Fabulous Phyllis

Lifetime volunteer for Israel and WIZO turns 100

By Martine Maron Alperstein

Seven months after the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) celebrated its centennial at a conference in January 2020 in Tel Aviv attended by leaders of Jewish communities from 40 countries around the world,  one of its devoted volunteers turned 100.

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Family Ties. Phyllis with her daughter Devorah (right), and granddaughter Simone (Left) at Protea Village, Israel.

Born on the 29th July 1920 in Glasgow, Phyllis (Wolf) Lader moved to Newcastle with her husband Benni Lader in 1940 and then to Bournemouth where she raised her family. At the tender age of 90, Phyllis made aliyah to Protea Village – a retirement home in a rural setting in central Israel. It was to this scenic spot where we visited her just a week after her 100th birthday.

Love it. Love it. Love it….. They are all mine,” says Phyllis as she gazes lovingly at a photo of her children, 23 grandchildren, 95 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great-grandchildren.

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Letter from the Queen. Queen Elizabeth congratulates Phyllis on turning 100.

Phyllis is an absolute delight and a force of nature. She came shooting down in her motorized scooter, burning up the sidewalk. She was moving so fast that her helper could not keep up and was almost running behind. I was so expecting to see mag wheels and racing stripes. Once she’d applied brakes and come to a gentle (!!) stop, she smiled and her whole face lit up.

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On The Move. Still “driving” at 100, Phyllis Lader with Rolene Marks (L) and the author, Martine Maron Alperstein (R) 

Phyllis grew up surrounded by WIZO chaverot. She relayed stories of garden parties, coffee mornings and other WIZO related events. Her mother would knit feral sweaters in pastels for the summer and fall colours for the winter that were donated to WIZO to be sold to raise funds. She would also donate a very special white sweater to be used as a raffle prize. The WIZO chaverot were fiercely Zionistic and worked to support Jewish women and children in Palestine. Glasgow at the time had a very large Jewish community that was centered around 12 different Synagogues. On a Wednesday, her mother took her to the Board of Guardian’s soup kitchen in a very poor part of Glasgow where they helped to feed Jewish refugees who had fled Europe. Every day was something else. Wednesday was soup kitchen, Thursday was a clothing and boots bazaar. Everyone helped. No Jew went hungry.

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The Phyllis Files. All you ever wanted to know – and more – about Phyllis.

Over the years, Phyllis spent time as both the WIZO chapter co-chairman and the secretary. Her daughter remembers the dining room table would always be covered in WIZO logoed paper.  Women’s week was an annual event where the chaverot would go door to door, educating about WIZO work and projects, and raising money for the women and children in Palestine. At 42, 4 older kids and very involved with both WIZO and Emunah, she discovered she was pregnant. But even a young baby did not hold Phyllis back. Baby Sharon attended committee meetings, events, coffee mornings and was pushed door to door in her pram while Phyllis went about collecting donations.

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Star Centenarian. Celebrating 100 Years of WIZO (1920-2020) a timespan share by the women’s organization star volunteer, Phyllis Lader.

To celebrate her Silver Wedding Anniversary, Phyllis flew to Israel for a 3 week tour with WIZO. Her husband did not like to fly, so she filled the freezer and came on her own while he stayed in Bournemouth and took care of their 5 kids. Phyllis and the chaverot spent a week in Haifa, a week in Herzlia and a week in Jerusalem, spending time with the group and visiting various WIZO projects around the country. In Haifa, she broke away from the group, deciding to explore a bit on her own and low and behold what did she discover??? A WIZO shop. She was so excited and would not leave without buying something. She bought a gorgeous amber ring which she loved for all the right reasons and is now worn affectionately by her granddaughter, Simone.

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Ring True. A gorgeous amber ring purchased at the WIZO Haifa store today worn lovingly by her granddaughter, Simone.

Phyllis’s message to the younger women of today, is get involved, give of yourself and of your time. Charity is not only about money, it is about doing. Helping and enabling someone who is mentally, physically or financially challenged, is priceless. You change their lives by helping them in whatever way they need, and you can. It is a team effort and every part, every effort, every gesture big or small, is valuable and makes a difference.

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Full Bodied and Smooth. Phyllis is a perfect example of a single malt.

Corona virus has forced us all to pause, take a look at our lives and think carefully about what is important and meaningful. Take the time to appreciate the flowers.

Places to go! Things to do! Turning 100 has not slowed Phyllis down!

About the writer:

Martine Maron Alperstein.jpgMartine Maron Alperstein Chairman of WIZO Modi’in English Speakers, made aliyah from Cape Town 21yrs ago. She currently resides in Modiin with her husband, kids and kitty cats.

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

The Arab Voice – August 2020

In this week’s media roundup of the Arab world, Arab writers from Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, opine on the story dominating international news – The Blast in Beirut.

 

Experience is the Teacher of fools

By Rafiq Khoury

Nida Al-Watan, Lebanon, August 8

Experience is the teacher of fools,” says the oft-cited American proverb. That is, foolish people only learn from personal experience rather than witnessing others’ mistakes. Lebanon certainly fits this bill. Our country is afflicted not only by the terrible explosion that ravaged Beirut last week, but also – and perhaps more importantly – by the corrupt, fraudulent, and rotten political system governing us. Neither one of these catastrophes will be solved in isolation; they must be addressed together.

Rebuilding Beirut and saving the Lebanese economy from collapse will have to come hand in hand with freeing up our country from corruption in our political, financial and defense establishments. This is the exact message that French, American and even Arab allies have sent to Lebanon over the past week. It is also the message made by French President Emmanuel Macron during his historic visit to Beirut. Macron laid out a clear road map: Aid will flow to Lebanon if – and only if – the country rids itself of corruption and rebuilds its political system.

