The Intersection of Hatred

By Rolene Marks

image001 (24)
“I Can’t Breathe”. George Floyd’s last words have become the slogan of global protests.

George Floyd. Remember his name. George Floyd was murdered. We all watched him lynched before our very eyes as a police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt for nine minutes with this knee on Floyd’s neck. Crying that he could not breathe, pleading for his mother while 3 other officers stood by and did nothing. They preferred that the crowd disperse, rather than stopping the carnage.  Bystanders called out in horror and paramedics begged to help him, to no avail and no mercy.  Floyd who was in police custody for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 dollar note to pay for a purchase, died. He died before our eyes in some sick kind of murder pornography film.

Sadly, George Floyd is another name added to the increasing list of black men and women who have died as a result of police brutality in the United States of America. The role of the police is to serve and protect and Chauvin and his 3 accomplices have made an ever increasing chasm between civilians and law enforcement worse, much worse.

image003 - 2020-06-04T190825.489

And people are angry. All over the United States and across major cities around the world, including Tel Aviv in Israel, people are taking to the streets to say enough is enough. This needs to end. Some protests are extremely peaceful. There have been very moving images of people of all races embracing each other and police officials laying down their “arms” to hug protesters and march alongside them.

But many of these images are not peaceful at all. The images are shocking. Cities are being looted and businesses have been destroyed. Crowds are turning against each other and the police in rage and at least 11 people have lost their lives in vain.

This has created an opportunity for the most insidious to stir up even more racial tension. There have been several accounts of white supremacists infiltrating so that they can physically act out their racist prejudices.

ISRAEL-US-POLITICS-RACE-UNREST
Solidarity From Israel. Demonstrators in support of US protesters over the death of George Floyd on June 2, 2020, in Tel Aviv. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)

This has not been limited to the right. Far left ideologues like Antifa (the self-proclaimed anti-Fascist movement) and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement have joined and stirred the ranks of looters and chaos mongers. At the outset of the protests, these opportunistic hate-groups managed to instigate violence, looting and destroying businesses. These businesses provide much needed employment in an economic climate that has been dealt a significant blow as a result of Coronavirus shutdowns.

Just as nefarious has been the exploiting and hijacking of the memory of George Floyd and the pain felt by many for their own political agendas. BDS used the opportunity to take to social media and allege that Israel is to blame for the methods used by Chauvin to kill George Floyd. They blamed Israeli counter-terror training used around the world for the methods used by Chauvin. There is no proof that Chauvin has ever encountered Israelis or was trained by them.

1591268250375blob
Blame The Jews, Again. Hateful cartoons suggesting Jews were responsible for the murder of George Floyd as a result of US police officers being trained by Israeli Police.

In Los Angeles, rioters also felt the need to deface a synagogue. The Congregation Beth Israel, one of the oldest in Los Angeles was daubed with the words “F*** Israel, Free Palestine”. Commenting on this, Richard S. Hirschhaut, the Los Angeles Regional Director of the American Jewish Committee, said in a statement to the Jewish Journal, “It is deplorable that certain protesters in Los Angeles today resorted to violence and vandalism.”

“The epithets scrawled on the synagogue wall do nothing to advance the cause of peace or justice, here or abroad,” he added.

Fighting racism by propagating antisemitism is utter hypocrisy. One form of prejudice cannot be fought by allowing for another. This is not justice for George Floyd and the countless others who have been murdered as a result of racism.

1591107454377blob
Spillover Effect. The synagogue Congregation Beth El on Beverly Blvd in Los Angeles Graffiti was vandalized and spray-painted with the writing “Free Palestine” and “F**k Israel”.

At the centre of this, is the concept of intersectionality that alleges that all suffering is equal; however, there is a glaring double standard when it comes to Jews.

Jews have always been inextricably linked with civil rights movements across the world.  Jews marched in Selma in the USA for equal rights and for years fought Apartheid in South Africa, and those are just two examples.  Wherever there has been injustice, Jewish communities around the world have been engaged in combatting it. Propagating hatred to promote a divisive and hate-filled agenda only serves to polarize people and create barriers, especially at a time when listening to each other is more important than ever.

1591105622898blob

It is this interaction that will honour the memories of those who have lost their lives as a result of hatred and brutality the world over. We should endeavour to meet at the intersection of tolerance and understanding, rather than exclusion and discrimination. This will honour those social justice giants on whose mighty shoulders we stand.

George Floyd. Remember his name.

The Israel Brief- 01- 04 June 2020

 

The Israel Brief -01 June 2020 – COVID stats increase. Iranian cyberattack on the Israeli water system. LotL and IB condemn racism.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief -02 June 2020 – Israel COVID updates. USA to take action against ICC. Israelis take a stand against domestic violence.

 

 

The Israel Brief -03 June 2020 – More schools in lockdown. Israel says no to hate. Is Israel caught between China and USA?

 

 

 

The Israel Brief -04 June 2020 – COVID updates. PA refuse money that accounts for 60% of the budget. Iranians see Israel as a reputable source of COVID 19 info?

A Walk In The Park

While man is frequently at war with the environment, not so for Israeli sculptor Dani Karavan whose work is harmoniously in sync with its surroundings

By David E. Kaplan

Back on welcome “grandparent” duty following our release on parole from lockdown,  meant a return to one of my favourite parks – the Edith Wolfson Park on the eastern edge of the city of Tel Aviv. If its Tuesday, “we, the grandparents”, are usually there with our grandson. Perched high, the park offers a magnificent view of the city from its most iconic vantage – a massive sculpture by famed Israeli artist Dani Karavan. Called “The White Square”, the monumental work overlooks “The White City” as Tel Aviv is famously known because of its white Bauhaus architecture and is a complex geometric work that is an ode to the city itself.

image002 - 2020-06-02T141406.964
An Ode To Tel Aviv. Dani Karavan’s ‘The White Square’ at Edith Wolfson Park in Tel Aviv.

If Tel Aviv is a city not so much to see but to experience then so to is Karavan’s sculpture where it is less viewed than it is walked, climbed, roller-skated and rollerbladed upon. I invariably join the “kids” in sliding down the sculpture’s colossal “sundial” on carboard as well as scampering up the large “pyramid”. The sculpture exudes physicality  – it is a metaphor for Tel Aviv of open-ended action befitting its reputation as “the city that never sleeps.” If you are generally “into art”, then visiting The White Square you literally, “get into” this art as you climb in, over, upon and through it!

A walk in the park6
White Square Overlooking White City. The hill in the park with Karavan’s The White City is topographically the highest vantage view of Tel Aviv.

