Is Ilhan Omar’s Mentor the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei?

Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has gotten herself into repeated hot water for attacks on Israel and its supporters, as many people have viewed her comments as anti-Semitic. She is emblematic of a new group of alt-left politicians who squarely focus on Israel and any of its perceived misdeeds.

It is a curious phenomenon, not only because Israel is the most liberal country in the Middle East / North Africa (MENA) region by far, but that people like Omar pay no attention to their native countries as they attack Israel.

Consider an important point for progressives – the death penalty. Only Israel and Oman had zero executions and zero people sentenced to death in 2017 among the MENA countries. In Omar’s native Somalia, 24 people were executed by the government, almost double the total of 14 in 2016.

Israel is one of only five countries in MENA in which being gay is legal. In several countries, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, being gay is a capital offense, with most gays hung from cranes in the center of the city. In Ilhan’s native Somalia, being gay is punishable with jail time.

The dynamic is much the same regarding women’s rights. Israel is one of only five MENA countries that score in the top half of the world’s rankings for inclusion, justice and safety for women. Ilhan’s native Somalia is ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for women. It is estimated that 95% of females in Somalia have forced genital mutilation. It is ranked as the worst country for maternal health.

The problems for Somalia continue. It is ranked as number 180 out of 180 by Transparency International Corruption Index, the worst country in the world. Israel ranked as number 34 out of 180, in the top quintile.

Somalia is considered the worst countries to be a journalist according to the Global Impunity Index of 2017 – worse than even Syria and Iraq.

Regardless of the issue – gay rights, women’s rights, environmental matters, animal rights, freedom of speech, press and religion – Israel performs better than its neighbors. It is in a completely different league than Somalia which is one of the worst counties in the world by every measure.

So why would an immigrant from Somalia to the United States focus so much of her attention on a small country thousands of miles from the United States? Why would a new member of Congress not be concerned with her failed native land? Is it in her constituents’ interests for her to be admonished by fellow Democrats for an obsessive focus on Israel?

As detailed in “Rep. Ilhan Omar and The 2001 Durban Racism Conference,” many Arab and Muslim countries – and their supporters – believe that Israel is an inherently racist enterprise, built on the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Palestinian Arabs and the theft of Muslim holy lands. They believe that the supporters of such evil regime – the United States being the most powerful – are either evil and racist themselves (like Donald Trump), or are being manipulated by Zionist forces.  All of Ilhan Omar’s comments to date seemingly support this viewpoint: the Jewish State is racist and that pro-Zionists are racists and/or are manipulated by racist puppet-masters. Sounds pretty anti-Semitic, no?

Should Omar want to wash the stain of obsessive anti-Zionism which is very much tied to anti-Semitism, there is a simple action she could take: clearly declare that Israel has a right to exist in peace and security. Without such statement, no one will consider anything else she has to say. Other helpful actions would include:

  • Acknowledging the Jewish people’s long history in the holy land going back thousands of years, including being the majority of Jerusalem since the 1860’s
  • Acknowledging that the Jewish people have a right to self-determination
  • Acknowledging that Israel is a liberal democracy
  • Acknowledging Israel’s remarkable contributions to the world in the areas of technology and medicine
  • Acknowledging that all people in the United States have a right to advocate for the causes they hold dear, including the pro-Israel community
  • Considering Israel within the scope of its neighbors, and not pretending it resides in a peaceful neighborhood like Sweden
  • Considering the Israel-Palestinian Conflict within the scope of other territorial disputes, including: Cyprus-Turkey; Morocco-Western Sahara; China-Tibet; and India-Pakistan over Kashmir

No one will ever claim that anyone or any country is perfect; that’s the beauty and shame of being human. In being flawed, there is always room for improvement. Constructive criticism from a friend is an important part of growing. People who love America want America to be better, and people who love Israel want Israel to be better.

However, what is most unwelcome is for someone with no connection and no relationship to the country and who hasn’t shared a positive word, to chastise it on a global stage and urge for punitive actions. How much hatred must such a person harbor to go out of their way and ignore much worse and more immediate issues, to assault a people who have been subject to more hatred and attacks than any people on earth?

