The Arab Spring Blooms in the UAE

The Arab Spring began in December 2010 with a cry for help from a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire. The self-immolation quickly spread as widespread protests in other Muslim Arab countries where people sought to overturn backwards authoritarian regimes which were not accountable to its citizens. The masses were seemingly tired of the kleptocracy of the ruling class, the lack of investment in education and technology to enable a 21st century economy, as well as arbitrary rules and restrictions in daily lives. The western world assumed the multi-country protests would also lead to modifications to the entrenched religious laws prohibiting basic human rights like converting from Islam and women’s emancipation, and to the elimination of executions for “crimes” like homosexuality and adultery.

The dream faded for both the local Arabs and the West.

The West watched as Egypt threw out its autocratic regime to replace it with a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood. Much like the Palestinian Arabs who voted the terrorist group Hamas to a majority of its parliament, it seemed that the Arab masses simply craved a different type of authoritarian regime. In short order, the brotherhood was tossed out by an Egyptian military takeover. Three regimes in Egypt in two short years.

The leader in Yemen departed only to have a civil war emerge with Iranian-backed Houthis on one side and Saudi Arabian-backed rebels on the other. There was no celebrating the change in government as death knocked on every door.

The local Arabs in Syria fought their own civil war. The Syrian leader was not able to quash the rebellion with a mere 20,000 dead as his father was able to do in Hama in 1982, and has slaughtered 30 times the number (and counting) with the help of Russia and Iran. Syrians now long for the old status quo when at least they had their lives and homes with the same maniac in charge.

But in August 2020, one small country was able to rise above old hatreds and backwards thinking. The United Arab Emirates announced publicly that it would recognize and normalize relations with Israel. While arguably a non-event for two countries which had never fought a war to establish political and commercial dealings, the break from the regional antisemitic thinking was shocking, meaningful and completely refreshing.

Over the last few years the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia decided to allow women to drive, Lebanon became more accepting of homosexuality and now the UAE has reached out to the Jewish State. While it may take many years for the Arab Spring to revolutionize the ruling class, at least some countries are moving past historic antisemitic, homophobic and misogynistic patriarchal sentiments. Hopefully more will follow.

The Tel Aviv municipality building lights up with the UAE flag on August 13, 2020, after the announcement of the Israel-UAE normalization deal brokered by the US. (Tel Aviv municipality/Twitter)

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J Street Shows its Disdain for Israel in Criticism of Pompeo

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo broke with traditional norms by addressing the Republican National Convention this week. Various media outlets covered the controversy of a sitting Secretary of State speaking at a political convention when historic practice is that such position is beyond party politics. Consider the headlines:

  • NYTimes: “Radical Break From Tradition: Trump Stages Part of His Convention From the White House”
  • ABCNews: “Pompeo defies his own policy by praising Trump in unprecedented convention speech”
  • Vox: “Mike Pompeo’s RNC speech will place him as the most partisan secretary of state in decades”
  • NBCNews: “Diplomats aghast as Pompeo set to address GOP convention from Jerusalem”
  • Washington Post: “Pompeo stirs up outrage among some diplomats over speech to RNC”

The press was appalled that Pompeo would take a public stance in favor of one political party while he was still actively serving as Secretary of State.

But J Street, a left-wing Pro-Palestinian organization which uses the fig leaf of a missing foreskin to claim it is “Pro-Israel,” was angry at Pompeo for showcasing the various actions the Trump administration took which benefited Israel.

On August 24, J Street posted an attack called “POMPEO’S JERUSALEM RNC SPEECH SHAMELESSLY USES ISRAEL AS A PARTISAN PROP.” Rather than simply focusing on the atypical speech at a convention, J Street said

The Trump administration continues to break new ground in their shameless efforts to use the state of Israel as a political prop and a partisan football.

Even the left-wing media didn’t attack Pompeo for speaking from Jerusalem; they simply noted that he should not have been speaking at the convention at all, whether from Washington or Paris. The media was angry at the usage of the OFFICE of the Secretary, not the location from which he spoke.

But J Street knows that there is no better contrast in foreign policy between the Democrats and Republicans than on the subject of the Middle East.

During the Obama administration, J Street aggressively pushed to give Iran a legal pathway to nuclear weapons and to pass a resolution at the United Nations marking Jews living east of the Green Line as illegal. During Trump’s tenure, it lobbied against recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, moving the US embassy to the city and from withholding financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority while it continues to pay for terrorism.

