Beauties and the Boycott

Chief Mandla Mandela calls for Israel to be boycotted for hosting the Miss Universe pageant

By Rolene Marks

Ask any beauty queen worth her sash and tiara what she wants for her reign and the answer is always delivered in firmly and resolutely, with a beatific smile, “I want world peace”. 

Now I know that there are many reading this who are contemplating whether or not we actually need beauty pageants in this day and age; and perhaps find the swimsuit section more than a little antiquated and demeaning. The truth is, these pageants provide a global stage for contestants to represent their countries, express their hopes and carry out important humanitarian work.

This year, Israel will play host to the annual pageant and we are delighted that the city of Eilat will be visited by beauties from around the world. Hosting international spectaculars is not new to Israel. It was only two years ago the Jewish state played host to the great bastion of cheesy tunes – the Eurovision song contest. We brought the world glam, we brought the world glitz, we brought the world Madonna!

Israel has also hosted the major international cycling event, Giro D’Italia and if all goes according to plan, will be putting in a joint bid with regional partners to host the 2030 Soccer/Football World Cup. FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, recently visited Israel and citing the signing of the Abraham Accords, stated that he thought Israel along with possible partners like the UAE and Bahrain would make excellent hosts for the much loved global tournament. Talk about scoring a goal for peace!

Men on the Move. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, in Jerusalem, on October 12, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Not feeling the love and urge to sing a glowing rendition of kumbaya as the rest of us peace loving folk, Chief Mandla Mandela, grandson of the iconic Nelson Mandela, is calling for a boycott of Israel’s hosting of the global pageant. He is urging each contestant not to participate because in his words, Israel is an Apartheid state.

View our interaction on African television channel, eNCA here:

Mandla Mandela has his own dubious history and it is quite ironic that he is choosing the Miss Universe pageant as his hill to die on. What is interesting, is that this poster man for the BDS movement is doing this as a solo efforts and without the boycott-screeching mob.

He has been the subject of much derision from his family for his moving his late grandfather’s remains from their peaceful resting place without consulting the family. The family laid criminal charges of tampering with a grave and South African High Court Judge, Judge Lusindiso Phakade, ruled in favour of the complainants and ordered Mandela to exhume and rebury the body.

Mandla caught lying! In the above youtube interaction, Mandla Mandela says that Malaysia is boycotting the Miss Universe pageant but it is clearly not the truth.

Criminal allegations were again levelled at the younger Mandela when he was charged with pointing a firearm and assaulting, a man. He was found guilty of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. Mandela’s private life could also rival a soap opera. Tales of annulment and affairs, blazing arguments and paternity suits abound and after converting to Islam, Mandela married his fourth wife.

Perhaps he is the LAST person who should be commenting on activities that involve young women. His iconic grandfather, who stood as a beacon of reconciliation and was an advocate for speaking to both parties in a conflict and contrary to popular opinion was a friend and supporter of the State of Israel, must be spinning in his grave.

Mandela wants each beauty queen to pull out of the pageant. Who does he think he is?

This is gross misogyny to deny these young women an international platform to do the humanitarian work that they choose to do?

Calling for boycotts is not the desirable path to peace. In fact, all that boycotts serve to do is to break down discourse and cooperation. The Miss Universe pageant does provide a unique opportunity for young women around the world to interact with each other and learn about each other’s cultures. While these beauties may not be brokering peace from a luxury resort in Eilat, they will have a chance to build friendships.

One such example is the friendship that developed several years ago between Miss Israel and Miss Iraq.  This broke long-held barriers and has done more for the cause of peace than the posturing of politicians.

Blessed are the peacemakers – for they are often beauty queens.

It is this former Miss Iraq whose name is Sarah Idan, having seen the situation for herself, who has become quite a vocal supporter of Israel and the pursuit of peace in the region.

Chief vs Beauty. In a war of words, Miss Iraq Sarah Idan (right) counter-punches Mandla Mandela (left) over the Miss Universe pageant in Israel. (Image via Instagram)

In a brutal ironic twist, this Iraqi Muslim woman has been the subject of a nasty social media pile on over the last week. Idan took to social media in a video message and criticised Mandela’s call for boycotts:

All I can say is: how dare you? How dare you as a man try to tell an organisation for women in women empowerment what to do? This is an opportunity that millions of women dream of, having to go on a world stage and represent their people, their nation, their culture. Not governments, not politics and definitely not your political agenda,” said Idan in her video.

Please allow Miss South Africa to go and experience Israel up close on the ground, and let her be the judge for herself. I’m positive, just like me, she will be shocked to see that the Israeli government consists of Muslims, Jews, Christians, and those people not only get to vote on policies to shape their future, but they also are part of the people who have political parties, and some of them are even Israeli ambassadors to the world,” said Idan in her video.

The responses were staggering in their venom and vitriol. Here is one such example:

In a region where many women, including Palestinians, would not have the opportunities to compete in pageants because their leaders would not allow for this, wouldn’t the efforts of people like Mandela be best served lobbying for women’s rights and NOT breaking down cooperation and dialogue?

I am sure if it were Russia or China or Venezuela (who have turned beauty pageants into a veritable Olympic sport) that was hosting, Mandla Mandela would be there quicker than a queen could change into her evening wear.

As Israel gears up to welcome the Miss Universe contestants to our vibrant and diverse country, it is my hope that they will realise their dreams of being one step closer to “world peace”. If the brave, beautiful and regal Sarah Idan is any indication, then a well-shod step for one, is a giant leap for the region.  Mandela would be wise to take heed of women waging peace and kindly shut up.

Meddling Mandla. Lalela Mswane, the winner of Miss South Africa 2021, is being urged by Mandla Mandela to boycott the event  in Eilat, Israel.(Screengrab/Instagram)






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

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter- 31 October 2021

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

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

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

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Articles

(1)

En Guard!

