The Flawed and Inconsistent U.S. Position On Israelis Living In The West Bank

On May 21, 2023, the U.S. State Department issued a statement about Israeli “Settlements in the West Bank.” It read:

“We are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s order that allows its citizens to establish a permanent presence in the Homesh outpost in the northern West Bank, which according to Israeli law was illegally built on private Palestinian land. This order is inconsistent with both former Prime Minister Sharon’s written commitment to the Bush Administration in 2004 and the current Israeli government’s commitments to the Biden Administration. Advancing Israeli settlements in the West Bank is an obstacle to the achievement of a two-state solution.”

There were many things covered in this paragraph:

  • Israeli law about whether building in the “Homesh outpost” is legal;
  • The 2004 exchange of letters between Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon and U.S. President George W. Bush;
  • The current Israeli commitments to the Biden Administration; and
  • Whether Israeli Jews “living in the West Bank is an obstacle…to a two-state solution.”

Israeli Law

First, it’s a bit rich for the United States to make comments about Israeli law. I cannot imagine that the U.S. would take kindly to any country opining on its rulings on imminent domain, seizing land to build a wall with Mexico, or any other real estate matter.

While Israeli courts have ruled against approving building on privately owned land, the courts have also legalized previously unauthorized settlements. Countries modify their rulings depending on societal needs of the moment. For example, the Israeli courts had approved Israeli taking ownership of the homes they own in the Sheikh Jarrah section of Jerusalem but then suspended the eviction of the Arab squatters because of violence. Real estate in Israel is a matter of law as well as of security and order.

The 2004 Exchange of Letters

In the middle of the 2000-2005 Arab pogroms which killed over 1,000 Israelis, Israeli PM Sharon decided that he was going to build a security barrier to stop terrorism emanating from the West Bank, and to pull all Israelis out of Gaza. In exchange for these actions, U.S. President Bush issued a letter in support of the actions with U.S. commitments.

The State Department just referenced the 2004 Sharon letter because while Sharon understood there was no chance for peace with Palestinians at that time, he “decided to initiate a process of gradual disengagement with the hope of reducing friction between Israelis and Palestinians.” Sharon’s “Disengagement Plan” called for pulling all Israelis out of Gaza “as well as other military installations and a small number of villages in Samaria,” which included the town of Homesh and three other nearby villages.

The Israeli Disengagement Plan was not a “commitment” as described in the latest State Department statement. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Sharon made clear that it “represents an independent Israeli plan” designed to create space between the parties while terrorism was ongoing.

In addition to incorrectly calling the dismantling of Homesh a commitment, the State Department ignored U.S. commitments that Bush made to Sharon in that exchange of letters.

The Bush letter repeatedly stated that the U.S. is committed to fight Palestinian terrorism and incitement and that it will work to “prevent the areas from which Israel has withdrawn from posing a threat.” That was in 2004 and Israel left Gaza the following year in 2005.

Then what happened?

The Palestinians held elections in 2006 under America’s watch, and the terrorist group Hamas won a majority of Parliament. In 2007, Hamas routed Fatah and took control of Gaza, and proceeded to launch wars against Israel in 2008, 2012, 2014 and more recently.

So much for America’s commitment to preventing the abandoned areas “from posing a threat.”

Further, in another part of his letter, Bush stated clearly that “in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.” In plain English, that meant that the United States acknowledged that Israel will annex sections of the West Bank.

Yet the Obama Administration broke that commitment to Israel when it allowed United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 to pass in 2016, making it illegal for Israelis to live east of “the armistice lines of 1949.”

In short, Israel made no commitments in the 2004 letter while the United States trampled on its commitments to Israel.

Current Commitment to Biden Administration

Israel met with the U.S. and Palestinian Authority in Egypt in March 2023 and issued a joint statement which covered a number of issues including “an Israeli commitment to stop discussion of any new settlement units for 4 months, and to stop authorization of any outposts for 6 months.” As Homesh was an existing settlement until it was dismantled in 2005, it is debatable whether allowing its redevelopment runs counter to Israel’s statement.

It should be noted that the Palestinian Authority has completely ignored its stated March 2023 commitments, as it continues to incite violence.

Jews As Obstacle to Two State Solution

Roughly 25% of Israeli citizens are non-Jews, so the notion that a theoretical Arab state of Palestine cannot be viable with a small percentage of Jews is ridiculous. It can only be viewed as an “obstacle” to two states if the Palestinian Authority refuses to have any Jews living in the country.