In lambasting the location of Pompeo’s speech and highlighting Israel, J Street tacitly admits that the policies for which it advocates are ANTI-Israel and the promotion of its agenda into the Democratic Party is the essence of turning Israel into a “partisan football.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking at the Republican National Convention from Jerusalem, Israel

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CNN Eliminates Jews in Martin Luther King’s Final Speech

On April 3, 1968, Rev Martin Luther King Jr, delivered his final speech. It is considered one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century.

And CNN edited it.

Just after the one minute mark of his speech in the third paragraph, King set the stage to compare the journey of African Americans from a life of racism to one of liberty, much as the biblical Jews left slavery in Egypt to their promised land. It served as a foreshadow to the end of the speech in which King compared himself to the Jewish prophet Moses who went “up to the mountaintop” to look over to the “promised land” in which he could not enter, even as the Children of Israel succeeded in their trek.

The actual words King said were:

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

But CNN removed the words in red above “and I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egyptwhich described the Jews as “God’s children” who left slavery towards their promised land in Israel. Instead, the CNN text reads like a general travelogue, stripped of any significance. The promised land is sanitized of its Jewish essence, and applicable to any and all.

CNN edited one of the greatest speeches in modern history which continues to be read to this day, and removed the plight of the Jews and their three thousand year old-Zionism, presumably to make a political point. And a very noxious one at that.

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

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NY Times Hails the Heroes of Hamas

On August 8, 2020, The New York Times wrote an article praising Hamas for its actions regarding the pandemic while also warning about the destructive actions of Israel.

New York Times article praising Hamas

The article “Covid-19 Spares Gaza, but Travel Restrictions Prove Less Forgiving” noted that

the blockaded Gaza Strip might be one of the only places in the world where no cases of community transmission of the coronavirus have been recorded – an achievement attributed to the coastal enclave’s isolation as well as the swift measures taken by its militant Hamas rulers…. In March, fearing the potentially disastrous consequences of an outbreak in Gaza, Hamas authorities ordered all travelers returning to the territory from by way of Israel and Egypt to enter quarantine facilities for three weeks. They could not leave quarantine until they had passed two virus tests. The system seemed to have succeeded… Hamas initially instituted other restrictions in Gaza. But it later lifted many of them, enabling residents to follow significant parts of their daily routines. They have been flocking to the beaches, working out in gyms, eating at restaurants, praying at mosques and shopping in markets, among other activities.

Hamas is highlighted as one of the greatest governing bodies in the world, sparing the Gaza community any deaths while allowing people to enjoy activities that are forbidden in much of the world including going to gyms  and churches. There is no mention that the group is a designated terrorist organization with a founding charter which is the most antisemitic in the world both calling Jews disgusting names and for a jihad to kill them and destroy the Jewish State. The Times never calls Hamas a terrorist group and has now taken the incremental step of praising its leadership.

The Times wasn’t quite through sharing its twisted narrative as it needed to condemn Israel.

The media outlet posted a blow-out clause about the evil occupying forces:

A fear that Israel is ‘tightening its closure’ on the territory.

The article also included three pictures, of which the largest two were of women and children. The caption described how the woman was unable to visit her ailing father – because of Israel. The third picture was of a man who wanted to move to Europe because “poverty is rampant,” presumably, also because of Israel, not Hamas’s funneling of resources towards killing Jews.

This is the prevailing theme surrounding the Times’ coverage of the pandemic in Israel, Israeli territories and the Palestinian territories.

On April 9 the Times wrote how “[Palestinian Prime Minister] Shtayyeh’s administration earned broad approval for its aggressive response to an early outbreak,” even “as extremist Jewish settlers take advantage of the West Bank emergency by assaulting farmers, damaging property and trespassing or squatting on Palestinian land.” For the Times, Palestinians are noted for good governance while Israelis are terrible right-wing violent racists.

The Times does not tell its readers that the death rate in Jordan from the pandemic stands at only 1 person per million, even better than their cousins in the Palestinian territories which are at 19 per million, roughly the same as Israeli Arabs. The Times will not posit that the reason could be from their common culture or DNA rather than actions of the leadership and circumstances.

For the New York Times, autocrats fail the tests of handling the coronavirus while noble governments led by Socialists and women – and the Palestinians – fair well. For the liberal rag, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are “resistance movements”, not authoritarian racist regimes, welcomed into the community of the woke.

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The Cultural Appropriation of the Jewish ‘Promised Land’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hamas Charter, Article 33

Article 33 of the Hamas Charter is a call for global jihad against the Jewish State.