Top Chilean newspaper pays tribute to Nazi leader Hermann Göring  –“WHY?”

By David E. Kaplan

Glorifying Göring . Article covers Nazi’s love life but mostly skips on his war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Santiago edition El Mercurio is Chili’s newspaper of record and the oldest daily in the Spanish language currently in circulation. With an alarming spike in global antisemitism, why would El Mercurio  stoke the fires of hatred by  eulogizing Hitler’s right-hand man – Hermann Göring?

En Guard!

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(2)

Normal People Don’t Boycott Israel

Irish author exposes her prejudice and hypocrisy by supporting a boycott of Israel

By Rolene Marks

A Closed Book. Popular Irish writer, Sally Rooney says no to her latest book being published in Hebrew.

While happy to be published in China, Russia, Iran and other human rights violation hotspots around the world, bestselling Irish author, Sally Rooney, targets only Israel to boycott. Lay of the Land cofounder, peels off the veneer to expose the author’s antipathy towards Israel that is far from “Normal”.

Normal People Don’t Boycott Israel

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(3)

The Arab Voice – October 2021

A selection of opinions and analysis from the Arab media

Broad-based coverage on the Middle East, LOTL provides a platform to what Arab journalists – in their own words – are writing about the region.

The Arab Voice – October 2021

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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 (0&EO).

The Israel Brief- 25-28 October 2021

The Israel Brief – 25 October 2021 – Why did Israel designate 6 Palestinian organisations as terror organisations? Israel to fight greenhouse gas emissions. Sudanese coup. Direct flight from Riyadh.



The Israel Brief – 26 October 2021 – Israel’s MFA “baffled” by claims US not given advance notice about 6 Palestinian NGO’s. Blue Flag Aerial Drill. Florida to divest from Unilever. Remembering Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.



The Israel Brief – 27 October 2021 – US rebukes Israel on settlements. Who hacked Iran’s fuel supply? US to waiver VISA requirements? A warm peace with Jordan on the cards?




The Israel Brief – 28 October 2021 – 200 Celebs sign letter denouncing boycott. Israel’s Amb. to UN urges institution to adopt IHRA. Saudi Arabia bans Hizbollah backers. Israel to host Miss Universe 2021.







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

En Guard!

Top Chilean newspaper pays tribute to Nazi leader Hermann Göring  –

“WHY?”

By David E. Kaplan

As a Jew staring at this full page illustrated article in a South American newspaper one feels compelled to ask:

 “WHY”?

Not so must why ‘the article’ was written – although that’s a fair question  – but rather why should one of the largest newspapers in Chile publish it?  After all, it was more than just a featured article about a high-profile character from the Second World War but  a tribute, replete with homely photographs to none other than a monster responsible for the death of millions of Jews –  Hitler’s right hand man, Hermann Göring.

Eulogising a Nazi. Part of the 2-page spread in Chili’s largest newspaper El Mercurio on Hermann Göring  on the ‘occasion’ of the 75th anniversary of his death.

What a sad sign of the times! After some eight decades after the Holocaust, antisemitism is being freely expressed publicly and violently. Classic anti-Semitic tropes like “Jews to the gas” and “Hitler should have finished the job” are common in conversation and print.

Add to this toxic amalgam, Jews are being physically attacked and murdered. 

Only this week in France, two men went on trial over the horrific murder in 2018 of an elderly Jewish woman, Mireille Knoll. Having escaped the notorious roundup and deportation of Jews in Paris in 1942, Knoll would  in  2018 be butchered and burned instead at her home in Paris for the same reason – because she was a Jew! One of the accused had been heard “talking about Jews’ money and their wealth” and that he shouted “Allahu Akbar” while stabbing her eleven times before setting her apartment on fire.

Death in Paris. 85-year-old Mireille Knoll survived the Holocaust only to be murdered at home in Paris – only because she was a Jew!

So, instead of boarding a train and ending in the ovens in Auschwitz, she ended up with the same fate at home.  

Again, earlier this year, Kobili Traoré, a Muslim of Malian origin murdered Sarah Halimi, his Jewish neighbour, a 65-year-old, former kindergarten director by throwing her out her from her flat in north-east Paris. While the attack lasted between 20 and 30 minutes with  Traoré chanting verses from the Koran and shouting “Allahu Akbar”  (God is greatest), he escaped a trial because it was said he was high on marijuana. Whether high or not, it was a low point in French justice – when again it comes to Jews.

French Justice! Top French court declined to prosecute Jewish woman’s killer because he was on weed. Sarah Halimi was beaten before she was thrown off her Paris apartment building’s roof in April 2017. (Courtesy of the Halimi family)

Is it any wonder we are hearing so much French these days on the streets of Israel?

The ‘tribute feature’ which appeared on the Oct. 24, 2021, edition of Chile’s El Mercurio newspaper was timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Göring’s death. It read more like celebrating than historically recording the anniversary. Focusing on the Nazi leader’s youth, his military career and close relationship to Adolf Hitler, it read like a eulogy. The full-page illustrative spread on the General’s career included details about his love life, making only a passing mention of his crimes. They were not only “war crimes” but “crimes against humanity”, which he was convicted in Nuremburg and sentenced to death.

It only went to show what El Mercurio thought was of importance or what it felt was of more  – or less – interest to its readers!

Close-Up on a Mass Killer. Details of the Chile’s El Mercurio feature showing Hermann Göring  standing side-by-side with Adolf Hitler followed by accounts of his youth. (Screenshot via JTA)

No lightweight paper, the Santiago edition El Mercurio is considered the country’s newspaper of record and the oldest daily in the Spanish language currently in circulation.