And if Palestine can only be created as a Jew-free state, it should never be admitted to the United Nations or recognized by any country.

Road in Judea and Samaria

The State Department is “deeply troubled” by Israeli action in the village of Homesh because its accounting of history and facts are deeply flawed. More generally, if the U.S. assumes that a Palestinian State must be Jew-free, it should adamantly oppose its existence.

Should pressure mount on Israel to evacuate Homesh again, it should turn to those agitators and get their support for the Israeli Jews to take ownership of their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.

Related articles:

Time to Define Banning Jews From Living Somewhere as Antisemitic

When were Jews barred from living in Judea & Samaria?

The Palestinian State I Oppose

Pro Israel Advocates Should Stop Using “Judea and Samaria”

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

Ramat Shlomo, Jerusalem and Joe Biden

Related video:

Judea and Samaria (music by Foo Fighters)

E1: The Battle for Jerusalem (music by The Who)

UN Ignores Horrific Spike In Palestinians Killing Israelis

The United Nations’ obsession for Israel does not include the Jewish State’s suffering from Palestinian Arab terrorism.

On March 22, 2023, Tor Wennesland, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (he is no such thing but the mouthpiece for Palestinian grievances), addressed the United Nations Security Council. His report gave a summary of actions between the parties from December 8, 2022 until March 13, 2023, and then offered his personal observations.

In recounting the violence, he noted that there was a “growing number of attacks by Israeli settlers” which harmed Palestinian Arab-owned property and individuals, including four people who were killed. He added that “13 Israeli civilians, including one woman and three children, and one foreign national were killed… by Palestinians in shooting and ramming attacks, clashes, and other incidents.” That means that Palestinian Arabs killed 3.5 times more civilians than Israeli “settlers” over this period according to Wennesland’s own count.

Yet in his summary remarks, Wennesland said “I remain deeply concerned by the increase in levels of settler-related violence in the occupied West Bank sometimes in proximity of Israeli security forces.” Why isn’t Wennesland outraged and calling out the more prevalent and deadly Arab terrorism?

Palestinian Arabs conducted more attacks than “settlers” in every month of 2022, and the number of murders is also rising after this report, including of the Dee family, a mother and two daughters, who were gunned down while driving in their car on holiday. According to Palestinian polls, the majority of Arabs favor killing Jewish civilians inside of Israel, so it should not be surprising that in the Israeli territory of Area C in the West Bank, Palestinians are regularly targeting Jews.

On April 8, Wennesland tweeted his objection to the killing of the Dee family, “I condemn yesterday’s terrorist attacks in the occupied West Bank and Tel Aviv. Heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families. There is no justification for acts of terrorism and they must be clearly condemned and rejected by all.” But once again, he did not specifically call out “Palestinians” in his tweets and UN reports. He solely calls out “settlers”.

Palestinians pay no price on the global stage for their terrorism, as the UN continues to ask for money for the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA, and to only condemn Israelis.

email Rep. Jamaal Bowman


Related articles:

Victims of Preference

The Palestinians aren’t “Resorting to Violence”; They are Murdering and Waging War

Excerpt of Hamas Charter to Share with Your Elected Officials

Letter To Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY16) About Palestinian Support For Attacks

Will The UN Ever Support Israel Addressing Terrorism And Violent Extremism?

Israel And Jews Everywhere Must Be Protected As An Ethnic, Religious And Linguistic Minority

Why Is This Week Different From All Other Weeks?

The first night of Passover is celebrated with a seder, with props designed to entertain and engage young and old. The youngest child at the table typically recites the Ma Nishtana, questioning why that night is different from all other nights of the year.

Below are some additional questions about the entire week of Passover for older people.

  • Every other week during the year I would never consider going away with in-laws; on Passover, I relish in the sponsored trip
  • During the rest of the year, I never go near raspberry jelly; for the week of Passover, I can’t get enough
  • For the entire year, I never pause to think about the nature of mixed or single sex swimming in the pools; on Passover, I might decide to change the country of my destination based on the response
  • For 51 weeks, I could go to Florida with a eight days of clothing in my carryon; on Passover I bring two oversized checked bags and a hatbox
  • Normally, I can go to the beach or pool without worrying about lunchtime; on Passover, I suddenly need a watch with an alarm lest I miss a piece of chremzel
  • When I typically go on vacation, I don’t think about who I might bump into; on Passover, I join and check the program’s What’sApp group so I can ping people twice a day whom I haven’t seen in years
  • When I pick a location for a holiday during the year, I focus on the location’s surroundings; on Passover, I factor in twelve other considerations like food, entertainment and who else will be there

Related First One Through videos:

Choosing A Passover Program

Passover in the Office

An Open Letter To Israel’s Diaspora Minister

Very few countries in the world have a position in the government for descendants of the country’s original inhabitants who live abroad. Only one also has non-governmental organizations to combat the hatred of those persecuted members in the diaspora.


