From Gaza with Hate

Israel under attack from the Air and the Airwaves

By David E. Kaplan

Abba; Az’aka….”.

It’s 2.00am, and that’s the voice of my 3-year-old grandson having woken to the piercing siren shrill from his 12th floor bedroom in a Tel Aviv high-rise, and screaming in Hebrew – “Daddy, siren!”.

Within 12 seconds, the family is out of the apartment and closeted in a central bomb shelter on their floor waiting for the next sound  – hopefully – a deafening “Boom-Boom”. I write “hopefully”, because the alternate sound to the “Boom-Boom” of Israel’s defensive Iron Dome missile intercepting a missile from Gaza is that of the rocket penetration through Israel’s defensive net and striking a civilian target.

Flames light the Night.  Sometime after 2.00am, a rocket from rom Gaza scores a direct hit on a residential building in Petah Tikva.

That is exactly what happened a few minutes later as a rocket ploughed into an apartment complex in Petach Tikva, a few kilometers east of Tel Aviv. The building instantly burst into a five-floor towering flame and five elderly residents were rushed to hospital. That there were no fatalities was a miracle. I stared at the flames on TV and thought:

 “How could anyone survive that?”

This is daily life in Israel today as nearly 2000 rockets have rained down on Israel since the beginning of the war started by Hamas but instigated, encouraged and sponsored by Iran. Apart from the mounting death and daily destruction, there is the anxiety whether experienced by a 3-year-old or a  67-year old woman resident of Rishon Lezion who died early on Wednesday after suffering heart failure on hearing of her friend being killed in a rocket attack on her home.

Yes, we’ve been through this before but not with such concentrated intensity. If we were horrified back in 2014 during the seven week Protective Edge by 200 rockets from Gaza coming over in one day – at its peak – that same number these days can come at us in less than five minutes.

Israel Under Fire. The aftermath of the Gaza rocket strike at Petah Tikva apartment block.(Photo: Meshi Ben Ami)


The aim of Hamas is to overwhelm and undermine Israel’s defensive missile system – and at times it is working as the rising casualties and destruction will attest. Every night, we can expect at some stage to hear what can only be described as the soundtrack to a war movie, and then we scramble for the news on social media and TV, to see the visual results as we silently pray:

 “Please, no more death!”

Israel is locked into a lottery of life and death against an enemy not aiming for a Palestinian state but destroying a Jewish one – the only Jewish state in the world.

Sderot Under Attack. Flames appear from the bedroom of 5-year-old Ido Avigal  who died following wounds he sustained following a direct rocket hit on May 12, 2021 (Sderot Municipality)

Having been through this script before, we never have to wait too long before the world media predictably turns against Israel focusing less on the rockets fired from Gaza on civilian targets in Israel and more on Israel’s aerial defensive action in Gaza.

I turn on CNN this Friday morning and hear Diana Buttu the Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and a former spokesperson for the PLO from Ramallah tell anchorman Michael Holmes that this is the result of years “of Israeli ethnic cleansing” and “that is why it is so important for the international community to put pressure,” not on Hamas but “on Israel to end this.”

Transparent Bias. Michael Holmes on CNN slanders Israel and not allows Dianna Butto’s assertions against Israel to go unchallenged but nods approval with her positions.

Note the tone and transparent bias of Holmes when he frames his next question:

Has this barrage of rockets from Gaza been a tactical blunder by Hamas in the sense of being what was a fairly popular uprising in Jerusalem over evictions and therefore made it easier for Israel to justify using overwhelming force as it always does. Was it a blunder by Hamas?”

Butto replies:

You know Michael, this did not begin with the rockets, but the decision by this Israeli government to  incite, inflame and to kill,” born out for Butto, “by Israeli calls to flatten Gaza.”

Tel Aviv Today! Inspecting a damaged apartment complex in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim on May 12, 2021, after it was hit by a rocket fired from Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip. (Alexandra Vardi/AFP)

Holmes not only allows Butto to get away with these outrageous allegations – he facilitates it!

Accepting her  vituperative verbiage without challenge, he then asks:

What does the international community need to do not only to broker this round of violence  but set up some pathway forward?”

Butto is on a roll with this CNN anchorman and answers:

It’s simple, Michael. All they need to do is put sanctions on Israel; it’s really that simple. Instead we see leader after leader coddle Israel…. There is an active BDS campaign, which needs to be adopted and pushed….just as there were mechanisms to end apartheid in South Africa,  these same mechanisms can be used to end Israeli apartheid.”

Accepting this analysis, Holmes concludes his patently anti-Israel interview by directing some token ‘blame’  at the Palestinians by asking:

 “The Palestinians surely need to get their act together; elections were postponed and there isn’t a strong leadership and then you have Hamas in Gaza doing what they do. In other words, Israel needs Hamas as a visible enemy …… What do the Palestinian wings have to do to get their house in order?”

Butto replies that while the Palestinians need a new leadership, “this should not detract that it is up to Israel, forced by the international community to end this military occupation. They don’t need to have a Palestinian leadership in place to end the occupation.”

Free Hand. This former PLO spokeswoman had carte blanche  to sprout her allegations against Israel on CNN without any challenge whatsoever.

This shows how Israel is under attack not only from the air but the airwaves!

Do the TV network news commentators sitting in New York, London, Paris, or Johannesburg ever ask the question:

What if one rocket, never mind 200 in 5 minutes, landed in London, or Paris or New York or Johannesburg – what would our leaders do?” 

From once the plucky underdog supported by Western public opinion, today, Israel is the object of a global campaign to demonise the state and question its very right to exist.

Which means, if Israel has no right to exist, it has no right to defend itself.