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Warm Embrace. When French President Emmanuel Macron was visiting the sites of the devastation following the explosion in Beirut, he was approached by a woman who said, “You are sitting with warlords, they have been manipulating us for the past years.” Revealing a shift in mindset, Macron replied “I’m NOT here to help them, I’m here to help you,” before entering into a long, silent embrace.

Macron is willing to put this to the test. He is scheduled to visit Beirut again in a few short weeks, on September 1, for the 100th anniversary of General Gouraud’s proclamation of the establishment of the State of Greater Lebanon, the predecessor of modern Lebanon. Unfortunately, Lebanon’s authorities still have not internalized Macron’s message. If anything, Lebanese politicians seem to follow the opposite approach of continuing with their lies and deceit in order to evade accountability. They understand that fighting corruption means uncovering the structure of Lebanon’s entire political system and, with that, an end to their robbery of public and private money, superiority over the law and evasion of responsibility. Political reforms mean an end to their deep-seated habits.

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Root of the Problem. Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab submits his resignation to President Michel Aoun and accuses in his resignation speech, the political class of trying to shift blame for the country’s ongoing economic crisis and corruption onto his cabinet instead of the deep-seated corruption “rooted in every part of the state.” Credit. Aziz Taher/Reuter

Thankfully, Macron’s visit reminded us amid complete despair that Lebanon can still resuscitate its relationship with the Arab and international community. But to do so, we must defend the Lebanon we long for, not the Lebanon we live in. Lebanon must free itself of Hezbollah’s grip, which puts us at a continuous risk of war with Israel. Lebanon must distance itself from Iran instead of trying to mimic Tehran’s political, religious and social structures.

And finally, Lebanon must install a new government that is accountable to the public. Let us hope that we can finally learn from our mistakes instead of waiting for another disaster to happen.

Rafiq Khoury

 

The Economy Second, Hezbollah First
By Khalid Bin Hamad

 Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, August 8

Officials in Lebanon have already begun discussing the cost of rehabilitating Beirut from the terrible explosion in its port. Indeed, the governor of Beirut has indicated that the price tag will range somewhere from $3 billion to $5 billion before all damages are even counted. Similarly, the Lebanese prime minister, Hassan Diab, has called on all of those who “love Lebanon” to hurry up and support its economy, which basically was on the brink of collapse even before this disaster.

Sadly, those who speak of economic support and financial aid forget that there is something far more important: political transparency. As dozens of innocent Lebanese civilians are struggling to maintain their daily lives in a destroyed city, it is our duty, as Lebanon’s allies, to ensure that the political conditions that led to this disaster do not repeat themselves. What will happen after we support the Lebanese economy? Will the political deadlock change?

Will corruption disappear?

I am talking about aid that extends beyond immediate medical and food supplies, for which the Lebanese people are desperate for right now. Who will ensure that the dollars we funnel into Lebanon at a later stage will actually make their way to the Lebanese people?

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Message from the People. Hezbollah members carry mock missile during procession in south Lebanon, 2009. Following the death and devastation of the Beirut port explosion, there are increasing calls that if “the Lebanese want one government, one military and one law for everyone, they must remove Hezbollah from their political system.” (photo credit: ALI HASHISHO/REUTERS)

The president of the republic, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of Parliament, ministers, representatives and all other elected Lebanese officials must interact with the public in an honest and transparent way. They must answer the tough questions about what led to this horrific explosion that killed dozens and injured thousands. Most importantly, Beirut will never be rebuilt as long as it remains imprisoned and bound by the decisions issued by Hezbollah based on marching orders coming from Tehran.
If the Lebanese want one government, one military and one law for everyone, they must remove Hezbollah from their political system. We in the Arab world empathize with the people of Lebanon. We wish them well and we hope that they will overcome the effects of this disaster. This can only happen if they stand up against corruption and against the conspirators who undermined their country from within.

Those whose ultimate loyalty is to Iran cannot claim to care about the Lebanese nation. The entire world now stands in solidarity with Lebanon and understands the country’s urgent need for support. Our ultimate goal should be to direct as much humanitarian aid to the country as we possibly can. But we should hold off on writing checks.

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Time to Change. Despite moved by the devastation in Beirut after the port blast, foreign governments are wary about writing blank checks to a government perceived by its own people to be deeply corrupt and taking “its marching orders from Tehran.” (Photo: AFP)

Any aid to the Lebanese economy must be conditional upon the removal of Hezbollah from the government, the supervision over where funds are going and the implementation of political reforms that Lebanon has already committed itself to. Any armed group outside the Lebanese military must be disbanded while the political structure in Lebanon must be redesigned from the foundations up.

Khalid Bin Hamad

 

The Beirut Explosion – An Anti-Corruption Domino Effect

By Tariq Tarshishi

Al-Joumhouria, Lebanon, August 8

The investigation into what exactly occurred at the port of Beirut last week might be ongoing, but one thing has been clear from the very outset: The cause for the blast that shook Beirut is corruption. Like other catastrophes that struck our country in the past, the Beirut explosion is first and foremost a political disaster created by our leaders. Lebanon’s corrupt political system plundered our country’s wealth and deprived our people of their ability to live a dignified life.

Corruption is what kept 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate in the middle of a bustling port that serves as the beating heart of our country’s economy. Corruption is also what led to the death of more than 150 innocent people whose only sin was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in their country’s capital city.