My first encounter with this monumental sculpture was of complete surprise. I came upon it with my first visit to the park in 2018 when my grandson, Yali, was only a few months old. I stared at the structure and thought, “Déjà vu – I have never been here before! Why is this massive sculpture so familiar?” And then I remembered that nearly a decade earlier, I co-wrote an interview with this sculpture’s creator – Dani Karavan, where he described this renowned work and I wrote about it including providing captions for photographs of what I now weekly ‘experience’.

image001 - 2020-06-02T142331.907
Structuring Dreams. Symbolizing fertility and peace, the olive tree in Karavan’s White Square at the Edith Wolfson Park in Tel Aviv.

Dominating the sculpture is a 65-foot cement tower that can be see from afar as well as providing from the top, a majestic vista of the city. The tower symbolizes both the steel siren that once stood there and its function – security – watching over the city. The “migdal” or watchtower, is an enduring image that so characterized early settlement life in Israel as a state-in-the-making, providing security to its people working in the fields.

Beside the tower, is a large geometric piece composed of east-west facing shapes representing the surrounding urban neighborhood, much of it built in the Bauhaus style of architecture that has recognised Tel Aviv as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Next to this is the pyramid-like structure symbolizing the tents lived in by those who built the city well over a century earlier, and then there is a dome-like structure with an olive tree at its center, depicting the orchards that surround Tel Aviv.

Lastly, there is the sun dial, possibly the most popular attraction as I can every Tuesday attest to, noting that it is used as much for skateboarding as it is for any other intended purpose.

image011 (40)

‘Time’ for Fun. Karavan’s Sun Dial (above) enjoyed most by skateboarders (below)

image003 - 2020-06-02T142910.190

Portrait Of An Artist

So who is this internationally acclaimed sculptor and Israel Prize recipient who lives in the same house in Tel Aviv, that “I  grew up in” and whose work can be seen across Israel, Europe, and Asia?

Karavan credits  being most influenced by his father when “I turned from painting to sculpture.” His father, Avraham Karavan, was the chief landscape designer for Tel Aviv from the 1940s through the 1960s.My father grew up in Manchester and I think he was very inspired by the English gardens. He always wanted to recreate nature – gardens as nature. I understand now that I am following in his footsteps: When I approach a site, I often develop the project in a similar way to his way of creating gardens.”

It is hard to escape his distinct style, which blends sculpture, architecture, and the landscape into unique and monumental pieces. Putting the question to Karavan that his work appears “as if you are sculpting the landscape”, he replied:

“That’s correct. This is what characterizes my work, which is rooted to a physical environment and not to an atelier [an artist’s workshop]. I was once privileged to meet the distinguished sculptor Henry Moore and observe him work in his environment – how he molded a model the size of a suitcase handle and enlarged it ninety-nine times its size. For me it is the opposite, because the large environment where I work emerges as part of my composition.”

One example the artist cites is the large sculptured wall of the Plenum Hall at the Knesset (Israel’s parliament). Called Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, the wall depicts an abstract Jerusalem landscape, the surrounding hills, and the Judean desert. It is one of the most recognised works of art in Israel as it appears almost daily on TV screens as a backdrop as the people’s elected representatives take to the podium to address the Knesset.

image004 - 2020-06-02T143522.080
Art To Inspire. Considered Israel’s most recognised sculpture, Dani Karavan’s Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem in the Knesset Plenum Hall. (Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

Another example Karavan cites “was my first big piece as a sculptor,” the Negev Brigade Memorial. Although a  monument to commemorate those who fought in the Palmach Negev Brigade in 1948, the artist is quick to add:

 “I am not an artist who creates memorials. I create homages.”

The late Uzi Narkiss, a commander of the Negev Brigade’s Seventh Battalion, had suggested to Karavan to build a lookout so that visitors could climb up and physically experience the landscape. Observing the surrounding hills leading down to the valley, the views of the rolling landscape, the folds of the ground, the rocks and the bushes, all emerged as the material of the final work.

image010 (48)
Movement Ahead. A precursor to the land art movement, Karavan’s Negev Brigade Memorial that pays homage to members of the brigade who fell fighting during Israel’s War of Independence.

Explains Karavan:

“I had to integrate the landscape of the desert, its particularities, in order to tell the story of this brigade. My father helped me to plant acacia trees, indigenous to the Negev desert. As water was scarce, he knew which trees should be used. He always kept in mind the water. The line of water I created as part of the monument is not only a symbol of life, but also a tribute to the Palmach Brigade who had the mission of insuring the water supply to the kibbutzim in the desert.”

It was a groundbreaking project. “Up until then,” continued Karavan, “site-specific environmental sculpture did not exist. To some degree, it is similar to architecture, where the architect designs specifically for a particular environment.”

Further explaining, he adds:

 “I am not a sculptor that seeks a place, but rather the place seeks me. Michelangelo said that the statue already exists within the stone; I say that the sculpture already exists within the environment. I just unearth it. This is essentially my contribution to the evolution of sculpture. I wanted that sculpture be something people can climb and children play on – that it will be full of life and not pieces where people visit once a year to lay flowers.”

Looking at the children playing all over The White  Square, he has succeeded.

“My works could not exist without people. I want them to experience the work and feel like it is embracing them. At the same time, I never try to impose the way people should interact with my work. The work itself inspires people and leads them to explore the different forms and spaces. The fact that children engage with my works is not because I designed it for that purpose, but because my works give them a sense of freedom to use them in any way they would like to, without aggression, without violence—in a peaceful way.”

While Karavan can mold material to articulate his dreams and visions, he laments “an inability to influence better relations with our Arab neighbors. My father arrived in Israel in the 1920s. He came as an idealist and I inherited that idealism. What better vision to work for than the pursuit of regional peace and happiness? If you ask what I still want to do, yes, I need to finish my autobiography, but also to collaborate with a Palestinian artist on a project toward peace.”

image015 (15)
Man And His Work. Dani Karavan

From time immemorial, the olive tree is a symbol of peace and I thought of this quote of the artist again when I saw last Tuesday perched in the middle of The White Square the olive tree – the sole vertical living organism amongst the concrete.  It was the right milieu to reflect on the artist’s 2019 response to the question “What is his hope for humanity?” from famed landscape designer Lily S. Kwong:

Karavan replied: “I hope people will be more tolerant of others and to each other. I hope for more education all around the world. I hope that in most countries, art will have a key role in people’s daily lives.”

I felt assuredly of the artist’s hope of art playing “a key role in people’s daily lives,” when watching my grandchild with all the other children ‘explore, engage and encounter’ at the Edith Wolfson Park in Tel Aviv.

