Unlike King George VI who inspired his people in its hours of despair, ‘King Bibi” added to his people’s despair by smearing judicial overhaul protestors as misguided and uncivil delinquents

By David E. Kaplan

At 11.00am on Israel’s ‘National Day of Paralysis’ when hundreds of thousands of people from across the country were converging on the Supreme Court and Knesset in Jerusalem, and Bibi was preparing to get to Ben Gurion Airport to visit the UK, I was attending the unveiling of a good friend at a cemetery in Ra’anana some 30 days after his sad and untimely passing. One of the first tributes about the late Danny was that if he were alive today, he would, if he could, “even in his wheel-chair and oxygen tank”, be in Jerusalem protesting with those masses.

Such is the ‘Passion of the People’ against what is happening in Israel today, that it permeates Israeli gravesites.

Bibi has long since been treating his premiership as his throne; his family as royalty, and any attempts to ‘dethrone’ him, as tantamount to treason to be countered by any means possible.  Morality and ethics does not come into play – only survival, personal survival. Yes he has in the past “done good for Israel” but what he is now doing is neither good for Israel nor good for the Jewish world. Worse – as he is constantly cautioned and counselled – it could prove catastrophic for Israel’s security, its economy and even its global status. An early warning sign on all three of these concerns was its unsettling of the monumental Abrahams Accords – one of Bibi’s star achievements, which could end up before all our eyes a “falling star”!

The build-up to Bibi’s speech was in itself telling. We knew he was going to speak but we did not know when or what he would say. To paraphrase ‘The Great Barb’, “To suspend or not to suspend, that is the question,” was on most people’s minds. And even if he did suspend the rush to vote in the Knesset on one of the core components of the controversial judicial overhaul, the next thought was: “What is his game plan?”

In the minds of the protestors, the commodity in short was  –TRUST.

 “Were totally out of stock!” 

And it appears it will remain so after ‘The King’s Speech’.

Peddling to Peddlers. When looking for support, ‘King Bibi’ goes on a royal tour of Jerusalem’s famed market, Machanei Yehuda.

The words that flowed from Bibi as he stood solemnly at the podium had only one effect on me – revulsion.

Imperious, King Bibi began by posing as wise King Solomon who  three thousand years earlier, “here in Jerusalem,” faced in a famously biblically recoded judgment two mothers who came before him claiming a baby as theirs’. While Bibi continued that “King Solomon commanded that a sword be brought and that the baby be cut in half,” and that “one woman was prepared to render the baby in two while the other woman absolutely refused and insisted that the infant stay alive and whole”,  we knew where this was leading.  

While King Solomon was wisely  seeking the truth, to separate the true mother from the false pretender, Bibi, on the other hand, was cunningly arming himself with the Bible to defame much of the people of Israel.

It was sickening and despicable. 

Like a conniving smooth-talking charlatan,  the Prime Minister went on:

Today as well, both sides in the national controversy claim to love the infant, to love our country,” and like King Solomon being aware so “I am aware of the enormous tension that is building between the two sides.”

Israel at a Crossroad. An aerial view shows protesters attending a demonstration against the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul, in Jerusalem, March 27, 2023(credit: REUTERS/STRINGER)

In other words, while Bibi’s judicial overhaul supporters are the “true mother”,  the one responsible for causing this tension  – of splitting the nation today like splitting the baby of 3000 years ago – are the irresponsible protestors. Asserts King Bibi:

There is an extremist minority that is prepared to tear our country to pieces. It is using violence and incitement, it is threatening to harm elected officials, it is stoking civil war, and it is calling for refusal to serve, which is a terrible crime.”

Terrible crime?

The hypocrisy of this man, when his so-called democratic coalition is only being held together by the extreme theocrats who advocate for their followers to defiantly NOT SERVE IN THE ISRAELI ARMY!

Road Revolt. In counter demonstration, Bibi supporters of overhauingl the judiciary, hold Likud flags and signs reading “high court dictatorship”.(Avishag Shaar-Yashuv for The New York Times)

Is it any wonder that his words stir a bile reaction?

Characterising the opponents of his judicial overhaul as an “extremist minority”  because by his reasoning, the vast majority voted for him in the last election, is it any wonder he is not believed beyond his diehard sycophants when he says he only wants “to strengthen democracy.”

With the credibility today of a snake-oil salesman hawking his questionable wares, anything and everything about Bibi today is questionable.

Taking the High Road. Israelis block the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv during a protest against the government’s planned judicial overhaul on March 26, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

While defaming those that are opposing his assault on democracy, Bibi had only praise to his protestors who arrived later in the day and who he warmly addressed as “… not second-class citizens. I appreciate that you turned out today in the streets of our capital in order to make your democratic voice heard. Nobody will silence your voice, our voice.

I must say something else: You came spontaneously, unorganized and unfinanced, not pushed by the media, with all your heart and soul. You have touched me.”


What outright lies.

The protest was organized by right-wing groups  that included Regavim, Im Tirzu, Ad Kan, Bezalmo and Torat Lehima. What’s more, advertisements for the protest that were published online stating that the Right is in an “emergency situation,” warning that “they will not steal the elections from us” were shared on Twitter by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir who added:  

today we stop being silent. Today is the day the Right wakes up. Share it forward.”

And these very protestors who King Bibi so fondly admired and refers to them as “our voice” held up signs reading:

 “leftist traitors”, “Kahana was right”, “I am a second class citizen” and “they’re stealing the election from us.”

It is so frightening and sickening that even high-profile defenders of Israel have spoken out. These range from former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said Israel’s government was “courting disaster” and Miriam Adelson, wife of the late American casino magnate and a mega Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, who said Netanyahu’s hasty rush to enact changes was “naturally suspect” and that “bad motivations never bring good outcomes” to David Friedman, the former US ambassador to Israel who is close to Netanyahu, describing the past few days and weeks as “one of the hardest things I’ve had to watch”.  He continued:

We see the whole of Israel as a miracle and as something that is at the core of our Jewishness, and watching that social fabric disintegrate was more painful than if Israel were attacked by an enemy from the outside.”

Black-Eyed Bibi. Following the Prime Minister and his partners bringing the country to the brink of “civil war” (his own words) through their race to take political control of the courts, Netanyahu addresses the nation temporarily suspending the judicial overhaul bills before the Knesset.

Bibi’s speech exposed where he is taking this country under his mismanagement. I disdain to use the word leadership, for this ship -of-state has his passenger understandably paranoid – an unsteady captain and an unstable crew and no one too sure whose hands are on the wheel!  Is it any wonder why we collide daily into avoidable icebergs?

If there was any doubt in the minds of level-headed citizens of Israel – irrespective of their politics – why this judicial overhaul must stop, it is evident in the score card to date of this three-month coalition government under Netanyahu. Bibi has botched it.

The glaring incompetence and clumsiness that characterises Bibi’s coalition shows exactly why Israel needs a STRONG and INDEPENDANT judiciary – to protect the country from THEM!

While there is much controversy over President Joe Biden nixing inviting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu anytime soon to the White House, I myself don’t blame him.

Once seen as Israel’s savior  and now little more than a cynical politician who will stop at nothing to retain his power, I would not have him over at my house either!

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).


Three Arab writers opining on Middle East issues, address Israel in crisis over right-wing judicial overhaul; fear of a nuclear Iran  “within 12 days”, and reflections on the Aqaba Summit aimed at easing local tensions before Ramadan and Passover   

*(translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)


By Tarek Fahmy

Al Ittihad, UAE, March 4

Demonstrations in Israel’s streets have gradually grown in response to the Netanyahu government’s measures concerning the judiciary. Despite the passing of the Judiciary Law in its preliminary readings in the Knesset, the underlying issue is larger than the Supreme Court’s powers and functions. It is related to the relationship between state institutions, the government’s information apparatus, and the desire to limit Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s power.