The Jewish State of Israel was founded on three central beliefs of Modern Zionism: that Jews are a people who originate in the land of Israel; they have a right to self-determination and sovereignty in their homeland; and that their country will not only be a safe haven against Jew-hatred, but will combat noxious anti-Semitism around the world.

Today, Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs is Amichai Chikli. Born in Jerusalem, he is the son of a Tunisian Conservative rabbi. His governmental position is to strengthen the bonds between Israel and Jews of the diaspora.

Israeli MK Amichai Chikli (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Outside of the government, the World Zionist Organization promotes Zionism, and is a vehicle for world Jewry to interface with Israel. Nerya Meir assumed the head of the Diaspora Department and Raheli Baratz-Rix heads the WZO’s Department for Combatting  Antisemitism. Last year, Prime Minister Yair Lapid appointed the actress Noa Tishby to a new position of Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and Delegitimization.

This letter is for each of them.

To Israel’s leaders to Diaspora Jewry,

We know that Israel is very busy with countless issues, and the roles each of you play to ensure a strong bond between the Jewish State and Diaspora Jewry is always appreciated.

We are keenly aware of how the nature of our relationship has changed since the re-establishment of the Jewish State in 1948: from a nascent struggling country fighting for survival seeking bodies and funds from diaspora, to a thriving democracy in the heart of an illiberal Middle East with the greatest concentration of Jews anywhere for the first time in almost two thousand years. The modern state welcomes Jewish immigrants, visitors and investment, while it no longer feels they are critical to its survival.

There are a few things to keep in mind as we enter this stage of our relationship.

The United States

Since 1948, the Diaspora has change remarkably. In 1948, at the country’s founding, there were 34 countries with over 25,000 Jews. Today there are only 17, half that number. To put that in context, the 15 non-U.S. diaspora countries with over 25,000 Jews stands in contrast to 27 U.S. cities with more than 25,000 Jews.

Two countries – Israel and the United States – account for roughly 85% of world Jewry, with the U.S. accounting for 73% of the Jewish diaspora. While the U.S. does not define the diaspora, it is the most significant country by a very wide margin.

There are eight other diaspora countries which have over one percent of diaspora Jews living there, but only two of them – France and the United Kingdom – are also significant trading partners with Israel and members of the United Nations Security Council. Some of the other countries – like Argentina and Russia – have declining Jewish populations and should be viewed as countries for Israel to target for aliyah, rather than as significant long-term outposts of global Jewry.

Diaspora Anti-Semitism and Terrorism

Historically (the 1970s through 2010s), anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist attacks occurred in world capitals such as Athens, Rome, Istanbul, Paris, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Mumbai and London. Fanatics burst into synagogues, Jewish community centers and kosher restaurants and killed as many people as possible.

While the scourge has not left major international cities, the current trend in violence is more prevalent in American cities such as Pittsburgh, PA, Colleyville, TX, Jersey City, NJ and Poway, CA. It shouldn’t be a surprise: there are three times as many Jews in Pittsburgh (42,000) than in all of Turkey (14,300).

The same is true for Jews living in the Israeli territories east of the 1949 Armistice Lines (E49AL). While there are 25 countries in the world with over 10,000 Jews (including the U.S. and Israel), there are nine cities (and growing) in E49AL with such totals. Almost all have experienced attacks.

The facts above have been true for many years but have not penetrated the minds of most people. Part of the reason is attacks on Jews in European cities and E49AL is almost always tied to anti-Zionism, easily triggered in societies with centuries of ingrained anti-Semitism. This is in contrast to attacks in the United States which arise from anti-Semitism in a country established on the basis of religious freedom.

This is changing.

While the Israel-Gaza war in 2014 saw a sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe, there were virtually none in the United States. Not so for the eleven day skirmish in May 2021, when gangs assaulted Jews all over the country. Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL said during that time that “the brazenness, the audacity of these assaults in broad daylight. We have seen people basically say, if you are wearing a Jewish star, you must be a Zionist and you should be killed…. we have unhinged, fictionalized conspiracies about Israel, that somehow the Jewish State is systematically slaughtering children or committing genocide. And then that leads to real-world attacks on Jewish people in the streets of America, on our campuses, in our communities.”