Only a month ago on April 7, Israel commemorated on Yom HaShoah, the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result not ONLY of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its collaborators but of a world that mostly stood by and allowed it to happen.

5-year-old boy Ido Avigal (z”l) was killed in his home in Sderot by a rocket fired from Gaza, May 12, 2021. (Twitter)

Israelis can see – It would do so again!

And what can one say about the DNA of Hamas after releasing a statement following the rapid firing of 100 rockets at Israel yesterday that:

 “firing on Tel Aviv is easier than drinking water”?

When “drinking”, Jews toast, “L’Chaim” – “to life”. Hamas prefers: “to death”!

That’s the fundamental difference!

All I know as we prepare for another night of Gaza sending their aerial messages of hate, no 3-year-old in his bed with his fluffy friends should even know the word “Az’aka”!

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- 10-13 May 2021

The Israel Brief – 10 May 2021 – SPECIAL REPORT – the situation in Jerusalem and the South.

The Israel Brief – 11 May 2021 – Israel Under Fire – Day 2.

The Israel Brief – 12 May 2021 – Updates – Israel Under Fire.

The Israel Brief – 12 May 2021 – Israel Under Fire Day 4

Rolene Marks Interviewed – Israel Under fire – 12/05/2021

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 Empire Strikes Back

By Craig Snoyman

I am sure that there are at least some of you who remember Star Wars. It’s about the only movie from my early youth that I can remember. Luke Skywalker and his robot sidekicks find a holographic plan and then together with Hans Solo and Chewbacca take on a mission to rescue Princess Leia from the dark forces of Darth Vader and the Evil Galactic Empire. Luke got some help from the Jedi as well. Empire Storm-troopers were running around causing havoc with the Forces of Light. Thanks to Princess Leia’s secret plan, Luke blows up the Empire’s death ship. We all loved that movie; I was so invested in that movie; the movie was me! But came the sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. Leia is again captured and Hans is frozen into carbonite and Luke fights against Darth Vader (“The Force is strong in this one”) and barely escapes, high-tailing  back into hiding. We were left hanging on for the next part of the trilogy.

Well, that’s kind of how I feel now. I am invested in the unfolding story of the discriminatory behaviour toward Judge David Unterhalter, the reply of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the response of the Judicial Services Commission, (JSC). I previously wrote an article about the JSC interview of Unterhalter, which appeared in Lay Of The Land, and far as I am aware, it was the first article which alleged that Unterhalter had been discriminated against because he was Jewish.  The SAJBD, either had their own R2D2 android with holgraph article/plan or used the “Lay of the Land” article/plan to attack the Evil storm-trooping JSC and the dark forces lurking within it. The SAJBD did get some help from the Chief Rabbi who also condemned the Evil Empire and its JSC in a front-page newspaper article. It seemed that the evils of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism had been brought out into the light and would be condemned for the dark forces that they are.

Judged on his Jewishness. Judge David Unterhalter was grilled about his involvement with the SAJBD, which in a letter of complaint to the JSC, the loosely formed coalition accused the SAJBD of being “akin to the Broederbond” serving as a “conservative organisation that supports and minimises the actions of the Israeli apartheid state.”

But then the JSC struck back! No, that can’t be it, storm-troopers aren’t allowed independent thought. Some part of the Empire, using its JSC stormtrooper, struck back. The JSC doubled down on its previous behaviour and published a Press Release where it accused the SAJBD of lying, sorry, stating:

 “the SAJBD statement is factually inaccurate.”

It proceeded further to state that the Commissioners were not allowed to ask discriminatory and anti-constitutional questions.  Once again, the forces of darkness denied that they were the forces of darkness.  And it used its light-sabre just once too often. It   proceeded to make one of the darkest, most disturbing statements that has even come out of the galaxy far, far away at the bottom of Africa:

“The questions relating to the association with the SAJBD dealt with concerns that the organisation supports Zionism which is viewed as a discriminatory form of nationalism and potentially in conflict with the values contained in the South African Constitution.”  And with that, the forces of darkness climbed back under the galactic rock that has pursued us for so long.  

What does one say to a commissioner who states that you cannot become a judge because you belong to a Jewish communal organisation? How different is it from the Jews being excluded from trade guilds in the Middle Ages? Or could join if they converted? Perhaps this analogy is not exactly apposite. So, let me try this one: does anybody remember a Law enacted called the “Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service”? Perhaps if I mentioned the name of the law in its native language, the consequences would immediately become apparentGesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentumsa law which was essentially aimed at ensuring that Jews, other non-Aryans, and political opponents could not serve as teachers, professors, judges etc. These positions should be given to Aryans. Admittedly, this law was not immediately put into effect. Not the same? OK, but we are seeing similarities between the directive to racially transform South Africa and the Nazi laws of the 1930’s.

Hanging in the Balance. Jews are questioning their stake in a South Africa  that today subjects its Jewish applicants for judicial positions to questions about their Jewish identity, the Palestine-Israel conflict and their views on the ‘two-state solution’. (Stock photo.Image: 123RFEvgenyi Lastochkin)

Perhaps the analogy works better on a personal level. One of the finest constitutions in the world, the South African constitution unequivocally states that every individual will not be discriminated against, directly or indirectly, on the basis of religion. Further, every individual has freedom of association.  The JSC acknowledged that Unterhalter, as a Jew had a position at a lawful, civic-minded Jewish institution, but sought to vindicate his behaviour by showing that he had resigned. ‘The Evil Empire’ storm-troopers, sorry ‘The JSC’ – don’t they sound the same? – denies any unconstitutional or discriminatory questioning with ‘The Dark Side’ stating that other non-Jewish candidates were also questioned about their religion. It’s true, there were three non-Jewish candidates out of 79 candidates who were asked about their religion. One candidate talked about his church’s social activism during Apartheid and was asked a single question about it. Another candidate had written a religious article in a Christian lifestyle magazine and had a case on appeal which related to a church matter. He was asked if his religious beliefs influenced him. The third candidate was asked about her church-going activity and whether she was “ecumenical” or “ecclesiastic”. There were no questions about the religious associations to which they belonged or whether their religious proclivities would affect their work.

