Trying To Pull The ‘Wool’ Over Africa’s Eyes

BDS South Africa’s wraps Palestinian headscarf over African continent in new logo

By David.E. Kaplan

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In the midst of the global Coronavirus crisis, BDS South Africa in its online newsletter dated March 20, announced that following consultations with several of its partners “in South Africa and on the African continent,” that the organisation will henceforth function under the name:

Africa for Palestine (AFP)”

While Africa is focused on protecting its populations from a killer virus, BDS South Africa is promoting and facilitating another kind of killer virus –  antisemitism, but now not only in South Africa but across the African continent.

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Antisemitism Over The Air. In this meme shared in March 2020, the coronavirus is depicted as being Jewish men.

Such is the ambition of BDS South Africa – excuse, Africa for Palestine!!!

With the African continent joining the world in trying to protect and save lives, BDS SA is moving in the opposite diabolical direction. What’s more, it brazenly does not disguise its nefarious intent as emblazoned in its new LOGO, with the entire continent of Africa ENVELOPED by a  Palestinian keffiyeh.

Does Africa really want to be branded by the headdress popularized by the likes of the late Yasser Arafat and the airline hijacker, Leila Khaled, the female member of the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine?

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The Plane Truth. Hardly a role model for today in Africa, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacker Leila Khaled brandishing her firearm.

Of course not.

Who can forget the photographs of Khaled wearing the keffiyeh circulated in the Western newspapers after the hijacking of TWA Flight 840 and the Dawson’s Field hijackings.

In a continent committed to a better future of science, technology and innovation, branding with yesteryear’s  terrorism is not the way to go.

Does BDS South Africa really believe that Africa is gullible to this attempted “Hostile Takeover” as they graphically  articulate in its new spine-chilling logo?

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Under The Microscope. The message of this meme of a microbe is that “Zionism” not Coronavirus is the “deadliest virus on earth”.

The people of Africa will see through this façade of deception!

Coronavirus does not distinguish between nations and religions, between Jews and Arabs and yet BDS South Africa  is  diabolically and deceptively exploiting the virus to fan antisemitism and defame the Jewish state with fabrications.

 So while since March 19, 2020:

the Israeli government has sent hundreds of coronavirus testing kits to the Palestinian Authority and Gaza as well as 2,000 protective suits and twenty tons of disinfectants and 100 liters of sanitizing gel

Israeli doctors and specialists have been dispatched to the West Bank city of Jericho to train Palestinian medical teams to save lives in combating the coronavirus pandemic

Palestinian Authority officials Ahmed Deek and Hussein al Sheikh – responsible for cooperation between the PA and Israel – praised Israel’s assistance, particularly the Israeli government’s honoring of the PA’s request to provide accommodations in Israel for 45,000 Palestinian worker-commuters from the West Bank to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection

and:

The UN Security Council issuing a formal statement welcoming Israeli Palestinian cooperation against Corona stating that it “provided a blueprint for renewed peace talks” none of these Israeli measures had any impact on BDS South Africa’s leadership who proceeded to serve its regular platter of conspiratorial accusations against Israel, as part of its 2020 annual “Israel Apartheid Week”.

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Riveting Revelation. Israeli Arab, Yosef Haddad (left) vs BDS South Africa’s founder Mohammed Desai on national South African TV on the 19 March 2020.

On March 19, when Israel announced it was considering a complete lockdown over coronavirus, BDS South Africa’s founder Mohammed Desai, charged Israel with refusing to issue vital life-saving instructions in Arabic to Arabic speaking citizens and residents of the Jewish state. However, Desai’s accusation was immediately revealed as false on South African national television by the TV debate’s other guest, Israeli Arab, Yoseph Haddad, who called Desai a “liar”.

Said Hadad:

As an Arab Israeli, I got the instructions in Arabic; SO STOP LYING.”

He then proceeded to ask the founder of BDS South Africa, who advocates boycotts of Israel whether he would himself  boycott  Israel in the following scenario:

 “Israel today is working on a vaccine for Coronavirus. Should it discover a vaccine, would you use it?”

Mumbling and digressing in trying to dodge the question, Haddad persisted for an answer:

“Would you use it – Yes or No. The question is simple”

The BDS South Africa head refused to answer and then concluded with this disgusting yet revealing comment:

 “Israel’s expertise should not be used as an exercise of blackmail.”

He knew he had been exposed as the fraud he is, as is the organisation he founded and heads, and now seeks to re-brand or disguise!

There is also no “disguising” the true Mohammed Desai when one takes a closer at the print on the white T-shirt he wore for this debate on national TV’s prime time:

Beneath the large colorful Google logo, appears the Search Box with Israel typed in and then the question:

Did you mean Palestine?”

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True Colours Revealed. Mohammed Desai, founder of BDS South Africa wearing an offensive T-shirt negating the state of Israel in a debate on South African national television.

Clearly, the founder of BDS South Africa shares the same sentiments as the cofounder of the global BDS movement Omar Barghouti when he said:

The two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is finally dead. But someone has to issue an official death certificate before the rotting corpse is given a proper burial… Good riddance!”

For BDS South Africa’s founder – there is no partnership, no coexistence, no Jewish State; there is no Israel!  

All this finally begs the question:

Why  has BDS South Africa changed its name to the preposterous and presumptuous –  ‘Africa for Palestine’?

The answer lies not in any success but due to its failure.

BDS South Africa is rebranding because its hateful and hurtful message no longer resonates with most the of people of South Africa.

Rather than a  “rose”, the newly morphed BDS South Africa is  but:

“A Reptile By Another Name”

 

 

At 2:40 minutes into this short video clip, Israeli-Arab Yosef Haddad asks the head of BDS South Africa, Mohamed Desai whether he would use an Israeli-made coronavirus antidote.

