Entebbe Revisited

The passing of a French pilot in Nice this week, brought back memories of the heroism of two South Africans in Israel’s ‘The Great Escape’.

By David E. Kaplan

When the news broke in Israel on the 28 March 2019 that the Michel Bacos – the pilot the pilot of the Air France flight from Tel Aviv that was hijacked in 1976 and landed in Entebbe – had died at age 95, it brought back memories and a huge amount of pride.

He refused to abandon his passengers, who were taken hostage because they were Israeli or of Jewish origin, risking his own life,” Christian Estrosi, the mayor of Nice, where Bacos lived, announced Tuesday on social media. “Michel bravely refused to surrender to antisemitism and barbarism and brought honor to France.”

When the hijackers were planning to let Bacos, the rest of his crew and the remaining non-Jewish hostages go, he refused.

“I gathered my crew and told them there was no way we were going to leave – we were staying with the passengers to the end,” he said. “The crew refused to leave, because this was a matter of conscience, professionalism and morality…. I couldn’t imagine leaving behind not even a single passenger.”

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Captain Courageous. The captain of the hijacked Air France flight, Michel Bacos (right), who refused to abandon his passengers, addresses the media in 1976. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)

While President Reuven Rivlin said Wednesday that Bacos was “a quiet hero and a true friend of the Jewish people. May his memory be a blessing,”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that the pilot “stayed with the hostages through all their hardships, until IDF soldiers – led by my brother Yoni – freed him in a daring operation. I bow my head in his memory and salute Michel’s bravery.”

One of the bravest and most successful rescue operations in human history, many who were around at the time will recall where they were when the story broke. I was a law student in South Africa in 1976 travelling by car between Durban and Cape Town and was sitting in a Wimpy Bar in Grahamstown when the restaurant’s TV broke to Breaking News to announce the unfolding drama. Little did I know at the time that years later I would be interviewing two South African heroes who participated in the rescue Dr. Jossy Faktor and Ricky Davis. Both had been members of South African Jewish youth movements before immigrating to Israel.

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Honouring Heroism. Formally of Pretoria, South Africa, Dr. Jossy Faktor (right) of ‘The Entebbe Raid’ medical team, receives further rank from Chief of Staff, Ehud Barak (left).

The crisis that led to the Entebbe Raid began on the 27th June, when four terrorists seized an Air France plane, flying from Israel to Paris with 248 passengers on board. The hijackers – two from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and two from Germany’s Baader-Meinhof gang – diverted the aircraft, ‘flight 139’ to Entebbe. There, the hijackers were joined by three more colleagues who then demanded the release of fifty-three of their associates held in jails in Israel and four other countries. The clock was ticking. If the detainees were not released, they would begin killing hostages.

Shades of the Shoah

The plot of the unfolding saga drew in a global audience mesmerized by the twists and turns of a modern-day Homeric epic. Abduction and rescue – the stage was set for a cataclysmic clash of wills. On the one side, an anguished Israel, while on the other, German and Palestinian terrorists aided and abetted by one of Africa’s most notorious dictators, President Idi Amin. Stories abounded by this man’s evil proclivities, notable that he had a certain taste for eating his enemies.

It was said that his palace fridge had been a real ‘who’s who’ in Ugandan politics – leftovers to go with the salad. Some 3,400 kilometres away, a nervous Israeli government was agonizing which way to move. No options were risk free.

The terrorists then played a card that simplified the decision.

They separated the passengers – Jews from non-Jews – releasing the latter. Shades of the Shoah colored the unfolding drama and Israel now stood alone.

It also knew what it had to do.

It was a proud cast of characters who participated in the mission dubbed by the Israeli military – “Operation Thunderbolt”. Amongst the medical team on board one of the four C-130 Hercules aircraft, was a former South African from Pretoria, Dr. Jossy Faktor. A gynecologist and obstetrician, Jossy at the time was serving in the permanent force of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and would later rise to become its Surgeon General.

When the call came summoning the 36-year-old doctor to report for duty, Jossy and his wife Barbara were clicking champagne glasses celebrating the tenth wedding anniversary of their old Habonim friends, the Kessels in Ra’anana. Little did they all know when Jossey hurriedly stepped out of Terry and Carol’s front door, that he was about to enter the history books.

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Ready To Rescue. Originally from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Ricky Davis at the time of ‘The Entebbe Raid’, whose unit was tasked with neutralising the Ugandan Russian Migs on the airport tarmac.

At roughly the same time, 21-year-old Ricky Davis was with his paratrooper unit at Wingate when the call came through. Only two years earlier, Ricky, a member of Betar in Port Elizabeth, made Aliyah and within three months joined the IDF. “We immediately packed up and assembled at a base near Petach Tikva. Although we were aware of the hijack drama playing out at Entebbe, we had no idea that we would be connected. We went on so many hair-raising missions into Lebanon and Jordan in those days that we assumed it was another of the ‘usual ops.”


Once assembled at the base, “Everything became top secret. We began training, still not knowing our destination. Only at the last stage, were we brought into the picture. My unit was to secure the escape by destroying, in advance, anything that could jeopardize our escape.”


“No Going Back”

The next day saw Jossy being briefed by the Surgeon General, the late Dan Michaeli. “I was instructed to quickly put together an aero-medical team.” Although Jossy’s specialization was gynecology, he had been trained in aviation medicine that included ensuring the health of aircrews and aero-medical evacuations. While there had been missions and escapades in the past, nothing would come close to what he was to experience in the next few days. “The success of the operation was secrecy, and because the public at the time was well aware of the hostage crisis, we had to come up with something to deflect attention. Also, we needed to obtain a large supply of blood from Magen David Adom (Israel’s Red Cross), and that necessitated a credible cover story. We did not want anyone – least of all the media – questioning why we suddenly needed so much blood. Because nothing quite like this had ever been attempted, we had no idea of what casualties to expect. Anyway, the word went out that a crisis was developing on the northern border with Lebanon, and we would need medical teams and blood. The story held, and we took off with only those involved in the operation in the know.”

The final briefings were divided according to the different roles to be performed by the various participants. “We were briefed by Dr. Ephraim Sneh, who was the overall commander of the medical teams.”

Jossy describes the flight as long and uneventful.

“We left Friday morning and landed at Sharem el Sheik, stopping for essentially two reasons.  Firstly, for refueling. We had enough to get us to Entebbe, but no more. And as we did not expect the ground staff at Entebbe to accommodate us by refueling our planes, we needed sufficient fuel to take off after the rescue and make it to Nairobi.” The other reason for the stopover was no less intriguing. “When we took off in Israel, the Cabinet had still not decided to go through with the mission. The risks obviously weighed enormously with them and so wanted to keep the option to abort open until the last moment. On the runway at Sharem El Sheik, we received the final green light. Now there was no going back.”

