The Israel Brief- 25-28 April 2022

The Israel Brief – 25 April 2022 – Israel strikes targets in Lebanon in response to rockets. President Biden speaks to PM Bennett. Foreign Minister Lapid updates on Temple Mount situation. Israel will rock (and rap!) this summer.

The Israel Brief – 26 April 2022 – UNSC meets about the tension in Jerusalem. Erez crossing reopened. 1 in 4 young Americans hide their Jewish identity. Ken Roth quits Human Rights Watch.

The Israel Brief – 27 April 2022 – Israel prepares for Yom Hashoa, Holocaust Memorial Day.

The Israel Brief – 28 April 2022 – Israel marks Yom Hashoa. Head of Shin Bet meets Abbas. PM Bennett receives a second threatening letter. Israel to party this summer.

25 April 2022 – On WINA – Rolene Marks discusses tension on the Temple Mount.

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).

Teach Your Children Well

This year, it seems more important than ever to pass the torch of education and remembrance to the next generations

By Rolene Marks

The responsibility to bear witness, remember and educate is so important for the next generations to continue”.

We say this this every year as we approach Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel. Unlike the UN-designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day which takes place on the 27th of January to coincide with the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp and commemorates all victims of the Holocaust, Yom Hashoah focuses specifically on the Jewish victims and coincides with the Hebrew anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

This year, these words seem to have greater urgency.

Illuminating the Dark. Holocaust survivors light six torches representing the six million victims of the Nazi genocide during the opening ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day. Seen here lighting one of the torches at the ceremony in 2018, is survivor Miriam Lapid.(Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The importance of Holocaust education is not a mere understatement, it is critical. As time marches on, we lose our remaining eyewitnesses and survivors of mankind’s most horrific genocide. As time marches on, so it becomes ever more urgent for us to bear witness to the first-hand accounts of the horrors of the Holocaust.

This year, the commitment has to be on us to ensure that we pass the baton on to the next generations, so that they can bear witness, using the mediums they know best, in the language that is the most appealing to their peers.

A 2020 survey carried out in the United States by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany found that among adults under 40, roughly 1 in 10 respondents did not recall ever having heard the word “Holocaust” before. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed did not know 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. Over half of those thought the toll was under 2 million. These are staggering statistics and have exposed a glaring lack of Holocaust education in the USA.

Over 40,000 concentration camps and ghettos were established across Europe during World War II, but nearly half of the respondents could not name a single one.

The most important lesson is that we can’t lose any more time,” said Greg Schneider, Executive Vice President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany. “If we let these trends continue for another generation, the crucial lessons from this terrible part of history could be lost.”

Europe is no different.

A European based survey, shortly before the one in the US, found that antisemitic stereotypes are widespread; with more than a quarter of Europeans saying Jews have “too much influence in business and finance”. According to the CNN/ComRes survey into European attitudes towards Jews, 34 percent of those surveyed said they knew just a little or had never heard of the Holocaust, while 20 percent of French people between the ages of 18 and 34 said they had never heard of the Holocaust. You would think that on the continent that remains a graveyard for once thriving Jewish communities and where there are reminders in every major city, they would be a little more educated and aware; but alas, they are not.

A third of Europeans surveyed said Jewish people use the Holocaust to advance their own positions or goals.

Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the UK based Holocaust Educational Trust, told CNNthe poll confirmed “a worrying increase in the number of people who believe traditional antisemitic tropes or hold antisemitic views, as well as a disappointing lack of knowledge about the Holocaust.”

These are not the only surveys and studies producing worrying results. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, named after the famed Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter, have raised the alarm over the increase in the amount of Holocaust denial, distortion and revisionism on social media. It is no great secret that social media platforms, especially Twitter, are a cesspit of hate. While Facebook has managed to clamp down on Holocaust denial, Twitter remains a veritable free- for-all. I have lost track of all of the times I have complained to Twitter about vile antisemitic content only to receive the message that the post in question does not violate their ”standards”.

Fading Faces. Images like these Hungarian Jews on the selection ramp at Auschwitz determining  those deemed “fit for work” or sent to the gas chambers are amongst millennials of ever-decreasing interest. (Photo: Yad Vashem, from the Auschwitz Album)

The role of social media platforms is critical. It is here where the younger generations interact and sadly, form their opinions on global events. On the one hand, these platforms create the opportunity for people to express themselves – and on the other, allows for predatory antisemites, Holocaust deniers and distorters to find a captive audience and create communities.

We do not need surveys to tell us how critical Holocaust education is. We are seeing a rise in antisemitism that is rivalling that of pre-World War II. Subsequent genocides and human rights violations have shown us that the lessons of history have not been learnt. Holocaust education is vital not just to help combat antisemitism; but to reinforce the lessons of history. NEVER AGAIN has to mean something, right?

We cannot rely solely on educational institutions and the media to educate – we have to take the responsibility on board ourselves as individuals, organisations and communities.

Has the like of this happened in your days or in the days of your fathers? Tell your children about it, and let your children tell theirs, and their children, the next generation!” (1 Joel 2-3).

These words are inscribed at the entrance to Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust Memorial and Museum. As we lose our last eyewitness survivors of the horrors of the Holocaust to the passage of time, so it becomes more of an imperative that our generation must bear witness, remember and teach the ones to come.