Why would such a newspaper  publish such an article?  Did it feel – in today’s times of spirally global antisemitism – so totally comfortable in doing so? In a statement posted to Twitter, the organisation representing the Jewish Community of Chile called the article “an apology for Nazism” and in case there was no misunderstanding, Germany’s embassy in Santiago went public in expressing it abhorrence. While “it was not customary for the Embassy to comment on newspaper articles”, it felt obliged to tweet that, “…we just want to make it very clear: this man H.Göring committed human rights crimes and was one of the pillars of the Nazi regime. There is no room to justify or minimise, morally or politically, his horrific role during the Nazi regime or the Holocaust.”

Advocate of Hate. Is this a man to eulogise – Hermann Goering, one of the highest-ranking Nazi leaders, second only to Hitler in the party hierarchy?

Compounding its complicity in spreading antisemitism, El Mercurio in a short reply to a letter chastising the piece as a “direct affront” to the victims of the Holocaust, responded that it “deeply regretted” that the piece had been interpreted as such.

How else does El Mercurio – hardly an inexperienced publication founded in 1827 – think it should have been “interpreted”?

Maybe we should have little expectation from this Chilian newspaper when one need look no further than how the Chilian government has behaved in the past vis-à-vis cozying up to Nazis. Remember SS Walter Rauff who was instrumental in the construction and implementation of the mobile gas chambers responsible for killing an estimated 100,000 people during World War II? Later, this Nazi’s wartime experiences included persecuting Jews in Vichy France-controlled Tunisia during 1942 and 1943 and then overseeing Gestapo operations in northwest Italy where he  gained a reputation of ruthlessness for his indiscriminate execution of both Jews and local partisans. After he was arrested in Chile in 1962, he was freed by the country’s Supreme Court and the Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, repeatedly resisted calls from West Germany for Rauff’s extradition. When Rauff died in Chile in 1984, German and Chilean mourners at his funeral gave Nazi salutes and chanted “Heil Hitler”.

From Evading Justice to Evading News Coverage. The crimes for which Hermann Wilhelm Göring was convicted and sentenced to death at Nurenberg (above), were mostly ignored  in the El Mercurio feature spread.

We live in uncertain and unsettling times where today’s global culture is rife with violent bigotry, misguided nationalism and antisemitism. The rhetoric is nothing new – grounded in the attitudes and values from the 1930s and the 1940s in Europe and the United States.

Instead of guarding today against such resuscitated trends, El Mercurio contributes to its lethal longevity.


How easy it is to trivialize the Holocaust to the point of questioning whether it even happened. A recent example reported NBC News is that of a school administrator in Texas, Gina Peddy, who instructed teachers that if they teach a book about the Holocaust, they should “make sure you have one that has opposing, that has other perspectives.”

WHAT? one teacher questioned in disbelief:

How do you oppose the Holocaust?”

Quite easy if you have respected well-established newspapers like Chili’s El Mercurio eulogising monsters like Hermann Göring!





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

The Arab Voice – October 2021

Arab writers opining on the political landscape of the Middle East join the chorus of global concern of the autocratic power of Facebook while optimistic of the ascension of a woman to the premiership of Tunisia.



The Dictator Mark Zuckerberg

By Sawsan Al-Abtah 

Al-Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, October 16

The curious thing about Facebook is that the more scandals it turns out to be involved in, the more its followers fall in love with it. It doesn’t seem like Facebook account holders, knowing that their privacy is violated, exploited and blackmailed, feel the need to punish the perpetrator, despite their ability to do so. However, following the release of the documents leaked by former Facebook engineer Frances Haugen, as well as Haugen’s testimony before the US Congress about the platform’s manipulation of content through its algorithms, something may finally change.

Causing Conflict. Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifies before the Senate warning of how the platform can be used to create conflict. (Photograph by Jabin Botsford / Getty)

Democrats and Republicans alike seem more willing to condemn Facebook. The American tech giants that were once a symbol of America’s indomitable and incomparable liberalism, and the embodiment of the wonders of creativity, now seem like vicious tools used to manipulate the minds of innocent civilians and steal information. The first slap in the face came in 2018 when the British newspaper The Guardian revealed that the data and personal information used by Cambridge Analytica to influence the US elections and help Donald Trump get to power was obtained with the full support of Facebook, contrary to what the company had claimed. Then came another scandal about Russian interference in US politics through advertisements targeting voters. And despite the fact that Mark Zuckerberg himself came to testify before Congress, nothing changed. At that time, the manipulation was in favor of Trump, who was in the White House, so the US administration had an interest in letting the issue go. Then came another shock, when Facebook and Twitter blocked the accounts of President Trump following the violent events on Capitol Hill. This was the first time that the Western world finally had a taste of its own medicine and realized that Facebook regularly censors opinions. The same people who stood idly by as Facebook silenced the voices of the masses during the Arab Spring, who ignored Facebook’s systematic removal of testimonies shared by defenseless Palestinians under Israeli bombardment, now realized that they, too, can become Facebook’s next victims. America is at least 15 years late in putting an end to Facebook’s violations, which are among the most dangerous to democracy and freedom of expression in the world today. There is no democracy without transparency and accountability, and Facebook lacks both. This is also our problem, in the Arab world, where every election turns out to be the reelection of the same corrupt voices into power. We never learn our lesson. Mark Zuckerberg can be classified as the world’s largest dictator. He does not have armored vehicles, intercontinental missiles and submarines roaming the seas, but he does control the minds of more than a third of the world’s population. He can control their secrets, manipulate their moods and, in many cases, determine their fate.