It is in the streets of dozens of American cities that the danger of anti-Semitism is now the most pressing, and the scourge is increasingly tied to anti-Zionism.

America’s Jewish Cities and Universities

The 27 cities in the United States with over 25,000 Jews are not only in the biggest states which are solidly Democratic as popularly believed. While many are found in New York, New Jersey, California, Massachusetts and Illinois, a growing number are in Florida, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

As shown in the table above, fifteen of the top 27 U.S. cities are located in solidly Democratic states per the 2020 presidential election. Seven cities were found in Republican states and five were in swing states.

Beyond these major Jewish population centers, are cities with universities with significant Jewish populations, many of which are suffering from anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist violence and rhetoric.

Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism have also spread to universities with significant Jewish populations in cities with relatively few Jews. Those include Brown University in Providence, RI (14,200 Jews) and Duke University in Durham, NC (12,000).

As an example, in February 2022, Duke passed a resolution which condemned anti-Semitism which included using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism which covered anti-Zionism. This was likely in response to vile anti-Semitic and anti-Israel speakers at the campus in 2019 as covered by a Ami Horowitz video. However, by March 2022, the Duke Student Government was sponsoring Student for Justice in Palestine events featuring noted anti-Zionist and anti-Semite Mohammed El-Kurd. The AMCHA Initiative has long tracked how universities with an SJP chapter are much more likely to have anti-Semitic incidents on campus.

College campuses have become fertile ground for extreme fundamentalist governments including Qatar and Saudi Arabia to pour over $1 billion to influence the next generation of students. Leading schools which have taken their money include Columbia University, Tufts University, the University of Southern California, George Washington University, NYU, MIT, Harvard, Georgetown and Carnegie Mellon. The Arab states have used their oil wealth to export the demonization of the Jewish State and Jews around the world.

And the impetus for exporting their hatred onto American shores is their hatred for Israel. Killing the Jewish State’s strongest supporter is a key aim of anti-Zionists.

Israel’s Fight Against Anti-Semitism in America

It is noble and appreciated that Israel is taking up the fight against global anti-Semitism.

Minister Chikli, you talked about the diaspora community and suggested that small communities might be best served by making aliyah to Israel, and plan on investing a good portion of your 500 million NIS budget in the education of the larger communities. This is wise. While it will be difficult for Israel to match the dollars of the Muslim Gulf states going into America’s leading universities, it can invest in the middle and high schools of the United States’ largest Jewish cities.

America’s Jews and communities are mostly well-off and well-organized. We have numerous Jewish schools, synagogues, community centers and Israel advocacy groups, especially compared to the other countries in the diaspora. But there are things that must come from Israel to the various cities listed above to help fight the rising anti-Semitism. Here is the start of a list:

  • Israelis and Israeli products in the schools and markets
  • Collaboration between American universities and companies and those in Israel
  • Eloquent and well versed Israelis on news channels
  • Establish pro-Jewish narratives
  • Bi-partisanship, connecting with all streams of Judaism
  • Open and clear communication between Israel and U.S. Jewish leaders

Israelis and Israeli products in the schools and markets

Getting young Israelis into cities across the United States with programs like shinshinim should be expanded. The Israelis get a better appreciation for America, and Americans get a first-hand account of what is happening in Israel, not from the news or textbooks, but from young Israelis living in the Jewish State.

The BDS (boycott, divest and sanction) movement against Israel should not only be fought legally but on the ground. Getting lots of Israeli products and brands into stores should be a priority of the Israeli government, not just the Israeli companies.

Collaboration between American universities and companies and those in Israel

Israeli universities and companies are in a good position to continue to leverage their leading research and technological prowess to collaborate with American institutions. An active bi-lateral flow of human and financial capital can cement positive long-term relationships.

Eloquent and well versed Israelis on American media

Israel must develop a comprehensive team of fluent English speakers who are adept at public relations on a range of topics. The most glaring problems are when Israeli spokespersons cannot handle basic questions on television when Israel is in a conflict. The government must have a team of people in constant dialogue with the full range of American media on political, economic, cultural, religious, historical and scientific matters.

Establish pro-Jewish narratives

It is very important to establish and correct information that is being propagated in the media and on campuses, but the Israeli government must do more to craft the narratives. For example, not only should the statistics about the Arab population in Jerusalem and Israel be laid out to dismiss the ridiculous charges of genocide and ethnic cleansing, but stories of real people should be featured. The world loves a good story, and Israel is more than capable of humanizing the liberal country it has built in the heart of the illiberal Middle East.