Netanyahu’s battle with the judiciary is only a precursor to what is to come. The opposition to his judicial reforms has steadily expanded, garnering the attention of notable businessmen, former military personnel, religious leaders, and scientists – a precedent unseen in the history of the Israeli state. This situation reveals the depth of instability Israel is facing. These internal rifts within Israeli society can’t simply be ignored. The opposition to Netanyahu has grown beyond Israel’s borders, with a strong mobilization in Jewish organizations, particularly in the United States, where influential circles have spoken out against the Netanyahu government. This signals that the instability in Israel is not exclusively a result of disagreements over the extent of Netanyahu’s power, but rather a wider issue. As the Israeli Supreme Court has the power to deem Netanyahu unfit for office, this could have far-reaching consequences. Netanyahu is currently being tried on multiple charges and is attempting to delay the trials for as long as he can. Nonetheless, the opposition parties lack the ability and experience to effectively counter Netanyahu, even with the support of President Herzog, who has gone beyond his authority to find solutions to the current crisis. The Israeli Right believes that the Supreme Court has systematically ruled in favor of liberal voices while undermining conservative ones. In recent years, the decisions of the Supreme Court have sought to limit the government’s control over religious institutions. The religious parties, as well as other right-wing parties in Netanyahu’s coalition, are attempting to pass measures in the West Bank and Jerusalem in order to accelerate their settlement plan. This includes renouncing all agreements made with the Palestinians, such as the Oslo and Paris accords.

Protesters gather outside Israel’s Parliament in Jerusalem on March 27, 2023, amid calls for a general strike against the hard-right government’s controversial push to overhaul the justice system.– | Afp | Getty Images

This unrest has led to seven major demonstrations in Israel, with the possibility of further escalation if the coalition ministers, such as Ben Gvir and Smotrich, continue to pursue their plan. Netanyahu faces a significant challenge in his ability to take external action such as striking Iran due to the divided internal political landscape of his current coalition, which has limited experience and is focused on his own narrow interests. This will lead to a growing risk of societal escalation and ultimately, an unstable state of affairs in Israel. 

Tarek Fahmy


By Ali Hamada

An-Nahar, Lebanon, March 3

The debate is no longer about whether Iran will become a nuclear power but rather about when it will be able to do so. This comes after the Pentagon reported that Iran could produce a nuclear weapon in as little as twelve days.

William Burns, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, further lent credence to this claim by noting that Iran has the capability to enrich uranium to 90%, the level needed for a military nuclear program. Speculation has abounded over the past two years regarding the potential revival of the 2015 nuclear deal. Both Iran and the United States had pledged to adhere to the deal, yet no progress was made until April 2022. In September, European Foreign and Security Policy Coordinator Josep Borrell presented a comprehensive paper for the agreement and Washington accepted it. However, Tehran stalled and proposed conditions, such as forcing Washington to lift sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in conjunction with their acceptance of the deal. Despite Borrell’s efforts and the pressure group in the White House led by Robert Malley, the American official responsible for the Iranian issue, the agreement may have been derailed by the Russian war on Ukraine. Both Israel and regional neighbors have already warned that Iran’s nuclear program is not peaceful and civilian in purpose, but rather a cover for a secret military program. Tehran has increased the quantities of highly enriched uranium 19 times more than permitted and refuses to comply with the 2015 nuclear agreement. This suggests that it is not a matter of diplomatic maneuvering. Rather, Iran’s goal is to produce the first Iranian nuclear bomb as soon as possible.

The regime is further weakened by the wave of protests that followed the death of Mahsa Amini, which has caused a disturbance in the foundations of the regime and its legitimacy. Today, we must consider the prospect of a nuclear Iran. Is it possible to exist peacefully with it on a regional and global scale? If not, what are the available options to address this problem? Could an Israeli-American strike be launched to disable the nuclear program? What might the repercussions and outcomes of the Iranian regime’s reaction be? Moreover, it is reasonable to question whether the West will respond weakly to this pressing issue and whether Russia will join the Euro +1 group, which includes Israel, in an effort to bring about a resolution. We must focus our attention on the perilous situation that the region and even the global community faces if the West were to initiate a military attack against Iran’s nuclear program. It is also important to consider the consequences if Iran were to acquire nuclear capabilities. Would the mullahs act with more restraint than their current behavior indicates?

These are difficult questions that must be considered in light of the fear of annihilation that such actions could bring. 

Ali Hamada


By James Zogby

Al-Ittihad, UAE, March 12

The Aqaba Summit highlighted the failings of US policy toward Israel and Palestine. Hosted by Jordan, the gathering of leaders from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Egypt and the US sought to ease tensions ahead of Ramadan and Passover. However, the summit failed to address the key issues, instead opting to settle on a series of outdated half-measures proposed by the US. Israel agreed to a temporary freeze on settlement activity and demolitions of Palestinian homes, a decrease in raids on Palestinian population centers, respect of the status quo in Jerusalem, and the release of tax money owed to Palestinians under existing agreements. The Palestinian Authority agreed to suspend its bid for recognition at the United Nations, boost security cooperation with Israel, and use extra tax revenues to recruit and train – with US backing – new security forces to better monitor armed resistance groups in the occupied territories.

Palestinian youths in Gaza city demonstrate on 26 February 2023 against an Israeli-Palestinian summit hosted by Jordan in Aqaba. [Ahmed Zakot/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images]

However, the outcome of the summit demonstrated that these agreements were inadequate and far removed from reality. The Palestinians are still reeling from the recent Israeli operation in Nablus, which escalated into a massacre that left 11 dead and over 100 Palestinians injured. At the summit’s conclusion, Palestinian gunmen fatally shot two Israeli settlers in their vehicle in the village of Huwara. Within a few hours, hundreds of extremist Israeli settlers descended upon Huwara, injuring hundreds of Palestinian residents and setting fire to hundreds of homes and cars. Since the new government led by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has come to power, raids and settler violence have drastically increased with impunity. After the Aqaba Summit, bloody raids, shootings and settler attacks have only continued. Following an Israeli raid that resulted in the death of six Palestinians in Jenin, the Palestinian Authority security forces attacked the funeral procession of one of the victims and objected to the raising of Hamas flags, further solidifying the Palestinians’ perception of the Palestinian Authority as an “arm of the Israeli occupation.” When news of the Aqaba “agreements” spread in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu swiftly declared there would be no settlement freeze. Another minister announced his intention to continue demolishing Palestinian homes in Jerusalem during Ramadan. An Israeli member of Knesset joked that “what happened in Aqaba stays in Aqaba.” These events triggered a chaotic situation in Israel and Palestine. The current Israeli government consists of hard-liners who are often violent and refuse to recognize the rights of Palestinians. After the United States has supported Israeli governments for many decades, Israelis in power feel they can evade responsibility and accountability. The Palestinian Authority has been weakened by its failure to fulfill the “promise of peace” and its humiliation by the United States and Israel, leading to a lack of support from disgruntled voters who now retaliate when provoked. The Palestinians are likewise out of control. It is misguided for the United States to assume the Aqaba proposals will restore order. Instead of applying a Band-Aid to the festering wound, Washington should have used a scalpel to identify and address the root causes of Israelis’ sense of entitlement and impunity and Palestinians’ anger at continued abuses. Unless the United States sets firm boundaries for Israel and tangible negative repercussions for its ongoing misdeeds, the violence will not cease, a new discourse within Israel will not take shape, and the Palestinians will not find solace. This change will not come about overnight; decades of political mismanagement have plunged us into this abyss.