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“Throw out the Trash”. Disgusted with their politicians, proud Lebanese women wave their national flag and hold placards as they take part in a protest in Beirut against systemic corruption in Lebanon’s political system. (AFP file photo)

This crime will not go by uninvestigated, and the culprits will not evade judgment. We will require our elected officials to come out to the public and speak. Simply resigning from their positions will not suffice, since it means evading responsibility and deflecting attention onto someone else. And as soon as we get the answers we want, we will turn to parliamentary elections.

In the case of Lebanon, these elections should have happened much sooner. The Beirut disaster will serve as a force majeure that will make our politicians reveal their secret practices and come clean about what they may or may not have done. Undoubtedly, one of our government’s greatest calamities has been its continuous inability to initiate the reforms requested by the international community and by international financial institutions that have offered to save Lebanon from collapse. This inability to act and accept the help of others during dire times raises suspicion about the motivations of our elected officials.

Lebanese Government Steps Down After Blast Reignites Protests
Devastation and Despair. People waving Lebanese flags at a protest near the Beirut port following the explosion leave the people with new hopes for political change but daunted by enormous challenges. The question is “What’s Next?” NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

We all know that reluctance to cooperate with international donors has stemmed primarily from the fear of revealing our nation’s persistent corruption and cronyism. Now that all screens have been lifted and all hurdles have been removed, our politicians have nowhere to hide. They will have to come clean and be held accountable.

The disastrous explosion in Beirut symbolizes the collapse of the cornerstone of the Lebanese brick wall. With its fall, other stones will soon drop as well. And once momentum is gained, nothing will stop the truth from coming to light. The disaster has triggered an irreversible and unstoppable domino effect that will unveil the full extent of corruption in Lebanon.

Tariq Tarshishi

 

*Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb

 

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

 

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter – 14 August 2020

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

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

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https://layoftheland.online/2020/08/12/the-israel-brief-10-13-august-2020/

 

Articles

(1)

From Drive-In to Sail-In

Tel Aviv-Yafo goes ‘retro’ with  Israel’s first “Sail-In” floating cinema

By David E. Kaplan

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Floating Around. The ‘Sail-In’ floating cinema at Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park. (courtesy of Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality)

With a reputation for ‘floating’ new ideas, Tel Aviv is displaying a flare for ‘Creativity during Corona’. Fresh off the successful return of Tel Aviv’s legendary drive-in theatre, the “City that never sleeps” will this August, launch in Yarkon Park’s boating river, Israel’s first “Sail-In” floating cinema.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/08/13/from-drive-in-to-sail-in/

(2)

We said NEVER AGAIN

China’s treatment of Uighur minority – a Crime Against Humanity.

By Rolene Marks

China Protest
Forced Separation. Uighur women grieving for their men taken away by Chinese authorities in Urumqi, China in July 2009.

How in the aftermath of the Holocaust and the cry “Never Again”, does China get away with its treatment of its Uighur minority herding millions of Muslims and transporting them in trains to detention camps where many are murdered or die from starvation or disease?

https://layoftheland.online/2020/08/12/we-said-never-again/

(3)

An Open Letter to Seth Rogen

By Stephen Schulman

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Senseless Seth. Popular Jewish actor dismisses Israel in jest as making no sense, whatsoever.”

 

The star of the 2019 ‘An American Pickle’, Seth Rogen recently found himself in a pickle himself after controversial comments he made on a podcast about Judaism and Israel. Believing religion “silly” and Israel “makes no sense,” the writer responds in an Open letter to the Canadian-American comedic actor counselling on some useful educational tips before tripping again when opening his mouth.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/08/09/an-open-letter-to-seth-rogen/

   (4)

Testing Times

Johannesburg Jewish Community came to my rescue

By Neo Nino Mofokeng

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Tense Times. A police officer with whip checks permit of anxious woman waiting for a minibus in Johannesburg.

These are anxious times! Fears about COVID-19 can take an emotional toll, especially for those already suffering from anxiety. Heading for imminent mental breakdown under the strain of South Africa’s strict lockdown, this writer’s appeal for help on social media not only resonated but was responded to by members of Johannesburg’s Jewish community.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/08/11/testing-times/

 

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LOTL Cofounders David E. Kaplan (Editor), Rolene Marks and Yair Chelouche

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

From Drive-In to Sail-In

Tel Aviv-Yafo goes ‘retro’ with  Israel’s first “Sail-In” floating cinema

By David E. Kaplan

Those old enough, would well remember the “Drive-In”? Whether in the USA, South Africa, Australia and yes, Israel’s Tel Aviv, couples used to pile into their cars  to watch movies and snack at the same time, without someone bellowing “keep quiet!” Sound came from speakers clipped to the car window – not that the quality mattered too much in those days.

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Sounds of Silence. Remember when the speaker did not work and you had to move the car.

It was the age of motorcar romance and as one commentator so ‘fondly’ recalls, “Whether they watched the movies or not depended on how friendly they were.” And as I recall, those sixties and seventies horror movies were a ‘sure thing’ to engineer getting extra ‘friendly’.

No doubt, the Drive-In played its role in propagating our species.

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Oh, Those Were The Days.

Unlike today when Tel Aviv is in the vanguard for innovation, the “City that never sleeps” came late to the ‘Drive-In’’ party.

