The Israel Brief- 10-13 February 2020


The Israel Brief – 10 February 2020 – Netanyahu threatens large scale operation in Gaza. Abbas at the UN. Israel to meet Saudi?




The Israel Brief – 11 February 2020 – Palestinian UN flop. Hamas leader fears assassination. Did Likud app leak vital info?



The Israel Brief – 12 February 2020 – Showdown at UN. Qatar Former PM says there may be a regional non aggression pact. Hamas and Netanyahu trade blows.




The Israel Brief – 13 February 2020 – UN blacklist. UAE want Israeli investment. Israelis not allowed off Diamond Princess Cruise liner.






My journey as an Olah (Immigrant)

By Justine Friedman

To make Aliyah in the literal sense of the world is a process of going up. Going up from a place that would assume to be on a “lower level” up to the land of Israel which is therefore assumed to be on a “higher level”. And while this is true for the most part, and I imagine the ultimate result will be one of ascension, this process of going up sometimes feels a lot like a long slide down a snake in a game of snakes and ladders.

I may still be very fresh and green in this process as I have only recently arrived from South Africa in November of 2019, but already I see a trend that I can imagine will continue to emerge no matter how long the period from my actual date of Aliyah.

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Living in the land of Israel still feels quite surreal. I can’t believe I am actually here. I feel that from the time my husband and I decided to start the process towards making this monumentous change in our lives until today, that there was always another force at work ensuring that once we got on board that Aliyah train there was not a single exit stop on the way until we disembarked at Ben Gurion airport.

All olim (immigrants) have their own story to tell and some sound and seem more glamorous than others; but the truth at the end of the day is that we all want to be here and we all miss and mourn the loss of what we have left behind. No matter where in the world you have come from, what we gain has come at the cost of a loss as well.

For me one of my biggest losses was walking away from the private practice I had built up over 17 years in Johannesburg as a dietician. I had just started giving more talks and using coaching in sessions to help my clients with the skills and tools they needed to make lasting lifestyle and behavioural changes. With the ability to work online I am so lucky to still be able to connect and help some of my clients. However, to practice in Israel I need to convert my degree and sit an exam. Imagine after 20 years going back and studying an entire syllabus all over again! So each day, I sit down with my new brand of coffee and my water from my mehadrin water machine and tackle the next chapter of nutrition.

As I slowly settle into a new home, culture, language, grocery store, foods, driving on the opposite side of the road, medical system, the list goes on… my desire for the familiar screams out to me. Having a sense of humour is definitely a priority when countless times I have to remind myself which side of the car to get into if I want to be the driver. The first few times I reached for my seat belt over the wrong shoulder and every time I am in the passenger seat it feels weird that I can’t look up at the rear view mirror and see what is behind me.

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Waze (the GPS navigation app) has become my best friend.  I really don’t know how people made Aliyah before this incredible app existed. A small victory for me is when I am able to get from one point to another without needing to use this super intelligent driving buddy!

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If I can reflect on the last 3 months my highlights have been davening  (praying) at the Kotel (Wailing Wall) , seeing our container drive up to our front door and offloading our possessions from home, receiving my permanent Teudat Zehut (identity card), receiving my Israeli drivers licence and my children finally telling me that they are enjoying being here and that it is starting to feel like home.

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I know I have a long way to go.  A doctor recently told me, after 25 years I will feel settled, but I am so grateful to be where I am with the incredible community of olim (immigrants) around me who make friends feel like family. There is a process to the rungs up this ladder of Aliyah that I need to climb and I will learn to embrace the slides down the snakes as well because in my heart I know that I am finally home.


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Justine Friedman (nee Aginsky) made aliyah from Johannesburg, South Africa in November 2019 with her husband and their two children. In Johannesburg she was a successful clinical dietician, coach and speaker who ran her own private practice for 17 years. Justine is passionate about helping people, and women in particular, achieve greater degrees of health in their mind, body and soul. She achieves this with her own blend of a holistic approach which includes nutrition, skills and tools for improving thoughts and healing emotions and energy healing which includes visualisations, meditation and hypnosis. All consultations that she offers can be done both face to face or online. She is based in Modi’in and loves the challenges and successes that living in Israel has to offer.



Feature Picture – Credit : RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS


Delight in Diversity

Israel is a country of minorities and this will show again on stage at 2020 Eurovision

By David E. Kaplan

Following her win in Hakokhav Haba (The Next Star) aired on Israel’s Channel 12 with the  Beyoncé’s mega-hit Halo, 19-year-old Eden Alene will be the first Israeli of Ethiopian descent to represent the state of Israel at the Eurovision Song Contest – watched by over 180 million –  when she takes to the stage this May in Rotterdam.

