5 EU COUNTRIES THAT SHOULDN’T BE THROWING STONES

Accusing Russia of rewriting the Holocaust for its current propaganda is fair – but not when you’ve always whitewashed the Holocaust for your own purposes

By Dr. Efraim Zuroff

(First appeared in The Times of Israel)

Several days ago, I was shocked to learn that five heads of state from Lithuania, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, and Poland, all post-Communist Eastern European countries, had recently beseeched the leaders of the European Union to step up efforts to “preserve historical memory.” It was addressed to the European Council president, European Commission president, and the Czech prime minister, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

Participating in Ponary. Lithuanian collaborators guard Jews before their execution at Ponary, Lithuania, June–July, 1941.YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York

For the past three decades since their transition to democracy, these countries have excelled in grossly distorting their own respective histories of the Holocaust. Yet the quintet of leaders now maintains that the Kremlin “is seeking to rewrite history and use it to justify its aggression against sovereign states.” Thus, they urge the bodies of the EU to take a leadership role in “preserving historical memory and preventing the Russian regime from manipulating historical facts.” They contend that this concern “is particularly relevant in light of Russia’s intensive use of history for propaganda purposes in the context of the war in Ukraine.”

These heads of state know how to deal with this problem of rewriting history. They recommend the following four steps as the means of taking corrective measures:

  • the promotion of “European Remembrance narratives across the whole EU” through national educational programs;
  • providing adequate political and financial support to the Prague-based Platform of European Memory and conscience;
  • completing the project for a memorial to the victims of totalitarian regimes in Brussels;
  • stepping up the fight against disinformation.

Romania’s ‘Homegrown’ Holocaust. In the final days of 1941, Romanian authorities massacred 40,000 Jews in a chapter of the genocide in which 420,000 Jews were killed in ‘broad daylight’ with collaborators’ help.

These steps constitute a renewed effort to establish a false historical narrative as the “accurate/universally accepted” narrative of World War II and the Holocaust. Particularly ironic, coming from these five countries, is their statement: “Without an accurate, honest, and comprehensive assessment of the past, we will not be able to effectively prevent future crimes on our continent or investigate the current ones in Ukraine.”

Butchery in Bucharest. The Bucharest pogrom of January 23, 1941 was initiated by Romania’s Iron Guard who modeled itself on the Brown-shirts in Germany. Living up to its promise to defeat “Rabbinical aggression against the Christian world”,  the Romanian pogrom lasted for three days during which Torah scrolls in synagogues were desecrated and 127 Jews were murdered. (Public domain)

Each of these countries has produced its own false narrative of the events of the Shoah, either extremely minimizing or completely erasing the highly significant role played by their own local Nazi collaborators. It must be noted that only in Eastern Europe did collaboration with the Nazis include participation in the systematic mass murder of Jews. None of them is ready to admit the full scope and significance of their complicity and culpability.

There is, of course, no doubt that the Russians are manipulating history to justify the invasion of Ukraine. Nevertheless, a plea by these leaders to “preserve historical memory,” is the height of hypocrisy and chutzpah. Before making demands on the EU, let them begin to practice what they preach at home.

Estonian Complicity in Mass Murder . An execution site where members of Einsatzgruppe A and Estonian collaborators carried out a mass execution of Jews in September 1941. Kalevi-Liiva, Estonia, after September 1944. (DIZ Muenchen GMBH, Sueddeutscher Verlag Bilderdienst)

With the exception of one case in Poland, not a single Holocaust perpetrator has been convicted and punished in any of these countries since independence. They are reluctant to return Jewish property and compensate survivors. In short, they have totally failed to confront their crimes, and have failed in every aspect of dealing with the Shoah.

Unsettling Denialism in Poland’s ‘National Remembrance’ Law.  German Order Police assisted by the Blue Police (Polish police during WWII)  at Kraków in 1941. Wikicommons/ Bundesarchiv.