So, were the questions offensive? Possibly.

However, the questions put to Lever and Unterhalter were not “possibly” offensive, they were Unquestionably offensive.

Were the questions discriminatory – clearly!

Were they unconstitutional? “undoubtedly” may push the borders to far. It only my opinion , not judicially decided maybe “ It has to be!”

And as for the questioning being anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist, surely, this must be the only possible inference!

Another “non-discriminatory” and “constitutionally acceptable” question posed only to Unterhalter he had to give an answer to the Israel-Palestinian dispute. But then it would have been regarded as totally out of the ordinary to pose the question to any other candidate. While an issue of South African politics, the Middle East has nothing to do with South African law, so the question could only have been asked because Unterhalter is a Jew!  According to the European Union standards, this was an anti-Semitic question, it’s also a classic anti-Semitic canard. 

One other commissioner must have assumed that Unterhalter was a Zionist otherwise he would have had no reason to link Zionism with racism and then to ask Unterhalter whether an organisation opposing Zionism would be constitutional. This is an adaption of at least two anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist canards.

But let us not forget Lever, lest he feel ignored. This man has been acting as a judge for five years. However, at his interview he was asked whether Sabbath observance would affect his performance as a judge.

In a nutshell, of the 79 candidates, only two – Unterhalter and Lever – were subjected to offensive questioning about their religion, religious affiliations and Zionist inclinations.

They both just happen to be Jewish.

Picture Imperfect. Dr. Fritz Glaser in this 1925 painting by Otto Dix, was a lawyer in Dresden, Germany who later due to his faith was prohibited to practice after 1933.

But then the ‘Forces of Darkness’ attacked me as well. And I wasn’t even there! The JSC announced to the world that it has concerns that the SAJBDsupports Zionism which is viewed as a discriminatory form of nationalism”. This racist allegation serves only to show the incredible underlying prejudice that exists in the JSC.  The JSC has no basis and no legal authority to make such a defamatory pronouncement! It displayed a wanton disregard of the religious rights of, and lawful rights of association, of a recognised religion and its followers in South Africa. It is defamatory of virtually every Jew that prays for the restoration of Jerusalem every day as have millions of Jews over the past two millennia.

The SAJBD has asked for a meeting with this underling of ‘Force of Darkness’, but I remember what happened to Luke Skywalker when he fought Darth Vader, one-on-one.

Grand Inquisitor.  One of the most iconic villains in popular culture, the writer finds some resonance with Star Wars’ Darth Vader  in South Africa’s judicial process.

I don’t want this issue to end like the end of the second part of the trilogy. There was a sense of unease and the ‘Forces of Light’ were in retreat.  I want the Jedi to Return.  I want the death stars of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism wiped out. I want this ‘Evil Empire’ to be judged and rebuked. I want these Forces of Darkness to realise the evil of their ways. I want that the nations of this Empire to no longer fight our nation. I want them to turn their light-sabres of hate into plow-sabres of peace and tolerance and no longer lift their light-sabres against our nation and our beliefs. I want them to no longer learn the war of anti-Semitism anymore.

But if the Evil Empire and its lackeys won’t heed the lesson of Isaiah, and we do have to go into part three of the trilogy, then I want a JAPrincess Leyah, a Luke Chai-stalker, a Haim Solo, a Jewbacca and a team of Yid-i knights to step up to the plate and expose not only just the Storm-troopers, but  also the deathship as well, and forever defeat this Evil Force of Darkness  – speedily in our days, kayn ye’he ratzon!(Let it be so).

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)

Media Watchdog

As tensions rise and Israel is currently engaged in conflagration with terror entities in the Gaza strip, the media plays a vital role in ensuring that coverage is factual. But are they presenting the full picture and truth behind some of the headlines or are they engaged in a battle for clicks and views?

Rolene Marks writes this open letter to the Daily Mail and other media outlets.

To the Editor

It is 07h41 here in Israel and I am writing this while sitting in my bomb shelter. I am no different to the hundreds of thousands doing the same thing. In the last 13 hours, over 200 rockets have been fired from Gaza from terror entities in the Gaza strip, placing millions of Israelis, Jewish, Christian and Muslim in immediate danger. This also invites a response from Israel that places civilians in Gaza in danger and so the cycle continues.

Rockets are launched by Palestinian terrorists into Israel in Gaza, May 10, 2021.

I have read your coverage and would like to draw attention to important facts that need to be made public and have not been included in your coverage. You have not mentioned that 3 children were killed when a rocket misfired. Why were those children close to a rocket launcher? Why is it not mentioned that civilians are used as human shield by terror entities like Hamas and Islamic Jihad who are firing these rockets, threatening to turn cities like Ashkelon “into hell”? Are you aware that 1/3 of rockets fired have landed in the Gaza strip, endangering Palestinian civilians as well? Hamas and other terror entities are committed to inviting as much conflict as possible. Are you aware that residents of a Kibbutz close to the Gaza border yesterday were told to lock themselves in their homes for fear of infiltration?

 With regards to the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah – I am attaching this legal explanation on the situation.