Hands Up. Victory for Eden Alene, Israel’s 2020 Eurovision representative and winner of the reality show “The Next Star” during the final in Neve Ilan studio near Jerusalem on February 4, 2020. (Shlomi Cohen/Flash90)

There have been other Israeli FIRSTS for minorities in the Eurovision Song Competition. In 2009, singer Mira Awad, an Arab represented Israel together with Jewish singer Achinoam Nini with their entry that had a message – There must be another way.  The lyrics did not reveal what that “other way” should be, but merely representing their country together – on stage – was already indicating their “way”.

Israel won its first Eurovision way back in 1978 with Izhar Cohen, the first entry of an Israeli of Yemenite descent, and in 1998, Dana International, who won the coveted competition with “Diva”. Dana is a transgender singer who identifies as female.

Diversity is ingrained in Israel’s DNA as sometimes frustratingly exposed in Israeli elections where there are 17 parties represented in the Knesset and another 30 parties contesting to join them.

Is it any wonder there were no results in the two elections in 2019 and the Israeli electorate is going back to the polls for a third election soon dreading that there might be a fourth!

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The Face Of Israel. To represent her country at the 2020 Eurovision Song Competition, Eden Alene.

On becoming the first Israeli of Ethiopian descent chosen to represent the country at Eurovision, Eden told Channel 12’s Nadav Bornstein following her victory, that “This is my country, and it is amazing that an Ethiopian will represent the country for the first time.”

Alene was raised in Jerusalem’s Katamon neighborhood by a single mother who immigrated from Ethiopia, and later moved with her family to Kiryat Gat. Said her mother Zehava, “Eden represents pride for all Ethiopians. Everyone is behind her, supporting her and loving her.”

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Mother And Daughter. An emotional Eden Alene hugs her mother Zehava, after she was announced the winner of ‘HaKochav Haba,’ making her Israel’s representative to the 2020 Eurovision (Courtesy HaKochav Haba)

Road To Rotterdam

My poor mother, she had a hard time taking it in. She collapsed in my arms,” Alene said on the Chadshot Haboker (The Morning News) show.

It was all too evident onstage as Eden, surrounded by judges, presenters and other contestants, clutched a small Israeli flag under her arm while she wrapped her other arm around her mother and hugged her tight. Singing again as the winner that will take her to the 2020 Eurovision in Rotterdam, her perfect voice suddenly broke slightly, as she looked into her mother’s eyes.

It has clearly been a long road for this mother and daughter pair.

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Singing Her Heart Out. Eden Alene, winner of the 2020 “The Next Star to Eurovision.” Photo by Shlomi Cohen/FLASH90

On hearing the name Eden over and over again as the present pride of the Ethiopian community in Israel, I thought back to another Ethiopian young woman by the same first name – Eden – who I had interviewed some years ago as a 26 year-old-student at the IDC Disciplinary center Herzliya.

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Making Of A Star. Alene performing at Israel’s 70th Independence Day at Karmiel in 2018.

Eden Senai was one of the many in the mass ‘exodus’ of Ethiopian Jews rescued by Israel from Ethiopia as part of Operation Solomon. She arrived in Israel aged six in 1989 with her mother.

A diminutive child, Eden’s journey ‘out of Africa’ was almost entirely on her mother’s back. She relates a traumatic experience when they were robbed by brigands on route to the Sudan. “They started shooting and threatened to kill us, but my mother pleaded for our lives and somehow, they let us go.” Arriving in the Sudan, they fell under the protection of a rebel militia.

For four months while we waited for the trucks to fetch us, I was separated from my mother and the rest of the Jews. My mother was insistent; she felt that if the camp was attacked, at least I might survive.”

When the trucks finally arrived, “we climbed in and they covered us with straw in case we were stopped and searched. They drove us by night to the plane which brought us to Israel.” Arriving in Israel, “I was diagnosed as suffering with malaria and the doctors thought I had little chance of surviving.”

Eden survived!

The name Eden – in Hebrew עֵדֶן – is derived from the Biblical Garden of Eden, meaning ‘delight’ in the book of Genesis. Like the older Eden who is today in all probability a successful practicing lawyer, Eden Alene  today is a young lady with a future of music before her.  When she takes to the international stage  for the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam on May 16, Eden will have turned 20 only 9 nine days earlier!

With “delight”  being in the meaning of her name, Eden has been delighting listeners in public since “she was in nursery school,” says her mother and later, “at an elementary school talent show.” Today, Eden is a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces and is no novice to winning big competitions.  In 2018, she won Israel’s “X-Factor” reality TV show.

