IS SOUTH AFRICA’S PAGEANT DEBACLE A BEN AND JERRY’S MISSTEP?

By Adv. Craig Snoyman

The case of CITIZENS FOR INTEGRITY (CFI)  vs THE GOVERNMENT OF SOUTH AFRICA is due to be heard in the urgent court in the Pretoria High Court on 7th December. The case has done the rounds on social media, but the mass media seem to have shown little interest in in it. Of note is that that CFI  have taken the government to task, alleging that it has treated Miss South Africa unconstitutionally and acted irrationally. Even more notable is that  the deponent, (the person signing the founding affidavit in the application) on behalf of CFI is the Deputy Chair of the ANC Women’s League, Sibongele Cele.

While not wishing to pre-empt the decision of the court in anyway, there was an interesting point that was raised in the papers,  which I have not seen dealt with by any of the writers and experts. These pundits have flooded the South African media about the Government’s  withdrawal of support for the Miss South Africa pageant and Miss South Africa with many tons of litres of ink (and billions of mega-pixels). The issue of the South African government’s actual  boycotting action of the pageant  – because it is being held in Israel – has been an ignored subsidiary issue. Admittedly, this issue will likely have no bearing on the outcome of the above case, but it certainly is an issue worth raising.

Beauty and the Beast. The stunning Miss South Africa whose future her misguided government wants to ruin because she is set to compete in Israel.

On 14 Nov 2021, the South African Minister for Sports, Art and Culture, Nathi Mthwethwa, made the following announcement:

“The South African government withdraws its support and that of South Africa for the Miss South Africa pageant following the latter’s intransigence and disregard of advice against partaking in the Miss Universe pageant scheduled to be held in Israel during the month of December 2021.”

He then proceeded to state further that:

“Following unsuccessful consultations initiated by the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture, it has proven difficult to persuade the Miss SA pageant organisers to reconsider their decision to partake in the Miss Universe event scheduled to be held in Israel during the month of December 2021. What during initial consultations appeared like engaging, constructive and progressive discussions, was later met with an unpleasant demeanour that is intransigent and lacking appreciation of the potential negative impact of such a decision on the reputation and future of a young black woman.”

Blockhead. South African Minister for Sports, Art and Culture, Nathi Mthwethwa who unsuccessfully tried to block Miss South Africa from competing in Israel in the Miss Universe competition.

The effect of the withdrawal of support for the Miss South Africa pageant, resulted in the effective withdrawal of government for the pageant organisers and also for Miss South Africa herself. She is only Miss South Africa as a result of the pageant. This caused a media feeding frenzy, with two sides of the South African public polarising as to whether Miss South Africa should follow the government’s instruction to boycott or whether she should go. Whether the government has the right to withdraw “its support and that of South Africa”  is a question that will be answered by the court.

Polls in South Africa tended to support her attendance.

At this stage it is important to digress and deal with the concept of boycotts and America’s attitude to them, specifically concerning Israel and how it might affect South Africa. There are various forms of boycotts. I have used the example of Israel as the perceived wrongdoer.

A primary boycott would be a direct refusal  to deal with or purchase Israeli goods or services, to sell their services or goods to Israel, or to deal in any manner with companies, nationals, or residents of Israel. A complete boycott of all things Israel.

Irate over Israel. South African government embroiled in controversy and court as it withdrew its support  Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane (above) competing in the Miss Universe competition in Israel.

A secondary boycott is where, to enhance the effects of a primary boycott, a boycotter may refuse to deal with those who support the adversary. Individuals  may refuse to purchase goods manufactured by any company that sells its goods to the target of the boycott,  Israel.

The distinctive feature of a secondary boycott is that the ultimate target of the strike action is one step removed from the direct target. The individual expects that applying pressure to  the individual or company, it will be forced to deal differently with the (perceived) wrongdoer.

A tertiary boycott, (such as the Arab League “blacklist” against Israel)  would ensure that a company that does not trade with Israel may  also not  trade with other companies that have  dealing with the perceiver wrongdoer, i.e. Israel, the boycotted country. So the tertiary boycott  led to the situation which prohibited an Arab League member and its nationals from doing business with any company that in turn dealt with companies that have been blacklisted The financial consequence of being placed on the Arab League blacklist was severe: the offending party was forced to choose between either terminating the offending acts or losing access to Arab League member markets. Notable examples were Pepsi and Toyota.

The US case of NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. established that there are limits on the free-speech rights accompanying commercial boycotts. The obvious inquiry is where is the line between permissible restrictions and impermissible infringements on First Amendment, (Freedom of Speech) rights.  The advocation of a boycott is a First Amendment right and would constitute  free speech. The general principle developed is that when a boycott interferes with commerce or disrupts important policy goals of the government,  especially if the boycott is of a secondary or tertiary nature, that right to boycott is vulnerable to government infringement.

It would seem that the actions of Minister Mthwethwa have exceeded the bounds of First Amendment rights. He had discussions with the organisers of Miss South Africa pageant, at the very least.  After the discussions having been met by an “unpleasant demeanour”  and “intransigent  attitude”, where his opinion was not accepted, he then withdrew support of the government and South Africa of those opposing him. In boycotting terminology, he has refused to deal with Miss South Africa and the pageant who wished to attend the Miss Universe pageant in Israel. His target  was the organisation and people who were one step removed from the direct target, being Israel. By his deeds, he falls within the category of a secondary boycotter.

While South Africa is a country, the situation with the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s is not very different. In July this year,  American ice cream company  Ben & Jerry’s announced that they planned to boycott West Bank settlements and Jewish neighbours in East Jerusalem by refusing to allow its products to be sold  in those areas. In a statement on its website, they stated

“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)”

It further stated that they were not boycotting Israel, just the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” and would continue with the sales  to Israel within the pre-1967 borders.

Bill against Boycotts. Floridian Rayna Rose Exelbierd from Southeast high school speaks in support of the bi-partisan anti- Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) bill passed by the Florida legislature. (FPG file photo)

The fallout for its parent company, Unilever, was swift. Unilever  stated that  it remained fully committed to its presence in Israel but respected the right of the independent board of Ben &Jerry’s to make such decisions. Prime Minister Bennett of Israel condemned the move. Foreign Minister Lapid stated:

 “Over 30 states in the United States have passed BDS legislation in recent years. I plan on asking each of them to enforce these laws against Ben & Jerry’s. They will not treat the State of Israel like this without a response,”

In fact, 35 states have passed bills and executive orders designed to discourage boycotts of Israel. Most have been passed with broad bipartisan support. While the bills are different in certain respects, they have taken one of two forms:

(a) contract-focused laws requiring government contractors to promise that they are not boycotting Israel; and

(b) investment-focused laws, mandating public investment funds to avoid entities boycotting Israel.

