The Israel Brief- 28-31 March 2022

The Israel Brief – 28 March 2022 – Terror attack in Hadera. Negev Summit. Secretary of State Blinken in Israel. Iowa enacts anti-BDS laws.

The Israel Brief – 29 March 2022 – Shin Bet cracks down on ISIS supporters. King Abdullah visits Ramallah. Israel welcomes 10 000th Ukrainian Oleh. Summer of rock.

The Israel Brief – 30 March 2022 – Terror attack in Bnei Brak. Pres Herzog in Jordan. 68 US Senators demand UNHRC focus on global human rights abuse and not Israel. Austrian FM in Israel.

The Israel Brief – 31 March 2022 – Terror attack Gush Etzion. Deborah Lipstadt confirmed. Turkish FM to visit Israel. Azerbaijan to open tourism office.

Rolene Marks, Co-Founder of LotL on WINA discussing the recent spate of terror attacks with Rob Schilling

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).

“Don’t Look Up”

Masters of our own misfortune, the imminent new Iran nuclear deal is a threat to mankind

By David E. Kaplan

The 2021 Oscar nominated American apocalyptic  movie, “Don’t Look Up” tells the story of two astronomers attempting to warn humanity about an approaching comet that will destroy human civilization.

While there are lots of laughs in this black comedy, there are more reasons for tears with the tragic realisation that despite the threat being from outer space, the real threat preventing Armageddon, lies here on earth – human greed, indifference and self-interest.

Coming of the Comet. Poster for the star-studded Netflix satire DON’T LOOK UP,  about scientists desperately attempting to warn a jaded world about the imminent arrival of an extinction-level comet.

Are these not the failings prevailing today having us all wondering what kind of a world we are bequeathing to future generations?

We don’t need imagined threats from ‘out of this world’ to end humanity, we are quite capable of doing it ourselves.

We only have to look at Putin threatening to use his nuclear arsenal and genocidal Iran on a rapid track to acquire them while threatening to obliterate Israel for no rational reason. Iran has less incentive to attack Israel than Will Smith had to get up and belt Chris Rock at the Oscars! Israel does not share a border with Iran and has no designs on its territory in the same way that Russia has with Ukraine! What Iran has, is a fanatical irrational obsession to expunge the Jewish state from the map. Is this a country that should be facilitated – by some crazily convoluted and deeply-flawed agreement – to acquire weapons of mass destruction, despite the constant promises from the Biden administration that “Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon”?


Why do most the countries in the Middle East disagree besides the beneficiary – Iran – which is licking its proverbial lips like the hungry wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. The Mullah leadership understands that the new watered-down deal is not an obstruction but an accelerated path to achieving its nefarious aim.

What’s the Deal? Hands meet but what of their minds as Antony Blinken seeks to reassure Israel and Gulf allies ahead of possible renewal of nuclear deal.

While all kudos to Joe Biden who brought much of the world into a global coalition to impose the most rigorous sanction regime against Russia that is reminiscent of his predecessors – the two Bushes; who masterminded ‘collisions of the willing’ against Iraq – why then a weak, inexplicable cop-out when it comes to Iran?

With Iran on the ropes economically, should not the strategy be to further weaken instead of to resuscitate and then to strengthen?

Why feed the crocodile that will one day eat you!

However here is the conundrum. Why for the Biden administration are sanctions considered an effective strategy against Russia reducing the ruble to rubble – and soliciting support from countries around the world to support it – and yet against genocidal Iran, it proclaims sanctions are ineffective and advocates its removal?

Go figure!

It gets worse and even less compressible.

Over the last two weeks, a fired up President Biden has ramped up his rhetoric against Putin, calling him a “war criminal”, a “murderous dictator”, a “pure thug” and his most recent “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power”.

By his choice of words, the American president expresses his clear understanding of “evil” and vents his abhorrence of the Russian leader. By bravely taking on Putin in this side-war of words, why is Biden ready to whitewash Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) delisting it  as a foreign terrorist group?

Cataclysmic Catastrophe? NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, called Putin’s nuclear alert order ‘dangerous rhetoric’ that had made the world ‘much more dangerous’. (Photo: AFP/Kenzo Troibouillard)

Perplexed at Biden’s position on this issue as Washington shifts ever closer to reviving the nuclear agreement with Tehran, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid issued a joint statement, in which they urged the US not to delist Iran’s feared IRGC as a terror organization. They were hardly telling the Americans anything which they did not already know with these following words:

The Revolutionary Guards are a terrorist organization that has murdered thousands of people, including Americans. We have a hard time believing that the United States will remove it from the definition of a terrorist organization.”

In the same way as the resistance again Putin’s war in Ukraine was a global concern, Bennett and Lapid reminded the American president that the fight against terror was a global mission:

We believe that the United States will not abandon its closest allies in exchange for empty promises from terrorists.”

Worrying Words. Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami speaking on September 21, 2019 at  an exhibition marking four decades on from Iran’s Islamic revolution said, “We have managed to obtain the capacity to destroy the impostor Zionist regime…This sinister regime must be wiped off the map and this is no longer … a dream [but] it is an achievable goal.” (Atta Kenare/AFP)

If promises from Putin can so easily be dismissed as “worthless”, why not exercise the same suspicion with regard to Iran?

Continuing in their hard hitting language, Bennett and Lapid reminded the Americans:

 “The Revolutionary Guards took part in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians, they destroyed Lebanon, they are engaged in the murderous repression of Iranian civilians. They kill Jews because they are Jews, Christians because they are Christians, and Muslims because they do not surrender to them.

…… Their hands are stained with the blood of thousands of Iranians and the trampling of the soul of Iranian society.”

Their case made; the two Israeli leaders conclude:

 “The attempt to abolish the definition of the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization is an insult to the victims and the erasure of a documented reality, with unequivocal evidence.”

With the IRCG considered one,  if not the most dangerous terrorist group in the world obstructing for decades peace in the Middle East, why reward this terrorist regime with any sort of legitimacy from the U.S. government? If labeling Putin as a “war criminal” and “thug”, why treat the Mullahs in Tehran differently and even rewarding them?

Don’t ‘Fuel’ global Terrorism. The value of Iran’s currency hit record lows in 2019 as a result of the US sanctions as economy falls into a deep recession.

Worst of all, if the world fears a confrontation with Putin because he could unleash his nuclear weaponry, imagine the danger to humanity – never mind Israel – if the fanatically crazed leadership in Tehran were in possession of nuclear weapons.

As I began; we do not have to look up for imminent danger – we need to look down and within.

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).