 

Some of Karavan’s most important works:

A Walk In The Park1Negev Brigade Memorial, Beersheva, Israel

 

 

 

A Walk In The Park7Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem – Knesset wall relief, Jerusalem, Israel

 

 

A Walk In The Park3Kikar Levana, Tel Aviv, Israel

 

 

A Walk In The Park4Culture Square, Tel Aviv, Israel

 

 

A walk in the park7The “Path of Peace” sculpture by artist Dani Caravan. An environmental sculpture which is one of the attractions of Nitzana

 

 

A Walk In The Park5UNESCO Square of Tolerance – Homage to Yitzhak Rabin, Paris, France

 

 

A Walk In The Park6The Axe Majeur, Cergy-Pontoise, France

The City of Jaffa is in The State of Israel!

Open letter by Stephen Schulman

During Ramadan, South Africa’s online newspaper, The Daily Maverick published a food article by Cape Town writer Ayesha Mukadam entitled, “Celebrating Ramadan by Sending ‘boeka’ Plates around the World.”

image004 - 2020-06-01T133051.949
Careless With Cuisine. Founder of ‘Boeka Without Borders’, writer Ayesha Mukadam chooses to deny Israel’s existence in her food article.

A Cape Muslim Afrikaans word for breaking one’s fast at sunset during Ramadan, “Boeka”, explains Mukadam, “is synonymously celebrated in the Cape with the sharing and exchange of boeka plates with neighbours, family and friends.”  

Not possible during Covid-19, the writer laments “It is the first Ramadan that I can recall, where no boeka plates are being exchanged. I missed this Cape tradition that is inherent to my culture and upbringing.” 

To compensate, Mukadam created an Instagram platform and invited people during the month of Ramadan while under lockdown, to share their “virtual boeka from across streets, neighbourhoods, countries and oceans.”

Amongst those sharing is Basel Agbaria from Jaffa, Israel, who Mukadam describes is from Palestine.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-05-21-celebrating-ramadan-by-sending-boeka-plates-around-the-world/

image006 (87)
Sea’ing Is Believing. Famous for its association with the biblical stories of Jonah and the whale and King Solomon, Israel’s ancient port city of Jaffa with neighbouring Tel Aviv in the background (left).

A Lay of the Land contributor, Stephen Schulman replies in an open letter to The Daily Maverick and its writer:

Dear Ayesha Mukadam,

I read your article about your site in The Daily Maverick, the online publication bringing news and views from South Africa, on “boeka” a Cape Muslim Afrikaans word for iftar – breaking one’s fast at sunset during Ramadan. In it, you declared your purported aim of using food in the Muslim month of Ramadan as a means of connecting and bringing people of all faiths together – a most laudable initiative in these turbulent and troubled times.

Mention of the Cape brought back many memories. Growing up in the 50’s on the Lower Main Road in the suburb of Claremont, Cape Town where my parents once had a shop. We lived in amity and mutual respect with our many Muslim customers and neighbours. Whilst we did not partake of “Iftar”, we were well aware of the Muslim faith, its beliefs, practices and customs. Cape Town had its own particular cuisine and I can still taste those marvelous samoosas that have no equal anywhere in the world!

image001 - 2020-06-01T132549.379
Taste Of Tradition. Celebrating Ramadam by ‘sending’ beoka plates around the world.

Tolerance of all faiths was the accepted and unspoken norm – an absolute sine qua non. In my student days, I worked part time at a Claremont dry cleaner with its large Muslim staff many of whom I remember well. There was friendship, harmony and cooperation for we could not see it otherwise!

I note that in your article, you referred to the city of Jaffa as being in Palestine. Your correspondent Basel Agbaria resides in Israel (NOT Palestine) in Jaffa, an historic town close to Tel Aviv that is located next to the sea and has a mixed population of Muslims, Christians and Jews who peacefully co-exist and where iftar is practiced openly and freely.

image002 - 2020-06-01T132859.355
Nasreen Khan shares this boeka meal from Seychelles with her siblings and parents in Ladysmith. (Photo: Nasreen Khan / @msnasreen)

You have intentionally omitted the word Israel and supplanted it with Palestine. There is indeed a Palestinian Authority on the West Bank but it spews out antisemitic hatred and bankrolls terrorists. Bethlehem that once had a thriving Christian majority and mayor, after relinquishment of Israeli control to the Palestinians, has seen its residents emigrate in droves, leaving a rapidly shrinking Christian minority – presently only one eighth of the population. Hamas in the Gaza Strip, with its avowedly Jewish genocidal aims also persecutes Christians, many of whom fear for their lives.

No ‘boeka’ there, I’m afraid!

How unfortunate and tragic that in the Middle East, tolerance has been long swiftly defenestrated and replaced with hatred and persecution. Those days in Walmer Estate, so fondly recalled by Nadia Kamies where all faiths lived side-by-side and come Ramadan, Muslims would share Boeka with their Christian neighbours, here, in the countries bordering Israel (NOT Palestine), are sadly extinct. In Syria, in the ongoing civil war, more than half a million of its citizens – have been slaughtered by their co-religionists. In Iraq, the Sunnis and Shiites share a mutual hatred while the Christians are caught in the middle. Jewish communities in the Middle East that existed long before the advent of Islam, are long gone.  Most of these inhabitants were disenfranchised, expelled or having fled for their lives.

I live in Israel (NOT Palestine), a country of 9,000,000 citizens, a state that is a member of the United Nations and whose blue and white flag, amongst all the other nations, proudly flutters at their New York headquarters, a state whose name appears on any reputable atlas, a sovereign state recognized by the community of enlightened nations. It is also the sole democracy in the Middle East, where Jews, Muslims and other faiths live and work side by side. Israel is an oasis where the freedom of worship is guaranteed by law. A national radio broadcasts for its Muslim listeners, official times of beginning and ending the daily Ramadan fast.

Your blatant disrespect for my country and denial of Israel’s existence and its centrality to our faith is an insult to the Jewish people and their religion and makes a mockery of your so-called respect for all faiths.

How sad that your professed aim of bringing people together is marred by bigotry and bias and how hollow your words of creating “community and solidarity… among people of different religions and nationalities” sound.

image003 - 2020-06-01T133316.404
Stuart Coffey shares this Thai pineapple fried rice with a friend in San Diego, US. (Photo: Stuart Coffey / @stucoffey)

I suggest that next time you cook up your site that “is centered around the universal value of sharing food to connect and unite”, that you dispense with the ingredients of hatred and denial and liberally spice it with tolerance and a genuine acceptance of the rights of others and other nations to exist. If so done, dear Ayesha, it would be truly palatable for us all.