Omar tweeted in August 2017 “Syria’s Assad has become an icon of the far right in America,” suggesting that some Americans were interested in murdering hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens. She cannot be surprised if some of her fellow Americans who proudly support the Jewish State compare her and her alt-left comrades to the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who seeks a new Muslim Caliphate and the destruction of Israel. This is the echo of Omar’s own words.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Real “Symbol of the Conflict” is Neta Sorek

Existing While Jewish

BDS is a Movement by Radical Islamists and Far-Left Progressives to Block Your Freedoms

Farrakhan’s Democrats

This July 4, I am Leaving the Democratic Party that Left Me Long Ago

Racist Calls of Apes and Pigs? Forget Rosanne. Let’s Talk Islam

When Hate Returns

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

What do you Recognize in the Palestinians?

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through Israel Analysis and FirstOneThrough

Advertisements

The UN Hates Israel More Than it Cares About Women

The United Nations’ bias against Israel has a long disgraceful history. Whether the 1973 “Zionism is Racism” declaration or the disproportionate number of resolutions against Israel every year, the global body continues to unleash its anger at the Jewish State.

Complementing the UN’s attacks on Israel is the elevated concern for Palestinians. Whether with unique agencies for the descendants of Palestinian internally-displaced people versus a separate agency for actual refugees from around the world, or other special agencies for these people without a country, the UN continues to show particular attention to this one group.

And so it should perhaps come as no surprise that when the UN decided to hold a conference about the state of women in the world in March 2018 called ““Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls,” that it should highlight the plight of a single group of women that suffer – Palestinians.

This is no exaggeration. Countries from around the world assembled because of concern that “rural women continued to be discriminated against, marginalized and economically and socially disadvantaged; urged Governments to enact laws to ensure women’s land, property and inheritance rights; and called on stakeholders to address the digital divide that disproportionately affected rural women and girls.” But focusing on global issues facing women wasn’t enough.

The UN thought that the situation of Palestinian women needed unique attention. A special session. Particular affirmation.

For 17 pages the United Nations rehashed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the rubric that it was concerned about women. And the countries assembled for the task of addressing the plight of all women adopted the ridiculous inclusion of the Palestinian narrative, with a recorded vote of 30 in favor, 4 opposing (Canada, Guatemala, Israel and the UK) and 11 abstentions.

Bret Stephens noted on March 23, 2018 that “the U.N. is a never-ending scandal disguised as an everlasting hope.” It proves it every day.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The UN Declares that Palestinian Arabs Should Not Show “Restraint”

Ban Ki Moon Defecates on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Stopping the Purveyors of Hateful Propaganda

UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants September 2016

What’s “Outrageous” for the United Nations

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

Where’s the March Against Anti-Semitism?

The weekend of January 20, 2018 saw another run of the Women’s March around the United States. Various cities including New York City, Chicago and Washington DC had famous speakers address the crowds who came out to speak on behalf of a range of issues related to women’s rights ranging from equal pay, sexual violence and abortion.

Several groups still felt left out of the second annual march, including black women and the LGBT community. Those communities argued that it is women of color and the gay women that are suffering the most crimes, but the agenda had been controlled principally by straight white women.

They are not wrong on that first point.

The FBI produces a review of hate crime every year, and in November 2017 it published its report of Hate Crime Statistics in the US for 2016. The raw data supports the contention that blacks suffer many more hate crimes than whites or Hispanics, especially on a proportionate basis. It is even more true that the LGBT community suffers disproportionately. With an estimated population of 10 million in the United States, the 1,386 hate crimes committed against LGBT people meant that they were over 2.5 times more likely to be attacked than an average black person, who suffered 2,220 hate crimes among a black population of 43 million.

But the reality is that the group that suffers the most hate crimes are Jews. Year-in and year-out. And no one speaks up for them at these marches.

While one out of every 19,359 blacks suffered a hate crime, and one out of every 7,215 LGBT people were attacked, the staggering fact of 2016 was that one out of every 6,148 Jews was the victim of a hate crime (862 attacks against a population of 5.3 million).

But the women’s marches did not address rampant Jew hatred. In 2017 they opted instead to invite Israel-basher Linda Sarsour to address the crowds. In 2018, many Jewish groups participated in the march, but did not bring up antisemitism and simply focused on the issue of women’s rights.

The black and LGBT community actively pushed their narrow agenda forward, but Jewish groups were reluctant to do so. Which groups were correct in how they handled their involvement in the march?