And while dikes hold water back in Holland, nothing holds Eden back as she heads for Rotterdam!





Feature Picture: Eden Alene (Photo – Ortal Dahan).

Southern Hope

By Gina Raphael

There has been every opportunity for Gaza to become its own version of the “Start-Up Nation” like Israel, with blooming agriculture and beautiful beaches.  

When Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005, the farmers of the Gush Katif area (approximately 20 communities with almost 10,000 residents) were responsible for 15 percent of Israel’s agricultural exports. With love, they literally made the sand dunes bloom. The opportunity existed to expand upon this richness when Israel left the Gaza Strip. Instead, the Strip has become an area of misery, despair and hatred.

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Some Other Days – Anita Tucker standing in her greenhouse in Gush Katif.

Hamas, which has been recognized as a terrorist organization by the US, Canada and the EU, has run the Gaza strip for more than a decade, beginning shortly after the disengagement. They have misused donations meant for human aid to enrich their leaders, built terror tunnels to infiltrate Israel, used schools and hospitals as cover to shoot missiles, and have sent explosive balloons across the border to Israel to harm children. Hamas denies their people basic human rights including freedom of speech. Children are taught in schools to hate and to kill.

Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border
Only For Distruction – Overview of a tunnel built underground by Hamas militants leading from the Gaza Strip into Southern Israel (Ilia Yefimovich—Getty Images)

On an almost weekly basis, Hamas has sent rioters including children to the border with Israel, hoping for them to be shot and provide negative media coverage against Israel.  The cycle of violence and hatred has basically gone unchecked by the public. Gaza has almost two million residents who live under this tyrannical existence. And, Israel on the other side is affected constantly from these attacks.

Where is the outrage against Hamas and the other terrorist organizations operating in the region in addition to the funders of this terrorism for over a decade? We continue to hope for real change and a positive outcome for so many.

We can only advocate and bring light to the truth of the horrors of Hamas.  And, we can work to make a difference in Israel. We can find ways to help those in harm’s way and say thank you to those who keep us safe.

This January, I had the opportunity to meet with Mayor Alon Davidi of Sderot who lives with his family and a community of over 28,000 – literally one mile from the border with Gaza. They have been a target of constant barrage of rockets.

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An Officer And A Gentleman – Mayor Alon Davidi with IDF officers (Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

I am so honoured to be part of The Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO), who provide rocket proof day care centers and therapy to those affected by PTSD from the constant attacks in Sderot. Not only is Sderot surviving, under the leadership of Mayor Davidi – they are thriving. They continue to build their community despite attacks of Qassam Rockets and mortars from the Gaza Strip.

Warm Welcome To Special Guests – Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi welcomes a WIZO delegation to his town.

Last month, I also began fulfilling a promise made during the summer of 2019 to an American Soldier serving in the IDF to provide extra assistance to soldiers who face challenges. Unity Warriors, founded by Ben Goldstein, distributes supplies in addition to those provided by the IDF and extra items that are often too expensive for the soldiers to provide for themselves.

Hope For Peace – The Author with Ben Goldstein , founder of Unity Warriors, on Gaza Border

We decided to bring a gift of high-power flashlights to a battalion of soldiers serving at the Gaza border, a small token to help them see more clearly when they patrol the area at night.

The highlight of my trip was bringing these much needed suppliers of light and thanking these soldiers who fulfill their duty in keeping Israel safe. Day by day they ensure that those of us who live in Israel and in the diaspora will always have a safe haven.

Viewing Gaza – Author with soldiers viewing Gaza from a border line settlement.

These soldiers face a reality every day at the border that is hard to understand. They do this with grace, dignity and honour amid explosive balloons, missiles, terrorist attacks and civilians looking to flee the misery of Hamas, living in sparse conditions.

I came to thank the soldiers, but they came to thank me. They thanked me for visiting and listening to their stories about their life at the border and their hopes for the future. They inspired me so and gave me a gift of badges of the Israeli flag. Together we got to share our pride of Israel.

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Means It All – Modest tokens that filled the hearts with joy

It was beyond meaningful to walk the border at Gaza and deliver my own prayer for peace for the future.  On the site, I visited “Path to Peace,” a mosaic wall created by thousands who share the same vision. While we stand strong against hatred, we work towards and pray for peace and love.

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Great Hopes – Path to peace in Netiv Ha’Asara

As we literally brought light to the soldiers, we pray for the light of justice to make a difference in Gaza.



Want to donate to Unity Warriors? Check out the link below:

The Israel Brief- 03-06 February 2020


The Israel Brief – 03 February 2020 – Abbas threatens to cut ties with Israel and US. Netanyahu in Uganda. Red Hot Chilli Peppers to rock Tel Aviv.