The Israel Brief- 29 March- 02 April 2020

 

The Israel Brief – 29 March 2020 – Unity gov. Corona update. More rescue flights.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 30 March 2020 – All your Israel Corona Updates.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 01 April 2020 – Is Israel going to restart its economy after Pesach/Passover?

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 02 April 2020 – Bnei Brak cordened off. Unity gov update. Another El Al flight to Australia.

Christmas Eve In The Upper Galilee

By Stephen Schulman

The pretty village of Jish is situated on a picturesque hillside in the Upper Galilee. However, unlike most others in the Arab sector, its skyline is not dominated by the ubiquitous minaret of the village mosque; instead, the cross stands proud, for Jish is home to 10,000 Maronite Christians who constitute 65% of the village’s population.

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Overlooking the Christian Galilee village of Jish, the cross stands prominent (Photo: Stephen Schulman).

In the afternoon of the 24th December, I was one of a group that was graciously hosted at the family home of Shadi Khaloul, a leading member of the Maronite community. In his 40’s, affable, articulate and outspoken, Shadi filled us in on its history, its contemporary status and regaled us with his own story.

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Shadi Khaloul, a leading member of the Maronite community (Photo: Stephen Schulman).

   The Maronite Catholic Church, although having formal communion with Rome, maintains its own rites and canon law is unique in having its own liturgical language: Aramaic, spoken in Israel in the time of Jesus and shared with Judaism. The church was founded by Saint Maron, whose followers moved from Syria to Lebanon where many of them live today while the rest are dispersed around the globe.

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Interior of modern Maronite church in Jish. (photo by Shmuel Bar-Am)

Whilst being Arabic speaking, they see themselves as Aramean Maronite Christians with their own distinct identity and in 2014 they officially gained the status of a national minority. They are not required to do military service but most of them prefer to serve. Shadi is no exception, having done his stint as an officer in the paratroopers.

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The new Maronite church in Jish (Photo: Stephen Schulman).

After completing his army service, Shadi, like so many other post-service young people decided to see the world and seek his fortune. He worked for some years in Las Vegas and with the passing of time found his true ‘pot of gold’. “I was studying at a comparative religion course where I discovered that the lecturer and students were completely ignorant of my religion and its vernacular, so I was asked to prepare a presentation. I then felt that more important to me than material wealth was to return home and devote myself to the cultivation and learning of Aramaic in my community.”

He has been true to his word and his tireless efforts have borne fruit. Aramaic studies in the Jish schools have been given an official status and the Ministry of Education approves and funds their study. While it is not compulsory, the great majority of students opt to learn it. Children who never understood the prayers now not only take delight in understanding the words but in also speaking the language!

Concerning the present situation, Shadi sees the Maronite community as an integral, contributing part of Israeli society where they have security, equality and freedom to freely worship and perpetuate their culture. “The Maronites have always felt an affinity with the Jews. After all, we have a common language. In 1948 in the War of Independence, we did not side with the Arabs.”

He does not mince his words.

In 1860 in Lebanon under Turkish rule, we sought a measure of autonomy where we could live peacefully side by side with our neighbors. The result was a massacre of our community where approximately 20,000 were killed. Learn from our bitter experience. Here in the Middle East, the reality is that you must be the majority to ensure your safety!”

Leaving Shadi’s home, our group strolled through the village to savor the festive atmosphere. Many of the homes were gaily decorated and festooned with lights. Before leaving, we congregated next to the beautiful new church with a tall Christmas tree in its courtyard.

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Delivering presents to the community (Photo: Stephen Schulman).

Our final stop was Mi’ilya, a small village north of Nahayaria whose approximately 4,000 residents are Melkhite Greek Catholics. A distinguishing feature is the King’s Castle: the ruins of a Crusader fortress upon which a church has been built. Walking up to the ruins to visit the church, we were met by the local inhabitants, many of whom were dressed in their red Santa Claus costumes. The atmosphere was festive and as Chanukkah and Christmas coincided, our greetings of Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday), as in Jish, were happily returned.

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Built For A King. King’s Castle in Mi’ilya was built over the ruins of the 12th century Crusader fortress that first belonged to the Crusader King Baldwin III, and was called the “King’s fortress” (Photo: Stephen Schulman).

Leaving the fortress, our group visited the village community centre that was humming with activity. The village has a special pre-Christmas custom when families bring their Christmas presents to the centre for safe keeping. The Scouts then store them in separate rooms according to the neighborhoods before being fetched on Christmas Eve. We arrived as the presents, with the aid of many happy young volunteers, were being loaded on light vehicles on their way to their happy recipients!

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Two young girls posing at the grotto scene at the church in Mi’ilya (Photo: Stephen Schulman).

On the way home towards Tel Aviv, there was much time for reflection. Here we were, on Christmas Eve, returning from a visit to two Christian villages whose residents, living within the Jewish state, enjoyed complete freedom of worship. I remembered the words of Shadi Khalloul and of a fellow Maronite Brigitte Gabriel of the sad plight of Christian communities in the Middle East. How distressing those basic rights that we take for granted in our country and about which much of the world remains silent, are not accorded in many of our neighboring states.

 

About the writer:

image001 (4).pngStephen Schulman, is a graduate of the South African Jewish socialist Youth Movement Habonim, who immigrated to Israel in 1969 and retired in 2012 after over 40 years of English teaching. Stephen, who has a master’s degree in Education, was for many years a senior examiner for the English matriculation and co-authored two English textbooks for the upper grades in high school. Now happily retired, he spends his time between his family, his hobbies and reading to try to catch up on his ignorance.