The last stretch of the flight to Entebbe “we flew at a very low altitude to avoid radar detection. The turbulence was heavy, but it did not bother me,” says Jossy. “I recall there was very little chatting; everyone was so wrapped up with their own thoughts. I spent much of my time in the cockpit as the captain, Amnon Halivni, was a good friend of mine.”

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Hostage Crisis. Rather than report that Israel recues its hostages, a Ugandan newspaper reports that “Israelis invade Entebbe”.

Jossy traveled with the medical teams in the fourth Hercules. “Our plane was virtually empty ready to accommodate the hostages and expected wounded.”

The other three planes carried ground forces, with the black Mercedes Benz and Land Rovers on board the first aircraft. The word out on the street was that the Mercedes was owned by an Israeli civilian and was apparently sprayed black so it would appear as the Ugandan’s president’s car when approaching the terminal building. However, the intelligence was dated. The two Ugandan sentries on duty that morning were well aware that their President had recently purchased a white Mercedes replacing his black one. They ordered the motorcade to stop. Had they had the opportunity for a closer look they would have also noticed that the steering wheel was on the wrong side of the car, but by that time, they were both dead.

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Planed To Perfection. The Black Mercedes used to fool Uganda soldiers in the Israeli raid on Entebbe parked aboard an Israeli transport plane upon return from the July 4 operation. (AP-Photo)

In fear of prematurely alerting the terrorists inside the terminal, the subterfuge motorcade sped up and the assault teams quickly went into action.

Into Battle

Jossy’s aircraft had been the last to land. Throughout the operation “we stayed on board, preparing for the arrival of our passengers. It took just under forty minutes for the first casualties to arrive. The waiting was the worst. We felt like sitting ducks as the battle ensured. In the end we needed only six stretchers, one of which was used for Yoni Netanyahu, who died on the way to the aircraft.”

Ricky’s unit, tasked with getting away safely, took care of the Russian Migs on the airport tarmac. “The real danger was that they could give chase, easily catch us, and shoot us down. We were not taking any chances and blew them up with anti-tank missiles.” Adds this warrior, “Yes, we stopped for coffee in Nairobi on the return flight home.”

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Heroes Return. A crowd lifts the squadron leader of the rescue planes on their return to Israel. (Photograph: David Rubinger/Corbis via Getty Images)

The enormity of what these daring men had pulled off “only sunk in,” says Jossy “when we touched down at Tel Nof Airbase and were met by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres. It was only then, safe on Israeli soil, that people felt free to express their emotions.”

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July 6, 1976 – The World Learns A Word: Entebbe

In the immediate aftermath of the rescue mission, the government of Uganda convened a session of the UN Security Council to seek official condemnation of Israel for violating Ugandan sovereignty. The Security Council ultimately declined to pass any resolution on the matter. The words of Israel’s ambassador to the UN at the time, Chaim Herzog, in his address to the Council resonates no less today: “We are proud not only because we have saved the lives of over a hundred innocent people – men, women and children – but because of the significance of our act for the cause of human freedom.”

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Enter Hollywood. Following the successful rescue, several movies were made including this one – Raid on Entebbe – staring Charles Bronson, Peter Finch, Martin Balsam, Horst Bucholz, John Saxon, Jack Warden and Yaphet Kotto as Idi Amin.

The Israel Brief – 25-28 March 2019


The Israel Brief – 25 March 2019 – SPECIAL REPORT: Rocket attack on Israel and response.



The Israel Brief – 26 March 2019 – SPECIAL REPORT: The current situation after rocket attacks on Israel

The Israel Brief – 27 March 2019 – Updates on situation in South of Israel and US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights
The Israel Brief – 28 March 2019 – Update on the situation in the South as Israel braces for a tense weekend.


The Apartheid Libel

By Monessa Shapiro

Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) is once again upon us.  And with it are the fabrications and deceit that we have come to associate with the proponents of IAW, not least of all the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions).  For to describe Israel as an Apartheid state is mendacity of enormous magnitude, a lie that minimizes the pain and degradation that Apartheid South Africa was.

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A nefarious untruth that negates the suffering that was Apartheid, the misuse and abuse of the term Apartheid – like other emotive terms such as “ethnic cleansing” or “genocide” – stifles debate.   For to label Israel an Apartheid state is not to criticize it, but rather to say that it is so evil that it is beyond criticism and any form of debate.

And so, if Israel is an Apartheid state, then the call of the BDS and other advocates of IAW for “Palestine from the river to the sea,” have merit.  For them, the notion of “Palestine from the river to the sea” would result in the demise of Israel; necessary of course, because like Apartheid South Africa, no apartheid state deserves to exist.

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Setting The Facts Straight. The truth BDS and IAW advocates hide from the public.

Is Israel even vaguely aligned to an Apartheid state? Each and every Israeli citizen – Jew, Moslem and Christian, black or white – is equal before the law, has equal access to medicine and education, has the right to vote and the freedom to practice his or her religion.  Every Arab living in East Jerusalem was offered full Israeli citizenship after the Six Day War and the return of East Jerusalem to Jewish hands.  Those who refused were given permanent residency.  Israeli Arabs are judges on the Israeli Supreme Court – an Arab judge sentenced Israeli President Katzav to prison.  Supreme Court judge, Salim Joubran, an Arab, was elected as vice-President of the Supreme Court in 2017.  Arab members of Parliament sit and debate with their Jewish counterparts in the Israeli Knesset.

In their rantings, the supporters of IAW fail to take cognizance of the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  They fail to recognise that the first Arab state was established from the British mandate in 1922, when Britain, reneging on its obligation to re-establish a Jewish state in the whole of British mandatory Palestine, gave all the land East of the Jordan river to the Hashemite kingdom in the formation of Transjordan (modern day Jordan).  They ignore the fact that the establishment of the State of Israel was an affirmation that the only two states in Palestine that had been independent prior to the formation of Israel, were in fact homelands for the Jews – the first in about 1000 BC and the second in 164 BC.

And they conveniently disregard the fact that Jews have since about 2000 BC had a constant presence in the land of Israel, including in Judea and Samaria (today known as the West Bank).  The only time that Jews were prohibited from entering East Jerusalem where stood the First Temple and Judea and Samaria, was during Jordan’s occupation of these territories, between 1948 and 1967.

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United In Hate. Have these Imams at an anti-Israel protest in South Africa in 2018 forgotten what Apartheid was? (Photo: Reuters)

They disregard United Nations Resolution 181 that divided what was left of British Mandatory Palestine into a land for the Jews and a land for the Arabs.  The Arabs could today have been celebrating 71 years of independence in the second Arab state, formed from the British mandate.

