Tefillin against Terror

Jews around the world honour the memory of Eli Kay by doing good deeds in his name

By Michael Kransdorff

Eli Kay was 25 years old. He was deeply committed to Israel and the Jewish people. He made Aliyah from South Africa to Israel as a Lone Soldier. Eli worked as a tour guide at the Western Wall, guiding people through the sacred tunnels.

A few weeks ago, he was gunned down by a Hamas-affiliated terrorist on his way to pray at the Kotel (Western/Wailing Wall) with his Tefillin in his hand.

While this act of terrorism was an unimaginable tragedy for his family and friends, it was also an attack on Klal Yisrael (all of Israel). It was an attempt to deny the Jewish people’s right to pray at our holiest site.

Honouring Eli. A Young visitor to the Eli Kay family during the week of shiva hold up Eli’s Tefillin bag and lay his Tefillin that was recovered after the murderous attack in the Old City, Jerusalem

How would we respond?

Rabbi Ari Shishler, a Chabad Rabbi based in Johannesburg and a close friend of the Kay family, said in an online address after the attack:

 “We are all in shock over the heinous murder of our friend Eli Kay. This was not an attack on an individual. It was an attack on Jews, Judaism and the conscience of all civilised people“. 

We felt this required a response. With the help of Rabbi Ari Shishler, Rabbi Eitan Ash and Josh Maraney, we decided to launch the #TefillinAgainstTerror campaign. We began by calling on people to post selfies of themselves putting on Tefillin with the hashtag #TefillinAgainstTerror in Eli’s memory and as an act of defiance against terror and Antisemitism.

Honouring Eli. A Young visitor to the Eli Kay family during the week of shiva lay his Tefillin that was recovered after the murderous attack in the Old City, Jerusalem.

The response has been phenomenal.

The campaign has gone global. Thousands of people from all over the world including far flung places like Aruba and Mexico have responded on social media platforms, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. In Israel, people have embraced this call by coming to the Shiva house and asking to put on Tefillin. The family has been overwhelmed by the love and support.

Honouring Eli. A Young visitor to the Eli Kay family during the week of shiva hold up Eli’s Tefillin bag and lay his Tefillin that was recovered after the murderous attack in the Old City, Jerusalem

Women also wanted to do something special to honour Eli’s memory because laying Tefillin is a commandment fulfilled by men.

The campaign was broadened to include candle lighting for the Sabbath in Eli’s memory. The recent festival of Hanukkah provided an opportunity to once against reaffirm our right to freely practice our faith. Just as the Maccabees were able to keep the oil burning in the Temple against all odds, we will not let terrorism deter us now from bringing light into the world.

Honouring Eli. A Young visitor to the Eli Kay family during the week of shiva hold up Eli’s Teillin bag and lay his Tefillin that was recovered after the murderous attack in the Old City, Jerusalem

To date, many around Israel and the world have done acts of kindness to share light against terror. A popular journalist based in Jerusalem and her husband donated sufganiyot (donuts) to soldiers on duty. A group called “Friends of WIZO” who support a WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation) shelter against domestic violence, dedicated a Hanukkah party in his honour.

The most high-profile act of memorial was by popular hard rock band, Disturbed’s front man, David Draiman. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post from his home in Hawaii, Draiman said he wanted to make a statement by coming to Israel after seeing the coverage of the attack.

The coverage was reprehensible in the vast majority of American and European media,” said Draiman. “It’s scandalous how they presented it. Headlines like ‘Palestinian shot dead.’ Well, why was the Palestinian shot dead? Because he was perpetrating a terrorist attack. I love how the context is always flipped around.”

Disturbing News. David Draiman  American singer and songwriter and lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Disturbed, was horrified by the international media coverage of the terrorist murder of Eli Kay, came to Jerusalem and lit a candle at the spot where Eli was brutally gunned down.

Draiman, who noted that he has some 200 relatives living in Israel, said that his candle-lighting ceremony is intended to say that:

 “we will not be intimidated, we’re not going anywhere. People need to learn to live with us [Jews].”

Remember Eli. Young pupils at King David School, Victory Park, Johannesburg lay Tefillin in memory of Eli Kay.

He made good on his word by coming to Jerusalem and lighting a candle at the spot where Eli was brutally gunned down.

The word Hanukkah means “dedication”. Eli was dedicated to his family and friends, Israel and the Jewish people. And many responded in kind by dedicated acts of kindness in his name.

Am Yisrael Chai!






About the writer:

Michael Kransdorff is a Harvard educated financial innovation consultant. In addition to crunching numbers, politics and Jewish history are his passions. He cut his teeth in Jewish activism as one of the SAUJS leaders at the infamous UN Durban Racism Conference and has remained involved in Jewish communal affairs. Michael is chairman of JNF SA, sits on the South African Zionist Federation EOB and also heads up a Litvak heritage research group for the Zarasai (North Eastern) region of Lithuania. 







While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

Respect for Freedoms

Israel scores high on Freedom House Global Score

By Bev Goldman

“Freedom House works to defend human rights and promote democratic change, with a focus on political rights and civil liberties. We act as a catalyst for freedom through a combination of analysis, advocacy, and action. Our analysis, focused on 13 central issues, is underpinned by our international program work.”

Freedom House is a non-profit NGO that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights in countries across the globe. Founded in October 1941, its first honorary chairpersons were Wendell Willkie, the 1940 Republican nominee for President of the USA, and Eleanor Roosevelt, former and longest-serving first lady of the USA; and it is founded on the core conviction that freedom flourishes in democratic nations where governments are accountable to their people.

A Force for Freedom. A central figure among Freedom House’s early leaders was First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt seen here holding up the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in November 1949. Eleanor Roosevelt was a strong supporter of Israel from that nation’s founding in 1948 until her death in 1962.

In analysing the countries, Freedom House speaks out against the main threats to democracy while encouraging citizens to exercise their fundamental rights through a unique combination of analysis, advocacy, and offering direct support to frontline defenders of freedom, especially those working in closed authoritarian societies. 

As an independent watchdog organization, its research and analysis focus on the progress and decline of freedom across the globe by empowering human rights defenders and civic activists to advance democratic change.

The 2020 Freedom House Annual Report on Israel is impartial, objective and candid, acknowledging the government’s faults but giving credit wherever it is due, and presenting a picture which to Israel’s enemies would be anathema, but to those who recognise her strengths, it is factual and accurate.

The report begins with an introduction, followed by rigorous analysis of the issues on which they focus: 

“Israel is a multiparty democracy with strong and independent institutes that guarantee political rights and civil liberties for most of the population. Although the judiciary is comparatively active in protecting minority rights, the political leadership and many in society have discriminated against Arab and other ethnic or religious minority populations, resulting in systemic disparities in areas including political representation, criminal justice, education, and economic opportunity.”