To get out of this quagmire requires courage, dedication and foresight. For the sake of safety, until this happens, we must brace ourselves for more trying days ahead.

– James Zogby

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- 27 – 30 March 2023

The Israel Brief – 27 March 2023 Special Report: Unprecedented day of strikes and protests.

The Israel Brief – 28 March 2023 Proposed judicial overhauls paused. Netanyahu headed to US. Netanyahu UK visit. Kanye likes us again!

The Israel Brief – 29 March 2023 Crises brewing between US and Israel?Pres. Herzog starts talks with opposition and coalition. Mossad foil terror attack in Greece. Israel joins Visa waiver programme.

The Israel Brief – 30 March 2023 Gallant to apologise? Syria says Israel struck targets in Damascus. Special conference in Jerusalem. Azerbaijan opens embassy.

28 March 2023 – CTV News Channel Interviews Rolene Marks about the current situation in 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).


Architect from Michigan, USA revisits his  hometown of Cape Town and reflects on disturbing urban landscapes and its people still saddled with racism – but now in reverse 

By Michael Witkin

I travelled to Cape Town from the US after a long hiatus of ten years (2012) and was mortified of the degradation that had occurred over that period of time. Going back and seeing things, it seemed as though I was chasing the ghost of my elusive past; the ghost of something that I would no longer find. I have recollections of a place of seeping memories; another life, another dimension – a society that has decayed and encased itself, enabled by a corrupt and incompetent government out for self-enrichment. A government that has sucked the marrow from the very bones of South Africa.

Hovels, hoks [slang for makeshift dwellings] and hellholes line both sides of the national road to Cape Town from the airport. Corrugated tin, cardboard, black trash bags, petrol drums and burlap hobbled together with string and wire are used as building materials. Cape Town has always had shanties but now it was overwhelming and extended as far as the eye could see. This slum makes the favelas in Sao Paulo look luxurious by comparison. Smoke oozes out from a shanty saying, “this is my home, someone lives here.” A stray cow walks on the side of the road while an African child strolls with a herd of goats.

Tin Towns. Urban expansion in South Africa today usually means this – a shanty sprawl.

By welcome contrast, I gaze at the breathtaking Table Mountain and Lions Head bathed in radiant and iridescent light as the sun was setting. The sheer beauty and allure of Cape Town imparts a strong sense of place that cannot be found elsewhere in the world.

Then back to shards of jagged broken glass; like sharpened incisors gleaming, sparkling and ominous, embedded in mortar, forms the crown to three meter high concrete walls. Walls with unfurled shiny coils of threatening razor wire that forms the cloak of invincibility to the souls that live behind these high walls. 

Sharpened steel rods, sword-like pikes topped with honed arrowheads and menacing barbs further celebrate and adorn these palisades. Stockades that have become houses of detention overflows with resentment and resignation.

Sign of the Times. Common sign outside properties warning the public of danger, it seems indicative of applying to the entire country.   (photo M. Witkin)

DangerGevaarIngozi” These are the words in English, Afrikaans and Zulu on signs with a red background and a crudely stenciled skull and crossbones that are now part of the urban fabric. Angle-iron bayonets affixed at an acute angle to the walls that support twelve strands of electrified wire, add further anguish to the painful broken glass crown and sinister cloak that safeguards, protects and shields those that are held hostage unto themselves. The streetscape and thoroughfares in residential neighborhoods have been transformed into hostile environments, devoid of people.

Designed to Deter. Appearing like modern sculpture, these sharp glass shards on high walls are not to attract interest but deter intruders.

It was the weekly garbage day. I peered over the balcony from the second floor of the apartment I was staying at. About ten large bins were hauled out to the sidewalk to be picked up. Within less than a minute a deluge of beggars besieged the bins systematically sorting through the detritus, debris and trash. They would neatly empty the bin then would stuff unidentifiable objects into their pockets and into plastic grocery bags slung over their necks and shoulders like bandoliers. This is commonplace as I saw numerous times poor people fishing in trash cans for something to eat. A crust of bread, spoilage or maybe find an item that could be sold.

Besides the non-existence of South African Airways, which was one of the finest airline companies in the world, the postal service is almost nonexistent. I know of someone who received her birthday card five months after the date. The postal workers rifle through the mail opening up letters and parcels and help themselves to whatever they can find. Most post offices in urban areas have closed permanently due to “unprofitability and crime” A number of post office properties were foreclosed upon and are up for auction due to not being able to pay their rent or mortgages. Large numbers of postal workers were let go. No funds are available so there is no solution in sight. Private courier services have to be used albeit at a steep price.

“Poor Whites” has become South Africa’s “New Subclass”. These are white families who have lost their jobs and fallen into poverty as a result of the policy of “affirmative  action”, that is, preferential treatment for blacks. Living in total abject poverty, this destitute group is rarely discussed or acknowledged but is increasing in size. They survive in informal settlements away from the public eye; mostly in tents and hovels. They are mostly the disinherited, outcast and bereft Afrikaners that are bitter and dejected and feel abandoned.

This situation is depicted in TFI Global’s  ‘You don’t need to die to see hell, just visit a white slum in South Africa’:

White squatter colonies, where there is little food, running water, and no electricity, live in shanties with rusted cars, ditches and pools of filth, and stagnant water with mosquitos swarming. Over two decades, the number of poor whites has steadily increased. ……Over 400,000 white S Africans are estimated to be impoverished. Reverse racism has been rampant and has ravaged the white population in South Africa. Targeted policies of the government has pushed the country to a near apartheid-like situation and the continued regressive policies have pushed South Africa into an era of subjugation of the people once more.”

White Squatter Camp. These white South African families are so poor they are forced to live in slums similar to the worst days of Apartheid. (Picture: James Cheadle/Solent News & Photo Agency UK)

Published in 2020, the numbers are considerably higher now in 2023.

There have always been people begging on the streets; mostly blacks. Now however, they are joined by ever-increasing white beggars. I did see an entire family including small blond haired children with crude cardboard signs saying “Please help – God bless you” .

According to some reports, over 50% of South Africans live in poverty on less than $2.00 a day. Some have no access to sanitation, water or electricity.

Many of them are the Afrikaners, the descendants of the early Dutch settlers who have become dispossessed and feel betrayed, defrauded and deprived of their rights and of their strong heritage and beliefs. A large number of South Africa’s farmers are Afrikaners who unbeknownst to the outside world have been brutally murdered, their wives tortured and raped; their children shot. The government fails to offer any protection to its white farmers and there was a popular EFP (Economic Freedom Party) song, called “Kill the Boer” that the Equality Court ruled “does not constitute hate speech”. People are free to continue singing it and during a debate in Parliament about the farm attacks and the plight of white farmers, an ANC Member of Parliament felt immune to shout:

 “Bury them alive.

The government’s solution for the White farmer  is to be found in  its policy of “Land Reform”. The ANC has vowed to expropriate white-owned land without compensation and redistribute that land to blacks who are not experienced in agriculture nor have the desire to farm.

While an Afrikaner replies to my question “What will become of the ‘Boere’?” that they will fight to the bitter end, a growing number of Afrikaner farmers are emigrating to Australia, Nigeria, the Congo and the former-Soviet state of Georgia, where their expertise and knowledge is in great demand.

At the end of the Apartheid, and the end of racial discrimination in 1994, there was joy and optimism and the promise of a unified society known as “The Rainbow Nation”.

This expression was coined by the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu describing post-apartheid South Africa with the assurance of a total multi-racial society and a country where everyone has the chance to prosper.