 Death to Jews

image009 (1).pngIn addition, the advocates for BDS and IAW provide no context for the Israel-Palestine conflict.  They do not acknowledge that every war Israel has fought has been against an enemy who has wished to annihilate her. They never mention the fact that Israel has since her inception, suffered from ongoing terrorism because her neighbours cannot abide a Jewish presence in the Middle East.  They gloss over the fact that the Hamas Charter calls for the murder of all Jews and the destruction of Israel.  They never protest the wanton murder of innocent Israeli men, women and children.   The slitting of a sleeping Jewish baby’s throat is disregarded, as is the slaughter of rabbis at prayer in a synagogue.  No mention is ever made of the thousands upon thousands or rockets fired into Israel aimed at civilians or the underground tunnels burrowed into Israel with the intention of murdering and kidnapping Israeli civilians. The ‘Great March of Return’ is viewed by them as an innocent civilian protest. The fact that Hamas leaders urge protestors to go to the fence “armed with a knife” or “eat Israeli livers” if they are hungry is totally ignored by the advocates and supporters of BDS and IAW.image008 (2).png

At the same time those who term Israel an Apartheid state overlook the true Apartheid of the Middle East:

  • The fact, that I, as a Jew, cannot enter many of the Muslim countries
  • The fact that Mahmoud Abbas has made it quite clear that no Jew will be allowed in a future Palestinian state
  • The fact that at the entrance to Arab towns in the West Bank are signs warning Jews and Israelis not to enter as their lives would be in danger

The assertion that Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria are preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state smacks of Apartheid and racism. Why should Jews not be able to live among Arabs in a Palestinian state as Arabs live among Jews in Israel?

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The sad truth during IAW at South African universities.

By ignoring context; by ignoring history; by ignoring the reality that is Israel; and by calling for the eradication of the only Jewish state in the world and of no other, the supporters of IAW and the BDS reaffirm for all that at the heart of their pro-Palestinianism is primal Jew hatred.

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image007 (16).jpgMonessa Shapiro is a retired teacher and a member of the Media Team. Monessa also writes and blogs for the Times of Israel.

The Arab Voice

A selection of opinions and analysis from the Arab media

To enable readers across the world to freely make up their minds based on accurate and broad-based coverage on the Middle East, LOTL provides a platform to what Arab journalists – in their own words – are writing about the region.


Palestinians: The Other Peace Deal

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  March 21, 2019 at 5:00 am

Hamas is now accusing the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah of exploiting the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip to call on Palestinians to overthrow the Hamas regime. Fatah, for its part, is accusing the “dark forces” of Hamas of acting on orders from outside parties to establish a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.

The US administration says it will publish its long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East, known as the “Deal of the Century,” after the general elections in Israel on April 9. Perhaps it would be a good idea if the US administration came up with a plan to make peace between Palestinians and Palestinians before attempting to make peace between the Palestinians and Israel.

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Two Faced. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’s and head of Fatah party (left) and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh agree “disagree on many things, but when it comes to repressing and violating the human rights of their people, Hamas and Fatah have proven that they are comrades-in-arms.”

What is clear, meanwhile, is that the Fatah and Hamas leaders are more interested in warring with each other than improving the living conditions of their people. The two groups have already rejected the upcoming “Deal of the Century”: for now, that is the only deal they seem ready to make.

Hamas and Fatah, the two major Palestinian parties ruling the Gaza Strip and West Bank respectively, have been at war with each other for the past 12 years. They disagree on many things, but when it comes to repressing and violating the human rights of their people, Hamas and Fatah have proven that they are comrades-in-arms.

In the past week, Fatah has been launching scathing attacks on Hamas for using excessive force to suppress Palestinians protesting economic hardship in the Gaza Strip. Fatah says that hundreds of Palestinians, including political activists and journalists, have been arrested or severely beaten by Hamas security forces.

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Hard Times. A protest in the Gaza Strip over the cost of living on March 15, 2019. (Screen capture: Twitter)

The charges against Hamas are not baseless. Photos of wounded Palestinians have surfaced on social media. Some had black eyes and bruises over different parts of their bodies, while others appeared to have had their legs and arms broken by Hamas security officers.

Read more: Palestinians: The Other Peace Deal

Khaled Abu Toameh an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a

Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter


What Happened To The Yazidis Is A Shame On All Of Us

“They are not taken into serious consideration by the international community,” writes Abdul Basit Sidama in Al-Arab,UK, March 10

Cecilia Oden, a veteran Swedish journalist, has focused her media and research efforts on the Middle East, where she lives almost permanently, moving between many capitals and places there. It was a few days ago in Qamishli and the Hull camp, where she interviewed a wide host of Yazidi girls and women who were victims of a sadistic torture campaign at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS). Many of those Oden spoke with recounted their stories in painful details. One woman witnessed her father and husband slaughtered in front of her and her young children. She then began to recount the details of her journey of suffering with slavery and sexual exploitation, and the cruelty she was subjected to. Sadly, this is not the only story. There are hundreds of accounts just like this one.

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Teenage girls who escaped from ISIS tell horrifying stories of unimaginable suffering.

These stories once again call into attention the horrendous crimes perpetuated by the ISIS, not only physically but also psychological. It destroyed a legitimate Syrian revolution that sought to bring down a regime of tyranny and create a democratic and pluralistic state that guaranteed all Syrians—without exception—freedom, justice and a decent life. The tragedy of the Yazidis is painful. Its horrific details evoke all the anger and reveal the savage side of the human being who is stripped of all values, while hiding behind the veil of religion. The Yazidi community is a peaceful society by nature, devoted to the affairs of its daily life without interference in the affairs of others. Their suffering continues to unfold. Their territory is still occupied by various militias. The Yazidis continue to live in the most difficult conditions, in camps that are not suitable for daily living. Most sadly, they are not taken into serious consideration by the international community. Nobody is fighting for their right to return to their homes and to pursue their normal life in a peaceful manner as they have always done. This is a shame on all of us.

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Yazidi women were subjected to abduction and systematic rape by ISIS fighters. (Credit Reuters)

Abdul Basit Sidama


Palestinians: “No Place for the Zionist Entity in Palestine”

by Bassam Tawil, February 26, 2019 at 5:00 am


Hamas and Islamic Jihad should be given credit for their clarity and honesty regarding their ambitions. The two groups are clearly saying that their ultimate goal is to see Israel removed from the region and replaced with an Islamic state. As far as they are concerned, the conflict with Israel is not about a settlement, a checkpoint or even Jerusalem. Instead, it is about the presence of Jews in what they regard as their own state and homeland.

What will happen the day after a Palestinian state is established?

The answer, according to Hamas and Islamic Jihad (and other Palestinians) is that they will use it to continue the “armed struggle” until the liberation of the supposedly occupied cities of Tel Aviv, Nazareth, Tiberias, Haifa and Ashdod. Under these current circumstances, a Palestinian state will pose an immediate existential danger to Israel.

The Islamic Jihad threat to turn Israeli cities into “hell” by firing missiles at them needs to be taken seriously by those who are working on the upcoming US peace plan. Any land that is given to Abbas and his Palestinian Authority in the West Bank will be used in the future by Hamas and Islamic Jihad as a base for launching rockets and missiles at Israeli cities. Then, the terror groups will not need accurate, long-range rockets to achieve their plan to destroy Israel’s population centers: they will be sitting right across the street from them.