The coverage then focuses on the topic of free and fair elections. The report notes that the Central Elections Committee (CEC), which is composed of delegations representing the various political groups in the Knesset and chaired by a Supreme Court judge, guarantees the fairness and integrity of elections, and acknowledges that they are generally peaceful and orderly with results accepted by all parties.

Regarding political pluralism and participation, the reports delineates Israel’s multiparty system as “diverse” and “competitive” but adds that parties or candidates that deny Israel’s Jewish character, oppose democracy, or incite racism are prohibited.  It then includes comments by critics of the 2016 law – which allows the removal of any members who incite racism or support armed struggle against the state of Israel with a three-quarters majority vote – alleging that it is aimed at silencing Arab representatives.

Vibrant Voting. Israel’s “diverse” and “competitive” national elections always attract high turnouts. Seen here are people casting their ballot at a voting station in Jerusalem on March 2, 2020 in an election that at the end of voting, the committee put turnout at 71%. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The report illustrates the fact that while women generally enjoy full political rights in law and in practice, they are somewhat underrepresented in leadership positions and can encounter additional obstacles in parties and communities – both Jewish and Arab – that are associated with religious or cultural conservatism.

It discusses further that Arab residents of East Jerusalem have the option of obtaining Israeli citizenship in order to be allowed to vote, though most decline for political reasons. While these non-citizens are entitled to vote in municipal as well as Palestinian Authority (PA) elections, most of them have traditionally boycotted Israeli municipal balloting.

The report observes that Israel’s basic laws are considered equivalent to a constitution (which the country does not have). It adds that in 2018, the Knesset adopted a new “basic law” – the Nation-State Law – which granted only to Jewish people the right to exercise self-determination in the State of Israel. Those opposing it, according to further research done, claimed that it created a framework for the erosion of non-Jewish citizens’ political and civil rights.

This report was released before the election of the current coalition and stated that no Arab party had ever been formally included in a governing coalition, nor did Arabs generally serve in senior positions in government. But the current government under Naftali Bennett is the first to include an independent Arab Israeli party as an official member of the governing coalition. How things change!

History in the Making. An Arab dentist, Mansour Abbas, leader of the Islamist party  Ra’am, emerged as the “Kingmaker” in the 2020 Israel election and made history by ensuring for the first time an Arab party joined a governing coalition.

Israel’s laws, political practices, civil society groups and independent media are recognised as generally ensuring a significant level of governmental transparency, though corruption cases are not infrequent and high-level corruption investigations are regularly held. Israel’s judiciary is especially lauded in the report for its independence and its regular rulings against the government. As an addendum to this, the Supreme Court is verified as having played a crucial role in protecting minority groups and overturning decisions by the government and the parliament when they threaten human rights; and court rulings are almost always adhered to by the State, involving both Israeli citizens and Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Moving forward, the report commends Israel’s media as being among the most vibrant and free of any country. But while criticism of government policy is uninhibited, vociferous, candid, and forthright, the rules differ for print articles on security matters which are routinely subject to a military censor. Security considerations are behind the action of the Government Press Office which withholds press cards from journalists to restrict them from entering Israel. While a law passed in 2017 allows police and prosecutors to obtain court orders to block websites publishing criminal or offensive content, the report acknowledges that freedom of expression advocates are concerned that the same law could suppress legitimate speech if applied indiscriminately.

The report applauds Israel’s commendable respect for total freedom of religion, notwithstanding the fact that the country defines itself as a Jewish state. In matters of marriage, divorce and burial, Christian, Muslim, and Baha’i communities have jurisdiction over their own members, but it mentions that while the Orthodox govern personal status matters among Jews, this power they wield is often objected to by many non-Orthodox and secular Jews. It is also revealed that while the law further protects the religious sites of non-Jewish groups, the latter face discrimination in the allocation of state resources.

Mention is made of the ever-present security concerns in Israel which forced Israeli authorities to set varying limits on access to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in East Jerusalem in recent years, affecting worshippers across the broader area. However, in 2018 the government lifted restrictions on Jewish lawmakers visiting the site, restrictions that had been in place for nearly three years, a move much approved of by the citizens.

Jitters in Jerusalem. Freedom of worship is guaranteed in Israel but becomes problematic when praying at places held sacred to both religions as seen with Israeli security forces standing guard, as a group of Jews visit the Temple Mount (Al-Aqsa) compound in Jerusalem, on July 18, 2021. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

With reference to education, all primary and secondary education is national but is divided into multiple public-school systems (state, state-religious, Haredi, and Arabic). A law passed in 2018 bans groups that favour legal action abroad against Israeli soldiers, or that otherwise undermine state educational goals by criticizing the military, from entering Israeli schools or interacting with students.

Israel’s universities are celebrated as being open to all students and have long been vocal centres for argument, protest, and discord; but again, security concerns have resulted in restricted movement and limited access for West Bank and Gaza residents/students. 

Campus Freedom. A clear show of tolerance and freedom, it is no problem for hundreds of Israeli Arab students to demonstrate against Israel on “Nakba Day” at Tel Aviv University.  Arab students registered at Tel Aviv University comprise about 14.5% of the total number of registered students. (Photo: Al Ittihad).

The report refers to the persistent threat of small-scale terrorist attacks in Israel which usually involve stabbings or vehicle onslaughts; and this is combined with ongoing rocket and artillery fire from Syria and the Gaza Strip. While Israeli soldiers are always on alert, trying to obtain the truth from the terrorists, the report adds that while the Supreme Court banned torture in a 1999 ruling, it said that “physical coercion might be permissible during interrogations in cases involving an imminent threat. Human rights organizations accuse the authorities of continuing to use psychological threats and pressure, painful binding, and humiliation.”

Freedom of assembly in Israel permits protests and demonstrations which are typically peaceful. However, some protest activities – such as desecration of the flag of Israel or a friendly country – are seen as criminal acts and draw serious criminal penalties.

Education for All. The number of Arab students in Israeli universities grows 78% in 7 years. Seen here are Arab Israeli students at the campus of Givat Ram at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
 

Regarding NGOs, particularly those engaged in human rights – and governance-related work, the report observes that a 2016 law states that NGOs that receive more than half of their funding from foreign governments must disclose this fact publicly. The measure mainly affects groups associated with the political left that oppose Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. But foreign funding for right-leaning groups that support Jewish settlements in the West Bank, for example, more often comes from private sources.

The report deals with additional issues including freedom for labour organisations; due process in criminal and civil cases; freedom of movement; personal and social freedoms; equal treatment of all sectors of society; and equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation among others. However, they were not covered because of space constraints.

True Colours. A clear image of freedom and liberalism is Israel’s annual Pride Parades that attract hundreds of thousands of people from across the world. The parades are the largest in Asia and the Middle East. (photo:Guy Yechiely)

The final summation awarded Israel 73 out of a possible 100 points on the Freedom House Global Score, acknowledging it to be a free state, one of 77 out of 196. Included in those not free, with very low results (some in brackets), are Algeria, China (9), Egypt, Gaza Strip (11), Iran (16), Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Liberia, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia (7), South Sudan (2), Sudan, Syria (1), Turkey, UAE, West Bank and Yemen. All Israel’s enemies.