Well, not exactly and Nelson Mandela must be turning in his grave witnessing what has become of the ANC. A caricature of itself, this ‘movement for change’ has itself ‘changed’ having morphed into an organized criminal conspiracy, eviscerating the country of everything it had, and gutting its citizens of all they have left. Today, South Africa is a country of 74 murders and more than 100 rapes a day.(Business Tech Feb 17, 2023). The police chiefs are corrupt and they do not care for the sanctity of life but rather how much they will collect from another bribe. Of course there are those that do care passionately, and those that give to the country and their communities. 

Sadly, South Africa’s house of cards is imploding. The foundations are cracking and crumbling threatening the very pillars of this modern state. The irony is that the Rainbow Nation does not exist. “Equal opportunity” for whites does not exist. In fact, the abused minority of whites are discriminated against rigorously.

Blacks get preferential treatment in employment, education and other areas. A white male is less likely to get a job over a black male. In fact, employment equity laws make it harder for whites to get work. Jobs in upper management go to blacks further ostracizing whites, and in a sense, sentencing them to more menial employment with the inability to use their talents to further themselves. It seems that today, whites feel that they are being punished for something they did not do.

The government has introduced an odious Quota System, a race-based policy that goes against the norms of society in this day and age.

While “Strict quotas are enforced for the degree in medicine and surgery. The intake of white students is capped at 2%”  (Solidariteit Mar 26, 2022), there is a huge shortage of doctors and qualified medical personnel.

The racial quota admissions into universities, across the board, favor blacks over other racial groups. If you are a white student, it is increasingly difficult to get accepted into a university even if you matriculated with distinctions. Those of a darker hue with poor school grades are favored instead. If you did manage to graduate with a degree, you would then again be subjected to the quota system to obtain a Masters.

Why would a white pursue a degree (even if they could get into a university) when there is little future for them; being excluded from society and discriminated against? Today, they are the downtrodden marginalized scapegoats of South Africa.

There is a sense of this is “payback-time…..”

With a growing feeling of despair coupled with a devastating decline in public trust, citizens feel trapped in a dysfunctional society. Even those with majestic homes no longer feel at home anymore. Hence the emigration.

As Rowan Philp in the Mail & Guardian (19 April 2013) wrote

South Africa has been robbed of its best and brightest. For a number of years there has been a steady brain drain of leaders in technology, science, medicine and education. The loss of these people has had a negative impact on the economy. An impressive number of South Africans have risen to the top of their fields in other countries.”

Few if ever will return.

With so many whites unable to come to terms with the realities of poverty, corrupt politics, out-of-control crime and violence, there is a verb that is now commonplace – “Ostriching” – of burying one’s head in the sand, which by the way is a myth much like the “Rainbow Nation” as ostriches  do not bury their heads in the sand.

Besides no airlines, no postal service and no trains, there is a dwindling electricity supply. They have rolling blackouts, euphemistically called “load shedding” which can last as much as 10 hours per day in Cape Town. Johannesburg is worse. People survive by always keeping their thermos flasks filled with hot water, using small gas camping stoves and using rechargeable lanterns for light and a healthy supply of batteries and candles at all times. Food rots in refrigerators so one needs to purchase small amounts of groceries just for a day. Few people can afford to have a generator, let alone the exorbitant cost of diesel fuel. Without electricity there is no viable economy. Retail stores, restaurants, businesses and factories cannot operate. The employees are idle and cannot do their job. As a result they are unable to earn a livelihood. The lack of electricity is a complex topic. In a nutshell, a history of huge financial losses, mismanagement, sabotage and corruption is evident. A judicial commission found that former President Jacob Zuma had orchestrated attempts to raid the coffers of the power company, Eskom. He denies this of course. Little maintenance has been done and with a large increase in the population (mostly emigres from other African countries) they have not kept up with the need to build additional power plants. The lack of electric power has had far reaching effects: Sewage treatment plants, with their pumps shut off; raw sewage overflows and spills into the ocean killing fish and posing very serious health issues. A friend of mine, an ardent swimmer, contracted septicemia blood poisoning which was caused by her ingesting tainted sea water. She almost died…..and yes, hospitals need electricity too.

In a February 25 interview with the Daily Investor, Andre De Ruyter, the outgoing CEO of Eskom, spoke at length about the cartels and the billions of Rands stolen from Eskom by corrupt officials and criminal bosses. “These criminal networks have workers sabotage and vandalize power stations on their behalf and the perpetrators of crime often publicly flaunt their ill-gotten gain.” Continuing, he reveals:

Our informants tell us that when these criminal cartel bosses have a gathering and walk into a room, they wash their hands in 15-year-old whiskey. Why? Because they can.”

He spoke of the Maseratis, McLarens and the conspicuous number of Louis Vuitton bags “among certain individuals.” He spoke of a power station where the manager walks around with a bullet proof vest and is accompanied by armed  guards because of the number of assassinations.

He really summed it up in his remark:

Eskom is the feeding trough for the government

The sick irony is that the trains that transport coal to the power plants which are their life-giving arteries, no longer operate and cannot deliver coal because the rail lines were stolen off the tracks.

The cartels also sell the best quality coal to China and the inferior coal with “rocks and metal” has to be used.

In the agricultural sector, including processing plants, the lack of electric power has led to the culling of poultry, some 10 million chicks in January of 2023, the wastage of fresh milk without refrigeration and the inability to irrigate crops.

With South Africa being a large exporter of fruit to the UK and the EU, this sector of its economy is now also in serious jeopardy due to inadequate refrigeration. Food production has to be sustainable. If there is no food then what happened in Zimbabwe will happen in South Africa. Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia, was known as a jewel and the breadbasket of Africa exporting wheat, tobacco, beef and corn to the rest of the world; especially to other African nations. However today Zimbabwe faces famine and is now a net importer of food from the Western World.

When food is in short supply the national security of the country is also put at risk.

There is another nauseating component of South Africa’s economy or rather its ‘underground’ economy, and that is, the practice of poaching animals. I visited a game park in the Western Cape. Three weeks prior to my visit three rhino were shot and had their horns hacked off. They tried to save a female rhino which was pregnant. Unfortunately it was to no avail and she bled to death. What can one expect when the South African  president, Cyril Ramaphosa is rumored to have arranged for three caged lions “hunted” by American tourists so that they could have a photograph taken posing with their kill as a “souvenir”.


I visited the Hebrew school that I had attended in Claremont, a suburb of Cape Town, as a young boy. A building now that has been totally defiled, abandoned and eerie. Most of the windows shattered. A portion of the roof appeared to have collapsed while doorways were shut and sealed with concrete blocks. Awnings dangled listlessly from the window openings. Tall weeds and vegetation were growing out of the brickwork. A building destined to crumble and forever root itself in the parched mother-earth.  

Holy Mess. The old Claremont synagogue that shaped the writer’s Judaism and Zionism, having attended here his youth movement “Habonim” meetings is today abandoned and unkept. A plaque (right) noting its vibrant community’s past welcomes today only rodents, vagrants and overgrown weeds.

I peered through the ubiquitous razor wire fence; a child’s swing swayed gently in the summer breeze. I remember a time when the nursery school playground bustled with the clamor of children’s laughter. Now all I could see were shadows and figures in the landscape wreaking havoc; with the stench of putrefying trash adding to the setting. This could have been a scene from Dante’s inferno and his passage through hell.

Sharp Reminders. Sharp spikes and electric wires protect private homes reminiscent of the concerns of castles during the turbulent  Middle Ages.


One day I went by the Cape Town railway station. The ineffectual city council had decided to build a 20 story building as a “student center” with retail shops at the street level. The station was partially demolished. Large precast concrete panels had fallen down haphazardly like a deck of cards and had embedded and now protruded from the ground.