Only opening its first Drive-In in 1973 north of the Yarkon River with Disney’s Jungle Book, it remained open until 2000, finally giving way in 2014 to the Shalom Group Arena, the home ground for the Hapoel Tel-Aviv basketball club. Most important, it retained its huge parking area from the Drive-In era and to mark the annual romantic Jewish holiday – Israel’s Valentine’s Day – of TuB’Av (4th August) – it was back in business. In the City’s press release, it advertised the Drive-In’s opening with the anatomically suggestive “for the romantically inclined”!

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Adjusting to Corona. The parking lot of the Hapoel Tel Aviv basketball arena is repurposed for a drive-in theatre.

On select evenings of the week during the sweltering summer month of August, in conjunction with the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality and the Tel Aviv Cinemateque, there will be screenings for 200 cars, strictly in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines and “purple badge” public health standards. Movie audio is transmitted in high quality via an FM radio frequency. “Tel Aviv is the ‘non-stop city’ but the coronavirus outbreak understandably halted a large share of cultural and leisure activity,” said Tel Aviv-Yafo Mayor Ron Huldai. “Nevertheless, we constantly searched for creative ways to grant residents access to culture. The return of the drive-in is another creative way to pass the hot August days, in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines.”

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Tel Aviv’s legendary Drive-In Theater Returns. The screenings are exclusively for DigiTel Resident Card holders and tickets must be purchased ahead of time via the municipality website. (photo credit: AMIR YAKOBY)

The director of the culture department in the Tel Aviv municipality, Shavei Mizrahi, said that in light of the high demand for screenings, “a reassessment of the situation will be made, and the intention is to conduct more screening days, including weekends.”

Down By The Riverside

Tel Aviv is characterized by always taking things to the next level and in this case from land to water. Fresh off the successful return of Tel Aviv’s legendary drive-in theatre, Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality was delighted to announce on the 9 August, the launch of Israel’s first “Sail-In” floating cinema at HaYarkon Park’s boating lake.

With the Coronavirus pandemic proving particularly challenging for the entertainment industry worldwide, outdoor initiatives represented almost the sole solution for cultural events.

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Floating Around. An illustrative image of the ‘Sail-In’ floating cinema at Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park. (courtesy of Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality)

Following Health Ministry approval for open-air drive-in events,  Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality again in partnership with Tel Aviv Cinematheque, will launch a “Sail-In” floating cinema under the clear night sky from August 22-28.

A total of 70 ‘socially distanced’ boats will be available to moviegoers, adults and children alike, seeking to enjoy a night of cinematic entertainment under the stars.

Like people in public, boats will be distanced two meters apart at all times opposite a large screen, ensuring a safe and fun experience, and allowing all ticketholders to float and unwind and escape the daily grind in a serene atmosphere between the water and the stars. If movie-goers are unlikely to hear other patrons crunching their popcorn, they may hear the night owls, crickets and frogs – nature’s divine soundtrack.

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No Dress Code. Feet out the window, relaxing and watching a flick at Tel Aviv’s Drive-In. (Photo: Avshalom Shoshani)

Tickets for eight screenings – four suitable for families and four suitable for adults – will be available exclusively to DigiTel Resident Card holders.

The launch of the “Sail-In” floating cinema joins a long list of municipal initiatives that include fitness classes on the roof of the Tel Aviv municipality building and musical performances on the roof of the Eretz Israel Museum.

Tel Aviv is in the forefront  of coming up with creative ideas during corona as befitting one of my favourite monikers:

 “The city that wakes each morning wondering what it’s going to be.”

 

 

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

 

The Israel Brief- 10-13 August 2020

 

The Israel Brief -10 August 2020 – Budget balagan! Arson balloons in South. Hizbollah tunnels to Beirut port?

 

 

 

The Israel Brief -11 August 2020 – Updates on fires in South. The Lebanese government resigns – now what? Colombia and Israel sign landmark agreement.

 

 

The Israel Brief -12 August 2020 – Biden announces Kamala Harris as VP candidate. IDF strike targets in response to arson balloons. COVID update.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief -13 August 2020 – Lithuania bans Hizbollah. Defense ministry thwarts cyber attack. Covid update.

 

 

 

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

We said NEVER AGAIN

China’s treatment of Uighur minority – a Crime Against Humanity.

By Rolene Marks

We said NEVER AGAIN2

We said NEVER AGAIN. After the Holocaust, when the devastating images and testimony hit international consciousness and Jews struggled to come to terms with the murders of so many of us, including generations of our families, the world said NEVER AGAIN. We agreed that we need to learn from the genocide that was the Holocaust that was built on the foundations of religious intolerance and hatred of the other, including the Roma, members of the LGBTQ community and others. But we did not. After the horrors of the Holocaust, we thought that there would be no more genocide- but there was. The names are familiar – Rwanda, Darfur, Cambodia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Syria, the Yazidi people and now China is firmly in our sites.

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The images are frightening and familiar. Nearly two million Muslim Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and Uzbeks have been detained in internment camps since April 2017. The Chinese government is cracking down on anyone that practices Islam, and in many cases, traveled to countries like Turkey or Afghanistan and visited Mosques or shared religious texts. Some have been detained for wearing the veil or hijab for respect and modesty reasons as prescribed by Islamic laws; and some men arrested just for growing beards as prescribed by Islam. Children are systematically removed from their families in an effort to isolate them from their Muslim communities. The images that have been smuggled out and have surfaced on social media show the round-up of men in vast numbers and transported via train to these camps. It is a scene horrifyingly reminiscent of the rounding up of Jews during the Holocaust, the majority who were then sent to certain death.

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China is a communist country and religion is seen as anathema. The Chinese government has tried to defend their actions by claiming that the Uighur Muslims that they are rounding up and sending to these camps are “extremists” and that this is a “counter-terror” measure and call any allegations against them “baseless”. The Chinese call these facilities, “reeducation camps”.