Bi-partisanship, connecting with all streams of Judaism

As described above, there are Democratic and Republican Jews and they live in a range of cities. It is imperative for Israel to maintain good relations with both parties, ESPECIALLY as the divide in the country grows.

Similarly, it is important for Israel to connect with all the streams of Judaism which are much more common in the United States than in Israel and the rest of the diaspora. The Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative branches of Judaism are much larger than the Modern and Ultra Orthodox streams. Those liberals tend to be much more critical of religious and nationalistic actions by Israel, while the more Orthodox tend to be more likely to make aliyah. Israel needs to keep a good relationship with each community.

Open and clear communication between Israel and U.S. Jewish leaders

The last item on this short list is for good lines of direct communication. If the government of Israel is directly communicating with American Jewish leaders, hopefully it will prevent Jewish leaders from lobbying the U.S. government to take actions against Israel, as J Street did aggressively, in pushing the Obama Administration to allow UN Security Council Resolution 2334 to pass.

Israel is at a very sensitive moment in history with Iran on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons capability, and the largest percentage of West Bank Arabs itching for violence against Jewish civilians in twenty years. At the same time, American Jewry is more divided as it faces growing anti-Semitism, a break from historic norms when Jews normally come together when faced with Jew hatred.

The global fight against anti-Semitism can be won with Israeli and American forces acting together with common purpose. We look forward to working together with you at this important time in history.


The readers of First One Through

Related articles:

The Campus Inquisition

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

Hamas And Harvard Proudly Declare Their Anti-Semitism And Anti-Zionism

Courageous Jews On Hostile Campuses

Is Columbia University Promoting Violence Against Israel and Jews?

Jews, Judaism and Israel

A New Low: UN Saddened By Deaths of Terrorists

The Israeli Defense Forces launched a raid into Jenin to arrest Palestinian Arab terrorists who had committed and were planning additional terrorist attacks. The Arabs shot at the Israelis during the raid, and the IDF killed nine of the terrorists and one civilian woman nearby.

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland issued a formal statement about the raid on January 26, 2023:

“I am deeply alarmed and saddened by the continuing cycle of violence in the
occupied West Bank. The deaths today of nine Palestinians, including militants
and one woman, during an Israeli arrest operation in Jenin is another stark
Since the beginning of this year, we are continuing to witness high levels of
violence and other negative trends that characterized 2022. It is crucial to
reduce tensions immediately and prevent more loss of life.
I urge, and remain actively engaged with, Israeli and Palestinian authorities to
de-escalate tensions, restore calm, and avoid further conflict.”

Wennesland issued no statement after the brutal and deliberate targeting and murder of Jewish civilians outside a synagogue in Jerusalem on Sabbath, the following day.

The UN typically ignores the fact that most Palestinian Arabs killed by Israel are terrorists, and therefore the broadcast condolences appear on the surface to be warranted. But now we have entered a new level of sickness: the United Nations is stating publicly that it is saddened by the elimination of Palestinian terrorists.

The United Nations is no longer simply a biased anti-Semitic tool of the jihadist Muslim world. It is now an active cheerleader.

Tor Wennesland, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, also known as UN Coordinator for Palestinian Grievances

Related articles:

The UN Coordinator For Palestinian Appeals

The UN Talks About Jews Building In Jerusalem On Chanukah

UN Lies About Palestinians Favoring Two States

UN Doesn’t Like ‘Proportionate’ Israeli Reaction To Arab Terror Either

Despite Palestinians Committing More Acts of Terror, UN Lambasts ‘Settlers’

2022 First One Through Summary

There were 159 original articles this year, averaging about 755 words each. The most popular articles were:

The top countries reading the articles this year changed a little, with Ireland moving up:

  • United States
  • Israel
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • South Africa
  • Netherlands
  • Germany
  • Switzerland

Top referrers to the articles were:

  • Jewish Press
  • Mosaic Magazine
  • Elders of Ziyon
  • Israel Unwired
  • Brabosh

On social media, Facebook continued to be the main driver of traffic, followed by search engines and Twitter. Quora and Freerepublic have been growing as well.

Articles were translated into German and Dutch but no other languages this year that we tracked. Hopefully it will pick up next year.

Wishing you the best for a peaceful 2023.

Year End Appeal For Subscribers

The First One Through blog does not accept donations.

It does not make money from advertising.

