Personal tribute to a friend and ally – the renowned journalist, publisher and lover of Israel who passed away in Johannesburg South Africa in November 2018.
By Kathy Kaler, CEO and host of Afternoon Drive Show, Chai FM
Being a radio presenter, I consider myself privileged. I get to engage with thousands of people daily via ChaiFM. People share their opinions, fears and hopes with me – daily. And all are important and yet most of our listeners I will never meet.
Except for Moses Moyo!
His text messages came in to the Morning Mayhem almost every morning since 2013 until his sudden passing.
Moses’ messages were frequently in defence of Israel while at other times comments about service delivery in Johannesburg, but most often they were song requests – Yaakov Shwekey, Moshe Peretz or Benny Friedman.
He signed them all ‘Moshe’.
It was only when I received a video of Moses singing along (to Benny Friedman’s “Mazal and Brocha” nogal!!) that I realised I was engaging with someone from “outside” our often-insular community.
But I was wrong.
Moses Moyo was someone very much engaged in the Jewish community.
On every level.
He loved our culture, our music, our religious rites, our traditions and even our quirks.
And he loved Israel. Passionately.
Moses understood profoundly, the importance of the Jewish state, not only to Jews but what Israel means to the world and her place in the greater scheme of things.
Always interested in hearing the human stories, I took the initiative to call Moses up one day and invite him for a cup of coffee. And that was where our friendship began.
In a little coffee shop in Glenhazel. It was 2014.
I came to know Moses as a great defender of the underdog – whether he was standing up for Israeli actions to defend her borders or the plight of African asylum seekers in Hillbrow. Moses stood for truth and all that was right in the world. It is no secret. Anyone who knew him will tell you that.
A year ago, Moses planned to run the Jerusalem Marathon as part of the DL Link #RunForRecovery team. Due to issues with his passport, he had to forego the 2018 Marathon but had it on his radar to run this year. Moses was incredibly positive and for him it was just a postponement.
Little did anyone know…
In October last year, while listening to the Morning Mayhem on ChaiFM I heard about Moses’ untimely death. Like so many others who knew him, I was filled with disbelief. And sadness. And loss. Not only had I personally lost a friend, but as a Jewish and Zionist community, we had all lost an ally.
After his passing, the Jewish Community started fundraising for Moses’ children’s education.
Education… A tree of knowledge, right? The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) will also be planting a tree in Israel in Moses Moyos’ name. I will be at that ceremony. Two trees. A tree of knowledge for his children in the form of the trust fund and a physical tree in the Holy Land.
Moses would have loved that.
What a testament it is to our community organisations to honour a wonderful man who was so loyal to our community and did so much to bring Christian and Jewish Zionists together.
This year I am part of the Jerusalem Marathon 2019 DL Link #RunForRecovery team. I will be running the 10km Marathon.
This morning I went for my early morning run on the streets of Jerusalem, and as I ran down Ben Yehuda into Jaffa road – my tears flowed.
And I let them.
They were tears for Moses Moyo.
They were tears of Gratitude.
Of Simply Being Alive. (Eventually I had to decide whether to run or cry – doing both is near impossible).
So, I ran.
This Friday I will be running for Moses Moyo to complete what he wasn’t able to.
My official DL Link racing shirt (yes, apparently a Marathon is a race!) has his name on the back along with the names of the two other warriors for whom I am running. The red DL Link Jerusalem Marathon 2019 Tour T-shirts have his name on the shirt of all 85 runners on the team.
Because we are all Moses Moyo
Champions of the Underdog. Pursuers of Truth. And Proud Zionists.
Onward and Upward. Always.
More on Moyo (By the Editor)
Moyo was the founder and chairperson of ‘Friends of the Inner-city Forum’, a community-based organisation in the inner city of Johannesburg. He was also a founding director of Ekuphumuleni hospice. He played an important role in the creation of Tirisano Inner-city Housing Co-operative – an initiative to help people buy flats in the inner-city of Johannesburg on a rent-to-buy basis.
He was a reporter with Eyewitness News.
Moyo was a pro-Israel activist and raised money by offering to run in the Jerusalem Marathon for the DL link, a cancer survivor organisation.
Moyo was the Deputy President of the Association of Independent Publishers.
Kathy Kaler is the CEO 0f Chai FM, a Johannesburg based radio station and is host of the Afternoon Drive Show.
If you had to let your nose lead you during an early morning walk in Jerusalem you would likely end up at the nearest bakery. The smell of freshly baked bread can drive one crazy diverting one’s senses in this most alluring city from the visual to the culinary.
Walk down Old Jaffa Street or many of the city’s side streets and you cannot escape the all-too-familiar aroma. Nor would you care to, and with the variety of breads today – particularly the health brands – there is little reason to resist temptation.
Such a treat would not have been possible until the late 19th century. There were no bakeries then in the Jewish communities of the Old Yishuv – all bread was baked at home. One of the earliest was Berman’s Bakery, established in 1875 and its history is not
only a story of a bakery but the birth of a nation. The ‘yeast’ in this story began when Reb Todrus Halevi Berman, a great Torah scholar and his wife Kreshe, and their two sons Yehoshua and Eliyahu, left Russia to make the long and arduous journey to Palestine.
From Dough to Doe
Times were tough and when their savings ran out, fate and foresight intervened when the family – literally – grabbed a ‘window of opportunity’. From her window in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City, Kreshe observed the passing show – but what she saw more than just the daily visit of Christian Pilgrims was the potential to turn their presence into profit. Soon she was baking honey cakes and black bread and years later it was her son Yehoshua who would later move the bakery outside the walls of the Old City to Jaffa Street. He was the first Jerusalemite to open a store outside the Old City, a risky venture considering that the area from Jaffa Gate to Nachalat Shiva was still desolate.