From the ‘United Kingdom’ to the ‘Divided City’

Openly gay UK visitor finds city of Hebron full of surprises 

Written by Lay of the Land UK correspondent

For the purposes of this article, I have kept some of the names of Jewish and Palestinian leaders that work for co-existence in Hebron private. I have done so for their safety, fearing threats of violence and/or imprisonment from the Palestinian Authority (PA) with possible extra-judicial killings from local extremist religious groups.

I had not planned to visit Hebron. Hardly surprising as it’s a city that I, living in the UK, never paid much attention to, considering it far removed both geographically and cerebrally. Even when I did think of Hebron, what came to mind were images of a remote turbulent city with troubled communities – Palestinians beset by internal violence and Jews governed by strict religious laws.  

While I have been in contact with Israeli-Jews and Palestinians from Hebron on social media and personally found the city of very little personal interest, it was by a twist of fate that I would visit it. I had been contacted by an Israeli ‘social media friend’, who lived close to Hebron and works in the city insisting that I visit.

Illuminating Visit. It is important to hear both sides as both local Jews and Arabs have their own stories to tell.

After months of ‘pestering’, I finally agreed while on a holiday on Israel. Although I was anxious about visiting a strictly religious Jewish community as an openly gay man, I was surprised to find the community very accepting of LGBT+ people.

My ‘social media friend’ and contact, Shlomo, picked me up from Tel Aviv. Abandoning my customary caution, I hopped into a car with essentially a stranger and began my visit to a city once described as one of the most dangerous and conflict-ridden cities in the world. The two-hour drive felt like an eternity.  We passed through two easy security points, which where nothing more than a single guard with a toll style security. Checkpoints are often derided and dismissed by anti-Israel protagonists but are critical in providing security.


The city of Hebron is one of the most historically and religiously important cities to Jews and one of the most important cities, politically, for the PA. It is also a frequent flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The first thing that struck me about Shlomo as he gave me a private tour, was that he and his community just wanted to be heard. Giving me a private tour starting at the Cave of the Patriarchs and then moving on to the other local historical sites, I got to ask him as many question as I wanted.

Hebron’s Holly of Hollies. The Cave of the Patriarchs or Tomb of the Patriarchs, known to Jews as the Cave of Machpelah and to Muslims as the Sanctuary of Abraham, is a series of caves in the heart of the Old City of Hebron.

We visited the gravesite of Baruch Goldstein, the infamous Israeli terrorist and mass-murder, where he immediately warned me that the local Israeli authorities closely monitor the site and any public support for Goldstein would be met by an arrest.

I had no desire to stay and while Shlomo reassured me there were no security concerns,  he cautioned me to avoid drawing any attention to myself.

Touring Jewish Hebron, I was able to get a close-up of Palestinian Hebron. An old broken-down chicken wire fence – replete with wide gaps – was the only significant separation between the Palestinian and Jewish Hebron – a rather tenuous ‘barrier’ I thought, considering the tensions I was under the impression, fractured the city.

As I walked through the old quarter of Jewish Hebron, memorials for Jews murdered were common at every corner. They represented a sad reminder of the steep price in lives to choose to live in the second holiest site for Jews after Jerusalem. As I walked around, I saw bullet holes in old walls and doors with l potholes in the ground which I suspected were once caused by explosives.

Writing on the Wall. Hebron graffiti articulates peoples thoughts and dreams.

Shlomo introduced me to a local Jewish community leader and elder called Y, who with the kindness of his wife, invited me to stay at their house for regular vegan meals. Y and his wife were a jolly and inspiring couple with enthralling stories. 

They shared their past in the former Soviet Union being members of the underground and engaging in resistance activities to support persecuted Jews. Other stories from Y, included secretly hosting in Hebron leading LGBT+ Iranian dissidents as well as welcoming Hollywood celebrities.


With Y as our guide, we handed out sweets to the IDF and were joined by two young, religious women. As we walked through the city’s broken pathways, handing out the sweets to the IDF soldiers, I saw many soldiers speaking and some playing football with Palestinian children. I quickly discovered that Y, was well-liked and known around to hand out sweets to the Palestinian children.

Y was extremely proud to show me Palestinian businesses popular with the city’s Jewish residents, notable dentists, pet shops, clothing stores and auto repair shops.

We came upon a cluster of small, very ordinary Palestinian stalls, one of which was owned by a friend of Y – his close contact within Palestinian Hebron.

His friend broke into a wide warm smile when he saw Y but it quickly disappeared when he spotted me. Feeling uncomfortable or suspicious by my appearance, I left the two of them alone to speak as I explored the stalls. I found beautiful, handcrafted items and was fascinated by  the daily co-existence so contrary to the image I had imagined  from the international media.  

Business is Brisk. Despite the tensions, life goes on in Hebron.

Creating their own security network, Y revealed that he and  his friend would secretly pass information to each other about which Jewish or Palestinian children were committing violence against each other in their communities, bypassing the local authorities. They believe that these local Jewish and Palestinian children are best served by being punished by local community leaders rather than subject them to Israeli or Palestinian justice. In this way, it is a far better way to maintain social calm between the two communities.

Y would later tell me on our tour that he believed that 60% of Hebron was supportive of Hamas because of their alleged anti-corruption agenda.  Many are frustrated with the corruption and lack of services from the Palestinian Authority.

The further we travelled around in the areas we were legally allowed to, we passed Palestinian housing estates that were burnt-out – not from clashes with Israelis – but the result of clan-based violence between the Al-Jabari and Awiwi Clans.


Y openly regaled me with stories of battles that exploded across Hebron on street corners involving sniper, tank, and gun fire – where he was occasionally caught in the middle. Walking around Hebron, I was surrounded by Jewish and Palestinian children going about their daily lives, born after the horrors of the Second Intifada.

It is clear that neither Jews nor Palestinians will be leaving one of the most previously divided and war-torn cities of the conflict. I can only hope that the children that I saw will be able to grow up without the horrors of the past.

It was so reassuring to see children happily playing around, appearing unscarred by street battles that once raged across the city.

I shall carry with me forever the moment I saw a group of young Jewish children skating and rollerblading down a long street, which had once been the site of a fierce firefight.  Where once war characterised this street, the vista that embraced me was of Palestinian children playing football and chatting with IDF soldiers.

Engaging for a better Tomorrow. Jewish visitor from Israel meeting with a young Palestinian girl in Hebron.

What next for Hebron?

It is hard to say what its future will be. I once thought of Hebron of as a remote, impoverished, dull and deary and overly religious city – but I was wrong.

I felt honoured to be so warmly welcomed by everyone I met  and to have been so unexpectedly accepted by the religious Jewish community as gay, was for me, a pleasant surprise!

