promoted boycotts of Israeli goods and services. The proposed incoming High Representative of E.U. Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell Fontelles is a major critic of Israel.

Russia is an ally of several countries at war with Israel including Syria and Iran, which has threatened to destroy Israel. Russia has stated that it will propose an alternative peace plan than the one due to be proposed by the U.S.A.


Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) greets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia,
May 11, 2017. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

With three of the four members of the Quartet biased in favor of the Arabs, it would be a travesty of justice for there to be no party biased in favor of Israel. It is as though the court only has a prosecution with no defense, and the judge is the brother of the prosecutor.

In truth, not only should the United States be highly biased in favor of its strong ally, Israel, there should be at least one other member of the Quartet to be pro-Israel to have a balanced approach. As the United Nations is hopelessly biased against Israel, it should be removed from the Quartet and replaced with another country of Israel’s choice – perhaps Australia, Canada or even India.

Should the United States become the sole mediator of the Arab-Israeli conflict, then it would be worth a discussion of America playing a more neutral role. However, as long as there are four parties playing that role, the U.S. should forcefully advance the cause of Israel, and the U.N. should be replaced in the Quartet by another pro-Israel party to properly balance the discussions.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Legal Israeli Settlements

Both Israel and Jerusalem are Beyond Recognition for Muslim Nations

Time to Define Banning Jews From Living Somewhere as Antisemitic

Jerusalem’s Old City Is a Religious War for Muslim Arabs

Ending Apartheid in Jerusalem

The Custodianship of a Child and Jerusalem

Arabs in Jerusalem

The Arguments over Jerusalem

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The Real Offensive Question of the US Census: Dominican or Cuban?

There is quite a bit of fuss about a particular question in the 2020 census.

Many Democrats are contending that a question asking about the citizenship status of people is an attempt to under-count Hispanics who are often not citizens and will be nervous to check off the “not a U.S. citizen” box in the form in fear of being deported. Many of these non-citizens live in urban areas which vote Democratic, and the Democratic politicians are looking to boost their weight in Congress and budgetary allocations so want to ensure as many people fill out the census forms in Democratic strongholds as possible. Anything which might hurt their personal politics is repulsive.

But the census forms are filled out anonymously. The forms specifically state that the information collected is private and confidential. Are the Democrats worried that the census results will show that the number of people in a census block is much lower than the number of voters, proving severe voting irregularities with many people voting in elections who are non-citizens? That there is a perfect correlation between high levels of non-citizens and newly minted “sanctuary cities”?

According to the US Census Bureau, the citizenship question has been asked for many years, “in 1820, 1830, 1870 and 1890 to present.” Why the sudden hullabaloo?

If people were really concerned about the Hispanic population and not their own politics, why not challenge the government asking about the origin of Hispanics? Why does it matter if someone came to the United States from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba or El Salvador? Will the government use a different dialect of Spanish in some forms? Will it change the meal plans at schools?

The census form has a distinct question about race, not related to the Hispanic question. The race question asks Asians to specify if they are Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese and other. That is understandable as each speaks different languages. Further, the government states that it asks questions about race to “evaluate government programs and policies to ensure they fairly and equitably serve the needs of all racial groups and to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination laws.” Seems fair enough.

But why does the form separate Hispanics into a different category outside of race? The Census Bureau clarifies:

“Though many respondents expect to see a Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish category on the race question, this question is asked separately because people of
Hispanic origin may be of any race(s) in accordance with the 1997 Office of Management and Budget standards on race and ethnicity.”

Are only Hispanics of mixed race? In the race question, respondents are allowed to check off more than one box (say, White and Black), but not so in the Hispanic question. That seems bizarre. A person cannot be both Cuban and Puerto Rican?

When the FBI reports on hate crimes – a pretty good indicator of whether there is discrimination in society – it doesn’t break down the details of “anti-Hispanic or Latino” into Cuban or Dominican, so why is there a need for so much granular detail in the census? In 2017, the number of hate crimes against Jews was more than against Hispanics, Arabs, Asians, Native Americans and Pacific-Islanders COMBINED. If the US government is really concerned about discrimination, why doesn’t the census ask questions about religion?

It is far more likely that the government is extracting details of the country of origin in the census as a matter of mapping international relations. More Mexicans in the US may mean reconsidering trade policy with Mexico, or changing the visa and immigration policy. If the US governments finds a spike in Hondurans in the United States, it might decide to either cap or relax immigration policy with Honduras, and similarly with each of the Latin American countries where the majority of US immigrants are coming from.

That’s a real concern for the Hispanic community which no one discusses.

If Democrats really cared about the Hispanic community and not about their own personal politics, it would attempt to abolish the census question which might limit immigration from Latin America, not the power of Democratic kingpins.


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