– Sawsan Al-Abtah 



A Wakeup Slap From Facebook

By Mishari Al-Dhaidi

Asharq Al-Awsat, London, October 6

What happened last Monday, when the Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram services were disrupted for several hours, should have been a big and glaring alarm bell that rang our ears. It is no longer a secret that the tech giant Facebook, together with its counterparts Twitter and Google, have assumed a role of global dominance. They have reached every corner of the world and molded millions of people into addicted users who rely on their products. They wield unfathomable power. They can cancel the accounts of heads of state, delete entire countries from the face of the virtual globe, and manipulate people’s data however they please — all with zero accountability. But there are bright moments of resistance to this dangerous situation. One of those moments is the testimony given in Congress last week by the whistleblower Frances Haugen, who worked as a data scientist for Facebook. In her testimony, Haugen revealed how Facebook stole information from governments, how it misled the public about many topics, and how it uses a battery of lawyers to hide what it’s doing. She especially warned against the enormous harm caused to teenagers and children by Facebook and Instagram. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) also launched an attack on Facebook, saying that technology companies must face accountability for this disaster.

Facing off Facebook. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington accusing Facebook of “misusing their bigness and power”. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

Unfortunately, too many governments, companies, and public officials rely on WhatsApp and Twitter to communicate with the public. Politicians have become obsessed with views, comments, retweets, and likes — as if those are the only metric for their success. In doing so, they neglected other solutions, including, for example, investing in the creation of special platforms, or reinventing old platforms, such as newspapers and satellite TV. There are many solutions out there, but the question is:

Are we ready to pursue them? Or do we need a slap in the face from Facebook to wake us up from our apathy? 

–Mishari Al-Dhaidi



A Woman Leading Tunisia’s Government

By Osama Ramadani 

An-Nahar, Lebanon, October 8

Finally, after a long wait, Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed appointed a prime minister: Najla Bouden Romdhane, the country’s first female prime minister. The appointment drew a lot of attention. Most political forces in Tunisia welcomed the appointment, including Saïed’s political opponents. According to one poll, no less than 67% of Tunisian respondents indicated that they were “satisfied” with the appointment of Bouden. The historical symbolism of the appointment is, in some ways, stronger than its practical impact on life in Tunisia. Even though the markets responded positively to the appointment, Bouden is far from the person who will be able to solve her country’s current financial crisis. Bouden’s appointment is a confirmation of the tradition of equal rights between men and women in Tunisia. It keeps up with the reformist legacy and progressive traditions established by Habib Bourguiba, the country’s first president. The appointment stirred up the popular imagination, as some compared Najla Bouden to Angela Merkel, the outgoing German chancellor. Despite the fact that the two have nothing to do with each other, the comparison reflected hope for better days for Tunisia. Positive attitudes towards the appointment were not surprising.

Times are Changing. Najla Bouden Romdhane is Tunisia’s first woman Prime Minister.

There has always been an initial willingness among the majority of Tunisians to accept the ascension of a woman to the presidency of the republic or the head of the government. However, the positions expressed by Tunisians were not without some reservations, especially among those active on social media platforms, which showed a misplaced interest in Bouden’s external appearance; an interest that is rarely shown when it comes to male politicians. Still, there were more serious reservations, including the criticism expressed by some female political figures around the fact that Bouden’s role was given limited power compared to the power held by previous prime ministers – implying that she wouldn’t, ultimately, be sharing power with Saïed. Therefore, the challenge at hand will be far from simple for the new Tunisian government. Bouden will become Tunisia’s 10th prime minister in a period of 10 years. She will need to introduce more stability into the political system. It will likely be difficult for the new prime minister to find time to devise and implement far-reaching reforms. Bouden will have little to no time to learn the ropes of her new job. She’ll have to deal with urgent economic issues and achieve the necessary understandings with the most prominent social party, the Labor Union, and with the most important donors abroad, including the International Monetary Fund. The road ahead will not be strewn with roses, but the obstacles that Bouden will encounter in carrying out her duties may also be factors that work to her advantage. While some see that the lack of previous ministerial or political responsibilities may constitute an obstacle to the effectiveness of Bouden’s work, others believe that this will make her much more popular and accepted by all political forces, regardless of affiliation. Today, her record is still a blank page on which she will draw whatever promises and statements she wants, even if logic calls her not to make promises that exceed her ability to implement. The final judgment will be based on the results that Bouden will achieve in terms of confronting the crises that she inherited from her predecessors, especially the economic and social crisis that previous governments failed to alleviate. 

– Osama Ramadani 



*Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.





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

Normal People Don’t Boycott Israel

Best-selling Irish author, Sally Rooney, exposes her prejudice – and gross hypocrisy by supporting boycotts against Israel.

By Rolene Marks

Normal people don’t boycott Israel. At least, any normal person who would like to see a genuine, lasting peace between Israel and her Palestinian neighbours. The latest brouhaha over what is now seen as leftie, cause-du-jour, is best-selling Irish author, Sally Rooney’s decision to “not allow her books to be published in Hebrew”. After a global outcry, Rooney has decided she will allow her books to be published in Hebrew in Israel – as long as the publisher is BDS-endorsed Israel. Who wants to tell Sally Rooney that is the shortest list? Ever!

A Closed Book. The most popular Irish writer at present, Sally Rooney, a BDS supporter , does not want her books published anymore in Hebrew.

Sally Rooney is the author of the best-selling missive, Normal People, which was adapted into a highly successful TV show of the same name and various other novels which appeal to millennials. Over the years, Rooney has made no secret of her support for the Palestinian cause. In her books, characters have attended pro-Palestinian rallies and activities.

The latest storm revolves around her refusal to publish her latest novel in Hebrew which is not only one of Israel’s national languages alongside Arabic; but is sacred to the Jewish people.

Abnormal Attitude. The bestseller by Irish writer Sally Rooney who no longer wants her books read by Jews in Israel.