Consequences for the boycotting entity may range from disinvestment from  State employee pension funds  to losing out on contracts at State run organisations.

The first  State to react was Arizona, on August 3, 2021, when its Treasurer’s Office informed Unilever PLC that it was actively boycotting Israel due to the actions of Ben & Jerry’s, a subsidiary of Unilever, by announcing that it will withdraw sales from Israel. These actions were in direct violation of Arizona statutes and accordingly public state entities would not be allowed to invest moneys with an entity that boycotts Israel.

Cold Comfort. Amidst the controversy, an Israeli employee of Ben & Jerry’s Israel affixes a flag at the company’s main factory in Israel, July 22, 2021 (photo: EPA/Abir Sultan)

Since the announcement, at least eight states have taken steps to halt or withdraw investments in Unilever since Ben & Jerry’s announcement. Arizona and New Jersey already divested all of their state funds from Unilever. Texas and Florida have already “begun applying their anti-Israel boycott statutes to begin divestment from Unilever.”

Last month, the New York’s Common Retirement Fund  announced that it will withdraw $111 million in actively managed holdings in Unilever after a 90-day review.

The South African government’s formal explicit statement  withdrawing support for Miss South Africa  and the pageant leave the government with little or no wiggle-room.

“The atrocities committed by Israel against Palestinians are well documented and Government, as the legitimate representative of the people of South Africa, cannot in good conscience associate itself with such. ….  Israel was guilty of the apartheid treatment of Palestinians.”

It  announced very clearly that the South African government intends to  cause harm to the State of Israel and violates the BDS legislation of 35 states of the United States of America. As was stated by Governor Cuomo when the BDS legislation was passed in New York:

“It’s very simple. If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you. “If you divert revenues from Israel, New York will divert revenues from you. If you sanction Israel, New York will sanction you. Period.”

So, from where I sit, it appears that South Africa has opened itself up to anti-boycott legislation which can be called up by the various States. The action taken by Ben & Jerry’s does not appear to be nearly as heinous as that of South Africa. Perhaps South Africa doesn’t feature in the class of Unilever and that is why sanctions have not been imposed on it. Even the State of Israel has regarded South Africa as sufficiently insignificant so as not to invoke the anti-BDS legislative sanction.

Beauty Beats BDS. Defying her intransient government,  21-year-old Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane, boarded a plane in Johannesburg to compete in the Miss Universe competition in Eilat, Israel, commenting: “Ready as I’ll ever be! I’m so grateful for this opportunity to represent my country on the @missuniverse stage! South Africa! Let’s do this!”.

But I certainly would not want to be a negotiator for South Africa the next time that AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) and trade barriers between the USA and South Africa come up for discussion.





About the writer:

Craig Snoyman is a practising advocate in South Africa.





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).

Weep, My Alma Mater

By Stephen Schulman

I feel a deep sadness, the sadness felt at the loss of something that was dear to me that is now lost and is no more. It is my alma mater, The University of Cape Town (UCT).

The campus is still situated in its magnificent location, the buildings are still standing and the students are present, but for me it is an empty shell for as what constitutes the essence of a true academic institution: the spirit of tolerance, disinterested academic research, open discourse accepting often contradictory points of view; and accompanying perspicacity that once was the hallmark of this venerable institution has long since gone. The campus calls itself UCT (at least at this moment of time!) but the spirit that characterized this once true liberal university has vanished.

Going Downhill. UCT in decline.

The saga of Lwazi Lushaba is just another sad testimony to this decline for in April of this year, in a pre-recorded lecture delivered online with first-year political science students, on a date that happened to coincide with Israel’s Holocaust Day, Lushaba, a lecturer in the department of political studies at the University of Cape Town, said:

Hitler committed no crime. All Hitler did was to do to white people what white people had normally reserved for black people.”

His words displaying blatant racism or at the very least, abysmal ignorance and/or an abhorrent lack of sensitivity caused outrage amongst his students, many alumni and the community. Protests were lodged and their outcome was awaited. However, the university choosing a policy of “hear no evil and see no evil” and with the backing of the head of the Students Representative Council perceived nothing amiss, dismissed the protests and elected to remain silent.

Black and White. UCT lecturer Dr Lwazi Lushaba was reported to the Human Rights Commission after stating Hitler did nothing wrong when he stated: “Hitler committed no crime. All Hitler did was to do to white people what white people had normally reserved for black people.”

On the 27th June, after naively and patiently waiting three months for UCT to respond, I penned an open letter to Vice Chancellor Rosina Mamokgethi Phakeng expressing my dismay at the silence of the institution at Lushaba’s words, the damage it had caused to the university and the distress of the community at large. Somewhat surprisingly, I received a prompt communication albeit not from the VC but from Prof. Martin Hall, the acting deputy VC in charge of transformation.

Dear Stephen Schulman

The Vice-Chancellor has asked me to reply to your email of 27 June.

 It is not the case that Dr Lushaba issued a statement that : Hitler committed no crime. All Hitler did was to do to white people what white people had normally reserved for black people.” Rather, an unknown person extracted a short clip from a 30-minute recording of a first year lecture delivered on line, and posted the clip on social media.  The overall subject of the lecture was acts of genocide committed by colonial powers against indigenous communities, in the context of changing interpretative models within the disciplinary field of political studies. It is apparent from the full recording that Dr Lushaba’s reference to Hitler was intended ironically.

Understandably, the wide distribution of this clip on social media has caused extensive concern and distress.  The university is currently reviewing the full lecture in the context of the curriculum the context and our expectations of our teaching staff.  We expect this review to be completed shortly.

Regards

Emeritus Professor Martin Hall

Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor, Transformation

Excusing EvilActing UCT Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) Prof. Martin Hall, responds to Schulman’s ‘open letter’.

My reply to Professor Hall expressed concern at the delay and hoped that the university would take prompt action as promised. Alas, my hopes were dashed! It is now December; four months have passed since reception of his letter and UCT still remains silent.

The University of Cape Town prides itself on being Africa’s premier university. It proclaims itself as being the continent’s beacon of academic achievements, enlightenment, morality, and social justice. It also purports its involvement in helping to ensure a better future for all the inhabitants. Moreover, Vice Chancellor Phakeng repeatedly stresses on a multiracial campus, the institution’s policy of inclusion and caring.

Between the Cup and the Lip. UCT VC, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng repeatedly stresses the institution’s policy of inclusion and caring. However, have the actions of the university borne these fine words out?

Have the actions of the university borne these fine words out?