The results speak for themselves.





While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter- 05 December 2021

Unveiling the contours and contrasts of an ever-changing Middle East landscape

Reliable reportage and insightful commentary on the Middle East by seasoned journalists from the region and beyond

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What’s happening in Israel today?  See from every Monday – Thursday LotL’s “The Israel Brief” broadcasts and on our Facebook page and  YouTube by seasoned TV & radio broadcaster, Rolene Marks familiar to Chai FM listeners in South Africa and millions of American listeners to the News/Talk/Sports radio station  WINA, broadcasting out of Charlottesville, Virginia. You can subscribe to LOTL news from Israel and enjoy at a time of your convenience.

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Welcome to Israel

Lay of the Land wishes the contestants to the 2021 Miss Universe competition an enriching experience
enjoying the beauty of the Holly Land and the warm hospitality of its people.


Articles

(1)

From Drums of War to Alarm Bells

By David E. Kaplan

No Never. “A regime of brutal hangmen must never be allowed to have weapons of mass-destruction,” warns Israeli PM Bennett

Ratcheting up the rhetoric coupled with martial machinations, China and Russia and have the world worried over possible invasions of Ukraine and Taiwan. Add to this cauldron of confusion, Israel warns of the far more existential danger of a nuclear Iran.

From Drums of War to Alarm Bells

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(2)

No NY Times, Israelis Are Not Miserable!

By Rolene Marks

The True Picture. Despite the NY Times painting a bleak picture of Israel,  Israelis are among the happiest people in the world

No NY Times, Israelis Are Not Miserable!

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(3)

Is South Africa’s pageant debacle a Ben and Jerry’s misstep?

By Adv. Craig Snoyman

Beauty Beats BDS. Defying her anti-Israel government and BDS,  Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane is in Israel to compete.

Whether the SA ANC government had the legal right to support a boycott of its OWN entry for the 2021 Miss Universe pageant is a question that will be answered in a South African court.  With polls in SA supporting her attendance in the Jewish state, what the writer questions and tries answer is how his government’s Israel boycott policy might effect South Africa?

Is South Africa’s pageant debacle a Ben and Jerry’s misstep?

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(4)

Weep, My Alma Mater

By Stephen Schulman

Leaning Tower. Once the pride and academic pillar of Africa, South Africa’s premier university is in sharp decline.

While physical statues at the University of Cape Town (UCT) tumble, so does its academic stature. The writer, a concerned alumnus,  laments  that while his alma mater still retains its visual allure,  it has lost the ethos of a true scholastic institution.

Weep, My Alma Mater

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LOTL Co-founders David E. Kaplan (Editor), Rolene Marks and Yair Chelouche

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While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

The Israel Brief- 29 November – 02 December 2021

The Israel Brief – 29 November 2021 – Israel lights up for Chanukah. Israel closes border for 2 weeks. Miss Universe contestants arrive. Welcome Ambassador Nides.



The Israel Brief – 30 November 2021 – Ties warming with Turkey? Israel objects to UN solidarity with Palestinians on Partition anniversary. Squash Championships cancelled. Black Eyed Peas rock Israel.




The Israel Brief – 01 December 2021 – Israel to donate vaccines to African countries. UNRWA staff on strike. TLV most expensive city. Miss Universe updates.



The Israel Brief – 01 December 2021 – 2 Israelis attacked in Ramallah. UN votes to ignore Jewish ties to Temple Mount. Oxford Street Attack. Helsinki votes against companies in West Bank.






While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

No NY Times, Israelis Are Not Miserable!

By Rolene Marks

A recent New York Times op-ed concludes that Israelis are “miserable”, “divided” and other negative adjectives. Quite the contrary, we are happy, because we know what that costs!

The New York Times is veribbled (Yiddish for angry) with Israel. Somewhere along the line, a decision has been taken to criticise and deride the Jewish state at every given opportunity. Now, there is nothing wrong with criticism when it is legitimate; but the NYT takes this to an obsessive level.

Several weeks ago, New York Times journalist, Patrick Kingsley wrote an article about his trip to Israel. Far from musings about religious sites or vibrant night life, Kingsley’s article “Whose Promised Land?” came to the conclusions that we Israelis are miserable. Sad. Verkrimpt. (uptight) I believe he also used the word “divided” and described our cities and towns as “garish”.

Mind Made Up. The New York Times correspondent Patrick Kingsley  describes Israel in his front-page article subheads as a “”Nation divided” and a  “nation founded on contradictions”.

It was apparent that Kingsley was very selective about who he published in his article, preferring instead to push a decidedly negative narrative. Israelis responded on social media platform, Twitter, by sharing pictures of themselves and their families enjoying life in Israel with the hashtag, #sadsadIsrael. Kingsley got schooled in Israeli chutzpah, pride – and perhaps the people and sites he neglected to include in his article!

Taking aim at Israeli towns and cities, Kingsley called them “garish”. While Israel may lack stately architecture by American or European standards, our desert paradise boasts cities like Jerusalem that date back to King David and whose beauty is in its history and ancient stones or modern day Tel Aviv with its distinct Bauhaus buildings which are World Heritage Sites. The simple, unpretentious beauty of Israel is part of its charm.

Israel may have many problems, just like any other country, but Israelis are happy. The Annual Happiness Index consistently ranks Israel within the top 15 countries with the happiest populations.

Off Track. Rather than revealing to its readers a balanced presentation of Israel today, the Patrick Kingsley NY Times’ front-page article takes devious detours that reflect the paper’s bias and cynicism towards the Jewish state.

Perhaps this happiness stems from the ability of Israelis to enjoy robust debate – and arguments. Opinions are welcome here and the trend of “cancel culture” so prevalent around the world is virtually non-existent here. We all have strong political opinions – and are not afraid to voice them!

It reminds me of the joke. For lack of exact memory, I will paraphrase – The President of the USA is speaking to the Prime Minister of Israel and discussing their respective countrymen and the Israeli PM says, “you may be the President of 100 million Americans but I am the Prime Minister of 6 million prime ministers!”

It may be decade’s old but still rings true today. Everyone is an expert on anything and perfectly content to share our unsolicited advice.

Smorgasbord of Styles. Escaping the NY Times attention, Tel Aviv is an exciting amalgam of  early twenty century styles of architecture juxtaposed with the ultra-modern, reflecting the character of its residents that cherishes the past while embracing the future.

Israelis will engage in fiery arguments, complete with passionate gesticulation; and even if we vehemently disagree, we will still find time to sit down for hummus and a beer together. Life is too precious and sacred to carry a grudge over a differing opinion.

We have an ability to laugh and poke fun at ourselves that is refreshing. What Kingsley sees as divisive, we see as passionate expression.