The Israel Brief – 04 February 2020 – Productive trip to Africa for Netanyahu. Hamas threaten to use tear gas. Israel sends aid to China to help with Corona crisis.




The Israel Brief – 05 February 2020 – Israeli children run for shelter from terror balloons. Israelis on quarantined ship. Hamas smugglers caught. 




The Israel Brief – 06 February 2020 – 3Terror attacks in one day. Abbas and Olmert to hold joint press conference. Kirk Douglas 1916-2020.




The WINA Rob Shilling Show – 05 February 2020 – Rolene Marks talks about the Trump Plan and other issues (18:40min – 35:40min).

Hollywood, Hebrew, Holy Land

Winning a Golden Globe, Quentin Tarantino is Glowing– and expecting his first child in Tel Aviv

By David E. Kaplan

While most Israelis sigh over having to be subjected to a ‘ho-hum’ third election in less than one year, Tel Aviv’s celebrated new resident, Quentin Tarantino jokes, saying:

 “I wish we had a third election in the US. Unfortunately there was only one.”

Married to Israeli singer/model, Daniella Pick, who is pregnant with their first child, Tarantino told the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot  following his 2020 Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay for his movie ‘Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood’,

he not only feels “at home” in Tel Aviv; but  “this really is my home now.”

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Dynamite Duo. Quentin Tarantino and Daniella Pick attend the “Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood” U.K. premiere in London, July 30, 2019. (Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty Images)

And when the occasion arises, the award-winning director enjoys breaking into basic Hebrew. Hardly short of such ‘occasions’, so when accepting from the Beverly Hills Hilton in Los Angeles his Golden Globe, he thanked his wife who was watching the ceremony on television from Tel Aviv with:

 “Toda geveret,” meaning “Thanks, Mrs.” in Hebrew.

The birth of his baby, he says, “will inspire him to learn more.  “Obviously, I’m going to learn. I don’t want my boy or girl to speak a language I can’t understand.”

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Tying The Knot. Quentin Tarantino and Daniella Pick exchange vows in a private wedding ceremony.

‘The writing is on the wall’ literally for Tarantino because hanging in his new Israeli home in north Tel Aviv are posters in Hebrew of his movies “Reservoir Dogs”, “Inglorious Bastards”, “Django Unchanged” and “The Hateful Eight”.

Tarantino’s first connection to Israel changed his life and is introducing a new one. How so? It was when Tarantino was promoting ‘Inglorious Bastards” in Israel 10 years ago that he met his future  – now pregnant – wife who is the daughter of the famous Israeli pop singer/songwriter, composer and television personality Svika Pick.

Tarantino and Pick got engaged in July 2017 and tied the knot in November 2018 in an intimate ceremony at their Beverly Hills home.

When he was asked at the time about his daughter’s engagement to the famous director, Daniella’s dad who was  ‘Israel’s Male Singer of the Year’ in the 1970s and penned the song which won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998, replied, “There is joy in our family.”

Well in a few months’ time there will be more joy.

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Cozy In Cannes. Quentin Tarantino and Daniella Pick were the epitome of true love as they cozied up at The Specials premiere during the Cannes Film Festival.

While it may be hard to imagine Tarantino – whose films tend to spotlight dark violence and bizarre quirks – as a stay-at-home dad, he told Jimmy Kimmel on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that was precisely his “plan”.

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Picture Perfect. Poster of Tarantino’s latest movie for which he won a 2020 Globe Award.

Asked by Kimmel if he was going to play golf, the director said, “I just got married, I want to have kids.” Maybe Tarantino did his homework in family planning too! According to a 2015 survey Israel is one of the best countries in the world to raise a family. InterNations, the world’s largest network for people who live and work as expats abroad, ranked Israel third on their list of 19 countries for raising a family.

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Time Out In Tel Aviv. Daniella Pick and Quintin Tarantino catch a cuddle on sidewalk bench in Tel Aviv.

With the couple living much of the time at their new home in north Tel Aviv, Tarantino says  “I have some short trips back to the US planned for the Oscar awards ceremony. And of course, we’ll be here for the birth and after.”

His new life includes riding his bike around Tel Aviv, going to movies and says, “I love the country and the people are really nice, very nice to me and they seem excited that I’m here.”

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Capital Screening. Attending a special screening in Israel’s capital of a documentary about his work at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Dec. 14, 2019, Quentin Tarantino and wife Daniella. (Photo: Courtesy/Shaul Weinstein)


To a question of any concerns about missiles fired from the Gaza Strip, he replies “I’m not scared at all. Like everyone else here, I don’t really notice it.”

Clearly, very few foreigners do.