Please note that this could also be sorted out if the Palestinian residents agreed to a rental option – like most residents living in homes owned by others do.

A screenshot of drone footage of a home in Jerusalem damaged by Hamas rocket fire. (Photo: Channel N12 screenshot.)

Are you also aware that protestors in the Al Aqsa Mosque stockpiled rocks and cinder blocks? This is a desecration of a holy site. Rocks were thrown at police and civilians to the cries of “bomb bomb Tel Aviv” and “with our blood and our bodies we will redeem Al Aqsa“.  Yesterday, a Jewish Israeli man was almost lynched but your coverage implied that he randomly rammed his car into some Palestinians. Rocks were thrown at his car, gas/mace sprayed in his eyes and he was almost pulled out of his car. Please correct. Please also mention the 7-month-old baby in Hadassah Hospital who sustained wounds to the forehead from a rock thrown at the car she was in. Thank goodness for a teddy bear tucked into the car seat that absorbed the impact. Yesterday rockets were fired towards Jerusalem, to the cheers of Palestinians as captured on Sky News. What if one of those rockets hit Al Aqsa Mosque as rockets have hit apartments buildings and houses in the last  13 hours? In addition, nearly 50 fires have been set off in southern Israel as a result of arson balloons from the Gaza strip, destroying valuable agricultural farmland.

An apartment building in Ashkelon was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, May 11, 2021.

When covering the conflict between Israel and her neighbours, it is tempting to look at Israel as the Goliath to the Palestinian David. I implore you to take a closer look. This is a conflict where nuance and context is very important and more often than not, is lost in the coverage.

Thank you.

Kind regards

 Rolene Marks



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 Arab Voice – May 2021

Arab writers from the Middle East and beyond, opine on Pope Francis’s meeting with Holocaust survivor; the need for  Kuwait to reform its legal system with an emphasis on gender equality and the suggested attributes of a national leader in the region today.


Pope Francis and the Embodiment of Human Fraternity

By Ameel Amin

Al-Etihad, UAE, March 7

There is nothing wrong with us, in the Arab world, to admit that the Holocaust of the Jewish people in the first half of the 20th century was one of the darkest and most appalling times humanity has ever faced. There is also nothing wrong with us remembering that, at the time when Jews were sent to concentration camps in Europe, Jews living in the Arab world flourished and thrived in their societies, and lived on equal footing with their fellow Muslim and Christian citizens. It therefore comes as no surprise that many of them reached positions of power and influence, such as government ministries or prominent roles in the arts and theatre. Human brotherhood was a true part of their lives.

So, what made me evoke the tragic events with which I opened this article? A few weeks ago, Pope Francis emerged from the Vatican compound and visited the home of Hungarian-born Hebrew poet Edith Brock, who survived the Nazi Holocaust. Brock had been imprisoned in a concentration camp as a child. She lost her parents and her brother there. Pope Francis’ visit was an attempt to express our shared humanity. This was the pope’s first visit outside the borders of Vatican City since his last trip to the Cross of San Marcello and the Great Church of Saint Mary. He wanted to express his humanity to a widowed woman, a survivor of the horrors of the Holocaust, who has been living alone behind closed door since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Warm Embrace. An emotional and warm meeting between Pope Francis meets and poetess and Holocaust survivor Edith Bruck in Rome on February 20. (photo credit: VATICAN MEDIA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Pope Francis spent an hour with Brock, hoping to ease her loneliness and make her feel listened to and thought of. Their differences in religion did not matter. In the first moments of the meeting, Francis told Brock that he had come to thank her for her testimony, in which she spoke about the horrors of the Nazi hatred. The visit took Brock by surprise. She remarked, “We are never ready for the most beautiful moments of our life, nor are we prepared for the worst moments, either.”

Pope Francis concluded the meeting by remarking that we are all brothers, even if this fact is sometimes forgotten.
Ameel Amin


Let Kuwait Become a State of Law Again

By Bahija Behbehani

Al-Qabas, Kuwait, April 29

The bitter reality and horrific events that have been taking place in Kuwait confirm, unfortunately, that we’re living in an era similar to the Iraqi invasion of 1990. Unlike the invasion, however, the enemy we confront today stems from within. It is guided by Kuwaiti citizens who have evaded the law, spread corruption, robbed people of their lives, embezzled public money, and escaped any accountability or punishment. These individuals benefit from a set of archaic rules that are filled with loopholes, allowing them to continue enacting their crimes undeterred. Take, for example, Article 153 of the Penal Code, which limits the punishment that can be imposed on a man accused of killing his wife, mother, or sister to three years of imprisonment, or a fine of 3,000 rupees in place of life imprisonment, or the death penalty!

Time for Change. Kuwaitis gather to protest against violence against women in Kuwait City, Kuwait, April 22,2021. (Reuters)

One can’t help but wonder why only male murderers are able to escape such punishment by simply paying a fine, while a woman committing the exact same crime will be sent to a lifetime in prison instead? Let’s not forget that the Sharia and the holy Quran view murderers the same way – whether they are male or female.  The only way to put our country back on track is to ensure equal treatment before the law for all. When a person commits murder, he or she must face a death sentence, regardless of whether they are male or female.

Hope for the Future. Kuwaiti Women Leaders working to bring more Gender Parity to politics

We therefore demand that the minister of interior swiftly implement the death penalty for every murder case and deter potential aggressors from committing their crime. It is time that we restore the rule of law in Kuwait and provide equal treatment for all Kuwaitis, male and female, before the law.