A few days later, another article taking aim at the centrality of Zionism to Jewish worship was published. The modern day Zionist movement may be political in nature but the references to Zion are ancient and imbued in our religious text. The article crowed that the next generation Jewish clergy were looking at ways to NOT include references to Zion in their services. It is almost as if the NY Times is not content with just insulting the modern state of Israel, they are steadily eroding our ancient ties to the land.

True ‘Face’ of Israel. Despite the NY Times painting a bleak picture of Israel,  the 2021 World Happiness Report found Israelis to be among the happiest in the world and ranked Israel as the 12th happiest out of 149 countries over the past three years.

As I write this, happily ensconced in my home in Modiin, a city central to the story of Chanukah which we are currently observing, I am reminded of the brave Maccabees who fought yet another people, hell bent on the destruction of the Jews. Chanukah is a very Zionist holiday! Kingsley would probably find Modiin, with its Jerusalem stone buildings and careful planning, “garish” and unexciting, but to its residents, the city serves as a daily reminder that we walk in the footsteps of our ancient Jewish heroes who are central to a holiday that celebrates light and joy.

Modern Modiin. Hardly “garish” as the NY Times correspondent describes Israel’s young cities, Modiin, where this writer lives, is modern  with fascinating links to Jewish history dating back to the Maccabees and Bar Kochba. Modi’in is the birthplace of the Chanukah story.

There are many reasons why Israelis are happy – great weather, robust and vibrant democracy and respect for personal freedoms are just some.

As a country that has endured war, terror and continued calls for our destruction, we understand only too well, the importance of happiness and the value of life. We are too familiar with sorrow. Our happiness has been forged through enduring sorrow and pain and far too many of us have lost people we know and love to the ravages of war and terror.

Israelis live life in defiant happiness. This might grate on the nerves of the New York Times and their correspondents who are looking for any excuse to deride Israel. Perhaps if Kingsley dropped the agenda and engaged Israelis, he would have written a different article – one that celebrated diversity, differences, ancient ties to sacred land and yes, simple and uncomplicated cities, each with its own personality.

Israel is not perfect – no country is – but to blatantly disregard the character traits and ties that make this tiny state so special, well, that is just sad.

Israel Unmasked. A world leader in vaccinations, following the lifting of its outdoor mask mandate, Israelis take to the streets in Tel Aviv showing its people in all their colourful diversity, a characteristic that escaped the attention of the New York Times’ correspondent. (photo Amir Cohen/Reuters)





While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

From Drums of War to Alarm Bells

Ratcheting up the rhetoric coupled with martial machinations, China, Russia and Iran have the world worried

By David E. Kaplan

We are living in uncertain times and it is unsettling what the big movers are plotting.

Who knows what China is planning against Taiwan? Is it thinking about anytime soon mounting a full-scale invasion? Analysts and government figures are debating less about if and more about when.

What about Russia? Having annexed Crimea, will the “Big Bear”  devour anytime soon, the rest of the Ukraine? After all, the notion that Ukraine is not a country, but a historical part of Russia, appears to be deeply ingrained in the minds of a Russian leadership who repeatedly express the narrative:

 There is no Ukraine”.

Well, there might not be in the near future with tens of thousands of Russian troops reportedly gathered at the border with Ukraine seemingly ready to pounce. The TV news networks are replete with experts fearing Russia could be about to stage a repeat of its 2014 invasion of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

What’s the Drill? ‘Showtime’ as Russian military armored vehicles roll into landing vessels after drills in Crimea on April 23, 2021. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

We all should be very worried, to be honest, I do share this assessment,” Michal Baranowski, director and senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s Warsaw Office told CNBC.

And if either of these bellicose giants – China and Russia – make a military move – and possibly in a coordinated manner and time –  what will the US do if faced with this nightmare scenario of a two-front conflict with both China and Russia?

Yiddish has just the expression:

Oy Vey!

Following the hurried, costly and inglorious withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, the US clearly has no appetite for any future military engagements, never mind squaring off against its equals – China and Russia – in concert.

In the Air. Is something more about to happen following a record number of Chinese warplanes entering Taiwan’s air defence zone? Taiwan has urged Beijing to stop these “irresponsible provocative actions”

While all these potential existential conflicts are worrying for an already paranoid global community over Covid, for Israel there is the added angst over a potentially nuclear-armed IRAN that is hardly concealing its desire to destroy Israel.

So while talks about reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed Monday in Vienna after a five-month break and for the first time since Iran’s new hardline President Ebrahim Raisi took office and under a caution from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson telling Israel’s President Isaac Herzog that the world “doesn’t have much time” to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, the message from Iran was clear:

Iranian Brig.-Gen. urges destruction of Israel prior to nuke talks

Time to Stand Firm. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) shares his concerns about a possible Nuclear Iran with Israeli President Isaac Herzog(right) in London on Nov. 23, 2021. (photo: AP/Justin Tallis/Pool)

This is hardly the message to put the parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks at ease!

It may be bluster but Israel cannot take any chances when the spokesman for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s armed forces, Brig.-Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi, last Saturday urged the total elimination of the Jewish state during an interview with an Iranian regime-controlled media outlet.

Telling the Iranian Students News Agency,  Shekarchi said:

We will not back off from the annihilation of Israel, even one millimeter. We want to destroy Zionism in the world.”

So this is not only a threat against Israel – the nation state of the Jews – but a threat against Jews everywhere. Not satisfied with annihilating people, Iran wants to “destroy” the very idea of Israel – Zionism.

Chilling!

With the clock ticking to the frightening soundtrack of Shekarchi’s genocidal antisemitic remarks, is it any wonder that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett appealed to the international community and its leadership as negotiations resumed in Vienna on Monday:

Don’t cave in”.

Iran on the Level. Brig. Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi warned that the “slightest mistake” by Israel would lead the Islamic Republic to “level Haifa and Tel Aviv.”

With Iran’s sole aim for the US to lift sanctions while it will do almost nothing in return,  the PM warned:

Iran won’t just keep its nuclear program: From today, they’ll be getting paid for it.”

Vienna Waltz

So the fear in Israel is that the US and other world powers will ‘dance’ around and in the end, provide Tehran with economic sanctions relief, while the Iran regime will pursue the building of a nuclear weapons device. And if Brig.-Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi is to be believed and taken seriously, the coordinates for any future Iranian nuclear ballistic missile would likely be Tel Aviv.It there is a second target, it would likely be Haifa before any other international city.

How do we know this?

Well Shekarchi said so himself in January 2021 to Tasnim News Agency that Iran’s regime can:

  “level Haifa and Tel Aviv in the shortest possible time.”

A Nuclear Iran – Never. “A regime of brutal hangmen must never be allowed to have weapons of mass-destruction,” warns Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Common sense dictates in a parent’s thinking not to allow their kids to play with dangerous toys. Similar common sense should similarly dictate amongst the world leaders to do all in their power – most certainly not facilitate –  one of the most maniacal murderous regimes in the world to develop and possess nuclear weapons.