More pointedly, where is the national march against antisemitism? How is it that cities can gather thousands of people to stand up to “Islamophobia,” but cannot even gather dozens to speak out against the more prevalent antisemitism?


Related First.One.Through articles:

Ramifications of Ignoring American Antisemitism

Leading Gay Activists Hate Religious Children

The Selfishness, Morality and Effectiveness of Defending Others

New York Times Finds Racism When it Wants

Pride. Jewish and Gay

Black People are Homophobic

Your Father’s Anti-Semitism

Totalities

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

 

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

The New York Times has been advancing the notion that liberal values are popping up in the Middle East. Despite the actual murder and mayhem brought by the “Arab Spring,” the Times published articles about the advancement of women’s rights in Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as the acceptance of the gay and lesbian communities in Lebanon.

These recent phenomena may be true, but it is interesting that Israel is never mentioned in the articles – the one country that has equality for women and the LGBT community.

LGBT Rights

Consider the December 31, 2017 article “Coming Out in Lebanon, and Helping it to be More Tolerant.” The article detailed that most of the countries in the Middle East have laws punishing homosexual activity, naming several Arab countries before highlighting the unique position of Lebanon:

Throughout the Middle East, gay, lesbian and transgender people face formidable obstacles to living a life of openness and acceptance in conservative societies.

Although Jordan decriminalized same-sex behavior in 1951, the gay community remains marginalized. Qatar, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen all outlaw same-sex relations. In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality can be punished by flogging or death.

In Egypt, at least 76 people have been arrested in a crackdown since September, when a fan waved a rainbow flag during a concert by Masrou’ Leila, a Lebanese band with an openly gay singer.

If there is one exception, it has been Lebanon. While the law can still penalize homosexual acts, the society has slowly grown more tolerant as activists have worked for more rights and visibility.”

This is preposterous. The “one exception” of tolerance “throughout the Middle East” is Israel, not Lebanon.

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) produced detailed reports about the countries of the world that  protect or criminalize LGBT relationships. In every year, Israel stands out as an island of acceptance for the LGBT community for thousands of miles.

From Morocco to Taiwan and from South Africa to Russia, there is a single country that has laws protecting the LGBT community. And it is not Lebanon, but Israel.


The New York Times December 31, 2017 article on page 10 claiming that Lebanon is the only country in the Middle East with gay rights.

Women’s Rights

On December 29, 2017, the New York Times published an article on its cover page called “Unlikely Iranian-Saudi Race: Easing Restrictions on Women.” The article advanced the notion that Iran and Saudi Arabia are both slowly easing restrictions on women in their countries in a competitive environment of liberalization. Saudi Arabia changed laws allowing women to drive, so Iran eased the law regarding women wearing a hijab.

The article quoted “Suad Abu-Dayyeh, a Palestinian who is the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) consultant for Equality Now, a global women’s advocacy group.” The article noted that “she was cautious about concluding that the changes in Iran were related to the Saudi relaxation,” but she did state that “any advancement in any country will really affect the situation in the neighboring countries.

And still, the New York Times did not mention Israel which leads the MENA region in women’s rights.

If the Times really believed in the concept that it opted to cite, that the activity in one country could influence the actions in neighboring countries, why not mention the country that leads the entire region in human rights, especially for women and the LGBT communities? Is it too remarkable to assume that the countries in the region are trying to catch up with Israel, whether in technology, the economy or human rights? Saudi Arabia announced its Vision 2030 plans just a few months ago, as noted by the NY Times on October 25, 2017, that the country needed to move beyond oil into technology. Are all of these events regarding the economy and human rights simply coincidences with no relationship to the marvel of Israel next door?

In the closing days of 2017, the Times sought to educate its readership that the Muslim and Arab countries are in the process of liberal reformation – on their own. The paper did so while deliberately excluding the factual presence of Israel in the Middle East and its possible positive influence of reforming the Muslim nations in the region.

The New York Times has moved beyond the “pinkwashing” of Israel into new levels of #AlternativeFacts.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Gay Rights in the Middle East

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

I’m Offended, You’re Dead

Politicians React to Vile and Vulgar Palestinian Hatred

Honor Killings in Gaza

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

 

The Misogyny of Treating Women like Victims

On January 21, 2017, the streets of Washington D.C. were flooded with a Women’s March to protest the election of President Donald Trump. The group was clearly angry that the nation did not elect the first women president, their preferred candidate Democrat Hillary Clinton. Even more, they came to voice their concerns about what President Trump might do to abortion rights. The ultimate position paper of the march’s organizers spanned a wide range of issues beyond core women’s issues like abortion, to concerns like minimum wage, union rights, immigration policy and clean air.