Having thoroughly enjoyed my visit, I hope to one day revisit and again connect with Hebron’s Jews and Palestinians that are making history and forging a destiny together.

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).


By Adv. Craig Snoyman

With Senate Judiciary Committee  interviewing  Katanji Brown Jackson to be the first black  female justice  on the Supreme Court of America bench, it’s worth remembering that she may be taking  “a Jewish seat”,  that of Stephen Breyer, the judge for whom she once clerked.

Ketanji Brown Jackson set to become the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The first Jewish judge was appointed in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson. Louis Brandeis, arguably the brightest,  most farseeing, progressive justice of the 20th century, graduated from Harvard at age 20, with the highest marks ever achieved by a student. In an age of  antisemitic resistance, Harvard president A. Lawrence Lowell (who later pushed for quotas on Jewish students) opposed the appointment of its alumni’s most brilliant student as a Supreme Court justice due to his religion.

Louis Brandeis (1856-1941), the first Jew to sit on the high court was an enthusiastic supporter of Zionism. Brandeis University in Waltham , Mass., was named after him.

His was the first confirmation hearing for a Supreme Court justice. Until that point, the Senate simply voted yay or nay. While he waited 125 days between his nomination on Jan. 28, 1916, and his confirmation on June 1, 1916, the longest wait that anyone had waited until then. This hardly compares to  Republican nominee Janice Rogers Brown, the first black female nominee for the appointment  as Circuit Court of Appeal, whose nomination was delayed by two years before the Democrats allowed her to take her position – all due to her conservative judicial outlook.

Harvard president A. Lawrence Lowell pushed for quotas on Jewish students and opposed the appointment of Louis Brandeis  – one of its Harvard’s most brilliant students – as a Supreme Court justice because he was Jewish.

Brandeis, a social justice crusader(sic) and a leading Zionist, predicted the crash of ’29 because he realised that the bankers were taking all of the possible payoffs and none of the risks and predicted that things would go bust.

In 1932, Brandeis was joined by a second Jewish justice, Benjamin Cardozo. Antisemitism was still very much in ‘evidence’ on the  Supreme Court Bench, notably Justice  James Clark McReynolds, who   refused to speak to Brandeis for three years after his confirmation. During Cardozo’s swearing-in, McReynolds read a newspaper muttering:

 “Another one.”

Cardozo was born  to a distinguished Sephardic Jewish family. His father, Albert Cardozo, resigned as a New York State judge under threat of impeachment after he was discovered to have sold preferments to his nephew and to his patron. He only served three years on the Supreme Court bench.

Jewish Justice Benjamin N Cardozo appointment to the supreme Court was met with hostility by sitting Associate judge, JusticeJames Clark McReynolds, who  refused to speak to Brandeis for three years after his confirmation.

With the passing of Cardozo, the baton was handed over to Felix Frankfurter. Frankfurter was the first nominee to appear  at his own confirmation hearing. He adopted the position that his public record spoke for itself and  said it would be inappropriate for him to add or subtract from his lengthy public record. He refused to answer questions.

McReynolds earned another racist footnote by refusing to  attend the swearing-in of  Frankfurter, stating:

 “My God, another Jew on the court!”  

He then joined with fellow justices Pierce Butler and Willis Van Devanter in urging President Herbert Hoover not to “afflict the court with another Jew.”  McReynolds was quoted as saying “Huh, it seems that the only way you can get on the Supreme Court these days is to be either the son of a criminal or a Jew, or both.”

Frankfurter had been an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the prelude to WWII. Although an immigrant himself, he supported Roosevelt’s  recommendations  that no assistance be given to the Jews of Nazi Europe. However, he believed  in cultural assimilation and in a society based on  meritocracy. He believed that talent and  brains were more important  than race, religion, or class. In 1948, he  hired the Court’s first black law clerk, William Coleman Jr, the same year Apartheid became the official policy in South Africa. He almost crossed paths with a future  SCOTUS, Ruth Ginsburg. She was recommended for a clerkship with  him, and for all his belief in meritocracy, Frankfurter said that he wasn’t ready to hire a woman.

Architect of the legal fight for women’s rights in the 1970s, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg subsequently served 27 years on the nation’s highest court.

It was the case of  Baker v Carr,  dealing with the redrawing of electoral districts that saw the end of Frankfurter’s career. He was vehement in his objection to bringing the Court into politics, warning that it would lead the Court  down a dangerous road where the Court could one day be called upon to determine winners and losers in national elections. He was so incensed by the final decision that  he suffered a stroke shortly afterwards, which he blamed on the stress of the  case. This stroke resulted in his retirement. The decision also took its toll  on the other justices, none more so than  Justice Charles Evans Whittaker, who struggled to come to a decision one way or the other. Skipping the final vote, he resigned right after the decision and died soon after.

Even though Frankfurter had married a minister’s daughter, he insisted that his funeral include reciting Kaddish, read by his former law clerk, a practicing, orthodox Jew.

“I came into this world a Jew  … I think it is fitting that I should leave as a Jew.”

This allowed for another Jew to find a judicial place on the bench. In 1962 President John F Kennedy appointed his Secretary of Labour, Arthur Goldberg, to the Supreme Court. A distinguishing feature of his tenure was his writing of the Escobedo v. Illinois  judgment establishing the right of a suspect to have a lawyer present during interrogation – setting out the framework for Miranda and the ”Miranda rights” of an arrested suspect.

Justice of the US Supreme Court and subsequently US Ambassador to the UN, Arthur Goldberg speaking with Golda Meir. (Credit: Moshe Milner, GPO.)

Only three years after his appointment and upon  the death of Adlai Stevenson, President Johnson asked Goldberg to become the United States ambassador to the United Nations. This allowed Johnson to appoint his good friend Abe Fortas to the “Jewish seat”.

Abe Fortas  (right) was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Johnson (left)  on July 28, 1965, to a seat vacated by Justice Arthur Goldberg.  

When Chief Justice Earl Warren announced his resignation effective upon the confirmation of his successor,  the frontrunner was Fortas.  Warren had even arranged for an appointment at the White House for Fortas.  Fortas blew his chances  when he appeared before the Senate judiciary committee –  the first time a sitting Justice had ever done so.  The appearance was a disaster.  The vote for his appointment resulted in a filibuster and Fortis requested that his nomination be withdrawn.  Because of revelations arising from and as a result of the confirmation hearings, Fortas resigned his position on the Supreme Court. 

A second nomination for a Jew to be appointed as the chief justice was contemplated by President Johnson, who by this time was running a lame-duck presidency. He proposed that Goldberg accept the position and asked President Richard Nixon to appoint him. Nixon refused. Goldberg subsequently became the president of the  American Jewish Committee.