Rooney tried to rationalize her decision by accusing Israel of practicing Apartheid and trotting out justification for her decision by quoting BDS (whose stated end goal is the destruction of the State of Israel; Human Rights Watch (whose founder wrote an article for the New York Times citing his concerns that the once venerated organization has a decidedly antisemitic agenda) and Israeli NGO, B’tselem (who have been exposed as receiving funding based on as many anti-Israel stories they can drum up – true or not).

What Rooney fails to understand is that Israel is a robust democracy, where a variety of opinions and views about our ongoing conflict with the Palestinians exist. We are also a country with a healthy respect for the arts. Art is supposed to bring people together, it is supposed to inspire conversation. It is supposed to provoke. By excluding one group of people or one nationality from enjoying (or not!) her art, she could do more to bring people together rather than drive bigger chasms which is of course, what BDS and their supporters want.

They do not want conversation, discourse and cooperation – they want Israel, the national representation of the Jewish people branded a pariah and excluded and use the charge of “human rights violations” as the proverbial stick to beat the horse.

Israel is not an Apartheid state. We are not without our many problems but we are certainly not an Apartheid state. The BDS movement are well aware that the word Apartheid is provocative and emotive and that people invariably understand little about what it means. All BDS does is exploits the suffering of the true victims of Apartheid to push their own racist, exclusionary and antisemitic agenda.

Selective Sally. While more than 320 rights groups and other organisations have called on the UN to launch investigations into Beijing’s human rights abuses, Irish writer Sally Looney is happy for her books to be published in Chinese but not in Hebrew. (Photo: Getty Images)

What I find glaringly hypocritical is that Rooney is more than happy to be published in China, Russia, Iran and other human rights violation hotspots around the world. Could it be that it is easier to advocate boycotting the tiny, Hebrew speaking market because it won’t have that much of an impact on potential profits from sales of the books? Jews are very much the people of the book – but I guess not any of Sally Rooney’s!

We cannot pretend that this does not pose a problem. Decisions of this kind only serve to give a tailwind to those who want to propagate more anti-Israel division. This week, posters were put up on bus stops in London with the words “Normal people boycott Israel”. This was a play on Rooney’s successful novel – and endorsing her decision. London transport authorities denounced this as vandalism but the message was out there for everyone to see – without the benefit of history, context and nuance.

The conflict between Israel and her Palestinian neighbours is complex and won’t be solved through boycotts and demonization but rather through negotiation and compromise.

Several days ago, the former US Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell passed away. He had this to say about the conflict, “The quest for peace, however difficult, must not be abandoned. Israel needs to live in peace and security. The Palestinians need the same, as does the region.”

Peace, he added, “can only be attained by the parties themselves. The pursuit is not helped by international actions and resolutions singling out Israel for economic attacks, or human rights allegations while ignoring despotic nations far more deserving of condemnation. That is not justice and that is not acceptable.”

Wise Words. General Colin Powell who served as the USA’s 65th Secretary of State and who passed away this week, had cautioned against “singling out Israel …. while ignoring despotic nations far more deserving of condemnation. That is not justice and that is not acceptable.”

Rooney and her ilk should heed his wise words.

To borrow from the title of Rooney’s best-seller, Normal People, I would leave her with a few kernels of truth. Normal people want peace. Normal people pursue dialogue and inclusion. Normal people don’t discriminate. Normal people do not sow division and hate. Normal people look for solutions instead of propagating conflict.

This gross kind of antisemitism, practiced by people like Rooney should never be something that normal people do. I hope it is not too late.





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

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter- 24 October 2021

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

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

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What’s happening in Israel today?  See from every Monday – Thursday LotL’s “The Israel Brief” broadcasts and on our Facebook page and  YouTube by seasoned TV & radio broadcaster, Rolene Marks familiar to Chai FM listeners in South Africa and millions of American listeners to the News/Talk/Sports radio station  WINA, broadcasting out of Charlottesville, Virginia. See also this week, ‘Rolene Marks vs Chief Mandla Mandela’ over his call to boycott the Miss Universe pageant, due to be hosted in Israel. You can subscribe to LOTL news from Israel and enjoy at a time of your convenience.

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Articles

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Roadworthy

From a dark road in the sixties to a dark age today, British TV series “Ridley Road” illuminates

By David E. Kaplan

Darkness lurks In Broad Daylight. A poster for Ridley Road  where a Jewish girl infiltrates  Britain’s rising neo-Nazis.

What does it say about the UK today that  a BBC TV series that depicts the rise of fascism and antisemitism in the sixties results in the actors facing ugly online abuse for playing Jewish characters? The writer delves beyond the issues of 1963 to exposes the antisemitic abscess in British society in 2021.

Roadworthy

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(2)

Irish Antisemitism and BDS

The unspoken morality complex

By Fionn Grunspan

Emerald Isle sees Red when it comes to Israel. Message from Ireland these days – Boycott Israel.

For well over a century – from the Limerick Pogrom in 1904 nearly a half century before a State of Israel, to the popular Irish writer Sally  Rooney in 2021 boycotting the Hebrew language – Ireland has an enduring ‘issue’ with Jews. The writer peels away a false façade of morality covering an ingrained antisemitism embedded in the country of his birth.

Irish Antisemitism and BDS

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(3)

Robbie’s Story

Surviving cancer – a personal account from South Africa to Israel

By Robbie Eddles

Robbie’s Road to Recovery. Surrounded by his loving family, Robbie at Israel’s Sheba Medical Centre.

Diagnosed with a rare type of Leukemia at the age of 7, the writer, now age 20,  relates in his own words his medical and emotional rollercoaster journey between South Africa and Israel that he can today look back thankful that he is   back to “full health and strength” and “no longer in fear of having a relapse”.

Robbie’s Story

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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 (0&EO).