With best wishes,

Stephen Schulman,

Israel

 

 

About the writer:

image001 (4).pngStephen Schulman is a graduate of the Jewish socialist Youth Movement Habonim, who immigrated to Israel in 1969 and retired in 2012 after over 40 years of English teaching. He was for many years a senior examiner for the English matriculation and co-authored two English textbooks for the upper grades in high school. Now happily retired, he spends his time between his family, his hobbies and reading to try to catch up on his ignorance.

 

 

 

*Title Picture: The Jaffa clock tower dominates Clock Square, a landmark at the entrance to the Jaffa section of Tel Aviv. Photo by JekLi/Shutterstock.com

LAY OF THE LAND WEEKLY NEWSLETTER – 28 MAY 2020

 

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

Home

https://layoftheland.online

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

Please visit/ join/follow our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LotLSite/

 

Lay Of The Land wishes all its Jewish readers around the world a joyous Chag Sameach over the ‘first fruits’ festival of Shavuot and to our Christian readers, a happy Pentecost.

image004 - 2020-05-28T150449.220

 

The Israel Brief  

What’s happening in Israel today?  See this week’s daily ‘The Israel Brief’ broadcasts on LOTL  YouTube by seasoned TV & radio broadcaster, Rolene Marks familiar to Chai FM listeners in South Africa and millions of American listeners to the News/Talk/Sports radio station WINA broadcasting out of Charlottesville, Virginia.

You can subscribe to LOTL news from Israel and enjoy at a time of your convenience.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/05/27/the-israel-brief-25-28-may-2020/

 

Articles

(1)

Clash Of Cultures To Cultural Understandings

Ultra-Orthodox Bnei Brak Meets Unorthodox Aviv Gefen

By David E. Kaplan

image008 (63)
Rebel With A Cause. A powerful voice of his generation, activist Geffen uses his music to inspire and influence.

After dedicating a song to Bnei Brak residents who had been attacked in the media over Corona, Israel’s iconic secularist singer, songwriter and composer was surprised to find his phone flooded with heartfelt messages from the ultra-religious. In a tearful interview on Israel’s Channel 12, Gefen unburdens himself revealing new insights about love, life and people.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/05/27/clash-of-cultures-to-cultural-understandings/

 

(2)

Another “Brick” in the Wall

By Rolene Marks

image009 (52)
Fading Star. “Wish You Were Here” star is finding himself ‘wishing he wasn’t here’ by former friends and collogues.

Former Pink Floyd band member Roger Waters is today more ‘famous’ for his delirious dressing gown rants against Israel than his music. No wonder Pink Floyd are “socially distancing” themselves from its cofounder who is increasingly finding himself an outcast in the music industry.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/05/26/another-brick-in-the-wall/

 

(3)

Double Exposure – BDS & Barghouti

Where BDS Activism Goes, Antisemitism Is Sure To Follow

By Rodney Mazinter

image010 (47)
Writing Is On The Wall. Israeli flag covered in red to invoke blood adorns steps of the main building at UCT in Cape Town.

The writer unveils the falsehoods and hypocrisy of both the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) and its co-founder Omar Barghouti, warning governments and NGOs that beneath the veneer of human rights for Palestinians, lurks the ugly truth of violence against Jews and the State of Israel.

https://layoftheland.online/2020/05/24/double-exposure-bds-barghouti/

 

image005 - 2020-05-28T152456.701

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

Clash Of Cultures To Cultural Understandings

Ultra-Orthodox Bnei Brak Meets Unorthodox Aviv Geffen

By David E. Kaplan

Addressing the plight to the entertainment industry caused by Corona, Israeli filmmaker Avi Nesher (“The Other Story,” “Past Life”) asserts:

Culture is not a luxury, but a global strategic asset.”

How true it has been revealed during these months of Covid-19.  People may have been physically ‘confined’ but not their minds – nor their senses. And this is partly thanks to our entertaining artists who have been finding ways to entertain us in our living rooms; as if we were sitting amongst a live audience in an auditorium, open air park or amphitheatre.

Aviv Geffen in an acoustic performance – Shuni Amphitheater – 07 April 2020

For some, it has also brought new understanding on issues of what is important in life and understanding the “other”!

In a touching and at times emotional interview with Dana Weiss on Israel’s Channel 12, Israeli rock musician, singer, songwriter, producer, keyboardist, guitarist and proudly secular, Aviv Geffen, laid himself bare before the Israeli public.

image002 - 2020-05-27T153806.444
Face The Music. Seen here at the EMI, the Israel Artists Association, lifetime achievement awards ceremony in 2016, Israeli singer Aviv Geffen has never shied away from taking on the establishment. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

To the question as what lessons Corona taught him, the artist responded with new-found humility that “I was a pig! I always went for the label or brand, whether to buy the tomato from Spain or the Louis Vuitton bag; it was disgusting, and then came the Corona and said, “Friends here I am, good night and goodbye”.”

“So that’s it;  you are ready to discard all that was so important to you?”  asks a surprised Dana.

Yes,” answers Aviv. “I have outside a luxury car that I stupidly bought; I’ll also sell it because it completely embarrasses me now”.

“What,  suddenly everything was foolish, and your life is all about vanity?”

The brands yes; I think the world has positively opened its eyes.”

For Geffen, yesterdays prized possessions are today irrelevant. This has been the first lesson of Corona. More were to be revealed.

image008 (62)
Rebel With A Cause. Geffen hit the Israeli scene in 1990 and became known for Goth-like makeup, a Mick Jagger-like snarl and being an outspoken peace activist.

Geffen then relates about performing ALONE at the old amphitheatre in Shuni near Binyamina. Yes, it was a LIVE performance but there was no audience, at least not in front of him. His audience were all at home watching on TV. They could see him; he could not see them!

I had not prepared what I would say,” he told Weiss, and then the thought came to him about what was most dominating the news – the ultra-religious community in Israel; how they were suffering more than most with Corona. How they were experiencing the most cases diagnosed and the most deaths and then being blamed because of their beliefs. As if they deserved it!

The media was full of it; being battered by the disease and then by the media. The worse hit of the ultra-orthodox communities were the citizens of Bnei Brak who had been “fenced off” like in a “ghetto” with roadblocks at all entrance points.

image007 (77)
Under Scrutiny. An Israeli police officer speaks to a strictly Orthodox student in Bnei Brak. Not since Corona has the lifestyle of the ultra-Orthodox in Israel come under such scrutiny in the media. (Photo: JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Suffering And Stigmatised

These were the thoughts that percolated in the rock musician’s mind between performing his numbers when he appealed, to let them be; to leave them alone. Suffering enough, they did not need to be subjected to public ridicule and rebuke.