For a bakery located well-away from the coast it may seem odd to have a ship’s anchor on its logo today – however there is a sound explanation imbedded in history. The horse or mule-drawn wagons that transported the first breads were bought from an Austrian army surplus depot and these wagons sported an anchor representing the insignia of an Austrian military unit. In time, Berman’s adopted the anchor as its own business logo.
In 1886, Yehoshua built the first flourmill for Ashkenazi Jews, close to Mishkenot Shenanim, (the site of the arts and craft center today) and over 120 years later, the original two milestones remain firmly in place. Thousands of kilos of wheat were finely ground in the family mill until the eve of the War of Independence in 1948, when the area became no-man’s land.
With the increase in the local Jewish population, the Berman family moved to Meah Shearim, building a house and bakery side by side. Not only was it the largest bakery in Palestine but also in the entire Middle East. It was no wonder that it was a major tourist attraction at the time.
No loafing about
With the siege of Jerusalem in 1948, flour and gasoline rationing led to shortages and even starvation.
Due to its proximity to the Jordanian border, and since it was the main supply source for the besieged population, the bakery became the target of numerous bombing attempts. Despite this, the bakery never ceased production, and the residents of Jerusalem received a daily supply of bread.
Today Berman’s Bakery is in the growing and thriving commercial center of Gival Shaul, and when in 2001 it acquired Vadash Bakery in Ramat Hasharon and the Lechem HaAretz Bakery, a bakery specializing in health bread and special cookies, it became the second largest bakery in the country, producing 3000 fresh loaves every hour, much of which is transported across the country in over sixty trucks – a far cry from the mules and horses over 100 years ago!
‘Anchored’ in history, it all began with a vision from a window in the Old City!
Modern Israelis of all religious and ethnic background love bread, and eat a large variety of it. This is never more evident than on Friday mornings when Israelis, irrespective of their degree in religiosity, cram into bakeries selecting their different size and shape of their Sabbath bread, known as Challah. Made with eggs, this Jewish Sabbath‑and‑holiday bread is immersed in folklore and tradition and is loaded with symbolism as much as it is with ingredients. On festive occasions a blessing is said over two loaves, symbolizing the two portions of the manna that was distributed on Fridays to the children of Israel during their Exodus from Egypt. The breads are covered on the table by a decorative challah cover, representing the dew that collected on the manna in the morning. Poppy and sesame seeds sprinkled on the bread also symbolize the manna that fell from heaven.
Challah is made in various sizes and shapes, all of which have a meaning. Braided ones, which may have three, four, or six strands, are the most common, and because they look like arms intertwined, symbolize love. Three braids symbolize truth, peace, and justice. Twelve humps from two small or one large braided bread, recalls the miracle of the twelve loaves for the twelve tribes of Israel. Round loaves, “where there is no beginning and no end,” are baked for Rosh Hashanah to symbolize continuity, while ladder shaped ones served at the meal before the fast of Yom Kippur, reminds Jews that God decides who will ascend and descend the ladder of life. Sweet challahs with honey or raisins are baked during the festive season to bring joy and happiness.
The Sabbath and festival breads of the Yemenite Jews have become popular in Israel and can be bought frozen in supermarkets. Jachnun is thinly rolled dough, brushed with oil and baked overnight at a low heat. It is traditionally served with a crushed tomato dip, hard boiled eggs and skhug (Middle East hot sauce).
Malawach is a thin circle of dough toasted in a frying pan, while Kubaneh is a yeast dough baked overnight and traditionally served on Shabbat mornings. Lahoh is spongy, pancake-like bread made of fermented flour and water and fried in a pan. Jews from Ethiopia make a similar yeast-risen flatbread called Injera from millet flour.
And of course, the most common bread is Pita, created by steam, which puffs up the dough. In both Israeli and Palestinian cuisine, it is the custom to eat almost anything with pita, from falafel, lamb, turkey or chicken shwarma, kebab, omelets, shakshouka (dish of eggspoached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions) and most common, hummus and salads.
The South African ‘Ingredient’
Away from the giants of bread manufactures in Israel, are several boutique bakeries who pride themselves in baking mainly health breads. One such is Saidels Bakery – name recently changed to Saidel’s Artisan Baking Institute – located in the village of Ginot Shomron. Nestled in the shade of weeping willows, with the tranquil trickle of a babbling brook to delight the senses, this family bakery is run by husband and wife team, Les and Sheryl Saidel, immigrants from Johannesburg, South Africa. Modeled on the time-honored family “village bakery”, Saidels is a far cry from the high volume, industrialized operations of modern bakeries.
Les, a student of world renowned pastry chef Michel Suas (San Francisco Baking Institute) and “an artisan bread baker” with over 30 years of baking experience, laments that “our global health is declining and the food we put in our mouths has a lot to do with it.” He refers back to an age where there “were no major bakery chains and no E-something chemical list. Bread was baked in a local village by the baker from scratch.” Furthermore, he continues, “The mills of those early days could not grind the flour too fine so it retained all the components of the wheat grain, including the wheat germ. This was real bread.”
All this Saidels proudly emulates.
“We mill the whole wheat flour ourselves and use it immediately in the bread dough so no refrigeration of wheat germ is necessary and the wheat germ has no time to go rancid.” As Saidels bake their bread and sell it fresh out of the oven, there is no need for “stabilizers, preservatives and dough enhancers. We are artisan bakers and when we say 100% whole wheat that is exactly what it is – direct from nature, organically grown and no tampering.”
Their masonry oven was built by Les himself according to strict guidelines and is one of only two such ovens in the entire Middle East. Constructed with century old bricks imported from Belgium and with its Tudor-like facade, “our oven is not only the tool of our trade, it is a wonder to behold and attracts tourists and baking enthusiasts from all over the country.”