The Israel Brief- 18-21 October 2021

The Israel Brief – 18 October 2021 – Sweden’s Foreign Minister visits Israel. Israel to fight climate change? Remembering Yitzchak Rabin. 10 Years since release of Gilad Shalit.



The Israel Brief – 19 October 2021 – The circle of peace widens – who is reported to be next? Earthquake felt in Israel. IDF close off areas around Gaza border. Remembering Colin Powell.



The Israel Brief – 20 October 2021 – US and Israeli envoy to UN berate Security Council. Emirati and Israeli flags on moon? Israel increases permits for Gaza merchants. PM Modi invites PM Bennett to India.



The Israel Brief – 21 October 2021 – President Herzog sets up Climate Forum. Taliban behead 18 year old woman. Sunrise DC discriminate against pro-Israel groups. Black Eyed Peas headed to Israel!






Lay of the Land Co-Founder, Rolene Marks debated Chief Mandla Mandela, Grandson of Nelson Mandela, about whether or not the Miss Universe Pageant, scheduled to be hosted by Israel, should be boycotted.








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

Roadworthy

From a dark road in the sixties to a dark age today, British TV series “Ridley Road” illuminates

By David E. Kaplan

It was by casual chance and indifference that I tuned into a chapter of history that I knew little or nothing about. Screening down the latest new movies and series that appeared on my streamer list, I opted for a BBC drama series titled “Ridley Road”. I had no idea what it was about but it sounded mildly interesting as it was briefly described as set in London during “the swinging sixties.”  Far from it!

Darkness Lurks In Broad Daylight. A poster for Ridley Road  (l-r) with Rory Kinnear as fascist leader Colin Jordan, Agnes O’Casey as Vivien Epstein who infiltrates the neo-Nazi organization and Tom Varey as Jack Morris, a Jew working undercover.

Sure it was London and the sixties but not about what I was expecting –  the youth-driven cultural revolution that saw London flourishing in art, music and fashion, and emblematic of fun-loving hedonism.

This was not Abbey Road but Ridley Road!  

It was a dark road covering a dark period in history and yet it was hardly ‘history’ when the underlying issues it covered are as sadly prevailing as today’s headline news.

It took me down a road untraveled and left me disturbed as we, as Jews, have been down this road before – too many times.

And one is left asking:

What has changed?

If Abbey Road was the eleventh album by the Beatles named after the location of EMI Studios in London, Ridley Road by contrast was the Jewish headquarters not of a music studio but of Group 62 formed in 1962 in response to the resurgence of fascism in Britain headed by Colin Jordan, the founder of Britain’s National Socialist Movement (NSM). The 4-part series opens not as I was half expecting of a bright London bus careering down Piccadilly  but a sunlit bedroom in a country house in Kent in 1962 where an adorable child is helping a young blonde woman make the bed. They are then joined by a dapper man with a warm friendly face. He is the husband and the father. They gather in front of the window welcoming the morning sunshine from a Kentish pastoral scene. Then the jolt –  the man, while smiling gives a Nazi salute. This man, this husband, this father – is the infamous Colin Jordan.

For those unfamiliar with this constantly sieg-heiling character, John Colin Campbell Jordan (1923 – 2009) was a leading figure in post-war neo-Nazism in Great Britain. Through his leadership of organisations such as the National Socialist Movement and the World Union of National Socialists, Jordan advocated a pan-Aryan “Universal Nazism”. Although unaffiliated with any political party, he remained an influential voice on the British far right.

Tough Times. A scene from Ridley Road with (l-r) Malinovsky (Eddie Marsan), Vivien Epstein (Agnes O’Casey) and Ronnie Malinovsky (Danny Sykes). Photo credit: Ben Blackall

In the fictionalized drama series based on true events, the headquarters at Ridley Road is run by group of Jews who are joined by a young Jewish girl from Manchester who bravely sets out to infiltrate Jordan’s neo-Nazi organization. Their most remembered confrontation – depicted in the series –  was in Trafalgar Square in 1962, when Jordan – protected by the Free Speech Act – held a raucous rally where a riot broke out between his neo-Nazi supporters and protesting anti-fascists.

Of the plot I will write no more; only of the secondary ‘plot’ , that is, the ramifications of the series reflecting the spiraling antisemitism in Britain today.

Battle of Trafalgar ’62. Covered in the TV series Ridley Road, here is actual footage of the first public meeting called by the British National Socialist Movement in Trafalgar Square that ended as reported “with 20 arrests, fights, bleeding faces, abuse, and tears.”

No sooner had I started watching Part III of the series, my eyes were drawn to an article in the Time of Israel headed:

“UK actor faces ‘relentless’ abuse for playing Jewish character in BBC series”

The series is Ridley Road  that debuted on October 3 on BBC and the UK actor is Eddie Marsan, mostly known for his role in the hit American series ‘Ray Donovan’. Marsan, who is not Jewish, plays the leading role of Soly Malinovsk, the leader of the anti-fascist underground movement known as the 62 Group. Twitter users were quick to attack the show of “favouring Zionists” and accusing Marsan of supporting “apartheid”.

Read all About It! A newspaper cutting from 1 July, 1962 of several thousand anti-fascists breaking up a rally held in Trafalgar Square by Colin Jordan’s National Socialist Movement. This was followed by a wave of anti-fascist action against the NSM and Oswald Mosley’s Union Movement throughout 1962.

Did these twisted twitter users even WATCH the series?

Marsan was quick to respond revealing that he has been facing “relentless” online abuse for playing a Jewish character in the four-part “Ridley Road” TV series.

F**k me, this is relentless, all I did was play a Jew, I dread to think what would’ve happened if I was actually Jewish,” Marsan tweeted .

On the Warpath. Scene from Ridley Road shows Colin Jordan (Rory Kinnear), Vivien Epstein (Agnes O’Casey) marching towards a Synagogue. (photo Ben Blackall)

Should anyone be surprised at the spiraling increase of anti-Semitism in the UK when a non-Jewish actor is subjected to such vile hate. See some of the tweets Marsan shares:

  • Facts are facts Eddie, you are a crap actor and I’ll never watch shite with your Apartheid loving bake in it.”
  • Why does the BBC do so many programmes favouring the Zionists ‘return’ and so few favouring Palestinian’s Right of Return? Just asking

The former Ray Donovan star was quick to fire back with:

 “I did a series about British Jews facing antisemitism, nothing to do with Israel or Palestine. But if you think they’re linked you probably think one justifies the other & the irony is, that’s exactly why Ridley Rd got commissioned.”

Responding to another antisemitic comment, Marsan proudly explained that he was grateful “to do ‘Ridley Road’ because it gave me the opportunity to confront people like you constructively and creatively. You can scream & shout all you want & throw around false accusations about, but it just reconfirms your prejudice.”

Outspoken against antisemitism on social media in the past, Marsan grappled with an explanation:

Antisemitism gives the myth that it’s punching up to some mythical all-powerful Jewish elite… so quite often, young people are taken in by antisemitic tropes on social media. They don’t see it as racism, they see it as anti-capitalist, and they feel more inclined to support it.”

In truth, Jews have been victimized for being communist as much as being capitalist suggesting the nature of the prejudice  is never over belief but blood.

Disgusting DuoColin Jordan gives a Nazi salute outside Marylebone Magistrates’ Court in 1963 while leaving with wife Françoise after being fined for insulting a Jewish taxi driver by saying “ good Luck to you for being a Jew …but what are you doing out of the ovens?’ (credit National Vanguard.org)

The Jews are despised not for what courses through their brains but through their veins.

British Jewish actress, Tracy-Ann Oberman, who costars in the series as Marsan’s wife and co-activist in the 62 Group, is intimately connected with the history. Her grandparents were members of the intelligence-gathering and anti-fascist underground movement 62 Group, which tried to stop the rise of the far-right. Oberman has been a staunch advocate for the fight against antisemitism since she left the British Labour Party in April 2017, after it refused to revoke the membership of former London mayor, Ken Livingstone, who was accused of antisemitism.

Standing Firm. The former EastEnders actress, Tracy-Ann Oberman now staring in Ridley Road, has faced a torrent of antisemitic abuse on social media over the years but remained defiant by ‘standing up against injustices’.

Appearing as a guest on the British talk show “Lorraine”, Oberman revealed that she was  being targeted by antisemitic trolls on social media, who have been abusing her online for years.

It comes from the left and the right, and if you see an injustice, I’ve always felt I needed to stand up and talk about it.”

Despite the treatment Oberman has been experiencing – described as “frankly vile” by talk show host Lorraine Kelley – Oberman is adamant that she will continue to speak against antisemitism despite online bullying.

The British writer, activist and Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Emma Pollock CBE, called the abuse that Marsan is facing:

 “shocking, disgusting, [and] exhausting all at once.”

While appreciative of the support following the verbal abuse targeting the intrepid actor, Marsan wrote:

 “Thanks for all the kind responses about this but honestly, I’ve been in this game for 30 years & I think I’m the dog’s bollocks, I’m fine. But the point is, what if I wasn’t. What if I were a young kid just starting out & I had to deal with this level of abuse. It’s unacceptable.”

None of this should be surprising!

Failed Führer. Actual Colin Jordan. Ridley Road is inspired by the true story of a revival of neo-Nazism in Britain in 1962 and a group of Jewish men and women who club together to try beat the fascists off the street and push them to the fringes of British politics, which they were successful in doing.
 

Also hardly ‘surprising’, last Thursday, London’s Metropolitan Police arrested a 28-year-old man suspected of carrying out five “unprovoked assaults on Jewish people” over the past month in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Stamford Hill. Police had been searching for the suspect since he had been filmed two weeks earlier assaulting a Jewish man and a child on the street in separate incidents on the same day.

Londoners today hardly need reminding of the situation. Who can forget the video – televised globally on TV news networks earlier this year – showing cars with Palestinian flags driving through Jewish populated areas of the British capital honking their horns and screaming:

F*** their mothers, rape their daughters

If this is the ‘road’  the UK is set on going down, then Ridley Road is a ‘much watch’ as warning sign how societies can so easily “go down the wrong road”. Whatever the stresses and strains on a society, it seems Jews  are perennially caught in the middle and are blamed and ostracized.

One must bear in mind that this fanatical leader of the National Socialist Movement, Colin Jordan, was not “some crazy” aberration – he went to Cambridge and was a teacher in a school – a classic example as how the ordinary  transforms into the evil extraordinary.

Whether the threats to deal with Jews are heard as manic murderous screams from moving cars or are delivered in more refined parlance from those attired in suits and fine skirts, the instructive narrative of Ridley Road  is no less about the past as it is about the future.

Ask actors like Eddie Masan and Tracy-Ann Oberman!








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

Irish Antisemitism and BDS

The unspoken morality complex

By Fionn Grunspan

Ireland’s antisemitism is growing in public notoriety, from the attempted passage of a BDS law to author Sally Rooney boycotting the Hebrew language. Ireland has always been extremely divided towards Jews, with two thoughts, two minds and two hearts; but one grows stronger.

Modern Irish antisemitism began with The Limerick Pogrom, also known as The Limerick Boycott (1904-1906), when the local Jewish community was subjected to local boycotts and violent attacks, forcing local Jews to flee Limerick. The Limerick Pogrom would prove pivotal as Jews were denounced as a ‘disgrace’ to Ireland’s identity and morality as sermonised by local leader and pogrom leader Father John Creagh. A spreader of antisemitic conspiracy theories, including that of ritual murder, he said that the Jews had come to Limerick:

 “to fasten themselves on us like leeches and to draw our blood“.

Promoting Pogrom from the Pulpit. On the evening of 11 January 1904, Father John Creagh (above) took to the pulpit during mass at the Redemptorist church in Limerick and delivered a virulent antisemitic diatribe which gave rise to a pogrom and inaugurated a two-year economic boycott of the Limerick Jewish community. This boycott compelled most Jews to leave the city.
 

The belief that Jewish people and culture remain a stain on Irish identity and morality, remain pervasive with modern Irish antisemites. Pro-Nazi elements, within Irish society rose to prominence, with Oliver J Flanagan in his maiden speech on becoming a member of the Dáil (Irish Parliament) in 1943 stating:

rout the Jews out of this country… where the bees are there is honey, and where the Jews are there is money.”

Flanagan, would go on to become a government Minster for Agriculture in 1954, and rose to Minster of Defence in 1976. Antisemitism, would continue to build within Ireland as the legacy of Irish indifference to the suffering of Jews even grew following WWII and the horrors of the Holocaust.

Lies and Loss in Limerick. In April 1970, Gerald Goldberg, whose family lived in Limerick in 1904  (see above), characterized it as a “near genocide perpetrated … against some 150 defenceless Jewish men, women and children”.

Those in Ireland who had wished to resist the Nazis would quietly without any fanfare travel abroad to enlist such as Marie Elmes, an Irish aid worker who saved the lives of at least 200 Jewish children during the Holocaust, by hiding them in the boot of her car. At great risk to herself  and even imprisoned by the Gestapo for six moth on suspicion of aiding Jews, in 2015, she became the first and only Irish person honoured as Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.

One and Only. Mary Elmes, the Irish woman who saved Jewish children from Nazi extermination camps is the only Irish person honoured as Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.

For the over 5000 Irish Soldiers serving the Irish Military Forces during WWII, their circumstances were such that they enlisted in secret and on returning home were treated as outcasts – formally stripped of their previous ranks and medals.

Irish antisemitism would rapidly worsen, turning from largely extreme ‘cold indifference’ with bouts of violence to open antisemitic hostility in the form of Israelophobia. As Ireland during the 1950s and 1960s became consumed by the ethnic conflict in Northern Ireland, southern or the Republic of Ireland looked for allies, finding it with antisemitic regimes.

It should therefore come as little surprise that the Iranian regime  – that supports the destruction of Israel and sponsors terror groups that calls for the destruction of Jews – also proved to be a strong supporter and close ally to Ireland.

Ingrained Hate. “Suspend Israel…sanctions now” read the banners held up by these protesters at a rally called by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) in May 2018 (Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire)

Irish antisemitism increased throughout the decades, culminating in other formative moments in the 2000s, with the disseminating of antisemitic literature and the support of the rising BDS movement. In 2006, a local scandal erupted within Ireland of the selling of the notorious antisemitic libel of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Tesco supermarkets, which were only removed after the denouncement by local Muslim Clerics and Imams. This began an intense discussion on Israel coupled with finding traction with the antisemitic philosophy of the BDS movement.

Who’s Calling Who Awful. Academic boycott conference in Ireland rejects anti-BDS speaker but includes prominent BDS’s Steven Salaita, who called Israel supporters “awful human beings”.  Three researchers wishing to present opposing point of view were rejected from participating.

Founded in 2005, the BDS movement calling for the boycott and destruction of Israel as outlined by its cofounder Omar Barghouti – “Definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, would ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine” -gained rapid popularity throughout Ireland in the late 2000s and early 2010s, spreading rapidly throughout Irish academia, the political establishment, and civil society. Ireland in direct contravention of its EU Membership, continues to try and pass a law called “The Occupied Territories Bill” to ban products; made in Jewish areas in the contested areas of East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria / West Bank. The Law is being championed by nationalistic religious and ethnic elements alike.

Music to their Ears. Anyway to drown out Israel, Irish celebrities and public figures gathered at Dublin’s iconic Ha’penny Bridge to launch the Irish ‘Call to Boycott Eurovision 2019 in Israel’.

Irish author Sally Rooney, boycotts the Hebrew language by refusing to have her book published in Hebrew, citing the need to support BDS:

 “The Hebrew-language translation rights to my new novel are still available, and if I can find a way to sell these rights that is compliant with the BDS movement’s institutional boycott guidelines, I will be very pleased and proud to do so”.

Rooney’s actions are a recurring antisemitic legacy within Ireland.

For the Irish – Hardly ‘Novel’. Irish bestselling author and BDS supporter Sally Rooney won’t allow latest novel to be published in Hebrew by an Israeli press because she supports a cultural boycott of Israel. In 2018, Dublin’s city council passed resolutions endorsing a boycott of Israel and calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland.  (Photo by Erik Voake/Getty Images for Hulu)

The unspoken Irish morality complex of boycotting Jews  – from the early twentieth century of its own citizens to the present of  proposing to boycott Jews today in Israel  – will continue to pervade Irish society until it is fully challenged.

Ireland today is repeating its age-old habit of boycotting Jews to self-promote its sense of misguided morality where Jews are seen as immoral.  They fail to acknowledge their own immorality.

A long time coming, Ireland needs to finally address its years of antisemitism and  repair its relations with its small and beleaguered Irish-Jewish community.



About the writer:

Fionn Grunspan is a sign language translator previously working for a number of charities. Since being a community teacher and activist within his Jewish community from his mid-twenties, Grunspan today, through  his “Clubhouse Page”, promotes news and information about the Jewish world, focusing on Israel. For reasons of personal safety and security, the writer declined to  have his photograph appear.





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