– Bahija Behbehani


The Importance of Culture and Literature in Politics

By Mustafa Elfeki 

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, April 29

When foreign officials and senior dignitaries come on official state visits to Egypt, they typically differ in the sites they want to see and the places they want to visit. I still remember the late Iraqi president Abdul Rahman Arif, who ruled Iraq for a very short period of time that was characterized by relative calm, who came to visit Egypt during his term in office. Arif could have chosen to stop at any major historical, cultural, religious or political site in Cairo, but insisted on visiting the Giza Zoo, because of its heritage, fame, and the diversity of its animals and birds. 

In contrast, take the late Tunisian president Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali who, upon his visit to Egypt, requested to meet the notable writer and Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, alongside a visit to the Egyptian Museum. His choice reflected the brotherhood between the Egyptian and Tunisian peopleand their shared affinity toward culture and art. I bring all of this up on the occasion of the recent visit of the president of the Republic of Tunisia, Kais Saied, to Egypt. A prominent academic and university professor, Saied focused his visit on a prominent cultural landmark: He attended a Tunisian-Egyptian evening at the Opera House in the presence of the minister of culture, Dr. Inas Abdel Dayem

Saied’s visit reflected his great appreciation for the Egyptian civilization, and he was concerned with museums and art more than he was interested in tourist attractions. I personally believe that a political leader who has experience and understanding in literature and art is better able to understand and lead his people. The literary and artistic vision broadens one’s perceptions, opens his mind, and allows him to make nuanced decisions on abstract matters. 

Preserving the Past.  Tunisian President Kais Saied visits in April 2021, the recently inaugurated National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, Mosque of Amr ibn al-As and Cairo Citadel as part of his three-day visit to Cairo.

It is no wonder that the president of Tunisia approached his visit through this lens and made sure to celebrate the two countries’ contributions to the Arab world. The visit of President Kais Saied, who is known for the integrity of the word and clarity of the idea, reminds us once again of the relationship between culture and politics. A shrewd statesman doesn’t need to have political experience; it is enough to be educated and cultured. 

By understanding art and literature, a leader will better understand the facts of life and the paths of politics, regardless of his background and without regard to the nature of his qualifications. Culture is a divine gift that allows people to better understand those surrounding them while being able to look into the future and anticipate what is yet to come. 

Mustafa Elfeki

*All articles translated by Asaf Zilberfarb

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- 07 May 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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Anne Frank and the Dangers of Holocaust Appropriation

By  Rolene Marks

Eternal Message. Anne Frank’s diary of two years of hiding is one of the world’s most famous books.

While mega-millions have read Anne Frank’s diary and shared in her daily frustrations,  today readers share fresh frustrations brought on not by Nazis but the appropriators of history who abuse her character and her experiences to fulfill their own political agendas on social media.

Anne Frank and the Dangers of Holocaust Appropriation

(Click on the blue title)


Is this really the Rainbow Nation?

By Harris Zvi Green

SA Unmasked. Judge David Unterhalter was grilled about his support of Jewish welfare organization.

Two top lawyers – one a judge – appearing  to fill vacant judicial positions in South Africa’s national courts, were questioned on their religious identity, opinions on Middle East peace and their associations with  a communal organisation. Why? Because they are Jewish! Is this the proud new South Africa envisioned by Mandela?

Is this really the Rainbow Nation?

(Click on the blue title)


China’s One Tweet Too Many!

The tweet of the ‘Grim Reaper’ is for Jews a Grim Reminder

By David E. Kaplan

Grim and Grotesque.  Tweet from Chinese Embassy depicting Israel and the USA as merchants of death

Why would China that is so commercially engaged with Israel and looking to expand, have its embassy in Japan upload onto is official website, such an antisemitic cartoon reminiscent of the worst days of Nazi propaganda against the Jews?

China’s One Tweet Too Many!

(Click on the blue title)


“Facts” that Provide Positive Results – rather than “Maybe’s”

Eating is a Necessity so get the most Benefit with Small and Maximum Chewing

By Lionel H. Phillips D.O

Chew on This! Smoother digestive journey to a healthier life when food is well chewed.

Our most accomplished and cherished asset is our hard-working human body. Requiring the minimum of care and knowledge in order to allow it to function efficiently, one of the most important pieces of advice from the writer is less on what to eat but more how to eat.

“Facts” that Provide Positive Results – rather than “Maybe’s”

(Click on the blue title)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image006-2021-04-10T122037.469.jpg

LOTL Cofounders 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- 03-06 May 2021

The Israel Brief – 03 May 2021 – Meron tragedy update. 2 Terror attacks yesterday. Positive stats re Covid

The Israel Brief – 04 May 2021 – Did Police warn of potential disaster at Meron? Netanyahu close to ending of the mandate to form a government. Lebanon and Israel in maritime border negotiations.

The Israel Brief – 05 May 2021 – Can Lapid form a government? Germany bans group for funding terror. Israeli aid lands in India.

The Israel Brief – 05 May 2021 – 19 year old Yehuda Guetta dies of wounds from a terror attack. EU opens up to Israeli tourists. FM Ashkenazi hosts Iftar.

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).

Anne Frank and the Dangers of Holocaust Appropriation

By  Rolene Marks

A famous celebrity once remarked that social media is “the toilet of the internet”. Okay, so that person was Lady Gaga but whether or not you are a fan of pop culture or spend some time traversing the nonsense posted on various social media platforms, you have to admit there is great truth in her words.

Some weeks are worse than others and this past week really took the cake. For some reason #AnneFrank was trending and this piqued my curiosity. I almost wish it hadn’t because what I found was nothing short of nauseating.