Venerable leaders in Vienna, adhere the message of Israel’s Prime Minister Bennett.

It is succinct and sound:

“Don’t cave in”





While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

IS SOUTH AFRICA’S PAGEANT DEBACLE A BEN AND JERRY’S MISSTEP?

By Adv. Craig Snoyman

The case of CITIZENS FOR INTEGRITY (CFI)  vs THE GOVERNMENT OF SOUTH AFRICA is due to be heard in the urgent court in the Pretoria High Court on 7th December. The case has done the rounds on social media, but the mass media seem to have shown little interest in in it. Of note is that that CFI  have taken the government to task, alleging that it has treated Miss South Africa unconstitutionally and acted irrationally. Even more notable is that  the deponent, (the person signing the founding affidavit in the application) on behalf of CFI is the Deputy Chair of the ANC Women’s League, Sibongele Cele.

While not wishing to pre-empt the decision of the court in anyway, there was an interesting point that was raised in the papers,  which I have not seen dealt with by any of the writers and experts. These pundits have flooded the South African media about the Government’s  withdrawal of support for the Miss South Africa pageant and Miss South Africa with many tons of litres of ink (and billions of mega-pixels). The issue of the South African government’s actual  boycotting action of the pageant  – because it is being held in Israel – has been an ignored subsidiary issue. Admittedly, this issue will likely have no bearing on the outcome of the above case, but it certainly is an issue worth raising.

Beauty and the Beast. The stunning Miss South Africa whose future her misguided government wants to ruin because she is set to compete in Israel.

On 14 Nov 2021, the South African Minister for Sports, Art and Culture, Nathi Mthwethwa, made the following announcement:

“The South African government withdraws its support and that of South Africa for the Miss South Africa pageant following the latter’s intransigence and disregard of advice against partaking in the Miss Universe pageant scheduled to be held in Israel during the month of December 2021.”

He then proceeded to state further that:

“Following unsuccessful consultations initiated by the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture, it has proven difficult to persuade the Miss SA pageant organisers to reconsider their decision to partake in the Miss Universe event scheduled to be held in Israel during the month of December 2021. What during initial consultations appeared like engaging, constructive and progressive discussions, was later met with an unpleasant demeanour that is intransigent and lacking appreciation of the potential negative impact of such a decision on the reputation and future of a young black woman.”

Blockhead. South African Minister for Sports, Art and Culture, Nathi Mthwethwa who unsuccessfully tried to block Miss South Africa from competing in Israel in the Miss Universe competition.

The effect of the withdrawal of support for the Miss South Africa pageant, resulted in the effective withdrawal of government for the pageant organisers and also for Miss South Africa herself. She is only Miss South Africa as a result of the pageant. This caused a media feeding frenzy, with two sides of the South African public polarising as to whether Miss South Africa should follow the government’s instruction to boycott or whether she should go. Whether the government has the right to withdraw “its support and that of South Africa”  is a question that will be answered by the court.

Polls in South Africa tended to support her attendance.

At this stage it is important to digress and deal with the concept of boycotts and America’s attitude to them, specifically concerning Israel and how it might affect South Africa. There are various forms of boycotts. I have used the example of Israel as the perceived wrongdoer.

A primary boycott would be a direct refusal  to deal with or purchase Israeli goods or services, to sell their services or goods to Israel, or to deal in any manner with companies, nationals, or residents of Israel. A complete boycott of all things Israel.

Irate over Israel. South African government embroiled in controversy and court as it withdrew its support  Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane (above) competing in the Miss Universe competition in Israel.

A secondary boycott is where, to enhance the effects of a primary boycott, a boycotter may refuse to deal with those who support the adversary. Individuals  may refuse to purchase goods manufactured by any company that sells its goods to the target of the boycott,  Israel.

The distinctive feature of a secondary boycott is that the ultimate target of the strike action is one step removed from the direct target. The individual expects that applying pressure to  the individual or company, it will be forced to deal differently with the (perceived) wrongdoer.

A tertiary boycott, (such as the Arab League “blacklist” against Israel)  would ensure that a company that does not trade with Israel may  also not  trade with other companies that have  dealing with the perceiver wrongdoer, i.e. Israel, the boycotted country. So the tertiary boycott  led to the situation which prohibited an Arab League member and its nationals from doing business with any company that in turn dealt with companies that have been blacklisted The financial consequence of being placed on the Arab League blacklist was severe: the offending party was forced to choose between either terminating the offending acts or losing access to Arab League member markets. Notable examples were Pepsi and Toyota.

The US case of NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. established that there are limits on the free-speech rights accompanying commercial boycotts. The obvious inquiry is where is the line between permissible restrictions and impermissible infringements on First Amendment, (Freedom of Speech) rights.  The advocation of a boycott is a First Amendment right and would constitute  free speech. The general principle developed is that when a boycott interferes with commerce or disrupts important policy goals of the government,  especially if the boycott is of a secondary or tertiary nature, that right to boycott is vulnerable to government infringement.

It would seem that the actions of Minister Mthwethwa have exceeded the bounds of First Amendment rights. He had discussions with the organisers of Miss South Africa pageant, at the very least.  After the discussions having been met by an “unpleasant demeanour”  and “intransigent  attitude”, where his opinion was not accepted, he then withdrew support of the government and South Africa of those opposing him. In boycotting terminology, he has refused to deal with Miss South Africa and the pageant who wished to attend the Miss Universe pageant in Israel. His target  was the organisation and people who were one step removed from the direct target, being Israel. By his deeds, he falls within the category of a secondary boycotter.

While South Africa is a country, the situation with the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s is not very different. In July this year,  American ice cream company  Ben & Jerry’s announced that they planned to boycott West Bank settlements and Jewish neighbours in East Jerusalem by refusing to allow its products to be sold  in those areas. In a statement on its website, they stated

“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)”

It further stated that they were not boycotting Israel, just the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” and would continue with the sales  to Israel within the pre-1967 borders.

Bill against Boycotts. Floridian Rayna Rose Exelbierd from Southeast high school speaks in support of the bi-partisan anti- Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) bill passed by the Florida legislature. (FPG file photo)

The fallout for its parent company, Unilever, was swift. Unilever  stated that  it remained fully committed to its presence in Israel but respected the right of the independent board of Ben &Jerry’s to make such decisions. Prime Minister Bennett of Israel condemned the move. Foreign Minister Lapid stated:

 “Over 30 states in the United States have passed BDS legislation in recent years. I plan on asking each of them to enforce these laws against Ben & Jerry’s. They will not treat the State of Israel like this without a response,”

In fact, 35 states have passed bills and executive orders designed to discourage boycotts of Israel. Most have been passed with broad bipartisan support. While the bills are different in certain respects, they have taken one of two forms:

(a) contract-focused laws requiring government contractors to promise that they are not boycotting Israel; and

(b) investment-focused laws, mandating public investment funds to avoid entities boycotting Israel.

Consequences for the boycotting entity may range from disinvestment from  State employee pension funds  to losing out on contracts at State run organisations.