It is a pure not-for-profit in that there are no salaries to be paid nor income being generated. It is a site designed to educate people about Israel and Judaism. That is it.

Since May 2014, I have written over 1,200 articles, totaling almost 1 million words. That is in addition to over 100 videos produced before that time. I cannot fathom how much time I have dedicated to this effort.

I do it in the hope of that people will share the articles and take action based on what they learn. Perhaps writing an article to a senator. Maybe giving a donation to a related charity. Possibly investing time to explore an issue deeper and getting actively involved.

The site’s name, “First One Through”, is in honor of two biblical characters, Nachshon Ben Amindav and Calev Ben Yefuneh. Nachshon is credited with being the first person to enter the Reed Sea before it split open allowing all the Children of Israel to pass through. Calev was the first person to speak up in defense of the land of Israel, when ten spies reported that claiming their inheritance was too difficult. Each person took action in the face of an obstacle to advance the community.

The mission of the blog is to enable all of us to be lay leaders. We don’t have to sacrifice our days jobs or become a zealot for the cause. Just share the articles you like on social media or email them to friends. Send it to a member of Congress. Attend a rally or speaker series. Cancel subscriptions to media that despise your values. Change how you vote.

All of us can be agents for positive change.

The articles have been shared widely and I encourage it, just add a link to the original First One Through article when doing so. The articles have appeared and referenced in Mosaic Magazine, Gatestone Institute, Legal Insurrection, American Thinker, the Jewish Press, as well as blogs including Elders of Ziyon, CAMERA, JewsDownUnder, Shiloh Musings, FactsAboutIsrael and dozens of others. They have been translated into many languages including German, Dutch, Polish and Norwegian. I hope that the trend continues.

As we enter the new year, I am not asking for donations, just to subscribe to the site and get others to do the same. Let’s work together to promote truth and fight the scourge of anti-Semitism that is infecting societies around the world.

Subscribe to First One Through

Brooklyn Chanukah Donut Crawl 2022

The annual Chanukah tradition of tasting sufganiyut (filled donuts) at local bakeries returned us to Brooklyn this year. We decided to focus on Flatbush and Williamsburg, and skipped the usual run in Boro Park. Below are the bakeries we went to in order, in case anyone would like to replicate the tour.

Ostrovitsky’s, 1124 Avenue J

Our first stop was Ostrovitsky’s which scored well in prior visits. Unfortunately, the selection this year was beautiful but not good. The flavors looked great – Hazelnut, Napolean, Lotus, Oreo, Chocolate Mousse and Rosemary – but the dough tasted like it was a few days old. The filling flavor was still good but the amount of filling was very different depending on which donut we sampled (yes, we taste everything).

Pomegranate Supermarket, 1507 Coney Island Ave

We made an exception for the strictly bakery locations for Pomegranate, because of the store’s great reputation. There were basic flavors to try – jelly, chocolate, custard and caramel – and the jelly was really great. Dough was light and tasty and just the right amount of jelly and flavor. The $4.00 each for non-fancy seemed steep, but they were good.

Sesame, 1540 Coney Island Ave.

Sesame was packed as usual with a line to get in the store (and Chanukah didn’t even start until that evening!) The bakery always has a great assortment of flavors and they are usually terrific. This year, we found the dough and filling excellent once again, however a bit sweeter than past years. We are biased towards flavor over sugar, and this year, there was a complete lack of subtlety. Pistachio is always a favorite but now it comes complete with a sugar rush. We tried hazelnut and peanut this year too, and picked up a couple dozen for people in our neighborhood who crave them.

Taste of Israel, 1322 Avenue M

We heard good things about TOI but were then told that they only took pre-orders. We may stop by again next Sunday.

Schreiber’s Homestyle Bakery, 3008 Avenue M

Schreiber’s simply has the best lace cookies so we go every year. While not a complicated dessert, they have a great crispiness in a single layer and a generous dipping of excellent chocolate. Make sure to pick some up along with the sufganiyut.

The majority in the store are pareve. They have pre-boxed assortments and we picked up a few to bring to a dinner party (see below). The dairy ones which we ate on the spot had amazing dough – very light and tasty. Please go to the back to pick these up. The strawberry had the perfect amount of filling and also a really nice light flavor. The cheese was a little too light on flavor.

We took a short break to watch the World Cup finals and got to see the end of the second period of extra time and the shootout with Argentina beating France. I’m not sure how many families watched the end of the amazing 2022 game in a hair salon in the middle of a Chanukah donut crawl, but to those who did – wasn’t it great?