Explaining to interviewer Dana Weiss:

I said, “leave Bnei Brak alone. They are not guilty; they believe in God; I believe in Google.”

Laying bare the cultural chasm, Geffen might have thought that was the end of the matter until he finished the show. Suddenly:

 “I leave the stage and I see on my telephone, without exaggeration, 420 messages. I start opening them, scrolling, and learn that someone had given my number to all of Bnei Brak. And I cried. I could not leave the empty amphitheatre. The love, the division in the nation, suddenly everything came together. The love I received came from people I had denigrated since I was nineteen and now responded with love and tears. ‘Thank you so much Aviv for thinking of us,’ I read.” I was sitting on the stairs, the amphitheatre was empty, and I was reading the messages and crying. At four in the morning, the theatre staff got me up and told me: ‘Go home.'”

Relating this in the studio, Aviv again breaks into tears, soliciting from the interviewer:

“Wait a minute; you cried why? Because you feel guilty of what you once thought of this community or about the sudden love you discovered from them? Do you really know why you cried and why you are crying again?”

Clash Of Cultures To Cultural Understandings3
Up Close And Personal. A tearful Aviv Geffen relates in interview on Channel 12 how moved he was to the online personal messages he received from the ultra-Orthodox citizens of Bnei Brak.

Aviv does not hide the fact that artists by nature are egoists. They feed off the audience; they need that reassurance, that affirmation. However, all this is denied by Corona because there is no real audience only a virtual one. “And then suddenly, I receive these hundreds of messages from Bnei Brak” that were genuinely moved by his words and  the song  Kotzim (‘Thorns’) that he had dedicated to the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel. (See the words in English at the end of the article).

Trying to make sense of it all to the bewildered interviewer, Geffen continues:

 “I cried because of all those years we learned how to hate the other – the religious and the secular. ‘He’s religious, he’s secular.’ I, too, was a soldier in this game. Suddenly I saw the other. You ask: So how did the corona change me? Just like this: I learned to respect. A flame of love, simply amazing, was lit. I cannot even describe it in words, only in tears.”

Still not completely satisfied with this answer, Dana Weiss persists in her enquiry:

So what! Are you thinking that your attitude back then about the ultra-Orthodox was a crime or a sin? Is this what brought on the tears?”

Geffen answers emphatically and an admission:

No, not at all. It was because for the first time I saw them.”

Hope For The Future

Aviv Geffen’s next appearance would again be before a live audience but this time not in front of their TV’s but on Tel Aviv beachfront at the Charles Clore Park. The concert on the 21st May was the biggest gathering since the Corona virus struck Israel.

Most appropriate for Corona, Geffen broke into “The Hope Song” an iconic hit he wrote following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that is often compared as Israeli version of John Lennon’s “Imagine”.

Let’s go dream,
Without race and nationality.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is.

We’ll bury the guns,
And not the children.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is.

Let’s go dream,
Without race and nationality.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is.

We’ll bury the guns,
And not the children.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is.

We will conquer peace,
And not the territories.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is.

To eternal freedom,
To my children.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is …

Until it is …

(The Hope song- Aviv Geffen & Shahin Najafi – 06:30min)

Geffen’s peace hymn was all the more powerful and poignant; when partnering him on-stage before an audience of 6000 was exiled Iranian artist Shahin Najafi. What is more, they sang in Farsi – the language of Israel’s archenemy Iran  – and in Hebrew.

image001 - 2020-05-27T154501.256
Language Of Love. Iranian Shahin Najafi (right), and Israeli Aviv Geffen (left) rehearse in Tel Aviv. Geffen and Najafi say their Hebrew-Farsi fusion offers hope in a volatile region. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

The pair showed that despite the bitter enmity between their countries, ordinary people can find common ground.

From the ultra-Orthodox to Iran, Corona was providing a platform for revealing “common ground” and giving credence to Avi Nesher’s astute assertion that:

Culture is not a luxury, but a global strategic asset

Thorns -קוצים (Kotzim)

(English translation)

Thorns are all that is left of me

The flowers you have given me have died by now

Ways I have walked in

I am now retracing my steps

After not finding that which I have searched for

Everyone can dream

Paper boats in water

I just wanted to sail as far as I could

I am a man from nowhere

Just searching for a reason to breathe

Look, I have built us a house

When he was born I gave all that I didn’t have

Thorns, forcefully reminding

Not granting me forgiveness

Cutting through us and not letting go

https://lyricstranslate.com/en/kotzim-thorns.html-0

 

The Israel Brief- 25-27 May 2020

 

The Israel Brief -25 May 2020 – COVID update – no new fatalities! Bibi on trial and Israel to explore Neptune?

 

 

 

The Israel Brief -26 May 2020 – COVID update – more holy sites open. Israeli Minister asks Twitter to block Khameini and Palestinian soccer star booted for playing for Israel.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief -27 May 2020 – Covid affecting Israel’s economy. Malka Leifer fit to be extradited. Iran bans Israeli goods and technology.

 

 

 

 

Another “Brick” in the Wall

By Rolene Marks

I am a huge Pink Floyd fan.  I join millions around the world in enjoying their profound if not psychedelic lyrics and splendid guitar riffs. Pink Floyd is the stuff of classic rock legend!

Over the last couple of years, the band has become less known for its music; and more for the bizarre and hate filled rantings of its former bass player, Roger Waters (76).

image002 - 2020-05-26T170411.778
Troubled Waters. Alienated by his former Pink Floyd bandmates, Roger Waters may soon be ‘water’ under the bridge. (REUTERS)

The rocker has found an obsession – he is poster erm….man for BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions), a global “movement” who state their goal as the destruction of the state of Israel, through boycotts and isolation. This is at the expense of other global conflicts where they stay mysteriously silent.

Waters waxes lyrical (pun intended because is quite partial to a good ol’song!) about how “Nazi-like” Israel is, how other artists should boycott the Jewish state, a plea that is met with stony silence – and more than a little eye rolling. He also rabbits on about what a pariah state Israel is and has used stereotypical antisemitic imagery such as the pig balloon he floats at his concerts with a Magen David (Star of David) on it with dollar signs. He conveniently has steered clear of criticizing the Syrian regime for the wholesale slaughter of civilians or Russia’s Putin for the country’s treatment of the Ukraine.

image005 - 2020-05-26T170804.214
Emblazoning Antisemitism. A pig balloon with a ‘Star of David” on the head at a Roger Waters concert.