 

 

I Believe !

Holding On To Hope In A Post-Corona World

By Rolene Marks

I believe. I believe that even though all seems dark and uncertain at the moment, we will get through it. I believe that even though things may look different when this is over, we will heal. I believe that when we emerge from the dark, the light will be that much brighter. I believe as many face an uncertain future, we will support them. I believe that as we rise to the challenges, we will overcome them. I believe we will learn to appreciate each other a lot more than we have in the past. I believe we will be grateful for what we have. I believe we will rebuild. I believe we will be triumphant.

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Clearer China. Nasa images show China pollution clear amid slowdown due to Coronavirus.

I believe we will do all of this, together.

These are my beliefs, my hopes that when we finally emerge from the global crisis that there will be a shift in most of us, that having endured an experience that we could not have imagined just months ago, we will start the recovery process together – just as we have joined to fight the global Covid-19 pandemic.

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One of the jokes doing the rounds on the social network app – WhatsApp – is that it seems as if Mother Earth has sent us to our rooms to think about what we have done.  The idea is to take this time to think about the kind of people we would like to be and the way that we have treated our planet. I would not dare to challenge Greta Thunberg at this point, but it is certainly food for thought as reports come in about cleaner air over China, fauna returning to places that they have fled because of human encroachment and cleaner waters. It looks like the planet is taking some time to heal herself.

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Clear Water Revival. Because of the slowdown in human activity, swans are again swimming between the canals in Venice.

Many terror and militia organisations have laid down their arms (well, except for Hamas, which never pass up an opportunity to terrify as they showed by launching a rocket from the Gaza strip into Israel) and the UN Security Council, in a rare sharing of praise, lauded Israelis and Palestinians for their “excellent cooperation” in helping each other fight the threat posed by the virus.

While these are the positives, there are also many concerns – self-isolation, the ever present news cycle and frightening statistics.

Many of us are feeling frightened and fearful – the future seems so uncertain and we don’t know when we will emerge from this new normal, this global shutdown as humanity unites to face off against a ruthless enemy – Covid 19.

It is my hope that we will emerge from this crisis with a renewed perspective about what is important. Perhaps we will have renewed appreciation for our loved ones, especially our parents and grandparents. We have just been reminded of their vulnerability and for many, their frailty. They are not expendable.

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Health Hotline. Magen David Adom medics staff a special coronavirus hotline (photo credit: MAGEN DAVID ADOM)

We have been reminded that when faced with a common enemy it is possible to put aside differences and focus on our shared humanity. While I don’t think we will emerge from this and then sing kumbaya and braid each other’s hair, I do hope that having survived a global pandemic, we will be able to be a lot more empathetic to the other. Wishful thinking perhaps, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

I am hoping that we will come out of this better people. That the sanctity of life will be revered, that the worshipping of vacuous celebrity and influencers competing for likes on social media will be replaced by the respect and appreciation for all of those called to duty – whether it is leadership, saving lives, or just providing a service. We have learnt that superheroes may not always wear capes, but they do wear masks and protective gear, they work tirelessly often at great risk to their own health and safety.

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New ‘Military’ Uniforms. Workers inside a building at Tel Aviv’s Tel Hashomer Hospital, which was converted into a coronavirus isolation unit, February 20, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

It is my hope that we will emerge from this having learnt how to be a little kinder to ourselves. I hope we learn to appreciate the mundane details of our lives that we once took for granted – a cup of coffee with our friends, our creativity and our ability to look within.

I am not sure what kind of a world we will re-emerge into, but I hope that we will do this together, that the energy that we have spent on the fight will be the same, if not more, spent on the recovery. I am not sure what we will inherit but I do know that hope springs eternal.

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Saluting Our Saviors. Residents from their balconies in Jerusalem applaud medical staff battling coronavirus, March 19, 2020. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

I am not sure what the world will look like when we start the recovery process. I do think that one of the enduring lessons of the corona crisis will be how precious life is and how we can never take for granted the simple things. Perhaps the world will look a little brighter. I do know that I am looking forward to holding those I love tighter, that even though I know what my whole neighbourhood looks like relaxing on their balconies in their pajamas, I will judge less.

I do know that we will certainly embrace life – this time with cleaner hands.

 

Staying Healthy During Corona Crisis

In order to put up “The good Fight” we must boost our Immune System

By Lionel H. Phillips

In a 2012 article to understand the link between pandemics and what humans are doing to nature, disease ecologist and the president of EcoHealth, Peter Daszak asserted:

Any emerging disease in the last 30 or 40 years has come about as a result of encroachment into wild lands and changes in demography.”

It is our obligation to help virus-fighting cells to function efficiently in keeping our body protected from bacterial and viral infections. This is what could be called the ‘second line of defense’.

  • Remain calm
  • Keep occupied
  • Regular walks even in confined spaces
  • Stretching
  • Nose breathing which helps filter and clean the oxygen
  • Keep fully hydrated.

It is necessary to note that the ‘first line of defense’ against these invaders are the skin and the membranes that line the entrances to the body. These entrances are the nasal passages, the eyes, and the respiratory and digestive tracts. This is why the CDC  states that the first line of prevention is to wash your hands often and thoroughly as well as avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, as well as why so many people are rushing to buy face masks.

The immune and lymphatic systems are two closely related organ systems that share several organs and physiological functions. The immune system is our body’s defense system against infectious pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and fungi as well as parasitic animals and protists. The immune system works to keep these harmful agents out of the body and attacks those that manage to enter. We will deal with possibly the most active of these defenses.