Anne Frank, age twelve, at her school desk. Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 1941. (Anne Frank Stichting)

During this past year as the world has endured a pandemic that has caused immense pain and loss, the disturbing trend of Holocaust appropriation, which is the re-purposing of imagery, narratives experiences from the Shoah to push another agenda or explain other historical crimes and occurrences has found oxygen.

We are familiar with the images of anti-vaxxers or those fed up with lockdowns marching in cities across the world, wearing the yellow stars that Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust, saying that their “human rights” are being eroded. Spoiler alert: sitting on your couch watching copious amounts of Netflix while shopping on Amazon or having the right to choose whether or not you wanted to have a potentially life-saving vaccine is not nearly the same experience as being rounded up, forced into a ghetto, beaten, tortured, starved, worked to death, marched to death, gassed and burned because you are Jewish. THAT is what the yellow star signified.

One of the enduring symbols of the Holocaust is Anne Frank. The story of the Jewish teenager has been immortalized in her diary and has been used as an educational tool and translated into many languages for millions around the world.  Anne Frank has both captivated and broken hearts the world over, and through her words and experiences, we have come to better understand what life under Nazi occupation was like for her and her family, as they went into hiding with several others, in a tiny space, hidden for years by righteous gentiles who risked their lives knowing what the penalty for those they hid, as well as themselves.

History Abused. Dreams of a young girl surviving through the Holocaust are ‘re-purposed’ for the agendas of political activists today. (Photograph from UPI / Corbis-Bettmann)

It was certain death!

The millions of us who have read her story have shared in her daily frustrations, the precocious personality of a typical teenager experiencing the changes and her heartbreaks as well as the very real fear and hurt of being targeted for death for the crime of being a Jew. Anne Frank put a name and a face to the 1 500 000 children murdered in the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people. For many people, Anne Frank put a human face to a catastrophe many viewed in the abstract.

Anne and her sister Margot were sent to Bergen Belsen after their secret annex was discovered. They died of typhus and their bodies thrown into a mass grave. Their father Otto Frank, survived them.

So why was she trending on Twitter?

I have seen many appalling things posted to Twitter but a post from Black Hammer (see below) takes the cake. To date, me and many others have reported it. I am still waiting for it to be removed from Twitter for violating community standards.

Black Hammer describe themselves on Twitter as follows “We are an anticolonial organization dedicated to getting our land back! Join us in making a city with no rent, kkkops, rona or colonizers at http://blackhammer.”

Their litany of tweets features appalling spelling and grammar that is almost as offensive as their ribald antisemitism and flagrant racism; but we cannot dismiss the fact that they opened up a discussion and debate. In the context of having important discussions about race and intolerance, this would have been important but we CANNOT fight racism by promoting antisemitism. The above stated tweet (where do I even begin with all the things that are offensive!) just trotted out every vile, racist tropes that is guaranteed to inflame the masses. And inflame them they did.  J-Twitter (that’s Jewish Twitter) responded in numbers expressing outrage and trying as much as possible to debunk the accusations and were joined by others saying it was offensive BUT is also gave a tailwind to the haters and the conversation spiraled downwards to the point where Anne herself was accused of being a “colonizer” and proceeds from the sale of her book going towards “the funding of the genocide of the Palestinian people.”  There was so much discussion that it resulted in the topic being one of the top trending hashtags for the week – for the wrong reasons.

The gross exploitation and appropriation of the image of Anne Frank to promote a political agenda.

In the oppression Olympics there are no winners. There is a very real danger in ignoring, debasing or appropriating the narrative of another to push an agenda which in this case, feeds into people’s distaste for colonization. For Black Hammer, the facts don’t seem to matter – the only thing that matters is demonizing the one so that they can promote the agenda of the other, often with dangerous and deadly consequences.

The dangers are not restricted to social media and the opinions of the haters. As time marches on, we lose more and more of the witnesses to the Holocaust and so we have to be their voice. At a time when the global conscience on racism is acutely aware of its effects, so we have to ensure that all conversations about hatred include the oldest – antisemitism. Holocaust appropriation cannot be allowed to get a free pass. It is an imperative that we fight it wherever it appears. Failure to do so means that not only is our narrative taken from us but that victims of hatred are once again silenced.

Anne Frank once said, “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart”. If only the hope expressed through this remarkable young woman – whose story resonates through the generations in the hope that it would educate people and remind them that we were not just numbers but had names, lives and experiences – would be realized. We have to do better by Anne.

We have to be the voice of people who are really good at heart. 

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).

China’s One Tweet Too Many!

The tweet of the ‘Grim Reaper’ is a for Jews a Grim Reminder

By David E. Kaplan

China and the USA are in major strategic competition and constantly maneuvering for one-upmanship. Fair enough, but why bring Israel and the Jews into  this quarrel? After all, Chinese investment in Israel has grown significantly in recent years, especially in the fields of software, IT services, and electronics. According to 2018 data from the World Bank, Israel imports the most goods from China ($10.4 billion), with the U.S. a close second ($10.2 billion), and China is the second biggest destination – following the U.S. – for Israeli exports ($4.8 billion).  And despite sound concern and strong opposition from the USA, has Israel not agreed for a Chinese company  –  Shanghai International Port Group –  to run the new Haifa port for the next 25 years?

So while China ranks relatively low on the Anti-Defamation League’s rankings of anti-Semitic countries, it thus came as a surprise that the Chinese Embassy in Japan tweeted  – albeit later deleted – an anti-US meme with strong antisemitic and anti-Israel imagery.

Grim and Grotesque.  The offensive cartoon tweeted from the Chinese Embassy in Japan depicting the partnership of the US and Israel in bringing death and destruction to Muslim counties – beware!