With the resignation of  Fortas  came the end of  53 years of a Supreme Court “Jewish seat”.  Not until 1993, with Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, would another Jewish justice be appointed to the court.

Ginsberg is probably the most popular of the recent Supreme Court justices.  Noted for her fiery dissents,  she entered into Pop Culture.  She inspired nail art, Halloween costumes, coffee mugs and even a colouring-in book.  She obtained the ultimate acclaim of the youth by inspiring tattoos and that of the moneyed class by being depicted as a bobble-head doll. Talking heads made her a media icon, spitting out witty insults known as “ginsburns”.  Yet, even with her liberal outlook, her love of opera led to an unlikely friendship with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a noted conservative. The two opera-lovers even donned powdered wigs and wore 18th century costumes to appear in a stage production of ‘Strauss’.

Ginsberg was raised in an Orthodox home and rebelled when she was excluded from the minyan of mourners after the death of her mother.  She said it felt like women didn’t really count in the Jewish world, which went strongly against her world outlook. But she always acknowledged her Jewishness publicly. In her chambers, there was a large silver mezuzah on her doorpost, and hanging on her wall was an artistic  Hebrew-lettered rendition of “Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof “(Justice, justice shall you pursue). 

While on the bench, Ginsberg was joined by Elena Kagan. Kagan is the only Supreme  Court Justice to have argued with  her family  rabbi and come out ahead. Kagan demanded that she have a real bat mitzvah, not just a party. She wanted a religious bat mitzvah, on a Shabbat morning, where she could read from the Torah. Rabbi Riskin, now Chief Rabbi of Efrat, didn’t agree to having Kagan read from the Torah but she did get to read from the Book of Ruth and her ceremony took place on a Friday night.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan

There is, of course, the most famous Supreme Court Justice who never was – Merrick Garland, now United States Attorney General. Nominated by President Obama, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Republican majority refused to conduct the hearings necessary to advance the vote to the Senate at large, and Garland’s nomination expired on January 3, 2017, with the end of the session of Congress, 293 days after it had been submitted to the Senate, handsomely beating the waiting period of Justice Brandeis.

But  my favourite story is about  the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer,  which I recently read in Tablet magazine.

Breyer was  to be attending  a shul service and he was contacted by the rabbi who wanted to give him an Aliyah (the honour accorded to a worshiper of being called up to read an assigned passage from the Torah).  The rabbi asked him for his Hebrew name. He said he wasn’t  sure  and would have to contact his brother to find out what it was.  Breyer then sent a message to the rabbi that his name was Shlomo ben Yitzchak.  At the Shabbat service, the rabbi told him that he had the same name as that of  the foremost commentator on the Bible and Talmud – Rashi.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer holds up a copy of the U.S. Constitution as he announces he his retirement from the bench. (REUTERS)

Sometime later , and while in England,  he was recognised when  attending a Sabbath shul service. The famous judge was  asked if he wanted an Aliyah and what his Hebrew name was.   Breyer, by this time, had forgotten what he had been told was his Hebrew name.  After initially hesitating,  he stated “My name is the same as Rashi” and was called to the Torah.

Over the recent past, it has  become clear, that the Supreme Court has become welcoming for all groups, even if the judiciary hearing proceedings are not. Breyer’s former clerk may take her seat, which has now become a seat for a “black female judge”. It was not long ago, however, that Jews and Blacks fought together against oppression and in furtherance of civil rights. One hopes that this fight will continue on these hallowed benches with the Jewish seats and the Black female seats marching side by side,  pursuing justice.

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).

Taking Control

Understanding your body and how it works is  fundamental to good health –  a focus on the “Control Centers” of the Human Body Processes

By Lionel H. Phillips D.O.

Whilst seeming over-technical, don’t be deterred! Do persist, for this article is meant to remind and / or inform readers on just one of the many remarkable functions of their most important asset – IF we provide it with its NEEDS as required.

The Endocrine System

Metabolism is the conversion of nutrients into energy and building materials to meet the body’s needs.

Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers and are part of the Endocrine System.

Endocrine glands make hormones, which travel through the bloodstream to tissues and organs, and control most of your body’s major systems. Hormones affect your body’s functions, from growth and sexual development and mood to how well you sleep, how you manage stress and tension and how your body breaks down food.                                     

The Endocrine System regulates your heart rate, metabolism – how your body gets energy from the foods you eat – appetite, mood, sexual function, reproduction, growth and development, sleep cycles, and more.

Hormones play a very important part in your body’s chemistry by carrying messages between cells and organs. Hormone imbalances can occur any time regardless of one’s age, whilst causing serious health problems, requiring ongoing medical management.

Various functions and rhythms of the body are controlled by Hormones. Chemical messengers produced by the Endocrine Glands are discharged into the bloodstream. These glands include the Pituitary, Thyroid, Parathyroids, Adrenals, Islets of Langerhans, and the sex glands or Gonads. Some interaction takes place among all the endocrine glands, but only the hormones from the pituitary are able to control production of hormones in other glands. Most glands produce several types of hormones – the pituitary, for example produces at least nine – and each type reaches its own target area in the body, no matter how far from the gland producing it.

Glands are organs that secrete and release substances essential for the proper functioning of the body. There are two types of glands – Exocrine and Endocrine. The exocrines have ducts that carry their secretions to particular parts of the body.

The salivary glands that provide the mouth with saliva, and the mammary glands that produce milk, belong to this group.

The Liver, an exocrine gland, is the largest gland in the body, weighing about 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs.) in an adult. The liver has many roles in the digestive system. For example, it produces a green fluid called bile, which breaks down fats and ducts convey their content to the gall bladder, where it is stored and concentrated, before being released into the digestive tract.

Your pancreas is a large gland that creates natural juices called pancreatic enzymes to break down foods. These juices travel through your pancreas via ducts. They empty into the upper part of your small intestine called the duodenum. Each day, your pancreas makes about 8 ounces of digestive juice filled with enzymes.

Endocrine glands have no ducts and release their substances, called hormones, directly into the bloodstream. The endocrines and their hormones help to regulate as well as control the balance of salt and water in the body and the level of sugar in the blood.

The Pituitary Gland is about the size of a pea and lies in a small hollow well within the skull at about the level of the top of the nose. It is connected to the part of the brain called the Hypothalamus, and this link gives the brain direct control over the pituitary’s hormone production. The most important function of the pituitary is to stimulate, regulate and coordinate the functions of certain of the other endocrines. For this reason, it is called the Master Gland.

Diseases of the pituitary gland are fortunately relatively rare. Too little pituitary secretion causes certain types of dwarfism, while too much stimulates the body to grow to gigantic proportion. Pituitary tumors may press on the optic nerves, resulting in headaches and loss of vision. Another rare disease is diabetes insipidus, which causes excessive thirst and excessive secretion of urine.