Les says he finds it enriching watching “the flames lick the brick interior of our oven, in the knowledge that our ancestors baked this way and that we are continuing their fine tradition”
Les says, “we have shifted our focus and allocate 70% of our time to running workshops across the country instructing in challah, artisan, healthy, French, Italian, Donut and flatbread baking. Once we even did a workshop on a large boat on the Sea of Galilee.”
Interesting new additions to the Saidels ‘repertoire’ is Rambam Bread, named after the Middle Ages Jewish philosopher and Rabbi, Maimonides, who advocated a healthy lifestyle and of special interest to their South African customers – Biltong Bread.
Chew on This
“After many years of experimentation, carefully manipulating the sourdough process and using a secret blend of spices,” says Les, “we finally hit upon the secret formula. There is NO MEAT in this bread. The Biltong taste comes from the combination of sourdough and spices and you taste it, you will react the same way we did after the eureka moment – “OMG this actually tastes like Biltong!”
Like real Biltong, this bread is meant to be nibbled, as a snack. The flavor is very dominant and may be overpowering in a sandwich. “People buy it sliced, ready for munching, or chop it up further into sticks or croutons for use in soups and salads.
Adhering to their health philosophy, Les says, “Our Biltong Bread is organic, has 80% whole grain flour, is high in fiber, low in gluten (over 60% is rye flour), has a low glycemic index, contains no preservatives, chemicals or dough improvers. It is all natural – flour, water, salt, malt, molasses, sourdough yeast and all natural spices (no MSG – that is a swear word in our bakery). Only 55 calories a slice – one slice is very filling, you won’t need more than one.”
Finally, says Les, “It is the perfect, delicious snack to nibble on that is actually GOOD for you!
Eating healthily today means enjoying a hearty, healthy breakfast and this includes enjoying Israel’s hearty breads.
In the sixties, ‘bread’ was hippy slang for ‘money’. As food, the doughy stuff has long been considered “the staff of life” and in Isaiah 55:10 we read:
“For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater.”
As the ‘Joburg’ ladies might say: “This bread is divine!”
Israel’s Hi-Tech Sector Soaring Bringing Palestinians on Board
By David E. Kaplan
This may not be the much touted “deal of the century” but it is Israel’s deal of 2019 – “so far” – and its only March!
Based in Santa Clara California, Nvidia’s acquisition of Mellanox is the “second largest ever” in the Israeli high-tech industry after global behemoth Intel bought Mobileye – the vision-based advanced driver-assistance systems providing warnings for collision prevention and mitigation – in 2017 for $15.3 billion.
This deal augers well for sustaining Israel’s hi-tech global branding.
Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia, said the company was “excited to unite Nvidia’s accelerated computing platform withMellanox’s world-renowned accelerated networking platform under one roof to create next-generation datacenter-scale computing solutions.”
Huang said he was “particularly thrilled to work closely with the visionary leaders,” of Israel’s Mellanox “and their amazing people to invent the computers of tomorrow.”
Nvidia will continue investing in local Israeli “excellence and talent,” calling Israel “one of the world’s most important technology centers.”
The acquisition will unite two of the world’s leading companies in high performance computing (HPC). Nvidia and Mellanox will together power over 250 of the world’s TOP500 supercomputers and have as customers – every major cloud service provider and computer maker.
Nvidia, will pay $6.9 billion cash to acquire Mellanox (MLNX) -twelve years after the Israeli company’s IPO on Nasdaq.
Mellanox develops and sells high-speed communications equipment using InfiniBand and Ethernet technologies.
Billion Dollar Man
Founded in 1999 by its CEO Eyal Waldman, Mellanox surpassed in sales an impressive $1 billion in 2018.
This will be Waldman’s second exit in two decades. He sold the Israeli chip company GalileoTechnology Ltd – which he co-founded – to Marvell in 2000 for $2.7 billion. Marvel Technology, like Nvidia, is also based in Santa Clara California.
A kite boarder and a scuba diver, Waldman, studied electrical engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
Responding why Mellanox is important in this marketplace, Waldman explains:
“So, if you look at the world today, the most important asset or resource on the planet is DATA. A long time ago it was real estate; then it moved to energy and now its data. It is the most important asset people can gather and own; the more data you have, the more powerful you become.”
Eyal Waldman is living testimony!
The Times of Israel describes Waldman as a CEO that is “perpetually in a rush, tends to eat fast food, gets joy from his success but spends as much time as possible with his family.”
Asked to describe himself, “I’m just a normal guy.”
The name “Mellanox”, Waldman reveals, comes from combining the sound of “Xerox” with “Millennium” – because the firm was founded in 1999 – and “Ella”, the name of his wife at the time.
While Nvidia redefined modern computer graphics and sparked the growth of the PC gaming market, Mellanox’s solutions include adapters, switches, software and silicon that accelerate application runtime and maximize business results for a wide range of markets including high-performance computing, enterprise data centers, Web 2.0, cloud, storage, and financial services.
Waldman said the company shares the same vision for accelerated computing – “a great fit given our common performance-driven cultures. This combination will foster the creation of powerful technology and fantastic opportunities for our people.”
By ‘people’, Waldman, includes Palestinians as Mellanox is one of several companies with Palestinian employees in the West Bank and Gaza, a source of pride for the firm.
“I think a lot of employees became millionaires overnight, and I’m very proud of that. In Israel and in the Palestinian territories, wehave employees in Gaza, Rawabi, Nablus, Hebron who also have Mellanox shares, and I think we will all benefit from this sale,” Waldman told Israel’s Channel 12.
The word is out: Working together is “a win-win for all”.
“We need engineers for high-level programming and together with the Palestinians we can build a large Silicon Valley for the Middle East,” said David Slama, senior director for Palestinian Authority activities at MellanoxTechnologies. “We’re missing talent that the Palestinians have on their side. Together we can build a bridge that develops great products for the whole world.”