The tweet featured a cartoon image of a Grim Reaper draped around in an American flag and inflicting death with his scythe emblazoned with the Israeli flag of the Star of David.  For those less acquainted, the Grim Reaper is a common enduring image over many centuries of a skeletal figure, usually shrouded in a dark, hooded robe and carrying a scythe to “reap” human souls. It’s eerie, disturbing and frightening!

In the offending tweet, the reaper appears knocking on a door labeled ‘Egypt’  having left a trail of Muslim blood behind after having ‘visited’ through the other doors in the image – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Libya, and Syria. Now if China is so heavily invested in the Middle East including Israel, why sow discord?

While China – through its embassy tweet –  may feel it is justifiably retaliating against the U.S. in its competition for world leadership by warning of the dangers of American democracy, but why bring Jews and Israel into this ‘picture’ by emblazoning on the reaper’s scythe the Jewish Star of David?

It only gets worse. The tip of the scythe is dripping in Muslim blood and the caption in Japanese reads:

If the United States brought ‘democracy,’ it would be like this.”

In other words,  it’s a warning from the Chinese embassy:

Beware of the allure the USA because beneath the veneer, you Muslim countries will receive death and destruction at the murderous hand of  Israel.

This was reminiscent of a Nazi German cartoon circa 1938 depicting the Jews as an octopus encircling the globe.

As reported in the New York based Jewish newspaper, The Algemeiner, the cartoon was featured on several extremist websites and proved popular with white supremacists and Holocaust deniers. The damage was done!

Role Model for China. Nazi propaganda which often portrayed Jews as engaged in a conspiracy to provoke war, depicts here a stereotyped Jew conspiring behind the scenes to control the Allied powers, represented by the British, American, and Soviet flags. The caption reads, “Behind the enemy powers: the Jew”. (Circa 1942. US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Helmut Eschwege)

When Israel’s Ambassador to Japan, Yaffa Ben-Ari called her Chinese counterpart, Cheng Yonghua, last Friday saying that “the cartoon demonized Israel”, Yonghua responded that he had not noticed that Israel was part of the image. It is true, the Star of David appears small in relation to the size of the US flag but  the horrific and bloody image draws the viewer closer, and while the U.S. is depicted as the agent of death, Israel and Jews by appearing on the scythe are seen as the instrument of death. Together, “Big Satan” and “Little Satan” are graphically portrayed as cunning, conniving mass murderers of the innocent and vulnerable.

Sounding the Alarm. Israel’s ambassador to Japan, Yaffa Ben-Ari, Ambassador who called her Chinese counterpart in Japan about its Embassy’s antisemitic tweet.

This is something Israelis have become accustomed to seeing in official Iranian social media and on banners at pro-regime mass rallies in Teheran – not from China!

Despite Cheng Yonghua’s ‘failure to notice’ the detail  of the Israel-Jewish connection to the cartoon from his embassy’s website, an hour after the call, the tweet was deleted. It may also have resulted

From Israel’s Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General for Asia and the Pacific Gilad Cohen contacting the Chinese Embassy in Israel to inform it about the tweet.

However, despite having deleted the grotesquely offending tweet, the Chinese embassy did not tweet an apology!

The incident comes at a time of high diplomatic frictions between China and both Japan and the United States over a broad range of issues, including China’s regional territorial ambitions.

Hence many Japanese Twitter users responded angrily to the tweet, some including the famous June 5, 1989 photo of a man standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square. What they failed to respond to  – whether they did not seem to notice or take issue  – was the antisemitic element!

Is This What China wants to be Associated With? German antisemitic cartoon from 1938, using Octopus symbolism of Jewish tentacles  stretching over the entire globe.

Jews need little reminder of the existential danger of cartoons as part of Nazi propaganda to win the support of millions of Germans in a democracy and later in a dictatorship to facilitate persecution and ultimately genocide.

We need to be vigilant and respond.  Its not acceptable to say “We did not notice” like the Chinese ambassador, because to do nothing is to wait until it’s too late!

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)

“Facts” that Provide Positive Results – rather than “Maybe’s”

Eating is a Necessity so get the most Benefit with Small mouthfuls and Maximum Chewing

By Lionel H. Phillips D.O.

The Human Body leaves nothing in its wake as being the most sophisticated miraculous consistent persistent accurate hard-working machine ever known to mankind. All this while continuing to function 24/7 for 100 and more years, in many cases while not being treated or serviced as is required. We marvel at all the high-tech innovations and invest billions to improve speed and accuracy and imaging, yet none of which holds a candle to the human body – our greatest asset without a sliver of doubt.

On Track. For the long road, the human body beats the car hands down.

It is a fact that the body has the ability for healing itself if given the chance. Think of how quickly and efficiently our bodies deal with damage, from a small cut to a cracked or broken bone. Similarly with an infection or a mild bout of food poisoning. Our entire system acts as a unit to protect, repair and heal itself. Each tiny part of the body and, in turn, each of its systems, is intimately connected to every other part and every other system. When the function of any part is less than 100 %, the rest of the systems are affected in some negative way or another.

The human body requires the minimum of care and knowledge in order to allow it to function efficiently. One would never dream of lowering the service requirements of any of our man-made assets, no matter how simple or complicated they may be. The result of not providing the body with its basic simple logical needs, is extremely costly. Examples are –

  1. THE EVER-INCREASING HEALTH-CARE CRISIS. Sickness, disease and general poor health is rising amongst all age groups as never before, with mounting costs to citizens and governments alike;
  2. Medical and health care services and waiting times for appointments are over-whelmed and stretched, as is the over-burdened pressure on the diligent medical personnel, albeit that they are short-staffed. The waiting times for many imaging units has become longer.
  3.  Poorer and less fortunate citizens are hardest hit, with many not having access to drinking water, food or medical services at all, particularly in African countries.  