The first  State to react was Arizona, on August 3, 2021, when its Treasurer’s Office informed Unilever PLC that it was actively boycotting Israel due to the actions of Ben & Jerry’s, a subsidiary of Unilever, by announcing that it will withdraw sales from Israel. These actions were in direct violation of Arizona statutes and accordingly public state entities would not be allowed to invest moneys with an entity that boycotts Israel.

Cold Comfort. Amidst the controversy, an Israeli employee of Ben & Jerry’s Israel affixes a flag at the company’s main factory in Israel, July 22, 2021 (photo: EPA/Abir Sultan)

Since the announcement, at least eight states have taken steps to halt or withdraw investments in Unilever since Ben & Jerry’s announcement. Arizona and New Jersey already divested all of their state funds from Unilever. Texas and Florida have already “begun applying their anti-Israel boycott statutes to begin divestment from Unilever.”

Last month, the New York’s Common Retirement Fund  announced that it will withdraw $111 million in actively managed holdings in Unilever after a 90-day review.

The South African government’s formal explicit statement  withdrawing support for Miss South Africa  and the pageant leave the government with little or no wiggle-room.

“The atrocities committed by Israel against Palestinians are well documented and Government, as the legitimate representative of the people of South Africa, cannot in good conscience associate itself with such. ….  Israel was guilty of the apartheid treatment of Palestinians.”

It  announced very clearly that the South African government intends to  cause harm to the State of Israel and violates the BDS legislation of 35 states of the United States of America. As was stated by Governor Cuomo when the BDS legislation was passed in New York:

“It’s very simple. If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you. “If you divert revenues from Israel, New York will divert revenues from you. If you sanction Israel, New York will sanction you. Period.”

So, from where I sit, it appears that South Africa has opened itself up to anti-boycott legislation which can be called up by the various States. The action taken by Ben & Jerry’s does not appear to be nearly as heinous as that of South Africa. Perhaps South Africa doesn’t feature in the class of Unilever and that is why sanctions have not been imposed on it. Even the State of Israel has regarded South Africa as sufficiently insignificant so as not to invoke the anti-BDS legislative sanction.

Beauty Beats BDS. Defying her intransient government,  21-year-old Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane, boarded a plane in Johannesburg to compete in the Miss Universe competition in Eilat, Israel, commenting: “Ready as I’ll ever be! I’m so grateful for this opportunity to represent my country on the @missuniverse stage! South Africa! Let’s do this!”.

But I certainly would not want to be a negotiator for South Africa the next time that AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) and trade barriers between the USA and South Africa come up for discussion.





About the writer:

Craig Snoyman is a practising advocate in South Africa.





While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

Weep, My Alma Mater

By Stephen Schulman

I feel a deep sadness, the sadness felt at the loss of something that was dear to me that is now lost and is no more. It is my alma mater, The University of Cape Town (UCT).

The campus is still situated in its magnificent location, the buildings are still standing and the students are present, but for me it is an empty shell for as what constitutes the essence of a true academic institution: the spirit of tolerance, disinterested academic research, open discourse accepting often contradictory points of view; and accompanying perspicacity that once was the hallmark of this venerable institution has long since gone. The campus calls itself UCT (at least at this moment of time!) but the spirit that characterized this once true liberal university has vanished.

Going Downhill. UCT in decline.

The saga of Lwazi Lushaba is just another sad testimony to this decline for in April of this year, in a pre-recorded lecture delivered online with first-year political science students, on a date that happened to coincide with Israel’s Holocaust Day, Lushaba, a lecturer in the department of political studies at the University of Cape Town, said:

Hitler committed no crime. All Hitler did was to do to white people what white people had normally reserved for black people.”

His words displaying blatant racism or at the very least, abysmal ignorance and/or an abhorrent lack of sensitivity caused outrage amongst his students, many alumni and the community. Protests were lodged and their outcome was awaited. However, the university choosing a policy of “hear no evil and see no evil” and with the backing of the head of the Students Representative Council perceived nothing amiss, dismissed the protests and elected to remain silent.

Black and White. UCT lecturer Dr Lwazi Lushaba was reported to the Human Rights Commission after stating Hitler did nothing wrong when he stated: “Hitler committed no crime. All Hitler did was to do to white people what white people had normally reserved for black people.”

On the 27th June, after naively and patiently waiting three months for UCT to respond, I penned an open letter to Vice Chancellor Rosina Mamokgethi Phakeng expressing my dismay at the silence of the institution at Lushaba’s words, the damage it had caused to the university and the distress of the community at large. Somewhat surprisingly, I received a prompt communication albeit not from the VC but from Prof. Martin Hall, the acting deputy VC in charge of transformation.

Dear Stephen Schulman

The Vice-Chancellor has asked me to reply to your email of 27 June.

 It is not the case that Dr Lushaba issued a statement that : Hitler committed no crime. All Hitler did was to do to white people what white people had normally reserved for black people.” Rather, an unknown person extracted a short clip from a 30-minute recording of a first year lecture delivered on line, and posted the clip on social media.  The overall subject of the lecture was acts of genocide committed by colonial powers against indigenous communities, in the context of changing interpretative models within the disciplinary field of political studies. It is apparent from the full recording that Dr Lushaba’s reference to Hitler was intended ironically.

Understandably, the wide distribution of this clip on social media has caused extensive concern and distress.  The university is currently reviewing the full lecture in the context of the curriculum the context and our expectations of our teaching staff.  We expect this review to be completed shortly.

Regards

Emeritus Professor Martin Hall

Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor, Transformation

Excusing EvilActing UCT Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) Prof. Martin Hall, responds to Schulman’s ‘open letter’.

My reply to Professor Hall expressed concern at the delay and hoped that the university would take prompt action as promised. Alas, my hopes were dashed! It is now December; four months have passed since reception of his letter and UCT still remains silent.

The University of Cape Town prides itself on being Africa’s premier university. It proclaims itself as being the continent’s beacon of academic achievements, enlightenment, morality, and social justice. It also purports its involvement in helping to ensure a better future for all the inhabitants. Moreover, Vice Chancellor Phakeng repeatedly stresses on a multiracial campus, the institution’s policy of inclusion and caring.

Between the Cup and the Lip. UCT VC, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng repeatedly stresses the institution’s policy of inclusion and caring. However, have the actions of the university borne these fine words out?

Have the actions of the university borne these fine words out?

If Lushaba’s words were taken out of context, why did the university, at the very least, not see a moral obligation to publish the lecture text to substantiate this claim and clear up misunderstandings?

Why did the university, out of respect for and duty to the community, not issue a statement clarifying this issue?

Why did the Acting Deputy Chancellor put it in writing that the university was reviewing the issue and then do absolutely nothing?

Why was the matter swept under the carpet?

Why the silence?