Black smoke stains around large window openings devoid of glass and window frames could be seen. Smoke, probably made by the homeless making fires. Rubble, bricks and debris were scattered all around with more piles of trash and razor wire encasing it all. All I could smell was ash, gasoline and molten metal in the air. Add the smell of gunpowder and I could have been on the movie set of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Full Metal Jacket’. 

Numerous train stations have been vandalized in South Africa. The railroad tracks have been removed in many areas by thieves and sold as scrap metal. It is not uncommon to have electric power lines cut and the copper sold as scrap. Anything that is brass is fair game too. Any exposed garden taps (faucets) will most likely be stolen and sold as scrap. The actual train station buildings are pretty much destroyed as a source of bricks, doors and windows, roofing and lumber. Consequently those people that depended on the trains to commute to work and back have no means of transportation any longer. Cape Town that once had an amazingly efficient public transportation system – no more. There are still some buses. However, this is not the case with the trains.


One day I walked on the Saint James walkway from Muizenberg beach to St James beach immersing myself in the tantalizing views of the ocean. This walkway was built by the city council with generous financial assistance by the late local resident and businessman Mendel Kaplan. It was built right up to the ocean edge and runs parallel to the railway line. This is a truly breath-taking walk with waves crashing against the rocks; with the smell and taste of salt in the air. In another era many well-known figures including Cecil John Rhodes, John Garlick, Princess Ida Labia and the South African gold tycoon, politician and financier, Sir Abe Bailey, had homes in Muizenberg. Rudyard Kipling, Agatha Christie and others visited and stayed there. These were known as the Halcyon times; not quite as sublime today.

Beauty and the Beast. The scenic St. James Walkway whose timeless beauty diverted the writer’s focus to natures crushing waves on the rocks from man’s crushing abuse of the urban landscape.

Some of the best examples of Edwardian style buildings are to be found here. Notably, the iconic Muizenberg train station, designed by a pupil of architect Sir Herbert Baker in 1913. It was a beautiful building with its red stone arches, symmetrical floor plan and a clock tower which welcomed holiday makers arriving by train.

Hard Times. In better days, the clock tower of the historic train station in Muizenberg, Cape Town built in 1913. Designed by famed architect Sir Herbert Baker, today, the station and the clock tower badly vandalized, appears to the writer as a sad tangled, twisted relic of the past casting concerns on the country’s future.

The clock tower, a piece of artwork in itself, was handcrafted in teak with elaborate detailing with a clock face that has Roman numerals on all four sides. I was appalled and frankly offended by what I saw. The station was vandalized, trashed and robbed of its dignity. The clock tower was teetering at a perverse angle while three of the clock faces were smashed with their metal guts, cogs and springs spilling out.  The hour and minute hands were hanging limply downwards telling us that there is no more time; and that the precious privilege of time is gone forever; completely irretrievable. A candle flickering then dying and vanishing ….…

Is this a metaphor for South Africa?

About the writer

Raised in Cape Town, South Africa and a graduate in architecture from the University of Cape Town in 1976, Michael Witkin‘s first commission was the Mosque and Madrasa in the oppressed black neighborhood of Hanover Park where he also helped to raise money and acquire donated building materials. He also designed emergency low-income housing units using waterproofed heavy-duty corrugated cardboard. With the birth of his first child, he designed and manufactured a portable baby bassinet; and was involved in other pioneering projects including water recycling. Michael immigrated to San Diego where he had a successful architectural practice for 28 years; and a construction company for 13 of those years.  He served as president of the North County American Institute of Architects and chaired the design review board for the San Diego City Development Corporation for many years.  Additionally, he critiqued students at the School of Architecture in design. He has 4 children and moved to Michigan 12 years ago.  Besides commercial and residential projects, he specializes in religious buildings, grows flowers and builds furniture from exotic African hardwoods.

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 for coming clean – reconciliations cannot be based on fraud

By  Grant Gochin

Who murders children?

It takes a special kind of evil to murder children.

Newborns ripped from the breasts of their just-murdered mothers.




Thousands of children.

Dispatched with utmost cruelty.

Without Compassion.

Without pity.

Lithuanian perpetrators reveled in it.

Lithuanian perpetrators took pride in it.

Warm Welcome. All smiles as Lithuanian women welcome Nazi soldiers with flowers in the summer of 1941.

There was an entire cottage industry incorporating the rape, torture and murder of Jewish children.

Perpetrated by Lithuanian murderers to fulfill sick fantasies and self-aggrandizement.

These atrocities were carried out in front of their siblings, parents and grandparents. And in the sight of G-d.

Done for the sheer perverse joy of watching the Jewish Community’s suffering at the theatrical cruelty of terminating Jewry, and the destruction of Jewish familial bonds.

Done for the self-satiating delight of the murderer.

Done for their own “fun” and sordid cruelty.

Done for their free floating hatred of Jews.

Done for their unholy ideological nationalism, and faith in a mythical Fatherland.

To fulfill the Lithuanian National leadership’s call to create an ethnically pure Lithuanian state.

With the benefit of hindsight, most the world has recognized that murdering children is a deep and grievous wrong. Children too young to even walk or talk considered enemies of the Lithuanian state.

Honouring Brutality. A memorial (right) to Juozas Krikštaponis (left) a platoon commander in a Lithuanian paramilitary auxiliary battalion responsible for the systematic mass slaughter in Lithuania and Belarus.  In under six months, these Lithuanian units killed 26,000 Jews and with such excessive brutality that resulted in a report by their German overseers to SS head Heinrich Himmler.

The slaughter of Jews in Lithuania was almost complete. Only 3.6% of Jews survived within Lithuania. Survival was because Lithuanians simply could not find them, or ran out of time to murder them. In Lithuania, 0.04% of Lithuania’s population were heroic rescuers, while 99.96% were murderers, perpetrators, bystanders or cannot prove they were the rescuers they claim to have been. Of course, there were almost no Jewish survivors to validate Lithuanian exaggerated or fabricated claims of rescue; nobody to contradict them, so every murderer could claim to have been a rescuer. All Lithuanian crimes could be laid at the feet of Nazis; swept under political rugs. The Lithuanian nation perceived no future necessity for the bloody and disgusting truth of what really happened. Their twisted logic of lies became the new Lithuanian historical truth. They became triumphant in their new fictional history.

Killers in Kovno. Lithuanian militiamen in Kovno round up Jewish women, June-July 1941.

There are Lithuanians who fetishize and worship the perpetrators of the extermination of these Jewish children; morality never had a chance.

Lithuania knows some of their national heroes murdered the most innocent – Jewish children. Yet, Lithuania continues to put them on a pedestal, not to be knocked off easily or soon. Hate remains triumphant. This is a statement only about Lithuania’s system of morals and values, and how these fit into the education of Lithuanian children.

Some of Lithuania’s “heroes” are listed here:


The Lithuanian Government has a well-defined and well-exposed comprehensive program of transforming murderers into their national heroes. Murderers of Emanuel and Avram (pictured above) as the Lithuanian Government’s stated ideal of a hero for their population to emulate. Decent people are horrified at the very idea of hurting a child, Lithuania glorifies their murderers.

Killing Kids. Brothers Emanuel and Avram Rosenthal wear yellow stars in the Kovno ghetto shortly before they were rounded up and murdered in March 1944.
Source: https://www.ushmm.org/online-calendar/event/VEFBCOMPDNGR0621

Lithuanian national identity is so tied to their žydšaudžiai (Jew shooter) heroes that Lithuania ever becoming truthful is unlikely. For the sake of Lithuanian national pride, they believe they must defend, justify or ignore the horrific crimes their heroes committed. For Jewish national pride, we must demand truth. To help prevent future genocides of other children, we must shine light on the continual honoring of genocidal murderers.