Indeed, in the Baltic countries, they have glorified anti-Communist fighters, even if they were Holocaust perpetrators. These figures include active participants in the murders of Jews, such as Lithuanians Jonas Noreika and Juozas Krikstaponis and Latvians Herberts Cukurs, Voldemar Veiss and Vilis Tunkelis, among numerous others. They continue to promote the canard of equivalence between Communist and Nazi crimes.

Killers on the Coast. Members of Latvian self-defense unit assemble a group of Jewish women for execution on a beach near Liepāja, 15 December 1941.

Brussels should therefore put pressure on these countries to begin telling and teaching the truth about the Holocaust and the role played by local collaborators in their own countries, instead of complying with the requests in the letter of the quintet.

The Jewish people have two foundational narratives about our history in the 20th century: the Zionist narrative of our return to Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel, and the chronicle of the Holocaust. When the Palestinians deny the former, we respond strongly, but Israel has failed to respond forcefully to the Eastern European distortions regarding the Holocaust that have been on offer ever since these countries obtained independence. The letter of the quintet should be a wake-up call for Israel as well.


We were Friends, I thought” – until they turned into our murderers (To watch – click on the PIcture or the caption).




About the writer:

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).

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter- 14 August 2022

Unveiling the contours and contrasts of an ever-changing Middle East landscape Reliable reportage and insightful commentary on the Middle East by seasoned journalists from the region and beyond

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

(*Listen to Rolene Marks discusses this week “Operation Breaking Dawn” on WINA/The Schilling Show)

THE ISRAEL BRIEF

(Click on the blue title)



Articles

(1)

UNhealthy OBSESSION

The United Nations seems to be unable to loosen its grip on anti-Israel obsession

By Rolene Marks

Panel of Prejudice. All three UN commissioners – Pillay (c), Kothari (r), and Sidoti  (l) – express antisemitic sentiments.  

Entrenched in an endless loop of defaming and delegitimising Israel, the writer questions the UN’s obsessional focus of maligning the Jewish state while ignoring the world’s worst offenders of human rights. Supposedly “dedicated to fighting antisemitism”, why is the universal global organisation its primary promoter?

UNhealthy OBSESSION

(Click on the blue title)



(2)

LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

Considering the past, making the case for the present and for Israel

By David E. Kaplan

Fun in the Sun. Israeli kids – including the writer’s grandchildren – enjoying a summer day in a park near Tel-Aviv

Despite these days of much talked about “global despair”, the writer questions what era in history would be preferable to the present? Man’s response to global problems with Israel in the vanguard makes the world a safer and healthier place.

LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

(Click on the blue title)




(3)

LIVING UNDER FIRE

Israelis coping with barrage after barrage of rockets fired from Gaza

By Rolene Marks

Nights of Nightmares. Anxious Israelis have less than 15 seconds to find shelter from rockets fired from Gaza.

A peaceful Shabbat in Modi’in in central Israel was interrupted by the wails of a sudden siren, sending the writer, her husband and ‘Jack’, their “very disciplined cat” running into the shelter. For 3 days, much of Israel’s southern population were doing the same as Islamic Jihad unleashed 1,100 rockets and mortars into Israel.  Israelis respond with resilience.

LIVING UNDER FIRE

(Click on the blue title)



(4)

FLIGHTPLAN TO FREEDOM

The impact of a Russian Jewish pilot’s plot to hijack a Soviet plane to freedom

By Jonathan Feldstein

‘Mark’ed Man. KGB mug shots of Soviet Jewish pilot and heroic “Breacher of the Iron Curtain”, Mark Dymshits.

How do you judge success? Even though the attempt to steal an unoccupied civilian aircraft on 15 June 1970 by Jewish Soviet pilot Mark Dymshits and a group of sixteen “refuseniks” was unsuccessful, it inspired a generation of Jews to leave the USSR and seek freedom in Israel. The plane may not have taken off, but the movement it inspired, did!

