Monday, September 26, 2011

Bibi to Palestinians: Let's talk "doogree" about peace

Last Friday, the UN General Assembly members heard both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speak about the Palestinian statehood bid, which Abbas also presented formally to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. PA President Abbas, who received a standing ovation upon entering the GA chamber, delivered the usual rhetoric about his people "being persecuted for 63 years" and his desire for full UN membership in a state with borders that includes all land areas prior to June 5, 1967 (when Jordan actually ruled there). The implication of being persecuted for 63 years actually is in reference to what Arabs call the "Nakba" or catastrophe of 1948, known as the War of Independence by Israelis. Abbas also spoke of the allowance of Palestinian refugees to return "home" to lands and other properties seized by Israel during this war. One might well wonder what would have happened if Arab forces had won this conflict; instead of a small and ill equipped Israeli military, many of whose soldiers were former Holocaust death camp internees.

Israeli P.M. Netanyahu received a very different greeting upon entering the same chamber a bit later. Netanyahu, although a great public speaker, decided on this occasion to speak "doogre" to the delegates who did had assembled to hear his speech. Calling the GA "the theater of the absurd" he wanted to show the delegates that he did not come to give them a lesson in diplomacy, but to "speak the truth" about "one-sided" Palestinian statehood as demanded by Abbas. Netanyahu said that a final peace agreement and nation status for the Palestinians can only be achieved by direct negotiations between the parties. PM Netanyahu again warned about the increasing dangers in the region, aggravated considerably by the "Arab Spring" revolutions that have resulted in the ousting of Egyptian president Mobarak, the overthrow of Libyan strongman Muamar Ghaddafi, and continuing disturbances and killings in Syria and Yemen. He also mentioned Iran-backed Hezbollah's increasing strength in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza, also backed by Iran. In fact, Netanyahu singled out Iran as being the most dangerous country in the world today; and how that country's leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, could have the nerve to come to the UN and issue so much hateful rhetoric towards both the USA and the State of Israel.

Reminding the assembled delegates that the UN is now a very different entity than it was in 1947, when the State of Israel was voted into being by the UN, Netanyahu said that his country is willing to meet with the Palestinians "in Jerusalem or in Ramallah" and offered to sit with PA President Abbas and "talk doogre" with him about a final agreement that will result in a Palestinian state. For the uninformed, doogre is an Arab term meaning directness and forthrightness. So far, at least in Netanyahu's present term as prime minister, this directness has not taken place; and the Palestinians have now decided on the unilateral approach in their attempt to gain membership status in the UN.

Will this method win out, or is there a chance for both parties to sit together and "talk doogre" on the many unsolved issues that are separating Israel and the Palestinians?

As Jews in Israel and the world over enter the New Year, praying for peace with the Palestinians (those in the West Bank that is) should be on everyone's mind – Jews and non-Jews alike.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How many Jews, including Israelis, died in US 9-11 terror attacks?

For the past ten years since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the NYC World Trade Center and the Pentagon Building in the USA, articles still fluctuate as to the number of Jews who perished in the two coordinated attacks by Islamic extremists that wound up taking 2,749 lives, according to "official" counts. Unofficial counts go as high as a total of 3,487. This total figure includes at least 2,071 people said to be present in the twin towers of the World Trade Center, a total of 265 passengers on the four commercial airlines that were hijacked, 125 civilian and military personnel in the Pentagon, and 427 New York City Fire Dept, Police, and Port Authority personnel.

Every anniversary of what is now come to be known as the "9-11 Terror Attacks", and especially on this tenth anniversary of these infamous attacks, the question often arises as to how many people of the Jewish faith, died in the attacks – including those either living or formerly living in Israel. And "rumor mongers" still pass around articles in which they claim that Jews were even forewarned to "stay at home" prior to the occurrence of the attacks themselves.

Various statistical studies made afterwards appear to indicate that in proportion to other religious faiths, the and in respect to the total number of Jews living in the USA and the world at large (including Israel) appear to indicate that of the total number of people killed in these attacks, a significant percentage (at least 12 -13%) were Jews. This includes a large proportion of people working in stock brokerage firms and other business in the WTC, as well as passengers on the four previously mentioned commercial airlines flights. While the "official" count of Israelis killed is noted at being 5 people, this number may not count Israeli "ex-pats" that were living and working in the USA as well as those holding dual nationality and for various personal reasons only listed themselves as American citizens.

As has been noted in information published by the US Department of State, the Wall Street Journal, and the NY Times:

“A total of 2,071 occupants of the World Trade Center died on September 11, among the 2,749 victims of the WTC attacks. According to an article in the October 11, 2001, Wall Street Journal, roughly 1,700 people had listed the religion of a person missing in the WTC attacks; approximately 10% were Jewish. A later article, in the September 5, 2002, Jewish Week, states, “based on the list of names, biographical information compiled by The New York Times, and information from records at the Medical Examiner’s Office, there were at least 400 victims either confirmed or strongly believed to be Jewish.” This would be approximately 15% of the total victims of the WTC attacks. A partial list of 390 Cantor Fitzgerald employees who died (out of 658 in the company) lists 49 Jewish memorial services, which is between 12% and 13%.”

12 – 13 % out of a total American Jewish population of around 5.8 million (1.25 % of America's total population) is a high proportion when there are only around 16 million Jews on this planet out of a total world population of 6.5 billion souls. The percentage of Jews killed might even be higher when it is well known that many Jews changed or shortened their last names either voluntarily or involuntarily by US immigration officials when they arrived in the USA at the turn of the last century. So taking this fact into account, the exact number of Jews who perished in the 9-11 attacks may never be known. But even so, the proportionate number of Jews who lost their lives on that tragic day, ten years ago, is more than enough to dispel the rumor mongers who still try to convince people that Jews, and especially Israelis were forewarned.

Indeed, rumor mongers should take note that the above statistics appear to indicate otherwise. - Headlines