The Arab Voice – July 2020

Arab writers from the Middle East and beyond opine on the impact of Bolton’s ‘bombshell’ book on the Trump presidency, what history can teach about sanction on Iran and the tragic decline of Lebanon.

 

 

Bolton’s Memoir and the Trump Administration

By Suleiman Judeh

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, July 4

 The battle between US President Donald Trump and his former national security adviser, John Bolton, is truly fascinating. Not merely because it is telling of the chaos in the current US administration, but also because of the mutual accusations exchanged between the two men, with Trump describing Bolton as a liar and Bolton describing Trump as incompetent to govern.

The former adviser spent months working next to Trump at the White House, fulfilling the same role played by notable individuals like Henry Kissinger, McGeorge Bundy and Condoleezza Rice. When Bolton left, he sat down to reflect on his experiences in the Oval Office and began writing a memoir. This memoir was finally released last week. But the American president put up a fight against Bolton’s book and worked tirelessly to prevent its publication. The formal reasoning was that the book includes confidential material pertaining to US national security. However, the real reason for Trump’s fierce opposition was twofold.

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First, he feared that Bolton’s book would have a negative impact on his campaign for the upcoming presidential elections, as it would paint the Trump administration in a negative light.

Second, Trump recognized that the book would immediately become a national bestseller that would bring extensive publicity and financial benefit to Bolton. This second point is particularly striking since it is proof that, despite the widespread declaration that the print media and publishing industries are dead, people still have interest in hard-copy books.

The buzz surrounding the release of Bolton’s book is real. It cannot be easily replicated in the digital realm, using tweets and Facebook posts. People still want to learn more about the stories happening at the highest levels of power, behind closed doors, and they turn to books to do so.

Both Trump and Bolton recognize the latent power held by books in setting political narratives and shaping history. And Trump is on the losing end of this narrative.

Suleiman Judeh

 

 

What History can Teach us about Sanctions on Iran

By Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed

Asharq Al-Awsat, London, July 5

The Iranian regime is unlikely to collapse until the American elections take place. It is also unlikely that the mullahs will retreat from their aggressive behaviour both internally and externally. But after November 3, when the presidential election takes place in the US, all possibilities are open.

Things could change dramatically, depending on who is sitting in the White House. However, before jumping into predictions about the future of the political war between Washington and Tehran, it might be best, perhaps, to turn to relevant examples from the past.

The sanctions under which Saddam Hussein’s regime existed in Iraq between 1990 to the US invasion in 2003 were very similar in nature to the harsh sanctions regime that exists against Iran today. The lesson from Saddam Hussein is that sanctions did not succeed in changing his behaviour or policies. Such authoritarian regimes do not care about the agony of their citizens.

Moreover, these regimes use sanctions to promote their own propaganda. For example, Saddam manipulated the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to believe that over half a million Iraqi children had died as a result of the sanctions against him. However, later research showed that these figures were fabricated by the regime. It also became apparent that the ruling circle itself was not affected, which partly convinced Washington of the need to invade and topple the regime by force after failing to change its policies.

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Does this mean that the severe economic sanctions that apply to Iran today are useless? Yes and no. On one hand, sanctions will neither affect the regime directly, nor will they change the mullahs’ key political positions. However, they are especially useful in weakening the regime’s internal grip. This has been confirmed by the repeated protests we have seen in Tehran and other cities.

Furthermore, sanctions have curtailed Iran’s foreign military activity in places like Syria and Lebanon, and even in Iraq and Yemen. The regime spent billions of dollars to manage its massive military activities outside its borders, including the financing of tens of thousands of militia fighters. The financial collapse of Hezbollah, Iran’s largest foreign militia, is a direct result of the US sanctions. The Iranian government’s income has fallen by more than 70%, and it is severely struggling to pay the salaries of teachers, doctors and government staff.

Granted, this does not mean that the supreme leader will simply step down. He is likely to wait and see what happens in the election. Also, we do not know how a Democratic president like Joe Biden will approach the question of sanctions. Will he lift them? I doubt it, because after signing the comprehensive agreement, Iran proved that it had become more dangerous to US interests and American allies in the region.

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The world has Iran over a barrel!

Worse, if Trump is reelected, the mullahs will face a more dangerous and hawkish administration. Then they will be forced to choose between the fate of Saddam Hussein or cooperation with the West in return for a new nuclear agreement in which they will refrain from their foreign military activities and pledge to limit their nuclear activities.

Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed

 

 

Dear Ali, It Is The Government That Killed You

By Bechara Charbel

Nida Al-Watan, Lebanon, July 5

Last week, a tragic event took place in the heart of Beirut when an innocent, law-abiding Lebanese citizen, Muhammad Ali Al-Haq, shot and killed himself near a café on Hamra Street. Al-Haq could not bear the difficult economic conditions that Lebanon is going through after returning from work in the Gulf, so, as a desperate, last resort, he decided to put an end to his life on a busy street in broad daylight.

You, Ali, are a hero!

You died while embracing the Lebanese flag. In your tragic death, you carried out the most peaceful protest you possibly could: You didn’t hurl stones at buildings, you didn’t set tires on fire in the street, you didn’t loot or steal. You preferred not to engage in violence against those who starved your family and deprived you of your basic humanity. Despite having every right to lash out at the authorities, their guardians and militias, you chose to die in peace, like a martyr.

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Lebanese Ali al-Haq could not bear the difficult economic and living conditions and decided to put an end to his life before the eyes of passers-by in broad daylight in a busy street in Beirut.