Article Thirty-Three:

The Islamic Resistance Movement, being based on the common coordinated and interdependent conceptions of the laws of the universe, and flowing in the stream of destiny in confronting and fighting the enemies in defence of the Moslems and Islamic civilization and sacred sites, the first among which is the Aqsa Mosque, urges the Arab and Islamic peoples, their governments, popular and official groupings, to fear Allah where their view of the Islamic Resistance Movement and their dealings with it are concerned. They should back and support it, as Allah wants them to, extending to it more and more funds till Allah’s purpose is achieved when ranks will close up, fighters join other fighters and masses everywhere in the Islamic world will come forward in response to the call of duty while loudly proclaiming: Hail to Jihad. Their cry will reach the heavens and will go on being resounded until liberation is achieved, the invaders vanquished and Allah’s victory comes about.

“And Allah will certainly assist him who shall be on his side: for Allah is strong and mighty.” (The Pilgrimage – verse 40).

Hamas truly believes it is acting at the direction of Allah and that all Muslims around the world are duty-bound to supply “more and more funds” and other support “while loudly proclaiming ‘Hail to Jihad’” until “Allah’s purpose is achieved,” defined as being when “liberation is achieved [and] the invaders [are] vanquished.” For Hamas, defeating Jews is an Islamic religious calling and therefore not subject to compromise nor question.

And the Palestinian Arabs elected Hamas to 58% of the parliament with this charter, the United Nations pushes for Hamas to be part of a unity government, and the media talks of “Islamic resistance” as a peaceful and natural endeavor.

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NY Times Ignores Centrality of the Jewish Temple Mount

On July 31, 2020, the New York Times wrote a moving piece about the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the hajj. It described how the coronavirus limited the number of people who could attend the hajj this year and the various steps which the kingdom undertook to try to protect the health of the smaller gathering to Islam’s holiest location.

I looked to see if the Times covered the solemn day of the Ninth of Av (July 30, 2020), when Jews traveled to Jerusalem, the Western Wall and the Jewish Temple Mount to mourn the destruction of the first and second temples. While Jewish media outlets like the Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel wrote about it, the Times ignored the story.

The Times did write a 1,300-word article about the Temple Mount on May 15, 2020 when it described how Muslims could not visit the site for Ramadan because of the pandemic. It seemed that Islam’s third holiest site which has no specific connection to Ramadan was an important focus for the liberal paper even as it ignored writing about the pandemic’s impact on Jews visiting their holiest site on Jewish holidays.

I looked back further to see if the Times covered any of the three Jewish holidays which call upon Jews to visit Jerusalem and the Temple Mount: Shavuot (celebrated May 28-30, 2020), Passover (celebrated April 8-19 this year) and Sukkot (which will be celebrated October 2-9, 2020). It did.

On March 30 it published an article “For Shut-In Pilgrims, the World’s Holiest Sites Are a Click Away,” which covered Jerusalem, Mecca and Rome. While Mecca was devoted to Muslims and Rome to Christians, the Times described Jerusalem from the vantage point of “Passover, Easter and Ramadan — touchstone holidays of three major religions.” Not only was Judaism not worthy of a unique article as was Islam (twice, in May and July), but when an article was written, the other monotheistic faiths were also covered, AND when Judaism’s holiest city was mentioned, it was noted as holy to other faiths as well.

Christianity and Islam pushed their religions globally for over one thousand years, converting and killing non-believers. Their numbers now count in the billions and their faithful are spread around the globe, while the Jewish population was decimated with only about 15 million people today, of which 84% live in Israel and the United States. Arguably the paltry sum of Jews makes them barely worth mentioning to global papers.

But it’s the deliberate denial of Jewish Jerusalem that irks me.

The July 31 NY Times article explained to its readers that “the hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is required for all Muslims who are physically and financially able to go at least once in their lifetimes.ONCE IN THEIR LIFETIMES. Why only once? Because there are 1.8 billion Muslims living all over the world. After pushing the religion around the globe it is impossible for so many people to come to Islam’s holiest city every year.

In contrast, Judaism calls on all Jews to visit Jerusalem and the Temple Mount THREE TIMES EVERY YEAR. It calls on Jews to do this because the religion was not orchestrated to spread to the corners of the world with forced conversions on the masses, inflating the numbers of adherents. Judaism was designed as a local religion for a small nation, in the Jewish holy land with its holy city in the center.

I appreciate the beautiful article The New York Times wrote about Mecca and Islam. I wonder if it will ever write with such sensitivity about the Jews, Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple Mount.

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