Instead of outsourcing abroad for engineers, Slama says Israeli companies should look no further than the Palestinian Authority areas, noting that some 3,000 Palestinian information and communication technology graduates enter the market each year.
Setting an example, Mellanox and ASAL – a software and IT services outsourcing company based in Ramallah that employs some 250 technical experts around the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – began cooperating at the start of the decade. Mellanox was among the first Israeli companies to outsource to Palestinian software developers in the West Bank and Gaza. Today, more than 120 Palestinian engineers and software developers work for Mellanox.
Addressing the elephant in the room – namely the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – Tahboub says “it is not a social stigma” to work with Israeli companies. “On the contrary,” he asserts
“Political news is not only what the Palestinian people are all about. We want to have an export-oriented economy based on knowledge and innovation. This is our biggest vision. Innovation, technology and entrepreneurship is the way for the future,” he says. The latest Palestinian Mellanox employees are based out of the Rawabi Tech Hub, in Rawabi, the first planned city built for and by Palestinians in the West Bank, just 20 kilometers outside Jerusalem.
Rawabi is in the middle between Tel Aviv and the Jordanian capital of Amman. “It could absolutely be a hub for innovation not just serving the Israeli and Palestinian markets, but serving the whole region,” asserts Tahboub.
Behind the high-tech “Rawabi City” – Palestine’s first planned city – is Palestinian entrepreneur, visionary, and property developer Bashar Masri who is also the founder and Chairman of the Board of Massar International.
‘Massar’ is an Arabic word meaning “path” and symbolizes the vision of its founder – to create a company that would successfully link the very best of local professionalism in Palestine with international standards.
Says Al Masri:
“We are relying on our historic enemy, Israel, to be our best friend in moving forward. Israel is riding high. Israel is a super-advanced country. If we piggyback on their economy, I hope they will benefit, and they will benefit, and we stand to benefit exponentially. It’s a win-win situation for all of us.”
The history of the Jewish people and that of many African countries is more similar than it is different. There are some striking parallels – tribal allegiances, love of the indigenous land and a shared history of persecution and colonialism.
In the fledgling days before the founding of the modern State of Israel, Jews fought to end the British mandate that effectively colonized their ancient land.
It was with philosophy that both the founder of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl and Israel’s first Prime Minister, Golda Meir, recognized that the Jewish state was the natural partner to help beleaguered African countries.
They recognized the shared desires of the African people as well as the Jews to live free in their homelands and respected the national liberation movements of the time, sensing a mutual desire to that of their own Zionist ideals. Zionism after all, is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.
But today, much like in many other parts of the world, anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head on the continent. A continent that has suffered more than its own share of discrimination and persecution.
From the north to the south
Many would be surprised to find out that there once were thriving Jewish communities in many countries across the continent and while communities are sparse in sub-Saharan Africa, in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, they once flourished.
The Lemba of Southern Africa, the Igbo of Nigeria, Ethiopan Jews, the Abuyudaya of Uganda and the Sephardi and Ashkenazi of Europe, many of whom settled in Africa to escape persecution and who can forget the Mizrahi Jews of Arab countries, who were forced to flee Islamic rulers.
Due to rising anti-Semitism and poverty, these communities barely exist anymore. Outside of South Africa which has the largest community on the continent, there were communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Zaire (the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Zimbabwe. While many left for Israel, others left for Europe or elsewhere.
The continent’s massive poverty rates and political turmoil in the late 20th century led to some African national leaders blaming Jews for the problems of their countries which they claimed, “are operated by a conspiracy against the African race”. Anti-Semitism in Africa includes false rumors and allegations that the AIDS pandemic, was bioengineered by either the US, the United Nations or “the Jews” in a plot to exterminate millions of black Africans and that the disease is a part of the “Jewish” or “white Europeans’ maneuvers against Africa” or a continuous practice of “racial genocide”. African nations are prone to accept unreliable anti-Semitic reports and revisionist history that the slavery of black Africans in the new world was because of “Jewish merchants working for European colonial masters”. According to social scientists, these theories are appealing to some impoverished and downtrodden people without enough education to know the “Jewish conspiracy” myth is false and unprovable.
The South African story
In post-Apartheid South Africa, the Jewish community has not been spared. This is particularly troubling considering that the contribution made by the Jewish community during the Apartheid years was significant in the fight to end the racist regime. One famous example was that out of the 13 Rivonia trialists, 5 were Jewish.
Who can forget the inimitable Helen Suzman, the lone voice of opposition in parliament to the Apartheid government? Jewish and a woman to boot! Some of the greatest names to enter the pantheon of anti-Apartheid activists, be it through political, cultural, religious or civil action, include Johnny Clegg, Rabbi Isaacson, Joe Slovo, Arthur Chaskalson, Nadine Gordimer, Gill Marcus and Albie Sachs to name but a few. The founding fathers of the Rainbow Nation, Mandela, Sisulu and Thambo were intimately involved with Jews, having worked alongside many throughout their legal careers. Mandela famously visited Israel with “his” Rabbi Cyril Harris and met with then Prime- Minister, Shimon Peres. Mandela famously refers to Menachem Begin and the Irgun as the basis on which he hoped to model the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom:
“I read The Revolt by Menachem Begin and was encouraged by the fact that the Israeli leader had led a guerrilla force in a country with neither mountains nor forests, a situation similar to our own.”
I think that these great stalwarts of human rights would be greatly hurt to witness the appalling invective levelled against South Africa’s Jewish community.
Good Jew, Bad Jew
Manifesting more as anti-Zionism rather than traditional anti-Semitism (although the two cannot be separated) the clarion call seems to be “Jews are welcome, Zionists are not.” Or are they? Over the past few years, anti-Semitism is manifesting on the Southern tip of the continent much like it is all over the world. Social media platforms have become new battlefields and threats of violence and subsequent incidents have increased.