Before your death, we didn’t know you, Ali. But with your majestic passing, you became a symbol of the revolution against a corrupt system that has occupied our country and transformed its citizens into second-class subjects. Let’s not be mistaken, Ali: You did not kill yourself! The system that has been looting us for over 30 years murdered you. The greed of our disgusting leaders killed you. The political corruption in our country killed you. The lack of care among our authorities killed you.

Ali, I hope you rest in peace. Your tragic suicide is part of a ‘blood tax’ that our people have paid throughout history against transgressors and foreign occupiers that attempted to destroy us. Your act of defiance will never be forgotten. Your ultimate sacrifice won’t be overlooked. And your death won’t be in vain. You are the wake-up call to us all.

Bechara Charbel

 

 

*Translations 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

 

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter – 10 July 2020

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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https://layoftheland.online/2020/07/08/the-israel-brief-06-09-july-2020/

 

Articles

(1)

Heartwarming

Syrian baby brought to Israel for lifesaving heart surgery

By David E. Kaplan

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Saving Syrian Son. Syrian refugee Ahmad with his baby boy “Usayed” at an Israeli hospital.

Suffering from a severe heart defect, a newborn son of Syrian refugees, was airlifted from Cyprus to Tel Aviv to undergo an emergency operation at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan. The delicate “operation” was no less diplomatic than it was surgical, involving the cooperation between the Israeli embassy in Nicosia, the Cypriot Health Ministry and Cypriot and Israeli doctors.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/07/05/heartwarming/

 

(2)

Poison Pen

When a cartoon is beyond the pale

By Stephen Schulman

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Jokes Aside. From Chief Justice to Chief Zionist, Shapiro belittles South Africa’s top legal official.

The writer takes issue with South African cartoonist for his “scurrilous caricature” characterizing his country’s Chief Justice as a fool (“Moegoe”)  who is prevented from exercising independent thought by both Jews through their false religion depicted as a “MYTH” and Israel, portrayed by its defensive wall compressing his brain.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/07/08/poison-pen/

 

(3)

Hands off our Chief Justice!

By Rev Reuben Chapasuka

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Standing Steadfast. South Africa’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng says “I will not retract my comments on Israel.”

There is nothing controversial” in what South Africa’s embattled Chief Justice said, writes this reverent supporting his country’s most senior law official. Embroiled in furor, the writer agrees with his esteemed fellow Christian that South Africa would enjoy far greater influence by adopting a more balanced approach in order bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to the negotiating table.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/07/08/hands-off-our-chief-justice/

 

(4)

Seeing the Wood from the Trees

Recognising today’s dangers averts tomorrow’s disasters

By Jonathan Danilowitz

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Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing. Any difference between killer and sponsor?

With Israel embattled and imperiled by venomous word and deed, a 2020 “Yakir Ha’Ir Tel Aviv” award recipient and civil rights activist, explores why people who are “mostly rational” and “logical”, nevertheless in these troubling times too often “act against their own best interests.”

https://layoftheland.online/2020/06/03/seeing-the-wood-from-the-trees/

 

 

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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

Poison Pen

When a cartoon is beyond the pale

A letter to Jonathan Shapiro (Zapiro) concerning his caricature of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng published in The Daily Maverick on Thursday, 2nd July 2020.

By Stephen Schulman

Dear Jonathan Shapiro,

I have long admired your artistic talents in caricaturing even though I have at times disagreed with their contents and message. Still, we live in an age of democracy and freedom of expression and you and I, like others, have the right to express their views. I now wish to exercise that right and take issue with your scurrilous caricature of the Chief Justice of your country South Africa.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, a devout Christian and a respected personage with a long history of fighting for human rights, had actually dared to express his personal beliefs that were anathema to and ran counter to the official oft trumpeted biased anti -Israel mantra of the ANC leadership and you included:  simply calling for a more even handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and recognizing the validity of the existence of the State of Israel. Had he adopted the well worn official line of vilifying and demonizing the Jewish state, encomiums would have been showered upon him, but with his thoughtful and measured words he had actually rocked the boat and gravy train and in so doing had incurred the opprobrium of and brought the full wrath of the political establishment, its faithful followers and sycophants down on his head.

The age old adage states: “A picture is worth a thousand words!” In your caricature of this august gentleman, you have pulled out all the stops, using all your talent to besmirch and humiliate him.  Firstly, you have resorted to the well-worn sordid trick of mocking and distorting his name with the pejorative “Moegoe Moegoe“ –  making him sound like some bothersome insect while knowing only too well that Moegoe is South African slang for  “a stupid person, coward, or weakling”. Shame on you Jonathan Shapiro!

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Jokes Aside. From Chief Justice to Chief Zionist, Shapiro belittles South Africa’s top legal official.

For his sins of calling for a non-lopsided approach to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, you chose to label the Chief Justice the “Chief Zionist” – a venomous assault on his credibility and objectivity.  Furthermore, he now has the Jerusalem dividing wall like a vise on his head, squeezing his cranium, addling his brain and distorting his vision. If you, Jonathan Shapiro, see Zionism as synonymous with this wall, allow me to enlighten you. Prior to its construction, there was a wave of bombings and terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. Many innocent men, women and children whose sole crime was being Jewish and living in Israel, were murdered, maimed, disfigured and blinded by terrorists and many families destroyed – many of them by suicide bombers –   coming from the Palestinian Authority that consequently rewarded them for their nefarious deeds by granting the families of theses murderers and “martyrs” a generous monthly pension – the official ‘pay for slay’ policy! The suicide bombers, as promised by their Muslim religious leaders, would get their own special reward by ascending to the great celestial brothel where seventy-two non- menstruating virgins (Did they work in shifts?) were waiting for each one.

Was the wall – a necessary evil – effective?

The answer is a resoundingly positive one as since its construction, the number of terrorist attacks has plummeted and many lives have been saved and much suffering averted. The logic is quite clear: Had there been no terror attacks on Jews, condoned and sponsored by the Palestinian Authority, then the dividing wall would not have been necessary.

Now, Jonathan Shapiro, I ask you in the name of moral consistency, why do you not condemn other walls that have been erected? To name a few: Turkey illegally invaded Cyprus and built a wall dividing the island and in its construction caused much suffering to Greek Cypriots who were forcibly evicted from their homes, losing their livelihoods. Egypt built a wall to separate the Gaza Strip from its territory at the cost of destroying many homes of Gaza residents. Have you used your pen to voice your indignation or have you with double standards conveniently ignored them?

In your caricature, you labeled the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) a myth. A myth can be defined as a narrative of fictitious events without any foundation explaining certain phenomenon and that is sometimes used to propagate certain ideologies. You have therefore decided to place the Hebrew Bible in the same category as the Greek myths – entertaining but devoid of any value or truth whatsoever. In other words, you have negated the bedrock of the Jewish faith, its deep connection to the land of Israel and made a mockery of the religion. Many of your cartoons have reinforced this point.

Nevertheless, whilst publicly besmirching the religion you were born into, you have not been averse to using the Jewish community of Cape Town and shamelessly exploiting its services. I believe you chose to send your children to Herzlia, a Jewish Day School and had no qualms in requesting your mother to be placed in Highlands House, a Jewish home for the aged. In saying one thing and doing another, it is pretty clear that moral consistency is not your strong point. That, Jonathan Shapiro, in simple English is called: moral hypocrisy.

Stephen Schulman

Ramat HaSharon

Israel

 

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Happy Days. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng (left) with State President Cyril Ramaphosa before South Africa’s governing political party (ANC) called on the speaker of the parliament to censure Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng over him lamenting his country’s lopsided attitude toward the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

 

 

About the writer:

image001 (4).pngStephen Schulman is a graduate of the South African Jewish socialist youth movement Habonim, who immigrated to Israel in 1969 and retired in 2012 after over 40 years of English teaching. 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

The Israel Brief- 06-09 July 2020

 

The Israel Brief -06 July 2020 – Israel COVID Update. IDF responds to rockets. Mazel Tov Ambassador Khaldi.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief -07 July 2020 – New restrictions in Israel. Remembering a true hero. No, wearing masks is not like the Holocaust!

 

 

 

The Israel Brief -08 July 2020 – Israel’s soaring COVID stats. Controversy around Swedish Ambassador. Tributes from Arab world pour in for Michael Ben Zilri.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief -08 July 2020 – Special report from the Golan Heights

 

 

 

 

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

Hands off our Chief Justice!

A Christian perspective over the furor in South Africa following the Chief Justice expressing understanding and advocating a balance approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict

By Rev Reuben Chapasuka

Following the participation of the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Warren Goldstein and the Chief Justice of South Africa, Mogoeng Mogoeng in a webinar on June 23, moderated by Israel’s English daily, Jerusalem Post’s Editor-in-Chief, Yaakov Katz, I was asked in my capacity as a pastor and Executive President of the Cape to Cairo Israel Mission to answer a number of written questions submitted to me by Cape Town’s daily, the Cape Argus for an article. I answered them fully. Clearly the paper was not happy with my answers as it declined to publish.

My concern is that South Africa’s ruling ANC government may move to remove the Chief Justice from his office over his expression of his personal and Christian views of support for both Israel and the Palestinians. I feel that it is important that my voice as a Christian be heard. Believing that all sides should be heard, Lay of the Land has agreed to my request to publish the Cape Argus questions and my answers, appearing hereunder.

Why do you feel Chief Justice Mogoeng was justified in his remarks and why have you have chosen to support it?

“I fully endorse his views because he spoke not from the bench but as a devout South African Christian. There is nothing controversial in what the Chief Justice said. He expressed that South Africa would have greater influence if it adopted a more balanced approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is a fair comment. I too believe that South Africa can play a meaningful and possibly unique role in bringing the Israelis and Palestinians closer to the table. Some members of the judiciary have also spoken out about their personal convictions concerning the same issue, but they were not subjected to this same condemnation. The problem centers on who is advising the ANC on its diplomatic relations with Israel which by the way, our country still maintains, albeit at a recently downgraded level.

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Poignant Moment. President Cyril Ramaphosa receives the Bible from Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng after his inauguration at the Union Buildings in May 2019.

It is ironic that the Chief Justice would have received tremendous praise from these very same vocal critics had he instead chosen to denounce Israel. Clearly his ‘offense’ was not that he was expressing on issues areas outside his legal purview; but that his views upset the #Africa4Palestine crowd and their following in the ANC.

The Chief Justice is not denying Palestinian rights. I am a Christian, a pastor, a husband, a father, a marriage counsellor and also a leader of an organization whose mandate in the continent and beyond the borders of Africa is to proclaim Africa’s biblical connection to the Holy Land. I am familiar with the suffering of people not only in Africa but in countries beyond African borders that have rejected the biblical mandate about the land of Israel in their respective countries.  As it is written in Genesis 12:3, and which the Chief Justice espoused: “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.” Therefore, I fully endorse the views of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng because he spoke not from his Judicial bench but as a South African Christian, a pastor, a father figure who is passionate to see God blessing this country. Today, some of our children who were born in 1994 did not finish high school. Some of those who finished cannot even read and write. Is that not a curse? And some of those who finished their studies from Universities are not employed to date. Is that not a curse?

Here is a man praying for South Africa, to see South African youth walking with God and enjoying the fruit of the land of their forefathers. What they must do is simple; pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122). Hardly a week after the president called for a NationalDay of Prayer for May 31, what where they expecting? Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem and South Africa will prosper.

Thus, from my perspective as a clergyman, bound by the biblical mandate, the Chief Justice is entitled to have expressed what he did as a Christian of conscience and in a country that today proudly proclaims the freedom of speech.

As a practicing Christian, Judge Mogoeng’s praying for peace in the Holy Land was not a political statement. It does not mean that he is choosing one side over the other. It means that he hopes for peace in the region. As he said in the past: “I can only love. I love Israel. I love the Jews.  I love the Palestinians. I love everybody. I don’t hate anybody… How can you condemn me for asking God for peace?”

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Standing his Ground. Following several organisations wanting him to withdraw his remarks on Israel and apologise, Chief Justice Mogoeng says “There will be no retraction” and refuses to apologise “for being a Christian”.

What is your response to #Africa4Palestine calling the Chief Justice’s remarks an indictment and disservice to the many Christians in South Africa?

 “Firstly let us note on some of the statements of  Africa4Palestine on the issue:

  • “The Chief Justice conflates the modern political entity, the racist State of Israel that was created in 1948 with the Biblical Land of Israel. In the process he does a disservice to the Palestinian Christians who are descendants of the first followers of Jesus Christ.
  • He insults the Christians of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, and those who live in Jerusalem, who are currently living under a brutal Israeli occupation – deemed unlawful by South Africa together with most other countries and the UN.”

 Africa4Palestine is a radical anti-Israel lobby that throughout its existence has resorted to every possible distortion of fact in order to demonize and defame the Jewish state and incite hatred against it. This is evident in their latest outrageous claims that today’s Palestinians are descendants of the original Jews, and that Jesus himself was a Palestinian. As such, it is just another racist label against the Jewish people by this self-styled “human rights” group, which in its previous incarnation as BDS-SA was guilty of provoking numerous ugly anti-Semitic incidents.

Africa4Palestine’s views on the State of Israel are devoid of truth, biblically, historically, and also with regard to present reality.

The formation of the modern State of Israel came after the passing on 29 November 1947 of the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 with 33 votes in favour and 13 against. Clearly, the nations of the world deemed this action just and there was no hint of racism perceived.

The Chief Justice is absolutely correct as the Biblical Land of Israel and the modern State of Israel are one and the same geographical piece of land, albeit now smaller, parts of which we all know as Judea and Samaria. The name Palestine is fairly new and was only introduced by the Romans when they suppressed the Bar Kokhba revolt, a rebellion of the Jews in the Roman province of Judea. This was a third Jewish-Roman war and occurred around 135 CE, a full century after the death of Christ; and further evidence is that the name Palestine does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Through instruments such as the Balfour Declaration and the UN, the Jewish people have been restored to their ancestral land from which they were expelled during Rome’s conquest and occupation. Why is it so difficult for some people who also lost their land through colonial conquests in Africa to empathize with the restoration of the Jews to their ancestral land? We draw strength from this restoration because it is both morally justified and the fulfilment of biblical prophecies as detailed by our prophets including Isaiah and Ezekiel. The presence of Jews in Israel can never be termed an occupation unless we, as Africans, are willing to concede that our historical struggles for self-determination and reclaiming our ancestral land also amount to an occupation.”

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Unmasking Evil. With a PLO keffiyeh covering the entire continent of Africa, this nefarious organisation (formally BDS South Africa) pressurizes governments to take action against Israel.

An Inconvenient Truth

In conclusion, while Israel, like all other countries is not perfect, it does not practice institutionalized racism.

The Bible records that the earliest followers of Jesus Christ were His fellow Jews living in Judea and Samaria; and Gentiles who lived predominantly in the Ancient Near East and as far as modern day Greece, Turkey and Ethiopia. An inconvenient truth is the fact that there are very few Christians left in Jericho and Bethlehem – the birthplace of Jesus – as they are an oppressed minority in these areas which are administered by the Palestinian Authority. Their populations are rapidly declining. On the other hand, Christians living in Israel are thriving and growing. This contrast of the experiences and destinies of the Christian communities living in the territories administered by the PA with those living in Israel, should speak volumes!

Anyone who wants to witness true democracy and see the true colours of Africa4Palestine you may come with me to Jerusalem after the lockdown. I will be your tour guide.

For the sake of salvation and the social and spiritual emancipation of the youth in Africa, I must state that any and all Bible believing Christians have a duty to speak out against Replacement Theology and the revision of Jewish history in Israel because it seeks to destroy the very foundations of our Christian faith. Perhaps we should not be surprised as Psalm 83:4 foretold that there would come a day when some people would say:

Come, let us destroy them as a nation, so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

With God as our father, we will not allow it.

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Mission not Impossible. Advertising The Jerusalem Post webinar where two religiously devout South Africans, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng (left) and Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein (right) articulated their ‘mission’ of supporting a peaceful Middle East where South Africa could contribute its expertise in conflict resolution.

About the writer

image006 (100).jpgRev Reuben Chapasuka MA.Th (UP) –  Executive President of Cape to Cairo Israel Mission. He is the Rector of Cape to Cairo Christian Academy which is currently in operation in Africa and Madagascar (online Platform) and is a  Senior Pastor at Liberty Christian Fellowship Ministries. 291 Louis Trichardt Street Mayville Pretoria 0084

Email: rchapasuka@gmail.com

 

 

* Title picture: Chief Rabbi of South Africa Warren Goldstein and Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa Mogoeng Mogoeng (photo credit: COURTESY / REUTERS/MIKE HUTCHINGS).

 

 

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

 

 

 

Heartwarming

Syrian baby “Usayed” brought to Israel for lifesaving heart surgery

By David E. Kaplan

While international media covered this June an Israeli airstrike on an Iranian controlled warehouse in Syria suspected of storing weapons, there was no such global coverage of another Israel flight this month – this time saving a 10-day-old Syrian infant.

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Healing Hands. Under special care, 10-day-old Syrian baby, “Usayed” boards the flight from Cyprus to Israel for emergency surgery on June 11, 2020. (Sammy Revel/Twitter)

Suffering from a severe heart defect, a newborn son of Syrian refugees, was airlifted from Cyprus to Tel Aviv to undergo an emergency operation at Israel’s esteemed Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan. In 2020, Newsweek ranked Sheba Hospital, situated outside Tel Aviv, as the 9th-best hospital in the world.

The delicate ‘operation’ was no less diplomatic than it was surgical, involving the cooperation between the Israeli embassy in Nicosia, the Cypriot Health Ministry and Cypriot and Israeli doctors.

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Baby on Board. On route to Israel, 10-day-old Syrian “Usayed” is monitored throughout the short flight. (Sammy Revel/Twitter)

It all came as a whopping surprise to the baby’s father, Ahmad, when he was told that his son needed specialist treatment that could not be provided in Cyprus and hence led him – accompanying his child – to a country “that I never imagined I would ever see” – Israel!

A relieved daddy revealed to i24NEWS:

I don’t care about the relations between Israel and Syria. My problem is not political or religious; it is a health problem. My son’s life is the most important thing in the world to me. I said right away I will go to Israel if needed; I will go anywhere.”

According to the head of Sheba’s Congenital Heart Center, Prof. Alain Serraf, who operated on the infant:

 “The baby would not have survived more than a month without the surgery.”

Usayed was in the best of surgical hands. Apart from being Chairman of the Edmond J. Safra International Congenital Heart Center, Prof. Serraf is a leading expert in Congenital Heart Diseases, a graduate of the Medical School Paris XII, and a Visiting Professor in several universities worldwide.

Heartwarming2
Lifesaver. Dr. Alain Serraf, head of the International Congenital Heart Center at Sheba’s children’s hospital following the surgery on a 10-day-old Syrian baby on June 14, 2020. (Sheba Medical Center)

The Israeli doctors expressed cautious optimism following the complicated heart surgery which will be the first of three procedures the infant will require to address the rare congenital defect. Known as ‘hypoplastic left heart syndrome’, the defect means that the left side of the heart fails to develop properly, leading to poor blood circulation.

Following the first operation, the second will be performed in six months’ time, and the third when Usayed is two years old.

I can say that the procedure went well,” said Serraf, “and we are guardedly optimistic that the child will be okay as we slowly wean him off the various machines.” Serraf performed what is known as the Norwood procedure. This involves placing a shunt in the heart to connect the pulmonary artery, which carries oxygen-rich blood, to the aorta, from which it is pumped throughout the body.

The first procedure is always the most difficult,” said Serraf. “We have experience in doing the Norwood procedure on a number of children who come from throughout the region.”

Over the coming weeks, the baby will recover from this first surgery and then return to Cyprus. In six months, he will return to Israel for the second procedure and then again a year and a half later for the final one.

If everything goes according to plan, the child can have a normal lifestyle,” Serraf said.

Speaking through the hospital’s spokesperson, the jubilant father and Syrian national thanked the governments of Cyprus and Israel for coordinating the emergency surgery.

I feel much more relieved and have complete faith in Sheba’s medical staff for all of the help they are giving my child.”

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Father and Son. Syrian refugee Ahmad with his baby son Usayed at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan. (Photo: Screenshot)

While according to a hospital spokesman this was the first such case from abroad for Sheba since the outbreak of Coved-19, emergency situations were not uncommon before the Coronavirus pandemic. What is more, they involved not only countries that Israel has friendly relations with but also such countries like Syria and Iraq that Israel has no diplomatic ties.

Israel’s ambassador to Cyprus, Sammy Revel, said the effort to bring baby Usayed to Sheba required “special approval” from Jerusalem, which was pleased and proud to provide. Israeli medics have a long and impressive history of treating critically ill children from hostile countries. From 2013 to 2018, Israel maintained a programme along the Syrian border allowing residents of the area in Syria, who were affected by the country’s civil war, to enter Israel for medical treatment. Unfortunately, politics intervened! Israel’s lifesaving programme of Syrians formally ended in the summer of 2018 when Syrian dictator Bashar Assad retook control of southern Syria.

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In Safe Hands. Despite hostilities in the region, parents in neighbouring Arab countries know that their children receive the best care at Israeli hospitals like  this baby from Gaza being treated for a heart defect at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. (Photo: Save a Child’s Heart)

In the meantime and away from politics, Israel’s envoy to Cyprus Sami Rabel, is calling for all to pray for Usayed’s speedy recovery.

Solidarity during the coronavirus epidemic and the special bond between Israel and Cyprus, granted the special permission for the baby to be operated at Sheba Medical Center,” he said.

Long live Usayed. LeChaim – “to life”!

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter – 2nd July 2020

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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https://layoftheland.online/2020/07/01/the-israel-brief-29-june-01-july-2020/

Articles

(1)

South Africa Hangs in the ‘Balance’

South Africa’s Chief Justice under fire for acting like a judge!

By David E. Kaplan

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The Honourable vs the Dishonourable. South Africa’s Chief Justice Mogoeng (right) criticised by ANC national spokesman Pule Mabe (left).

What is South Africa coming to when its ruling ANC government lambasts its Chief Justice for exercising the very traits that led to his appointment to the highest judicial office in his country? For suggesting to apply “balance” and “open-mindedness”  – the very attributes expected of a judge-led ANC’s National Spokesman, Pule Mabe to rebuke Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng for fairly applying his judicial mind to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/06/30/south-africa-hangs-in-the-balance/

(2)

The Union of Jewish Women South Africa

Proudly serving the Jewish and broader communities

By Bev Goldman

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In a country having the highest incidence of unemployment in the world and where poverty and crime are appallingly rife, South Africa can be thankful to the Union Of Jewish Women (UJW). With branches in most of the country’s main cities supporting so many diverse projects, its volunteers are committed to investing in all the people of South Africa to create a better quality of life for all.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/06/30/the-union-of-jewish-women-south-africa/

 

(3)

“Weighing in” on Lockdown Eating

By Justine Friedman

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Food for thought. No way out, the kitchen beckons.

Under immense pressures during lockdown, it is hardly surprising that people are eating the wrong foods and in excess. Consume sound advice rather than unnecessary or unhealthy food with this clinical dietician who helps you identify the “triggers” so as to avoid the reflexive raid on the pantry or fridge.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/06/29/weighing-in-on-lockdown-eating/

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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

The Israel Brief- 29 June – 02 July 2020

 

The Israel Brief -29 June 2020 – Israel COVID update. GOD TV licence suspended. Sexual misconduct and the UN.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief -30 June 2020 – Israel COVID update. Annexation update. UK Labour leader takes stand against anti-Semitism.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief -01 July 2020 – COVID updates. Will the annexation happen? PM and AG go head to head.

 

 

The Israel Brief -02 July 2020 – Israel’s highest day of infections. Vatican summons US and Israeli ambassadors. Petition to extradite terror Mastermind from Jordan.

 

 

 

 

 

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

South Africa Hangs in the ‘Balance’

South Africa’s Chief Justice under fire for acting like a judge!

By David E. Kaplan

Should not a country’s Justices – even more notably its Chief Justice – be imbued with the qualities of “open-mindedness”; of willing to hear and consider the views of all sides of a case?

In other words, possessing a mindset that is  “balanced”.

 Law students, long before they ever enter a courtroom are only too familiar with the Latin phrase Audi alteram partem meaning “listen to the other side”, or “let the other side be heard as well”. It is the principle that no person should be judged without a fair hearing and in which each party is given the opportunity to respond to the evidence against them. It is a fundamental principle of legal systems the world over and most certainly in South Africa where I studied and practiced Criminal Law. I quoted it regularly, not so much in court where it was self-evident but in social situations whenever I was ‘accused’ of defending clients who “were obviously guilty”.

I would reply:

Audi alteram partem”.

Everyone deserves a fair hearing.

That same principle to people should apply no less to nations  – and in this case – the State of Israel. South Africa’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng understands; his ruling ANC government clearly does not.

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Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. (Picture: Puxley Makgatho)

The ANC viciously turned on its Chief Justice following Mogoeng’s recent participation in a webinar hosted by The Jerusalem Post where he lamented his government’s “lopsided attitude” toward the Israel-Palestine conflict, adding that “it would have greater influence if it displayed a more balanced approach.” Mogoeng took part in the webinar along with South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein.

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The Three Chiefs. (Press on the picture to watch the discussion) South Africa’s Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein with Jerusalem Post Editor-In-Chief Yaakov Katz moderating the discussion on Zoom. (Photo credit: screenshot)

The response was quick. The ANC’s National Spokesperson, Pule Mabe, said Mogoeng had entered the arena of “political commentary”, which could make him vulnerable to adjudicating on human rights matters in the future.

How so? By exhibiting understanding and exercising balance?

Is this not what one would expect from a judge, particularly from a Chief Justice?

The ANC spokesperson added:

 “It was rather unfortunate for the Chief Justice to state that the ‘South African government policy was binding upon himself and that he was not seeking to reject it’, but then clearly and openly opposes it as a citizen.”

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ANC spokesman Pule Mabe. (Photo by Gallo Images / City Press / Denvor de Wee)

The expectations of a judge relate to law, not to a political party’s policies not yet embodied in law. There is no law in South Africa – not yet at any rate –  that says a person, or a judge cannot express a viewpoint advocating open-mindedness and balance.

Yes, South Africa has “downgraded” its diplomatic relations with Israel, but it was an executive not a legislative “decision” to recall its ambassador. South Africa still runs an office in Tel Aviv that is staffed dealing with bilateral issues between the two countries. It is hoped that full diplomatic relations be resumed sooner rather than later.

Rather than criticize Mogoeng, the honourable Chief Justice should be praised for exercising the characteristics for which he was most likely first appointed.

South African citizens are cognisant that their country has uniquely three capitals – Pretoria the administrative capital, Cape Town the legislative and Bloemfontein the judicial. It is not so much the separation – geographically – of the three cities across the country that is significant but more the metaphor of the ‘separation of powers’ between the three branches of government. Chief Justice Mogoeng was not acting contrary to any law; he was questioning a prevailing controversial policy motivated by the BDS movement that is committed to Israel’s destruction, that he felt was not in his country’s best interests. The Chief Justice’s position is supported by South Africa’s own intent as seen over the years from the days when Nelson Mandela was president.