Two hormones in the rear lobe of the pituitary gland are produced in the adjoining hypothalamus and piped in along nerve fibers. One, vasopressin, helps to maintain the balance of water in the body. The other, oxytocin, stimulates contraction of muscles in children and the milk-flow of nursing mothers.

The Thyroid Gland is in front of the throat, below the Adam’s Apple and just above the breastbone. It is U-Shaped, each end of the U flaring back into a lobe that is about the size of the big toe. The thyroid’s hormonal production stimulates or affects almost every important body process, including the body’s use of oxygen. Too much or too little of the hormone, called thyroxine, can cause serious health problems.

Hypothalamus – Is the portion of the middle part of the brain that is known to regulate body temperature and help control the functions of the internal organs.

How the Body Fight Germs – The body is not helpless against germs. It has filters, such as the tiny hairs in the nose, to keep them out; and secretions, such as the tears to kill them or wash them away. If germs do get into the blood, leukocytes (white blood cells) attack and devour them. When an infection develops, the number of these white cells increases rapidly. Fever raises the body’s temperature to inhibit or destroy germs.

Pancreas –The pancreas makes Insulin and glucagon which are hormones that control the level of glucose or sugar in the blood. Insulin helps keep the body supplied with stores of energy. The body uses this stored energy for exercise and activity, and it also helps organs work as they should.

The body has other resources as well. It manufactures substances that counteract the germs and render their poisons (toxins) harmless. These germ fighters are called antibodies and the poison-controlled substances are known as antitoxins. After the body has overcome a disease, these substances remain in the blood and prevent the germs of that disease from getting a foothold again. Physicians refer to this condition as an “acquired immunity”. People who are immune to a disease without ever having it, are said to have natural immunity. Many immunities are partial or temporary.

Most of the germs that penetrate the body are bacteria or viruses. These disrupt bodily functions and release poisons called toxins. Their effects are counteracted by the body’s defensive cells.

In order to have a healthy, active and free-of-diseased body, we should endeavor to ingrain the following habits. Should the facts below NOT BE part of your lifestyle at present, why not give yourself three (3) months to incorporate them 24/7, and then take stock of the situation. The links below will provide explanations on how best to provide for each one. I will be available to assist with questions via my email address – .

Nose (Diaphragmatic) Breathing – for the cleanest oxygen intake;

Natural Breathing (see link)

Our Digestive System – No matter the quality of the food one eats, the best chance for maximum nutrient absorption is SMALL MOUTHFULS. This also assists in excess fat loss without the need to diet, as you will be eating less and tasting each mouthful, whereby the need for second helpings is a rarity.

A quick Look at GERD (see link)

Finally, it may be a “Tall Order”, but I can’t over-emphasize the importance of posture. See my previous articles on  lay of the land . Any variance away from the required good posture, will have a negative effect on muscles, nerves and joints.

Water – Without clean air and sufficient water, our body will not survive.

Items24 (see link)

The NEEDS of our Human Body are actually extremely logical and easy to provide.

Albeit that habits are difficult to change, it is well worth the effort.

Every one of the body’s numerous systems will welcome and act positively to the response.

About the writer:

Lionel Phillips is a Doctor of Osteopathy (1975), an International Fitness & Health Instructor, Consultant and Lecturer. He has researched and designed ‘The Needs & Functions of the Human Body’ as an educational subject for inclusion in all School Curriculums World-Wide. A past Federation Member and Israel Liaison Representative of IHRSA (International, Health & Racquet Sports club Association) and member of their worldwide “Panel of Experts”, Phillips is a recipient of the “Prime Ministers Award of Merit” (PM Menachem Begin).

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- 27 March 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


Like this content? Please share and tweet it to your friends and followers.

To subscribe via email please send a mail noting your request to:  layotland@kenmar11

Please visit/ join/follow our social media platforms:

Facebook page:

Twitter: Lay Of The Land – @layoftheland5


Also available on YouTube @The Israel Brief  – Simply click on the red subscribe button (by the bell) to receive alerts when a new report is posted.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Israel-Brief-Logo-4-1024x856.jpg

The Israel Brief

What’s happening in Israel today? See every Monday Thursday LOTL’s “The Israel Brief” broadcasts 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 Virginia, USA.

The Israel Brief

(Click on the blue title)



No Place to Hide

Calibrating the fallout, Ukraine is a sobering lesson for the entire world

By David E. Kaplan

Read all about it? With war having returned to Europe, will it spread beyond?

While Ukrainian cities are being pounded, compelling their residents to either fight or flee, there is hardly a country whose people watching this human tragedy unfold not asking– “How will it affect us?” With high-stakes nuclear posturing now part of the ‘conversation’ – Israel fears the future .

No Place to Hide

(Click on the blue title)


Dear Golda – The Sequel: A Shining Star

If Golda Meir was alive today, would this be the conversation we have?

By Rolene Marks

As Good as Golda. Ukrainian officer holds a biography of Golda Meir that he carries into battle.

With Israel’s 4th Prime Minister emerging as a symbol of hope for Ukrainians in their struggle for national survival, the  writer engages in an imagined conversation with the iconic Kyiv-born Golda Meir, who even long after her death, inspires a people upon their embattled landscape

Dear Golda – The Sequel: A Shining Star

(Click on the blue title)


The ‘Israel Open’  – Not Tennis but Tourism

Jewish state ready to warmly embrace the return of its tourists

By Jonathan Feldstein

Open Season. Feeling free at last, excited travelers arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport ready to tour.

What a difference two years make! From an  industry that Covid overnight closed down, to this March, Israel opening its borders to even the unvaccinated, Israel’s unique sites are ready to warmly embrace its missed visitors. The message from the people of Israel: “We’re waiting for you!”

The ‘Israel Open’  – Not Tennis but Tourism

(Click on the blue title)


The Arab Voice  –  February- March 2022

Arab writers opining on Middle East issues, focus on Ukraine cautioning Arab countries to remain neutral in a conflict between superpowers while carving a space in the world arena.

Broad-based coverage on the Middle East, LOTL provides a platform to what Arab journalists – in their own words – are writing about the region. This issue’s compilation focuses on Arab perspectives of the war in Ukraine.

The Arab Voice  –  February- March 2022

(Click on the blue title)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image008-2021-08-08T114708.327.jpg

LOTL Co-founders David E. Kaplan (Editor), Rolene Marks and Yair Chelouche

To unsubscribe, please reply to layotland@kenmar11

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- 21-24 March 2022

The Israel Brief – 21 March 2022 – Zelensky’s speech – hit or miss? Joint statement from Bennett and Lapid re IGRC. Colorado divests from Unilever. Rabbi Kanievsky passes.