But back to core women’s issues.

Donald Trump initially caused a stir when he said during a presidential debate in March 2016 that women who perform illegal abortions should be punished. After a loud public outcry, Trump back-peddled from his statement. In October 2016, he amended his comments that he is pro-life and would appoint judges with similar opinions, but ultimately the decisions regarding abortions would be left to each state. The outcry against his comments continued, but this time he did not reverse his position.

So who would get punished for abortion? Trump said If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb.

Many women’s rights organizations were happy with this Trump statement, albeit still concerned about his other pro-life statements. They shouldn’t be. Their agreement that a woman is always the victim is arguably more misogynistic than curtailing abortion rights.

womens-march-dc
Women’s March in Washington D.C. January 2017

Abortion

The Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade permitted abortions up until the time that a fetus was viable outside of the womb, roughly 24 weeks at that time (the viability is closer to 20 to 22 weeks today due to advances in medicine). That means that an abortion after viability is not a legal procedure, unless there were particular circumstance like a threat to the mother’s life. In 2014, there was just a small number of such late-term procedures, 1.3% of all abortions. Most states (43) place limits on late term abortions.

What is the punishment for the 1.3% of women who get abortions after 20 weeks? There is no comprehensive information. People assume that late-term abortions must only happen when the mother’s life is at stake, but the reality is that very few abortions overall happen due to the “big three” issues that abortion-rights advocates site as additional arguments to gather support for abortion: rape; incest; and risk to the life of the mother. The vast majority of abortions happen because the mother is concerned about her work or her partner, or the financial ability to support the baby.

So consider a woman that is eight months pregnant who breaks up with her partner and therefore no longer wants to keep the baby. Should the doctor performing the abortion procedure be the sole party punished for killing a perfectly viable fetus? Should the woman escape all liability for such a decision? That would be a mockery of justice.

The Women’s March claimed that Women’s Rights are Human Rights. Indeed they are. But baby rights are human rights too.

Prostitution

The march’s position paper of 16 bullet points chose to not call for the legalization of prostitution, a curious call for a group that demanded “gender justice.. for the power to control our bodies and be free of gender norms, expectations and stereotypes.

Are the march’s organizers so puritanical that they cannot imagine women willingly be paid to have sex?

This is not just on the march’s organizers, but on society as well. Our government has inverted policies regarding prostitution laws, where new laws in the country seek to punish the purchasers of the service (the “johns”) instead of the prostitutes themselves.  This is a clear inconsistency of punishing the purchaser of the illegal services for prostitution (typically men), but only the service provider in the case of abortion (the doctor). Logic would suggest that either the person paying for the service in each instance is punished (the woman in abortion and man for prostitution) or the service provider (the prostitute and the doctor). Instead, society has chosen to have an overriding concern to not punish women in each case.

That is wrong.

To respect women is to hold them accountable. Women cannot claim complete control of their bodies unless they assume FULL RESPONSIBILITIES for their bodies, as well. In that regard, the women’s rights movement and society should finally push for legalized prostitution and for the punishment of women who perform late-term abortions for non-medical reasons.

It is time for the women’s rights activist and society to stop being so protective of women as to treat them as passive wards of the state.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Broken Glass Ceiling in Politics Hides the Importance of Education

Leading Gay Activists Hate Religious Children

Honor Killings in Gaza

Music video about marrying for money (music by Abba)

Music video about abortion (music The Killers)

Music video on Women Abuse in Southeast Asia (music by Bon Jovi)

Music video on Lack of Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia (music by The Cars)

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

The Broken Glass Ceiling in Politics Hides the Importance of Education

As the United States prepares to elect its first female president, women in the United States will celebrate the shattering of the ultimate glass ceiling. And while the event is momentous, it undermines a critical point: the key to gender equality is not in electing women into government nor simply advancing women in the workforce.

It is in EDUCATING women, and then giving them the opportunities to advance.