There seems to be a division between who is termed “good” or “bad” Jew. Good Jews apparently are not Zionist and identify as Jewish by “cultural ties”, not those awful traditional, Israel loving kind. There have been atrocious incidents of anti-Semitism ranging from the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement and their cries of “shoot the Jew” at a conference hosted by the South African Zionist Federation to the appalling tweets from populist Black Land First leader, Andile Mngxitama and a whole host of incidents and issues in between.
Many look to Europe or the USA as the barometer on how anti-Semitism manifests but if we ignore the South African model, we do so at our peril. It would appear that when BDS and their supporters in South Africa sneeze, their global network catches a cold. This is not to say that anti-Semitism in South Africa is restricted to BDS and the far left but the far right, perhaps emboldened by the alarming rise of their counterparts in the USA are rearing their ugly, neo-Nazi heads as well.
The consequences of rising anti-Semitism in South Africa are worrying. This could mean the marginalizing of a minority group that has played a vital role in not just the fight against the injustice of the past but continues to punch far above its size in helping to build a new country. It would also result in many of South Africa’s Jews leaving for safer pastures – and along with them, investment and employment opportunities for many of the country’s impoverished.
South Africans fought against Apartheid and many paid a painful price. After the struggles of the country’s dark past, do we really want to see this vicious cycle of discrimination and racism rise again?
Silence is no longer an option and the message that Jews are just as much a colour in the Rainbow Nation as any other community needs to be heard. Loudly.
It takes its cue from an indifferent world – A shameful Silence
By David E. Kaplan
Last year, writes Raymond Ibrahim, “Christians were persecuted more than ever before in the modern era — and 2019 is expected to be worse.”
Raised in the USA to Egyptian parents, Ibrahim today is a widely published author and Middle East and Islam specialist.
He was the first to expose in 2012, an Arabic-language Saudi fatwa that called for the destruction of any Christian church found on the Arabian Peninsula. Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.”
Raymond Ibrahim is sounding ALARM BELLS about the plight of Christians in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
Too few hear them ringing!
Writing this March in the Gatestone Institute, Ibrahim reveals that in 2018, 4,136 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons, according to Open Doors USA in its recently published World Watch List 2019 (WWL) of the top 50 nations where Christians are persecuted.
This translates on average, to 11 Christians killed every day for their faith.
Why the deafening silence?
Additionally, in 2018, “2,625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned”, and “1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked.”
In 2018, 215 million Christians faced persecution and the prognosis according to Open Doors, is that this year – 2019 – over 245 million will suffer – a 14% increase, that represents 30 million more people abused for their faith.
This means that “One in nine Christians experience high levels of persecution worldwide.”
Worse for Woman
Another frightening trend is the “shocking persecution against women.”
“In many places,” reveals the report, “they experience a ‘double persecution’ — one for being a Christian and one for being a woman! Even in the most restricted circumstances, gender-specific persecution is a key means of destroying the minority Christian community.”
“At least six women every day are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage to a Muslim man under the threat of death for their Christian faith…”
Among the worst persecutors are those that rule according to Sharia.
In Afghanistan (ranked #2), “Christianity is not permitted to exist” because it “is an Islamic state by constitution, which means government officials, ethnic group leaders, religious officials and citizens are hostile toward adherents of any other religion.”
Similarly, in Somalia, (ranked #3),
Al-Shabaab’s primary aim is to rid Somalia of all Christianity. In 2014 when their leader Ahmed Godane died, they appointed a new leader.
Despite Pope Francis’ statement that Africa is a continent of hope and his call to engage in dialogue against the attacks that have recently occurred, there is not enough being done currently to protect Somali’s Christians. When they are not allowed to express their beliefs to the government without being killed or to celebrate holidays and customs publicly that are Christian, they are being stripped from their basic human rights from society.
Being forced to hide their beliefs from the country and having to live in fear is not an acceptable way to live. Pope Francis is correct in saying that meaningful dialogue is important to solving this problem, but in the meantime, these Christians are being killed regularly, and a change needs to be come soon.
In Iran (ranked #9), “society is governed by Islamic law, which means the rights and professional possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted.” While worship is permitted under the Islamic Republic’s constitution, conversion to Christianity can be a crime meriting a sentence of more than 10 years imprisonment.
“There are many reports,” said Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern, “that this has contributed to the government’s ever-increasing dependence on hardline Islamic ayatollahs, who naturally see Christianity as a threat to their power. For this reason, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing an increase in Christian persecution.”
It has become increasingly common for authorities to arrest worshippers, raid house churches, and confiscate Bibles.
Under Pakistan‘s notorious blasphemy laws, Christians live in daily fear they will be accused of blasphemy — which can carry a penalty of death.
Only recently, Pakistan’s supreme court struck down the death sentence for blasphemy handed down to a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, in a long-delayed, landmark decision that freed her after nine years on death row and ignited countrywide protests from Islamist groups.
Christian farm labourer Bibi, a 47-year-old mother offive, was sentenced to hang for blasphemy in 2010. She had angered fellow Muslim farm workers by taking a sip of water from a cup she had fetched for them on a hot day. When they demanded she convert to Islam, she refused, prompting a mob to later allege that she had insulted the prophet Mohammed.
In Libya (#4), Yemen (#8), Syria (#11), and Iraq (#13) war has given rise to Islamic militancy and general lawlessness, both of which prey on Christian minorities.
While in Egypt, President el-Sisi has publicly expressed his commitment to protecting Christians, his government’s actions and extremist groups’ continued Christian persecution attacks on individuals and churches, have left Christians feeling insecure and extremely cautious.