The lymphatic system is a system of capillaries, vessels, nodes and other organs that transport a fluid called lymph from the tissues as it returns to the bloodstream. The lymphatic tissue of these organs filters and cleans the lymph of any debris, abnormal cells, or pathogens.

The lymphatic system also transports fatty acids from the Intestines (the intestines are vital organs in the gastrointestinal tract of our digestive system). Their functions are to further assist in the digestion by absorbing bile and pancreatic juices, which will help the nutrients released from that food to enter into the bloodstream.  The lymphatic system also transports fatty acids from the Intestines into the circulatory system.

Staying Healthy During Corona Crisis2

 

Bone Marrow and Leukocytes

Red bone marrow is a highly vascular tissue found mostly in the ends of long bones and in the flat bones of the body. Red bone marrow is a hematopoietic tissue containing many stem cells that produce blood cells. All of the leukocytes, or white blood cells, of the immune system are produced by red bone marrow. Leukocytes can be further broken down into 2 groups based upon the type of stem cells that produces them: myeloid stem cells and lymphoid stem cells.

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Leukocytes are the major cellular components of the inflammatory and immune system. While they only make up about 1 % of the blood in the body, leukocytes play an important role in protecting the body from infections/diseases caused by various microorganisms (e.g. bacteria, amoeba etc.) and other types of parasites such as filarial worms.

While essential nutrients are critical for the production and maintenance of key germ-fighting cells in the immune system, a balanced diet also has a strong effect on vascular function. The immune system is dependent on blood flow because the bloodstream is the route along which infection-fighting cells travel throughout the body to wherever they are needed.

Maintaining a well-balanced diet and keeping a healthy eating habit are your best assurance to keep the immune system functioning correctly.

Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins A and C. They also have phytochemicals that lend fruits and vegetables their colors. These food groups also contain antioxidants that promote the body’s built-in anti-viral and anti-bacterial functions. These nutrients help ensure that the lymphocytes can divide and reproduce properly in response to a virus, and that the neutrophils and macrophages that engulf and kill invading bacteria can do their job efficiently.

Maximizing the variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can be achieved by eating up to six servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It is necessary to consume two different colors of vegetables and fruits with each meal, and one-third of lean protein.

Include in your diet a generous amount of protein to ensure production of more white blood cells to help combat the invading antigens. The building blocks of all the body’s cells, including the cells that power the immune system, are the amino acids found in protein. Protein and amino acids are essential in increasing immune cell proliferation. It has also been reported that one crucial amino acid called, arginine, is required to let the body know that it’s being attacked by an infection, so that all those good virus fighting cells can react more quickly in a second-line of defense against a human coronavirus. It is also claimed that Arginine increases your blood circulation when it comes to fighting viral infections.

According to WHO, coronavirus causes respiratory diseases.   In short, COVID-19 virus begins to attack your lungs and two things can possibly happen – either it will end in your lungs or it can spread to other parts of your body, such as resulting in liver or kidney failure.

It is widely reported that once you have been attacked, it could take more than 12 months to fully recover.

Many Reasons to Drink Water Regularly Every Day

The most important items required for our Human Body Machine to function efficiently, is Fresh Air and Clean Water. Unfortunately, the majority do not consume sufficient of this most important commodity. Now is the time to improve, if there ever was one.

Now is the time to move beyond whether one likes or dislikes. WATER & MORE WATER IS THE ORDER OF THE DAY. Force yourself if necessary.

The various systems of the body use and store different amounts of water. It is imperative that every system works well, so that the other systems can also work in a healthy state.

Every system relies on the efficient functions of the other systems. So, if one system is not working well, other systems will be adversely affected.

Below is a listing of a few of the body systems that need and rely on sufficient water –

  1. Water boosts your Immune System
  2. Keeps you looking young and fresh
  3. Helps to keep your Kidneys healthy
  4. Gives you energy and helps avoid muscle and joint pains
  5. Prevents Headaches and Lightheadedness
  6. Improves the circulation of Blood
  7. Helps your Muscles to remain in good condition – even stops them from Cramping
  8. Important for your Digestive system – Avoids Constipation

  9. Prevents Bad Breath and a Dry Mouth.

The percentage of Water in your various body parts are –

Brain – 80%;        Blood – 85%;   Bones – 25%; Cells – 90%;    Muscles – 80%

There are three stages of the attack of a virus:

First stage

Flu-like symptoms with or without fever. At this stage it is hard to ascertain whether the coronavirus will continue to spread. It can stay dormant for at least 10 days before it goes to the second stage of attack. Hence why people are diagnosed with coronavirus can go past the thermal scanners at the airports without any early warning signs.

Second stage

Many diagnosed with coronavirus will develop pneumonia in both lungs and this is usually accompanied by symptoms like shortness of breath, fever, cough and other forms of breathing difficulties.

Third stage

Lung damage continues to build — which can result in respiratory failure depending on your health condition and age. In severe cases, you will witness coughing blood and other extreme conditions. Some may survive this stage or recover with permanent lung damage.

How does it Transmit?

When an infected person coughs or sneezes, coronavirus contained in micro droplets of saliva, mucus, or other bodily fluids can be easily transferred through skin contact (i.e. touch), kissing or airborne. So, if a person sneezes or coughs next to you, then you need to take extra caution by not touching whatever may have been on the receiving end, with your hands.

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Human pathogenic microbes, bacteria causing respiratory and enteric infections, infective endocarditis

 

The immune system is a complex system made up of organs and vessel systems including a network of individual cells and proteins.

It is “highly intelligent” and keeps a record of every germ it has ever defeated, so it can recognize and destroy the germ in the future.