Women in Democracies

The  World Economic Forum (WEF) did a ranking of gender equality around the world.  It considered several factors including: health, education, workforce participation and political empowerment. The Scandinavian countries rocked the rest of the world. Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden ranked numbers 1 to 4, with Denmark did not do badly at #14.  The USA came in at #28, right in front of Cuba.

Why did the US fair so poorly? Almost singularly because so few women have been elected to government office, not just the presidency. A secondary reason was labor force participation and wage equality.

women-role

And which countries led the world in those two categories?

For political empowerment, Rwanda, Bolivia and Cuba, all had roughly 50% women in the governments according to the Inter-parliamentary Union.  The United States ranked #97 at only 19.4%. That was lower than Saudi Arabia!

Regarding women in the workforce, Tanzania, Madagascar and Rwanda topped the list, according to the World Bank, each with over 86% of the women in the workforce.  Only 56% of American women were in the workforce in 2014, trailing Mongolia and Gabon.  Quite a poor showing.

But are those factors – women in government and the workforce – truly indicative of gender equality? Consider the statistics where women truly fair poorly- the Middle East.

Women in the Middle East

The position of women in the Middle East is much worse than in the western democracies. According to the WEF, the MENA region had by far the worst gender gap relative to any region. The exception was Israel, which while being in the heart of the Middle East, resembled the world’s democracies much more than its neighbors.

women-middle-east-government
In the 1000-mile region around Israel, Sudan (yes, that Sudan) led the region in the percentage of governmental positions held by women. One would therefore imagine that women fair the best in Sudan, if that is a metric for scoring gender equality.

Nope.  Sudan treat women horribly.

According to a 2013 Thomson Reuters Foundation survey, Sudan “allows for domestic abuse, child marriage and marital rape. Sexual violence is common and often goes unpunished.” It is estimated that over 12 million women have undergone genital mutilation in Sudan, and article 152 of the penal code justifies arresting and flogging women just for the way they dress.

Clearly not a good correlation between women in government and gender equality.

women-middle-east-workforce

When it comes to women’s participation in the workforce, Israel led the region, just ahead of Cyprus. At the other extreme, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq and Jordan had almost no women working, which would suggest that the workforce is a logical barometer of gender equality.

However, consider that Tanzania had the highest percentage of women in the workforce in the world, and only obtaining a ranking by the WEF of #49 overall.  The low ranking reflected the fact that almost no women in the country received proper education and their literacy rate was extremely low.  So while women owned businesses and were in the workforce, they made a fraction of what men earned.

So workforce participation is also not a simple straight reflection of gender equality.

Education+

As described above, a high percentage of women in the workforce and in government does not yield a society which fully respects women and provides gender equality.  Women must have a proper education – on par with men – to properly achieve equality.

Not surprisingly, countries that deny girls a proper education have a terrible record regarding women’s rights.  The worst offending countries are in southeast Asia and include: India; Cambodia; Pakistan; Nepal and Afghanistan. These countries dominate the world in acid attacks against women that leave women as “walking dead” for dishonoring their families. They also are among the leaders of honor killings of women.

But a proper education in itself is not a pathway to gender equality. Consider Saudi Arabia, which receives high marks for educating women, but then does not allow women to progress in society. They are prohibited from driving or going out without a male escort. Women are discouraged from working and have zero political empowerment.

The key for gender equality is education-plus.  A proper education and an ability to be a full participating part of society.

Israel’s Women

The education+ format is what helped Israel stand apart from the rest of the MENA region.Overall, the ranking for MENA were:

  • Israel #53
  • Kuwait #117
  • UAE #119
  • Qatar #122
  • Bahrain #123
  • and it went downhill from there

How did Israel’s #53 ranking fair on the world stage?  Ahead of:

  • Singapore #54
  • Croatia #59
  • El Salvador #62
  • Chile #73
  • Czech Republic #81
  • Brazil #85
  • Greece #87

Israel achieved the relatively high ranking because of education+.

Israel ranked #1 in the world when it comes to women enrolled in primary, secondary and tertiary schools.  It also ranked #1 in terms of women in technical professions (not surprisingly, because of the terrific education).