FLIGHTPLAN TO FREEDOM

(Click on the blue title)



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

To unsubscribe, please reply to layotland@kenmar11





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

LIVING UNDER FIRE

By Rolene Marks

(*This article appears in theJewish Report“)

The site of the Iron Dome stood upon a hill in Modiin is both comforting – and yet fills me with dread. Israelis know that when Iron Dome batteries are rolled out across our cities, that we will face the now all too familiar barrages of rockets and mortars, fired by terror entities in the Gaza strip.

Rockets launched from Gaza Strip towards Israel is seen as rocket by Iron Dome anti-missile system is fired to intercept them near Modiin

Last Friday, the IDF launched Operation Breaking Dawn, preemptively striking, with pinpoint precision, Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza strip. Following the arrest of PIJ leader, Bassam al Saadi during counter-terror operations in Jenin in the West Bank, military and security officials had received intelligence that the terror group was planning on launching attacks on Israeli civilians. The IDF moved quickly – shutting down access roads to the Gaza border, locking down communities and shutting off train services between the city of Ashkelon and Sderot, the most bunkered town in the world.

A Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist stands guard during a funeral in Jenin following clashes with Israeli forces, Aug 2, 2022 (Photo: AFP/ Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Israelis waited for the storm that would inevitably follow the tense calm.

The storm started with barrage after barrage of rockets fired at Israel’s southern communities. Over 1 500 000 of us who live within an 80 kilometre radius were advised by the IDF Home Front Command about the dangers of incoming rockets. City after city opened their public shelters and families prepared their personal shelters for any inevitability.

Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system fires to intercept rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, in Ashkelon southern Israel, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The sirens wailed, the booms from Iron Dome interceptions followed and the cycle continued. My peaceful Shabbat reverie was interrupted on Saturday by the wails of our siren, sending my husband and I (and our very disciplined cat) running into the shelter. A boom followed. An explosion was reported just outside the city that left a small crater in the ground. The obligatory “are you guys okay?” What’s App messages soon circulated amongst everyone.

I am not embarrassed to share that sirens scare me. The warning wail of an air raid siren makes me anxious – a feeling shared by many of us. Despite working in the media and being particularly busy during these times of tension, I still feel anxiety and tension.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad would continue to pound our Southern communities but would also fire rockets as far as Tel Aviv, Beer Sheba in the Negev desert and Jerusalem, a city holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. They fired their weapons of destruction towards Jerusalem on Tisha B’Av, a day of fasting, reflection and mourning for our holy Temples that has been destroyed.

More than 1100 projectiles were fired at Israel from Gaza.

At 23h30 on Sunday night, an Egyptian brokered ceasefire had gone into place, ending 66 hours of fighting. The IDF claimed it has achieved all of their aims and it believed PIJ, pressured by Hamas who stayed out of the fray (for a variety of reasons but don’t be fooled into thinking they are going soft!) to accept. By the end of the weekend 1 100 rockets had been fired by PIJ, 47 Israelis injured,  95% of incoming rockets  intercepted by Iron Dome systems (thank G-d for our “Domey’s”) and over 200 misfired rockets falling in the Gaza strip, killing 16 out of 27 civilian casualties. This has been acknowledged by Gaza media as well as PIJ who have offered compensation to the families of the victims. Will they pay from their swollen Iranian-backed coffers?

Living on the frontline are Israel’s southern communities. You couldn’t meet more extraordinary people. I visit the south often, taking groups or individuals to visit our rocket proof WIZO daycare centres and to meet with the staff who work at our centre that helps the people of Sderot and surrounds cope with the profound trauma they have experienced for several decades.