The main parts of the immune system are:

  • White Blood Cells, also called leukocytes or leucocytes, are the cells of the immune system that are involved in protecting the body against both infectious disease and foreign invaders.
  • Antibodies are a blood protein produced in response to and counteracting a specific antigen. Antibodies combine chemically with substances which the body recognizes as alien, such as bacteria, viruses, and foreign substances in the blood.
  • The Complement System which plays a critical role in inflammation and defense against some bacterial infections.
  • The Lymphatic System is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body.
  •  Bone Marrow is the spongy tissue inside some of the bones in the body, including the hip and thigh bones. Bone marrow contains immature cells, called stem cells. Healthy bone marrow and blood cells are needed in order to live.
  • The Spleen is an abdominal organ involved in the production and removal of blood cells.

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Surely PREVENTION is as, if not more important, than CURE. It is never too late to Start.

Prevention is the age-old wisdom that never goes out of fashion, except for the fact that most fail to live by its importance.

There are non-invasive ways and means to assist us in living a healthy and energetic lifestyle. One of the many benefits is a stronger immune system.

 Best wishes to all – Stay Safe.

Lionel H. Phillips D.O.

 

About the Author:

Staying Healthy During Corona Crisis6.JPGLionel Phillips is a Doctor of Osteopathy (1975), an International Fitness & Health Instructor, Consultant and Lecturer. He has  researched and designed ‘The Needs & Functions of the Human Body’ as an educational subject for inclusion in all School Curriculums World-Wide.

A past Federation Member and Israel Liaison Representative of IHRSA (International, Health & Racquet Sportsclub Association) and member of their world-wide “Panel of Experts”, Phillips is a recipient of the “Prime Ministers Award of Merit” (PM Menachem Begin).

 

 

Interested in keeping fit alone or together with the whole family?

Lionel Phillips’s website www.globalhealth-education.com which he launched in 2000  is a free site offering advice and explanations on the needs of The Human Body and how to cater to those needs.

Below you will find the link to website pages that illustrate and explain every movement.

(All of the routines can be copied and printed.)

Exercise and Stretching Routines

Pandemania

By Martine Alperstein

בס”ד

א׳ בְּנִיסָן תש״פ     Rosh Chodesh Nissan 578

25 March 2020

The lights dim. The camera rolls. A roaring male lion fills the screen. All is quiet except for the sound of crunching popcorn, the shlurping of soda and the soundtrack of the movie starting on the screen.

90 mins of sci fi hell as we are glued, fixated and sitting on the edge of our seats. The credits roll, shoulders relax, and we hear a common sigh of relief. It is over. It was just a movie. It was not real.

Except it is.

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It is real and we are living it, breathing it, experiencing it …….. every day and in every corner of our earth.

Covid-19. The corona virus that has spread its way across the entire globe and has changed our lives and our realities. It has brought with it fear, panic, distress, suicide, cruelty, dishonesty. It has reduced the world to latex gloves, a ridiculous amount of alcohol gel and all sorts of masks of varying types and qualities. It has crippled business and left many unemployed and unable to provide for their families. It has separated neighbourhoods, communities, families and people. It has left a trail of many dead.

What the hell is going on?

How on earth did this happen?

What does this mean now? What will this mean in the future? Will we ever understand it? What can we learn from it? How can we stop it? What can be done to prevent it? How do we flatten the curve? How do we kill the graph completely? How do we eradicate this virus from our world?

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I am an observant Jew. I believe in G-d and I believe everything happens for a reason. But there are some things that I don’t think I will ever understand. And Covid-19 is one of them. Is G-d trying to tell us something? Is G-d punishing us? Is G-d trying to help us put an end to pollution and save our environment? Is this G-d’s way of culling, of controlling population? Is G-d giving us a lesson to learn? What is G-d thinking?

I am desperate to find some meaning, some understanding, some clarity in this terrifying chaos. And I keep replaying the idea that these emotions and questions are not just pertinent to now. History is overflowing with records of atrocities, of cruelties, of war, of disease, of death.

There are some incredible people out there doing amazing work. Giving of themselves, sacrificing time with their families, sleep, rest and so much more to do whatever they can to help. The medical teams are putting themselves at risk in order to help save those already infected. People are reaching out to others to support where they can, to donate what they can and help where they can. There is many a shining light amongst us, who make the choice to turn on their torch in full.

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Tel Aviv. People in Tel Aviv take to balconies to applaud medical staff battling coronavirus, March 19, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

And yet, this feeling of loneliness is overwhelming. Overwhelming for me who has a husband and children with me at home, overwhelming for me who is surrounded by an incredible network of really amazing family and friends who are constantly in touch, supporting me and being supported by me. And still, I feel so alone. Days on end of not leaving the house, of very little human touch, of keeping distance. Zoom is still just a picture on a screen, WhatsApp video is just another variation on a different device.  And as much as I am so grateful for this technology which makes a huge difference to our communication and our being in lockdown, it still does not replace human contact, human touch and face to face conversation.

I don’t know what the lesson to learn is, what the takeaway should be. And maybe I never will. But one thing Covid-19 has highlighted in bold with flashing lights is that we are us. There is no distinction. There is no discrimination. There is no privilege. There is no advantaged and no disadvantaged. Covid-19 does not care if you are black, white, yellow, green or purple. Covid-19 does not care if you pray to G-d, Hashem, Allah, Buddha, a totem pole, the Sun God or to nothing at all. Covid-19 does not care if you are straight, gay, bi-sexual or transsexual. Covid-19 does not give a damn if you have millions in the bank, are just getting by, struggling to put food on the table or living on handouts. Fame and Fortune mean nothing at the end of the day.

Covid-19 has humbled me.