Somehow, with Jewish organizational assistance, Lithuania gained membership of both EU and NATO. These are the most prestigious organizations in the world. If open peddlers of lies and revisionists are allowed membership without conditions, then every regime in the world can commit genocide without fear of accountability.

We have participated in multi decade campaigns to expose Lithuania’s historical frauds. We are saddened and frustrated by our lack of success. The Government of Lithuania has no interest in truth, so they distort the facts. Their actions have been identified in my Times of Israel articles for many years. While Lithuania has been offered dozens of opportunities to tell the truth, to date, they have only opted to increase their deceptions. Reconciliation cannot be based fraud; the government’s lies are a repudiation of reconciliation attempts between Jews and Lithuanians.

Two documentaries have been presented reflecting Lithuania’s Holocaust deceptions, distortions and revisions –J’Accuse! and Baltic Truth.

J’Accuse! has already been selected for, nominated, or won over ninety international film awards. It has been seen worldwide and is now being used as a teaching tool for genocide prevention, and a warning to human rights violators that they will be held to account. Holocaust frauds such as Lithuania’s will never be able to happen again in an educated world. Criminals will be exposed. I pray this will not be too little, too late. Lithuania continues to arm itself with lies.

The only country where J’Accuse! has not yet been addressed, is inside Lithuania (and probably North Korea). The Lithuanian government has worked hard to ignore the children’s cries from their death pits.

Portions of the US Government have taken a stand and demanded that Lithuania begin to tell the truth. The Lithuanian government can no longer lie with impunity in the face of public exposure. They have no choice but to bow to American and NATO pressure and formulate a response to their consistent and repetitive Holocaust fictions. Lithuania will not do so willingly, not from a sense of moral decency or integrity. Their multi-decade Holocaust fraud campaign has shown how devoted they are to honoring and remembering those monsters who “cleansed” their country of Jews. Lithuania will eventually come to the table only because they have been forced to do so, for economic or national security reasons.

There were so few Jewish Holocaust survivors from Lithuania, that their Government was able to subvert facts, which were known only to a few academics. What else could be expected from those who were so angered by the survival of so few, who then murdered survivors to keep odd pieces of furniture and dry goods?

Disingenuous “charm” campaigns by Lithuanian diplomats convinced some unknowing Jews to look away from the truth, and believe their “love” and “rescue” lies. Some were deceived. Few now remain unaware of the discrepancies. Education via J’Accuse! and Baltic Truth is generating outrage. Lithuania for Jews represents only death and deception.

Men who Murder. Lithuanian collaborators (with white armbands) enthusiastically round up Jews in July 1941 to be marched off to their deaths.

Jewish students were taught that the murders and persecution were perpetrated by Nazis, and a few, unnamed, unknown “collaborators”. The realization of the Lithuanian deception has empowered Jews and others to say loudly, clearly, meaningfully, and repeatedly, “NEVER AGAIN”.

NEVER AGAIN also means that we will not allow ourselves to be murdered at the free will of others, and we will not stand by as our murderers are heroized. We will no longer allow ourselves to be scapegoated. And so, in New York, on March 15, 2023, Jewish children stood up for murdered Jewish children in Lithuania, and cried to the heavens: “NEVER AGAIN”. The ghastly, ghostly cries from the children are getting louder.

These American Jewish children begin to restore our self-respect and our human dignity. For us, they represent life. They are our future. These children embody the adage “Never Again”. We cannot let them down by failing to provide educational truth, and we cannot provide a future without the truth of the past.

Lithuanians and Nazis did not extinguish us, the children in the photos below reflect the best of our future. They represent our survival against the Lithuanians and the Nazis.

The world heard these children’s cries for justice. Finally, a legitimate group speaks for Lithuania’s murder victims.


About the writer:

Grant Arthur Gochin currently serves as the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Togo. He is the Emeritus Special Envoy for Diaspora Affairs for the African Union, which represents the fifty-five African nations, and Emeritus Vice Dean of the Los Angeles Consular Corps, the second largest Consular Corps in the world. Gochin is actively involved in Jewish affairs, focusing on historical justice. He has spent the past twenty five years documenting and restoring signs of Jewish life in Lithuania. He has served as the Chair of the Maceva Project in Lithuania, which mapped / inventoried / documented / restored over fifty abandoned and neglected Jewish cemeteries. Gochin is the author of “Malice, Murder and Manipulation”, published in 2013. His book documents his family history of oppression in Lithuania. He is presently working on a project to expose the current Holocaust revisionism within the Lithuanian government. Professionally, Gochin is a Certified Financial Planner and practices as a Wealth Advisor in California, where he lives with his family. Personal site: https://www.grantgochin.com/

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- 26 March 2023

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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The Israel Brief

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Committed once to his country, now more committed to himself not being committed

By David E. Kaplan

Is the End Near? It’s a painful process, but Israel needs to move on from this man and his minions.

He does not look good; worse, he is NOT doing good – either for his legacy or his country’s future. Clutching at ever diminishing straws for personal and political survival, the once indestructible steamship Netanyahu has sprung a leak.  When will it sink?


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Israeli youth reveal the nature of true friendship and camaraderie

By Lennie Lurie

Revelations of the Razor. Shaving their heads, these youngsters unveil values and characters within!

In this troubling age where Israel is confronting itself and wondering what it will look like thereafter, comes this story about Israeli schoolkids who in a surprise collective act, reveal the nature of true ‘beauty’. May their message represent Israel’s values of tomorrow.


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Now in their 90s and older those who kept the death camps running don’t deserve to pass away in tranquility

By Dr. Efraim Zuroff

Chasing the Clock. The writer in front of placard in Berlin reading “Operation last chance – late but not too late.”

Of what value is justice when the worst perpetrators of mass murder the world has ever known are living out their lives – FREE? While Germany does pursue surviving Nazis – given the advanced age of both the criminals and the survivors – such efforts are fruitless unless there is a true commitment to expedite the legal process.


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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).


Committed once to his country, now more committed to himself not being committed – the extraordinary complex journey of Israel’s Prime Minister

By David E. Kaplan

DEMOCRACY IS STRONGER THAN THE COALITION” a protest placard read sending a strong message to the Israeli PM and his coalition.

No sooner had I read this placard, when someone standing next to me at a protest asked:

How do you think this is going to end?”

Built into this question is not only “how” but “when” will it end?  

To paraphrase Churchill, is it “the beginning of the end” or “the end of the beginning”? It matters because the country cannot continue like this indefinitely. If there is any doubt as to the fortitude of the protestors, it was expressed to a global TV audience in a huge banner at the Tel Aviv protest that simply and succinctly – again very Churchillian – read:


“NEVER SURRENDER”. Televised around the world, the banner carried aloft at the demonstration in Tel Aviv.

Now into its eleventh week with no side backing down, it’s a fair question. This predicament was lamented by Labour leader Merav Michaeli, who following an all-night Knesset vote immunizing the Prime Minister from prosecution while in office, said:

 “this is our second War of Independence, and we must win it.”

Approaching Israel’s 75th Day of Independence, the atmosphere is hardly celebratory as people reflect how we have only recently come out of three years of Covid. How do we now come out of this affliction?

Hard to predict. Politics today has shifted from the national to the personal. “Like thieves in the night, the coalition has now passed an obscene and corrupt personal law,” wrote opposition leader Yair Lapid on Twitter referring to this impeachment law hurriedly designed to protect one man – Benjamin Netanyahu. “The citizens of Israel [should know], just before the holidays, while the cost of living is skyrocketing, [that] Netanyahu once again only cares about himself.”