WIZO rocket proof daycare centre in Sderot

The people of Israel’s south are exceptional and a true inspiration. They have a fierce spirit of Zionism and community and are determined not only to stay put and not be chased out of their homes and their towns; but they experience trauma few of us can understand. Over the last two decades, through countless attacks, children have grown up with the all to-familiar sound of “Tseva Adom” (Red Alert) being called out from speakers. Sirens do not wail because that is far too scary for many. There are teenagers who still wet the bed, small children who can recite exactly what they need to do when they hear “Tseva Adom” and parents who feel the strain of helping their children deal with their PTSD while coping with their own.

Just before the Covid pandemic, I had the privilege of leading a WIZO delegation on a visit to the south that included visiting our rocket-proof daycare centres, trauma centre, a terror tunnel with an exit point in the middle of a sunflower farm as well as a visit to Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara, located just metres from the wall that divides Israeli sovereign territory from the beleaguered strip.

The residents have buried several of their own over the years, who have been killed as a result of rocket attacks. It is this kibbutz that in 2014 reported “strange digging noises beneath us”. WIZO evacuated the entire kibbutz, hosting residents in our projects further up north. This past weekend, my heart sank every time I saw the alerts for the incoming rockets and mortars.

The ever-growing Peace Wall Mosaic at Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara. Photo: courtesy

The residents have fought back in the most Israeli way possible. They have started a project called “Path to Peace”. Visitors are encouraged to choose a small tile from the collection made on the kibbutz and place it on the “peace wall” that divides Palestinians and Israelis, in the hope that the message of peace will someday manifest into reality. They have hope. Hope is the greatest weapon against hate. Israelis carry that hope in our hearts. Make no mistake, we will defend ourselves with everything we have but will stubbornly pursue hope with everything we are.  

This resilience is the spirit of the south, it is the character of Israel and it is why try as hard as they might, terrorists will never defeat us. Am Yisrael Chai !

The writer places a tile on the wall of peace between Gaza and Israel in 2020 (Photo: 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).

The Israel Brief- 08-11 August 2022

The Israel Brief – 08 August 2022 – A look back at Operation Breaking Dawn.



The Israel Brief – 09 August 2022 – PM Lapid and DM Gantz address media following Operation Breaking Dawn. Pres.Herzog speaks to Putin. UN Security Council convenes session on Israel and PIJ. Remembering Olivia Newton John and Zili, the counterterror canine.



The Israel Brief – 10 August 2022 – Hamas restrict then rescind Gaza press coverage restrictions. What is going on with. JAFI in Russia? Save a Child’s Heart returns from Chad. Noa Kirel to represent Israel at Eurovision.



The Israel Brief – 11 August 2022 –Oman next to open airspace? UN Envoy visits PIJ leader. Natan Sharansky talks about the JAFI issue. Coldplay rocks with Israeli teen.




08 August 2022 – Rolene Marks discussesOperation Breaking Dawn” on the Schilling show on WINA.






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).

LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

Considering the past, making the case for the present and for Israel

By David E. Kaplan

There is so much talk these days about a mood of despair – how people are feeling despondent, depressed, some writers talk about a feeling of “alienation”. No sooner coming out from the COVID-induced social distancing, we are now saddled with rising fuel costs, global inflation, supply chains being disrupted, a seemingly endless war in Ukraine and an Iran set on playing the world to  dispense with international sanctions while it pursues its nuclear quest “for peaceful purposes”!  And to crown this growing global anxiety, China, that a little over two years ago unleashed on the world – whether from a lab or marketplace –  a pandemic, is now openly threatening to unleash a massive war over Taiwan.

And if the political climate weren’t worrying enough, the physical health of the planet is faring little better than its inhabitants with climate and weather related disasters surging five-fold over 50 years.  Extreme heat, wild fires, droughts, floods, storms  are not the wrath of gods but the common occurrence caused by common man.

Sea’ing is Believing. General view of Israel’s largest desalination plant on the Mediterranean Sea, in Ashdod (Edi Israel /Flash90).

It has a name – ‘Climate Change’ and to meet this challenge we have to change our habits.