The Israel Brief – 22 March 2022 – Israel’s field hospital in Ukraine is open. Singapore to open embassy in Israel. Trilateral summit between Egypt, Israel and UAE. Coldest March in over 100 years.

The Israel Brief – 23 March 2022 – Updates on terror attack in Beersheba. Kochav Meir treating patients. Knesset members in Indonesia. Israel 9th on happiness index.

The Israel Brief – 24 March 2022 – One month since Russia invades Ukraine. Abraham Accords celebratory events. EU withholding aid to PA. Linoy Ashram to retire.

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).


Calibrating the fallout, Ukraine is a sobering lesson for the entire world

By David E. Kaplan

While Ukrainian cities are being pulvarised, compelling their residents to either fight or flee, there is hardly a country on this planet  – no matter how far removed from the conflict – which is not watching this human tragedy play out with calculating horror and questioning:


Like with Covid, there is no place to hide from the Ukraine fallout effecting every country  – big or small, near or far – in some way or another. You don’t have to follow world events to know that world events follow you when you fill up – and pay more – for gas!

While Putin behaves today like a Godzilla on a vengeful rampage teasing and testing all with his lethal leverage, the world shifts from ‘counting the cost’ from Covid to ‘counting the cost’ from Putin’s war.

Read all about it? War returns to Europe; will it spread beyond?

As countries calibrate the Ukraine impact and position their policies accordingly, the world is morphing into as yet an undefined ‘new age’ that has to settle down before historians give it a name.

What future students of history will baffle to understand, is that during such a ‘smart age’, people could behave so stupidly. Why oh why, after two years of a horrendous pandemic killing millions and still remaining a threat with the fear of future mutations,  Russia engages in a self-destructive brutal war with a no-less appetitive China watching and wondering when to pounce  on its nervous neighbour – Taiwan?

The worst take-away from this war is the likelihood of it leading to nuclear proliferation. This is precisely a direction a wary world would want to avoid. Countries around the world, including the hapless Ukrainians must be wondering, would Russia have dared to attack its neighbour had not:

– the Ukrainians voluntary surrendered its 1700 nuclear warheads back in 1994 in exchange for supposedly-binding promises from Russia and

– the US and the world assuring “peace” and “territorial integrity”.

Promises to Price Paid. Russia-Ukraine war puts spotlight on 1994 agreement when Washington contributed half a billion dollars for Ukraine to pass 5,000 nuclear weapons to Russia to be dismantled after brokering the deal. Seen here are soldiers preparing to destroy a ballistic SS-19 missile in the yard of the largest former Soviet military rocket base in Vakulenchuk, Ukraine.

Following the Soviet Union collapse in 1991, Ukraine emerged a formidable nuclear power controlling one-third of the USSR’s nukes. After bruising negotiations, it relinquished them all for promises – false promises.

For sure, had she not, a recalcitrant Ukraine would have been designated a “rogue” state, but who would argue: “better a rogue state than a dead state”, which is precisely Putin’s plan for Ukraine – a dead state! One can only imagine historically-minded Ukrainian men and women, boys and girls fighting today against Russian tanks with home-made “Molotov cocktail” grenades and thinking:

 “What suckers our leaders were?”

Clearly if Ukraine had nukes today, Russia would have thought twice about swaggering into its neighbour with such unabashed ardour.

Bottles for the Brave. Attacked by a superpower with nuclear weapons, a Ukrainian civilian trains to throw Molotov cocktails to defend the city, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, March 1, 2022.  REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi

The only reason inhibiting the US and many European countries from providing air cover or air support to Ukraine is the fear of it being construed by Putin as “escalatory” and leading to a nuclear “WWIII” as the US President is oft to caution.

So the country that gave up its nukes and was then thereafter obstructed from joining NATO and enjoying its protection, is now fighting with its proverbial hand tied behind its back.

Ukraine was setup from the start as easy prey – all at the predator’s choosing! Crimea was the hors d’oeuvre  – an early foray for today’s main course.

How many countries are watching the daily carnage and wondering, whether they too will need nukes one day to protect themselves? Clearly some will reason that it offers better protection than “promises”.

It was chilling watching CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interview Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov who repeatedly refused to rule out that Russia would consider using nuclear weapons against what Moscow saw as an “existential threat”.

Battling with Bottles. Young local Ukrainians prepare Molotov cocktails, in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, February 27. REUTERS/Serhii Hudak

Clearly this rattled the US who condemned Peskov’s comments as  “dangerous“. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday:

It’s not the way a responsible nuclear power should act.”

Clearly it is not.

I look at my grandchildren and think how sad  that a new generation is being introduced to a nuclear threat.

In a  televised statement in February, Putin was not mincing his words when he threatened in an address following his country’s invasion of Ukraine. “:

I would now like to say something very important for those who may be tempted to interfere in these developments from the outside.  No matter who tries to stand in our way …. must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history.”

That threat was widely understood in the US and Europe to be a nuclear one. The wording was clear – don’t interfere in Ukraine or we might nuke you!

At the very least, it is not “constructive ambiguity” but destructive ambiguity!

Watching this all unfold are two countries with opposite aims – Israel more determined than ever that Iran should not have nukes and Iran, more determined than ever to have nukes.

Apart from Israel  – that Iran has threatened to annihilate – how many Arab countries in the Middle East threatened by Iran are now thinking, if Iran goes nuke, how can we not follow suite?

After all, who otherwise will protect them?

Armageddon is no longer an “end-of-days” biblical prophecy or the far-fetched stuff  of Hollywood but a real possibility.

Which is why it is baffling that while Iran’s menacing influence in the Middle East region has significantly increased in recent years, the Biden administration is so gung-ho set to conclude a new but water-downed pact with Iran that most certainly would be bad for Israel.

Is Israel, like Ukraine, expected to be placated with “promises”?

Under the new deal, Iran will be monitored only for the next three years and will receive $7bn in released frozen assets, as well as sanctions relief on exports such as oil. On top of this, the Biden administration is considering removing the Islamic Revolutionary  Guard Corps (IRGP) from the US Foreign Terrorist Organisations list in exchange “not to attack Americans in the region”.  Earlier this month, it was reported on the Iranian news outlet Tasnim that IRGC commander-in-chief Hossein Salami, referred to Israel as having an “expiration date“. Addressing IRGC soldiers in Dezful in southwestern Iran, Salami said Israel will have to “endure the bitter taste of missiles if it is not careful.”

Israel and Arab countries in the region were shocked!