Living Testimony. French Holocaust survivor Victor Perahia, interned as a child in the Drancy camp outside Paris and then deported to Bergen-Belsen, speaks to students during a January 2020 workshop dedicated to Holocaust remembrance at Drancy. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

This Yom Hashoah as we remember our 6 million and honour the individuals and the communities targeted for extermination simply because they were Jewish, we need to not only renew our vow of NEVER AGAIN, we need to commit to the 6 million martyred, that we will continue to bear witness, to testify on their behalf and to educate.

Seeing is Believing. A photo taken April 12, 1945, shows just some of the bodies found by U.S. troops when they arrived at Nordhausen concentration camp in Germany. (Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library)

Their voices cry out to us; they implore us, they remind us of the urgency of their plea. It is a plea we will hear. It is a vow we will honour.

May the memories of our 6 million be forever blessed.

Education is the Key. Young people at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem looking above at the dome displaying photos of the victims of the Holocaust and then below at the water, reflecting those NEVER to be forgotten faces.

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).

Ending Holocaust Distortion Through Education

A reflection this Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) on  protecting the history of the Holocaust

By Jonathan Feldstein

While I, like others have been following the Russia-Ukraine war obsessively, a specific US news report got me thinking! 

Firstly, it is hard to imagine that an unprovoked war is happening at all, much less obliterating entire communities. The human tragedy is underscored with more than five million – over 10% of Ukrainians – having fled their country.  However, because of whom and where I am, I tend to look at this horrific tragedy through a Jewish and Israeli prism. This stems from common experiences of war which Ukrainians are suffering and which Israel has suffered – and still suffers – as well as to the wholesale slaughter and destruction of Jewish communities during the Second World War at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators.

What is happening in Ukraine is unspeakable on many levels.  It’s unimaginable that anyone of good conscience can look at this reality and not at least be sympathetic to and supportive of the Ukrainians, and equally horrified by and opposed to the Russian aggression. I pray the war will end and that there will be sweeping war crimes trials and sanctions against Russia and the perpetrators, and that Ukrainians will all be able to return home and rebuild their lives.

Trivializing the Shoah. However horrendous the Russian leader’s actions are, comparisons of Vladimir Putin to Hitler is inappropriate, inaccurate and offensive to the victims of the Holocaust.

However, while not in any way detracting from my heartfelt sympathy with the people of Ukraine, I take strong exception to parallels drawn between Ukraine today and the Holocaust.  Sadly, there have been a plethora of such people’s ignorance of history, which I find particularly unsettling this week as Israel observes Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Memorial Day. Part of the problem is ignorance.  I don’t fault people for not knowing, but people should avoid publicly expressing such false analogies if they know only too well that they are ignorant on the subject. This is something they can correct by self-education. There cannot be enough education about the Holocaust which can take many forms from reading informative books – particularly the testimony of survivors  – to watching accurate documentaries.

Holocaust ignorance, however, does not excuse Holocaust distortion. Ignorance was recently spotlighted when Whoopi Goldberg asserted that “the Holocaust isn’t about race.” What it was about, according to Whoopi was:

 “… White people doing it to White people, so y’all gonna fight amongst yourselves.”

The sad truth is that Whoopi’s Holocaust ignorance is less about her and more a reflection of how widespread that ignorance is. This celebrity was a microcosm of a disturbing global phenomenon.

Watching a report on the Ukraine by Brian Kilmeade on FOX News, exposed how inappropriate Holocaust analogies are and the need to prevent this phenomena. Exposing this ignorance was the wanton display of photographs of the Holocaust parallel with pictures of Ukraine today – as if the two shared equivalence. I was going to let that lie, so in my quest to educate, I took to FOX’s social media and sent messages to correct the inappropriate parallels: 

It’s not cool to show pictures of Ukraine juxtaposed with the Holocaust. That’s lazy and grossly inaccurate. What’s happening in Ukraine is horrific. It is not a genocide. It is not the systematic murder of millions of people because of their religion. It’s not based on an ideology of racial purity. Other than the fact that people are suffering, and it happens to be in part of the world where the Holocaust took place, there is no parallel.”

In another message:

I don’t believe that this was done with malice, and whoever wrote this material needs to learn more. This month is Israel’s national Holocaust Memorial Day. I am very happy to speak with any of your staff who would like to be educated in a constructive way, and to meet in person the next time I am in the US. It is incumbent for anyone reporting the news to use proper language and accurate parallels, and if there are no accurate parallels, not to go fishing for ones that are inappropriate.”

Sadly – possibly indicative of not only ignorance but also indifference – I received no responses.

Designed to Deceive. Photographs of the current situation in Ukraine (when shown in black and white) are being used to compare millions of people across Europe who were forced to flee Nazi aggression during World War II and the Holocaust.

I also took great exception to President Biden calling the war in Ukraine “a genocide”.  Horrific as it is, it is not “genocide”. His depiction is an inaccurate distortion

Are there war crime happening? Yes.

But genocide, the systematic murder of an entire people, no; not even close. Biden is wrong as is anyone using the “genocide” analogy. 