Is there even one man-made object, no matter size or expense, that can compare to the human body?

An Interesting Fact about One Part of a System of the Human Body

Although the following is extremely complicated and technical, I believe it will provide some indication as to the wonders of the workings of our body.

If all arteriesveins, and capillaries of the human circulatory system were laid end to end, the total length would be 60,000 miles, or 100,000 km. That’s nearly two and a half times around the Earth! Even though its thickness averages just 2mm, your skin gets an eighth of all your blood supply.    

Let’s observe just one of the many functions, that of the Abdominal Arteries –

  • Celiac Trunk – Branching off from the abdominal aorta, the celiac trunk divides into smaller arteries that supply organs such as the stomach, liver and spleen.
  • Superior mesenteric. Also branching off of the abdominal aorta, it sends blood to the small intestinepancreas, and most of the large intestine.
  • Inferior mesenteric. Like the superior mesenteric artery, this artery also branches off of the abdominal aorta and supplies blood to the last portion of the large intestine, which includes the rectum.
  • Inferior phrenic. These are paired arteries that supply blood to the diaphragm.
  • Adrenal. The adrenal arteries are paired arteries that send blood to the adrenal glands.
  • Renal. These paired arteries deliver blood to the kidneys.
  • Lumbar. These paired arteries send blood to the vertebrae and spinal cord.
  • Gonadal. The gonadal arteries are paired arteries that send blood to the testes in males and the ovaries in females.
  • Common iliac. This branch of the abdominal aorta divides into the internal and external iliac arteries.
  • Internal iliac. Derived from the common iliac artery, this artery supplies blood to the bladder, pelvis, and external portion of the genitals. It also supplies the uterus and vagina in females.
  • External iliac. Also arising from the common iliac artery, this artery eventually becomes the femoral artery. All perfect in design and function.
The World Over. If all arteries and veins of the human circulatory system were laid end to end, the total length would be nearly two and a half times around the earth.

Number of Bones – 206
Number of Ribs – 24
Number of Bones in your Face – 22
Number of Bones in your Skull – 22
Number of Bones in your Neck – 7
Number of Bones in your Vertebral column – 33
Number of Bones in one Hand – 30
Normal Heart beats – 70 to 72 times per minute
Normal Blood Pressure – 120 / 80 mm of Hg.
Number of Cranial Nerves – 12 pairs
Number of Spinal Nerves – 31 pairs
Life Span of R.B.C.’S – Red Blood Cells – 120 days
Life Span of W.B.C.’S – White Blood Cells – 10 – 15 days
Life Span of Platelets – 5 – 9 days
Amount of Blood in the Body – 5 – 6 Liters.

Q:  How complicated and difficult and invasive is it to provide my body with its NEEDS?

A:  Not invasive in any way at all. Extremely simple to follow, if you give YOURSELF and YOUR BODY the chance to prove the benefits to be gained. 

First and foremost, focus on the suggestions and do your utmost to avoid being influenced by any ingrained habits leading you astray.  No dieting – no excessive exercise – no pills.

Something to ‘Chew On’What looks good will taste better with small mouthfuls  that are well-CHEWED.

Let us concentrate on How to Eat and Chew your food – any food:

Your Digestive System –

The digestive system involves the extremely complex process of absorbing the maximum nutrients from the food you eat, which the body uses for energy, growth and cell repair, in order to survive. The digestion process also involves eliminating the waste created by the whole process.  

The digestive tract (or gastrointestinal tract) is a long twisting tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. It is made up of a series of muscles that coordinate the movement of food and other cells that produce enzymes and hormones to aid in the breakdown of food. Along the way there are other vital ‘accessory’ organs that are needed for digestion, among which are the esophagus, stomach, intestines – small and large, gallbladder, liver, and the pancreas.

The digestive system is truly a remarkable mechanism. During a person’s lifetime, it may process between 60,000 and 100,000 pounds (35,000 and 58,300 kgs.) of food

‘Taste’ of a Healthier Tomorrow

Digestion actually starts before you even take the first bite of a meal. The look and smell of food triggers the salivary glands in your mouth to secrete saliva, causing your mouth to water. When you actually taste the food and begin chewing, your tongue takes charge and moves the food to the appropriate teeth for grinding, mashing and cutting, as well as spreading it so as to become softer and warmer.  The enzymes in saliva begin to break down carbohydrates in the food.  After chewing, the tongue directs the food (now called a bolus) to the back of the mouth to be swallowed. It enters the esophagus and via peristalsis, continues on to the stomach, where the next stage of digestion occurs. The primary peristaltic wave forces the bolus down the esophagus and into the stomach which takes about 8–9 seconds. The esophagus is 23-37 cm long and only    1-2 cm. in diameter.

It helps to chew (masticate) your food to a maximum, in order for this process to be effective. SMALL MOUTHFULS AND MAXIMUM CHEWING is required. This helps with your digestion process and the absorption of the maximum Nutrients. And that’s it! Large mouthfuls cannot be chewed sufficiently, leaving a large amount in a state that will create all sorts of problems along the route.

Give it a full chance for a month and make a note of any changes that may have taken place – satisfaction, eating less, no feeling of over-eating or reflux and even fat loss. By the way, if small servings don’t suffice, you can always have a second.

However, the smaller helping should have been tastier and more satisfying. 

About the writer:

Lionel 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 Sports club Association) and member of their worldwide “Panel of Experts”, Phillips is a recipient of the “Prime Ministers Award of Merit” (PM Menachem Begin).

Lionel is contactable at: 

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)