A Palestinian terror group says that its engineers have developed “accurate and destructive” missiles that can reach the “occupied” cities of Tel Aviv, Netanya and Jerusalem. Abu Hamza, spokesman for the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Iranian-funded Islamic Jihad organization in the Gaza Strip, threatened that his group’s “rocket unit” would turn Israeli cities into “hell.”

“There is no place for the Zionist enemy on the land of Palestine,” Abu Hamza said. “Either they leave this blessed land, or they will be dealt one painful strike after the other.”

Islamic Jihad is the second-largest Palestinian terror group in the Gaza Strip, after Hamas. Neither group recognizes Israel’s right to exist. Both say they are committed to the “armed struggle until the liberation of all Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.”

The leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad see Israel as one big settlement to be uprooted from the Middle East.

For them, there is no difference between a Jewish settlement in the West Bank and any other city inside Israel. As far as they are concerned, Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Haifa and Nazareth are all “occupied” cities. Palestinian weather forecast bulletins often publish names of cities inside Israel on a map that does not mention the word Israel.

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Spewing Hate. Palestinian presenter Raji Al-Hams (R) listens to Hamas official Salah al-Bardweel at the studio of Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV in Gaza City, October 27, 2015 (credit Reuters)

The Palestinian leaders say that the conflict with Israel will end only when Israel is annihilated.

We won’t give upon one inch of the land of Palestine,” said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. “We will continue to fight until all the refugees return to their homes” — meaning areas in Israel within the “green line” 1949 armistice borders.

In 2017, Hamas published a document of “General Principles and Policies,” in which it claimed that it was ready to accept a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines (West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem) — but without Hamas recognizing Israel’s right to exist or Hamasgiving up all of Palestine.”

In other words, Hamas is saying that it would not oppose the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem; it would use these territories as a launching pad to “liberate the rest of Palestine.”

The Hamas document clearly states that “no part of the land of Palestine shall be compromised or conceded, irrespective of the causes, the circumstances, and the pressures, and no matter how long the occupation lasts.” It affirms that Hamasrejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea.” The document also states that Hamas will never recognize the “Zionist entity” or relinquish any Palestinian rights.

Although Hamas says in the document that it is ready, for now, to accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel, it nevertheless considers “Palestine, which extends from the River Jordan in the east to the Mediterranean in the west, and from Ras Al-Naqurah in the north to Umm Al-Rashrash [Eilat] in the south, an integral territorial unit. It is the land and the home of the Palestinian people.”

The Hamas document has been misinterpreted by some Westerners as a sign of moderation and pragmatism on the part of the terrorist group. Reuters, for example, claimed in a May 1, 2017 dispatch that Hamas has “dropped its long-standing call for Israel’s destruction.”

This claim is completely false. Reuters, like several other Western media outlets, ignored those parts of the Hamas document that mentions the need to eliminate Israel. Here are other parts of the document that reveal Hamas‘s true intentions:

The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas is a Palestinian national liberation resistance movement. Its goal is to liberate Palestine and confront the Zionist project. Palestine is an Arab Islamic land. It is a blessed sacred land that has a special place in the heart of every Arab and every Muslim. There shall be no recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist entity. Whatever has befallen the land of Palestine in terms of occupation, settlement building, Judaization or changes to its features or falsification of facts is illegitimate. Rights never lapse.”

Worse, some Westerners have gone so far as describing the document as the “new Hamas charter.” Again, that claim is false.

The Hamas charter, which was published in 1988, continues to exist; it has never been changed or amended. This charter states :

“… the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that…

Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps. The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and Allah’s victory is realised.

For the past three decades, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been major players in the Palestinian arena. They are not splinter factions than can be dismissed as irrelevant. The two groups control nearly two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. Each group has its own political leadership, as well as militias that possess various types of weapons, including rockets and missiles. The two groups also have thousands of militiamen in the Gaza Strip who consider themselves “soldiers” and “freedom fighters” in the war to eliminate Israel and kill Jews.

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Future Without Israel. A Palestinian map showing the British Mandate of Palestine in the West Bank city of Ramallah, ahead of Nakba Day. (credit Reuters)

Those who think that Hamas and Islamic Jihad will vanish one day are living in an illusion. The two groups continue to pose a real threat, not only to Israel, but also to Mahmoud Abbas‘s Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank. Were it not for Israel’s security presence in the West Bank, Hamas and Islamic Jihad would have toppled Abbas’s regime long ago. Hamas and Islamic Jihad despise Abbas and consider him a traitor because of his purported support for a two-state solution.

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar was recently quoted as saying that when his movement “liberates Palestine,” it will bring Abbas to trial for betraying the Palestinians.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad should be given credit for their clarity and honesty regarding their ambitions. The two groups are clearly saying that their ultimate goal is to see Israel removed from the region and replaced with an Islamic state. As far as they are concerned, the conflict with Israel is not about a settlement or a checkpoint or even Jerusalem. Instead, it is about the presence of Jews in what they regard as their own homeland and State.

Any Middle East peace plan that ignores what Hamas and Islamic Jihad are saying is doomed to fail. Moreover, ignoring the two groups will pose a massive threat to security and stability in the region. The US administration, which says it will unveil its plan for peace in the Middle East after the Israeli elections in April, ought to think and think again about the plan’s possible repercussions.

This is what members of the US administration needs to ask themselves: What will happen the day after a Palestinian state is established? The answer, according to Hamas and Islamic Jihad (and other Palestinians) is that the Palestinians will use this state to continue the “armed struggle” until the liberation of the occupied cities of Tel Aviv, Nazareth, Tiberias, Jaffa and Haifa. Under the current circumstances, a Palestinian state will pose a clear and present existential danger to Israel.

The Islamic Jihad threat of turning Israeli cities into “hell” by firing missiles at them needs to be taken seriously by those who are working on the upcoming US peace plan. Any land that is given to Abbas and his Palestinian Authority in the West Bank will be used in the future by Hamas and Islamic Jihad as a base for launching rockets and missiles into Israeli cities. Then, the terror groups will not need accurate, long-range rockets to achieve their plan to destroy Israel’s population centers: they will be sitting right across the street from them.

Bassam Tawil is an Arab Muslim based in the Middle East.

The Israel Brief – 18-21 March 2019


The Israel Brief – 18 March 2019 – Terror attack Ariel Junction. Enough is Enough at UN Human Rights Council. Hamas violently crushing protests in Gaza Strip.




The Israel Brief – 19 March 2019 – Purim! Iranians show solidarity with victim of terror. An answer to Ilhan Omar and Tel Aviv top 10 in world’s most expensive cities.




The Israel Brief – 20 March 2019 – IDF eliminates Ariel terrorist. Did Yaalon just accuse Bibi of treason? Bennett asks Poland to bar entry for Holocaust denier, David Irving.