These are not “reeducation camps”. More like concentration camps!

These reeducation camps are anything but humane. Detainees or rather prisoners are subjected to hours and hours of indoctrination, a process that can last several months until they are forced to denounce Islam.  They are forced hour after hour to listen to and study communist propaganda and give thanks to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Chinese officials have also reportedly used waterboarding and other forms of torture, including sexual abuse, as part of the indoctrination process.

Uighur women are treated in the most appalling manner.  Pregnant women who refuse to abort their foetus – in order to not exceed the birth quotas – are sent to the camps. Former detainees have said they were given injections that stopped their periods or caused unusual bleeding consistent with the effects of birth control drugs. There have also been reports of sexual abuse. A Uighur activist has spoken out against China’s “Pair Up and Become Family” programme, in which Han Chinese men are sent to live with Uighur women, many of whose husbands have been sent to the camps.

The programme, first introduced in 2017, was discussed in an October 2019 report by Radio Free Asia that cited two unnamed Chinese officials. The report outlined a horrific programme in which many of the Chinese men would often sleep in the same beds as the women.

“Normally one or two people sleep in one bed, and if the weather is cold, three people sleep together,” one official told RFA. “It is now considered normal for females to sleep on the same platform with their paired male ‘relatives’,” he said in reference to the men, who are referred to as “relatives” even though they are not family. Uighur activists have referred to it as a policy of mass rape.

The scenes of men rounded up and transported on trains is not the only image that has a horrific similarity to the Holocaust. Uighur women have their hair cut off and exported to the West.

Earlier this year, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials seized a shipment of human hair from China. Officials said that 13 tons (11.8 metric tons) of weaves and other hair products worth an estimated $800,000 were in the shipment.

The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in US supply chains,” said Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of CBP’s office of trade.

This is the second time this year that CBP has slapped a rare detention order on shipments of hair products from China, based on suspicions that people making them face human rights abuses.

China Protest
Forced Family Separation. Uighur women grieving for their men who they claim were taken away by the Chinese authorities after a protest in Urumqi, China, Tuesday, July 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Stripped of their femininity and their identity, this bears a striking similarity to the way women were treated during the Holocaust. Today, the Auschwitz Museum has a room filled to the ceiling with human hair, shaved off the heads of Jewish women and girls, forced into labour, treated in the most monstrous conditions before many of them were routinely murdered by the Nazis.

Prisoners are allowed no contact with the outside, including family members. Many are fearful of what could happen to their loved ones if they dare make any contact.

Where is the global outcry?

Where are the UN resolutions and fact finding missions?

Activists around the world are trying to raise awareness – and push for investigations for Chinese crimes against humanity. A group of exiled Uighurs has appealed to the ICC (International Criminal Court) to launch an investigation for crimes against humanity and genocide.  Human Rights Watch, UN Watch and US Senator Cory Gardner, are amongst those calling for UN investigations into the treatment of Uighurs and so far the UN human rights panel have said that they have “credible” information to launch an investigation. Jewish organisations and individuals, drawing from our own history of genocide and persecution are trying to raise as much awareness as possible – and showing solidarity with the global Muslim community.

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Appealing to the UN. Protests against China’s oppression against the Uighurs.

The Chinese (when they bother to respond) insist it is counter terror – or simply do not respond. Earlier this year, Yu Jianhua, China’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said the country was working toward equality and solidarity among all ethnic groups.

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“Mass Rape”. Uighur activist Rushan Abbas says the practice of Han Chinese men sleeping with Uighur women that has been taking place for years is nothing less than “a scheme of mass rape”. (Source:AAP)

The images are growing more and more worrying. So many times, we have said NEVER AGAIN! So many times we have thought we have learnt the lessons from history.

We cannot fail the Uighur people. Never again is now.

 

 

 

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

 

Testing Times

Johannesburg Jewish Community came to my Rescue

By Neo Nino Mofokeng

One can understand while living through a pandemic that every community would be overwhelmed by the needs of their own and therefore concerned first for the wellbeing of those closest.

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City Life. Anxious times for all citizens as cars line up at a private Covid-19 testing station in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

It would hardly be surprising then for help to the ‘other,’  who are not of one’s community or nation,  to be way back in the queue.

On a global level, we see this attitude play out in the international rush for a Covid-19 vaccine. Trump’s inciteful and isolationist “America First” policy may well turn the race to develop and distribute the vaccine into a global vaccine brawl, leaving the poorer countries behind in the rush to procure doses. We saw this scenario play out before with Trump when he incited his own states into ‘Bidding Wars’ to obtain medical equipment to combat Coronavirus!

It should then not come as a surprise for this mentality to permeate down from “My Country First” to “My Community First’!

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Tense Times. A South African police officer carrying a whip checks the essential services permit of a visibly anxious woman waiting for a minibus taxi to go home in Johannesburg.

However, not so in my personal case!

Seven weeks ago I suffered a mental breakdown during South Africa’s ‘Stage 5’ hard lockdown and I needed support – badly!

The unimaginable happened in my most difficult, lonely and challenging time.

The Johannesburg Jewish community came to my rescue.

It was an experience I feel important to share.

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Hello. Poster of a Legal Aid clinic in South Africa drawing attention to the issues of mental health.

On the 20th of May, a freezing cold winter morning, I decided to take the bull by the horns – the “bull” being my mental health that had deteriorated dramatically because of the lockdown. I was on the tipping edge towards a mental breakdown.