He has also parlayed his “talents” for film. In 2019, Israel hosted the annual musical cheese fest, Eurovision as a result of winning the competition the previous year. A pro-BDS group in Switzerland produced a petition calling for it to be boycotted. Water’s good friend and founder of BDS, Omar Barghouti, he who magnificently has managed to successfully boycott Israel while having studied at Tel Aviv University forwarded him the petition (probably while using Israeli technology).  This naturally prompted the unhinged rocker to don his best fleece dressing gown and take to Twitter for a rant.

Another Brick in the Wall3Scratching his face and staring at the camera, Waters declares that Barghouti’s email reminded him of “three choice ‘Fs,’” the first being “Film.” “There’s the film, and that film was the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Eurovision reminds me of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, because it seems it may have been taken over by, um, I believe it was aliens. I know, it’s giving aliens a bad name, but at the end of the movie, Donald Sutherland points at somebody like this” – Here, Waters points at the camera while making a silent scream face – “The body-snatchers are doing that now, but normally what they’re going is, ‘antisemite!’” Waters yells.

Waters’s “second F” is “Fable,” and he proceeds to parody The Emperor’s New Clothes. “Mommy, mommy, why is the emperor of Israel parading his Ethno-supremacist bullshit around naked?’ Enough with Netanyahu-hu-hu.”

The “third and final F” is “Faith.” As he taps his exposed chest, Waters declares Barghouti’s message restores “faith in my fellow human beings, faith in their capacity for love and empathy,” because “136,000 of our Swiss brothers and sisters have signed and delivered a petition demanding that the Eurovision pull out of the finals in Tel Aviv.”

Needless to say, the 2019 Eurovision in Tel Aviv was a massive success (barring a rather dodgy performance by Madonna) and introduced millions around the world to the vibrant, multicultural, robust democracy that is Israel – albeit with a side of disco cheese!

image001 - 2020-05-26T170628.801No wonder his former bandmates have decided to social distance themselves from him – permanently.

Imagine my glee when it was announced recently that the rockers had employed their own BDS campaign against former fellow bandmate and bassist, Roger Waters.  The band declared him persona non grata on ALL social media. Lead guitarist and vocalist, David Gilmour, declared him “irrelevant” and declared that Waters’ solo endeavours must not be mentioned. Ouch!

Waters has proven himself to be comfortably dumb over the last decade or so with his absolute obsession with Israel.  Perhaps his former bandmates are fatigued and their answer has been clear – wish you weren’t here…..

And so he isn’t.

Pursuing his new solo career as whiner par excellence, Waters latest musical offering about “from the river to the sea we will take back the land” is less lyrical anthem the likes of “Shine on you Crazy Diamond” or “Learning to Fly” but is sure to be a hit amongst the grossest anti-Semites and haters that lurk on the internet. He premiered his anthem for hate at a Naqba day event hosted online. With Coronavirus lockdowns putting the kibosh on marches and gatherings, these events have found oxygen online. Clearly, he has been spending his time in lockdown looking for more ways to spread hatred than to contribute something positive to a world currently in crisis.

The jig is up for Israel’s arch boycotter. Nobody is interested. There are more important things to be concerned about than an ageing rock star in a shabby dressing gown.

I remain a huge fan of Pink Floyd and delighted that Israel has and continues to welcome major acts like Jennifer Lopez, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and many, many others. Roger Waters will sadly go down in musical history as a disgraced bassist and just another pr*** in the wall of haters.

Double Exposure – BDS & Barghouti

Where BDS Activism Goes, Antisemitism Is Sure To Follow

By Rodney Mazinter

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement aims to delegitimize the Jewish state whilst holding it to different standards from the rest of the world.

Whilst it presents itself as a non-violent movement to support Palestinian rights, for its founders and leaders, it is a tool to end the State of Israel. Each year during Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) – a week dedicated to anti-Israel activity on campuses around the world – BDS seeks out Israel’s destruction while trying to con the public into thinking they stand up for human rights. This year, students were spared this infliction by Covid-19, probably the only positive contribution of the pandemic.

image003 - 2020-05-24T212634.398
The Writing Is On The Wall. The enormous Israeli flag adorned the steps of the University of Cape Town’s main building at IAW in 2018 was covered in red to invoke blood. Reading “Apartheid State, blood is on your hands”, it was one of many intimidation tactics that Jewish students across campuses in South Africa had to face. At Wits University in Johannesburg, slogans like “F*** Zionism,” “F*** Israel,” “Israel is anti-Black” and “Zionism is Racism,” were spray-painted throughout the campus.

What truly then does BDS “stand up” for? While you can view its list of demands on https://bdsmovement.net/call, in essence however, they state that they will maintain a boycott of Israel until it grants   the “right of return” to all Palestinian refugees i.e. the end of Israel.

BDS cofounder, Omar Barghouti, explains the true implications of his organisation’s “right of return” demand:

“If the refugees were to return, you would NOT have a two-state solution. Like one Palestinian commentator said, ‘You would have a Palestine next to a Palestine, rather than a Palestine next to Israel’.”

image002 - 2020-05-24T212827.344
Man Of His Word. Look no further than the words BDS cofounder Omar Barghouti to reveal the truth behind the facade of falsehood.

To put it more plainly, if the Palestinian refugees and millions of their descendants were to return to the homes they left in 1948 — a right afforded to no other misplaced population including Jews from North Africa and the Middle East, and certainly not to their descendants — there would be no Israel, no Jewish state, no Jewish self-determination.

Mr. Barghouti – and the BDS leadership – do not believe in the right of the Jewish people to possess a sovereign state in any part of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The global BDS movement — through both its aims and tactics — is directly opposed to a truly just and peaceful resolution. After every one of the five major wars, all started and then lost by the Arabs/Palestinians, Israel was prepared to negotiate peace and borders, but the Palestinians rejected all overtures. Whenever ceasefires were implemented, the Palestinians adhered to them merely as a pretext to rearm and prepare themselves for the next round of their never-ending conflict.

Every March, BDS launches its infamous IAW (Israel Apartheid Week) on university campuses around the world. “IAW” climaxes year-long activity on campuses during which BDS and their supporters promote an anti-Israel, antisemitic and anti-Zionist agenda that calls for a widespread boycott of Israel. Its antisemitic roots and rhetoric should worry all democratic communities .

BDS produces regular anti-Israel content, including published letters, articles, pamphlets and social media campaigns all flawed by inaccurate, unverified, and false reporting. Treating Israel worse than North Korea, Iran, and Syria, the anti-Israel lobby refrains from offering fair or balanced comment. Its pronouncements calling for Israel’s “compliance with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights” undermines its credibility because of its own lack of expectation of compliance from the above countries and others; whose human rights record is atrocious. The absolute bias of BDS against Israel is revealed by ignoring the world’s most pressing issues of human rights.

