Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter – 17 July 2020

Unveiling the contours and contrasts of an ever-changing Middle East landscape

Reliable reportage and insightful commentary on the Middle East by seasoned journalists from the region and beyond


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What’s happening in Israel today?  See this week’s daily ‘The Israel Brief’ broadcasts on LOTL  YouTube by seasoned TV & radio broadcaster, Rolene Marks familiar to Chai FM listeners in South Africa and millions of American listeners to the News/Talk/Sports radio station WINA broadcasting out of Charlottesville, Virginia. You can subscribe to LOTL news from Israel and enjoy at a time of your convenience.




Along Came a Hero

He rescued not only lives – but faith in humankind as Arab world mourns Israeli who died saving Bedouin family from drowning

By David. E. Kaplan

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Lifesaver. Michael Ben Zikri leaves long-lasting impact far beyond this lake where he saved lives on July 3, 2020.

When Michael Ben-Zikri drowned from exhaustion after rescuing three Bedouin children and their aunt in a lake in southern Israel, this was only half the story. The other half was the responses across the Arab world.  Not only did Muslims from Saudi ArabiaIraqSyria, Oman, Morocco and Egypt send condolences, but there are calls by local Arab politicians to name streets in Arab towns after this brave Israeli. Can Ben Zikri emerge as “a symbol of co-existence”?



Mending a Broken Heart

By Rolene Marks


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Salvation Saga. Finally safe, Eritrean refugee mother “S” with her two children at a WIZO shelter in Israel.

The saga of a young Eritrean woman’s perilous journey 10 years ago from Eritrea at age 16 to Israel, then fleeing for her life with her young children from domestic abuse to a WIZO shelter and then undergoing life-saving heart surgery during the height of the Corona pandemic at Sha’arei Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem, is testimony to the unique services of the Women’s International Zionist Organization being on the frontline in helping non-Jewish refugees in Israel.



The Jewish Double Standard in Action

Evil of One Kind Denounced, Evil of Another Given a Pass

By Jake Donnelly

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Posting Online Hate. Philadelphia Eagles condemn social media anti-Semitic posts by its star wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

Following on-line anti-Semitic posts by star NBA footballers, an American broadcast journalist explores why “when Jews see something bad, racist, or evil, they join in the fury and call it out,” however “when something antisemitic occurs, there is little by way of resulting uproar.” Exposing this “Jewish double standard”, the writer cautions that failure to address this ‘double standard’ is accelerating contemporary anti-Semitism.



The Arab Voice – July 2020

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Arab writers from the Middle East and beyond opine on a range of issues from the impact of former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s “bombshell” book on the Trump presidency, to what history can teach about sanctions on Iran and the escalating decline of Lebanon.




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