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Jerusalem. Women in Jerusalem applaud medical staff battling coronavirus, March 19, 2020 (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Covid-19 has reinforced my belief that the only thing that counts is the way you behave, the way you conduct yourself, the way you treat others and the way you relate to others. Ego, arrogance, importance, high and mightiness is a waste of time, of emotion, of your time on this earth.  We need to focus on what counts. On what brings value. On what creates meaning. And on what really makes a difference in this lifetime of ours.

 is how we shine and make a mark on this world   מצוות שבין אדם לחברו

The choice is yours.

I light a candle to our love

In love our problems disappear

But all in all we soon discover

That one and one is all we long to hear

(Pipes of Peace – Paul McCartney)

 

 

So Nu, What Are You Doing These Days?

Coping With Corona

By David E. Kaplan

Travelling anywhere?

Yes, too frequently! To the kitchen and sometimes a pitstop at the bar cabinet!

And for those in for a little more adventure, I hear:

We, wife and I, are going away for the weekend; we just haven’t decided which room to move to!”

This is the “new normal” or as one headline so poignantly warned, “If your weekend felt normal, you are endangering us all.”

‘Social distancing’ and ‘washing your hands’ we are told is our “only hope”. With Corona accelerating, we have little protection other than our behaviour, which requires us to keep apart.

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While people are unable to control events, they can control how they cope with them.

This is literally in their hands – both figuratively and literally.

With the entire Israeli  public under strict lockdown, Lay Of The Land was  intrigued how this boisterous and socially gregarious public was handling being cooped up in their homes.

“You have to keep going and keep busy,” advocates Pauline Borsuk, a senior citizen resident at the South African retirement home Beth Protea in Herzliya, Israel. “I keep engaged by phoning my brothers on WhatsApp in the States – Boston, Houston and Washington and my kids and grandkids in Israel.  Then I go to pottery, walk and sit in the public areas of Beth Protea – keeping our two-metre distance of course, and have my hair done once a week. We can’t leave the place; we can’t receive visitors and we no longer have meals together in the dining room.”

So how is that managed?

“All the meals are now wonderfully packed and brought to our rooms. So we adjust; we manage. I was a professional social worker, so I understand what is required to cope. You have to keep going and do the best under these trying conditions. This is the way I think. I had a mother like that and a grandmother like that – it’s in my genes.”

And finally Pauline adds “don’t lose your sense of humour.”

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Under Lockdown. The garden section of Beth Protea, the South African retirement home in Herzliya, Israel.

Jokes Aside

So true as shown by the amount of time people globally are investing in the dissemination of humour through social media. A sense of humour is proving a strong line of defense in coping with stress.

A key element of jokes shared, mostly on WhatsApp is that they comically force you to look at the same situation in different ways.

With frequent references by politicians saying, “we are at war” and “fighting an invisible enemy”,  I loved this one below comparing our efforts in this “war” to the “Greatest Generation” of WWII:

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As far as keeping busy at home, people are proving imaginative and industrious, I called my Lay of the Land colleague, Rolene Marks to get her take what she is “up to” when she is not writing or broadcasting live and she did not allow me to even finish the question:

Call back in an hour. I’m just about to start my on-line gym class on Zoom!”

 This I was familiar with. My daughter Keren, a dance instructor is running  five classes for her students on-line using Zoom and hopes to raise it to twelve classes.  She has converted an upstairs spare room into a solo dance studio, “and it’s working well,” she says descending the stairway with a heavy sweat after an early evening class. “Great way to keep fit and keep up our spirits” she says.  Without having to leave their parent’s homes, her students range in age from nine to eighteen years. It does come with some dangers. With a slanted roof in one section of her loft ‘studio’, a bump on the forehead was noticeable after one energised modern jazz session!

To see Keren perform with friend Lee in the local Hod Hasharon Park before it was closed to visitors due to Coronavirus:

Inspired by my daughter’s example, I have converted our lounge into a gym and removed an unpacked GymTrim exercise machine which I had brought from South Africa when I came on Aliyah in 1987.  That’s a long time ago. Many times I considered getting rid of it. Which only gives credence to the adage – “Don’t throw away today what you might need tomorrow.”  In this case, that tomorrow took over three decades to arrive – thanks to Coronavirus!

Reflecting on my native South Africa whose population only this week has been  locked into their homes for a period of at least 21 days, the writer, Richard Poplak in his ‘Locked & LoadedSouth Africa enters the Age of Corona’ notes that “home” is “a mutable term where some will sequester themselves in palaces, others in shacks. These inequities – long nurtured and time-tested – are the conditions in which any virus thrives. Can we beat Covid-19 when we haven’t figured out how to live without a plague.”

Over 700 cases in South Africa have so far been diagnosed and the future is uncertain.

My next call was to Manof,  a community settlement established by South Africans in 1980 in northern Israel. Located on Mount Shekhanya in the Lower Galilee, about 30 km northeast of Haifa, Manof has a population of 862.

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Picturesque and Pastoral. Established by South Africans in 1980, moshav Manof in the Lower Galilee, in northern Israel.

Only a few days earlier, some 197 of its residents came out of a 14-day period of quarantine after having attended a party celebrating the Jewish festivity of Purim where also attending had been a visitor from abroad later diagnosed as having Coronavirus. .

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Resident of Manof, psychotherapist Irit Kaplan.

Fortunate in not having attended the party, Irit Kaplan escaped the quarantine.  A psychotherapist, with a clinic near Nahariya, a coastal town in the north and nearly an hour’s drive away from Manof, the writer was interested to know how she kept her practice going.

“On the phone and on-line, I am at least managing to maintain about 70% of my work and that includes supervising my fellow professionals.”

And how has Corona affected her clients?