Biden is not the only president to speak inaccurately. Even Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was wrong contriving Holocaust analogies. The fact that he’s Jewish doesn’t excuse him. On the contrary, if anything, he should be more informed and accurate and sensitive to the memory of Jewish Ukrainians who perished not because of war but solely as a consequence of true “genocide”.  When Zelensky’s family were murdered in the Holocaust, it was not because they were Ukrainian – it was because they were Jewish!

Despite his inappropriate Holocaust analogies, I am prepared to cut Zelensky some slack for leading his country with such heroism and moral clarity.

Mirky Past made Mirkier. Back in 2019, a staircase in a shopping mall on Kiev’s Bandera Avenue located on a street named for a collaborator with the Nazis is decorated with a large swastika.

However, Zelensky had the temerity to castigate Israel and the Jewish people of not standing sufficiently with Ukraine because Ukrainians “saved Jews during the Holocaust”. Here again is a display of gross ignorance or denial of the truth. While Israel and the Jewish people are fully supportive in word and deed with the Ukrainian people, Zelensky conveniently forgets his people’s lack of concern when Jews were singled out for total annihilation – to the last man, woman and child. Factually, fewer than 2,700 Ukrainians have been recognized as Righteous Gentiles for risking their lives to save Jews. While many of Ukraine’s 200,000 Jews today owe their lives to these heroes, many millions of other Ukrainians were indifferent or collaborated with the Nazis as willing partners in the mass murder of Jews. That is their history.

Whitewashing or ignoring the horrid history of Jews being murdered before and during the Holocaust by complacent and willing antisemitic Ukrainians is offensive. The Holocaust is not a smorgasbord of horrors that people can pick from to use as they so please to compare to the suffering of others.  As I wrote to FOX, the Holocaust or Shoah has no comparison with what is horrifically unfolding in Ukraine, the US border, or any other suffering around the world. 

Distorting the Past. Israel’s Holocaust research center “Yad Vashem” condemns comparison of the Holocaust to the Ukraine conflict

In a recent conversation with Lithuanian journalist and author Ruta Vanagaite, we discussed how ignorance and antisemitic stereotypes led to Lithuanians active participation and complacency in the murder of all but 1.5 percent of Lithuania’s Jews.

What’s the answer?

Education, education, education.”

About the writer:

Jonathan Feldstein ­­­­- President of the US based non-profit Genesis123 Foundation whose mission is to build bridges between Jews and Christians – is a freelance writer whose articles appear in The Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Townhall,, Algemeiner Jornal, The Jewish Press, major Christian websites and more.

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

The first article that I ever wrote for Lay of the land was on Judge David Unterhalter. Little did I realise at the time that this would be the first of a series of articles on the judge. So without further ado here is article number 3 in the series and no doubt there will be further articles to follow. Each episode gets a little more intricate.

The first time Judge David Unterhalter appeared before the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) applying for a post as constitutional judge,  the interview process was so viciously and irregularly conducted that it was subject to a review and JSC conceded that it had to be redone.  The antisemitism displayed towards Unterhalter by several of the commissioners was both palpable and shocking.  The second time he appeared; the antisemitism was still there, but it was not quite as blatant.  All of which leads to this, his third appearance before the JSC.

The ongoing judicial journey of ConCourt candidate Judge David Unterhalter as he faces grilling at JSC interviews.

In the light of the debacles concerning the process of election of judges in the recent past,  the  JSC passed regulations concerning the manner in which the interview process should be conducted. Nominees  for the post of judges are interviewed in order to determine whether they are fit and proper persons to be appointed to the specific judicial  posts.

Our Constitution has a provision  that  requires the JSC to  submit to the President three names  more than required to fill a vacancy in the Constitutional Court. If there is only one vacancy, then the JSC must submit a minimum of four names. For two vacancies, five names are needed, and so forth.

On this occasion there were two vacant positions in the Constitutional Court,  with interviews to be held in April 2022.  Five people applied for these posts.  There were three white males and two African females. There were two vacant positions in the Constitutional Court.  Thus, in terms of the provisions of the South African Constitution,  the JSC would have had to submit all five names to the President, stating their preference, but the final decision for the appointments  would be left to the President.

Unterhalter overlooked by the JSC for a third time. (WIPO/ Pierre Albouy)

Our Constitutional Court presently has no white judges on its bench.  While there is no requirement that there be white judges on the Constitutional Court, the general opinion of jurists is that the court  should “reflect broadly the racial and gender composition of South Africa” suggesting that one of the white men would be appointed.

One of the white males was Judge Unterhalter,  presently an acting judge in the Constitutional Court.  He has been acting for the present court term (about three months) He had applied for the position of permanent Constitutional Court Judge twice previously, and was unsuccessful of both occasions.

There were two other white men as candidates. Advocate Alan Dodson, who is not a  judge, was seen as an outsider. Judge  Owen Rogers – a first-time candidate-  was viewed as having his age count against him. He is 64. Unterhalter, a sitting Acting Constitutional Judge,  was the hot favourite for the post.

When being interviewed for the position, the commissioners will be provided with the case judgements (at least the reported ones) handed down by the candidates. Some of my colleagues had been given the task of  researching the reported cases of the candidates and providing opinions as to the merits and demerits of each case. These opinions were then forwarded to the Commission together with the cases. The volume of  Unterhalter’s reported cases, in excess of over 300, would no doubt have resulted in  a couple of sleepless nights for the researchers.