The Israel Brief – 21 March 2019 – Major announcement about Golan heights expected. 73% of Arab Israelis to vote. Egypt has proposal for Hamas.



ZAKA Answering The Call When Disaster Strikes

By Rolene Marks

When the call comes in, they are prepared. Often dispatched to the furthest corners of the world, wherever disaster strikes, this team of Orthodox Jewish men who all volunteer their time to do the sacred task of returning the remains of those who have died, are ready for this most solemn duty.

Zaka1This is ZAKA.

The name ZAKA is derived from the Hebrew: זק”א‎, abbreviation for Zihuy Korbanot Ason, Hebrew: זיהוי קורבנות אסון, literally: “Disaster Victim Identification”. The full name is “ZAKA – Identification, Extraction and Rescue – True Kindness” (Hebrew: זק”א – איתור חילוץ והצלה – חסד של אמת‎).  The Jerusalem-based organisation operates with a specially trained team of volunteer paramedics and search and rescue professionals who are on call 24/7, ready to respond in the fastest possible time to major international mass casualty incidents, wherever they may occur.

ZAKA‘s extraordinary assistance at major international terror attacks such as those in Mombasa, Istanbul and Taba as well as numerous natural disasters like the 2004 tsunami and Hurricane Katrina have resulted in official recognition from the United Nations. In 2005, the UN officially recognized ZAKA as an international volunteer humanitarian organization, one of only three from Israel that enjoy this status.

This official recognition enables ZAKA to offer emergency assistance even before the official delegation has left Israel, or the host country has formally asked for help. ZAKA assists countries that have no formal diplomatic ties with the Jewish State. When a plane crashed in Namibia in 2014, ZAKA helped with recovery efforts and trained the local forensic police – this despite no formal ties between the two countries.

ZAKA also trains emergency response teams in local communities worldwide, including South Africa and this was evident recently in Ethiopia.

On March 10, 2019 just six minutes after take-off from the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Airline flight ET302 crashed, killing all 157 crew and passengers from 35 different countries.

When the team of highly trained volunteers in South Africa got the call, they mobilized immediately. The close proximity to Ethiopia meant they were able to assist their colleagues from Israel in doing the unimaginable – finding and identifying human remains. ZAKA will go to the ends of the earth – literally- to help recover the remains of Israelis and bring them home for burial. They also assist in the recovery of victims from other countries, bringing relief to anxious families.

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ZAKA South African team on returning from Ethiopia crash site (link to Chai FM radio interview)

In Judaism, death just like is sacred. For the volunteers of ZAKA, there is no more holy task than returning the remains of loved ones to their devastated families to ensure that they are buried with dignity.

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Israeli passenger Shimon Reem.

For the families of the late Shimon Reem and Avraham Matzliah, the Israelis who were on board the tragic flight, the wait has been excruciating. The endless waiting for news adds to their trauma. Every second counts and each detail will carry a critical clue about what happened to their loved ones. The importance of cooperation with officials is crucial – families deserve answers and the opportunity to begin the painful process of grieving. Jewish religious law dictates that when a person dies, they need to be buried as soon as possible.

These highly trained ZAKA teams who are equipped not only with the necessary skills to do this often grisly task but also with empathy for the families and the souls of the departed. Members of ZAKA South Africa, who were on site, spoke movingly about how the teams gathered at the crash site and along with the local Chabad Rabbi, intoned prayers for the dead.

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Israeli passenger Avraham Matliach.

The situation on the ground in Ethiopia has been particularly complicated. Delays in access to the crash site have created tremendous frustration with those responsible for recovery who is working against the clock.

The ability of ZAKA to navigate tragedy – as a disaster, the trauma to the families affected and the delicate political nuances – are part of what has gained them international attention – and support.

The extraordinary efforts of this humble team have also garnered the support of Christians around the world who have started their own organization called Christian Friends of ZAKA.

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Kebebew Legesse, the mother of Ethiopian Airlines cabin crew Ayantu Girmay mourns at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019 (REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

In a quiet and modest way, this exceptional global network of volunteers with their heart situated in Jerusalem, prove time and time again that whatever the situation and whenever the call comes in, they are prepared for anything that tomorrow may bring.

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Israeli relatives hold the national flag at the crash site of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8, seen here on March 14, 2019 (Mulugeta Ayene/AP)



Remembering Moses Moyo

Personal tribute to a friend and ally – the renowned journalist, publisher and lover of Israel who passed away in Johannesburg South Africa in November 2018.

By Kathy Kaler, CEO and host of Afternoon  Drive Show, Chai FM

Being a radio presenter, I consider myself privileged. I get to engage with thousands of people daily via ChaiFM. People share their opinions, fears and hopes with me – daily. And all are important and yet most of our listeners I will never meet.

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Except for Moses Moyo!

His text messages came in to the Morning Mayhem almost every morning since 2013 until his sudden passing.

Moses’ messages were frequently in defence of Israel while at other times comments about service delivery in Johannesburg, but most often they were song requests – Yaakov Shwekey, Moshe Peretz or Benny Friedman.

He signed them all ‘Moshe’.

It was only when I received a video of Moses singing along (to Benny Friedman’s “Mazal and Brochanogal!!) that I realised I was engaging with someone from “outside” our often-insular community.

But I was wrong.

Moses Moyo was someone very much engaged in the Jewish community.

On every level.

He loved our culture, our music, our religious rites, our traditions and even our quirks.

And he loved Israel. Passionately.

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Moses Moyo

Moses understood profoundly, the importance of the Jewish state, not only to Jews but what Israel means to the world and her place in the greater scheme of things.

Always interested in hearing the human stories, I took the initiative to call Moses up one day and invite him for a cup of coffee. And that was where our friendship began.

In a little coffee shop in Glenhazel. It was 2014.

I came to know Moses as a great defender of the underdog – whether he was standing up for Israeli actions to defend her borders or the plight of African asylum seekers in Hillbrow. Moses stood for truth and all that was right in the world. It is no secret. Anyone who knew him will tell you that.

Road Ahead

A year ago, Moses planned to run the Jerusalem Marathon as part of the DL Link #RunForRecovery team. Due to issues with his passport, he had to forego the 2018 Marathon but had it on his radar to run this year. Moses was incredibly positive and for him it was just a postponement.

Little did anyone know…

In October last year, while listening to the Morning Mayhem on ChaiFM I heard about Moses’ untimely death. Like so many others who knew him, I was filled with disbelief. And sadness. And loss. Not only had I personally lost a friend, but as a Jewish and Zionist community, we had all lost an ally.

After his passing, the Jewish Community started fundraising for Moses’ children’s education.

Education… A tree of knowledge, right? The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) will also be planting a tree in Israel in Moses Moyos’ name. I will be at that ceremony. Two trees. A tree of knowledge for his children in the form of the trust fund and a physical tree in the Holy Land.