Unfortunately, this is not the only glaring example of ethical decline. The T.B. Davie Memorial Lecture is a prestigious annual event where internationally distinguished speakers have addressed the student body and convocation. In 2019, a discredited academic known for his crude antisemitism and filthy mouth (e.g. “I wish all the fu____g West Bank settlers would go missing”)  was invited to be the speaker, giving an address that hit a nadir in its vacuity, obtuseness and antisemitic tropes. The university seemingly has no problem in trampling the sensitivities of the Jewish students and community and then soliciting donations.

Inviting Antisemites. In the 2019 TB Davie Memorial Lecture at UCT, the American anti-Zionist academic who lost a tenured university position over his graphically-antisemitic outbursts on Twitter, delivered a fierce attack on the “corporate university” and depicted Israel as the supine tool of an international “ruling class”.

The Students Representative Council (SRC), an accurate weathervane of the prevailing campus winds, actively promotes the so called “Israel Apartheid Week.” On more than one occasion, I wrote to them expressing my disagreement with their decision and calling for an open dialogue. Needless to say, in true Cancel Culture tradition, my letters were ignored.

Emeritus Professor Hall’s appointment as the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor, Transformation has aroused anger both from the SRC and the Black Caucus who see his main disqualification for the post being the colour of his skin. The SRC declared that “the appointment signalled the institution’s endorsement of patriarchy and whiteness, perpetuating historic power imbalances” They continued: “We are not confident that an individual, long lost to UCT, and who is ignorant of the lived realities and struggles of the many marginalised identities who desperately seek the transformation of the institution, is in any way suitable for the role.”

So much for the trumpeted inclusivity and tolerance!

In 2015, the “Rhodes Must Fall” movement demanded that Rhodes’ statue be removed from the campus since it was a symbol of white colonialism and racism. Nevertheless, the students and administration conveniently ignore that it was Cecil John Rhodes who bequeathed the ground to the university and that black students are not averse to accepting the “tainted” money of a Rhodes Scholarship! The smell of hypocrisy is just as strong as that of the faeces that were disgustingly smeared on the statue!

Tomorrow’s Leadership. UCT SRC wants Smuts Hall residence to be renamed to a more ‘suitable name’. Seen here are students covering with plastic and tape the bust of the statue of South Africa’s WWII Prime Minister who mustered the support to oppose the Nazis, Jan Smuts.

UCT is in the throes of ‘Transformation’ i.e. renaming frenzy and one of its decisions has been to rename the men’s residence, the former Smuts Hall. Jan Christian Smuts certainly was not a proponent for racial integration but as Prime Minister of South Africa in 1939, he fought against Fascism and led South Africa in the struggle against Nazi Germany. The university Council with its selective amnesia would do well to remember that had there not been people like him and many others of all races, UCT would certainly not be able to call itself an African university today.

Rhodes Removed. In 2015, students at the University of Cape Town   began the Rhodes Must Fall  protests directed against a statue at the University commemorating Cecil John Rhodes. The campaign for the statue’s removal received global attention and led to a wider movement to “decolonise” education across South Africa. Exactly a month later, the UCT Council voted for the statue to be removed.

On the 17th of November, Vice Chancellor Phakeng, in an official communication titled “Renaming of upper campus places and spaces“, once again urged UCT alumni in keeping with the ‘Transformation’ spirit to devote serious thought to renaming various campus buildings and open spaces. The university council will undoubtedly find a wealth of suitable names amongst the known ANC luminaries and those yet to be discovered!

South Africa is beset with many problems and is on the way to becoming a failed state. The university remains mute, preoccupied with choosing names and ignoring its commitment to community and country. Bigotry and intolerance dominate and the well-worn slogans of caring and inclusiveness ring hollow. Many of us UCT alumni, in the light of its actions, no longer wish to have contact with our once beloved alma mater.

Postscript

At the time of writing, a book by Professor David Benatar “The Fall of the University of Cape Town” has been published that meticulously documents UCT’s losing of its moral compass. The writer, a respected professor and senior member of the academic staff has long been a witness to this decline. His words corroborate the conclusions and sentiments of so many of us all.

“The Mad and the Bad”. In his “THE FALL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN”, Professor David Benatar’s probes the destructive forces that have been eroding Africa’s leading university. Exposing the methods of protest that became criminal – “including intimidation, assault, and arson”, the university leadership capitulated to this behaviour, which “has fostered a broader and now pervasive toxic environment within the institution.”





About the writer:

Stephen 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. He 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.




While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter- 28 November 2021

Unveiling the contours and contrasts of an ever-changing Middle East landscape

Reliable reportage and insightful commentary on the Middle East by seasoned journalists from the region and beyond

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What’s happening in Israel today?  See from every Monday – Thursday LotL’s “The Israel Brief” broadcasts and on our Facebook page and  YouTube by seasoned TV & radio broadcaster, Rolene Marks familiar to Chai FM listeners in South Africa and millions of American listeners to the News/Talk/Sports radio station  WINA, broadcasting out of Charlottesville, Virginia. You can subscribe to LOTL news from Israel and enjoy at a time of your convenience.

The Israel Brief

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The Maccabees. From ancient times to the present. Fallen warrior Eli Kay working on a kibbutz. (right)

As a nation mourned during the week before Hanukkah (“festival of lights”) the brutal killing of Eliyahu (“Eli”) David Kay who came to Israel from South Africa as a ‘lone soldier’; served in the IDF to defend the Jewish People and was later joined by his brothers who too served as ‘lone soldiers’,  and finally followed then by his parents and sister, we approach Hanukkah, where we celebrate the heroism of the ancient Maccabees who took on the might of Greece and honour this family leader who fell in Jerusalem like a modern Maccabee.

Lay of the Land  extends deepest sympathy and condolences to Avi, Devorah, Katriel, Hanan, Naama, grandparents and family.

May the memory of Eli be a blessing.


Articles

(1)

Farewell Eli

His passing reveals the best of a South African family and the worst of its government

By David E. Kaplan, Rolene Marks and Yair Chelouche – Co-founders of  Lay of the Land

Life cut Short. An inspiration to family and friends, former South African, Eli Kay was shot while heading to pray at the Western Wall.

Murdered in the Old city of Jerusalem, former South African Eliyahu (“Eli”) David Kay was mourned universally but ignored initially by the government of the country in which he grew up. Loved and respected for following and living his dream, he was shunned in his native South Africa by a political leadership that resented  that dream because it was about – Israel.

Farewell Eli
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(2)

A Modern Miracle

In a hostile neighbourhood, Israel more than survives – it thrives

By Rodney Mazinter

The Magnificent  13. Israel has won 13 Nobel Prizes; nine since 2002 in the sciences and economics outperforming larger countries.

While Israel has revived a barren land and an ancient language, and achieved unimaginable success in so many diverse fields to emerge a world leader, an ultimate prize of a comprehensive peace still eludes her. The writer searches for answers.

A Modern Miracle
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(3)

Finding Common Ground

Far apart geographically, Jews and Hindus are closer than ever in shared history

By Fionn Grunspan

Climate Change, Warming Ties.  PM Bennett called PM Modi (right) “most popular man in Israel” at climate summit in Glasgow.