If Lushaba’s words were taken out of context, why did the university, at the very least, not see a moral obligation to publish the lecture text to substantiate this claim and clear up misunderstandings?

Why did the university, out of respect for and duty to the community, not issue a statement clarifying this issue?

Why did the Acting Deputy Chancellor put it in writing that the university was reviewing the issue and then do absolutely nothing?

Why was the matter swept under the carpet?

Why the silence?

Unfortunately, this is not the only glaring example of ethical decline. The T.B. Davie Memorial Lecture is a prestigious annual event where internationally distinguished speakers have addressed the student body and convocation. In 2019, a discredited academic known for his crude antisemitism and filthy mouth (e.g. “I wish all the fu____g West Bank settlers would go missing”)  was invited to be the speaker, giving an address that hit a nadir in its vacuity, obtuseness and antisemitic tropes. The university seemingly has no problem in trampling the sensitivities of the Jewish students and community and then soliciting donations.

Inviting Antisemites. In the 2019 TB Davie Memorial Lecture at UCT, the American anti-Zionist academic who lost a tenured university position over his graphically-antisemitic outbursts on Twitter, delivered a fierce attack on the “corporate university” and depicted Israel as the supine tool of an international “ruling class”.

The Students Representative Council (SRC), an accurate weathervane of the prevailing campus winds, actively promotes the so called “Israel Apartheid Week.” On more than one occasion, I wrote to them expressing my disagreement with their decision and calling for an open dialogue. Needless to say, in true Cancel Culture tradition, my letters were ignored.

Emeritus Professor Hall’s appointment as the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor, Transformation has aroused anger both from the SRC and the Black Caucus who see his main disqualification for the post being the colour of his skin. The SRC declared that “the appointment signalled the institution’s endorsement of patriarchy and whiteness, perpetuating historic power imbalances” They continued: “We are not confident that an individual, long lost to UCT, and who is ignorant of the lived realities and struggles of the many marginalised identities who desperately seek the transformation of the institution, is in any way suitable for the role.”

So much for the trumpeted inclusivity and tolerance!

In 2015, the “Rhodes Must Fall” movement demanded that Rhodes’ statue be removed from the campus since it was a symbol of white colonialism and racism. Nevertheless, the students and administration conveniently ignore that it was Cecil John Rhodes who bequeathed the ground to the university and that black students are not averse to accepting the “tainted” money of a Rhodes Scholarship! The smell of hypocrisy is just as strong as that of the faeces that were disgustingly smeared on the statue!

Tomorrow’s Leadership. UCT SRC wants Smuts Hall residence to be renamed to a more ‘suitable name’. Seen here are students covering with plastic and tape the bust of the statue of South Africa’s WWII Prime Minister who mustered the support to oppose the Nazis, Jan Smuts.

UCT is in the throes of ‘Transformation’ i.e. renaming frenzy and one of its decisions has been to rename the men’s residence, the former Smuts Hall. Jan Christian Smuts certainly was not a proponent for racial integration but as Prime Minister of South Africa in 1939, he fought against Fascism and led South Africa in the struggle against Nazi Germany. The university Council with its selective amnesia would do well to remember that had there not been people like him and many others of all races, UCT would certainly not be able to call itself an African university today.

Rhodes Removed. In 2015, students at the University of Cape Town   began the Rhodes Must Fall  protests directed against a statue at the University commemorating Cecil John Rhodes. The campaign for the statue’s removal received global attention and led to a wider movement to “decolonise” education across South Africa. Exactly a month later, the UCT Council voted for the statue to be removed.

On the 17th of November, Vice Chancellor Phakeng, in an official communication titled “Renaming of upper campus places and spaces“, once again urged UCT alumni in keeping with the ‘Transformation’ spirit to devote serious thought to renaming various campus buildings and open spaces. The university council will undoubtedly find a wealth of suitable names amongst the known ANC luminaries and those yet to be discovered!

South Africa is beset with many problems and is on the way to becoming a failed state. The university remains mute, preoccupied with choosing names and ignoring its commitment to community and country. Bigotry and intolerance dominate and the well-worn slogans of caring and inclusiveness ring hollow. Many of us UCT alumni, in the light of its actions, no longer wish to have contact with our once beloved alma mater.

Postscript

At the time of writing, a book by Professor David Benatar “The Fall of the University of Cape Town” has been published that meticulously documents UCT’s losing of its moral compass. The writer, a respected professor and senior member of the academic staff has long been a witness to this decline. His words corroborate the conclusions and sentiments of so many of us all.

“The Mad and the Bad”. In his “THE FALL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN”, Professor David Benatar’s probes the destructive forces that have been eroding Africa’s leading university. Exposing the methods of protest that became criminal – “including intimidation, assault, and arson”, the university leadership capitulated to this behaviour, which “has fostered a broader and now pervasive toxic environment within the institution.”





About the writer:

Stephen Schulman is a graduate of the South African Jewish socialist youth movement Habonim, who immigrated to Israel in 1969 and retired in 2012 after over 40 years of English teaching. 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.




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- 28 November 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.

The Israel Brief

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The Maccabees. From ancient times to the present. Fallen warrior Eli Kay working on a kibbutz. (right)

As a nation mourned during the week before Hanukkah (“festival of lights”) the brutal killing of Eliyahu (“Eli”) David Kay who came to Israel from South Africa as a ‘lone soldier’; served in the IDF to defend the Jewish People and was later joined by his brothers who too served as ‘lone soldiers’,  and finally followed then by his parents and sister, we approach Hanukkah, where we celebrate the heroism of the ancient Maccabees who took on the might of Greece and honour this family leader who fell in Jerusalem like a modern Maccabee.

Lay of the Land  extends deepest sympathy and condolences to Avi, Devorah, Katriel, Hanan, Naama, grandparents and family.

May the memory of Eli be a blessing.


Articles

(1)

Farewell Eli

His passing reveals the best of a South African family and the worst of its government

By David E. Kaplan, Rolene Marks and Yair Chelouche – Co-founders of  Lay of the Land

Life cut Short. An inspiration to family and friends, former South African, Eli Kay was shot while heading to pray at the Western Wall.

Murdered in the Old city of Jerusalem, former South African Eliyahu (“Eli”) David Kay was mourned universally but ignored initially by the government of the country in which he grew up. Loved and respected for following and living his dream, he was shunned in his native South Africa by a political leadership that resented  that dream because it was about – Israel.

Farewell Eli
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(2)

A Modern Miracle

In a hostile neighbourhood, Israel more than survives – it thrives

By Rodney Mazinter

The Magnificent  13. Israel has won 13 Nobel Prizes; nine since 2002 in the sciences and economics outperforming larger countries.