In its list of top 20 destinations for 2020, Forbes Travel Guide placed Tel Aviv the 2nd best city to visit in the world.

Maybe one day inspired by his new enriching surroundings we can expect not only more kids but a sequel:

 “Once Upon A Time …in Tel Aviv”





Feature picture: American filmmaker and actor Quentin Tarantino in Jerusalem. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

President’s Peace Plan

A Time To Discuss And Negotiate Rather Than Reject

By Allan Wolman

Claiming that the world rejects the Trump peace plan is indeed misleading but in line with the type of biased journalism of those determined to contribute to the vilification of the Jewish State; lying seems to come naturally to some journo’s and commentators given what they claim about the support or rather lack thereof for this latest peace plan.

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Pursuing Peace. President Trump unveils his Mideast peace plan with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his side, but regrettably with no Palestinian representative in attendance at the White House on Jan. 28, 2020. (Sarah Silbiger / Getty Image)

Apart from Israel, the following countries have so far demonstrated support for the US Administration’s plan are Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, I.K., India, Oman, Italy, Brazil, Poland, Australia, Austria, Egypt, Columbia, Morocco, Denmark, Japan and Czech Republic.

Publicly playing support were the ambassadors from Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates who attended the unveiling of the President’s plan frequently referred to as the “Deal of the Century.” Their attendance was seen as a warming of ties between the Arab world and Israel.

However, no surprise that Palestine, Turkey, Venezuela and Iran are openly against it.

Whilst I am no supporter of the US president and in fact thought that the press conference at the unveiling of the peace initiative was contrived and somewhat embarrassing – not withstanding my personal view – this “deal” is certainly a refreshing beginning to negotiations that could result in a real and lasting peace settlement. Of course, that would depend on the Palestinian leadership agreeing to sit down to discuss and negotiate, as many of her brethren across the Middle East have urged.

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Game-Changer Not Playing Games. Kushner tells Egyptian TV Peace Plan aims to block settlements expansion.

As US envoy Jared Kushner told the Egyptian MBC Masr network in an interview, “If the Palestinians don’t like where the line is drawn, they should come and tell us where they want to draw it.” Further expressing to the Egyptian anchor Amr Adib, Kushner continued that “If the leaders of the Palestinians want to do what is best for their people, I think they will read the plan. They should come to the table, sit with the Israelis and say: ‘Look, We appreciate the gesture you have made. There are some major compromises [in the plan] you have never made before. These are the four or five or six things that we would like you to consider changing. And if you do this, you have a deal.’ That is how people who are ready to have a state make deals,” Kushner said.

However, in line with Palestinian intractability, the plan was rejected even before unveiled!

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OutRAGEious. Palestinians protest as smoke rises from burning tires before the announcement by US President Donald Trump of his Middle East peace plan [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

The knee jerk reaction from that leadership optimizes the stubborn and corrupt leadership of the Palestinians where the masses have certainly not reacted as violently as expected and in fact the ‘silent majority’ have indeed shown a certain willingness to see where the proposals could lead to. Of course organizations like the BDS, Media Review Network, UNHRC and the Arab League vented their rejection without considering the people most affected by this plan, especially the future wellbeing of the Palestinian people, who too frequently are a political tool of the political agendas of others.

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Antisemitism as a counter action to a Peace plan BDS South Africa posts antisemitic cartoon in response to peace plan

All their efforts are channeled at the destruction of Israel and the Palestinians are simply a convenient platform to achieve this aim. In an ideal world, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would have been resolved, peace secured and the Jew haters – disguised as anti-Zionists – would have had to dig even more deep to come up with other initiatives to further their cause.

American law professor and civil libertarian, Alan Dershowitz, recently asked an audience to consider where were the concerned liberals during the Cambodian, Rwandan, Darfur and Congolese genocides and where are they today with the unfolding genocides in Myanmar, Yemeni and Syria in full view of the world? The simple answer: These liberal folks including the UNHCR, ICC, BDS and others are all too busy castigating Israel than being bothered with the genocide of millions of people. Indeed, many millions of people mercilessly slaughtered and not one single country or human rights bodies not only did / do nothing about such vile acts but hardly voiced any objections in world forums to such carnage. No, the most important item on their agendas was malicious defamation of the only democracy in the Middle East.

Isn’t that more important than a few million people including women and children being slaughtered?

This must raise questions as to the morality of such people who would level their focus at denigrating a country whose human rights record, democratic institution’s, an independent judiciary, a free press and gender equality is not only without equal in the region but can stand head and shoulders with any free country in world. Yet all these attributes fade into oblivion in the face of rubbishing Israel at every and any opportunity.