SYRIA-CONFLICT
Selective Morality. Palestinian area at the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria in 2018 after heavy bombardment attracts no interest from BDS because the perpetrators of their plight are not Jewish or Israeli. (Photo by Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty Images)

BDS is an organisation peopled by anti-Israel and anti-Jewish demagogues who can have no role in any solution to the Israel/Palestinian situation.

The concept of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel is not new. Prior to the establishment of BDS, Israel had to fight for its place in the global economy whilst being boycotted by the world’s Arab nations. Failing in its efforts to harm Israel’s robust export-orientated economy, BDS resorts to  a despicable level of offensive and abusive invective.

For those who need reminding, Israel is founded on a slate of Jewish values:

  • Dignity of the human person
  • Sanctity of human life
  • Education as a human right
  • World peace as an ideal
  • Justice for all
  • Social responsibility

On this basis, Israel has been able to establish a thriving economy, join leading intergovernmental economic organisations such as the OECD, and has become one of the world’s innovators in Hi-Tech, Bio-Tech, medical advances and Security.

Where BDS activism goes, antisemitism follows. There has been a disconcerting increase in antisemitic incidents on South African university campuses where BDS is most active. Reported incidents include harassment and antisemitic vandalism. Just a year ago, UCT(University of Cape Town) witnessed vandalism that saw a stolen Israeli flag being defaced during “Israel Apartheid Week”. These actions violate the South African Constitution’s laws against propagating hatred.

image010 (46)
Face Of Evil. This is what greeted Jewish students entering UCT’s main hall. Is this not intimidation of the worst and most dangerous kind?

The emerging picture is worrying. Besides BDS’s antisemitic strategy to delegitimise the only Jewish state and to hold it to different standards to the rest of the world, the movement hides behind its argument that it is not antisemitic but “anti-Zionist”, all the while seeking to blur the distinction between the two concepts. It ignores the Jewish right to self-determination whilst promoting its distorted definition of Zionism as a “colonialist” policy that seeks to “take over control of land and resources and forcibly remove Palestinians and engages in ‘ethnic cleansing’.”

Even worse, it rewrites any manifestation of Jewish identity that does not fit its propaganda; and aligns Jews with the old colonialist powers and the former South African apartheid regime. I was personally exposed to this at a panel discussion I attended on Israel in 2016 at  the University of Cape Town (UCT).

image007 (76)
South African Graffiti. ‘Writing on the wall’ as images of Hitler and swastikas were posted on pillars at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Match 18, 2015 (photo credit: SAUJS Cape Town)

It was shocking, even worse it was frightening!

With anti-Israel activists in the panel like anti-war activist and author Terry Crawford-Browne and former Minister for Intelligence services Ronnie Kasrils, the discussion was not so much about Israel as against Israel. Typical falsehood fare from the panellists included:

– “Israel was established by colonialist Jews who destroyed the existing Palestinian state

and

– “Innocent Palestinians were being murdered by the IDF”.

image011 (39)
Trying To Pull The Wool Over The People’s Eyes. Fiery BDS advocate Terry Crawford-Browne leading a failed protest against retail giant ‘Woolworths’ for trading with Israel on September 21 2015 in Cape Town, South Africa.

I raised my hand to speak but was ignored by the transparently prejudiced moderator and then when a young  woman student in the audience – probably unknown – was recognised and manage to bravely rebut some of the outrageous allegations from the panelists, she was met with rousing audience hostility and scorn. It was intimidating. The climate of hatred and antisemitism disguised as anti-Zionism at the gathering was not something I had personally experienced before in South Africa. Sadly, this type of behaviour is commonplace on campuses around the world.

The hosting of such on-campus activities dangerously conveys the message that acting violently towards innocent people with a different perspective is justifiable and acceptable. In effect it compromises other students’ security. This manifestation of lies and distortions appears also in our daily media posing a danger to any student in South Africa; by inciting others to cause bodily harm or damage to property.

Since the 2005 call by Palestinian civil society for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei recently took it to a new level when he urged the Muslim World to boycott anything and everything that originates with the Jewish people.

Barghouti ignores the generally accepted truth that while criticism of any country in the world is legitimate, BDS criticism of Israel is foundationally and fundamentally antisemitic.

True Colours

As the truth about the Middle East conflict filters through, and BDS’ carefully crafted façade is exposed, its true antisemitic character is revealed.

A case in point is that of Norman Finkelstein, one of BDS’s poster boys, whom the organisation brought to South Africa to bolster its campaign against Israel. In an interview at London’s Imperial College with Frank Barat in March 2012, Finkelstein, while still critical of Israel, was at least honest enough to reveal the true intentions of BDS behind its disingenuous crafted façade with this statement that totally took the BDS-supporting interviewer by surprise:

BDS is nothing more than a cult…. The problem with these solidarity movements is that they are a mirror image of the so-called Palestinian Authority, whose means will never achieve their goal, which is the destruction of Israel.  Step out of your little cult, your little ghetto, and you enter the real world. I’m not going to lie, you don’t want to enforce the law, you want to destroy Israel. That you focus on Israel’s minorities and not the plight of the 10-million other minorities throughout the Middle East and elsewhere is an indication of what hypocrites you are. Israel has a case and I am tired after so many years having to consider and answer these lies.”

image001 - 2020-05-24T211401.280
Berating BDS. Infamous for his anti-Israel activities and his book on the “Holocaust Industry”, Norman Finkelstein caused quite a stir in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement when he went off script in an interview leaving the BDS supporting interviewer speechless.

Over time – by its own actions and words, the true colours of the BDS movement as a hate-filled organisation peddling in lies and distortions to further its ends is being revealed. That desired “end” is the end of Israel.

This might explain the growing number of once BDS supporters seeing through its subterfuge and disowning the organisation’s destructive message.

 

About the author

image012 (2)RODNEY MAZINTER. Rodney is a Cape Town based writer, poet and author, who is involved in media activism on behalf of Israel. Currently vice-chair of the SAZF Cape Council, he has held numerous leadership positions within a range of educational, sporting, secular and Jewish organisations. His novel By A Mighty Hand was favourably reviewed on Amazon.

Presidential ‘Leak’

How Israel’s fortunes can spin on a single call of nature

By David E. Kaplan

Watching on TV the ceremony in the Knesset of the new incoming government accompanied by the rousing heckling by the disgruntled,  many were left with the question:

 “Yes, maybe the leftovers of overripe produce at the shuk (market) but what was the alternative?”