Similarities in their shared history of shaking off the shackles of colonialism reaching a crescendo in 1948 when both India and Israel gained independence from Britain, Israelis and Indians have come a long way in recognising and celebrating what they have in common.

Finding Common Ground

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LOTL Co-founders David E. Kaplan (Editor), Rolene Marks and Yair Chelouche

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While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).


Farewell Eli

His passing reveals the best of a South African family and the worst of its government

By Lay of the Land Co-founders David E. Kaplan, Rolene Marks and Yair Chelouche.

The cruel murder on the 21 November 2021 in the Old City of Jerusalem of Eliyahu (“Eli”) Kay (25), a recent immigrant from South Africa has shocked the nation as it has the ex-pat community in Israel and the Jewish community in South Africa.

Who it has not shocked  – which is shocking – is the political leadership in South Africa!

Future cut Short. Raised in Johannesburg and moving to Israel on his own in 2017,  Eliyahu David Kay was shot while heading to prayer at the Western Wall and died of his wounds in  hospital.

The fact that it took the South African government nearly a week – and only after disappointment and disgust was expressed from the Jewish leadership in press releases as well as letters to the media from dismayed members of the Jewish community – did the government  finally –  and one senses reluctantly – send a letter of condolence addressed to the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and with a request to pass it on to the Kay family.

This belated response fooled few.

The wording “…we are deeply saddened…” rings rather hollow from a government that is more  receptive and responsive to the opinions and sentiments of Africa4Palestine than the SAJBD.

Formerly known as BDS South Africa, the organisation Africa4Palestine issued a statement following the brutal gunning down in cold blood of the 25-year-old former South African, describing Eli as a “South African mercenary” who was not murdered but “was  killed in gunfire with the indigenous population” and that he “loved Apartheid – a disgrace to our South Africa.”

Yes, there IS a “disgrace to our South Africa”, but that disgrace is the ANC government that lends a warm ear to the disseminators of such vile accusations and lies as Africa4Palestine.

Compare South Africa’s belated reaction to the murder of Eli Kay with its embarrassingly hysterical response to its beauty queen, Lalela Mswane, participating in the 2021 Miss Universe pageant next month in Eilat, Israel.

Only last week, Lay of the Land published an article on the ANC government’s vehement opposition of  South Africa participating in the beauty competition.

While this issue riled up the South African government influenced by the BDS movement, the brutal murder of a South African national on the other hand was met with initial official silence. The common denominator or explanation to both sets of calculated conduct by the ANC government was ISRAEL – the national homeland of the Jewish People.

Eli’s Final Journey.  The young man, Eliyahu David Kay on his way to his final resting place in Jerusalem, the city he loved, studied and worked as a tour guide at the Western Wall.

After 2000 years of exile and persecution, Jews have a name for this – ANTISEMITISM.

Compare the week’s reticence of the South African government with the choice words of the representative of the Israeli government at the funeral of Eli in Jerusalem. Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, MK Nachman Shai – who in 2017 led a 5-member delegation of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) to South Africa “to promote dialogue, understanding and cooperation between Israel and South Africa” – spoke of strangers to the Kay family who at the funeral, felt like family:

So many people came today to say goodbye to you. Many  never had the opportunity to meet you, who only learned your name yesterday and decided they wanted to be with you to say goodbye.”

In sad contrast, the only “goodbye” the South African government would truly be happy to say would be as a final farewell to the State of Israel! After all, compare South Africa’s ANC government downgrading its diplomatic relations with Israel – with no ambassador since 2018 – while in 2015, it welcomed to South Africa a Hamas delegation, even hosting it in the South African Parliament in Cape Town. This is the same Hamas that is committed to the destruction of Israel and who only this week was declared a terrorist organization by the UK, joining the US, the EU and other powers.

Laying Eli to Rest. Israelis far and wide, join family and friends attending the funeral at Har HaMenuchot Cemetery in Jerusalem on November 22, 2021of 25-year-old Eliyahu David Kay from South Africa who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack the day before in Jerusalem’s Old City. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

This is also the same Hamas that praised and took credit for the murder of Eli Kay. Official Hamas media identified the assailant Fadi Abu Shkhaydam as a “leader of the Hamas movement  in East Jerusalem” saying “the operation” was designed to be a warning to Israel, which it said would “pay for the inequities” at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Writing in the South African national daily, Business Day, Kenneth Mokgatlhe, makes the observation before posing the astute question:

A hysterical SA government withdraws its support for a young woman to participate in the Miss Universe contest in Israel, but doesn’t say a word about a South African Jew killed by terrorists. Surely there is something wrong with this?”

Is this  the direction South Africa is morally heading – associating and identifying with the murderers of Jews?

Clearly concerned at the government’s silence of a  murder of a fellow South African by a Hamas gunman, the South African Zionist Federation released the following statement on the 22 November 2021:

It has been over 24 hours since Eliyahu David Kay, a Jewish South African national who emigrated to Israel, was murdered in an act of terrorism in Jerusalem by a Palestinian gunman affiliated with Hamas. The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) condemns the deafening silence from the South African Government and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) on this issue. There has been no message of condolence to the family of the deceased, nor any public condemnation of this attack. DIRCO has in the past issued statements against terrorist attacks in the City of Jerusalem, and it is appropriate for them to do so now in respect of a South African national. 

Hamas is an extremist organisation, as recently confirmed by the United Kingdom which designated Hamas as a terrorist organisation and has outlawed support for the group. This antisemitic and anti-Israel hate group gladly claimed responsibility for the killing of an innocent civilian and injuring others as the gunman opened fire in the Old City of Jerusalem.

We call on the South African Government to publicly condemn this heinous incident and to offer support and assistance to the family of the deceased.”

Finally, the ANC felt the heat and on the 25th November – after five emotionally-charged days following the horrendous murder – sent out its official letter of condolence. The circumstances surrounding South Africa’s response, reveals its antisemitic perspective, namely:

The killing of Jews when carried out by Palestinians is understandable.

Note the carefully selected wording in its belated letter of condolence.

The South African government condemns the actions which led to the death of Mr. Kay…”

What actions?

The implication in this cunningly crafted verbiage is that it could be the behaviour or “actions” of Israel’s Jews that is responsible for the death of Eli Kay. In other words, Israel is responsible for what happened to Eli Kay not the murderer, who will soon be honoured as a victim and martyr in Palestine and within some sectors in South Africa.

The SA government is sending a chilling message to its Jewish community and it’s a message that is being read loud and clear and may explain why in 2021 there will be more Olim (immigrants) to Israel from South Africa than over the past 25 years.

These Olim will be following in the heroic example of Eli Kay and his family, taking a journey that is securing the Jewish state for all eternity.

In the words of Nachman Shai at the funeral:

 “Eli, you died a hero, an example to us all.”










While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO