The Israel Brief- 05-07 December 2022

The Israel Brief – 05 December 2022 President Herzog’s historic trip to Bahrain. Netanyahu “no harm to LGBTQ” rights. IDF strike targets in the Gaza strip in response to rockets fired. Gaza fishermen happy now fibreglass allowed into enclave.



The Israel Brief – 06 December 2022 Al Jazeera file lawsuit at ICC. Saar says don’t extend Bibi mandate. Official calls on JNF to bolster diaspora. Kanye tells Jews to forgive Hitler. 



The Israel Brief – 07 December 2022 Secretary of State Blinken addresses JStreet. Yesh Atid call for protests. ICC Prosecutor to visit “Palestine”. Israel 5th safest country for tourists.






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-DECEMBER 2022

Two Arab writers opining on Middle East issues write on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar unveiling as much a ‘clash of values’ as a clash of competing football teams


FOOTBALL AND JUSTICE

By Abdul Latif Al-Minawy

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, November 25

As I write these lines, Breel Embolo, a football (soccer) player on the Swiss national team, scored the winning goal for his team in its World Cup match against Cameroon. This might seem normal to the average reader, but those who are familiar with the player’s background will immediately understand the irony, since Embolo is Cameroonian by birth. One can only imagine how confused – and perhaps torn – the player felt when he scored the goal. Embolo couldn’t be happy or sad. The sadness on his face wasn’t the “ordinary” sadness one would expect from a professional football player who beats his former team. Rather, it was sadness over injustice – the injustice that forced him to leave Africa, abandon his homeland, and move to Switzerland. Few professional opportunities exist for people in Africa. Therefore, exceptionally talented Africans – be it athletes, musicians, artists, or scholars – look to Europe for a better future. At home, they will have to face issues like corruption and nepotism. Abroad, they will have a fair chance for development and growth. And while many talented Africans find themselves pursuing a professional career abroad, nowhere is this more heartbreaking to observe than in sports, where an African player may find himself playing against his own home country’s national team.

Football isn’t just a game. Rather, it is a microcosm of life.

Mixed Feelings. A muted celebration for Breel Embolo after scoring his first World Cup goal for Switzerland against his birth country Cameroon. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

The World Cup is an opportunity for countries to demonstrate their skill and power against others. In beating Cameroon on the playing field, Switzerland affirmed its position as a force to be reckoned with. It is a model for life, neither a continuous winner nor a continuous loser, Jürgen Klopp, the manager of Premier League club Liverpool answered when asked about his permanent smile even when he his team loses. He said:

It is because when my son was born I realized that football is not a matter of life or death. We do not save people’s lives.”

Football should not spread misfortune, hatred and misery. Football should be about joy and inspiration.  

Abdul Latif Al-Minawy



WESTERN VALUES AND THE WORLD CUP

By Meshary Al-Dhaidi 

Alsharq Al-Awsat, London, November 23

The FIFA World Cup is not just the premier sporting event in the Western world, but it is also an occasion to promote Western values across the globe. For a long time, we’ve witnessed liberal values, which were once considered radical, assume the center stage of Western societies. I’m not talking about the normalization of homosexuality or same-sex marriage. I’m talking about how the entire concept of gender has been questioned. There is no more “male” and “female,” but a wide host of other gender identities that people can assume. Even young children are being indoctrinated and taught these ideas and values at school today. These values are being put to the test in the current FIFA World Cup games held in Qatar.

Clash of Values. Football federations who had planned to wear the ‘OneLove‘ armbands to make a statement against discrimination during the World Cup in Qatar were faced with “extreme blackmail” that led to dropping the planned action said German FA.(Photo Reuters)

The International Federation of Football Associations banned the wearing of gay symbols, badges and apparel during the games, including the “one love” badge. This angered some European teams, including Germany’s national team, whose players were filmed covering their mouths – as if they are silenced – ahead of their first match. The Germans lost that game to Japan, and some cynics commented on the score by showing a caricature of the German players with an image of a rainbow in their heads playing against the Japanese players, who had an image of a football in their minds. According to a BBC report, seven European national team captains were expected to wear the “one love” armband during the games. The German Football Association claimed that “depriving us of wearing the armband is like depriving us of speaking.” The only thing that FIFA allowed the captains of the teams was to wear the “no discrimination” badge throughout the tournament period. This is what Germany’s captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer did in the match against Japan. However, the truth is that the Western insolence doesn’t even reflect all the players on the Western teams. For example, the captain of the French national team, Hugo Lloris, announced that he would not wear the armband because he wanted to pay respect to his Qatari hosts. They might not like it, but Westerners visiting Qatar for the World Cup games may just discover that the universe doesn’t revolve around their own values. They are neither the source of truth, nor are they the ultimate manufacturers of noble values. Other societies, other peoples, and other countries might not agree with their liberal philosophies and worldviews. They may have their own beliefs, but those beliefs are far from universal. Perhaps a trip to Qatar is what it takes for them to understand this simple reality.

 – Meshary Al-Dhaidi 



*(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).

YE-DOLF UNHINGED

Kanye West or Ye as he now prefers to be called has engaged in a diatribe against Jews that even has white supremacists aghast

By Rolene Marks

Have you ever watched or listened to something in the media and asked yourself, is this real? Am I imagining this? Surely this cannot be happening? Those were the sentiments expressed in my home last week when reluctantly (and without the benefit of imbibing something alcoholic) my husband and I ventured near Kanye West’s latest diatribe against the Jews – this time on Info Wars, hosted by poster-child for the far-right, Alex Jones. Infowars is reportedly banned from most platforms; but clever sleuthing by my husband and The Jerusalem Post, it was found.

Devil’s Debate. Kanye West, Alex Jones, and Nick Fuentes during an Infowars livestream on December 1, 2022. (Infowars/Banned Video/Global News)

It has taken me a few days to be able to put down in writing what I heard because what Kanye West, who calls himself Ye, spewed was so abominable, so offensive that I was momentarily stunned into silence.

Why did we watch, you ask. Morbid curiosity? Gluttons for punishment? Content for my radio slot the next day? All of the above.

Ye, wearing a full face mask to show his support for shamed fashion house, Balenciaga but really just looking like an extra from an ISIS kidnap video, appeared along with white nationalist Nick Fuentes, who made headlines when he accompanied him to a dinner at Mar-a-Lago with former President Trump last week. Balenciaga is shamed for adverts that feature children and looking dangerously close to promoting paedophilia.

A veritable triumvirate of antisemites.

Heading Hate. The new high-profile faces of antisemitism in the USA –  Kanye West or Ye (l) and Alex Jones (Photos by Paras Griffin/Getty Images and Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

Ye had everyone in his sites – from Benyamin Netanyahu to commentator, Ben Shapiro and the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) as well as any Jewish businessman who had told this overgrown tantrum-riddled toddler, no.

But it was this comment that really went beyond the extreme. The artist formerly known as relevant, began to praise Hitler.

You’re not Hitler, you’re not a Nazi, you don’t deserve to be called that and demonized,” Jones told Ye.

Ye, who I shall now rename, Ye-dolf responded:

Well, I see good things about Hitler also. I love everyone,” Ye said in response, “And Jewish people are not going to tell me you can love us, and you can love what we’re doing to you with the contracts, and and you can love what we’re pushing with the pornography” while also condemning Hitler, he added, saying “you can’t say out loud that this person ever did anything good, and I’m done with that.”

Sign of the Times.  An image integrating the Swastika with the Star of David posted by Kanye West to Twitter before his suspension, December 2022 (screenshot)

Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler,” Ye continued. “Also Hitler was born Christian.”

As the show headed to a commercial break, Jones told Ye he had a “Hitler fetish,” to which Ye responded, “I like Hitler.”

Ye also said he does “not like the word evil next to Nazis” after Jones pushed back on some of his comments, saying, “I love Jewish people, but I also love Nazis. We gotta stop dissing Nazis,” he said.

Jones laughed in response, saying, “Well, I have to disagree with that.”

When a shill for the far-right feels uncomfortable with these types of comments, well, you may have a problem.

Still wearing his mask, Ye then spoke about his political aspirations. No, I am not making this up!

He spoke about approaching former President Trump about being his running mate in the 2024 elections and said this about being rebuffed:

They want to separate and confuse the Christians and make us afraid to stand next to each other, because Jesus can save everyone, but if the Zionists can get us so afraid that they’re going to do what they’ve been doing to me. … You put on the whole armour of god, and they will not be able to break your spirit.”

Hatemongers. Nick Fuentes (l) at a rally with right-wing conspiracist Alex Jones (r), made numerous antisemitic remarks on Jones’ InfoWars show including, “I don’t see Jews as Europeans and I don’t see them as part of Western civilization, particularly because they are not Christians.” (Zach Roberts/NurPhoto via Getty)

As Jones was visibly uncomfortable and Fuentes watched with a grin, Ye pulled out a bottle of Yoo-hoo chocolate drink and a small net he indicated represented Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, mimicking him in a high-pitched voice saying, “We have to control the history books. We have to control the banks. And we have to go and kill people.”

He didn’t stop there. He accused Rahm Emmanuel of “controlling Barack Obama”.

It went from worse, to well, worse.

Rapper gone Rouge. Appearing on the Alex Jones “InfoWars” show with Nick Fuentes, Ye (formerly Kanye West), said “I like Hitler” and also asserted that Hiller had “redeeming qualities” and “didn’t kill 6 million Jews.”( Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

The artist formerly known as popular was condemned by most. I was following journalists tweeting as he spoke and many of them expressed the same sentiment – this level of hatred was so bad, that they were visibly uncomfortable and horrified.

Good. They must be. For years Jews have been sounding the alarm about rising antisemitism and it has fallen on uninterested ears. Twitter mogul Elon Musk has suspended Ye’s account for posting offensive imagery:

Antisemitism is now at a tipping point. We have said it before and will say it again – this is not the tirade of a man in the throes of a breakdown. Ye has a history spanning several years of antisemitic comments, deftly buried by his influence. Oh the irony! And they say we Jews don’t understand irony…….

Where do we go from here? One thing is for sure, we cannot be complacent or silent anymore. Commentator, Jordan Peterson, weighed in on Ye’s comments, saying that Jews are the canary in the coal mine and this is a sign of the “hell” to come.

Friendly & Frightening. Wildly welcomed at a ‘Make America Great Again’ rally, Nick Fuentes has “jokingly” on livestream denied the Holocaust and compared Jews burnt in concentration camps “to cookies in an oven”

Like him or not, Peterson is correct. What starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews. Are we prepared? The alarm bells are no longer ringing – they are clanging. Ye said he was going “DEATHCON 3 on the Jews”. Well, he has gone full nuclear.

He may be unhinged with hate – but we have to be very aware of his influence on many who still sadly, support him. We cannot afford not to be.





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).

‘FRANK’LY SPEAKING

Recalling my interview with a foot soldier – Leib Frank – who participated in the decisive Battle of El Alamein 80 years ago.

By David E. Kaplan

This past October 2022 saw the 80th anniversary of the Battle El Alamein pass undeservedly without much fanfare. One can only imagine the concern of the Jews in Palestine at the time fearing the worst. Their fate and the fate of a Jewish state hung in the balance – it hung on the outcome of one battle that proved a turning point in the war, halting the advance of the Axis powers in North Africa and paving the way for final victory. British leader Winston Churchill said famously in the wake of the victory:

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Pressing Forward. Troops in the thick of battle at El Alamein in the Egyptian desert. (Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

However, for Jews around the world, it might  have meant “the end of any beginning” of a future Jewish state if Rommel had not been stopped dead in his tracks on Egyptian soil. We may well ask, “What if the Nazis had won the Battle of El Alamein?”

They would have swept into-then-Palestine destroying any chance of a future Israel and massacred Jews wherever they found them. Hence, it could be argued that the Battle of El Alamein shaped the history of the Holocaust by restricting the “Final Solution” to Europe.

On this 80th anniversary, I revisited my interview in 2002 with the late Leib Frank at his home in Kfar Shmaryahu in central Israel. In 1942, Leib had been a young 5th Brigade signaler among the South African troops attached to the Rand Light Infantry.

One thing was certain,” said Leib, “was the feeling amongst the troops that the major battle that was looming,” on the parched, flat and barren North African desert “would dwarf” all that preceded it. But there was another more personal dimension as well!

Although there was this sense among the troops that the impending battle had to be one to save civilisation, for our group of Jewish boys, it was more focused – we felt it was a war to save the Jews.”

High Anxiety. An anxious crowd gathers around a radio shop in Tel Aviv Street to hear news of the war.

There was “a new spirit of optimism,” says Leib, “once Monty took command” of the 8th Army following crushing defeats in the preceding months, notably the fall of Tobruk. “We now had at the helm a commander that did not include the word ‘defeat’ in his vocabulary.” He then with a smile added:

 “I mean insofar at it applied to his own troops.”

As an example of this, Leib recalled an incident  that when Monty came upon a platoon digging trenches way to the rear. “He bellowed in his high pitched voice, ‘Stop digging there at once – you’ll never need them.’ The troops grasped the salient truth – there would be no further retreat.”

Shortly before battle, Monty issued a personal message to his officers and men:

The battle which is now about to begin will be one of the decisive battles in history. It will be the turning-point of the war. The eyes of the world will be on us, watching anxiously which way the battle will swing. We can give them their answer at once. It will swing our way.”

Mighty Monty. Determined to reverse the defeats in North Africa, General Bernard Montgomery is seen here ready for action in 1942.

The men were left with no illusion as to what was in store.

Although from August to October 1942, some 41,000 British reinforcements had streamed into El Alamein, Leib and his comrades had been sweating it out since June preparing for the big onslaught. “It was a daily grind of digging trenches and training exercises. The one consolation,” recalled Leib, “was that we were positioned on the coastline. After a hard day, we would relax and bathe in the sea.”

But were they ready?

Battle hardy we were not. The only action we had experienced until then were night patrols in jeeps. We would come upon enemy positions and get off some shots. There would be a token exchange of fire, but in relation to what was to follow, it didn’t feel like ‘real’ war.”

The ”Real war” as Leib described it, began on the night of the 23 October. Monty had retired early to bed.  It is said that hanging on the wall of his trailer was a portrait of the Desert Fox Erwin Rommel, beside which he had scribbled a quote from Shakespeare’s Henry V:

 “O God of Battles! Steel my soldiers’ hearts.”

At Ease Soldier. Leib Frank in front of his tent in the desert in Egypt.

For soldiers in the field – whether armed with pikes or longbow on the green fields of fifteen century Agincourt or clad n Khaki on the desert plateau at El Alamein – pre-battle jitters are inevitable. One can only imagine what occupied the thoughts of the young lads as they mentally prepared during the final countdown. Many would write letters home or make entries in their diaries. For Leib and his Jewish comrades, David Wacks, Sam Caplan, Melville Levin and Wally Hochstater:

 “the time had finally arrived. We had been through so much together embarking on the Il d’France at Durban and were rearing to give ‘Jerry’ a thrashing. It seemed a lifetime ago that Wally and I had been lavishly entertained at the Moshal mansion the night before we left Durban and Sol Moshal taking us aside for a lecture on ‘staying away from brothels’. The next morning we were chauffeured to the quayside in the Moshal’s black limousine, surprising the troops who all braised up to attention, thinking the top brass had arrived. I would only think back to that sumptuous ‘Last Supper’ when faced later with typical army slop of bully beef and dog biscuits.”

Off to War. Leib Frank (2nd left) and his Jewish comrades before embarking on Durban docks to join the war in North Africa.

BRAISED FOR BATTLE

Monty picked the night of October 23 for the attack, assured that there would be a full moon. In fact, the wide, golden glowing moon, hanging low over the silhouetted desolate terrain, was so bright that the noncombatants to the rear, trying to sleep, tugged blankets over their heads to block out the light. This augured well, for it would provide sufficient natural light for the sappers to clear paths through the enormous minefields that Rommel had laid in front of his position. The sappers had 8 hours before dawn to clear the area before the infantry and armour advance. Leib and the soldiers of the Rand Light Infantry were waiting.

The attack started with a thunderous artillery barrage. As skilled a tactician  as Monty was, not all was going according to plan. “Our surveillance was not as good as it should have been,” said Leib. “We soon found to our distress that we had been dropped from our transport short of the designated spot and what’s more, at the bottom of a ravine. To get out and back to ground level,  we had to scale a perpendicular rock face. Some of the boys made it up by themselves, and then very quietly helped pull us up by with our riffles. But ‘Jerry’ was not caught napping. The moment they picked up on our movement, they opened up with massive rapid machinegun fire.”

Leib was one of the many early casualties.

“I was hit in both legs. Lying in pain on the battlefield, I watched the troops advance. Fallen comrades lay on both sides of me, although at some distance. I did not know whether they were alive or dead. Stray bullets were spitting in the sand all around.”

Digging In. Preparing for the Battle of El Alamein.

HANGING ON

There were no natural obstacles on the battlefield to provide any form of cover. Virtually incapacitated, Leib focused his sapping energy on removing his helmet and positioning it in front of his head to afford some limited protection. “I lay  there in that position for four hours until the stretcher bearers arrived at midday. Bleeding profusely, I could do nothing to stop the flow. Over the hours that I lay there, sand got into my wounds and the sun was sizzling hot. Running out of water, I thought I had little chance of survival. Inevitably, I began to reflect how my life was drawing to a close before I even had an opportunity to make a success of it.” Managing to hang on, Leib was barely conscious when the stretcher-bearers finally arrived. “Their training left much to be desired as they offered me cognac instead of water. That was the worst thing they could have done as it accelerates the heartbeat leading to an increased loss of blood.”

Leib’s legs were in bad shape. As a result of the hours lying on the sandy battlefield without medical attention, gangrene had set in. It is doubtful that Leib’s stretcher-bearers or the medical orderly, who quickly applied bandages to the wounds to stop the bleeding, expected him to survive. He was taken to a field hospital where he received medical attention that saved his life. From there, Leib was taken to an underground hospital, where he was operated on and thereafter moved to the South African Hospital in Alexandria. It was there that Leib would learn that the battle in which he had heroically participated in the first act had moved to the final act of a crushing victory. After 12 days, Rommel had lost some 90% of the 500 tanks with which he had begun the battle. Facing annihilation, the Desert Fox had no alternative but to order a complete withdrawal on November 4th. While the final curtain call for the demise of Nazi Germany would only come some years later, Leib, who was to see no further action and would to the end of his days endure the wounds of war, could look back with immense pride. Not only did the outcome at El Alamein signal that the tide of the war was changing, but for Leib and his Jewish comrades who saw it also as “The war for the Jews”, the future of the emerging Jewish State of Israel was ensured.

Leib would later settle in the new State of Israel that he fought to secure.

Still Serving. Surviving the Battle of El Alamein, Leib Frank (l) would later emigrate to Israel from Zimbabwe (Rhodesia at the time) where he would serve as Director of TELFED assisting the immigration of Southern African to the new state of Israel and in that capacity is seen here together with his chairman, Leo Kawalsky (r) meeting with former Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion.Leib Frank.





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- 04 December 2022

Unveiling the contours and contrasts of an ever-changing Middle East landscape Reliable reportage and insightful commentary on the Middle East by seasoned journalists from the region and beyond

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What’s happening in Israel today? See from every Monday – Thursday LOTL’s The Israel Brief broadcasts and on our Facebook page and YouTube by seasoned TV & radio broadcaster, Rolene Marks familiar to Chai FM listeners in South Africa and millions of American listeners to the News/Talk/Sports radio station  WINA, broadcasting out of Virginia, USA.

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(1)

NATO 2023 IN LITHUANIA: RIFE WITH POLITICAL PITFALLS

With the shadow of the Shoah, NATO heading for an unseemly summit

By Grant Gochin

Capital Crimes. Beyond the imagery of NATO’s upcoming summit in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, lies troubling truths.

At the upcoming NATO summit to be held in Vilnius in July 2023, the government of Lithuania will likely take the foreign heads of state and delegations to the customary locations of national historical importance. But will they also reveal to these NATO dignitaries that these same sites hide the truth of collaboration of Lithuanians in the mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust?

NATO 2023 IN LITHUANIA: RIFE WITH POLITICAL PITFALLS

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(2)

FOCUS ON FOOTBALL

Watching the US Beat Iran from Jerusalem

By Jonathan Feldstein

Blue & White. The writer enjoyed the symbolism and irony of the Israeli colours in the clash between the USA and Iran.

Watching on TV the highly politically charged World Cup match between his native USA – “The Great Satan” – and the Republic of Iran from his home in “Little Satan”  Israel, there was far more at play to the writer then a ball traversing a green field in the brown arid desert of Qatar.

FOCUS ON FOOTBALL

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(3)

RUSSIA’S ‘DENAZIFICATION’ LIE AND THE WHITEWASH OF ROMAN SHUKHEVYCH

Journalist charged with spraying ‘Actual Nazi’ on a statue in Canada highlights Ukraine’s complicity in Nazi crimes

By Dr. Efraim Zuroff and Prof. Per Anders Rudling

A Bust to Brutality. The defacing of a statue is leading to increased scrutiny of Ukrainian hero as a murderer of Jews.

While police in Edmonton, Canada recently brought charges of vandalization of a monument honoring Roman Shukhevych – a revered fighter in the struggle against the Soviets – beneath the veneer of the criminally ‘offensive’ red graffiti, lay the statue of a bloody mass murderer of Jews. The writer – a top Nazi hunter – breaks it all down.

RUSSIA’S ‘DENAZIFICATION’ LIE AND THE WHITWASH OF ROMAN SHUKHEVYCH

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

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



The Israel Brief- 28 November – 01 December 2022

The Israel Brief – 28 November 2022 3 Soldiers arrested. Controversial coalition pics. Israeli journalists badly treated in Qatar. Imagine Dragons head to Israel.



The Israel Brief – 29 November 2022 PM Lapid sends letter to 50 countries. Soldier sentenced to 10 days in military jail. Official warns West Bank “boiling point”. Who is antisemite of the year?



The Israel Brief – 30 November 2022 Netanyahu asks for extension to form government. IDF Chief warns politicians not to interfere with the army. Amb to UN opens historic exhibition. More famous people condemn Ye.



The Israel Brief – 01 December 2022 UNGA vote to recognise Naqba. UNRWA condemns “large man made cavity” under school in Gaza. Netanyahu speaks to Bari Weiss. Walmart sells a tallit?




28 November 2022 Rolene Marks talks to Rob Schilling about the recent terror attack in Jerusalem and escalation of violence.





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).

FOCUS ON FOOTBALL

Watching the US Beat Iran from Jerusalem

By Jonathan Feldstein

I’m not a big soccer fan which has been a challenge living and raising my children in Israel where soccer is so central.  My father was born here, and he loved soccer, but it seems to have skipped a generation.  Nevertheless, I was enthralled watching the US soccer team competing against the Iranian soccer team at the World Cup in Qatar this week. It was symbolic if nothing else, but increased my appreciation for the sport and the players.

Given the history the US has in and with Iran going back to Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979, followed by the hostage crisis in November that year when the US embassy was stormed and 52 Americans were taken hostage for 444 days, I tend to side against Iran from the get-go.  Since then, Iran dubbed the US the “Great Satan” and Israel the “Little Satan”, and has made no secret of its intent to destroy Israel with a nuclear weapon.  Years of inept US-led negotiations with Iran to try to prevent their drive for a nuclear weapon have not only not been successful, but have left me feeling more jaded about the murderous intent of Iran’s Islamist regime.

How could I not watch the match, pitting the Great Satan vs. the little Evil Empire, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror? It was not going to settle the Iranian nuclear drive; or the evil brand of Islam behind it, but it was compelling. Sitting in the Judean mountains, the original Bible Belt, I had a number of observations as the US beat Iran 1-0.

Before tuning in, I was impressed and inspired by the Iranian team standing silently during the playing of their national anthem before a previous match.  How bold it was on the world stage, for them to join the protests engulfing Iran these past months.  How dangerous for them too. Clearly it was not spontaneous, and clearly the Iranian regime would not tolerate it again.  Word is that the Islamist regime threatened the teams’ family members back at home.  There’s nothing like the threat of imprisonment and torture to ‘motivate’ an athlete, much less a team like theirs, to play hard for their country.

Unfortunately, the Iranian regime’s threats worked, and the team sang its anthem before subsequent matches, including the one against the USA. 

Watching the Israeli broadcast, I was impressed with how much the announcers knew about the Iranian team and its players.  It struck me that as professional as they were in announcing the politically charged match, had it been an Israeli team playing, the game would not have been allowed to be televised in Iran.  Had there been an Israeli team competing against an Iranian team, the Iranians would likely not have allowed their team to compete against Israel – the Little Satan – as they have required of athletes in other sports.

I was entertained by the Israeli announcers’ use of Hebrew phrases as they highlighted the action.  After one missed goal, I thought it funny to hear the announcer say:

 “Oy, oy, oy.” 

One of the announcers was a woman. This struck me as telling as Iran would never allow that. Speaking of women, I sat intrigued watching the cameras span the Iranian fans replete with their faces painted with the Iranian flag, some of them women, and some with their hair uncovered.  It was Iran’s Morality Police – a scary component of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) – that arrested and murdered a young woman whose hair was showing that ignited the current protests engulfing Iran. It is somewhat ironic how female Iranian fans were cheering on their team with their hair uncovered, something that at home would have them arrested, assaulted, and even possibly murdered.

Having a Field Day. Barred from stadiums at home, Iran women support their national team at the World Cup in Qatar with hair uncovered and faces painted.

Then again, that there were women present at all was significant. If I understand correctly, women in Iran are not allowed to attend sporting events. Period. Who’d ever have thought that they’d find relative freedom in “liberal” Qatar that does not allow alcohol to be served, or freedom of religion for non-Muslims.

I reflected that the match took place on November 29, the 75th anniversary of the UN resolution to restore Jewish sovereignty to the Land of Israel. While there were good relations between Iran and Israel before the Islamic revolution of 1978, in 1947 Iran voted against the creation of a Jewish state.

I don’t imagine that it was more than a coincidence but I enjoyed the irony of the American team decked out in blue and the Iranians in white, projecting the blue and white of the Israeli flag. Would some Iranian fanatics have construed this as a Zionist plot?

Blue and White. The writer was amused at the colors of the USA and Iran teams reflecting the colors of the Israeli flag.

Before the match, US team captain Tyler Adams was chided at a press conference by Iranian journalists for mispronouncing Iran, for which he had the class and humility to apologize. Then, he was questioned about how he felt (as a black man) representing a country “that has so much discrimination against black people.”  Regarding American racism, his response was honest that “the US (is) continuing to make progress every single day.” That was classy, a great way to represent the greatness, albeit imperfectness of the United States.

Not ‘On the Ball’. Tense moments for USA’s midfielder and captain Tyler Adams (r) and coach Gregg Berhalter at a press conference as Iranian reporters diverted from usual soccer-related questions and hammered on controversial political issues that have severed the relations between the two countries.
 

Watching the match, the insincerity of the reporter’s question was highlighted as the multi-ethnic American team took to the field.  There were black men and white men, men with dark, blond and even red hair. Their names depicted that some were immigrants and others possibly the descendants of slaves. While not representing the full gamut of American society, they were diverse. As the match went on, it was clear that they played together as a team, as Americans mostly do despite differences.  The Iranian team was far from diverse – all Persian men with dark hair. I don’t know how many were Sunni as compared to the Shiite majority, but I doubt any represented the Azeri, Kurdish, or other minorities. It’s not the first time an Iranian (journalist or otherwise) was insincere, but it was exposed on the field.

As the match drew to a close and it was clear Iran was going to lose – which meant being eliminated from the World Cup – a few thoughts came to mind: 

-Did the team or any of its members not play their best for the symbolism of Iran losing to the US?

– What would happen with the team now? 

– Would they go home and risk arrest, or be shot for not singing their national anthem? 

– Or might they even, while in Doha, race to the US Embassy – note the irony – and seek asylum? 

Singing for Survival. Following Iranian players declining to sing their national anthem before the match against England on November 21, 2022, there were reports of the families of the team being threatened if the players fail to “behave”  – meaning singing the national anthem – ahead of the match against the USA (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images).

It was a good, well played match.  I’m glad I watched.  It was filled with symbolism that mirrors much of what’s going on with Iran in the rest of the world. Perhaps by the next World Cup, the Iranians will have successfully dispensed with their tyrannical terrorist leadership, and bring a team to the USA where they can participate freely, and be proud of their country as they have every right to be.



About the writer:

Jonathan Feldstein ­­­­- President of the US based non-profit Genesis123 Foundation whose mission is to build bridges between Jews and Christians – is a freelance writer whose articles appear in The Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Townhall, NorthJersey.com, Algemeiner Jornal, The Jewish Press, major Christian websites and more.





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).

RUSSIA’S ‘DENAZIFICATION’ LIE AND THE WHITEWASH OF ROMAN SHUKHEVYCH

Journalist charged with spraying ‘Actual Nazi’ on a statue in Canada highlights Ukraine’s distortion of its complicity in Nazi crimes

By Dr. Efraim Zuroff and Prof. Per Anders Rudling

(First published in The Times of Israel)

Police in Edmonton Canada recently brought charges in the vandalization of a monument honoring Roman Shukhevych located near the city’s Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex. In December 2019, someone wrapped the Shukhevych statue in red tape and scrawled “Nazi scum”, on the memorial. Two years later, it was again defaced, with the inscription “Actual Nazi”, while “Nazi Monument 14th Waffen SS” was spraypainted on a memorial to “The Fighters for Ukrainian Freedom” in a local Ukrainian cemetery.

Crime Cover-up in Canada. The monument to Roman Shukhevych, a Nazi henchman who sided with Germany, has stood at the entrance of the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex in North Edmonton, Alberta, since the 1970s. (Photo courtesy of John-Paul Himka)

According to Edmonton police, the culprit was a local left-wing journalist, Duncan Kinney, who carried out these acts before “breaking” these scoops on his outlet, “The Progress Report”, described on its website as a “platform for reporting and analysis of Alberta’s politics, social movements, and media.” Earlier this month, Kinney appeared in court on a charge of vandalism and may also face an additional count of “mischief to religious property.”

Killer Command. The Nachtigall Battalion (1941) that Roman Shukhevych commanded .

The accused vandal’s identity has drawn a great deal of attention – less so the fact that the monuments do indeed honor mass murderers. At the outset of Operation Barbarossa in the summer of 1941, Roman Shukhevych commanded the Nachtigall Battalion, a volunteer unit operating under the orders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), as a subunit commanded by the German Abwehr special operations unit. In other words, he was an actual Nazi collaborator.

His OUN-dominated military formation served in German uniform, and its soldiers participated in the brutal Lviv pogrom. In 1942, Shukhevych commanded the Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201, a Ukrainian auxiliary police formation serving under Heinrich Himmler’s Higher SS and Police Leader (Höhere SS- und Polizeiführer, HSSPF) which carried out brutal pacification operations in Belarus. From 1943, after defecting German service, he served as supreme commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which carried out systematic massacres of Polish and Jewish civilians.

Leader of the Pack. Ukrainian Nazi German Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201 with Roman Shukhevych (sitting, second from left), 1942. (PD via Wikimedia)

Following the popular revolutions in 2004-05 and 2013-14 against pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich, the Ukrainian government invested significant efforts in the rehabilitation and glorification of Roman Shukhevych, together with Stefan Bandera, both leaders of the OUN whose men were actively involved in the mass murder of many thousands of Jews and other innocent civilians, primarily Poles.

This kind of historical distortion came back to haunt Ukraine when Russian President Vladimir Putin spun his web of disinformation to justify waging war. In February, Putin declared that his country was going to invade Ukraine to “denazify” the country. He did not elaborate on what he meant by this accusation, but it was met by almost universal ridicule or at least serious skepticism. Not only is Ukraine a democratic state that has had several democratic power transitions, but in 2019 it elected a Jewish president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Yet like many other East European post-Communist states, Zelensky’s predecessors pursued memory policies that sometimes clashed with the facts of the Holocaust. In particular, local collaboration in the Holocaust has remained the rawest of nerves in post-Soviet Ukraine. An undigested past, combined with the rehabilitation of historical actors involved in the Holocaust plays into Putin’s hands as he seeks to grossly misrepresent democratic Ukraine as a neo-Nazi state. It is a reminder that the failure to engage candidly with the difficult episodes of the past carries political liabilities.

March of Madness. Ignoring his brutal Nazi past, far right extremists in Ukraine march in honor of Roman Shukhevych in 2017. (Photo: Screenshot)

Countries afflicted with this tendency do not deny that the Holocaust took place, rather, they create a selective version at odds with the historical record. They do this by spinning a false narrative of the events of the Holocaust to downplay or outright erase the highly significant role played by local collaborators in the implementation of the “Final Solution.” While the situation differed across the region, in many parts of Eastern Europe collaboration included participation in systematic mass murder.

There is also an attempt to equate Communist and Nazi crimes, often by “inflation” – not only in the use of the term “genocide”, but also in overstating the victim tally. Moreover, this use of competitive suffering often emphasizes the role played by Jewish Communists as a way to counter inquiries into local participation in carrying out the Holocaust.

These countries glorify the activities of those who fought against the Soviets and turn them into national heroes, even if these individuals actively collaborated with the Nazis in annihilating Jews during the Holocaust.

Eventually, there is pressure for a memorial day for all the victims of totalitarian regimes (Nazi and Communist), which blurs these distinctions and render International Holocaust Memorial Day redundant.

Depending on its history during the Shoah (Holocaust), each post-Communist Eastern European country has its own unique version of Holocaust distortion that determines which aspects they emphasize and cultivate.

In some cases, the narrative adopted by a country has been developed during the Cold War by activists in their respective diasporas. These expat communities are strongly influenced by radical nationalists, many with a history of collaboration during World War II, who fled to escape prosecution by the Communists. Thus the Ukrainian community in Canada has had a significant influence on the Holocaust narrative adopted in Kyiv, and actively fought against the efforts of the Canadian government to prosecute Shoah perpetrators who emigrated to Canada. Ukrainians constituted one of the most numerous and politically organized ethnic communities in Canada; their vociferous opposition to denaturalization and deportation is a key factor in the abysmal failure of the Canadian government to successfully deport alleged Nazi criminals.

Irate Israeli. In January 2021, Israeli envoy in Kiev, Joel Lion, lambasted the city council of Ternopil for naming a rebuilt soccer stadium “after the infamous Hauptman of the SS Schutzmannschaft 201 Roman Shukhevych” and demanded “the immediate cancellation of this decision.”

In Canada, however, the glorification of Shukhevych had begun long before the demise of the Soviet Union. The Edmonton monument lately in the headlines was erected in 1973 by the League for the Liberation of Ukraine, a front organization of the Bandera wing of the OUN, partially funded by Canadian taxpayers as part of the Canadian policies of multiculturalism, introduced by Liberal PM Pierre Trudeau in 1971. That defaced monument to “The Fighters for Ukrainian Freedom” was erected by the “Brotherhood of the Former Combatants of the First Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army” (the name the 14th Grenadier-Division der Waffen-SS adopted in the final days of World War II before surrendering to the British), in 1976.

From Killer to Heroe! Stepan Bandera, revered as a hero in Ukraine for leading the country’s independence movement, called in the 1940s to ‘destroy’ Jews. (Wikimedia)

In light of Shukhevych’s biography, these monuments are deeply troubling.

The outcome of the vandalism case remains to be seen. Many in the Ukrainian Canadian community treat Shukhevych as a hero, and themselves as victims of hate crimes, lamenting that their community has endured Nazi labels and insisting this was part of the disinformation campaign by the Russians. Shukhevych’s biography and the role of the OUN and UPA during the Holocaust show that such claims are spurious.

Needless to say, the distortions do not justify Russia’s current criminal war of aggression against Ukraine, but they are a reminder of how manipulations of the historical record carry political liabilities.

Russia’s current war crimes call out for an open, candid, and honest engagement with war crimes, to prevent their distortion.



About the writers:

Dr. Zuroff is the chief Nazi hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the director of the Center’s Israel Office and Eastern European Affairs.

Prof. Rudling is Associate Professor of History in Lund University (Sweden), as well as a Wallenberg Academy Fellow (2019-2024)





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).

NATO 2023 IN LITHUANIA: RIFE WITH POLITICAL PITFALLS 

With the shadow of the Shoah, NATO heading for an unseemly summit

By Grant Gochin

(First published in “The times of Israel)

One of the greatest public relations catastrophes of President Reagan’s tenure was his May 1985 visit to a cemetery in Bitburg, Germany, that contained numerous members of the Waffen SS. Today, nearly four decades later, the visit is still remembered with anger, confoundment, and mostly for American embarrassment.

NATO has announced that the next meeting of its member heads of state and government will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11-12, 2023. There are, unfortunately, obvious parallels to Reagan’s “goodwill” visit to Bitburg.

Capital Crimes. The next meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government will take place in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius on 11-12 July 2023. Seen here are the NATO and Lithuanian flags (Photo / E. Genys/LRT)

In World War II, and primarily in the second half of 1941, about 200,000 Lithuanian Jews – about 96% — were systematically expelled from their homes, robbed, starved, tortured, and brutally murdered primarily by ethnic Lithuanian death squads euphemistically referred to auxiliary “police” units. Lithuania does not acknowledge the fact that most of the mass murderers were ethnic Lithuanians. To the contrary, Lithuania in many cases has elevated the stature of many of those who led the Lithuanian Holocaust, arguing that they were anti-Soviet. This itself is an echo of the Nazis canard conflating Jews with communism.

During this NATO summit, the government of Lithuania will likely take the heads of state and delegations to four locations often displayed to visiting dignitaries:

– The “Genocide Museum”, a unique institution in the world that is premised on the contention that ethnic Lithuanians -rather than Jews – were the primary victims of genocide in the 20th Century

 – The Antakalnis Cemetery, their National Cemetery

  – The Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences

– The Tuskulėnai Manor 

Sparks Storm. A group of demonstrators stand outside the U.S. Embassy on May 5 1985 in Tel Aviv to protest US President Reagan‘s visit to the Bitburg military cemetery where some 50 SS soldiers are buried. (AP Photo/Max Nash)

Lithuania will characterize these locations as mere sites of national historical importance, hoping to deceive naïve foreign leaders. Yet, by giving the honor of their presence to any of these four sites, the foreign leaders are exposing themselves to scandal, embarrassment, and a public relations disaster akin to President Reagan’s Bitburg calamity of 1985. The problem is easily avoided by NATO dignitaries sidestepping these sites:

1.THE GENOCIDE MUSEUM   

Part of the former KGB building in Vilnius now houses “The Museum of Occupations and Battles for Freedom” formally (and informally) known as Lithuania’s Genocide Museum. This is a primary nationalistic tourist attraction. The exterior walls of the museum are inscribed with the names of people sentenced to death by the Soviet regime and executed at the Tuskulėnai Manor house in Vilnius.

Honouring Murderers. Many of the names engraved into the exterior wall of the Genocide Museum in Vilnius dedicated to members of the Lithuanian resistance who were murdered, imprisoned or deported by the Soviet Union from WWII until the 1960s include those of Holocaust perpetrators.

The organization in charge of the museum and for national commemorative policy, the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania (Genocide Center), is best described as Lithuania’s center for Holocaust fraud and fictional history. Indeed, the center’s Lithuanian name translates into English as something quite different – the Center for the Study of the Genocide of Lithuanian Residents and Resistance. This Lithuanian title suggests that ethnic Lithuanians were the victims of genocide – even though there was no systematic mass-murder of ethnic Lithuanians in the 20th Century – and that Lithuanians “resisted” some authority. Did the Lithuanians resist the Nazis? No, they collaborated with the Nazis to a greater extent than any other people in Europe. And after Lithuania regained its independence, it threatened to prosecute Jews who fought against the Nazis.

The Lithuanian government has repeatedly been exposed as promoting Holocaust revisionism. Indeed, for this specific reason, some international academic institutions have terminated their interactions with Lithuanian state-sponsored historical-revision institutions. Lithuania pretends that it is objectively seeking the truth. The record shows quite the opposite. They have gone to great lengths to devise artifices suggesting that Holocaust perpetrators were not involved in the Holocaust. This effort would no doubt win the praise of Goebbels in the Nazi era and is comparable to today’s Kremlin disinformation factories.

Many of the names engraved into the exterior wall of the museum are those of Holocaust perpetrators. This makes the museum a shrine for honoring murderers of Lithuanian Jews as well as those who played no role in the Holocaust. Under growing international pressure, the Genocide Center now vaguely concedes that there are “problems” with some of the names engraved into the museum wall.

In October 2019, the then-director of the Center, Teresė Birutė Burauskaitė said three of the names were complicit in Holocaust crimes. These three were:

  • Antanas Gerdvilis [1]
  • Bronius Jakunskas [2]
  • Petras Jurkus [3]

Burauskaitė omitted others, most notably Jonas Noreika, the murderer of up to 14,500 of Lithuania’s Jewish citizens. The Lithuanian government has now rewritten his history to portray him as a rescuer of Jews. Also omitted is the name of a notorious Holocaust perpetrator whose grandson, Darius Semaška, was Lithuania’s prior ambassador to Germany.

Wall of Shame. The memorial plaque to Jonas Noreika-Vėtra – “a mass murderer of the Jews of northwestern Lithuania” – at the WROBLEWSKI LIBRARY OF THE LITHUANIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES in Vilnius. / BNS

Joseph A. Melamed, a Holocaust survivor from Kovna (Kaunas), Lithuania, who became a Tel Aviv attorney, devoted many years to identifying the Lithuanian Holocaust perpetrators. In a 1999 publication he identified 5,000, but added that the number of Lithuanians “directly involved in acts of genocide” is estimated to total 23,000.[4]

For decades, the Lithuanian government has promised to research and publicize the names of the perpetrators and, more generally, remedy the situation. But this remains unlikely. In 2012, the museum gave to the government a list containing the names of 2,055 supposed perpetrators, but the list was never made public by the museum or the government. A government deputy minister later denied having received the list.

And then-museum-director Teresė Birutė Burauskaitė herself subsequently said that after studying the list for three years, her organization eliminated approximately 1,000 suspects.

The list of perpetrators has now shrunk to a mere 200. The research on this group was due to be completed by the end of 2020. It was not.

In April 2021, Genocide Center historian Rytas Narvydas tried to justify the delay by saying that work had been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Narvydas stated that “103 biographies out of almost 200 have been studied.” At the same time, he conceded that the pace of the study was clearly insufficient. He explained that the problem was that only one person was assigned to perform the research, and that that person could only research between 10 and 12 biographies per year. At this rate, the Genocide Center will need another decade or more to complete their ”study” of just 200 individuals. They have over 100 employees, so the rhetorical question to be asked is why has only one person been assigned to this task?

Arvydas Anušauskas, who is now Lithuania’s Minister of National Defense, was the previous head of the Genocide Center. While there, he oversaw rampant Holocaust revisionism. Among other things, he claimed there had been “exhaustive” research into names engraved  on the exterior wall of the Genocide Museum, and declared that none were Holocaust perpetrators. Anušauskas is a nationalist ideologue who has little to no use for “uncomfortable” facts. His self-described “exhaustive” research apparently was unable to take notice of the Holocaust crimes of Jonas Noreika. This is consistent with Lithuania’s track record of ignoring what Lithuanian perpetrators did during World War II.

When NATO foreign leaders visit the Genocide Museum or the Genocide Center, they will be visiting a shrine of perpetrator veneration. To honor such a shrine would display a profound disrespect to Holocaust victims and give credence to Lithuania’s studied inversion of facts.

Sharing space on the wall are the names of also Nefiodovas[5], Gylys[6], Andriuškevičius, Griška, and Paškevičius.

Foreign leaders should not “pay their respects” to the museum that honoring perpetrators. This is worse than Reagan’s benighted visit to Bitburg.

2. ANTAKALNIS CEMETERY

Antakalnis Cemetery is Lithuania’s national cemetery. The Lithuanian government takes visiting dignitaries to view the graves of its national heroes. Most recently, they took the Queen of Belgium to the cemetery.

The Lithuanian Government will almost certainly fail to inform visiting dignitaries that the cemetery likely contains Holocaust perpetrators whom Lithuania deems to be national heroes.

NATO protects Lithuania from her Russian enemies on the premise that Lithuania adheres to the same values as Western democracies. Yet, clearly, Lithuania does not hold the same values. The United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and other allies would never honor those who committed the mass murder of innocent civilians. NATO dignitaries must be mindful of this and try to avoid embarrassing themselves and the nations they represent.

Grave Injustice. While the Lithuanian government takes visiting dignitaries to view the graves of its national heroes and will likely take next year’s NATO delegation, what is unlikely is that they will inform of the Holocaust perpetrators amongst its “national heroes”.

3. WROBLEWSKI LIBRRARY OF THE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF LITHUANIA 

The exterior of this building displays a plaque honoring the genocidal mass murderer of the Jews of northwestern Lithuania – Jonas Noreika. Noreika‘s crimes are well known and have been exposed by his own granddaughter in her non-fiction work, The Nazi’s Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather was a War Criminal (2021).

Many governments, organizations, and individuals have voiced their staunch disapproval of Lithuania’s disingenuous efforts to deny the culpability of Jonas Noreika. Among those are the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the U.S. Congress and State Department, Lithuania’s own Presidential Commission, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the American Jewish Congress, the World Jewish Congress, and others. Given the volume of condemnations by major institutions, as well as the American, German, and Israeli governments, it is patently obvious that Lithuania’s government is deeply involved in Holocaust denial.

NATO delegations should avoid this location so that it is clear that they do not endorse the honoring of a known Holocaust perpetrator.

4. THE TUSKULėNAI MANOR

On the grounds of the Tuskulėnai Manor is the burial place of approximately 767 Lithuanians who were executed by the Soviets. Among those were many Nazi criminals who were members of the “Ypatingasis būrys” (“Special Squad”), a Lithuanian death squad that operated in the Vilnius Region. Also buried here are members of Rollkommando Hamann, a small mobile killing unit composed of 8 -10 Germans and several dozen local Lithuanian collaborators who traveled throughout the Lithuanian countryside in the second half of 1941.

Menacing Manor. While the grounds of Tuskulėnai Manor is the burial place of approximately 767 Lithuanians executed by the Soviets, less revealed to visitors is that among these were members of a Lithuanian Nazi death squad that operated in the Vilnius Region.

Lithuania deems all who were executed by the Soviets to be  “victims” and does not distinguish war criminals of the worst kind from those who were bona-fide heroes. By conflating them, Lithuania honors perpetrators. NATO should not.

NATO officials and state visitors will have no ability to avoid monuments and honors for Holocaust perpetrators in Lithuania. These monuments are everywhere.

Lithuania should not dupe NATO representatives into unconsciously paying respect to Holocaust perpetrators. If they will not be honest about their history, it is nonetheless incumbent upon the NATO delegations to understand Lithuanian duplicity.

For NATO members to pay respect at monuments for Holocaust perpetrators is to taint the mission of NATO, and question the naïveté of the countries they represent. After all, there will be much press in Vilnius during the summit and the world will see where the delegations pay respects.

Lithuania has made its fraudulent Holocaust positions clear many times, over many years, and in many forums. Even if Lithuania now tells the truth, it has been such a long term effort to bring them to truth, it would be impossible to now consider Lithuania telling truth as voluntary or sincere. They fought it too hard and for too long.

Lithuania themselves hold the key to the problem they have created for NATO. If Lithuania sincerely, honestly, and comprehensively state the details of who, what, when, where, why, and how, the country can move forward over time.

NATO is too critical for our own protection. They should not have been dragged into this Holocaust denial morass.



With gratitude to Evaldas Balciunas:

[1] A member of the June 1941 pro-Nazi “uprising,” a police officer from Alanta, Lithuania, who administered stolen Jewish property and was a Holocaust perpetrator.

[2] An alderman of Kalvarija, Lithuania, who arrested Jews, compiled lists of Jewish families, and seized their property.

[3] He took part in executing so-called Soviet activists in the town of Švėkšna, where the majority of the population was Jewish, and later administered property stolen from the Jews.

[4] Lithuania Crime & Punishment, January 1999 Edition, p. 5.

[5] In April 1941 – two months before the Nazi invasion of Lithuania – Vladimaras Nefiodovas was the commander of the underground pro-Nazi unit in the Kaunas suburb of Petrašiūnai. He was tried by the Soviets for criminal activity and convicted in 1945. At his trial he testified that his unit arrested 50 “loads” of Jews. Presumably, these Jews were among the 125 Jews of Petrašiūnai who were murdered in Petrašiūnai on August 30, 1941.

[6] Pranas Gylys was tried and convicted by a Soviet court for Holocaust crimes. He was sentenced to death and executed in 1946.




About the writer:\

Grant Arthur Gochin currently serves as the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Togo. He is the Emeritus Special Envoy for Diaspora Affairs for the African Union, which represents the fifty-five African nations, and Emeritus Vice Dean of the Los Angeles Consular Corps, the second largest Consular Corps in the world. Gochin is actively involved in Jewish affairs, focusing on historical justice. He has spent the past twenty five years documenting and restoring signs of Jewish life in Lithuania. He has served as the Chair of the Maceva Project in Lithuania, which mapped / inventoried / documented / restored over fifty abandoned and neglected Jewish cemeteries. Gochin is the author of “Malice, Murder and Manipulation”, published in 2013. His book documents his family history of oppression in Lithuania. He is presently working on a project to expose the current Holocaust revisionism within the Lithuanian government. Professionally, Gochin is a Certified Financial Planner and practices as a Wealth Advisor in California, where he lives with his family. Personal site: https://www.grantgochin.com/





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- 24 November 2022

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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With the entrances to Jerusalem being the target of two devastating bus stop bombings, is Israel entering a new wave of terror? Lay of the Land extends condolences to the innocent victims and their families as well as the family of Israeli Druze teenager who was kidnapped in front of his father from his hospital bed in Jenin by Palestinian terrorists – and murdered! (Photo: Menahem KAHANA/AFP)



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FORGOTTEN HISTORY REMEMBERED

Ceremony at Johannesburg’s Jewish cemetery will illuminate ‘bloodlines’ between South Africa and Israel

By David E. Kaplan

Story of a Stone. Unveiled by Gen. Smuts in 1922,  a century later sees cornerstone again unveiled.

A lost cornerstone originally unveiled by Prime Minister Jan Smuts honouring South African Jews soldiers killed in WWI, was recently found in the garden of a bowling club and is to be unveiled again, this time by Smuts’ great-grandson. What will also be unveiled are forgotten stories connecting South Africa and Israel.

FORGOTTEN HISTORY REMEMBERED

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‘RESCUING’ HOLOCAUST SURIVORS TODAY

Christians and Jews unite in providing a helping hand

By staff correspondent

Helping Hands. Jewish and Christian organisations join forces in supporting causes in Israel.

Two organizations – one run by an Orthodox Israeli American Jew, the other by a Chinese American Christian – are partnering to help Holocaust survivors in Israel who are finding themselves in stressful situations. Let them not be failed again!

RESCUING’ HOLOCAUST SURIVORS TODAY

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THE BUBBLE HAS BURST

Three phases every healthy relationship repeatedly goes through

By Bev Ehrlich

From young Love and Beyond. The dynamics of love changes as the daily dynamics of life change.

How is your relationship with your partner? Ups and downs are normal – part of any partnership’s journey. A ‘relational coach’, the writer who from her own experience of once feeling “helpless” and “strained”, counsels the path forward to restoring a healthy relationship.

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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).