While Israel has revived a barren land and an ancient language, and achieved unimaginable success in so many diverse fields to emerge a world leader, an ultimate prize of a comprehensive peace still eludes her. The writer searches for answers.

A Modern Miracle
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(3)

Finding Common Ground

Far apart geographically, Jews and Hindus are closer than ever in shared history

By Fionn Grunspan

Climate Change, Warming Ties.  PM Bennett called PM Modi (right) “most popular man in Israel” at climate summit in Glasgow.

Similarities in their shared history of shaking off the shackles of colonialism reaching a crescendo in 1948 when both India and Israel gained independence from Britain, Israelis and Indians have come a long way in recognising and celebrating what they have in common.

Finding Common Ground

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LOTL Co-founders 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).


Farewell Eli

His passing reveals the best of a South African family and the worst of its government

By Lay of the Land Co-founders David E. Kaplan, Rolene Marks and Yair Chelouche.

The cruel murder on the 21 November 2021 in the Old City of Jerusalem of Eliyahu (“Eli”) Kay (25), a recent immigrant from South Africa has shocked the nation as it has the ex-pat community in Israel and the Jewish community in South Africa.

Who it has not shocked  – which is shocking – is the political leadership in South Africa!

Future cut Short. Raised in Johannesburg and moving to Israel on his own in 2017,  Eliyahu David Kay was shot while heading to prayer at the Western Wall and died of his wounds in  hospital.

The fact that it took the South African government nearly a week – and only after disappointment and disgust was expressed from the Jewish leadership in press releases as well as letters to the media from dismayed members of the Jewish community – did the government  finally –  and one senses reluctantly – send a letter of condolence addressed to the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and with a request to pass it on to the Kay family.

This belated response fooled few.

The wording “…we are deeply saddened…” rings rather hollow from a government that is more  receptive and responsive to the opinions and sentiments of Africa4Palestine than the SAJBD.

Formerly known as BDS South Africa, the organisation Africa4Palestine issued a statement following the brutal gunning down in cold blood of the 25-year-old former South African, describing Eli as a “South African mercenary” who was not murdered but “was  killed in gunfire with the indigenous population” and that he “loved Apartheid – a disgrace to our South Africa.”

Yes, there IS a “disgrace to our South Africa”, but that disgrace is the ANC government that lends a warm ear to the disseminators of such vile accusations and lies as Africa4Palestine.

Compare South Africa’s belated reaction to the murder of Eli Kay with its embarrassingly hysterical response to its beauty queen, Lalela Mswane, participating in the 2021 Miss Universe pageant next month in Eilat, Israel.

Only last week, Lay of the Land published an article on the ANC government’s vehement opposition of  South Africa participating in the beauty competition.

While this issue riled up the South African government influenced by the BDS movement, the brutal murder of a South African national on the other hand was met with initial official silence. The common denominator or explanation to both sets of calculated conduct by the ANC government was ISRAEL – the national homeland of the Jewish People.

Eli’s Final Journey.  The young man, Eliyahu David Kay on his way to his final resting place in Jerusalem, the city he loved, studied and worked as a tour guide at the Western Wall.

After 2000 years of exile and persecution, Jews have a name for this – ANTISEMITISM.

Compare the week’s reticence of the South African government with the choice words of the representative of the Israeli government at the funeral of Eli in Jerusalem. Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, MK Nachman Shai – who in 2017 led a 5-member delegation of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) to South Africa “to promote dialogue, understanding and cooperation between Israel and South Africa” – spoke of strangers to the Kay family who at the funeral, felt like family:

So many people came today to say goodbye to you. Many  never had the opportunity to meet you, who only learned your name yesterday and decided they wanted to be with you to say goodbye.”

In sad contrast, the only “goodbye” the South African government would truly be happy to say would be as a final farewell to the State of Israel! After all, compare South Africa’s ANC government downgrading its diplomatic relations with Israel – with no ambassador since 2018 – while in 2015, it welcomed to South Africa a Hamas delegation, even hosting it in the South African Parliament in Cape Town. This is the same Hamas that is committed to the destruction of Israel and who only this week was declared a terrorist organization by the UK, joining the US, the EU and other powers.

Laying Eli to Rest. Israelis far and wide, join family and friends attending the funeral at Har HaMenuchot Cemetery in Jerusalem on November 22, 2021of 25-year-old Eliyahu David Kay from South Africa who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack the day before in Jerusalem’s Old City. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

This is also the same Hamas that praised and took credit for the murder of Eli Kay. Official Hamas media identified the assailant Fadi Abu Shkhaydam as a “leader of the Hamas movement  in East Jerusalem” saying “the operation” was designed to be a warning to Israel, which it said would “pay for the inequities” at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Writing in the South African national daily, Business Day, Kenneth Mokgatlhe, makes the observation before posing the astute question:

A hysterical SA government withdraws its support for a young woman to participate in the Miss Universe contest in Israel, but doesn’t say a word about a South African Jew killed by terrorists. Surely there is something wrong with this?”

Is this  the direction South Africa is morally heading – associating and identifying with the murderers of Jews?

Clearly concerned at the government’s silence of a  murder of a fellow South African by a Hamas gunman, the South African Zionist Federation released the following statement on the 22 November 2021:

It has been over 24 hours since Eliyahu David Kay, a Jewish South African national who emigrated to Israel, was murdered in an act of terrorism in Jerusalem by a Palestinian gunman affiliated with Hamas. The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) condemns the deafening silence from the South African Government and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) on this issue. There has been no message of condolence to the family of the deceased, nor any public condemnation of this attack. DIRCO has in the past issued statements against terrorist attacks in the City of Jerusalem, and it is appropriate for them to do so now in respect of a South African national. 

Hamas is an extremist organisation, as recently confirmed by the United Kingdom which designated Hamas as a terrorist organisation and has outlawed support for the group. This antisemitic and anti-Israel hate group gladly claimed responsibility for the killing of an innocent civilian and injuring others as the gunman opened fire in the Old City of Jerusalem.

We call on the South African Government to publicly condemn this heinous incident and to offer support and assistance to the family of the deceased.”

Finally, the ANC felt the heat and on the 25th November – after five emotionally-charged days following the horrendous murder – sent out its official letter of condolence. The circumstances surrounding South Africa’s response, reveals its antisemitic perspective, namely:

The killing of Jews when carried out by Palestinians is understandable.

Note the carefully selected wording in its belated letter of condolence.

The South African government condemns the actions which led to the death of Mr. Kay…”

What actions?

The implication in this cunningly crafted verbiage is that it could be the behaviour or “actions” of Israel’s Jews that is responsible for the death of Eli Kay. In other words, Israel is responsible for what happened to Eli Kay not the murderer, who will soon be honoured as a victim and martyr in Palestine and within some sectors in South Africa.