Beyond the pure figures, how does Israel treat women? Consider the report from the European Union (no friend of Israel) that concluded in a report:

International rankings of women’s equality rank Israel well among the countries in the EuroMediterranean region. Women are increasingly represented across all levels of civil society, spanning the political, legislative and judicial systems, government corporations, the general labour market and the military. Workplace laws are progressive and women-friendly and Gender Based Violence (GBV) in terms of rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, early marriage and killings in the name of “family honour” in Israel is comparatively low internationally.
Programmes to advance the rights of women have been promoted at all levels of government and civil society. With respect to women in the workplace, the state established the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) to monitor labour law compliance. It has allocated increased funding to subsidize child care centres to allow more women with small children to re-enter the workforce, hosted awareness and educational programs about proper workplace practices, launched a website with information about women’s issues, offered training and professional guidance courses to women, and held seminars for teachers on how to encourage girls to excel in mathematics and exact sciences.”

An excellent example of the fruits that come from education+


With the election of Hillary Clinton, the United States will jump in the WEF ranking considerably.  While the bump in ranking is nice, the US should be proud of the long history of promoting top quality education for women.

Even more, people should not lose sight that the key to gender parity does not lie with electing a woman as president, but by ensuring that women have a great education and the opportunities to pursue any vocation of their choosing.

It is a shame that the United Nations missed delivering the world that important message as it named the female comic book hero Wonder Woman as its Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. Although it is nice that Wonder Woman is played by a proud Israeli!


Related First.One.Through articles:

Israel, the Liberal Country of the Middle East

In Israel, the winner is…Democracy

The Sad Assault on Women in the Middle and Far East

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

A Flower in Terra Barbarus

Israel’s Peers and Neighbors

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

 

Israel, the Liberal Country of the Middle East

Summary: Israel is by far the most liberal country of the entire Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). It is also probably the most liberal country from Western Europe to Australia and down to South Africa.

Diversity of population. Israel has a diverse population. The majority, 75%, are Jewish, about 20% Arab Muslims, and the balance of 5% a mix of Christians, Baha’i, Druze and others. Almost all of the MENA region is 90%+ Muslim, with a large number being almost completely Arab Muslim (Morocco; Tunisia; Iran; Yemen; Iraq; Jordan; Turkey; Algeria; Gaza and EGL; Saudi Arabia; Libya; Egypt; Syria). Lebanon is the only other country in the region with some diversity.

Equal Justice. Israel administers its legal system to all levels of society.  Consider that both a former Prime Minister and President were sentenced to jail for general crimes such as bribery and sexual assault (as opposed to a method to remove a dictator). They were afforded no special privileges compared to ordinary citizens.

Salim_Joubran
Salim Joubran, Israeli Arab Supreme Court Judge

Women’s Rights. Women in Israel have full rights of equality including the ability to vote, inheritance, walk in public alone, drive, etc. These are rights that are not found in much of the MENA region. Saudi Arabia has virtually no rights for women.  The new 20th Knesset will have 29 women– 24% of the parliament, significantly higher than the 16% of women in the US congress.

shaked
Ayelet Shaked, Member of Knesset

Free Speech, Assembly and Press. Israel permits freedom of expression. Freedom House ranked Israel as the only country in MENA with a free press for several years, and just added Tunisia. The MENA region continues to be the most repressive in terms of freedoms in the entire world, such as Turkey which leads the world in jailing the most journalists.

african protest
Thousands of illegal African immigrants protest in front of parliament

Freedom of Religion. Israel allows people of all faiths the freedom to practice their religion. This compares to much of the MENA region which has criminal laws against apostasy– changing one’s religion from Islam to something else- even though such right is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A growing number of countries in Europe have begun to restrict freedom of religion including bans on minarets at mosques, head coverings in public and permitting kosher and halal foods.

mormon
Mormon church in Jerusalem built with assistance of Israeli government

Gay Rights. According to a gay rights group, ILGA, Israel was the only country to get a perfect score on gay rights in the region between Western Europe, South Africa and Australia. For example, Israel permits gay couples to adopt children and serve openly in the army , something which many western countries do not permit. In some MENA countries such as Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Mauritania, gays are actually publicly executed by the government.

gays in israel
Gays in Israel

Environmental Matters. Israel is a “green” country. It leads the world in recycling plastic, having surpassed Europe in 2012. It created the first commercial wind farm in MENA and the first permanent bike sharing program. It leads the word in drip irrigation technology. It was one of only two countries in the world to have more trees entering the 21st century than it had in the 20th due to forestation efforts.

windfarm
Wind Farm in the Golan

Open Public Office. People of all backgrounds and faiths are allowed to serve in the Israeli government, to become Prime Minister, serve in every branch of the military and Supreme Court. The new 20th Knesset will have 17 Arabs – 14% of the parliament. This compares to 8% black representation in the US Congress. Many countries, like Syria, restrict the participation of people who are not Muslims from participating in public office.