Israel’s Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid in a joint statement expressed that they , hoped that “the US will not abandon its closest allies in exchange for empty promises from terrorists,” while it is understood that  the UAE and Saudi Arabia uncharacteristically showed their displeasure  by “being too busy to take US President Joe Biden’s calls.”   

As an unnamed Israeli security official was reported on Israel’s Channel 13 news to have said, that while Israel considered the original deal to have been bad, the revived accord taking shape is “spectacularly bad”. For one major reason –  it fails to factor in the progress Iran has made since.

Out of Control! Even before the Russia-Ukraine war broke out, there were concerns not only about a spillover in Europe but also across the world from Asia to the Middle East.

Referring to a leaked draft of the imminent accord, the source revealed that Iran will not be required to destroy its advanced centrifuges; that while Tehran will have to reduce its uranium enrichment levels, it has already developed the capability to enrich at high levels. And while Tehran will also be required to cease producing uranium metal – a crucial component of the bomb-making process – the source noted that Iran now has the knowledge to be able to manufacture such materials in the future.

In essence,” the network’s source revealed, “it is an agreement that leaves Iran as a nuclear threshold state.”

For the Middle East, this is a horror story.

To allow Iran to acquire weapons of mass destruction would be nothing less than mass insanity!

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).

Dear Golda – The Sequel: A Shining Star

If Golda Meir was alive today, would this be the conversation we have?

By Rolene Marks

Dearest Golda, we haven’t had a chat for a while and the last time we spoke, we certainly had a lot to talk about. This time it is no different. Golda, you continue to inspire so many around the world, not just because you blazed a trail in many arenas, including becoming Israel’s first female Prime Minister; but because in times of strife and hardship, we still continue to seek your wise council. It is your words of wisdom that are as relevant today as they were when you led our country through war, insurmountable tragedy and also great triumph.

I write this, wondering what you would say to the world or offer as we watch with horror and broken hearts as yet another war ravages lives.

Dear Golda, I cannot imagine what you must be thinking as you watch on from high. You were born in Kyiv, Ukraine, during a dark time in our people’s history. You have often recalled that your early memories were of your father having to board up the front door because of an imminent pogrom. Even though you would move from Ukraine to the USA and finally come home to what was then British Mandate Palestine in 1921, you never forgot your roots. You were imbued with the fire of Zionism and longed to see our hope of 2000 years realised.

Israeli medical personnel off to Ukraine where they will help man the “Kochav Meir” field Hospital in the western Ukrainian town of Mostyska to provide medical care and humanitarian aid to war refugees. (Marc Sallem, Jerusalem Post)

As the years progressed, you would see many pioneers arrive from the Pale of Settlement and then you would watch with sorrow and frustration as our people endured the darkest time in our history. The soil at Babyn Yar on the outskirts of Kyiv still cries with the voice of our ancestors.

Our memories of Ukraine are painful but over the decades something extraordinary happened. The once decimated Jewish communities started to grow again. Jewish life was once more present in Kyiv and in Kharkiv, in Dnipro, Odessa, Lviv and more. The image of Tevye leaving Anatevka, bowed, broken and with his fellow villagers was replaced with the Chabad synagogue giving spiritual strength and shelter to many. To top it all, a Jewish President had been elected, who is proud of his roots and family history – and who is very much the man of the moment for his outstanding leadership. Volodymyr Zelensky’s unshaven face in his combat green, leading from amongst his people is in stark contrast to the anemic, bloated looking Putin, dressed in a suit and seated at a bizarrely long table.

Equipment for the Israeli field hospital being loaded onto a plane at Ben Gurion Airport, March 17, 2022. (Sivan Shahar/Anaba/GPO

As I write this, Ukraine enters the fourth week of a brutal war with Russia, who invaded under many pretenses, one of which was intention to “denazify” the country. Most countries have appalling elements within society; but the accusation of “denazification” is particularly painful given the dark past and resurgence of Jewish life in Ukraine.

Dear Golda, millions have fled, becoming refugees – but many have stayed to fight. Dearest Golda, it is your example that many cite as their inspiration. They quote you by comparing the will of the Ukrainian people to live to a famous saying about the enemy laying down its weapons and brave soldiers like Aleksander Gorgan, who made sure you are with him when he went into battle by taking a copy of your autobiography in his combat backpack.

None of us can watch what is happening in Ukraine without feeling a profound sense of sorrow. We all want to help as much as we can.

Dear Golda, you were one of the founders of the modern state of Israel, your signature is on our founding documents; and you had a clear vision of how our tiny country could live up to the tenet of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world). We have always said NEVER AGAIN after the Holocaust and try wherever we can to help and Ukraine is no different.

As you know, Israel’s position is very precarious. We face an ever growing threat from Iran and the presence of Russian troops on our borders who control the airspace over Syria means that we are able to strike when our security is threatened. We have to carefully coordinate this with Russia. We have good bilateral ties with both countries and are now faced with the role of mediator, however delicate it may be. President Zelenesky thinks Jerusalem, our capital could be a venue for mediation but we have endured many wars and realise how cautious we have to proceed with negotiations but it is our moral duty to do what we can for the sake of saving lives.

While some have derided Israel for not sending military aid (other countries could also do more but singling out Israel is preposterous!) and Iron Domes (which are not effective against the kind of Russian military strikes being used), it must be understood that we have to protect our citizens against opportunistic attacks that could come from Iran and proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas.

It is not just in mediation where Israel is playing a vital role. We have endured several wars throughout our existence and this has given us an ability to mobilise help quickly. As I am writing, the Israel Population and Immigration Authority report that 13,500 Ukrainian refugees have entered Israel with 5,000 making Aliyah under the country’s Law of Return.

Israeli national emergency response service Magen David Adom send four armored ambulances to war-torn Ukraine to help treat the wounded and evacuate them from the field.

Dear Golda, today those same Olim who come from what was the Pale of Settlement come into Israel as refugees with one major difference – they are home. As soon as the Russian tanks rolled in, we mobilised our diplomats from Ukraine, Romania, Poland and Slovakia along the border to evacuate Israelis.

Tasked with providing initial aid, assessing needs, and building a comprehensive long-term treatment plan, seen here is the first group (jump team) of United Hatzalah’s humanitarian aid mission from Israel to Ukraine comprising 12 EMTs, paramedics, doctors, a dentist, and members of the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit.

Israelis aren’t the only ones they are helping – they have evacuated civilians from Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Gaza and the Palestinian Authority who were stranded by their leadership. I cannot keep up with all the aid Israel and Jewish organisations are sending but a basic account  says four armoured ambulances from Magen David Adom, United Hatzolah and IsraAid medical care in Moldova and Romania, including safe spaces for moms and babies; Ukrainian and Russian speaking police from Israel’s Police Force to help refugees find out where to go; Jewish Agency emissaries along 14 points on the border; 100 tons of humanitarian aid from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs; aid packages from Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer club in partnership with organisations; ZAKA rescue; 6 large generators for hospitals in Lviv and countless others.