The SA government is sending a chilling message to its Jewish community and it’s a message that is being read loud and clear and may explain why in 2021 there will be more Olim (immigrants) to Israel from South Africa than over the past 25 years.

These Olim will be following in the heroic example of Eli Kay and his family, taking a journey that is securing the Jewish state for all eternity.

In the words of Nachman Shai at the funeral:

 “Eli, you died a hero, an example to us all.”










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- 22-25 November 2021

The Israel Brief – 22 November 2021 – Eliyahu Kay z”l laid to rest. UK proscribe all of Hamas as terror org. Shin Bet uncovers terror plot. President Herzog meets Prince Charles.



The Israel Brief – 23 November 2021 – South Africa silent on murder of Eli Kay. Lapid to Turkey – shutdown Hamas. $50 million allocated to fight domestic violence. Gantz in Morocco.



The Israel Brief – 24 November 2021 – Australia bans Hizbollah. Belgium moves to label Israeli products “not made in Israel”. Warming ties with Poland. Supporting Helen Mirren.



The Israel Brief – 24 November 2021 – Saudi Arabia presses UAE to cancel historic deal with Jordan and Israel. Malaysia refuses Israeli Squash players visas. Shocking allegations involving treatment of female soldiers. International Day of Elimination of Violence.







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)

Finding Common Ground

Far apart geographically, Jews and Hindus are closer than ever in shared history

By Fionn Grunspan

When India’s Narendra Modi on the final day of his historic visit to Israel in 2017 frolicked in the waves with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a visit to a Mobile Desalination Unit, it emblazoned to the world a visual affirmation of the relationship between the two countries having literally turned a tide.

If the Mediterranean water for the two leaders was warm, relations between Jerusalem and New Delhi had not always been similarly so.

Although Israel and India gained their independence from the United Kingdom within months of each other, they soon found themselves heading in different directions – India as a leader in the Non-Aligned Movement maintaining close relations to the Arab world and the Soviet Union, and Israel linking its future to closer ties with the United States and Western Europe. This lasted for nearly four decades until 1992 when India and Israel established full diplomatic relations  and since, then bilateral relationship between the two countries has blossomed.

Testing the Water. India’s Narendra Modi(left) with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during  his historic visit to Israel in 2017.

A major obstacle to building this warm relationship was India’s legitimate fear that close relations with the Jewish State might radicalize its Muslim citizens – numbering more than 100 million – and harm its relations with the Arab world.

Other than that, Hindus have never been a threat to the Jews, unless, as someone jokingly commented on social media:

 “Well, not unless you count competing for contracts in hi-tech.”

The Dawning of Relations

The relationship between the State of Israel and India goes back many millennia to abound 1,500 BCE when trade began between the two ancient kingdoms.

Excavations at Tel Megiddo in northern Israel  have revealed evidence of such trade proving the presence of turmeric, banana, sesame, all originating from south Asia. Further analysis suggests that the authors of the Old Testament were talking about India, when referencing the trade of animals such as monkeys and peacocks.

During Roman rule of Judea, expensive garments worn in the Temple are believed to have been imported from India via Alexandra.

Israelites in India. Arrival of Jewish pilgrims in Cochin, AD 68. The Cochin Jews who first arrived in the contemporary state of Kerala are dated to about 50 CE. The local legend states that they moved to the country after the first Temple was destroyed during the siege of Jerusalem and were warmly received by Cheraman Perumal, the ruler of the Chera dynasty.

Parallel Fight for Freedom

Jews lived in India among Hindus free of persecution and India periodically provided a refuge to Jews as they fled from persecution, genocide, and slavery. In the early-20th Century, both India and Israel, both under British rule, would fight for independence.

In 1919, British forces carried out the Jallianwala-Bagh Massacre where over 1000 peacefully protesting Indians were killed in Amritsar, India. Also known as the Amritsar Massacre

it caused fury among Indians, leading to the launch by Mahatma Gandhi of the Non-Cooperation Movement, where Indians demanded independence.

During the same period, the fight for independence by Jews in the British mandate was heating up as antisemitism across Europe and in the Arab world spiralled. While Britain had recognised Israel as the homeland for Jews in the 1917 Balfour Declaration, it nevertheless blockaded and imposed limits on Jews entering Palestine, including during the Holocaust.

Howzat! A Bene Israel family in Mumbai, (Bombay). The Bene Israeli, that numerically form the largest Jewish group in India are said to have descended form a group of Jews shipwrecked on the Indian coast in 500 A.D. From the establishment of the state until 1969, over 12,000 Bene Israel emigrated to Israel, settling mainly in Beersheba, Dimona, Ashdod, and Eilat. Some settled in kibbutzim and moshavim. They have contributed to the sort of cricket in Israel.

Jewish resistance took shape in the creation of defence groups such as HaShomer, Nili, Palmach and Haganah to resist attacks from the Arabs; as well as to fight for Independence.

While Britain imposed a brutal blockade on Jews fleeing Nazi persecution to Palestine, a half a world away, colonial Britain continued to commit further massacres in India, such as in 1930 at Qissa-Khwani now in Pakistan. As both India and the emerging Jewish state both fought for independence from Britain, the birth pains of both were agonising,  resulting in painful partitions.

Similarities in their shared history of shaking off the shackles of colonialism, it reached a crescendo in 1948 when both India and Israel gained independence from Britain. They would each – in different ways – have to confront the new independent state of   Pakistan that went to war against India and supported the Arab invasions of the newly established State of Israel.

After independence, India would remain overtly cold to Israel with a hard-line ‘non-aligned’ and pro-Arab policy, as India refused to engage with Israel until the early 1990s. Pakistan would again support further invasions and attacks on Israel in 1967 and 1973, while in 1971, Israel supported India in the Indo-Pakistani War. It proved a breakthrough in the countries relations. Even though India did not have diplomatic ties with Israel in 1971, New Delhi secretly sought and received arms from Tel Aviv as it prepared to go to war with Pakistan, according to Srinath Raghavan’s book “1971”.

Sasoon and Sons. One of the most influential names in the history of Jewish presence in India is that of businessman Shaikh David Sasoon who arrived in Bombay in 1828. His arrival marked the beginning of the prosperity of Baghdadi Jews in India.

Although Israel was in middle of an arms shortage, Prime Minister, Golda Meir stepped in to divert arms meant for Iran to India. She sent a note to her Indian counterpart, Indira Gandhi through Shlomo Zabuldowicz, the director of the firm handling the secret transfers, with a request for diplomatic ties in return for arms. The diplomatic ties, however, would only be established twenty-one years later  in 1992.