Some recent examples:
In December 2017, a gunman opened fire in Cairo at a church and a nearby shop owned by Christians. Eleven people died as a result of the attack.
In July 2018, a mob attacked Christians in a village in Minya, when Muslim residents were angered by a Facebook post they believed to be blasphemous.
Many Christian girls and women have become the victims of sexual harassment, abduction and rape. In just one month (April 2018), at least seven cases of abduction were documented.
In early November 2018, Islamic State militants attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians from a monastery in Minya, killing eight and injuring more than 13 people.
According to Open Doors, 128 Christians were killed in Egypt for their faith and more than 200 were driven out of their homes in 2017. It attributed the rise in persecution to “the overspill of Islamic terrorists driven out of Iraq and Syria”.
Home to the largest Christian community in the Middle East, Christians in Egypt are facing unprecedented levels of persecution, with attacks on churches and the kidnapping of girls by Islamist extremists, intent on forcing them to marry Muslims.
“Michael Jones” – not his real name – a Cairo-based businessman and evangelical Christian, told The Guardian there was a gulf between statements from the national leadership regarding the Christian community and actions at a local level.
“You hear President el-Sisi speaking about Christians with a lot of respect and sympathy. Just a few days ago, he made a beautiful, emotional speech when inaugurating our new cathedral. It looked like an amazing affirmation that the state is supporting the church and the Christian community, and doing everything it can to guarantee our welfare,” said ‘Jones’.
“Then you have the local authorities in villages and towns – police, judges, business owners – and it’s evident that many of them are infected with a rejection of Christianity. You see this in daily practices.”
BDS – are you hearing the cries and calls for salvation or are you callously ignoring?
The Yazidis – “We harmed nobody”
This ancient faith that has survived for centuries by living apart in a tight-knit community is facing extinction. There are less than a million Yazidis worldwide, and most are in the Iraqi heartland.
Facing extinction – they see their fate inextricably linked to the wider world.
The Yazidi narrative reveals surviving 74 genocides throughout their tormented history, but the worst, Yazidis today will say, is ISIS “that is trying to eradicate our faith and culture.” Acknowledged by the United Nations as genocide, the ISIS campaign may have dealt “the most brutal blow.”
On 3 August 2014, ISIS attacked the Yazidi community in Sinjar, northern Iraq. Thousands were imprisoned or killed, and close to 100,000 people fled to Mount Sinjar. The UN referred to the attack as “a genocide”.
Women have paid the highest price when ISIS attacked. Close to 7,000 women have been sold as sex slaves. They have been brutalised by ISIS fighters, many of them repeatedly victims of sexual assaults. They were forced to convert to Islam, and many were forcibly married off to ISIS fighters. Women who tried to escape were often punished with gang rape.
Thousands of women and children, down to the age of nine, were repeatedly sold in slave markets in Syrian cities where ISIS had a strong presence. Boys from the age of seven years and upwards were separated from their mothers and put in camps where they were brainwashed and trained to become child soldiers.
In an appeal to the world, a priest, Sheikh Ismael Bahri, catches sight of a rare group of foreign journalists and wails:
“All humane countries of the world must see our situation. We’ve not harmed anyone. All we want is help and protection.”
While the Yazidis’ plight has moved some countries such as Australia, Canada and Germany that offered refuge to a limited number of victims, notably the women brutally enslaved by ISIS, most the world remains silent.
“We feel threatened here, we don’t have a future here,” cried out Tuli Bahri Evo, whose family crossed the border from Syria where the Yazidis’ presence is also dwindling.
Alarmed by a potential exodus which could endanger the very survival of this tiny community, Yazidi leaders are begging the world to help them stay in Iraq.
“We need our own Yazidi force so we can protect ourselves,” the Yazidis’ religious leader, Baba Sheikh says. “The world is only talking about Yazidis but doing nothing.”
Wake up world – the Yazidis are an “Endangered Species”!
Asia Bibi: protests erupt in Pakistan after blasphemy conviction overturned – video
Feature picture: Yazidi Kurdish women chant slogans during a protest against the Islamic State group’s invasion of Sinjar city, in Dohuk, Iraq, August 3, 2015. (AP/Seivan M. Salem)
With movements like Times Up which advocates for gender parity and #MeToo which has sent a resounding message to the masses that women will no longer be silent about sexual abuse and harassment and that the perpetrators will be brought to justice, it would appear that the time for women is now!
This International Women’s Day, as we focus on the importance of these issues, we have to consider whether or not ALL women are included in the conversation about these decisions that affect them.
With the rise of global phenomenon’s like the Women’s March and #MeToo that continue to gain momentum, so it seems that there are significant groups of women who are excluded.
In the case of the Women’s March, it was made abundantly clear to Jewish women who are proudly Zionist, that they were not welcome.
In fact, one of the founders, Linda Sarsour, had this to say:
“It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, ‘Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?’ There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.”
It begs the question – are Zionism and feminism on a collision course?
Comments like this are fast alienating Jewish, Zionist women from participating in tthe growing feminist movement in the USA.
During the Dyke March in Chicago in 2017, Jewish marchers who displayed the Star of David of their rainbow flag were asked to leave. Organizers defended their decisions saying that they did not want anything “that can inadvertently or advertently express Zionism” and that it made other marchers feel “unsafe”. This was not a display of the flag of Israel in all its blue and white glory but a rainbow flag with a Magen David (Star of David). So it was LGBTQ women’s rights for everyone – save for Jewish lesbians?
The Women’s March has fast become a growing cesspit of anti-Semitism, disguised in its new, trendy form anti-Zionism.
Three of the leaders of the Women’s March, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez are rising media sensations. They are articulate, camera-friendly and are very busy appearing to do good. They are “woke” and a draw card for young women who care about the growing importance of gender equality.