Moses would have loved that.

What a testament it is to our community organisations to honour a wonderful man who was so loyal to our community and did so much to bring Christian and Jewish Zionists together.

This year I am part of the Jerusalem Marathon 2019 DL Link #RunForRecovery team. I will be running the 10km Marathon.

This morning I went for my early morning run on the streets of Jerusalem, and as I ran down Ben Yehuda into Jaffa road – my tears flowed.

And I let them.

They were tears for Moses Moyo.

They were tears of Gratitude.

Of Appreciation.

Of humility.

Of Loss.

Of celebration.

Of Joy.

Of Simply Being Alive. (Eventually I had to decide whether to run or cry – doing both is near impossible).

So, I ran.

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Moses Moyo: “I refuse to be bullied – My scarf keeping me warm today”

This Friday I will be running for Moses Moyo to complete what he wasn’t able to.

My official DL Link racing shirt (yes, apparently a Marathon is a race!) has his name on the back along with the names of the two other warriors for whom I am running. The red DL Link Jerusalem Marathon 2019 Tour T-shirts have his name on the shirt of all 85 runners on the team.

Because we are all Moses Moyo

Champions of the Underdog. Pursuers of Truth. And Proud Zionists.

Onward and Upward. Always.

More on Moyo (By the Editor)

Moyo was the founder and chairperson of ‘Friends of the Inner-city Forum’, a community-based organisation in the inner city of Johannesburg. He was also a founding director of Ekuphumuleni hospice. He played an important role in the creation of Tirisano Inner-city Housing Co-operative – an initiative to help people buy flats in the inner-city of Johannesburg on a rent-to-buy basis.

He was a reporter with Eyewitness News.

Moyo was a pro-Israel activist and raised money by offering to run in the Jerusalem Marathon for the DL link, a cancer survivor organisation.

Moyo was the Deputy President of the Association of Independent Publishers.




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Kathy Kaler is the CEO 0f Chai FM, a Johannesburg based radio station and is host of the Afternoon Drive Show.


Our Daily Bread

     By David E. Kaplan

If you had to let your nose lead you during an early morning walk in Jerusalem you would likely end up at the nearest bakery. The smell of freshly baked bread can drive one crazy diverting one’s senses in this most alluring city from the visual to the culinary.

Walk down Old Jaffa Street or many of the city’s side streets and you cannot escape the all-too-familiar aroma. Nor would you care to, and with the variety of breads today – particularly the health brands – there is little reason to resist temptation.

Taste Of Israel. You smell this long before you see it.

Such a treat would not have been possible until the late 19th century. There were no bakeries then in the Jewish communities of the Old Yishuv – all bread was baked at home. One of the earliest was Berman’s Bakery, established in 1875 and its history is not

Bread & Cake. A Berman’s Bakery retail shop in Jerusalem.

only a story of a bakery but the birth of a nation. The ‘yeast’ in this story began when Reb Todrus Halevi Berman, a great Torah scholar and his wife Kreshe, and their two sons Yehoshua and Eliyahu, left Russia to make the long and arduous journey to Palestine.

From Dough to Doe

Times were tough and when their savings ran out, fate and foresight intervened when the family – literally – grabbed a ‘window of opportunity’. From her window in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City, Kreshe observed the passing show – but what she saw more than just the daily visit of Christian Pilgrims was the potential to turn their presence into profit. Soon she was baking honey cakes and black bread and years later it was her son Yehoshua who would later move the bakery outside the walls of the Old City to Jaffa Street. He was the first Jerusalemite to open a store outside the Old City, a risky venture considering that the area from Jaffa Gate to Nachalat Shiva was still desolate.

For a bakery located well-away from the coast it may seem odd to have a ship’s anchor on its logo today – however there is a sound explanation imbedded in history. The horse or mule-drawn wagons that transported the first breads were bought from an Austrian army surplus depot and these wagons sported an anchor representing the insignia of an Austrian military unit. In time, Berman’s adopted the anchor as its own business logo.

In‘GRAIN’ed In History. Bermans Bakery has come a long way in 144 years.

In 1886, Yehoshua built the first flourmill for Ashkenazi Jews, close to Mishkenot Shenanim, (the site of the arts and craft center today) and over 120 years later, the original two milestones remain firmly in place. Thousands of kilos of wheat were finely ground in the family mill until the eve of the War of Independence in 1948, when the area became no-man’s land.

With the increase in the local Jewish population, the Berman family moved to Meah Shearim, building a house and bakery side by side. Not only was it the largest bakery in Palestine but also in the entire Middle East. It was no wonder that it was a major tourist attraction at the time.

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Early Days. Berman’s Bakery in the 1880s when Yehoshua transported bread in Jerusalem using horses and mules and carriages bought from the Austrian army.

No loafing about

With the siege of Jerusalem in 1948, flour and gasoline rationing led to shortages and even starvation.

Due to its proximity to the Jordanian border, and since it was the main supply source for the besieged population, the bakery became the target of numerous bombing attempts. Despite this, the bakery never ceased production, and the residents of Jerusalem received a daily supply of bread.

Today Berman’s Bakery is in the growing and thriving commercial center of Gival Shaul, and when in 2001 it acquired Vadash Bakery in Ramat Hasharon and the Lechem HaAretz Bakery, a bakery specializing in health bread and special cookies, it became the second largest bakery in the country, producing 3000 fresh loaves every hour, much of which is transported across the country in over sixty trucks – a far cry from the mules and horses over 100 years ago!

Anchored’ in history, it all began with a vision from a window in the Old City!

Lechem HaAretz

Well Bread

Modern Israelis of all religious and ethnic background love bread, and eat a large variety of it. This is never more evident than on Friday mornings when Israelis, irrespective of their degree in religiosity, cram into bakeries selecting their different size and shape of their Sabbath bread, known as Challah. Made with eggs, this Jewish Sabbath‑and‑holiday bread is immersed in folklore and tradition and is loaded with symbolism as much as it is with ingredients. On festive occasions a blessing is said over two loaves, symbolizing the two portions of the manna that was distributed on Fridays to the children of Israel during their Exodus from Egypt. The breads are covered on the table by a decorative challah cover, representing the dew that collected on the manna in the morning. Poppy and sesame seeds sprinkled on the bread also symbolize the manna that fell from heaven.

Challah is made in various sizes and shapes, all of which have a meaning. Braided ones, which may have three, four, or six strands, are the most common, and because they look like arms intertwined, symbolize love. Three braids symbolize truth, peace, and justice. Twelve humps from two small or one large braided bread, recalls the miracle of the twelve loaves for the twelve tribes of Israel. Round loaves, “where there is no beginning and no end,” are baked for Rosh Hashanah to symbolize continuity, while ladder shaped ones served at the meal before the fast of Yom Kippur, reminds Jews that God decides who will ascend and descend the ladder of life. Sweet challahs with honey or raisins are baked during the festive season to bring joy and happiness.