Destiny & Détente

After decades of pro-Arab policy, India formally established relations with Israel when it opened an embassy in Tel Aviv in January 1992. Relations continued to warm and in 1999, Israel supported India in the deadly Kargil War, in which Pakistan invaded India. India soon became Israel’s largest buyer of arms and would increase trade to Israel, as the relations continued to warm. India would become a much sought-after travel destination for Jews and Israelis, especially after IDF service, for relaxation and cultural exploration.

India and Israeli relations would continue to warm, strongly supported by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who welcomed Israel’s promotion of exchange student programmes.

Exiled in India. The Synagogue Judah Hyam Hall is the only place of worship in Delhi for Jews, a special minority group whose entry into the country can be traced two thousand years back. (Express Photo)

The Golden Age

In the 2019 British Election, British-Hindus had defended British-Jews, voting against antisemitism in an election, which around half of British-Jews indicated they would consider emigrating if Jeremy Corbyn would win. In 2021, Israeli Prime Minster Bennett and Indian Prime Minster Modi, stated they were close friends on Twitter and wanted to build relations between India and Israel, for future generations.

Bennet wrote:

Narendra, I want to thank you for your historic role in shaping the ties between our countries. Together, we can bring India-Israel relations to a whole new level and build a better & brighter future for our nations.”

Currently the Indian and Israeli Governments are negotiating for closer security agreements, as Israel faces aggression from the Iranian Regime and India confronts an insurgency in northern India.

Climate Change, Warming Ties. Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called PM Modi (right) “the most popular man in Israel” during an animated conversation with him at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Great Expectations

On Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, the following appears:

 “While Israel and India established diplomatic ties in 1992, the Jewish and Indian people share a rich and deep relationship which dates back to ancient times. Jews were one of the first foreign groups in recorded history to arrive and settle in India and became an integral part of Indian society. Today, India boasts a vibrant Jewish community, which numbers close to 7,000, while Israel is home to 85,000 Jews of Indian origin. The warm ties between the Indian and Jewish people continue to enhance and influence the Indo-Israeli relationship today.”

While India today is Israel’s third largest trading partner in Asia and seventh largest globally with bilateral trade having expanded from being mostly dominated by diamonds and chemicals to areas such as electronic machinery and high-tech products, communications systems and medical equipment, the Indian export most emotionally appreciated in Israel, has been Zubin Mehta.

Maestro Mehta. Famed Indian conductor Zubin Mehta performing his final concert with the Israel Philharmonic on Saturday night, July 13, 2019 (Courtesy Hanoch Grizitzky)

Fondly referred to in Israel as the “Maestro”, in 1969 this illustrious conductor of Western classical music began his long tenure with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO), serving as music adviser before becoming music director in 1977. Four years later the orchestra named him Music Director for life, and he held the post until retiring in 2019.

Two years after India and Israel established full diplomatic relations in 1992, the IPO performed in India for the first time, and since then, has toured there periodically. Every few years it performs in Bombay. “Music has this transformative ability to bring people together,” says the Maestro.

When asked “why is Israel so important to you?”,  Mehta replied:

My association with Israel started even before 1969. I first went there in 1961 and immediately formed a bond with the people. This was later solidified through regular visits. Besides, it is also the only real democracy in the area, that values freedom of expression.”

And to the question “how was it during the years when India and Israel didn’t have diplomatic relations??, Mehta replied:

It was very frustrating for me personally. So as soon as relations were resumed, I got the IPO (in 1994) on an India tour. And they came and  performed absolutely free of charge. There is a lot of respect and interest for India in Israel.”

With the Indo-Israeli relationship continuing to reach new heights with growing ties between Israel and India, we can expect this trend to only strengthen into the future.



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.







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).

A Modern Miracle

In a hostile neighbourhood, Israel more than survives, it thrives

By Rodney Mazinter

Today, of the three Abrahamic faiths, there are 120 countries in which the majority of the population is Christian. There are 57 member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. There is only one Jewish state, a tiny country, one-quarter of one percent of the landmass of the Arab world.

Israel is about the size of  my country, South Africa’s premier game reserve – the  Kruger National Park. Israel has done extraordinary things. It has absorbed immigrants from 103 countries, speaking 82 languages. It has turned a desolate landscape into a place of forests and fields. It has developed cutting-edge agricultural and medical techniques and created one of the world’s most advanced high-tech economies. It has produced great poets and novelists, dancers, artists and sculptors, symphony orchestras, universities, and research institutes.  As of 2021, it has also won 13 Nobel Prizes, with nine of the ten Israeli laureates since 2002, having been for either chemistry or economics. A pulsating powerhouse across so many fields, Israel punches way above its weight.

The Magnificent  13. Israel has won thirteen Nobel Prizes;  nine since 2002 in the sciences and economics outperforming larger countries with larger economies.

Wherever in the world there is a humanitarian disaster, Israel, if permitted, is one of the first to send aid. It has shared its technologies with other developing countries. Under constant threat, it has sustained a vibrant democracy, a free press, and an independent judiciary.

On the day of its birth, Israel was attacked by the armies of five states – Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. A country of a mere six hundred thousand people, many of whom were refugees or Holocaust survivors, faced the full force of nations whose population was 45 million.


Speaking of population displacement, at its founding – sometimes forgotten – is that at the same time some eight hundred thousand Jews were forced to leave Arab states, among them Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya. In many of them, they had lived for far longer than had the non-Jewish population of Palestine. The plight of the Arab and Jewish refugees was quite different. The Jewish refugees were absorbed immediately, most by Israel itself. The Arab refugees were denied citizenship by every Arab country except Jordan, to be used as pawns in the political battle against Israel.

Modern Day Exodus. A  Jewish Yemenite family walking through the desert towards Aden in their escape to the new state of Israel in the early 1950s.

The only nation ever to have offered the present Palestinians a state has been Israel. Prior to 1948, the Jews living in this region administered under the British Mandate were referred to as “Palestinians” and current The Jerusalem Post was called The Palestinian Post. Following Palestine renamed Israel in 1948, it was only in1964, that the term “Palestinian” was resurrected now referring to Arab residents with the growth of the pan-Arab movement.

Making History. David Ben-Gurion reading the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel in Tel Aviv on the 14 May 1948,  triggering a war of annihilation launched by five Arab states on the nascent Jewish state.

Every Israeli offer, every withdrawal, every hint at concessions has been interpreted by the Arabs as a sign of weakness and a victory for terror and has led to yet greater terror. If every Israeli gesture towards its neighbours is taken as an invitation to violence, then peace becomes impossible, not because Israel does not seek it, but because simply and quite explicitly,Hamas and Hezbollah do not seek peace with Israel but instead –  its destruction!