– How often has South Africa expressed that it would like to be a player in trying to resolve the intractable Israel-Palestine conflict?

– Have I not personally heard each South African ambassador to Israel remark every year on South Africa’s Freedom Day celebrations in Tel Aviv, how South Africa can, with its expertise in conflict resolution, help bring the parties together to try reconciling their differences?

– How often have I heard the response of Israeli politicians welcoming and thanking  South Africa’s offer with the words: “We have so much to learn from your experiences and expertise in conflict resolution.”

Well, you cannot be a player, or expect to be a player, if you are openly one-sided, only criticize one party to the conflict and display little or no understanding of the concerns of the other party to the dispute. This is something a judge would be keenly aware of and this is what Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was expressing when he added at the webinar:

As a citizen of our great country, we are denying ourselves a wonderful opportunity of being a game-changer in the Israeli-Palestinian situation.”

South Africans should be proud of their Chief Justice for acting like a judge instead of him now being targeted by his government!

Following the webinar, the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has had many an insult hurled at him. According to some, he should “shut up and focus on judgements”, that he “is a disgrace”, “ignorant”, and “should step down”.

On the contrary. Born to a father who was a miner and a mother who was a domestic worker, young Mogoeng became politically active at high school and was briefly suspended for organising a memorial to the victims of the Soweto uprising. Senior Mogoeng knows all about the struggle and the issues involved.

No; he should not “step down”. On the contrary, the people of South Africa should “step up” to support him.

 

 

 

 

 

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

The Union of Jewish Women South Africa

Proudly serving the Jewish and broader communities

By Bev Goldman

Founded in 1931 with the aim and objective of serving both the Jewish and broader communities, the Union of Jewish Women South Africa provided welfare projects during the depression years and later during the racially restrictive period of the National Party rule.”

These are the opening comments on the webpage of the Union of Jewish Women South Africa (UJW): inspiring, impressive and edifying.  They encompass how Jewish women rose to the fore to alleviate the incalculable distress suffered by those in South Africa who were most disadvantaged by both international and local happenings and legislation.

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And for almost 90 years, the organisation has faced, and done its utmost to mitigate and ameliorate the profusion of challenges which have confronted citizens in this beautiful yet troubled country.

Today the UJW continues to carry out the invaluable welfare projects which were the reason behind its establishment, but they have broadened, multiplied, increased in size, scope and diversity; and most important, they are nation-wide – from Johannesburg and Pretoria through Cape Town and Durban to Port Elizabeth and East London, as well as rural areas across the country.

I often think of the words of Albert Einstein which resonate so strongly with me:

The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.” 

This perfectly describes the women of the UJW – they give and give, they give of their time and energy, their commitment and dedication, their sympathy and understanding, their love and support, but with no thought of receiving and no wish to receive.  They nurture, they nourish, they educate, they empower, they feed, they strengthen and support, because for them it’s the giving that matters, but the giving with a purpose and an end in sight, understanding that “It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live” (Ethel Andrus).   

So, what exactly does the Union of Jewish Women do?  Who are its beneficiaries?  Who are its recipients?  And, where are they?

Whew! Such questions require reams of answers, reams of details, and a long and comprehensive history more suited to a book than an article.

So instead I’ll give a brief overview of many of the projects, bearing in mind always that the beneficiaries and recipients are the needy, the dispossessed, the indigent, the homeless, the desperate; infants, children, adults and the elderly; those unable to care for themselves, unable to feed themselves or their families, lacking the basics of education or the ability to be financially self-sufficient, lonely and isolated, impoverished and despairing.

The UJW runs feeding schemes and soup kitchens for those who have no food.

It gives blankets and warm clothing to those who have none.
It provides special Baby Bags, filled with all the necessities for new-borns, to new mums, many of whom having given birth in clinics or hospitals then must leave with their babies wrapped in newspaper or towels.

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Facing the Future Today. Through its passion, commitment and dedication, the Union of Jewish Woman South Africa are committed to the country’s future

It sustains pre-school and nursery school children with food and clothing and educational material like stationery and craft supplies to stimulate their little minds.
It provides for children who are sight-impaired, a handicap which adds to their distress.

The UJW does outstanding work in South Africa’s outreach communities, in a country which has the highest incidence of unemployment in the world, almost the highest gini coefficient, and where sadly poverty and crime are rife because living standards of millions are so pitiful.

It assists creches in townships with construction needs and play equipment, with full day care, with early childhood development programmes, with meals.

It provides food for children of refugees and foreign nationals, for those who live on the streets and have neither shelter nor sustenance, for patients in hospices.

It packs parcels for Rape Crisis victims; it feeds new moms who have just given birth.

It brings light, life and succour to thousands who are marginalised, who have fallen through the cracks, and who receive no support from either government or local council bodies because they are deemed ‘invisible’.

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Durban. Guests from the Open Air School, Tafta (Frail Care Centre) and community members making sandwiches on Mandela Day.

The UJW takes great care of the elderly in the communities.
It offers assistance in the form of meals and clothing to Jewish families wanting to celebrate the Sabbath and/or religious festivals in the traditional way.

It provides meals 365 days a year to 160 elderly members of the Jewish community; it offers elderly lonely people opportunities for socialising through its luncheon clubs; and at its various Friendship Club events attendees are given birthday gifts, bingo prizes and treats for tea.