Where is the ANC so quick to downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel but at the same time have visions of being a peacemaker? Rich indeed given the ongoing hostility that they perpetuate against Israel and digest the fake news and lies being bandied about by those driven by hate. Not surprising given the ANC degeneration into racial ideology having abandoned the vision of racial equality and unity of Nelson Mandela.

The real tragedy is the timing of the “peace deal” debate coming hard on the heels of the two international gatherings one in Jerusalem on World Holocaust Remembrance Day and the other at the site of the infamous Auschwitz death camp commemorating the liberation of that camp. At both events the rise of anti-Semitism took centre stage with world leaders together with Holocaust survivors highlighting this scourge and warning just how today’s hatred could so easily become a repetition of past genocides.

Will world leaders sit up and listen and more importantly will they do anything to counteract this plague?

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Parading Hatred. Despicable display of modern antisemitism when a parade float at the Aalst Carnaval in Belgium featuring caricatures of Orthodox Jews atop money bags in March 3, 2019. (Courtesy of FJO, via JTA)

Events in Belgium last year where caricatures of Jews formed part of a carnival float procession through the main streets elicited hardly any censure form officialdom in that country, with some mielie-mouthed explanation of freedom of speech and expression.

Is that the way countries are going to combat ant-Semitic expression?



About the author:

Birds of a feather4Allan Wolman is a recent immigrant to Israel from South Africa. Matriculating from Parktown Boys high School in Johannesburg, in 1967, he joined 1200 young South Africans to volunteer to work on agricultural settlements in Israel during the Six Day War. After spending year in Israel, he returned to South Africa where he met and married Jocelyn Lipschitz. The couple have three sons. Allan ran one of the oldest travel agencies in Johannesburg – Rosebank Travel which he still runs together with his son in Johannesburg.


*Feature Picture: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

Mixed Messages From HRH

By LA, California correspondent Regina Raphael

Charles, The Prince of Wales, addressed world leaders on the 75thanniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Israel on January 23rd 2019. I was most moved by the words of HRH that we must be fearless in confronting falsehoods and resolute in resisting words and acts of violence.”

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PRINCE VISITS ISRAEL AND THIS TIME IT’S “OFFICIAL. HRH Prince Charles speaks during the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem on Jan. 23, 2020. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

Given this strong and powerful message, I was surprised and disappointed with his words spoken and message conveyed during visit with Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, the very next day in Bethlehem.

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Improving Ties. Prince Charles (L) shakes hands with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the presidential residence in Jerusalem, ahead of a meeting of the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on January 23, 2020. (AFP)

The “falsehoods” that he called out the day prior are the ones that emanate from the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Abbas is currently in the 15th year of a 4-year elected term. He serves unchecked as a dictator without any accountability. He terrorizes his own people with limited freedom of speech and arrests those that associate with Jews or sells property to them.

Under his leadership, Christians now make up less than 2 percent of the population in Bethlehem once a dominant Christian community. The Christians are subjected to discrimination and suffer great difficulty living in Bethlehem.

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Prince And The PA President. The Prince of Wales meets President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem. (Photo: Julian Simmonds/The Daily Telegraph/PA Wire)

Mr. Abbas has operated unfettered with mismanagement of monies provided. Billions of dollars in aid from the US, EU and several other donor countries has flowed to Mr. Abbas. A lack of accountability and transparency from the Palestinian Authority has deprived Palestinians of a significant part of the funds.

Only after a public outcry of money wasted has the recently built  $13mn Presidential Palace – that included helipads, guest quarters and administrative offices  4,700 square metres (50590.38 sq./feet) – been decided to be used “a national library” instead, according to the Palestinian Minister of Culture,  Ihab Bseiso.

A $13mn library with helipads?

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The House That Abbas Built. Following criticism of the newly constructed opulent $13 million President Mahmoud Abbas’ presidential palace near Ramallah, it was declared in August 2017 it would house a national library. This decision was understood in light of mounting public anger on the Palestinian street in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip following revelations of corruption and substantial salary increases of public officials to buy loyalty. (Ameen Rammal/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Beyond corruption, Mr. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have used these funds to encourage violence. It is estimated in 2019 that $149.7 MM went for annual payments to security prisoners, terrorist “martyrs” and their families, encouraging people to kill Jews.

Instead of visiting with Mr. Abbas, I wished he had visited the sights of those killed by Mr. Abbas’ pay for slay program. I was in the region while he was there and made my commitment to bear witness where Ari Fuld (father of four), Dvir Sorek (an 18-year-old Yeshiva student) and teenagers Naftali Frenkel, Gilad  Shaar and Eyal Yifrach were kidnapped at a bus stop and then brutally murdered. I saw young lives taken away simply because they were Jews. Those who murdered them, solely because they were Jews, were paid approximately three times the amount they would have made working a regular job. The ramifications of this ‘Pay to Slay’ program are monumental. I can only imagine what his HRH might do if this program were to take hold in Britain.