The Palestinians have blocked every Israeli move to establish peace:

  • The Oslo Accords led to suicide bombings
  • Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon led to the Katyusha rocket attacks by Hezbollah.
  • The 2005 withdrawal from Gaza led to the rise of power of Hamas and the sustained missile attacks on Sderot and surrounding towns

Israel has often been accused of being a threat to peace. It is an erroneous accusation! Of the many two state proposals between the Balfour Declaration and today – all crafted around compromise – the Jewish leadership accepted them all.

Although bitterly divided over the plan, the Zionist leadership nevertheless agreed in 1937 to the Peel Commission proposals. The Arabs on the other hand, opposed the partition plan and condemned it unanimously.

When the UN General Assembly voted on Resolution 181, adopting a plan to partition the British Mandate into two states -one Jewish, one Arab – the Jewish leadership agreed. Despite that the borders of the proposed state were far from what the Jewish side had hoped for and left the Jewish population without access to key areas of national historic and religious significance, the Jewish leadership nevertheless responded positively to the international proposal. In contrast, Resolution 181 was violently rejected by the local Arab population and the Arab States.  A wave of attacks were launched against the Jewish population and when Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, five Arab armies invaded the new state the same night, seeking its annihilation.

David Ben Gurion had called for peace; the Arab response was war.

In 1967, after the Six Day War, Israel made an offer to return territories in exchange for peace. The offer was conveyed on 16 June 1967. Two months later, the Arab League, meeting in Khartoum, gave its reply – the ‘Three No’s’:

no to peace, no to negotiation, no to recognition.

In 1969, Golda Meir became Prime Minister. Her first announcement was a call to Israel’s neighbours to begin peace negotiations. Within three days, Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser delivered his rejection with the words: “There is no call holier than war.” In June 1969, Mrs Meir offered to go personally to Egypt to negotiate an agreement.

Uncompromising in Defeat. The 1967 Arab League summit  held on August 29 in Khartoum  in the aftermath of the Arab defeat by Israel in the Six-Day War  is most remembered for its Khartoum Resolution  known as “The Three No’s” –  No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel. (left – right): Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Nasser of Egypt, Sallal of Yemen, Sabah of Kuwait and Arif of Iraq.

Between 1993 to 2001, during the Oslo Accords, Israel made its most generous offers yet, reaching the point at Taba of offering the Palestinians a state in all of Gaza, some 97% of the West Bank, with compensating border adjustments elsewhere, and with East Jerusalem as their capital. Again, the answer was ‘no’. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States and an active participant in the talks, said in December 2000, “If Arafat does not accept what is available now, it won’t be a tragedy, it will be a crime”. No Arab country except Jordan offered citizenship to Palestinian refugees. The only nation ever to have offered the Palestinians a state has been Israel.

Faulting Arafat’s Failures. Saudi Ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz was critical of Yasser Arafat for rejecting Israel’s overture towards achieving peace.

Every Israeli offer, every withdrawal, every hint at concessions has been interpreted by the Palestinians as a sign of weakness and a victory for terror and has led to yet greater terror. If every Israeli gesture towards its neighbours is taken as an invitation to violence, then peace becomes impossible, not because Israel does not seek it, but because, simply and quite explicitly, Hamas and Hezbollah do not seek peace with, but the destruction of, Israel.

Field of Dreams. Israeli pioneers transformed an arid land into fertile green farmlands and now Israelis are bringing the gift of water to nations around the world.

Israel has taken a barren land and made it bloom again. It has taken Hebrew,  an ancient language, and made it speak again. It has taken the West’s oldest faith and made it young again. It has taken a shattered nation and made it live again.

Not bad, I would say!



About the writer:

RODNEY MAZINTER, a Cape Town based writer, poet and author, who is involved in media activism on behalf of Israel. Past vice-chair of the South African Zionist Federation, Cape Council, he has held numerous leadership positions within a range of educational, sporting, secular and Jewish organisations. His novel “By A Mighty Hand” was favourably reviewed on Amazon. He has just finished writing the sequel called Ge’ula (Redemption).





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- 21 November 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)

Israel’s Image
New perspectives through Arab Eyes

By David E. Kaplan

Bridging the Gulf. Forging friendships as Israel’s Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid in Abu Dhabi opening Israel’s first embassy in the Gulf.

With an eye out to what Arab journalists in the Middle East are writing about Israel, this writer’s antennae picked up refreshing ‘signals’ in an illuminating piece by veteran Kuwaiti journalist that reveals a changing narrative of the Jewish state’s place in the region. 

Israel’s Image
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(2)

South African Government Boycotts Miss South Africa

Boycotting its own Miss Universe contestant because host country is Israel

By Rolene Marks

Hopes Halted. The crowning of Miss SA 2021 Lalela Mswane whose dreams were crushed by the bullying of her own government.

Endowed with beauty and brains, law-degree graduate and South Africa’s entry to the Miss Universe pageant to be held next month in Israel is not sitting well with her ANC government. Instead of trying run the country effectively – starting with providing basic electricity – South Africa’s ‘bright sparks’ prefers to ruin a beauty queen’s future because of its misguided perspective of the Jewish state.

South African Government Boycotts Miss South Africa

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(3)

Shades of Shylock

Attack on Israel’s Ambassador at London university exposes imbedded British antisemitism

By Fionn Grunspan

Calm before the Storm. Israeli Ambassador Hotovely speaking at the LSE before she had to be “evacuated” to safety.

The complex character of Shylock crafted in Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’ pervades the British perception of its Jews. After a millennium of demonising Jews as “money-grabbing, murderous and world-domineering”, there remains in British society, a persistence to silence their voice as tried at London university on Israel’s Ambassador to the UK.

Shades of Shylock

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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- 15-18 November 2021

The Israel Brief – 15 November 2021 – ANC boycotts Miss SA for Miss Universe in Israel participation. Lapid condemns Polish demonstration rhetoric. US and Israel partner to combat ransomware. Jewish journalist freed.



The Israel Brief – 16 November 2021 – Israel hosts US Ambassador to UN. Defense Minister Gantz off to Morocco. Israel pushes for PA funding. Antisemitism up by 59% UK campuses.




The Israel Brief – 17 November 2021 -UNRWA in crisis? Knesset Foreign and Defence committees say climate change is a security threat. Welfare Ministry releases stats on domestic violence. Miss Holocaust Survivor 2021.




The Israel Brief – 18 November 2021 – Gantz spied on? Israel couple in Turkey are freed. Palestinian opens case against Ben &Jerry’s. President Herzog to UK.






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).