They organise rallies, clean up cemeteries, and protests at every conceivable opportunity. They are veritable pin-ups for girl power. They are also sadly, the new faces of ‘intersectionality’.
Intersectionality can be described as “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups” (Merriam-Webster dictionary).
Fraternisers Of Farrakhan
All suffering and discrimination are equal – except for that of Jews.
Unfortunately, these feminist poster girls have chosen to align themselves with some of the most vociferous anti-Semites.
While rallying against the “patriarchy” – they feel no compunction in cozying up to misogynist and arch anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan, who features at number 2 on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s list of top Jew haters. Number one was the Pittsburgh Massacre. Farrakhan is known for his trafficking in gross anti-Semitic tropes like these:
“I’m not mad at you because you’re so stupid. So, when they talk about Farrakhan, call me a hater, you do what they do, call me an anti-Semite. Stop it, I’m anti-Termite.”
“It is now becoming apparent that there were many Israelis and Zionist Jews in key roles in the 9/11 attacks. Israelis had foreknowledge of the attacks… We know that many Jews received a text message not to come to work on September 11”
Tamika Mallory referred to him as GOAT – Greatest Of All Time. Greatest hater perhaps, but certainly not someone to whom women fighting for equal rights should embrace like these leaders have.
As a result of this, many chapters of the Women’s March are divesting themselves from the greater movement and have joined well know celebrities like Debra Messing and Alyssa Milano in condemning the anti-Semitism that is spreading.
Feminism is very much a part of the fabric of Zionism and the story of the modern state of Israel and as a Zionist feminist woman, I am free to pretty much say what I want – unlike my Palestinian sisters!
Feminism predates the modern state of Israel and weaves through Jewish history with feminist heroines like Yael and Devorah and they have continued the tradition of strong, outspoken women in modern times. Zionists wrote the book on feminism. Literally! Have you read the bible? Some pretty strong women in there!
Zionist women are the ultimate feminist rebels, pioneers and trailblazers. Before the formal establishment of Israel, women were establishing the systems and institutions that would improve life for her citizens. Organisations like WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation) were at the forefront of the suffragette movement that took place in Europe at the time. The struggle for political suffrage for women is regarded as first wave of feminism.
Women’s rights in Israel are amongst the most progressive in the world and it would be remiss of me to not mention the iconic Golda Meir, one of the first female Prime Ministers in the world.
A powerful leader and orator, Meir was one of the first to recognise how Israel can help impoverished countries in Africa, and this was very much in line with the father of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl’s, vision that he wrote in his manifesto.
Zionist women are free to criticise any policy that we may disagree with because an Israel that stands up to the tenets of Zionism is what we strive for.
Israel is a vibrant and flawed democracy just like any other country and women are very much a part of the fabric that has and continues to build the country every day.
We are pioneers in many fields. We are trailblazers in business, politics, volunteer organisations, the arts and sciences and so much more.
We are religious and secular and everything in between. We are warriors and defenders of our country on land, sea, air and airwaves and we are homemakers, entrepreneurs and creative genii. We are changing the political landscape and we represent over 80 different ethnicities. We can vote, drive, and own property and business. We can make decisions that govern our bodies and our communities and if we want to, raise a little hell.
The hypocrisy of the Women’s March that while castigating and excluding Zionist feminists, they are not advocating properly for their Palestinian sisters. If they were concerned about the rights of Palestinian women, they would be holding the leadership accountable at every possible turn. They would be demonstrating outrage about domestic violence and honour killings, gender Apartheid which prohibits women from owning property or businesses, driving, voting and pursuing careers of their choice. They would march against underage brides forced to marry men before they reach puberty. They would be outraged about genital mutilation; genocide of Christian women and the unspeakable torture women are enduring in the Middle East under ISIS.
It is important that when it comes to discussing women’s issues, that the table is inclusive and that Jewish, Zionist women are included. Exclusion is not just discriminatory, it is hypocrisy.
Zionist women are happy to meet these organisations and movements at any intersection. Standing up for the rights of women regardless of religion or political leanings is what feminism is all about.
Israel is the “land of Milk and Honey” – and I am not speaking about biblical references! It is all about the single malt whisky. Known as “the water of life”, Israel is about to join a small, elite group of countries that is licensed to distill whisky. Not bad for a desert dwelling country!
Buying the cow?
Distilling whisky is quite a unique and specialised skill, and there are four main producing centres in the world. Scotland, Ireland, Japan and the USA have traditionally been responsible for sharing some of the finest scotches, whiskies and bourbons (yes, there major differences) but a tiny, powerhouse may be ready to challenge them.
Enter the Milk & Honey Distillery. Neatly nestled amongst the warehouses and buildings of Tel Aviv, this veritably hidden gem was borne out of the dream of six hi-tech entrepreneurs whose passion for whisky spurred them on to open their own distillery.
Speaking in an interview with a leading hi-tech publication, CEO Eitan Attir quipped “Founding the distillery was like buying a cow when you want milk.” The next logical step was to set up a company which they established in 2012. Construction of the distillery began in 2014 and the actual distillation started in 2015.
In order to comply with strict Scottish standards, the Milk & Honey Distillery must ensure that they are involved in the distilling process from start to finish and that their single malt spirit matures for a period of three years.
The Milk & Honey team spent two years studying the intricacies of producing top-notch whisky. Master Distiller, Dr. James Swan, who is also an expert on producing whisky in warm climates recognized the exciting possibilities that Israel has to offer and helped the team come up with a truly winning formula.
While in colder climates in can be claimed that a wee dram can warm the cockles of your heart in icy weather, Israel’s summer climate (and hair curling humidity!) presented a whole new challenge.
This dedicated distillery did the research and discovered that maturation happened much faster that their colder climate dwelling counterparts.