When he visited Bethlehem, he spoke there that “It breaks my heart… that we should continue to see so much suffering and division. No one arriving in Bethlehem today could miss the signs of continued hardship and the situation you face.” The suffering is due to the choices made by the Palestinian Authority but does not accurately describe the vibrancy that does exist in many areas.

I also saw those who have made great success in their lives.  I visited towns with Muslims that had thriving industry, large homes and luxury cars.  I saw people that have chosen to focus on success not terror.

I had the honor to hear from Daniel Birnbaum whose company, SodaStream, embodies cooperation across Arabs, Jews & Bedouins to great success. While driven out of this area by those who choose to Boycott, Divest & Sanction Israel, SodaSteam relocated to Rahat and provides a model of coexistence between Jews, Arabs & Bedouins. This is only one example of co-existence.

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SodaStream’s Assembly Line In The Bedouin City Of  Rahat. Forced to close down by the Palestinian Authority that was providing jobs to Palestinians on the West Bank, the $1.5 billion maker of home carbonation devices moved the bulk of its manufacturing to Israel’s largest Bedouin city – Rahat. (RACHEL PAPO FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK)

At a time when anti-Semitic activity is at an all-time high, HRH’s failure to call out Mr. Abbas on his dishonesty and incitement of violence, ignites the flame that encourages hatred. His words do not bring peace but dehumanize and minimize the lives of those brutally murdered.

At every opportunity, including the most recent by President Trump, Mr. Abbas has turned down plans to aid his people and create his own “Start Up Nation.” Mr. Abbas does not seek peace; he acts as a despot and seeks the destruction of the State of Israel.

We praise the Royal family and your Princess Alice’s commitment to Jewish people at a most difficult time. However, at this juncture we must stand strong against hatred and stand firm on values of inherent democracy and decency.



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The author & Mr. Goldstein in Hebron.

Regina Raphael is a business owner in Los Angeles, CA and committed Zionist. Ms. Raphael works closely with Ben Goldstein, a reserve IDF officer and advocate for the State of Israel. The article shares moments from their visit together in late January 2020. Mr. Goldstein lives in the Region.


Who’s Calling Who a “Nasty Little Country”

By Stephen Schulman

A recent OP-ED entitled “South Africa’s emerging Department of Homeland Security” in the Daily Maverick by the Head of the Department of Journalism, Film and Television at the University of Johannesburg, Professor Jane Duncan, opened with the following:

Every sensible person should be horrified at the racist, ethno-nationalist developments over citizenship around the world, notably in the US, Europe, Brazil, India and Israel. We need to ask ourselves – do we really want to join the growing list of nasty little countries that have defined themselves recently according to who they can exclude, repress and marginalise?”

(By Jane Duncan January 2020)

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Jane Duncan is a professor and Head of Department of Journalism, Film and Television at the University of Johannesburg. She is author of ‘Stopping the Spies: Constructing and Resisting the Surveillance State in South Africa’ (Wits University Press, 2018).

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Lay Of The Land publishes hereunder an Open Letter response to the Op-Ed by a former South African  – Stephen Schulman (M.A. in Education), who is today a citizen of Israel.


Dear Jane,

You don’t know me, and actually there is no reason why you should or would want to, since I am living in Israel that in your opinion is one of those “nasty little countries” that “defined themselves recently according to who they can exclude, repress and marginalize”.

Now, dear Jane, while I am not as learned as you (being a professor and all that!), I would, with your kind permission, like to draw your attention to a few pertinent facts.

My “nasty little country” is a true functioning democracy according civil rights to all its citizens irrespective of race or religion. In fact, it is acknowledged as the only one of its kind in the Middle East.

My “nasty little country” has a parliament (called the Knesset) that has representation that even includes parties calling for its very dissolution.

My “nasty little country” has an independent functioning judiciary.

My “nasty little country” allows and guarantees freedom of worship. Jews, Moslems and Christians have their safeguarded places of worship and holy sites. The Baha’i faith, long persecuted in Iran, has a splendid home here. Druze and Circasians as well.

In my “nasty little country” the LGBT community openly lives and functions – as opposed to the rest of the Middle East.

In my “nasty little country” – unlike in yours – you can walk around at all hours without fear of robbery, assault, murder or rape.

In my “nasty little country“, children do walk around freely on the streets – we do not have your reported twice daily kidnappings for ransom, slavery or muti.