Unterhalter was the last candidate to be interviewed for the post. Until that stage, the interview process had been very “parev” with nothing out of the ordinary.

This all changed with the Unterhalter inquisition!

The first attack came from commissioner Mvuzo Notyesi, who raised an issue  that Constitutional Court Judge Unterhalter had ruled on the same judgments that he, as Supreme Court of Appeal Judge had ruled on, when he should have recused himself.  This attack caught Unterhalter wrong-footed, and he was totally surprised by the ambush question. Chief Justice Zondo, presiding over the interview, stated that it had been previously been agreed that this issue would not be raised, as it had not been timeously brought to the Commission’s attention.  At that stage, the voice of Commissioner Julius Malema was heard, insisting that the matter be addressed so that the matter could be discussed when the panel deliberated over the suitability of the candidates for the position. Malema made  it clear that he was going to ensure Unterhalter did not receive the nomination. It seemed that it was Malema who had found copies of both rulings and forwarded them to Notyesi. The discovery of these Appeal  judgments  and  even Concourt judgments did not form part of normal  background research. It would have required single-minded dedication  and an extraordinary amount of time and effort to locate  these unreported one-page judgments. 

Commissioner Mvuzo Notyesi.

Malema had his way, and notwithstanding the previous agreement, these judgements now became part of the record. It should not be forgotten that Malema had previously bullied Zondo, when Zondo had applied for the position of  Chief Justice, in a previous judicial appointment hearing. This conduct was again noticeably in evidence.  It was after Malema had his say, Zondo discarded his ruling of not using the undisclosed issue.

Unterhalter, after having been given the opportunity to examine  the issue, explained that these matters were applications where the High Court has dismissed and  had already refused leave to appeal. Then there had been a further application made to the Supreme Court of Appeal to reconsider the issue. Only the papers presented to  the Court were read. These were read privately in chambers with no further legal input from the parties. On this basis, he and another judge had confirmed the lack of merit and a decision to dismiss the application was made.  The Supreme Court of Appeal having dismissed the application, the party had persisted in further seeking that the Concourt reconsider the application and  the refusal of both  the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal to allow the matter to be appealed. The Concourt judges individually as well as in their own chambers considered the matter based purely on the papers before them  and each independently decided to dismiss the application.

Unterhalter conceded that he had in fact dismissed an application for leave to appeal in the Concourt, after he had been one of the two judges who denied the same applicants leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal. He had not noticed that he had dismissed the application as his name only appeared on a single page  at the back of the  annexures  and did not appear in the main application. He also pointed out that none of the other judges in the Concourt or their clerks had picked up this issue either. He apologized and said he should have recused himself as he had done in other matters.  It was a human error, he claimed. Malema argued that errors like this lead to a lack of respect for the courts.  Notyesi expressed his concern that Unterhalter had not read the papers, which  allowed  for the error to arise. Zondo seemed to suggest that it was the Concourt procedure that was at fault and  said  that he would introduce a procedure to ensure this would not happen again. Malema then again verbally attacked Zondo and made it clear that Unterhalter’s  conduct was relevant and had to be taken into  consideration, but it was unacceptable. It was mistakes like this that destroy the image of the court, opined Malema.

A fiery typically fiery posture from Commissioner Julius Malema.

Then it was the chance of Commissioner and Member of Parliament Singh, to indulge in a little  Unterhalter bashing. He gratuitously reintroduced a subject from a previous JSC interview that had previously been  strongly and vocally protested  as antisemitic – asking for further comment on Unterhalter’s membership of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies  executive committee which obviously included the Board’s  nature and function.  This question not only fell foul of the new regulations but had no place in the examination procedure. The question  was irregularly permitted by Zondo, although it bore no relevance to Unterhalter’s  legal capacity or his fitness as a judge.

South Africa’s Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo

Then the knife in his gut was twisted just  a little more.

The  black female commissioners took aim at Unterhalter.

He had previously been attacked for not producing a list of disadvantaged counsel that had  acted as his juniors.  Now that  such a list had been produced, he was now attacked on the basis that he had only appointed 7 or 8 black female advocates to assist him (it was never made clear how many black male counsel juniored him), Commissioner Pillay SC, whom Unterhalter acknowledged had also acted as a previously disadvantaged female  junior to him, attacked him for  paucity of his use of black female junior advocates. She then castigated him for observing the standard practice of using junior advocates rather than utilising  more senior black female practitioners.

After caucusing for discussion on the relative merits of the candidates,  the JSC  put four names  forward to the President for consideration of the post of Concourt  judge.

Unterhalter’s name was excluded from the list

The only  legally justifiable reason for Unterhalter to have been excluded from the list was that he was not a fit and proper person to be appointed.  By excluding him, either the JSC had  to have very good reasons for the exclusion, or they have disgracefully defamed him.

In South Africa, decisions are normally  made on a balance of probability. Sometimes there might be  consideration  of “the only possible inference” leading to a conclusion.  The  issues that the JSC would likely have discussed about Unterhalter’s suitability  are the following:    

(a) that he did not recuse himself when he should have  – an  error which was committed by every other  Apex Court judge and clerk;

(b)  his  lack of commitment to transformation in that he had assisted so few black female junior advocates. This should then have been raised with any other candidate. Their contribution to the transformation process was never discussed.

(c)   his past position on the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) – previously dealt with in my previous articles. Other candidates’ external activities were not discussed.

(d)  he had produced no written judgments while sitting on the Concourt bench (coupled with the oxymoronic proposition that he was too junior a judge to  assume a position on the Concourt.

(e)   a combination of some, or all of them.

Was the decision to exclude Unterhalter antisemitic? It’s unlikely that we will ever know. Can it be said that it is the only possible inference? It certainly was not made on a balance of probability. All one can say is that Unterhalter is probably one of the most brilliant jurists presently in South Africa, with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Malema’s animus was clear from the start; Notyesi raised an extraordinarily difficult-to-find issue that was never even intimated to any other candidate, also suggesting malicious intent. Singh wrongfully attacked Unterhalter’s constitutional right of freedom of association, on  an issue which has been previously viewed as antisemitic. The black female commissioners, including one of his one-time juniors,  Pillay SC, attacked him on the lack of racial transformation and the lack  of previously disadvantaged black advocates who juniored for him, disregarding his substantial history of foundational training of all types of young practitioners. The absurd proposition that an (acting) sitting judge of the Concourt is too junior to sit on that Court bench was accepted with undue legal gravitas.  The bullying of the Chief Justice causing him to admit evidence that had been agreed to be excluded, casts a concerning judicial shadow over the new Chief Justice.

That so many of the commissioners voted to exclude Judge Unterhalter from consideration seems judicially  inexplicable. That the Chief Justice allowed this to happen is even more inexplicable. Why is this generally well-liked and respected judge being denied a seat on the Concourt, a seat that even the Concourt judges want him to fill? How many other reasons can there be? That the newly introduced criteria were so openly disregarded is another iteration of the JSC’s previously unacceptable behaviour. What real reason could there be to  so summarily exclude Unterhalter from the process and thereby holding that he is not a fit and proper person to hold the position of Constitutional Court judge? This refusal to allow  the President from considering Unterhalter for appointment requires exceptional circumstances leading to his exclusion. In the absence of such circumstance, Unterhalter has been gravely vilified. From the interview, it is difficult to see what circumstances objectively existed justifying his exclusion.  The only thing that can be seen to  objectively exist was  that the standard applied to Acting Constitutional Justice Unterhalter was far more prejudicial and unfair than that applied to the other candidates.

The irregularities committed by the JSC, are little different  from  the one for which it has been called out previously in reported cases, of which they are no doubt acutely aware.  It also seems  very likely that  the JSC has violated section 174 of the Constitution and has  again  deliberately repeated its  irrational and unlawful conduct.   The JSC has again failed to apply the  standards expected of it. Unterhalter’s dignity has been seriously impugned by the removal of his name for submission to the President and his good name has been besmirched. Were he to decide to abandon any chance of a Concourt seat, he could follow the course of Judge Satchwell and litigate to enforce his rights. He is too much the gentleman and jurist to seek constitutional damages. Unfortunately, the same high legal  standards are noticeably absent in the JSC. The JSC needs to fully explain to the nation and its shocked legal fraternity just what exceptional circumstances it found to hold that this highly regarded acting Concourt judge is unfit and improper to assume a  permanent appointment.

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).

Farewell to Rodney Mazinter

A tribute to a South African Zionist who fought for his people through word and deed

By David E. Kaplan

Living in Israel, I knew this Cape Town-based writer, poet and published novelist, Rodney Mazinter, mostly by  his pen and what a mighty pen it was.

Rodney Mazinter

Imagining him like the proverbial knight  on his sturdy horse wielding in jousting position a pen as his lance, he pressed forward to do battle for his beloved Israel and the Jewish people. His extensive writings in support of causes close to his heart were warmly embraced by readers beyond South Africa.

In his first novel available through Amazon, the author recreates “the European world of the Jewish people in the first half of the twentieth century – a world of unimaginable hardship and hatred, culminating in the Holocaust.”

We at Lay of the Land in Israel, welcomed his contributions as did our readers across the world, and in paying tribute to this inspiring lover of Israel and community leader (he was a former vice-chair of the South African Zionist Federation, Cape Council), we are proud to publish one of his poems that so poignantly resonates as each stanza shares intimate similarities of his final days.

Having suffered a heart attack and finding himself in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in Cape Town, it was a subject that Rodney had previously thought intensely about when he composed this poem set in an ICU not in South Africa but in one of Israel’s premier hospitals – Rambam in Haifa.

The most renowned of the Jewish medieval scholars, Maimonides changed the face of Judaism.

With so many superlative hospitals in Israel, why did Rodney choose Rambam?

Named after and honouring Rabbi Moses Ben-Maimon, called Maimonides or the “Rambam” an acronym of his name in Hebrew, Maimonides was a preeminent medieval Sephardic rabbi, physician, and philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. He is credited to  being among the first in Western thinking to propose that the health of the body and soul should be combined, in other words that the body is the home of the soul, and the soul guides the body  revealing the body and the soul as one unit. The Rambam’s medical writings constitute  a significant chapter in the history of medical science.

The setting of Rodney’s poem, Rambam Health Care Campus commonly called Rambam Hospital, is the largest medical center in northern Israel and is named for the 12th century physician-philosopher Rabbi Moshe Ben-Maimon (Maimonides), known as the Rambam.

All this I believe, intuitively, percolated in Rodney’s creative mind as he poetically applied his craft to his subject.

Whether Jew, Muslim or Christian brough to Rambam’s ICU due to illness, accident, war, crime or act or terror, the actions and thoughts of all who busily occupy this space from those seeking salvation to those trying to provide it “Like a team of lifeguards constantly on duty”, the poem moves to the rushed rhythmic beat of a pulsating heart.

Rodney captures it all……


By Rodney Mazinter

A capsule of pain and fear − or an airlock

Waiting for travellers to pass through to a place they’re loath to enter?

Are there those among us who care enough to bring them back?

Jew, Muslim, Christian, some brought low by illness,

Or worse, by bullet, knife or car,

Victims of those weaned on hatred,

Bullied by brutes bereft of − bankrupt of − compassion.

Across the way in a darkened room,

A man struggles to bring his pulse down and his blood pressure up.

A woman whose teary eyes still hold the captured images of visitors,

Lies dying of the illness of old age, an oxygen feed clamped firmly

To her fine Semitic face.

Down the line of serried beds a man cries out incoherently −

It is a high-pitched supplication of dread, pain and pleading. Is he talking to God?

Monitors, the Argus-eyed guardians for the physicians,

Blink codes and messages to those trained to read them.

Through all this, doctors and nursing staff

Meander among the beds performing minor miracles,

Like a team of lifeguards constantly on duty

Ready to pluck a sinking life from the jaws of eternity.

They fight the battle and mostly win,

But there is no triumphant parade with flags waving,

And boastful thumbs stuck in lapels.

There is no time for that − a new patient is wheeled in from ER.

There are lines to set and veins to pierce,

And all focus is on the never-ending stream of humanity

On the road to recovery, if not survival.

Medical personnel wearing protective equipment treat a COVID-19 patient in an intensive care ward at Rambam Hospital, December 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)


Following Rodney’s passing, a close friend  and fellow literati of his from Cape Town, Charlotte Cohen, sent me her poem What is a mensch? republished earlier this month in ‘Jewish Affairs’ a monthly publication issued by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, in which she asserts “epitomises the person who Rodney Mazinter was.” Who can disagree with her?

In selecting only two lines, I felt drawn to these:

“ A mensch sees the world as ‘we’ not ‘I’

A mensch is always there

Our sincere condolences to his wife Mavis and all the family from Lay of the Land.

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

The Israel Brief- 18-20 April 2022

The Israel Brief – 18 April 2022 – The situation on the Temple Mount. Russia FM summons Israeli Ambassador. Direct flight to Sharm Al Sheikh. Emirati planes to participate in Yom Haatzmaut.

The Israel Brief – 19 April 2022 – IDF strike targets in response to rockets. PM Bennett responds to Jordan. Putin and Abbas speak. Eytan Stibbe to return to earth tomorrow.

The Israel Brief – 20 April 2022 – Updates on situation in Jerusalem. Indoor mask mandate to be dropped. Arizona adopts IHRA. 78th anniversary of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Voice of Change – Rolene Marks – Wave of terrorist attacks in Israel which claimed the life of 14 people


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- 17 April 2022

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 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

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While we are now in Chol Hamoed  – that “intermediate period” of the 8 days of Passover that celebrates our eternal breakaway from bondage – this is the perfect time for more relaxed ‘breakaways” enjoying fun family outings. Lay of the Land will return after Chol Hamoed on Sunday 24 April 2022

Chag Pesach Sameach



Celebrating Passover

From a people to a nation we relive the long journey to freedom

By Justin Amler

One People. Leaving Egypt, we were not white, black or brown. Mizrachi or Ashkenazim; we were Israelites – Jews.

Celebrating Passover

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Is it any Wonder?

From messaging to targeting – Jews in the firing line

By David E. Kaplan

Terror in Tel Aviv. Israelis light candles for the victims of the terrorist attack in Dizengoff Street in central Tel Aviv.

Is it any Wonder?

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From Paralysis to Pragmatism

Revising the peacemaking modality between Israel and the Palestinians from resolving to reducing

By Samuel Hyde

Unsettling Situation. The sharp split in a society divided by opposing visions is captured in this visual faceoff.

From those fixated that the Israeli-Palestine conflict “can be solved” to those resolved that  it can only be “be managed”, the writer jettisons dreams for reality by arguing less ambitiously for REDUCING rather than SOLVING.

From Paralysis to Pragmatism

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He Died so that Others may Live

Remembering Christian Arab-Israeli officer Amir Khoury who bravely gave his life to save Jews

By Jonathan Feldstein

Face of a Hero. Police officer Amir Khoury from Nof Hagalil put himself in the firing line without hesitation in Bnei Brak 

It may be rare to pay a condolence call on the family of a deceased who are all personally unknown but that is what this writer did. Driving hours across Israel to pay his respects to the Arab family of Police officer Amir Khoury who died a hero in a terrorist attack in Bnei Brak, the writer reveals from his visit, illuminating intimacies and insights.

He Died so that Others may Live

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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).

The Israel Brief- 11-14 April 2022

The Israel Brief – 11 April 2022 – Israel cracks down on terror following another attack. Tomb of Joseph desecrated twice in 2 days. Palestinian woman killed after charging at soldiers. President Herzog chats to Eytan Stibbe in space.

The Israel Brief – 12 April 2022 – IDF troops clash with Palestinians in Jenin. Republican Senators draft bill to with hold funding from Amnesty International. Essawi Frej in Kosovo. Ukrainian barmitzvahs at Kotel.

The Israel Brief – 13 April 2022 – Heavy clashes as Tomb of Joseph renovated. Cyber Unit reports 800% increase in online incitement. Chinese gift controversy – storm in a coffee cup? Update from space.

The Israel Brief – 14 April 2022 – Clashes between Palestinians and Security forces. Turkish FM on relations with Israel. Pres Herzog hosts Iftar. Israel prepares for Pesach.

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).

Celebrating Passover

From a people to a nation we relive the long journey to freedom

By Justin Amler

The greatest story in history is upon once again.

And oh… what a story it is.

It is a story about a people who went from slavery to freedom, from hopelessness to belief, from an uncertain future to one filled with destiny.

It is a story about courage, about faith, about belief and about miracles – one that took the natural order of life and flipped it around.

And even though many others will try to culturally appropriate it, as they do with everything else about us, and claim it’s about all humankind, it was and is and remains a quintessential Jewish story.

For it is our story – perhaps our greatest story – of a time when we grew from a people into a nation.

About 3500 years ago, we were slaves in Egypt, condemned to a life of hardship and bondage, a seemingly bleak existence. And if it wasn’t for the actions of one man, guided by God, the story of the Jewish people might have ended right there.

But it didn’t end.

Instead, it led to the greatest adventure in all of Jewish history – an adventure continuing today.

And through all the wanderings in the desert, the many miracles Hashem performed, the gift of the Ten Commandments, and of course the ultimate return to our land of Israel – where we remain today.

Pesach is a story of such inspiration, because although thousands of years have passed, we continue to celebrate it as if it just happened.

And in a way it did. Because every single moment of every single day, Jews continue to fight for their homeland, their identity, their culture, and their history. And we have to fight, because every single moment of every single day there are those who continue to try take it from us, to uproot us from our land, to appropriate our history as if it’s their own, to rob us of our past, of our stories, of our nationhood and of our identity.

We cannot afford to remain silent.

But the Jews, while few in number, are a strong people whose foundations are built on stronger things than crumbling empires and dusty buildings. Our foundations are built on almost 4000 years of a promise, of a mission, and of a shared destiny among us.

And even though there are some, even among us, who continue to try spread division through arbitrary things like skin colour and food, they will fail in the end, because we, as a people, are far stronger than the petty divisiveness they sow.

When we left Egypt, we were not white or black or brown and we were not Mizrachi or Ashkenazim or any other designated identity that some are overly obsessed about these days.

We were Israelites.

We were Jews.

We were a people forged in the sands of time and held together by a promise of a God we could not see – a promise without an expiry date. A promise that, despite the many differing views among us, has held us together.

 We don’t need to get ‘woke,’ because we’ve been awake for a very long time.

So, on this Pesach and on every other day, let’s celebrate our freedom, our history, our culture and all the things that make us who we are.

In this world in which we are constantly under attack, let’s stand together and keep our Jewish identity alive, for it is one we should all hold onto proudly.

About the writer:

Justin Amler is a noted South African-born, Australia-based writer and commentator on international issues affecting Israel and the Jewish world.

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).

Is it any Wonder?

From messaging to targeting – Jews in the firing line

By David E. Kaplan

Its hunting season – and the prey are Jews!

Hardly a day goes by that Jews around the world – and over the last month on streets across Israel – are not in the deadly ‘crosshairs’ of some raving antisemite or raging jihadist terrorist.

Last Thursday there was blood on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street with three young Israelis shot dead at a popular pub; and several days ago there was a knife attack – thankfully not fatal –  in the port city of Ashkelon.

Should we be surprised?

Sadly no when a soundtrack of hate against Jews is being played over and over by murderous messages ranging from ‘finishing Hitler’s job’ to doing ‘God’s work’.


So who are the “VOICES” sending these messages?

Crazed Cleric. Considered one of the most influential Islamic scholars of his generation, the preeminent Egyptian scholar Yusuf Al-Qaradawi  advocates for completing Hitler’s job against the Jews and supports suicide booming against Israelis.

With over 120 books under his belt and sometimes described as a “moderate Islamist”, Sunni religious authority Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi who is Chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars called  in one of his recent sermons for his flock to finish what:


Based in Doha, Qatar, this Egyptian-born spiritual leader publicly advocates for the extermination of Jews.

His defenders will point out that he is a “moderate” referring to  his cautionary dissertation on the danger of extremist groups of Islam, but then will ignore that Al-Qaradawi has condoned Palestinian suicide bombings against Israelis.

One of the deadliest “voices” inspiring violence against Jews is Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iran-backed Hezbollah, the most powerful group in Lebanon who has said that it was good that Jews congregated in Israel because:

there will be no need to chase them around the globe, and in Israel, the final solution could be implemented to the end.”

In other words – ‘easier to kill’

‘Dead’ set on Killing Jews. The fiery leader of Iran-backed Hezbollah,  Hassan Nasrallah, that has praised the recent terrorist attacks in Israel.

Nasrallah’s choice of the Nazi parlance of “Final Solution” is chilling as it is revealing and a reminder that Israel needs to be strong and resolute. His message is to expunge any Jewish presence on earth and coming from him, it is perceived by his Shia followers as doing “God’s work”.


Whatever the current crisis is in the world  – economic, pandemic or presently Ukraine –  it always provides the ‘perfect platform’ to attack Jews. Only last month, the director of the Jewish community  of the city of Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine where many refugees have fled to escape Russian attacks, Igor Perelman, was stabbed while delivering aid by an assailant yelling antisemitic obscenities. A few days later in Turkey, on April 3, leading Palestinian Muslim scholar claimed on Turkish TV that Jews started the “Ukraine-Russian war” to establish “a second Jewish state in Ukraine”.

Rid the world of Jews. Back in February 10, 2021, Palestinian Islamic Scholar, Mraweh Nassar said on Turkey’s Channel 9 that the Jews are the most dangerous enemies of the Muslims and that if Muslims really want to live in peace and security, they must get rid of this enemy. He explained that the Muslims will experience their “best days” after they kill the Jews, as described in the Hadith.

The scholar was the Secretary-General of the Jerusalem Committee of the International Union of Muslim Scholars Mraweh Nassar, who made the statements on Turkey’s Channel 9, an Arabic-language outlet affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Towards the end of his maniacal rant, the ‘scholar’ could not resist adding that the Holocaust was a Jewish hoax:

Even in the false Holocaust… There is a book written by a Jew, which asks ‘Who killed the Jews?” 

Blame the Jews. On 3 April, 2022, Palestinian Muslim scholar Mraweh Nassar denies the Holocaust on Turkish television after blaming the Jews for causing the Russian-Ukraine war. (Photo: MEMRI)


When not gracing the pages of Vogue and other fashion magazines, supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid  – with a combined 125 million Instagram followers – are quick to vilify Jews and Israel on social media. Far more plunging than her necklines, Gigi Hadid reached an all-time low in March 6, 2022, when she posted on Instagram that she was pledging to donate her earnings “to aid those suffering from the war in Ukraine, as well as continuing to support those experiencing THE SAME IN PALESTINE.” In other words, she was equating the massacres of civilians in Europe not seen since the Second World War to what the Palestinians experienced in Gaza during Israel’s defensive war in 2021. While Israel was trying to stop unprovoked rocket attacks aimed at her civilian population, supermodel Gigi saw this as the same as Putin set on destroying a country and mass-murdering its civilian population. The false comparison is not only obscene – its antisemitic. 

Hardly Model Behaviour. Having made thirty-five appearances on international Vogue  magazine covers, Gigi Hadid is well familiar with make-up. She is also a master at making-up facts as she equates the situation in Ukraine with Gaza.

Should the Hadid sisters ever parade their scantily clad bodies in Gaza as they  do on runways and magazines, they would unlikely ever again have the opportunity to ‘parade’ their warped ideas.  With Gaza patrolled by the “modesty police”, Gigi and Bella may well find themselves arrested or far worse!

And what of our local “voices” in Israel?

Cover Girls Uncovered. Critical of Israel’s justifiable defense against rockets from Gaza, supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid would hardly be welcome on the streets of Gaza, patrolled by the “modesty Police”.


What message did  Knesset Member Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List send when he called on Arabs serving in security forces to give up their weapons and quit?

In a Ramadan video that he posted from Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate – a flashpoint of ongoing clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police – he said:

 “It is humiliating for our sons to join the security forces of the occupation… The young people must not join the occupation forces. Throw their weapons in their faces and tell them that our place is not with you.”

Call to Quite. Joint List party leader Ayman Odeh speaks in a video on April 10, 2022  in which he calls on Arab Israeli officers to quit the security forces, saying they ‘humiliate’ their people. (Screencapture/Facebook)

To say this during a period when. Israel is facing the deadliest wave of terror in recent years, is inflammatory.

To say this when one of the victims of the recent attack in Bnei Brak included an Arab police officer, Amir Khoury, who was fatally wounded as he shot the terrorist in a firefight, shows insensitivity and a message to fellow Arabs to not integrate into Israeli society nor join  its civil service.

To say this when there have been constant appeals from the Arab community and its leaders to the Israeli government to fight the escalating crime in Arab areas is hypocritical.

National Hero vs Toxic Politician. While the ultra-orthodox city of Bnei Brak will be naming a street after Amir Khoury, the Arab policeman who died a hero in a terror attack, Joint List party leader Ayman Odeh dismisses this bravery and calls on his fellow Arabs not to join hands with Jewish Israelis in protecting the entire population.

To say this from the same man when he once said when he served on the Haifa Council that “Arabs and Jews must work together”, shows he is not a man of his word nor of principle.

Is it any wonder that Odeh’s  calling triggered outrage.

Instead of acting as a responsible member of the opposition, Ayman Odeh’s calling joins all the other VOICES  in weaponizing their rhetoric aimed at harming Jews.

If there is to be any fighting, we need to fight hate!

*Feature picture courtesy: Avshalom Shoshoni

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).