“A spectrum of reactions, all depending on the circumstances of the individual from a divorcee feeling more alone now than before to others anxious over their economic future. Also, with the children all confined in limited space, homes become pressure cookers.”

However, it was pleasing to hear from Irit that she had not “yet” encountered “any major fears, depression, acute anxiety or panic attacks as a direct consequence of the Coronavirus.”

An hour later, I called back Rolene calculating she must have finished her online Zoom gym session. She had, but she  was about to start her online live ballet class. “It’s the only way to get through this Corona. One has to continue doing things that feel normal and structure your day meaningfully.” As an example, she cites her husband, who is in hi-tech and now working from home, “gets up in the morning the usual time, dresses the same way as if he was going to work, and ‘travels’ to the dining room where he has set up his office, sits in front of his computer and does a full day’s work.”

As for Rolene, “there are five of us in our gym class; we have a WhatsApp group, and we synchronize when to hold our classes. My ballet is with another group and if its Sunday, its Pilates.”

So Corona or no Corona, “we pursue our  lives within the limitations imposed on us.”

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Home Alone. Pre-Corona, Rolene Marks (left) exercising with friends on Tel Aviv beach. Now each in her class, exercises alone but together through Zoom.

Collective Comfort

Away from the cities and towns, Israel’s rural population living in its collective settlements are fortunate to have social infrastructures to cope with Corona.

“I think what is quite unique  about Israel,” says Irit, “are our support systems across the country on our kibbutzim, moshavim and yishuvim. Already in place, these structures of support equipped communities to absorb the unforeseen Corona.” She explains that on Manof, “We have a committee for our seniors who are constantly phoned to see how they are doing and if they require anything from food to medicine. We have organised for provisions from our local store to be delivered to households by the youth of the moshav, who are all volunteers. On our internet network, people advise when going to the supermarket or pharmacy and offer to get for those who need anything. We also have a women’s WhatsApp group called “Who’s Got A Cup Of Sugar”. We are 135 in the group and help each in need. On an ordinary day, it might be “I have run out of baking powder, ginger or garlic, these days it is more in tune with the needs of coping under Corona and that includes, sharing jokes. Above all, we need to keep our spirits up.”

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The New Normal. A man wears a face mask as he walks in a market in Ashkelon while Israel tightened a national stay-at-home policy following the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ashkelon, Israel March 20, 2020. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Israelis are used to keeping their spirits up as well as  accustomed to staying at home and obsessively tuning into the news. Wars and constant terror have prepared and hardened this population.

This however is different.

How we should have listened to Bill Gates when he addressed the 2015 Ted Talks when he warned :

“If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes.”

These days, it’s not to bomb shelters, sealed rooms or the stairwell Israelis scurry, sometimes in their pajamas. With Corona we have the luxury of staying put on our sofas.

As Dana Kesler noted with wry humour writing in the Tablet that when this is all over, Israel can expect “a post-coronavirus baby-boom plus a long line at the rabbinical courts to get a divorce.”

A baby-boom is good; in the meantime let’s get over the virus!

 

 

The Israel Brief- 23-26 March 2020

 

The Israel Brief – 23 March 2020 – Corona in Israel updates. Knesset shutdown updates.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 24 March 2020 – All the latest on the Israel Corona Crisis and the Knesset updates right here.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 25 March 2020 – Corona updates. Edelstein’s bombshell resignation. El Al flies more rescue missions.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 26 March 2020 – What is going on at the Knesset? Israel’s health Ministry says next two weeks critical for containing Corona virus in country.

 

 

“Shaken, Not Stirred”

Aliyah In The Age Of Covid-19

Israel must be the only country in the world that is today welcoming new immigrants

By David E. Kaplan

In a country where its friendly citizens typically love to kiss and warmly embrace, “social distancing” is now the name of the game. Schools, universities, kindergartens, movie theaters, restaurants, pubs, gyms, parks, libraries, museums and beaches are now off limits. “All social interactions,” says the Ministry of Health should be conducted on the phone or by other digital means. Pessimistically paraphrasing the  iconic line from the 1970 romantic movie ‘Love Story’, Israel’s Prime Minister appeals:

Love is keeping your distance

As the novel Coronavirus pandemic continues to proliferate, each day brings with it new challenges and restrictions for Israeli society. Where one day the restriction is not to meet anywhere where there are NOT more than ten people present, the next day it is not to meet at all – unless it’s a dire emergency.

Where one day an instruction is an appeal, the next it is a pre-emptory order.

“This is not a game. It’s a matter of life and death,” asserted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his update on Tuesday.

And yet, there is something quite unique about Israel. Despite  the dwindling few still entering the country going straight into a mandatory 14-day quarantine, new immigrants (olim) are still arriving at Ben Gurion Airport with Israel absorbing them like returning family.

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One ‘FLU’ Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Like something out of the movies, travelers wearing masks chat in the arrivals terminal after Israel said it will require anyone arriving from overseas to self-quarantine for 14 days as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus at Ben Gurion International airport near Tel Aviv, Israel. (photo credit: REUTERS/RONEN ZEVULUN)

In the first half of March 2020, 163 immigrants arrived in the country, according to the Jewish Agency’s statistics.

One of them is Craig Evans from Sasolburg in South Africa who came with his wife Meghan and their 9-year-old-son. An older 14-year-old daughter, Jade, was already in Israel, enrolled at the Mosenson School in Hod Hasharon. The first Craig and Meghan heard that they would have to go directly from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport into quarantine was when they were standing in the departure queue at the A1 gate at Oliver Tambo International Airport. “There we were, about to board our El Al flight and we received a phone call from the Israel Centre in Joburg informing us and that there would probably be no-one in Israel to officially welcome and process us through immigration. We must make our way alone as best we could and then head straight to our apartment and wait for someone to contact us!”