In my “nasty little country“, there is freedom of the press and toleration of differing points of view. You are free to express your opinions without looking over your shoulder.

In my “nasty little country” it is possible to take public transport without fear of assault, robbery and hijacking.

In my “nasty little country“, the trains run on time. There is no arson, wholesale burning of coaches, stealing of cables and equipment. The busses run on time as well. You do not fear for your life. On our intercity lines there is no need to worry about being held up by assault rifle armed bandits.

In my “nasty little country“, the electricity supply is stable. The electricity company is not riddled with nepotism, cronyism and corruption, resulting in bankruptcy and inefficiency. We do not have the euphemistically labeled daily “load shedding” that you every day enjoy.

My “nasty little country“, as many others, has its own political/economic refugee problems. However, it does not have the asylum seekers in terror for their own lives from the local population huddling and clustering around church doors for sanctuary.

My “nasty little country” while having its own imperfections – as all counties do – is not ruled by an institutionalized kleptocracy intent on plundering the state coffers with such impunity that a large percentage of the GNP goes into personal pockets at the expense of the impoverished general public.

Dear Jane, there are some nasty little minds with attendant nasty little vision problems clouded with bias, bigotry that find it politically correct to exclude certain countries from their field of view. Consequently, I humbly take it upon myself to enlighten you, a self proclaimed “public intellectual” about some of those that you have chosen to exempt.

China has a horrific human rights record dating from its invasion of and massive resettling of Tibet. It has hounded the Falon Gong sect, incarcerating, torturing, murdering and harvesting the organs of its members. It is currently also incarcerating and relocating Uighur Moslems causing them great suffering. Why is it absent from your list? Is it because that country has huge investments in South Africa, and you do not want to bite the hand that holds the chopsticks that feed you?

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People hold a banner during a protest against China’s human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, calling on U.S. government to take action against Beijing, on April 06, 2019 in Washington, United States. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Turkey under Erdogan has an abysmal record of suppression of the press, persecution of journalists, trampling of freedom of expression and human rights. It has arbitrarily dismissed tens of thousands of teachers and civil servants. You, a proclaimed crusader for freedom of the media, have failed to include it on your list.

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A newsstand in Istanbul in 2018. The Turkish government’s ban on Wikipedia was part of a larger suppression of free expression. (Chris Mcgrath/Getty Images)

Iran is a theocracy, intolerant of dissent that has lately had its peaceful protesters murdered by live fire from its law enforcers. Many of its citizens are imprisoned and have been tortured. This country along with Saudi Arabia holds the world record for the highest number of executions. It exports world terrorism, denies the Holocaust and preaches genocide against Israel – a member of the community of nations.

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Iran executes the most people in the world per capita for crimes which include being gay and drinking alcohol. Not uncommon for the ‘condemned’ to be executed by being hoisted on cranes with nooses around their necks.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Gaza blatantly flaunt human rights and religious freedom. Christians live in fear in Gaza. The once Christian majority in Bethlehem has shrunk to ten percent as many have fled overseas. Journalists are terrorized into toeing the official line.

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Hamas arrests and beats seven journalists covering economic protests in Gaza on February 24, 2019. ( Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

And lest we forget: Saudi Arabia is a member of the same club – a medieval kingdom that with an iron hand suppresses dissent, human rights, religious freedom and practices public floggings and limb amputations. It has chosen to exclude all Moslem refugees, not admitting a single one.

Why your silence on these countries?

Is it because you do not wish your Moslem fellow citizens howling at your door that you are a white racist?

Dear Jane, amongst others, you further failed to include North Korea, Pakistan and Russia. I note that your myopia exempts them too. I find it ironic that you condemn Europe that has taken in millions of refugees, paying a high price in the increase of crime and the burden of social welfare whilst you blithely ignore their brethren in the Gulf States who have closed their doors to them.

In conclusion, I find your words deeply disturbing. Your silence regarding a host of countries that practice “racism and ethno-nationalism” that “exclude, suppress and marginalize” is ominous. Your ethical double standards reek of a flawed morality dictated by a  possibly self-serving current political correctness. For an academic, the “public intellectual”, your bigotry and bias is both blatant and shameful.

Stephen Schulman

Ramat Hasharon





About the writer:

Stephen Schulman, is a graduate of the South African Jewish socialist Youth Movement Habonim, who immigrated to Israel in 1969 and retired in 2012 after over 40 years of English teaching. Stephen, who has a master’s degree in Education, was for many years a senior examiner for the English matriculation and co-authored two English textbooks for the upper grades in high school. Now happily retired, he spends his time between his family, his hobbies and reading to try to catch up on his ignorance.