Israel also offers five geothermic regions, allowing for the opportunity to experiment with maturation in other areas, such as the mountains, the desert, and of course – The Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth.
Couple this with opening a distillery in Tel Aviv – the city that never sleeps and is a vibrant hub of good food and booze appreciation – and the result is a winning formula.
While Milk & Honey may offer other products, it is the whisky that occupies a point of pride and in May 2017, they launched Israel’s first single-malt.
This marked quite a historical moment not just for Israel but for appreciators of fine single malts around the world.
Sadly, no whisky was imbibed while writing this article.
Senior Researcher at NGO Monitor – the globally recognized research institute promoting democratic values and good governance.
On February 28, 2019, the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the riots along the Israel-Gaza border, which began in March 2018, alleged that “Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law… and may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.” The COI created a “confidential file” of “which is recommended be given to the International Criminal Court (ICC)” and to be used by governments to “consider imposing individual sanctions, such as a travel ban or an assets freeze.”
In contrast to professional fact-finding standards, the COI clearly established pre-determined legal and factual conclusions and merely gathered “evidence” to fit its desired outcome.
In preparing its report, the COI relied heavily on Palestinian sources, including Hamas and terror-linked non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Notably, the COI uncritically adopts the NGOs’ application of a domestic law enforcement paradigm – erasing the context of the armed conflict with Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups – to analyze cross-border violence.
The COI used anonymous and unverifiable “testimonies.” When asked during a press conference to provide details about how many of the 325 the interviews it conducted itself or how it selected the 325 individuals reportedly interviewed, the Chairperson of the COI was unable to answer the question and stated he would have to provide that information “at a later date”.
The information provided in the published summary is a near copy-paste from NGO submissions to the COI. For example, all names of Palestinian children killed were provided by Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), an NGO with ties to the Popular of Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group, i.e. one of the parties to the conflict in Gaza. (DCI-P’s submission was prepared in partnership with the CUNY School of Law Human Rights and Gender Justice Law Clinic.)
Reflecting the COI’s lack of expertise and muddled analysis, throughout the report, the COI mixes up the concepts of “international human rights” and “humanitarian law” and applicable rules and standards. For example, according to the Commission, the violence along the Israel-Gaza border was not a “military” or “combat” situation and therefore human rights law was the appropriate standard. Therefore, its conclusion that “human rights violations” may also constitute “war crimes” is baseless, since war crimes can only occur where the laws of war are applicable.
The UN’s shoddy researching and reporting led them to write identical paragraphs about the same fatality, Mo’min Hams, on different pages of the “protected groups” section of the report.
Minimizing Palestinian Violence, Erasing Palestinian Terror
The COI largely erases the dimension of Palestinian violence along the Gaza border, as well as Hamas’ leading role in orchestrating the attacks. NGO Monitor’s two submissions to the COI provided significant detail regarding the presence of violence – including use of guns, Molotov cocktails, stones, burning tires, incendiary kites, etc. as well as the exploitation of children to perpetrate these acts – along the Gaza border. These and other evidence of violence are freely available from open sources. The COIignored and minimized these armed attacks and reconstituted the riots as “peaceful protests.”
According to a statement made at a press conference, the COI deliberately focused on five main riot locations during the specific times of protests. This means that the COIignored essential context including that the riots were used as diversions to attacks occurring elsewhere at the same time as well as military attacks, shootings and other violence that occurred at other times, particularly at night.
Although the COI acknowledges the involvement of terrorist organizations in planning the events along the border, it absurdly insists that “the armed wings of these parties were not represented on the [planning] committee.” In Gaza in particular, the distinction between “armed wings” of terror groups and other branches of these groups is meaningless.
The COI whitewashes statements made by Hamas officials that demonstrate Hamas’ role in organizing and directing the violence along the Gaza. On May 17, 2018, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar stated that “when we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public. This is a peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies and enjoying tremendous popular support.”
On May 16, Hamas spokesman Salah Bardawil claimed “I am giving you an official figure. Fifty of the martyrs in the recent battle were from Hamas,” referring to clashes that took place on May 14.
The COI claims that Israel “intentionally shot” children, health workers, journalists, and those with disabilities, “knowing” that these people were “recognizable as such when they were shot.”
It is unclear how the COI could determine intent of or the information known to IDF soldiers at the time of a given incident.
One such disabled individual is identified as deaf. Obviously, an Israeli soldier, at a distance of 150m away, could not possibly know of this person’s condition.
In its press conference, COI members admitted that “maybe some of them weren’t visibly children.”
Illegitimacy of the COI
None of the COI members has any expertise in international humanitarian law or military operations. Not surprising then, the report ignores the applicable legal framework and instead lazily refers solely to human rights law, making the absurd claim that “the demonstrations were civilian in nature… and despite some acts of significant violence, did not constitute combat or a military campaign.”
The COI was marred by a lack of transparency and accountability. It was allocated the massive sum of $1.5million to complete this report yet kept secret how this money was spent. The identities of the staffers and any consultants employed are not disclosed, making it impossible to independently verify their professional qualifications.
The COI was established by the notorious UN Human Rights Council – a body controlled by dictatorships and authoritarian regimes and known for extreme anti-Israel bias. Therefore, it is not a true “inquiry,” but rather a rigged effort to recycle the claims of partisan NGOs and to grant them the legitimacy of the UN. This is another round to target Israel via such pseudo-investigations, including the notorious and subsequently discredited 2009 Goldstone report.
About the writer:
Shaun Sacks immigrated to Israel from South Africa in 1998. He received his BA from Bar Ilan University. Before joining NGO Monitor as a Senior Researcher, Shaun was the Senior Project Manager for NETSOURCE, an Israeli firm that specializes in providing technology employment opportunities to Ultra-Orthodox communities, and emerging market manager for McAfee Inc.