Israel’s Image

New perspectives through Arab Eyes

By David E. Kaplan

Changes of mind often leads to change on the ground. With luck, it then presages peace.

Is this what is happening in the Middle East regarding Israel?

It appeared so to this writer when reading an article translated into English from the original Arabic by Ahmed Al-Sarraf, published on November 4, 2021, in Al-Qabas. This influential Kuwaiti daily has large bureaus in Washington, London, Beirut, Cairo, and Moscow.

Voice from the Gulf. The influential Kuwait daily, Al-Qabas with bureaus in Washington, London, Beirut, Cairo, and Moscow.

Israel and Kuwait do not have diplomatic relations. Kuwait refuses entry to anyone with a passport issued by Israel or documented travel to the State of Israel. Also, the Muslim Brotherhood  movement – hardly favourably disposed to Jews and Israel – is very strong in Kuwait. Disquieting quotes in the past from the Brotherhood’s luminaries include Mohammed Badie, the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme guide, who lamented “Jewish control……spreading of corruption on earth” and recommended “holy Jihad” as a remedy.

It thus was hardly surprising that days after Israel and the United Arab Emirates in 2020 announced that they would be normalizing diplomatic relations, and with other Arab countries making noises that they might follow in the Emirates’ footsteps, Kuwait doubled down on its anti-Israel stance.

In a formal announcement at the time to Al-Qabas newspaper, a senior Kuwaiti official expressed:

Our position toward Israel has not changed as a result of the deal to normalize relations with the UAE, and we will be the LAST to normalize ties.”

Well, Kuwait may be “the last” as other Arab nations in the Middle East draw closer to Israel but is their once hardline position to Israel  softening?

The same Kuwaiti Al-Qabas newspaper that only a little over a year ago published that Kuwait “will be the last to normalize ties,” with Israel, published on November 4, 2021, a refreshing new understanding on Israel under the pen of it its esteemed journalist Ahmed Al-Sarraf. Most telling was Al-Sharaff’s opening line which he clarifies in mid-sentence so there is no misunderstanding.

Illuminating Insights. Correspondent Ahmad-Al-Sarraf at the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas

There is a huge gap between the Jews and their enemies or more precisely, between Jews and the Arab world.”

Although in the wake of the Middle East’s changing political topography following the historic 2020 Abraham Accords, Al-Sarraf still identifies the entire Arab world as Israel’s enemy, he then proceeds to illuminate for his readership a new understanding of the Jewish State characterizing it more by it cultural than its military attributes. He also quashes any notion or fantasy that the Jewish state will one day disappear.

Fruits of changing Perceptions. Israel’s Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid (left) visited Abu Dhabi in June to open the Jewish state’s first embassy in the Gulf. –(WAM/AFP/File)
 

“This gap is not only represented by Israel’s military superiority over its neighbours, but also in its more progressive culture and conscience. On the map, Israel looks as if it could easily be swallowed by its neighbours in a matter of seconds. However, it’s clear that it isn’t going anywhere. Although Arabs have lived in this region for thousands of years, what separated them has always been greater than what united them. In contrast, in Israel – where the overwhelming majority of the population immigrated from countless ethnic and cultural backgrounds – a unifying culture has been formed. Israelis were able, with limited resources and under the harshest conditions, to build up a national identity that is nothing short of a miracle. So, what is Israel’s secret?”

Al-Sarraf then draws an instructive comparison between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Zionist movement, both striving for a cohesive national identity but only one succeeds.

The Arab journalist reveals why.

“The Muslim Brotherhood is considered by many to be the only ideological and political organization capable of uniting people across the Middle East under one joint identity, similar to what the Zionist movement sought to do in the first Zionist Congress held in Basel in 1897. In only half a century, the Zionist movement succeeded in realizing its dream and established a modern state capable of imposing itself on the whole world. As for the Brotherhood, it has been trying for more than ninety years to do the same, but has failed time and again. The success of the Zionist movement and the failure of the Brotherhood movement is due to several factors. First, the Zionists succeeded in recruiting the best scientific and political minds to serve and lead their cause, regardless of these individuals’ adherence to traditional Jewish thought. This is what the Brotherhood failed in, as its choices were miserable from the get-go. The very nature of the Brotherhood precludes anyone who doesn’t adhere to the group’s view of Islam to actively take part in its activity. Second, whereas the Zionist movement was open about its goals, the Brotherhood always suffered from a lack of transparency about its ideology. No one truly knows the group’s plan for governance or its ultimate plans. We saw this clearly during its rule in Egypt, Tunisia and Sudan.”

Finally, Al-Sarraf zones in on the Jewish passion for education particularly for the sciences and the Jewish penchant for setting up cultural institutions as an assured path to statehood.

Writes Al-Sarraf:

 Third, and most important, the historical interest of the Jews in science and their known passion for reading and academic inquiry allowed them to establish a state with strong educational and cultural institutions from day one.”

State in the Making – Emphasis on Education. Twenty-three years before independence, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was inaugurated in 1925. (left) Invitation to the celebration of the opening of the Hebrew University on April 1; (right) An original 1925 picture postcard from the dedication of Hebrew University.

The Kuwaiti journalist concludes by comparing what the Muslim Brotherhood failed over a century and what the Zionist movement succeeded in less than a half-century:

“As for the Brotherhood, it has proven its inability and failure, scientifically, politically and culturally, for nearly a century. Finally, allow me to end with the following parting thought:

A study conducted by the well-known American Pew Research Center in 2016 showed that the average Jew has 13.4 years of education, followed by Christians, with 9.3 years. I’ll spare you the embarrassment of knowing what the same rate stands at in our countries.”

No Wasting Time. Construction of the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) in 1912. Born 36 years before Israel declared independence, in that time the Technion educated the engineers and brought the expertise to literally lay the infrastructure for a modern state.

Go figure!

Well, the Gulf States were the first to – “go figure”  – and join Israel in transforming the landscape. It is only a little over one year ago since the sighing of the historic Abraham Accords paving the way for the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain charting a new course in the history of Arab-Israeli relations by recognizing the State of Israel and normalizing diplomatic relations.

Creators of Chaos. Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi throw stones during clashes with security forces in Cairo on August 14, 2013 that left over 600 dead. (Getty Images)

Later in 2020, two other Arab nations, Sudan and Morocco, followed suit and joined the Abraham Accords, raising the number of Arab States with formal diplomatic ties to Israel from two – Egypt and Jordan –  to six. Today, with the new coalition government in Israel led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, there are new political realities at play.

With more articles of understanding like Ahmed Al-Sarraf in Al-Qabas and maybe KuWAIT won’t wait so long!



Pulsating with Promise. A young country, Israel today is a world leader in the sciences.







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