Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter- 07 August 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 from every Monday – Thursday LOTL’s The Israel Brief broadcasts and on our Facebook page and YouTube by seasoned TV & radio broadcaster, Rolene Marks familiar to Chai FM listeners in South Africa and millions of American listeners to the News/Talk/Sports radio station  WINA, broadcasting out of Virginia, USA.

(*Listen to Rolene Marks discusses this week the recent visit by US President Biden to Israel on station WINA/ The Schilling Show)

THE ISRAEL BRIEF

(Click on the blue title)



BORN IN WAR, ISRAEL LIVES WITH WAR

We pray it will not always be

Under rocket fire, Israelis near Gaza spend night in shelters.



Articles

(1)

A WORLD APART

Two perceptions of a campus bombing

By David E. Kaplan

The Murdered Nine. Their lives lost but a gain for their murderers who receive annual ‘bonuses’!

Twenty years ago, nine students and staff were sitting in the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, relaxing, eating, chatting, and working on their futures. All that was taken away from them by a bomb that ended their lives. Meanwhile, on the 20th anniversary of this massacre, the murderers are receiving a substantial increase to their monthly ‘salaries’!

A WORLD APART

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(2)

KING ABDULLAH’S LEGACY

Will the vision of peace of Abdullah I find traction with Abdullah II ?

By Jonathan Feldstein

Fearing the Future. The personal fear of publicly supporting peace, troubles the present king as it struck down it’s first.

On a clear day from his balcony in Israel’s Judean Hills, the writer can see the capital of Jordan – Amman. What he can’t see is what the political future in the Hashemite kingdom will be. Will the vision of peace that Abdullah I sough and died for finally favour with the great-grandson, Abdullah II, who rules today?

KING ABDULLAH’S LEGACY

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(3)

TIME TO DO RIGHT, SOUTH-AFRICA

Pandor’s call for Israel to be called an ‘apartheid’ state laughable

By Pamela Ngubane

Pandor Panders to Palestinians. While SA workers suffer from bad governance, its Foreign Minister attacks Israel.

While medical personnel at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital – the largest hospital in Africa – are struggling to provide care to patients “using infrastructure built in the previous century” and “60-70% of students who leave high school will be unemployed”, South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor focuses on besmirching Israel.

TIME TO DO RIGHT, SOUTH-AFRICA

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

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

The Israel Brief- 01-04 August 2022

The Israel Brief – 01 August 2022 – PM Lapid writes to UN calling for disbanding of Commission of Inquiry. Hamas say IDF bombed building housing remains of captive fallen soldier. Ben&Jerry’s reach impasse with Unilever. Ukraine’s First Lady lauds Israeli resilience as an “inspiration”.



The Israel Brief – 02 August 2022 – Israel’s south on high alert. More countries condemn Miloon Kothari’s antisemitic comments. JAFI talks deadlock. Antisemitism envoy notes Gulf states for efforts to combat this hate.



The Israel Brief – 03 August 2022 – South remains on high alert. Pressure mounts on Kothari to resign. Herzog calls for investigation into prison rape allegations. Basketball for peace!



The Israel Brief – 04 August 2022 – Israel’s south on alert for third day. Ben & Jerry’s accuse Unilever of freezing director salaries. Amnesty Internationals epic hypocrisy. First flight over Saudi Airspace lands in Tel Aviv.




31 July 2022 – Rolene Marks discusses the recent visit by US President Biden to Israel.





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

TIME TO DO RIGHT, SOUTH-AFRICA

Pandor’s call for Israel to be called an ‘apartheid’ state laughable

By Pamela Ngubane

(Originally published in The Citizen)

At a Palestinian Heads of Missions (HOM) in Africa conference, on 26 July 2022, held in Pretoria, South Africa, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) Dr Naledi Pandor, told the international community that they ought to consider labelling the only democracy in the Middle East as an apartheid state. What is laughable, is that she expects these nations, which largely value and uphold democracy as the world’s most progressive political system, to take her seriously.