How has Bibi allowed, over nearly three months, for the country to be in such a dire state. After all, did not candidate Bibi assure an anxious electorate when he was making deals with highly-questionable potential coalition partners before the November 2022 election that he would be in control. His big line – or lie – was:

They are joining me, not I joining them.”

In other words, if he won, he Bibi, would be calling the shots.

That turned out more to be a shot in the foot and people are now concerned about his grip of reality, struggling less as he had in the past for the country to strive and now just for himself to survive.

Israel at a Crossroad. Masses of demonstrators converge at major Tel Aviv crossroad to protest against the proposed judicial reforms, in Tel Aviv, Israel, February 25, 2023. (Photo credit: REUTERS)

People are asking whether he is buckling under the pressure; whether he has lost control over his coalition whose members appear to enjoy free reign to propose and express publicly on any issue they fancy, indifferent to how crazy, impractical or reckless it might be. Whereas it was once expected that he would control any wayward ministers, it appears that they now control him.

In light of this depressing scenario, it is fair to question:

“Is Bibi losing it?”

To this point, Susan Hattis Rolef in her March 26 Jerusalem Post column writes that:

 “A more embarrassing and even worrying  event occurred when in recent cabinet meetings Netanyahu referred (twice in a row) to “the extremists, who are leading the reform….”.

 Whereas he intended to say:

 “the extremists who are leading the demonstrations.”

Was this a cognitive misstep – albeit repeatedly – or do we have to be seriously concerned of who actually is running affairs?  For a country in crisis, it is strange that the PM is suddenly traveling so frequently abroad – France, Germany and now the UK!

Truth be Told. A placard by a protestor conveying exactly what she thinks of the Israeli cabinet under Benjamin Netanyahu.

Every day, Israelis wake up to the morning news with a groan.  It is not that the government is failing to avoid crises; it is creating them! Just take  22 March’s  front page news in The Jerusalem Post.  The main headline was the following:

Justice minister threatens to disobey High Court

Lapid: If Levin refuses to obey the law, why should citizens obey the government

Is this not a recipe for chaos?

With the rest of the front page covering  – not threats from “the usual suspects” of Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas or other terrorist groups – but threats from ourselves. Most concerning was hints of the unraveling of the cherished Abraham Accords with the UAE and Jordan considering reducing diplomacy with Israel. Once the pride of Netanyahu’s achievements – the Abraham Accords – a “game changer” for Israel as it began a journey of “normalization” with Arab countries in the Gulf, it now is like a leaky boat. Will it sink?

National Day of Paralysis”. Israelis take to the streets in mass protest in Tel Aviv, March 23, 2023.

We are now at the 11th hour. So desperately felt by Jews worldwide that on the 21 March 2023, a letter was sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yair Lapid, Leader of the opposition signed by:

Mark Wilf Chair, Jewish Agency Board of Governors, Doron Almog Chair, Jewish Agency Executive; Yaakov Hagoel Chair, World Zionist Organization; Julie Platt Chair, Jewish Federations of North America, Steven Lowy Chair, World Board of Trustees, Keren Hayesod; Eric Fingerhut President & CEO, Jewish Federations of North America and Sam Grundwerg World Chair Keren Hayesod. In this letter by Jewish leaders of major Jewish organizations around the world, they write:

We have been witnessing an increase in serious polarization among Israel-loving Jews around the globe. The various opinions surrounding the proposed judicial reforms as well as heated public discourse are concerning to not only Israelis but to Jewish communities worldwide who feel an innate bond to the destiny and unity of our people. Today too many among us are experiencing real concern as we view the tension coming from all sides. Given the centrality of Israel in their lives, we find it our duty to share with and convey to you our concerns of so many among us regarding the future of Jewish unity. Looking towards the future of the State of Israel and world Jewry, it is essential that all sides seek dialogue at all cost, and take the time to reach, through an inclusive and wide-ranging conversation, without preconditions, the broadest possible consensus. Essential as the judicial reform may be, it cannot trump the risks of a, God forbid, brotherly war. Preventing internal strife between us is truly Pikuach Nefesh, a life-saving matter. The Jewish thing to do in such a situation is to seek dialogue at all cost, and to take the time to reach, through an inclusive and wide-ranging conversation, the broadest possible consensus.”

As I presently write this March 23, I can hear from my 5th floor study in Kfar Saba the blaring noise of drums beating, the shrill of bugles and voices over loudspeakers. This cacophony of noise is punctuated by the sound of loud car hooters, whether in support or frustration. This is a microcosm of what is playing out today across the country in every city, town and rural areas in what was is being called a  “National Day of Paralysis”.

“Knock, Knock. Whose there? Dick. Dick Who? DICKtatorship”. So reads a placard by British Jews protesting the Israeli government’s judicial coup in London.(photo Ben Combe)

Unsurprisingly, Netanyahu is off again today – this time to the UK.

If he is trying to escape the loud sound of opposition in his home country, he will not escape it by fleeing to the UK where he is expected to be meet with more protests. The message from London is clear  “Don’t expect a relaxing weekend”.

Bibi can hear. But when will he listen?

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- 20 – 23 March 2023

The Israel Brief – 20 March 2023 Terror victim passes away. 11th week of protests. Terror attack Huwara. Israel gains places on UN Happiness Index. Rob Lowe spotted in Jerusalem.

The Israel Brief – 21 March 2023 Terror representatives address UCT. Smotrich’s explosive comments. Yoav Gallant to resign? Police prepare for Ramadan.

The Israel Brief – 22 March 2023 Jordan and UAE reducing diplomacy with Israel? Israeli Ambassador to US summoned. Iron Dome shoots down drone. Or Eshkar donates organs.

The Israel Brief – 23 March 2023 – Day of Paralysis update. UAE warn government of tension in ties. Netanyahu to visit UK. Breakthrough in pancreatic cancer research.

21 March 2023- ELNET UK Podast – Rolene Marks

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).


Now in their 90s and older those who kept the death camps running don’t deserve to pass away in tranquility

By Dr. Efraim Zuroff

(First appeared in The Times of Israel)

The recent death of an elderly German in the small Bavarian town of Coburg is hardly newsworthy, but the demise of Franz  Perlinger, several days after celebrating his 99th birthday, is actually more significant than most people could imagine. Had Perlinger not died two weeks ago, he was scheduled to be put on trial this coming October for accessory to murder in the cases of thousands of inmates in the women’s and the much smaller men’s camp of the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp in northern Germany, to which the Nazis deported more than 130,000, mostly female Polish and Soviet political prisoners.

Escaping Justice. Women inmates at the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany where Franz Perlinger served and was to stand trial as an accessory to mass murder.

The case against Perlinger would have been the eighth trial conducted in the wake of a dramatic change in German prosecution policy vis-à-vis Holocaust perpetrators, implemented in 2008. Until then, in order to convict a Nazi criminal, the prosecution would have had to prove that the suspect had committed a specific crime against a specific victim, an almost impossible challenge so many years after the crime. But based on the fact that the death camps (those with either gas chambers – Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor and Majdanek – or gas vans – Chelmno) were in effect “death factories”, government prosecutors were persuaded that anyone who served there could be held responsible for the murders and hence be prosecuted for “accessory to murder,” based on service alone, which could be proven by documents. Thus, the campaign to bring to justice guards in death camps, or camps with very high mortality rates was launched regardless of the age of the suspects, who all were already at least in their nineties.