The situation as it was, I was not alone. I was one of many across the nation struggling to cope mentally because of the hard restrictions imposed by the government. The unending news of the pandemic that we were subjected to on a daily basis from the mainstream media added to my feelings of anxiety.

The times were unprecedented and combined with the added stress over a range of issues from family matters, to work and studies, I simply could not cope.

I was in a bad, bad space. Every day I pretended to be strong and happy on the outside, which was not the case on the inside.

I had trouble sleeping.  My sleep was drastically reduced to nonexistent throughout the days prior to my mental breakdown.

At the time when I decided to take the bull by its horns, my smartphone recorded my sleeping hours at only 1 hour 30 minutes. I suffered from acute insomnia, which intensified in the weeks leading up to my breakdown.

On that day, the 20th May, after struggling to sleep, I woke up early and travelled to the local hospital about 20 minutes away from my home.

Little did I know what awaited me – the rigorous coronavirus screening and testing and the snail’s pace service due to extra precautions!

It was the beginning of a very long day. I was only admitted 18 hours after arriving at the hospital at 05:30 AM.

My family arrived but later had to leave and I felt alone.

All during the day at the hospital, I cried for help by sharing my situation with people within my established community.

It fell on deaf ears. I received no support or aid!

Then I did something that many people would think as controversial due to the sensitivities around mental health-related issues.

I shared my tale and predicament on Facebook through a thread of posts and live stream videos. Later on, I even shared my private WhatsApp details.

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We Shall Overcome. LifeLine Johannesburg provides counselling and connects with people, giving them the tools they need to better handle stress and improve their emotional health.

Immediately after doing so, support from many people I know only as acquaintances; even strangers, and a few old friends started pouring in.

Right after that, Micki Jacobs and Mignon Milwid who are Jewish counsellors at Lifeline Johannesburg and Chai FM radio station, reached out to me through WhatsApp communications.

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We Hear You. South Africa’s Jewish community radio station based in Johannesburg, ChaiFM responded to the writer’s cry for help.

Both Micki and Mignon were total strangers.

Micki Jacobs sent me a WhatsApp voice note with a sober, caring voice and her texts offering to assist me was the best thing that could have happened to me, in light of the situation.

Mignon, communicated with me via texts, checking whether I was fine or not.

This melted my heart to the core. I was so grateful and at the same time amused, surprised, bewildered that I, this ‘Black lad from the Vaal’, could receive assistance from the Johannesburg Jewish community. The individuals and counselling services that mostly are there I thought to serve the needs of the Jewish community were there to help ME. Deeply moved, my frame of mind started to improve knowing there were people who not only genuinely cared but were ready to immediately help.

As for my own community, the less said the better. They were nowhere to be seen or heard in coming to my aid. This even after I reached out to the leadership through email and WhatsApp about my condition. They ignored me, which makes the unexpected assistance I received from the Jewish community all the more valued.

The diagnosis I received was “burnout”, “exhaustion” and “anxiety”. I received medical attention, which included being admitted to the for several days.

The purpose of me sharing this story is to express my gratitude to the Jewish community, especially the Lifeline Johannesburg Counsellors, Micki Jacobs and Mignon Milwid, and to shine light on challenging the stigmas around Mental Health.

At this time, when so many of us around the world are feeling overwhelmed and anxious, it is so important to reach out for help. You never know where you might find it!

 

 

About the writer:

Testing Times2.JPGNeo Nino Mofokeng is a Business Administration student and a volunteer tour guide and educator at the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

An Open Letter to Seth Rogen

By Stephen Schulman

Dear Seth,

I must apologize if I have never heard of you before, but neither being a reader of the tabloids nor a follower of all the fashionable internet podcasts, I had never come across your name until now.

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Relishing in Reviling. Beginning as a lighthearted conversation between two Jewish comedians, Rogen (right) and Marc Maron (left), the talk turned to Israel where Rogen’s disparaging comments sparked an uproar.

Nevertheless, while appearing in the podcast of Marc Maron to plug your latest film, promote yourself and widen your fan base, you held forth and bared your soul to all and sundry on the subject of Judaism and Israel. After reading reports of your words, myself, both being a citizen of and living in this country, I feel that your words are in dire need of an emendatory reply.

“To me it just seems an antiquated thought process. If it is for religious reasons, I don’t agree with it, because I think religion is silly. If it is truly for the preservation of the Jewish people, it makes no sense, because again, you don’t keep something you are trying to preserve all in one place – especially when that place is proven to be pretty volatile, you know? I am trying to keep all these things safe, I’m gonna put them in my blender and hope that’s the best place…..that’ll do it. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

Your message is clear:

You have negated Israel’s existence as a home for the Jewish people, seeing its purpose as illogical, senseless and useless. Furthermore, in your opinion, since all religion is a baseless mumbo jumbo; Israel has no religious justification for existence at all. Sweeping statements indeed!

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Senseless Seth. Seth Rogen says Israel ‘doesn’t make sense’.

Seth, your ignorance is abysmal, appalling and frightening. You are 38 years old. Have you never read any books? Have you never attempted to broaden your knowledge?  Have you never progressed beyond that of a muddled pre-adolescent?  For a person of your age, I find your mental vacuity simply breathtaking.

Israel has had a Jewish presence for millennia. Towards the end of the 19th century, many young pioneers, identifying themselves primarily as secular and socialists but aware of their heritage, fired with ideals of social justice came to then Palestine from exile; to rebuild a homeland for the Jewish people. With the passing of time, amongst other social organizations, the Histadrut (the Labour Federation) that saw to the rights of the workers and Kupat Cholim (the sick fund or NHS) were founded for the benefit of all the occupants of Palestine irrespective of background or religion. Was all this done for the sake of religion?