Ayoub_Kara
Ayoub Kara, Druze MK from Likud Party

Death Penalty. Israel only has a single reason for sentencing someone to death – crimes against humanity – which it has carried out only once: fifty years ago for Adolf Eichmann for his role in the Holocaust. Much of the MENA region uses capital punishment for a range of offenses including: apostasy; adultery; drug trafficking; being gay; murder; witchcraft; and prostitution.

Abortion. Abortion is legal in Israel for a variety of circumstances. It is illegal in almost the entire rest of the MENA region, with the exception of Tunisia.

The Arts. Israel is the only country in the MENA region to have both an opera house and a ballet company.  Opera exists in Israel, Oman and Syria and ballet companies are in Israel, Tunisia, Egypt, UAE and Iran.

opera
Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center

Animal Rights. Israel became only the third country/ entity (after the European Union and Norway) to ban the sale of cosmetics that were tested on animals.

Human Body Rights. Israel permits full control of a person’s body including tattoos, body piercings and prostitution. More neighboring countries are enforcing bans on tattoos and piercings such as Turkey. Lebanon and Israel are the only countries in MENA that permit and regulate prostitution.

tattoo

Protecting Women. Israel passed a law that bans the use of underweight models to prevent women from becoming anorexic.

barrefaeli
Israeli model Bar Refaeli

Universal Healthcare.  Many countries in the Middle East provide universal healthcare including: Israel; Kuwait; Bahrain; and UAE.

 

Israel. An open society in the middle of the Middle East.


Related First One Through article

Israel: Security in a small country

In Israel, the winner is…Democracy

Honor Killings in Gaza

The Unmentioned Murders of the Middle East

Honor killings have a sad history throughout the Muslim world. Many families deliberately and systematically kill wives and daughters if there is any suspicion of the women bringing “dishonor” to the family. The cause of such shame may come from actual or feared adultery, refusal to marry a designated spouse, or even dressing inappropriately. The cultural rationale for the honor killings is that by murdering the offending women, honor is restored to the families.

Gaza and the West Bank are similar to other parts of the Muslim world regarding the reasons for honor killings. However, the recent spike in the number of killings in the territories has been very dramatic and atypical. In 2011, there were five such murders in the territories. The number of homicides jumped to 13 in 2012, and doubled again to 27 in 2013. In just the first two months of 2014, 8 honor killings were reported by Palestinian media sources, a pace that would have put it on course for nearly doubling again.

By comparison, in Afghanistan an estimated 150 women are killed each year in honor killings. Afghanistan has over eight times the population of Gaza and West Bank, and 18 times Gaza alone. Therefore, on a proportionate basis, the Palestinians now kill twice as many women in honor killings as Afghanistan (or over three times as many if one only counts Gaza where most of the murders take place).

Adding insult to these horrific murders increasing popularity, was the lax way such murders were treated in Palestinian courts. According to the Palestinian Law (Article 340), the killers were not subject to any punishment.

He who discovers his wife or female relative committing adultery and kills,
wounds or injuries one or both of them is exempted from any penalty,
and he who discovers his wife, or one of his female ascendants or descendants
or sisters with another in an unlawful bed and he kills, wounds or injures one
or both of them, benefits from a reduction of penalty
.”

The terrible jump in honor killing of women in Gaza and the West Bank did not make it to the pages of The New York Times. The courts absolution granted to the murderers was not a subject that the Times decided to cover. In 2011. In 2012. In 2013. In 2014.

The closest the New York Times came to an article about the Palestinians’ disregard for a woman’s life in the territories was in an article by Jodi Rudoren in October 2012. That article was about a particular women’s rights advocate. While one would imagine some specifics about the lack of women’s rights and a review of honor killings being covered in such an article, there was barely any mention.