Chasing the Clock. Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s chief Nazi hunter, in front of a placard reading “Operation last chance – late but not too late”, in Berlin. (Photograph: Gero Breloer/AP)

This dramatic change in German policy, spearheaded by prosecutors Thomas Walther and Kirsten Goetze, gave a new lease on life to the efforts to hold Nazi perpetrators accountable. Germany is currently the only country that has achieved multiple convictions of Holocaust criminals during the past decade-and-a- half. This is a welcome development, but having noted this important achievement, it is important to point out several serious flaws in the handling of these cases, which Perlinger’s “premature” death helps highlight.

So far, all of the defendants whose trials had been completed have been convicted, and only one had to be stopped for health reasons. (The case of Johannes Rehbogen who served as a guard at the Stutthof concentration camp was suspended because his health deteriorated and he was no longer able to follow the trial.) Unpublicized however, is the fact that between five and seven cases had to be stopped for health reasons, after indictments had been submitted against the suspects.

Killers in Court. German prosecutor Thomas Walther (above) together with Kirsten Goetze have given a new lease on life to the efforts to hold Nazi mass murders accountable.

One would imagine that given the advanced age of both the criminals and the survivors, a “fast track” would be created for these trials, but unfortunately that has not been the case. Thus instead of being exposed, prosecuted, and convicted for his role as an SS guard at Ravensbrück, Perlinger passed away in relative tranquility that he did not deserve.

Mis’trial. Crematorium at Stutthof concentration camp where Johannes Rehbogen served as a guard. Leaving it too late to prosecute as the writer warns, Rehboggen’s case was suspended because his health deteriorated, and he was no longer able to stand trial.

The German justice system should have found a way to expedite these cases. In respect of Perlinger for example, the historian in his case took more than three years to complete the important historical report on the crimes committed in the camp. In addition, the opening date of his trial was scheduled more than a year after he was charged, and the result is not at all surprising. We have already been working on the case for about half a year, and there were still eight months to go before the trial even opened!!

Inspection Tour. SS leader Heinrich Himmler (centre) visited Stutthof where more than 65,000 people died before it was liberated by the Soviet Army on 9 May 1945.

Another problem relates to failure of the German justice system to add additional staff to the Zentrale Stelle (the federal agency that vets each case of a Nazi perpetrator to decide whether the cases have validity and should be brought to trial), to enable the handling of far more cases, since the change in prosecution policy made it possible to prosecute many more persons than was the case previously.

Survived to be Sentenced. In December 2022 at a court in Germany, 97-year-old Irmgard Furchner who worked as the secretary to the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp received a two-year suspended sentence for aiding and abetting the murder of 10,505 people and the attempted murder of five inmates.(photo Christian Charisius/Pool via Reuters)

A third problem is the choice of prosecutors. After a case is approved for trial by the experts of the Zentrale Stelle, the file is sent to a prosecutor near the residence of the defendant. None of these prosecutors, or even some of the attorneys representing the survivor witnesses and co-plaintiffs have any experience in handling Nazi perpetrator cases. So while this has some logic in dealing with the logistics of the trial, such as the appearances of the defendants, it often results in serious mistakes. One such example was of a witness, who claimed he was born in Stutthof and that his mother had been tattooed there when inmates of Stutthof did not have numbers tattooed on their arms.

Time is obviously running out, and soon it will no longer be possible to bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice. We therefore urge the German authorities to take whatever measures possible to expedite these cases promptly, in order to maximize justice.

97-year-old former secretary at a Nazi concentration camp convicted by German court | DW News

About the author:

Dr. Efraim Zuroff is the chief Nazi hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the director of the Center’s Israel Office and Eastern European Affairs.

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).


Israeli youth reveal the nature of true friendship and camaraderie

By Lennie Lurie

Israel is a unique country in so many respects and the amazing achievements of this small nation are the envy of many countries, all larger and with a wealth of natural resources. However, it is the Israeli people who are undeniably responsible for these innovations, developments and remarkable accomplishments.

However, let me tell you about a relatively insignificant incident which does not involve any reputable Israeli movers and shakers; it does not elicit any “WOW” reactions of incredulity and wonder, and it has no bearing on Israeli science, technology and corporation takeovers. In fact it relates to a group of ordinary Israeli school pupils who undertook a rather simple though bizarre step in displaying their feelings towards a fellow school mate. Yet this unpretentious act solicited the empathy and admiration of all who heard about it. More than that, it displayed something uniquely “Israeli” in its originality, imagination and involvement. I can already see that quizzical expression on your face, so I request your patience.

Our son, Yair, having served his three years military service in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), was honorably discharged towards the end of 2017. During his service, he began to cut the hair of his friends and fellow soldiers. Where or how he learnt this skill is unknown to me but he did a most commendable job and his “clients” were most satisfied with the results (not to mention the free service!). Upon his discharge he worked as an assistant to Moshe, the proprietor of the local men’s barber / hair dresser in our village, Kiryat Tivon. With the additional experience he gained, when Moshe went on holiday, Yair single handed managed the business and undertook his hair cutting and styling duties with exemplary results. “Our son …. the barber!”

About a year ago, a pupil in the matriculation class at the local high school was diagnosed with bone cancer and he underwent chemotherapy as a means of treating this malicious disease. Sadly, a common result of this treatment is the total loss of hair on the head. The pupil, let’s call him Yossi, continued to attend school. Needless to say, a “bald” school kid amongst the pupils of the school was most conspicuous. Yossi experienced a terrible sense of being “different” and he seriously considered absenting himself from school. His close friends were aware of Yossi’s dilemma and they decided to do something to “remedy” this perturbing quandary.

One day, a group of pupils appeared at Moshe’s barber shop and requested that he “shear” each one of them completely! Moshe did not give this a second thought and both he and Yair went about their duties, turning each kid into a young Yul Brynner (a well-known Russian born Hollywood actor in the ‘50’s and 60’s, distinguished by his bald head). Upon asking the boys the reason for their extreme haircut, Moshe was informed that this was a means of identification with their fellow pupil who had lost his hair as a result of the chemotherapy treatment. No longer will Yossi stand out amongst his fellow pupils; he will have a number of “twins” to share the offensive stares of the school pupils.

Moshe was so impressed with this gesture of solidarity that he suggested to the pupils that both he and Yair would come to the school and during the school break, and give free haircuts to any pupils who wished to identify with their school mate, Yossi.

And so it was. The two professional barbers, together with their equipment, went to the high school and during the break, cut off the hair of about 50 school boys. These kids, with intense pride and self-satisfaction, proudly sported a clean cut cranium for all to see. One can barely imagine the feelings of Yossi who suddenly found himself, one of many, with a shining and hairless head. If ever a “friend in need was a friend indeed”, it was those selfless kids who never hesitated for a moment to undertake such an extreme aesthetic change in order that a fellow pupil would not feel the upsetting glances of the public.

As stated above, there is something typically “Israeli” in the pupils’ magnanimous gesture of cutting off their hair. This bonding with a friend to eliminate any stigma, coupled with the ingenuity, spontaneity and the “contagiousness” of the act, is what makes these impudent, impolite, crude and spirited kids the envy of all their counterparts the world over. And it is with love, admiration, awe and respect that we embrace them and watch them become soldiers who will defend us with the same dedication, valor and unselfishness. 

About the writer:

A B.Sc. graduate in Economics and Geology from the University of Cape Town (UCT), Lennie may be the only volunteer from abroad who was granted permission to leave his group on kibbutz during the 1967 Six Day War to rejoin his paratroop brigade that he had served with years before following his matriculation in Cape Town. In Israel, Lennie has worked as an Export Manager for some of the country’s major food manufacturers and chemical companies as well as an independent consultant in Export Marketing guiding many small Israeli businesses to sell their products and services in the world-wide market. As a result of a work accident in 1995, Lennie made a career change and became an independent English teacher working mainly with hi-tech companies and associated with universities and colleges in the north 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).