Despite this unsettling malaise, I cannot think of another era in history I would swap the present for? In what period of history would I be better protected from ill health or a global pandemic than the present? We have a global pandemic and yet in record time we have life-saving responses.  Yes, we were isolating, and again in record time we had ZOOM that allowed us to socially, intellectually and educationally engage. We live in an age that no matter the monumental problems, we have the talent to come up with rapid solutions. No other age in history comes close…..

Reflecting on the fortunes rather than the misfortunes, I came across  an important but overlooked piece of good news in a recent article by the energy, environment, and science reporter at Vox, Umair Irfan, writing about ‘Climate Change’:

 “Why disasters are getting more severe but killing fewer people”

The writer notes a curious trend in recent years that while many types of natural disasters are causing greater destruction as populations have grown around the world, disasters in general are becoming less deadly. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the number of disasters over the last 50 years has increased fivefold, but the number of deaths has fallen by two-thirds.

This is a huge accomplishment – perhaps one of the biggest success stories in modern history – yet it’s easy to overlook,” he writes. “These immense gains are the result of the steady, incremental work of forecasters, planners, architects, engineers, and policymakers rather than any single innovation. And the main metric is averted losses, something that’s often hard to appreciate and tricky to value.”

In other words, despite the herculean hurdles, man comes up with innovative solutions and as the world ‘heats up’, Israel is in the vanguard playing its part. So while the Jewish state has negligible impact on planetary destruction, it is in the forefront of new projects in clean transportation, energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions and promoting climate-tech innovation.

The Young and the Active. Young Israelis take part in a protest demanding action on climate change, Tel Aviv, April 27, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Sadly however, there has been no sustainable solution for the most ancient of lethal hatreds – antisemitism. One would have expected that after the Shoah (Holocaust) with the systematic mass murder of over six million civilian Jews, 1.5 million of them children, the world would have come to terms with living with their Jewish neighbours instead of always trying to eradicate them!

The day for such a cerebral “climate change” has not yet dawned!

Moving on from the mass-murder of individual Jews, the malignant virus has morphed in deviously trying to destroy the hard-fought country of the Jews – Israel.

That’s not going to happen – NEVER! Israel today stands as the ‘solution’ to global Jewish survival and security.

So while theoretically I would not – for existential reasons –  have chosen any other era to have lived, I would equally not have chosen any country other than Israel to live in.

Fun in the Sun. Israeli kids – including the writer’s grandchildren – enjoying a summer day in a park near Tel-Aviv. (Photo D.E. Kaplan).

I’m reinforced in that thought as I watch the “MUNCHKINS” – an endearing reference to my grandchildren – in a bustling Israeli playpark. I hear between the Hebrew, smatterings from the watchfull parents and grandparents of English, French, Russian and Spanish – and I think without a shadow of doubt that those probably around me share my thought:

“RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME”





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).

UNhealthy OBSESSION

The United Nations seems to be unable to loosen its grip on anti-Israel obsession

By Rolene Marks

The mere mention of two words is guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of Jews around the world. United Nations.

The United Nations was founded in1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

In recent years, the once venerated institution has become a mockery of its original mandate. The United Nations, created to honour and protect the sanctity of human rights has become a political football, kicked around by various blocs seeking to promote their political agendas.

In the theatre of the absurd, some of the world’s worst protagonists and human rights offenders, chair commissions and committees on women’s rights, human rights and more. China, who has imprisoned over a million Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps and Cuba, currently sit on the UN Human Rights Council, where Afghanistan will be admitted to various bodies and an obscene amount of resolutions are passed against Israel – at the expense of real human rights violators like Iran, Venezuela or Syria.

One could say that the United Nation has become rife with institutionalized antisemitism.