  • There was no description of honor killings
  • No report on the increasing number of killings
  • No review of Palestinian Law absolving the murderers

Instead, Roduren chose to describe the difficulty of a specific woman acting as a rights advocate in Gaza (as opposed to the hardship all women face in Gaza). Of course, according to Roduren, the main source of the hardship was Israel:

  • ““psychological siege” imposed by a combination of Israeli restrictions on travel and trade”
  • “lost a personal battle last month when Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition by her and three other women to study in the West Bank.”
  • “the resistance of the Israeli occupation as a priority,”
  • Israeli court ruled, 2 to 1, against the four women
  • “Israeli warplane hit an apartment building”

So what does a reader take-away from the New York Times?

    1. While the New York Times occasionally covered stories of honor killings in Afghanistan or Pakistan, it never covered those killings in Gaza, despite the greater prevalence in Gaza.
    2. When the paper had a chance to describe the honor killings in Gaza in an article about a woman’s rights advocates, it opted not to do so.
    3. The thrust of the sole article on the morbid topic laid most of the blame on Israel, as opposed to the Palestinians themselves

Hooray New York Times. You gave a pass for Mulim misogyny and murder meted out by Palestinians. Absolution of the Arab sins came from Jews just across the Green Line.

It would be much more convenient for the left-wing fringe if Israel bordered Pakistan and Afghanistan as well, so they could blame Jews for the entire reprehensible ritual.

honor_killings


Sources:

Jump in 2014 Honor Killings and Palestinian Law Article 340: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/03/palestine-honor-crime-women-abuse-law-abbas.html#

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/03/upsurge-palestinian-honour-killings-gaza-201432372831899701.html

http://www.mezan.org/en/details.php?id=18419&ddname=honour&id_dept=9&p=center

Jodi Rudoren NY Times 2012 article on Honor Killings: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/13/world/middleeast/andalib-adwan-shehada-a-bold-voice-for-gaza-women.html

CNN coverage of honor killings back in 2009: http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/07/30/mideast.honor.killings/

Saudi Arabia, “Ally” of the United States

The USA has many allies in the world. Many are natural due to common language or culture between the countries (such as United Kingdom and Canada). These allies have deep relationships that extend beyond military ties between the governments. The connections extend to the populations where there are natural flows of business and tourism. The relationships extend to the founding of the countries.

Other American allies developed over time for a number of reasons. A country may have discovered valuable natural resources (such as oil) or the geographical location of the country may have grown in significance because of evolving military dynamics. Other than such practical (sometimes temporary) reasons, the countries may share little in common. Saudi Arabia is such an example.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has one of the most repressive governments in the world. Minorities have virtually no rights and women have few freedoms. Still, the US government chooses to ignore Saudi policies and distrust between the populations, and focuses narrowly on Saudi oil and military cooperation between the countries.  US President Obama underscored the point again on September 10, 2014, with an announcement of strategic military cooperation.

On the 13th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11/01, it is worth remembering that 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Countries with few common values will always remain tenuous friends.

A political music video (music by The Cars):


Sources:

http://nypost.com/2014/09/10/obama-moves-to-aide-syrian-rebels-in-fight-against-isis/

lashes

The Sad Assault on Women in the Middle and Far East

The world recently heard of horrific attacks on women in the Middle and Far East.

Last week, the world saw a video of a 19-year old woman fleeing a gang rape in Egypt in the middle of the presidential inaugural celebration in Tahrir Square. Remarkably, she was luckier than other recent victims.

Two weeks ago in India, two girls- aged 15 and 14 – were gang-raped and then strangled and hung from trees near their homes.

In Pakistan, an 18-year girl was raped by 5 men. After the police released the men, she set herself on fire outside of the police station.

pakistan girl on fire
Pakistani rape victim dies after setting herself on fire when her attackers were released,
March 2014

The treatment of women in much of the world is appalling. From the youngest age, women are often restricted from gaining an education. These girls are then married off (often under 14 years old) to much older men and become completely dependent on them for survival. Should these young women challenge the system and go to school or spur a marriage proposal, they are often attacked and disfigured for life.

In such a world, a woman’s mind is neither nurtured nor respected.  Her opinions are neither noted nor considered.  Her role rests solely as sexual partner and mother.  It is therefore both terrible and unsurprising, that sexual assaults on teenaged girls would flourish in such an environment.

A music video by First.One.Through with music by Bon Jovi about the terrible attacks on women:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVYCGxwobIE


Related First.One.Through articles:

Honor Killings in Gaza: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/honor-killings-in-gaza/