Return to Zion has always been a central tenet of Judaism and the Land of Israel features prominently in our prayers. Jerusalem and the Land of Israel is not only part of Jewish history; it plays an integral role in the Hebrew Bible and is an inseparable part of our faith. You choose to view this as antiquated and valueless.

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Voyage of the Damned. Refugees aboard the M.S. St. Louis arriving in Antwerp, Belgium after over a month at sea, during which they were denied entry to Cuba, the USA and Canada. Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Throughout our history (and yours too!), there have been pogroms, expulsions, forced conversions, massacres and persecutions of our nation in Christian and Muslim lands. When so many Jews were desperately trying to escape the clutches of Nazism, where were the countries of the world offering them a safe haven? In 1939, the steamship St. Louis with close to a thousand Jewish refugees on board seeking refuge was denied docking rights in many countries and it returned to Germany with its passengers ultimately dying in the concentration camps. Amongst the countries denying them entry was Canada – your birthplace – where a member of parliament stood up to say that letting in one Jew was one Jew too many! Yet, these same countries that denied Jews entry, after the war opened their gates to let in many Nazi collaborators. Canada, your Canada, in the post WW II period, opened its arms to and turned a blind eye to the influx of these criminals. Today Canada boasts the dubious record of having the largest number of memorials to Nazi collaborators.

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“None is Too Many”. The title of this book about Canada’s restrictive immigration policy towards Jewish refugees during the Holocaust is based on an immigration official in 1939 when asked how many Jews would be allowed in Canada after the war replied, “None is too many”. A monument – referred to in the media as the “none is too many” memorial – was displayed in Halifax’s Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 to commemorate the liner M.S. St. Louis carrying Jews fleeing from Nazi Germany being blocked from entering Canada. The ship was forced to return to Europe and 254 of the refugees later died in Nazi concentration camps.

With the termination of WW II, there were many Jews who had survived the Holocaust scattered in DP (Displaced Persons) camps throughout Europe, my late parents-in-law being amongst them. Why in these camps? Why didn’t they return to their former homes? The answer is very simple. They had been taken over by others and to assert their property rights was tantamount to asking to be murdered. When my father-in-law returned to Bialystok, his former neighbours made this very clear to him and his example was one of many. Where was the one place they wanted to go to that would be free of post war pogroms and anti-Semitism? You guessed it:  Palestine – shortly to become Israel.

You clearly don’t know it but prior to and after the declaration of the State of Israel, the 850,000 Jews living in the Arab countries were persecuted, disenfranchised, dispossessed and expelled thus bringing to an end of Jewish presence that had existed for over a thousand years. The Arab countries are now ‘Judenrein‘ – an accomplishment the Nazis would have applauded! The great majority of the refugees found their home and rebuilt their lives in Israel – the country whose existence you find senseless!

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Many peoples have their own ancestral homelands. Do the Jewish people not have the same right, or have you conveniently ignored that fact? Just ponder this:  Had there existed a Jewish state prior to the Second World War, countless lives could have been saved!

Yes, Israel is located in a ‘volatile’ region. It is indeed so, not of our own volition but due to the fact that our neighbours refuse to accept our right to exist. Peace has been signed with Jordan and Egypt albeit a cold one with calls within these countries for our destruction. A Hezbollah controlled Lebanon with its huge arsenal of rockets sends daily threats while Hamas in the Gaza Strip sends incendiary balloons to torch our land. Dear Seth, you with your wisdom and perspicacity, what do you suggest we do? Close shop and move en mass to Canada?

‘And I also think that as a Jewish person, I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel my entire life! They never tell you that – oh, by the way, there were people there. They make it seem like it was just sitting there, oh like the f***g doors open!…. They forgot to include the fact to every young Jewish person.’

Dear Seth, in your settling of accounts, is this all that you can remember about your Jewish education? Have you never progressed beyond that? Any thinking person is inclined to disbelieve that Palestine simply comprised one big vacuum beckoning to be filled by Jewish settlements! It wasn’t the moon! A perfunctory perusal of history books would inform you that there was an Arab presence there too. In 1917 the Jewish population of Jaffa/Tel Aviv was forcefully exiled to some parts that today are in the West Bank,  in 1929 the Jewish population of Hebron was slaughtered,  and in 1936 there were riots in which many Jews were killed. Who carried them out? It wasn’t pixies!

Open Letter to Seth Rogen4
Turbulent Times. US newspapers headline the massacre of Jews during the Arab riots of 1929 when more than 130 Jews were killed in Jerusalem, Hebron and elsewhere.

Once again, your reasons for Jews supporting Israel: ‘They want to make you feel frightened enough about your own survival to the point that when you are old enough, you will make sure money goes to Israel, and that trees are planted and that you will always speak highly of Israel and Israel will survive no matter what.’

Dear Seth, when Israel comes to your mind, is your sole connotation that of trees? Possibly you can’t see the wood for all the trees? For your elucidation, Israel is a thriving country of 9,000,000 people that in spite of being surrounded by enemies is prospering. Amongst other achievements, it boasts a stable economy, a booming hi-tech industry and is a world leader in agricultural technology. It is the only true democracy in the Middle East; and guarantees religious freedom to all faiths in it. There is a large LGTB community that openly asserts its rights; and members of it serve in our Knesset (Parliament).

Diaspora Jewry openly identifies with the state and supports it. There is an awareness of our security problems – with Iran and its proxies openly preaching genocide against us – and they take pride in the strength and ability of the Israel Defense Forces in protecting its citizens and borders.