The real shining star is the field hospital, organised by Israel’s Ministry of Health and Sheba Medical Centre. Operation “Shining Star” has commenced with over 17 tons of medical aid and over 50 medical personnel. So far, it is the only field hospital on the Ukrainian side of the border. It will have wards and state-of- the-art equipment and provide sanctuary and medical care for civilians and soldier.

Trucks carrying equipment for Israeli field hospital in Ukraine. (photo credit: Construction team for Kohav Meir hospital)

Dear Golda, the hospital is named “Kochav Meir”. Yes, Golda, it is named in your honour.

Dearest Golda, all these decades later, through tragedy and triumph, war and peace, the building and rebuilding of countries and communities, you continue to inspire and empower. I hope the next time we chat, it will be a conversation about peace in both the country you were born in and the one that you helped build.

Erecting the Israeli “Kohav Meir” (Shining Star) field hospital in Mostyska, Ukraine.
(photo credit: Construction team for Kohav Meir hospital)

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  –  February- March 2022

Arab writers opining on Middle East issues, focus on Ukraine cautioning Arab countries to remain neutral in a conflict between superpowers while carving a space in the world arena

Vladimir Putin’s calculated choice

By Amr al-Shobaki 

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, February 28

Russian forces have advanced toward the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and are positioned on the city’s outskirts. They’ve succeeded in destroying dozens of Ukrainian military sites, leaving hundreds of civilian casualties, including children.

The supposed goal behind the Russian campaign is to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, and to install a pro-Moscow puppet regime that will be submissive to the Kremlin.

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s worldview, the only way to change the political calculus in Eastern Europe is to use brute force, not diplomacy. This is ironic given the fact that many of Russia’s conflicts have taken place in neighboring territories that share not only a common culture with Russia but also extensive trade relations. Therefore, one would assume that soft power would also be a tool used by the Kremlin.

The timing of Russia’s assault isn’t coincidental. Moscow has chosen the winter, when the European need for Russian gas is at its peak. Indeed, what we’ve seen is that France and Germany, the two largest beneficiaries of Russian gas, were those most reluctant to act against Putin and his government. They changed their stances only when other EU states severed their ties with Moscow and hardened their position toward Russia.

Putin’s Plans! Will the Russian president prolong the war leading to more casualties, stop at Ukraine or will he violate the sovereignty of other countries, such as Poland?

Furthermore, Putin’s timing is advantageous due to political reasons as well. The American democracy today suffers from both internal and external challenges, and the recent American withdrawal from Afghanistan has undermined America’s credibility in the world. It is highly unlikely that the Biden administration will push for an active American intervention in Ukraine.

Of course, none of these factors suggest that Putin will win this war. The Russian president’s fate will be determined to a great degree by his immediate next steps: Will he prolong the war and lead to more casualties? Will he stop at Ukraine, or violate the sovereignty of other countries, such as Poland?

Regardless of the outcome, it’s important to remember that Putin’s steps are a product of a clear and calculated strategy. The Russian president considered his options and chose a military campaign to achieve his goals.

So far, despite the sanctions imposed on Moscow, many of Putin’s calculations seem to have been correct: NATO has not deployed ground troops to fight in Ukraine, and Western support remains limited on the ground. Russia will emerge victorious, if it succeeds in bringing about a quick ceasefire that would guarantee its cultural and political dominance over Ukraine for years to come.

Anything else would be a failure for Moscow.

– Amr al-Shobaki 

Russia, Ukraine & Arab countries’ interests

By Abdullah bin Bijad Al Otaibi 

Al-Ittihad, UAE, March 1

The Russian invasion of Ukraine may very well represent the single most acute crisis of our time. It is a major international crisis in every sense of the word – one that has both an ancient and modern history to it.

On the one hand, we have Russian President Vladimir Putin, who seeks to rebuild the Soviet Union and weaken any Western influence on Russia’s borders. On the other hand, we have the Ukrainian people, who are being killed and displaced en masse and are seeking assurances from NATO and the EU pertaining to the protection of their sovereignty.

Meanwhile, no quick solution is in sight. Russia’s military campaign is far from decisive, while Western sanctions against Russia are only beginning to bear fruit. A crisis of this depth and complexity cannot be resolved overnight.

Notably, the Arab world isn’t involved in this crisis. Not a single Arab country is a party to this conflict, neither closely nor from afar.

Russia in a Quagmire. Did Putin anticipate the extent of economic sanctions by Western countries that are causing a serious disruption to Russia’s economy and its citizens.

The problem, however, is that some voices in the Arab media are seeking to imitate their Western counterparts by taking sides politically and introducing bias into their coverage of the unfolding events. The truth is that neutrality is possible. Presenting the issue from multiple viewpoints and angles isn’t hard to do.

Furthermore, it is the responsibility of Arab news outlets to represent the Arab interest in this conflict and analyze the events from the Arab viewpoint. The Arab world must look after its own interests, avoid getting involved in a conflict between great powers, and know how to carve out a space in the international arena. That should be our primary goal at a time when the guns are roaring on the international battlefield.

– Abdullah bin Bijad Al Otaibi 

Ukraine & emergence of a new world order

By Ali al-Khushiban

Al Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 2

The global arena is messy and confusing, and everyone is looking toward Kyiv with apprehension and concern for the future of our world order. Moreover, a wildfire can easily erupt from the ashes still found underneath the ground of every European capital.

Therefore, the United States and the EU are being extra wary of inadvertently invoking any form of European national conflict due to their actions in Ukraine.

The fact of the matter is that the deep crisis we’re witnessing won’t simply disappear once Russia wins or loses this war. Today, President Vladimir Putin seeks to create an ideological axis that crystallizes the parity between Russia and the West and consolidates Moscow’s position as a force that has a serious role in shaping the new world order.

UNcertain Future. Is the UN’s future on the line over Ukraine

The most important question revolves around the ability of the West to tame Russia through nonmilitary means. But the current crisis is already giving rise to a new world order, in which great powers will rely more heavily on the use of force, and perhaps one in which wars will become more common.

Ultimately, it’s clear that the West will not accept a balance of power in which Russia determines the fate of all Eastern European countries. The war in Ukraine will set a precedent for other conflicts to come. And if the West fails to set the tone and mold this new international system to its own benefit, it will quickly discover that the situation is no longer in its control.

– Ali al-Khushiban

*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).