Oneg Bakery, 188 Lee Avenue

We drove to Williamsburg which is a hike I do not recommend. If you are going to the neighborhood anyway, that’s fine but not together with Flatbush which can be 45 minutes away.

Oneg is rightfully famous for its heavy babka, among the best in the world. They are huge at $45 for a half and $90 for a whole. We actually get the large and cut it into three, as they freeze well.

The store is very small and old school. The donuts aren’t fancy but the classic jelly was excellent, maybe only slightly behind Pomegranate’s in terms of flavor and consistency of filling.

Black and White Bakery, 520 Park Ave

B&W was a real disappointment. We had a good experience there in the past, and the chocolate horn was indeed very good. However, the donuts are too expensive ($6.50), almost all dairy, and lacking a variety of taste. Every donut seemed to have the same cheese filling, just with a different topping. While the toppings were attractive, they lacked in flavor. On the plus side, you can daven mincha at the Yeshivat Viznitz around the corner with over 100 Satmar students.

Below is the ranking for this year’s donut crawl. If you visit, please tell them about the review on the blog First One Through. As Chanukah covers two weekends this year, we are likely to make a second run next weekend, possibly visiting Boro Park and Crown Heights bakeries.

Related articles:

Jerusalem Donut Crawl 2021

Brooklyn Chanukah Donut Crawl 2020

Chanukah Donuts: Brooklyn 2019

Brooklyn’s Holiday Donuts

The Last of the Mo’Kichels

How Many Jews?

The world population just passed 8 billion according to the United Nations. It took just twelve years to add the last one billion people, the fastest pace ever. Due to the lower fertility rates among western countries, the U.N. projects it will take 15 years to reach the 9 billion level.

With such milestone, it is an opportune time to address a question which arises in various situations: How many Jews?

Global Jewry

The Jewish population figure depends on many factors. Jews are a people as much as followers of a faith. Some Jews do not consider themselves of any faith or Jewish, even while other Jews might still consider these atheists and agnostics to be Jewish by ancestry. Further, Jews historically tracked their faith through their mothers, but some denominations have taken to using patrilineal descent as well, inflating the total.

According to the Jewish Agency for Israel, as of 2022, the total Jewish population stood at 15.3 million. That comes to roughly 0.2% of the global population.

countryJewish population
United States6,000,000
United Kingdom292,000
South Africa51,000
Top 25 countries with Jews. The 17 countries with over 25,000 Jews is half of the 34 countries with that total in 1948, at the founding of Israel.

Jews in Israel / Palestine

Roughly 46.2% of global Jewry resides in Israel today, now that Israel has an open policy for admitting Jews. It was not always that way.

Palestinian Arabs sought to limit the number of Jews entering the region after the San Remo Agreement of 1920 which codified the 1917 Balfour Declaration. Several Arab pogroms slaughtered Jews in the 1920’s, with the British administrators using extreme measures against the Jewish victims. In 1929, the British expelled all of the Jews from Hebron after the Arabs slaughtered 69 Jews. A few years later during the multi-year 1936-9 Arab riots, the British capped Jewish immigration to the region at 75,000 people over five years, just as the European Holocaust was beginning. It enabled the deaths of over 100,000 European Jews.

During the Arab-Israeli War of 1948-9, the Transjordanian army ethnically cleansed all of the Jews from Judea and Samaria and the eastern portion of Jerusalem. It destroyed the synagogues and then gave Jordanian citizenship to everyone in the illegally seized lands, as long as they weren’t Jews.

Today’s Palestinian Arabs similarly demand a country free of Jews. In the Palestinian Authority territories of Gaza and Areas A and B, there isn’t a single Jewish resident. There are roughly 490,000 Jews living in the Israeli territory of Area C and another 330,000 living in “eastern Jerusalem,” all of whom are considered to be doing so illegally according to the anti-Semitic United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. Area C now has about nine towns with over 10,000 Jews, seventeen with over 5,000, and 75 with 1,000 or more. The United Nations keeps count of all Jews in the West Bank and issues monthly reports. Like their Palestinian wards, the U.N. knows how many is the right number of Jews. Zero.

Jews in the Holocaust

No one mentions the Holocaust without mentioning the number of Jews who were murdered. The commonly used round figure is 6 million, of which roughly 1 million were children.