I have yet to encounter a Diaspora Jew who has been so brainwashed that his/her knees are perpetually knocking in terror and his/her trembling hands continually writing out cheques for the state! Methinks you are getting carried away by one of your film scenarios!

‘As I get older, I appreciate that religion you know……….it puts you to work and it forces you to do stuff.’

Dear Seth, kindly make up your mind and be consistent. On one hand you say that religion is claptrap and on the other hand praise it for helping you during a period of mourning. Your paucity of vocabulary attests to the shallowness of your thoughts.

‘I remember my dad frankly telling me, People hate Jews. Just be aware of that. They just do.’

Your dad knew what he was talking about. Institutionalized antisemitism was part of life in Canada. There was a quota on Jews entering higher institutes of learning and many clubs and societies restricted their membership. Unfortunately, today in this turbulent time of fear and uncertainty, antisemitism has grown and become a multi headed monster assuming many shapes and forms, the old tropes have taken on different guises and conspiracy theories abound. A Canadian Polish newspaper has printed stories unequivocally stating that Jews have devised and spread the Covid-19 virus in order to profit from it – a modern twist to the medieval accusation of Jews poisoning the wells.

Open Letter to Seth Rogan2
Blame the Jews. The Polish-Canadian newspaper Glos Polski publishes an anti-Semitic tirade suggesting COVID-19 is a creation of “organized Jewry”.

And you Seth, at this heightened period of antisemitism, with your appearance on the podcast, with your self importance, eagerness to self publicize and ingratiate yourself and with your ‘progressive,’ ideas have made yourself the darling of the BDS camp, providing grist to the mill for the detractors and deniers of legitimacy of Israel. Even with your mother twisting your arm, you simply ‘clarified’ your ideas and said some remarks were made in jest. Some jest! Your lack of sensitivity is shocking.

Seth, it appears that as a standup comedian, you spent some lean years before producing your cinematic tour de force: ‘The Pickle Barrel.’  I wish you every success with it. Just do yourself and us all a favour: Before making your next public appearance, buy some books, do some much needed reading, consult with those more learned than you and then think before you open your mouth.

Stephen Schulman

Ramat Hasharon

Israel

 

 

 

About the writer:

image001 (4).pngStephen Schulman is a graduate of the South African Jewish socialist youth movement Habonim, who immigrated to Israel in 1969 and retired in 2012 after over 40 years of English teaching. He was for many years a senior examiner for the English matriculation and co-authored two English textbooks for the upper grades in high school. Now happily retired, he spends his time between his family, his hobbies and reading to try to catch up on his ignorance.

 

 

 

 

Feature Picture: Sarah Snook and Seth Rogen are husband and wife in the new comedy “An American Pickle.” (Credit –

 

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

 

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter – 06 August 2020

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

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

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https://layoftheland.online/2020/08/05/the-israel-brief-03-06-august-2020/

 

Articles

(1)

Look Who’s Watching

Why is Israel today such a powerhouse in global entertainment television?

By David E. Kaplan

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Fauda Phenomenon. The series about a team of undercover operatives hunting terrorists is captivating audiences worldwide.

With Israel’s TV shows offering such contrasting, compelling characterizations from the lives of undercover operatives in “Fauda, to the ultra-Orthodox communities in “Shtisel” to Jewish ethnic divisions in the romantic-comedy series “The Baker and the Beauty”, Israeli TV producers display a magic touch that transcends international boundaries.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/08/05/look-whos-watching/

 

(2)

The Crisis of Zionism

By Alex Ryvchin

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Determining Destiny. From ‘idealists’ in a hotel in Basel in 1897 to tinkering ‘mechanics’ today in the Knesset in Jerusalem.

The price of Israel’s success is that the existential imperatives that drew Jews to Zionism – pioneering, state-building and the salvation of Jewish communities – are seemingly now much less “imperative”. With less “to connect a young Jew of Johannesburg, Sydney or Toronto” to Israel, what is the purpose of Zionism today?

https://layoftheland.online/2020/08/03/the-crisis-of-zionism/

 

(3)

Unbreakable Bonds

The Relationship between the USA and Israel

By Lay of the Land USA correspondent

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Friends in Deed. Warm assurances and smiles at a recent meeting of US Secretary of State and Israel’s President.

The biblical bond the Jewish people have with the land of Israel and the bond of common values Israelis share with the American people were the core themes addressed by US Jewish leader and philanthropist, Simon Falic during a recent ceremony in Florida honouring  US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/08/02/unbreakable-bonds/

 

(4)

The Arab Voice – August 2020

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Arab writers from the Middle East and beyond, opine on a rapidly declining Lebanon and on the behaviour and ramifications of two presidents – USA’s Donald Trump and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/08/04/the-arab-voice-august-2020/

 

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LOTL Cofounders David E. Kaplan (Editor), Rolene Marks and Yair Chelouche

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

The Israel Brief- 03-06 August 2020

The Israel Brief -03 August 2020 – IDF strikes targets in response to rockets. Israel COVID update and what is going on with celebrities and Jews?

 

 

 

The Israel Brief -04 August 2020 – Israel COVID update. IDF strike targets in Syria and Israel welcomes the world’s biggest plane.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief -05 August 2020 – Beirut blast. COVID update. Is the Blue and White moving to block Bibi running in election?

 

 

 

The Israel Brief -06 August 2020 – Beirut blast updates. Israel to start human testing on vaccine in September. Squad to stay?

 

 

 

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