Year after year, successive Israeli envoys to the UN, supported by allies such as Australia, the USA, the United Kingdom and others have voiced their concern and discontent at the disproportionate to the point of obsessive focus that the UN and its various agencies, namely the Security Council, UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), UNRWA, UNESCO and others have had with the Jewish state.

Concerns have ranged from UNESCO’s denial of Jewish connections to holy sites like the Temple Mount through to UNRWA’s perpetual incitement in textbooks in Palestinian schools through to the UNHRC’s forming of a “Commission of Inquiry” to investigate the May 2021 conflagration between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza strip. Have we seen the formation of similar commissions to investigate conflicts in other parts of the world? Don’t hold your breath!

It is this Commission of Inquiry (CoI) that has become cause for great concern over recent weeks.

Sitting on the three person panel are investigators Miloon Kothari, Cristopher Sidoti and Navi Pillay. Pillay had come up for particular scrutiny because she has a history of anti-Israel activity including signing petitions supported by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) accusing Israel of being an Apartheid state, supporting terrorist Leila Khaled infamous for hijacking an aircraft, and more recently, supporting her co-panelists obscene antisemitic comments.

Prejudiced Panel. All three panelists, Navanethem Pillay (center right), chair of the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, Miloon Kothari (right), and Chris Sidoti  (centre left) are not only openly anti-Israel but have consistently expressed antisemitic sentiments.  (UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferré)

Christopher Sidoti has accused Jews of “flinging the accusation of antisemitism like rice at a wedding”. Hmmmm.

But it is Kothari who has come in for the most global opprobrium. Speaking on a podcast recently that was hosted by Mondoweiss (a vehemently anti-Israel platform), Kothari made inflammatory, antisemitic comments that included “the Jewish lobby” controls social media and that “a lot of money is being thrown in to try to discredit us.” He also questioned “why Israel is even a member of the United Nations”.

Unashamedly Antisemitic. UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Israel member, Miloon Kothari, sparked outrage after he was quoted alluding to a “Jewish lobby” as well as questioning whether Israel deserved its UN membership. (UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferré)

Pillay defended her co-panelist saying his comments were “taken out of context”. There was absolutely no mistaking the context.

The backlash was immediate. Israel’s Prime Minister, Yair Lapid wrote to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, calling on the comments to be condemned and the CoI to be dissolved.

It was clear that these three panelist cannot fulfill the requirements of neutrality that is needed to conduct such investigations.

Closed Mind, Open Hostility. How does South African Navi Pillay who is on record calling Israel an “apartheid state,” has campaigned to boycott and sanction Israel, and signs statements lobbying governments to punish the Jewish state qualify to chair the U​.​N.’s Israel Inquiry?

Global condemnation followed with over 20 countries condemning the comments as antisemitic and UN officials including the President of UNHRC, High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, Miguel Moratinos, former Special Rapporteur, Ahmed Shaheed, Secretary General Guterres and the Special Envoys for Antisemitism from the USA and Canada.

Kothari (most likely as a result of international disgust and not a sudden surge of good consciousness) wrote this non-apology of an apology:

Last Friday, the IDF launched Operation Breaking Dawn, preemptively striking, with pinpoint precision, Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza strip. Following the arrest of PIJ leader, Bassam al Saadi during counter-terror operations in Jenin in the West Bank, military and security officials had received intelligence that the terror group was planning on launching attacks on Israeli civilians. The IDF moved quickly – shutting down access roads to the Gaza border, locking down communities and shutting off train services between the city of Ashkelon and Sderot – the most bunkered town in the world.

Israelis waited for the storm that would inevitably follow the tense calm.

The storm started with barrage after barrage of rockets fired at Israel’s southern communities. Over 1,500,000 of us who live within an 80 kilometre radius were advised by the IDF Home Front Command about the dangers of incoming rockets. City after city opened their public shelters and families prepared their personal shelters for any inevitability.