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The Evens Family. New immigrants to Israel, Meghen and Craig Evens and their children Kai and Jade from Sasolburg, South Africa.

Like the intrepid MI6 agent of “Shaken, but not stirred’ fame,  Craig told Lay Of The Land “Yes, obviously we were concerned but there was no turning back. Our minds and our destination were determined. We were going to Israel, and contrary to the warning, we received 5-star treatment. They literally welcomed us from the moment we got off the plane in Israel. We were met by the representative from Telfed and the Jewish Agency who stood there holding aloft a sign with our names on and who then guided us through the process of receiving all our necessary documentation – most importantly for Kupat Holim (health care provider). We were out of the airport in 30 minutes;  and then the rep organized a huge transport vehicle for all our masses of baggage and in less than one hour, we were  in our apartment in Netanya.”

So how did it feel for this on-line marketing man and dance teacher wife to be alone in quarantine in a new country?

“Who’s alone? We have an incredible circle of friends  all over the country as well as new friends. Within 40 minutes of arrival, there was a knock on the door from the local South African community to welcome us and bring food.  We have been inundated with people contacting us, even if only over the phone or through the narrow gap of the front door.” Seeing “a silver lining” in the situation, “if it was not for the quarantine, we would never have met so many new people. This would never happen anywhere else in the world.”

Immigration to Israel is a complex process and during a global health crisis even more so. “We are advising people to postpone their immigration, but it’s not so easy,” explains the South African immigrant organisation, Telfed’s CEO, Dorron Kline. “People have sold their homes and cars and even so, people want to come and are determined to brave these challenging times. Whatever they decide, Telfed will be there for them,” asserts Dorron. “Telfed was born in challenging times when it was established in 1948 during Israel’s War of Independence and we are at war now against an unseen enemy and we are all ready to meet this challenge.”

Such determination is evident with a young man immigrating next month  from South Africa who will be going straight into the IDF. “Not only is he still determined to enlist during these trying times,” says Dorron,  “but he wants to come earlier to Israel to enable him to complete his 14-day quarantine period before his call-up date.” Only the day before, “we had a 19-year-old, young woman from Australia who just made Aliyah, so yes, despite the situation, people are still coming.”

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Fear Of Coronavirus. Usually crowded with tourists, the empty square outside the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on March 16, 2020. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Even with the enormous pressures on Telfed’s staff who are alternating between working from home and the head office in Ra’anana, “we are calling all immigrants who arrived in the last six months from South Africa and Australia  to  find out how they are coping and if their need any assistance. We have also created a special Coronavirus platform on our  Telfed website where people can on-line ask for any assistance and others in the community can volunteer to help them. We are connecting those in need with those who can help.”

An example of how successfully the project works, Dorron sites “a new South African immigrant who was in quarantine and who ran out of her medicine. She posted this on the Telfed website  and in a few minutes, someone responded and offered to go the pharmacy and bring her the medicine.”

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Welcome To Israel. An empty arrival hall at Ben-Gurion International Airport on March 11, 2020. Photo by Flash90.

Yael Katsman, Vice President of Public Relations and Communication at Nefesh B’Nefesh – which supports Aliyah from North America and the UK –  told The Jerusalem Post earlier in the week that in spite of the coronavirus crisis and despite the restrictive conditions, “Aliyah is continuing. We have a group of 24 olim arriving Thursday who are going to be remotely processed, which is a first.” The composition of the group are of diverse backgrounds and ages – families, retires and singles and that only a few of the elderly had decided to postpone. And as to the immediate future, Katsman says that in the period leading up to Passover in April, “We are expecting about 60 to 70 olim. At the moment, a very positive indicator is that people who had planned to come are still coming regardless of this new reality.”

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Happy To Be Home. American David Bassous, who made aliyah from Highland Park, N.J. Credit: Courtesy.

One recent arrival is David Bassous who made aliyah over a week ago from Highland Park, N.J. “I didn’t realize how hard quarantine would be,” he admits. “The hardest part being unable to go outside or see the kids and grandchildren.”

However, he  figured that Israel “is one of the safest places to be right now because of its proactive policy—one of the strictest in the world.” Nevertheless  “I was still shocked when I landed and witnessed Ben-Gurion Airport deserted.”

Still, says Bassous, he’s “so happy to be home after a 2,500-year exile.”

There are a lot of Jews around the world  – Coronavirus or not – who share his enthusiasm. They can live for a while being two meters apart from the next person, but not being apart from their ancestral homeland.

 

 

At this time of difficulty and danger, here is a  Healing Prayer from Jerusalem

 

 

 

*Feature Picture: New Immigrants to Israel Jump Right In to Coronavirus Quarantine – Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau, World Chairman of KKL-JNF Daniel Atar, and Co-Founder of Nefesh B’Nefesh Tony Gelbart with Olim moving to Israel’s periphery (photo credit: SHAHAR AZRAN COURTESY OF NEFESH B’NEFESH)

The Israel Brief- 16-19 March 2020

 

The Israel Brief – 16 March 2020 – Israel Corona update. Gantz to form gov. Is IAW really necessary?

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 17 March 2020 – Israel stands strong during Corona restrictions. Knesset sworn in. anti-Semitism spreads during Corona crisis.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 18 March 2020 – Is Israel headed to full lockdown? Edelstein dissolves Knesset. Islamists blame Zionists and America for Covid 19.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 19 March 2020 – Israel’s Foreign Ministry calls Israelis traveling abroad to come home immediately. Palestinians and Israelis establish joint operations. Story time with Ruvi.