Anti-Semites don’t like that number. Some haters like David Irving question whether the Holocaust happened, while others like Richard Verrall say that the number of Jews killed was far lower than the 6 million. Many Holocaust deniers face jail time as countries like Germany understand virulent anti-Semitism and where it leads. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance was a working definition of anti-Semitism which has been adopted by many countries, which includes denying the scope of the Holocaust as one of it criteria. Trivializing the number and event can be considered a hate crime.

Jews in Power

People like to count Jews in positions of power. The refrain that Jews run the entertainment industry and media runs from the mouths of many people, most recently, comedian Dave Chappelle who saidI’ve been to Hollywood and this was just what I saw. It’s a lot of Jews. Like, a lot.

The myth of Jewish power sometimes escapes numbers. If there are few Jews in congress or the State Department, anti-Semites argue that Jews control the government through money or extortion. CNN’s Christiane Amanpour said that U.S. politicians have “to profess sort of fealty, or at least pay homage, to AIPAC“, the pro-Israel lobbying organization. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said that “Israel has hypnotized the world,” while her colleague Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) told fellow radical anti-Semitic progressives that Jews are the power behind “the curtain… who make money off of racism.

Too Many Jewish Neighbors

Some countries and communities don’t need an actual count of Jews. They know that any is too many.

For centuries, European countries and cities penned their Jews into ghettoes. Russia banned Jews from living in 75% of the country and hemmed them into an area called the Pale of Settlement.

“Street of the Jews” in the Old Town of Strasbourg, France

Some countries expelled all Jews including England in 1290, Spain in 1492, and Portugal in 1497. Muslim countries including Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq and Egypt made life impossible for Jews after Israel’s founding, forcing one million Jews to flee – almost the entirety of the Jews in the Arab world. Today, there are more Jews in tiny anti-Semitic Belgium than in the entire Muslim and Arab world.

Summary of Anti-Semitic Jew Counters

Anti-Semites can be grouped into two categories: “Counting Anti-Semites”, who see Jews everywhere as taking over neighborhoods and industries unfairly; and “Curtain Anti-Semites”, who cannot count many Jews but assume they are controlling the world as evil puppet masters.

The Counting Anti-Semites don’t want to see Jews Judaizing communities, whether in Jersey City, Mahwah or Jerusalem. Curtain Anti-Semites, like Rep. Louis Farrakhan, rouse the masses with fictitious blood libels and wild conspiracy theories against society.

All anti-Semites hate Jews and count them. If the haters determine that there are many Jews, those Counting Anti-Semites riot and seek laws and resolutions to curb where the overt Jews can live and work. If anti-Semites cannot count many Jews, those Curtain Anti-Semites spew hateful manifestos, citing forgeries like The Protocols of the Elders Of Zion and Hitler’s Mein Kampf about covert Jews. Some – like the Palestinian political-terrorist group Hamas – are grand wizards of both Counting and Curtain Anti-Semites, but leave the lobbying work to the “moderate” Palestinian group Fatah.

Related articles:

The Nerve of ‘Judaizing’ Neighborhoods

I See Dead People

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

Why Does the New York Times Delete Stories of Attacks on Jews?

Related video:

1001 Years of Expulsions (music from Schindler’s List)

Jewish Migration Since 1900 (music by Diana Ross)

Crazy Jump In Lesbian Hate Crimes By White Offenders In 2020 According To FBI

The FBI produces a comprehensive list of hate crimes each year. It breaks down the hate crime both by victim as well as perpetrator, and an examination of the data can yield important findings about trends in certain groups as victims and as offenders.

The numbers change each year but typically within a natural band. If the data suddenly jumps by an unusual amount, it would suggest that a terrible spike (or fortunate decline) has happened for some reason, or that the data is bad.

In reviewing the 2020 data for hate crimes, a huge jump in the number of crimes against the LGBT community seems to have occurred (+57% from 2019). Digging through the numbers further shows that the spike relates to crimes against lesbians (+619%) while crimes against gays declined by 11%. The jump in the numbers was completely attributable to anti-lesbian attacks by White people (+1465%, jumping from 142 attacks to 1,021), while anti-lesbian attacks by Black attackers fell 11%.

Is it possible that anti-lesbian attacks by White people which had annual totals of between 51 and 94 between 2004 and 2019 suddenly spiked in 2020 to 939 the way that the FBI numbers state? It seems highly unlikely to have happened in the same year that anti-gay and anti-lesbian attacks by Black people both declined by 11%.

The FBI is an important source of information about hate crimes, but it loses credibility when it fails to flag and revisit an errant data point, such as its statistic about White people attacking lesbians in 2020. Hopefully the FBI will check its data and either correct it or explain why such a big change happened.