Get a Loaf of This. The special Jewish bread known as ‘Challah’ is braided and typically eaten on ceremonial occasions such as Sabbath and major Jewish holidays.

The Sabbath and festival breads of the Yemenite Jews have become popular in Israel and can be bought frozen in supermarkets. Jachnun is thinly rolled dough, brushed with oil and baked overnight at a low heat. It is traditionally served with a *crushed tomato dip, hard boiled eggs and skhug (Middle East hot sauce).

Malawach is a thin circle of dough toasted in a frying pan, while Kubaneh is a yeast dough baked overnight and traditionally served on Shabbat mornings. Lahoh is spongy, pancake-like bread made of fermented flour and water and fried in a pan. Jews from Ethiopia make a similar yeast-risen flatbread called Injera from millet flour.

And of course, the most common bread is Pita, created by steam, which puffs up the dough. In both Israeli and Palestinian cuisine, it is the custom to eat almost anything with pita, from falafel, lamb, turkey or chicken shwarma, kebab, omelets, shakshouka (dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoeschili peppers, and onions) and most common, hummus and salads.

Daily Diet. The biggest problem of visitors to Israel is finding pita bread when they return home. A local staple of Middle Eastern cuisine, this round flatbread with a pocket is traditionally eaten with falafel or shawarma with hummus, techina , Israeli salad and hot relish.

The South African ‘Ingredient’

Away from the giants of bread manufactures in Israel, are several boutique bakeries who pride themselves in baking mainly health breads. One such is Saidels Bakery – name recently changed to Saidel’s Artisan Baking Institute –  located in the village of Ginot Shomron. Nestled in the shade of weeping willows, with the tranquil trickle of a babbling brook to delight the senses, this family bakery is run by husband and wife team, Les and Sheryl Saidel, immigrants from Johannesburg, South Africa. Modeled on the time-honored family “village bakery”, Saidels is a far cry from the high volume, industrialized operations of modern bakeries.


Les, a student of world renowned pastry chef Michel Suas (San Francisco Baking Institute) and “an artisan bread baker” with over 30 years of baking experience, laments that “our global health is declining and the food we put in our mouths has a lot to do with it.” He refers back to an age where there “were no major bakery chains and no E-something chemical list. Bread was baked in a local village by the baker from scratch.” Furthermore, he continues, “The mills of those early days could not grind the flour too fine so it retained all the components of the wheat grain, including the wheat germ. This was real bread.”

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Bit of a Grind. Boutique bakery owner, former South African Les Saidel, scooping out organic whole wheat grains to drop into a wheat grinder.

All this Saidels proudly emulates.

“We mill the whole wheat flour ourselves and use it immediately in the bread dough so no refrigeration of wheat germ is necessary and the wheat germ has no time to go rancid.” As Saidels bake their bread and sell it fresh out of the oven, there is no need for “stabilizers, preservatives and dough enhancers. We are artisan bakers and when we say 100% whole wheat that is exactly what it is – direct from nature, organically grown and no tampering.”

Their masonry oven was built by Les himself according to strict guidelines and is one of only two such ovens in the entire Middle East. Constructed with century old bricks imported from Belgium and with its Tudor-like facade, “our oven is not only the tool of our trade, it is a wonder to behold and attracts tourists and baking enthusiasts from all over the country.”

Sweet Revenge. Les Saidel preparing his special recipe ‘Hamantaschen’ for the festival of Purim.  This unique pastry is named after ‘Haman’,  the villain in the biblical Book of Ester, who planned to kill all the Jews in ancient Persia but instead was executed by the king and so  contributed to Jewish confectionary.

Les says he finds it enriching watching “the flames lick the brick interior of our oven, in the knowledge that our ancestors baked this way and that we are continuing their fine tradition”

Les says, “we have shifted our focus and allocate 70% of our time to running workshops across the country instructing in challah, artisan, healthy, French, Italian, Donut and flatbread baking. Once we even did a workshop on a large boat on the Sea of Galilee.”

Interesting new additions to the Saidels ‘repertoire’ is Rambam Bread, named after the Middle Ages Jewish philosopher and Rabbi, Maimonides, who advocated a healthy lifestyle and of special interest to their South African customers – Biltong Bread.

Chew on This

“After many years of experimentation, carefully manipulating the sourdough process and using a secret blend of spices,” says Les, “we finally hit upon the secret formula. There is NO MEAT in this bread. The Biltong taste comes from the combination of sourdough and spices and you taste it, you will react the same way we did after the eureka moment – “OMG this actually tastes like Biltong!”

Like real Biltong, this bread is meant to be nibbled, as a snack. The flavor is very dominant and may be overpowering in a sandwich. “People buy it sliced, ready for munching, or chop it up further into sticks or croutons for use in soups and salads.

Adhering to their health philosophy, Les says, “Our Biltong Bread is organic, has 80% whole grain flour, is high in fiber, low in gluten (over 60% is rye flour), has a low glycemic index, contains no preservatives, chemicals or dough improvers. It is all natural – flour, water, salt, malt, molasses, sourdough yeast and all natural spices (no MSG – that is a swear word in our bakery). Only 55 calories a slice – one slice is very filling, you won’t need more than one.”

Finally, says Les, “It is the perfect, delicious snack to nibble on that is actually GOOD for you!

Gods Food

Eating healthily today means enjoying a hearty, healthy breakfast and this includes enjoying Israel’s hearty breads.

In the sixties, ‘bread’ was hippy slang for ‘money’. As food, the doughy stuff has long been considered “the staff of life” and in Isaiah 55:10 we read:

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater.”

As the ‘Joburg’ ladies might say:  “This bread is divine!”

* Red Alert! Do you grow your own Tomatoes?

If so, to learn more about “Pruning Tomato Plants for a Bigger Harvest”, log onto the experts Happy DIY Home at:  https://happydiyhome.com/pruning-tomato-plants/


If you wish to learn more about:

How to Grow Roma Tomatoes – The complete Guide

Published: June 3, 2022 by Jen Stark

Enjoy and good luck!

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).

“Action Stations – All aboard”

Israel’s Hi-Tech Sector Soaring Bringing Palestinians on Board


By David E. Kaplan

This may not be the much touted “deal of the century” but it is Israel’s deal of 2019 – “so far” – and its only March!

Based in Santa Clara California, Nvidia’s acquisition of Mellanox is the “second largest ever” in the Israeli high-tech industry after global behemoth Intel bought Mobileye – the vision-based advanced driver-assistance systems providing warnings for collision prevention and mitigation – in 2017 for $15.3 billion.

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Success Story. Mellanox headquarters in Yokneam in the lower Galilee, Israel. Yokneam is known as Israel’s “Startup Village” because its high-tech hub is surrounded by forest and small communities.

This deal augers well for sustaining Israel’s hi-tech global branding.

Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia, said the company was “excited to unite Nvidia’s accelerated computing platform with Mellanox’s world-renowned accelerated networking platform under one roof to create next-generation datacenter-scale computing solutions.”

Huang said he was “particularly thrilled to work closely with the visionary leaders,” of Israel’s Mellanox “and their amazing people to invent the computers of tomorrow.”

Nvidia will continue investing in local Israeli “excellence and talent,” calling Israel “one of the world’s most important technology centers.”

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Eyeing The Future. A technician works in a Mellanox lab in Yokneam, Israel, March 4, 2019.\ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS

The acquisition will unite two of the world’s leading companies in high performance computing (HPC). Nvidia and Mellanox will together power over 250 of the world’s TOP500 supercomputers and have as customers every major cloud service provider and computer maker.

Nvidia, will pay $6.9 billion cash to acquire Mellanox (MLNX) -twelve years after the Israeli company’s IPO on Nasdaq.

Mellanox develops and sells high-speed communications equipment using InfiniBand and Ethernet technologies.

Billion Dollar Man

Founded in 1999 by its CEO Eyal Waldman, Mellanox surpassed in sales an impressive $1 billion in 2018.

This will be Waldman’s second exit in two decades. He sold the Israeli chip company Galileo Technology Ltd – which he co-founded – to Marvell in 2000 for $2.7 billion. Marvel Technology, like Nvidia, is also based in Santa Clara California.

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California Dreaming. ‘Sailing into the future’ is the design of Nvidia’s Santa Clara headquarters in California. (Courtesy).

A kite boarder and a scuba diver, Waldman, studied electrical engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

Responding why Mellanox is important in this marketplace, Waldman explains:

“So, if you look at the world today, the most important asset or resource on the planet is DATA. A long time ago it was real estate; then it moved to energy and now its data. It is the most important asset people can gather and own; the more data you have, the more powerful you become.”

Eyal Waldman is living testimony!

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In The ‘Genes’. When in Israel, hi-tech visionary Eyal Waldman wears jeans to his Mellanox office in Yokneam.

The Times of Israel describes Waldman as a CEO that is “perpetually in a rush, tends to eat fast food, gets joy from his success but spends as much time as possible with his family.”

Asked to describe himself, “I’m just a normal guy.”

The name “Mellanox”, Waldman reveals, comes from combining the sound of “Xerox” with “Millennium” – because the firm was founded in 1999 – and “Ella”, the name of his wife at the time.

While Nvidia redefined modern computer graphics and sparked the growth of the PC gaming market, Mellanox’s solutions include adapters, switches, software and silicon that accelerate application runtime and maximize business results for a wide range of markets including high-performance computing, enterprise data centers, Web 2.0, cloud, storage, and financial services.

Waldman said the company shares the same vision for accelerated computing – a great fit given our common performance-driven cultures. This combination will foster the creation of powerful technology and fantastic opportunities for our people.”

By ‘people’, Waldman, includes Palestinians as Mellanox is one of several companies with Palestinian employees in the West Bank and Gaza, a source of pride for the firm.

I think a lot of employees became millionaires overnight, and I’m very proud of that. In Israel and in the Palestinian territories, we have employees in Gaza, Rawabi, Nablus, Hebron who also have Mellanox shares, and I think we will all benefit from this sale,” Waldman told Israel’s Channel 12.

The word is out: Working together is “a win-win for all”.

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Six Billion Dollar Smile. Mellanox CEO Eyal Waldman (left) is beaming as he shakes on the deal with Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia.

Building Bridges

We need engineers for high-level programming and together with the Palestinians we can build a large Silicon Valley for the Middle East,” said David Slama, senior director for Palestinian Authority activities at Mellanox Technologies. “We’re missing talent that the Palestinians have on their side. Together we can build a bridge that develops great products for the whole world.”

Instead of outsourcing abroad for engineers, Slama says Israeli companies should look no further than the Palestinian Authority areas, noting that some 3,000 Palestinian information and communication technology graduates enter the market each year.

Setting an example, Mellanox and ASAL – a software and IT services outsourcing company based in Ramallah that employs some 250 technical experts around the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – began cooperating at the start of the decade. Mellanox was among the first Israeli companies to outsource to Palestinian software developers in the West Bank and Gaza. Today, more than 120 Palestinian engineers and software developers work for Mellanox.

Pulsating Palestine

Addressing the elephant in the room – namely the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – Tahboub says “it is not a social stigma” to work with Israeli companies. “On the contrary,” he asserts

“Political news is not only what the Palestinian people are all about. We want to have an export-oriented economy based on knowledge and innovation. This is our biggest vision. Innovation, technology and entrepreneurship is the way for the future,” he says. The latest Palestinian Mellanox employees are based out of the Rawabi Tech Hub, in Rawabi, the first planned city built for and by Palestinians in the West Bank, just 20 kilometers outside Jerusalem.

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Roaring Rawabi. Palestinian Mellanox employees are based out of the Rawabi Tech Hub, in Rawabi, the first planned city built for and by Palestinians in the West Bank. Over $1.4 billion has been invested in the city by developer and Palestinian businessman Bashar Masri.

Rawabi is in the middle between Tel Aviv and the Jordanian capital of Amman. “It could absolutely be a hub for innovation not just serving the Israeli and Palestinian markets, but serving the whole region,” asserts Tahboub.

Behind the high-tech “Rawabi City” – Palestine’s first planned city – is Palestinian entrepreneur, visionary, and property developer Bashar Masri who is also the founder and Chairman of the Board of Massar International.

Massar’ is an Arabic word meaning “path” and symbolizes the vision of its founder – to create a company that would successfully link the very best of local professionalism in Palestine with international standards.

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Men On The Move. Looking to plot Palestine trajectory into a prosperous future are CEO of Wataniya Palestine Mobile Telecommunication Public Shareholding Company, Dr. Durgham Maree ( left) and Bashar Al Masri (right) in the new city of Rawabi in the West Bank, June 2018. Courtesy

Says Al Masri:

 “We are relying on our historic enemy, Israel, to be our best friend in moving forward. Israel is riding high. Israel is a super-advanced country. If we piggyback on their economy, I hope they will benefit, and they will benefit, and we stand to benefit exponentially. It’s a win-win situation for all of us.”



The Israel Brief – 11-14 March 2019


The Israel Brief – 11 March 2019 – Air Ethiopia crash. Netanyahu warns Hamas. Wonder Woman schools Bibi.



The Israel Brief – 12 March 2019 – Tension on Temple Mount. WJC Congress take on UN. Gantz to address AIPAC.



The Israel Brief – 13 March 2019 – Identities of 2 Israelis killed in plane crash. IDF discover Hizbollah cell. Gal Gadot schools Labor and UAE Minister says Netanyahu statement racist.



The Israel Brief – 14 March 2019 -ZAKA still waiting to recover remains in Ethiopia. Shurat HaDin takes on Icelandic Eurovision entrant. USA eliminates the word “occupied” from State Dept. Report