In the midst of a global health and economic crisis, a fourth election was hardly desirable – simply a prelude to another wasteful two billion shekels boring pitstop on the track to then a 5th election.

And then what?

We needed to escape this seemingly endless electoral carousel. It reminded me of that song in my youth by The Kingston Trio called “The man who never returned” – about a man buying the wrong ticket and stuck forever on a Boston train  – hence never to return.

image001 - 2020-05-20T164437.555

Feeling imprisoned in a Corona lockdown, Israelis were worn-down waiting for a leadership to “RETURN” the country to some semblance of normalcy.

Budgets need to be passed and monies allocated to move the country forward.

People nevertheless will ask, what if neither Bibi nor Benny  – the revolving PMs – had said NO!

“What If?” is always a fascinating question in wondering how differently things might pan out!

Thinking to past pivotal, some even apocalyptic, moments in Israel’s history, we can ask:

What if  Rommel’s African Corp had not lost the Battle of El Alamein in 1942, leaving the German Wehrmacht free to steamroll northwards to Palestine?

What if Prime Minister David Ben Gurion had not demanded the unification of ideologically diverse Jewish armed forces during the War of Independence to forge a national army?

What if Commander of the Irgun Zva-i Leumi (Etzel) Menachem Begin had not said the words, “Do not shoot back”, when the Irgun cargo ship,  the Altelena came under attack off the coast of Tel Aviv?

What if Israel had not taken out the Egyptian Air Force in the opening round of the Six Day War?

What if Prime Minister Menachem Begin had not embraced the peace process with Anwar Sadat of Egypt or authorized the surprise bombing of the nuclear facility in Iraq in 1982?

To this list we can add another “What If?” – an act so insignificant at the time of its commission but over time monumentally consequential!

“Barbeque Diplomacy”

It is generally agreed that the bedrock of Israel’s foreign policy to this day has been its unshakable relationship with the United States and its dependence on it supplying sophisticated weaponry to retain its qualitative edge. This was achieved at a meeting between Israel’s Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol and the US President, Lyndon Baines Johnson. The meeting was of existential importance, particularly so following France – Israel’s longtime backer – suddenly imposing an embargo on the very eve of the 1967 Six Day War.

image002 - 2020-05-20T164741.659
Forging Ties. Deep in intense discussion, Prime Minister Eshkol and President Johnson on the president’s Texas ranch.

I recall in my interview in Jerusalem with the late Yehuda Avner who had been the advisor to Levi Eshkol and accompanied him on his trip and meeting with “with the beefy, vigorous six-foot-three, President Lyndon B. Johnson”.  The meeting took place at the President’s Texas ranch, where Johnson liked to entertain heads of governments in what he dubbed, “Barbeque Diplomacy” because it enabled him in a relaxed country atmosphere; to get a measure of people that could never happen in Washington.

“After an exchange of “Howdy’s”,” recalled Avner, the President said he wanted to show us around his ranch and so, taking over the driver’s seat of his station wagon from a brawny fellow in a ten-gallon Stetson, he told us to hop in.” The Prime Minister, “portly, mild-mannered, stooped, bespectacled and balding with a wise, family-friend countenance,” sat in front with LBJ. while Avner squeezed into the back with two others in the Israeli delegation.

A5387
Genesis Of Understanding. A relieved and thankful Levi Eshkol (left) following the critical meeting with President Lyndon Johnson at LBJ’s Texas ranch in January 1968.

“The president drove at high speed across white-fenced fields and gunned the vehicle down dirt tracks, causing all to bounce crazily about. As we approached a pasture, a cluster of cows bolted in alarm, leaving one cow that stubbornly refused to budge.

“That’s Daisy,” LBJ roared with laughter. “She’s as pigheaded as a Texan senator with colic.”

Presidential ‘Leak’2
Who Is Kow’towing. An amused LBJ trying to boss “Daisy.”

Holding firmly onto his homburg for fear it might fly off, Eshkol turned round to us in the back and with a bewildered expression asked in Yiddish: “Vus rett der goy?” –  “What’s the goy talking about?”

The meeting that followed was tough, with the Americans taking the position that “by providing Israel with arms; this would only escalate an arms race during a time when America was embroiled in an unpopular war in Vietnam. After two days of talk, Eshkol finally won the day when President Johnson indicated that Israel would receive the aircraft, and a deeply relieved Prime Minister responded:

 “Thank you, Mr. President. I thank you from the heart.”

Lyndon B. Johnson kept his word. Historically, a profound change in the relationship between Jerusalem and Washington was set in motion. America threw in its strategic lot with Israel, so that, henceforth, it would become Israel’s main source of sophisticated weaponry.

“This strategic alliance, for all its ups and downs,” said Yehuda, “endures as a bedrock of U.S. bipartisan support, for not only does it enable Israel to retain a qualitative edge in the face of extraordinary odds, it is the indispensable key to any process of peace in the future.”

Eshkol’s dogged determination showed he could stand tall alongside the defiant personality the likes of a cow named “Daisy!”

Presidential ‘Leak’3
Taking The Bull By The Horns. Tackling issues directly and with confidence, LBJ on his Texan ranch.

All this however would not have happened, had LBJ not decided at a precise moment in 1942 to relieve himself at an airbase toilet.

Already in the Naval Reserve since January 1940, Johnson had been a 33-year-old Representative from Texas when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour on Dec. 7, 1941.  Then, on the 9th June 1942, Lieutenant Commander Johnson boarded a plane called the Wabash Cannonball for a mission in the South Pacific. While the Wabash Cannonball was on a bombing mission, Johnson’s participation was as an observer to inspect and report back to President Roosevelt; of Japanese troop movements over New Guinea. No sooner had he boarded the B-26, nature called. Toying with the decision to “hold it in” or go to the toilet and catch the next bomber, he chose the latter and alighted from the plane. After relieving himself, he then joined the crew of another bomber, the Heckling Hare, that was crippled in the middle of its mission by a failed electrical generator, and then had to struggle back to base under enemy fire.

image007 (75)
Date With Destiny. A luckily timed bathroom break during WWII saved LBJ’s life and secured Israel’s security.

LBJ was lucky. The  Wabash Cannonball was hit by enemy fire and crashed with a total loss of life.

To the list of Israel’s “What Ifs?”, one can add:

Where would Israel’s relationship be today with regard to the US, had a young Lyndon B. Johnson not had the desperate need to take a pee!

 

 

* Title Picture: A bathroom in the White House and Lyndon B. Johnson. US National Archives/Mike Nudelman/Business Insider