Pandor’s Pulpit. Draped with a Palestinian headscarf, South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor calls for Israel to be declared an ‘apartheid state’ at a conference held in Pretoria on 26 July 2022 of the Palestinian Heads of Mission in Africa.

As usual, nothing was said about the lack of democracy and transparency in the way the Palestinian Authority (PA) governs the West Bank. In the last few days, Palestinian lawyers staged a protest against the authoritarian Palestinian government that Pandor supports. The parliament is defunct and the only “rule of law” are the diktats which emanate from the pronouncements made by Mahmoud Abbas, who has become the de facto Palestinian president-for-life. Yet, according to Minister Pandor, the most unprogressive person on the African continent is the African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat because he granted observer status in the continental body to the State of Israel.

Israel in Africa. In July 2021, under the chairmanship Moussa Faki Mahamat, the African Union granted Israel observer status, a decision that does not sit well with South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

While Minister Pandor embarked on this political grandstanding, employees of the African National Congress (ANC) picketed outside the ANC’s pre-policy conference gala dinner, demanding they be paid their outstanding salaries. Medical personnel at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital are struggling to provide care to patients, using infrastructure built in the previous century. Sixty to seventy per cent of students who leave high school will be unemployed.

When it comes to the ANC, logic is not necessarily the lens through which issues are analysed. A logic-based examination of the situation between Israel and the Palestinians will show that the hallmarks of apartheid are not present in how Israel conducts itself.

Writing on the Wall. While pointing false fingers at Israel, South Africa’s inept and morally bankrupt ANC government is dragging South Africa down as reminded by these very own angry ANC staff picketing outside the party’s national policy conference in Johannesburg over unpaid salaries for June and July 2022. (Picture: Twitter/ @_cosatu)

Israel has shown through the adoption of systematic legislation that it upholds the rights of the Arab citizens of Israel. Not only do they have full voting rights, but the city of Jerusalem has also instituted a programme to provide higher education and employment opportunities in East Jerusalem with the establishment of a “Silicon Valley” in the area. Arab entrepreneurs in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector are receiving mentorship from prestigious Israeli tech organisations.

Work permits are provided daily for Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza whose only chance at earning a living is to be found in Israel. The incompetence of Palestinian governments in Gaza and the West Bank has created this economic crisis. And it uses the financial donations it receives, due to the goodwill of the international community, to line its pockets and pay terrorists to attack and kill Jews.

While Minister Pandor continues to cherish delusions of the Jewish state being made a pariah, most African states support AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat’s decision regarding Israel. African states continue to establish institutional mechanisms to fight the ills that have hindered the continent’s progress since the end of colonial rule. Moreover, they see in Israel a shared story of victory over oppression and marginalisation at the hands of the world’s great powers.

Out of thin Air. While South Africa’s ANC government has its head in the clouds, much of Africa is availing itself of Israeli technology such as this revolutionary device by an Israeli company WATERGEN that produces water out of air. (photo credit: Courtesy)

As Israel grows its partnerships with its neighbours through the Abraham Accords, it becomes clear to enlightened African leaders that Israel is a desirable partner to help Africa achieve its Agenda 2063 developmental goals. These include:

– the creation of an integrated and productive continental economy

– maintaining peace and security on the continent unlocking

– the potential of Africa’s people, through better food security, education provision and medical interventions.

A country’s foreign policy must reflect the aspirations of its citizens. It’s time South Africa reoriented its foreign policy in favour of nurturing productive relations with other states, by being an advocate for global peace, a facilitator of regional and international dialogue and doing what is right by its people.



About the Writer:

A Social Science Honours graduate, Pamela Ngubane is a history teacher who was recently appointed as the General Manager of SAFI (South African Friends of Israel)







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

A WORLD APART

Two perceptions of a campus bombing

By David E. Kaplan

Just how far apart Israel’s leadership is from Palestinian leadership is reflected in two divergent reports on the same issue appearing in the same The Jerusalem Post – 1st August 2022 edition.

On page 2, its reported that Israel’s Security Cabinet voted to deduct 600 million from tax and tariffs collected for the PA as it is legally entitled to do annually so long as the Palestinian Authority (PA) pays terrorists who attack Israelis. The PA’s policy of paying terrorists or their families has been nicknamed “pay for slay”.

On the same day on the internet edition of The Jerusalem Post an article’s title reads in bold:

PA raises salary for terrorists who killed 9 at Hebrew U

Was  it a coincidence or was it literally rubbing salt it into the wound – in this case ‘wounds” – that on the exact date of the 20th anniversary of that horrendous bombing of the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria on the Mount Scopus  campus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on the 31 July 2002, the PA chose to announce the raising of the “salaries” of the four terrorists responsible for the bombing  by 14.29%!

Over the past 20 years, the PA has paid Wael Qassem, Wassim Abbasi, Alla Aldin Abbasi and Muhammed Odeh  – all members of an eastern Jerusalem Hamas cell – over NIS 8 million (over $2.5 million) for their role in what has become known as the “Hebrew University Massacre”. Their monthly payments are set to increase from NIS 7,000 ($2,251) per month to NIS 8,000 ($2,572). They are reported to receive an additional NIS 300 shekels (£73) each month because they were residents of Jerusalem prior to their imprisonment.

Four other terrorists convicted for taking part in the attack receive a salary from the PA as well.

Deadly Defiant. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says that the PA will never stop payments to the killers of Israelis. “If we are left with one penny, we will spend it on the families of the prisoners and martyrs.”

The increased payments of 14.29 % is well above the 4.47 % rate of inflation in Gaza and the West Bank hence it begs the question:

What message is the PA sending – that not only is killing Jewish Israelis acceptable – it is rewarded.

This is tantamount as a state sanctioned – “License to Kill”!

Nine people – four Israelis and five foreign nationals – were murdered with a further 85 injured, 14 of them seriously. Most of the injured were between the ages of 18 and 30.

Death & Destruction. Workers clean the inside of a cafeteria on July 31, 2002, hours after a bomb exploded at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, killing nine, four of them Americans, and wounding more than 70. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

Though classes were not in session, students were taking exams at the time of the blast, and the cafeteria was crowded with diners. There were also numerous students in the building registering for classes for the coming school year.

The Frank Sinatra Cafeteria was also near the Rothberg International School, where about 80 pupils from the US and other Western countries had arrived to prepare for the fall semester.

The explosion gutted the cafeteria. It also gutted the lives of so many families both in Israel and abroad.

Cries on Campus. Bodies are taken away following an explosion at the busy cafeteria in east Jerusalem’s Hebrew University July 31, 2002. (credit: FLASH90)

One recalls on the 10th anniversary of the massacre, the words of Dr. Katherine Baker, a Penn State University microbiologist whose son, Benjamin Blutstein, was one of the victims.

I don’t think time ever heals this kind of loss. There are days I can’t get through the day without crying, there are a couple of days in a row I can do it. But it’s extremely hard.”

Blutstein and his classmate Marla Bennett were both enrolled at Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School and at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.

These were two wonderful young people, preparing for a career as teachers of Jewish studies in North America.”

One can only imagine now on the twentieth anniversary of the massacre what the families of the murdered must be feeling when they read  that the PA are increasing their monthly “salaries” for murdering their loved ones!

This is only one drama of a conflict playing out but it is a microcosm of the chasm that separates two people. Is there ever a meeting place when one people see  it as “pay for slay” and the other side as a “”martyrs fund”?

While the names of the four murderers or “martyrs” as the PA refer to them are making the news  because of their increased “salaries”, it is important to remember and honour the names of the innocent victims:

Benjamin Blutstein – Age 25, from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Ben was a student in the two-year graduate students’ program in Jewish Education at the Rothberg International School and at the Pardes Institute. While a religious young man who by day studied Judaism, Gemara and Chumash at night worked as a disc jockey.


Marla Bennett – Age 24, from San Diego, California, Marla was a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and a student in the two-year graduate students’ program in Jewish Education at the Rothberg International School and at the Pardes Institute.



Revital Barashi – Age 30, Revital was the youngest of 13 children of a Jerusalem family. Revital worked in the secretariat of the Faculty of Law, and she was involved in assisting the academic and administrative staff and in guiding new employees.



David Gritz – Age 24, from Paris, David had completed his undergraduate studies and his first year of graduate studies in Philosophy at the University of Paris, where he was an outstanding student. David had registered for the Rothberg International School’s summer ulpan, which he never got to begin.


David Diego Ladowski – Born in Argentina in 1973, David immigrated to Israel in 1992. David was about to finish his master’s degree in Public Policy at the Hebrew University, and was due to start his first diplomatic job in the Israeli Embassy in Lima, Peru.



Janis Ruth Coulter – Age 36, from Boston, Massachusetts, Janice had a master’s degree in Jewish Studies from the University of Denver. She was the senior program coordinator at the Rothberg International School’s New York office.

Plane Horror. U.S. Airport workers prepare to load August 1, 2002, the coffins of Benjamin Thomas Blutstein, 25, and Jansin Ruth Coulter, 36, at a terminal of Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv to be shipped to the United States for burial. Both American students were killed in a bombing at the Hebrew University. (credit: REUTERS/HAVAKUK LEVISON)

Dina Carter – Age 38, Dina was born in North Carolina, and immigrated to Israel in 1990. She worked as a librarian and archivist in the Publications and Archives Department of the  University’s Jewish National and University Library. Dina was also a talented artist who painted and sculpted.


Levina Shapira – Age 53, Levina was born in Jerusalem. She worked at the Hebrew University for 30 years and worked her way up to the senior position of Director of the Student Administration Authority.



Daphna Spruch – Born in Tel Aviv, Daphna worked as a systems coordinator in the Student Administration Authority for close to 30 years, and was one of its most senior and experienced workers. She had been studying for her master’s degree in Comparative Religion.


Had former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir been still alive in 2002 during the 2nd Intifada when the bombing took place, she may have reflected on her words:

We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us


Illuminating the Dark.  An unidentified Israeli lights candles at a memorial at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem Thursday August 1, 2002, a day after a bomb blew apart the university’s Frank Sinatra International Students Center cafeteria, killing seven people, five of them Americans (AP Photo/Enric Marti).




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).

KING ABDULLAH’S LEGACY

By Jonathan Feldstein

On a clear day I can see from my Judean mountain balcony the skyline of Amman.  It’s the only place in the world from where one can see the capital of two countries: Jordan and Israel. I look across the border and am reminded that more than 3500 years ago, the Jewish people stood there waiting to cross into the Land, and two and a half tribes settled on the east bank of the Jordan River: Reuben and Gad, and half of the tribe of Manassah. I think about relations with our modern neighbors often.

King Abdullah I of Jordan

In July 1951, Jordan’s first king, Abdullah I, was assassinated while visiting the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount.  He was accompanied by his teenage grandson, Hussein, who would become King of Jordan about a year later, and reign until his death in 1999. Hussein is the father of the current King Abdullah II

King Abdullah Assassinated (1951)

I was speaking about Jordan and the Hashemite monarchy with a friend this week, saying that it’s in both Israel’s and Jordan’s interests to have close, peaceful relations, and that Israel should want to be supportive of the Hashemite monarchy which, more or less, has provided stability in the region. 

King Abdullah I was known for his efforts to reach some form of peace or coexistence with Israel, before Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 and following, although he was assassinated four decades before the formal 1994 peace treaty was finally reached. Unfortunately, while there have been high points of relations between Israeli and Jordanian leaders, the idea of peace with Israel is still not popular on the Jordanian street. There’s often hostility, even among its elected leaders who often make antagonistic, threatening anti-Israel statements.

This is a mistake of the Jordanian (and before that, Egyptian) peace agreements, where there’s been no significant cultural shift or interaction between people. This could be due to lack of vision, or more likely as an outlet to provide a way for the people to vent, against Israel rather than the monarchy.  Consequently, despite the mutual interests to have peace, one rooted in the legacy of King Abdullah I, the relationship even between governments has often been tense, particularly in recent years. 

Abdullah was assassinated by Mustafa Shukri Ashshu, who was associated with the rabidly extremist and antisemitic former Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. Husseini was known for sparking riots against Jews in British controlled Mandatory Palestine, and was closely allied (and infamously photographed) with Adolf Hitler during World War II. Husseini inspired his followers to oppose the Hashemite kingdom in general, and King Abdullah in particular, largely because Husseini supported the creation of an independent Arab state, which Abdullah’s annexing and occupying the potential territory thereof (the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria) following the 1948-49 War of Independence would prevent.

17.11.1947- Golda Meir meets King Abdullah I of Jordan, in Jordan, a few months before the declaration of independence of the State of Israel

Both preceding and following the 1948 war, King Abdullah met with Reuven Shiloah, the first director of Israel’s Mossad, and Golda Meir (who would become Prime Minister). There are famous stories of Golda dressing in traditional Arab attire to travel to meet the King so as not to be recognized.

King Abdullah I of Jordan (left) with his younger son, Nayef.

It was reported after his death that Abdullah was scheduled to meet with Shiloah and diplomat Moshe Sasson in Jerusalem the day after he was assassinated.  Avi Shalim, an Israeli-British historian, wrote a biography of King Hussein in which he quoted King Abdullah as telling Sasson:

 “I want to make peace with Israel not because I have become a Zionist or care for Israel’s welfare but because it is in the interest of my people. I am convinced that if we do not make peace with you, there will be another war, and another war, and another war, and another war, and we shall lose all these wars. Hence it is the supreme interest of the Arab nation to make peace with you.”

According to Shalim’s biography, Elias Sasson, Moshe’s father, wrote shortly after Abdullah’s assassination:

King Abdullah was the only Arab statesman who showed an understanding for our national renewal, a sincere desire to come to a settlement with us, and a realistic attitude to most of our demands and arguments… We, as well as some of the Arabs and foreigners are going to feel for a long time to come his absence, and to regret more than a little his removal from our midst.”

The state of Arab Israel relations has changed radically since Abdullah’s assassination. Not only were Egypt and Jordan the first two Arab states to make peace with Israel, recognizing that it was in their interests to do so, but four more followed as part of the 2020 Abraham Accords. In three of them, it appears that some of the mistakes of the cold peace of the first two have not been repeated. There’s not just high-level government-to-government contact between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco, but there’s a unique level of interaction between people, and business ties that are all mutually beneficial.

King Abdullah I and his son crown prince Talal

It’s also noteworthy that references to Abdullah’s assassination have had a modern historical whitewash. Immediately following Abdullah’s death, a British publication reported:

The assassin is reported to have been identified as Mustafa Shukri Ashshu, a 21-year-old tailor in the Old City. During the Arab-Jewish war he was a member of the “dynamite squad” attached to the Arab irregular forces which were associated with the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem and became bitter enemies of Abdullah.” 

King Abdullah I of Jordan with Glubb Pasha, the day before he was assassinated by Mustafa Shukri Ashshu, a21-year-old tailor in the Old City. (Photo credit: GLUBB PASHA/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Neither in this segment, nor the whole article, is there a reference to the assassin being a “Palestinian”. It was not a term used in 1951 to describe Arabs. Today however, historical revisionism retroactively brands Mustafa Shukri Ashshu as a “Palestinian”.

History Revealed or Revised? What is revealing about this contemporaneous newspaper report of the assassination of King Abdullahi was the identification of the assassin – as an “Arab” and not as a Palestinian as he is so described today.  

The same Arab/Islamic extremism that was preached by Haj Amin al-Husseini, and which “inspired” King Abdullah’s assassin, is a common enemy of and threat to Israel, Jordan, and the entire Arab Middle East, spilling over around the world. On this anniversary of the assassination of King Abdullah who might have made peace if he had lived, it’s important to revisit his words, that not only is peace important, but where we share common threats, so too it’s important that we unite against these.  

I pray that King Abdullah II will remember and take to heart these words and be guided by the wisdom of his great-grandfather for whom he is named.


The present king of Jordan, Abdullah II, named after his great-grandfather.




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, NorthJersey.com, 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).