It hosts pre-Rosh Hashanah and Pesach braai luncheons and annual Chanukah parties.

It runs special club projects for the elderly.

It provides panic buttons to senior citizens living on their own which reassure them that in the case of any emergency, help is almost immediately there.

The UJW always assists local Municipal Emergency Services with household equipment, blankets and clothing in times of disasters like shack fires and floods.

It upgrades and improves facilities at homes for the aged, at hospitals, at synagogues, at schools.

It empowers women – and some men – through its Sewing Schools and Literacy Centres, providing opportunities for them to become self-sufficient or gainfully employed.

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Helping the Blind and Partially Sighted. Donations from the Union of Jewish Women are essential in ensuring that no blind child or adult coming to the Nkosinathi Foundation or visited by the Foundation goes hungry.

It nurtures and stimulates people with early symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer by encouraging them to participate in regular group meetings.

It holds Domestic Workers Appreciation mornings where domestic workers are cherished and spoiled with lectures, teas and goodie bags.

Mitzvah Day is a Jewish-led day of social action that brings together thousands of people all over the world, on one day, to give their time rather than their money to make a difference to the local community around them. In South Africa the UJW spearheads this wonderful initiative in a number of different ways, including entertaining residents at retirement homes; providing special lunches for the indigent who reside at shelters for the homeless; providing lunches for the residents of state-run institutions for adults with mental and physical disabilities and simultaneously assisting with gardening and painting some of the houses; brightening up playgrounds at schools to give the children something exciting to which to look forward when they return to school after holidays; giving solar lights to families living in abject poverty and squalor in squatter camps to “bring light to the people”; holding blood drives; distributing knitted beanies and teddies to children in oncology wards; preparing sandwiches for hospital outpatients.

Mandela Day is marked every year on Nelson Mandela’s 18 July birthday, and it celebrates Madiba’s life and legacy in a sustainable manner.  The UJW plays a pivotal role in Mandela Day celebrations across the country, and just a few of the initiatives have included providing many hundreds of new school shoes and pairs of socks to school children, some of whom go barefoot all year long; distributing hundreds of toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste to children who have never had their own, and simultaneously educating them in the importance of brushing and caring for their teeth and general dental healthcare; baking and donating cupcakes to children who for the first time in their lives taste and enjoy a cupcake; providing blankets to residents at aged homes; kitting out soccer teams with uniforms and soccer boots; giving jackets and coats to homeless persons battling the winter cold; entertaining children at homes for abandoned children with a fancy dress party and a super tea and gifts afterwards; gift bags for “gogos and grampas” (the African words for  grandparents); toys, clothes, blankets and books for schools, homes for vulnerable children and creches; soup and sandwiches for the many street people in various regions.

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Cape Town. One of UJW’s 2019 Mandela Day projects in Cape Town was a special fancy dress party hosted by the Simcha Group at Noluntu Kitchen.

The International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW) is an umbrella organization representing Jewish women and women’s organizations in 35 countries on 5 continents. Its mandate is to confront and respond to the concerns of the Jewish community and women in general in the countries where its affiliates are active. The Union of Jewish Women of South Africa is the only South African body affiliated to the ICJW, and members have held, and hold, executive positions on the body.

While all the above information is more than merely a nutshell of who the UJW is and what it does, it doesn’t adequately describe the effect of these actions on the innumerable beneficiaries and recipients.  It doesn’t describe the joy and excitement of the children who receive their first ever cupcake, their first ever pair of shoes, their first ever and their own toothbrush and toothpaste, their first ever set of crayons, pens, colouring books, storybooks, soccer kits.  It doesn’t describe the gratitude of the elderly who for the first time in many years can see the winter months through with warm blankets and wholesome food in their tummies.  It doesn’t describe the astonishment and thrill of the homeless who had long accepted being invisible in society but are suddenly recognised and nurtured and give their dignity back again.  It doesn’t describe the immense gratitude of the senior citizens who are able to participate in social events to assuage their loneliness and to know that their needs are being met.

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Johannesburg. Weekly Friendship Club lunches are attended by seniors who enjoy a 3-course lunch and entertainment. Once a month birthdays are celebrated with a delicious birthday cake.

The smiles on the faces of the recipients, the hugs from the children, the handshakes from the men who believed assistance was only ever given to women and children – all these are what fill the hearts and souls of those who work for the UJW and who do so not for reward or acknowledgement but because they believe so strongly in Tikkun Olam – healing the world in the best way that they can.

The late President Mandela once called the UJW the community’s “best-kept secret”. But it is not a secret – it is there for whoever needs it and wants it, and it never fails to honour its mandate.

To quote Erich Fromm:

Not he who has much is rich but he who gives much.”

About the writer:

Bev Goldman.jpgBev Goldman national vice-president of the Union of  Jewish Women South Africa, worked for many years in education and journalism, and she holds a master’s degree in Feminist Literature. Prior to joining the SA Zionist Federation where she dealt with media and education for 12 years, she was the editor of the ‘Who’s Who’ of Southern Africa; a member of WordWize which taught English language skills to Russian and Polish immigrants in South Africa; an occasional lecturer in English at RAU (now the University of Johannesburg); and Director of Educational Programmes at Allenby In-Home Studies.  Currently, she runs the Media Team Israel for the SA Zionist Federation; she sits on the Board of Governors of the Rabbi Cyril Harris Community Centre (RCHCC); she is an executive member of the International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW); and she edits and proofs Masters and PhD dissertations.

 

 

 

 

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