Antisemitism UNaddressed. Reporting his findings on the growth of antisemitism to the UN General Assembly, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed cautioned that it is “toxic to democracy” and poses “a threat to all societies if left unaddressed”. (UN Photo/Manuel Elías)
 

Israel was under fire from a terror entity that has effectively been proscribed as such by the EU, USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada and others.

Most countries (with the vocal exceptions of Russia, Iran and South Africa) supported Israel’s right to defend her citizens but somehow the UN Security Council managed to convene quicker than one could say “out-of-office, on vacation”.

Guterres called for restraint on both sides.

Siding with the terrorists, UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinians, Francesca Albanese tweeted “Palestinians’ right to resist is inherent to their right to exist as a people,” she tweeted. “An unlawful act of resistance does not make the resistance unlawful. An unlawful act of an unlawful occupation makes the occupation more unlawful (and the list on the desk of the [International Criminal Court] Prosecutor longer).”

This has largely been seen as not only whitewashing terror but actually supporting deadly rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. Albanese conveniently forgot that at least a third of Palestinian civilian casualties, namely 16 out of 27, were as a result of PIJ rockets that misfired or landed short.

UN bodies have stated over the last couple of weeks that they are dedicated to fighting antisemitism wherever it occurs and that there is NO place for it in the work of the institution. Perhaps they better start cleaning house – the sooner, the better.





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).

FLIGHTPLAN TO FREEDOM

Reflecting on the impact of a Russian Jewish pilot’s plot to hijack a Soviet plane to freedom

By Jonathan Feldstein

I’m relaxing on the beach in Tel Aviv reading a book that I’ve been enjoying. More than enjoying, it’s an important piece of our history as a people, specifically related to the struggle to free the Jews of the Soviet Union of which I was active in my teens and early adulthood, and which is so important to remember.

Hijack for Freedom” is the memoir of Mark Dymshits. Unlike other memoirs with the writer’s intention to be published, Dymshits’ writing was only discovered after he died, and only then published.

Made his Mark. Mark Dymshits’ writings were discovered after his death and published as a memoir.

Mark Dymshits was a former Soviet Air Force pilot who, discriminated against as a Jew, sought to leave the USSR which was nearly impossible in 1970. He and others planned to hijack a plane and fly themselves out of the USSR to freedom, eventually to be able to go to Israel. It’s a compelling read.

Unlike many of the most prominent refusenicks and Soviet Jewish activists of the time who became a household names, Dymshits’ personal history  was different.  From being a loyal Soviet citizen he would in time resent the increasing discrimination until he realized that the Soviet Union was not his true homeland and could never be. This pilot ‘plotted’ a course of action that went beyond a flightpath and would change the course of how Soviet Jews looked at their own identity.  Unlike many others, Dymshits did not spend years learning or teaching Hebrew in secret, studying or practicing Judaism, nor was he particularly involved with any of the Zionist groups and leaders at that time. He only wanted to leave the USSR and immigrate to Israel.

Breacher of the Iron Curtain. Soviet pilot Mark  Dymshits whose brave plan inspired a generation of Soviet Jews to set their sights on freedom in Israel.

As a pilot, he spearheaded a plan – “Operation Wedding” – to hijack a small plane that would be filled with other Soviet Jews, and fly himself and them to the west and freedom. Perhaps, because he didn’t spend years hiding his identity as a Hebrew teacher or live the lives of other Jewish or pro-Israel activists, he was less sensitive to the dangers of h the KGB and how it had effectively infiltrated these groups. Dymshits and his co-plotters were caught, arrested, and tried and in December 24, 1970, a Leningrad municipal court sentenced former military pilot Mark Dymshits, age 43, and a dissident Eduard Kuznetsov, age 30, to death by firing squad. Seven defendants, ages 21 to 30, were sentenced to 10 to 15 years in labor camps, with two receiving shorter sentences. With two exceptions, all the defendants were Jews.

‘Mark’ed Man. KGB file on Mark Dymshits.

This case of the “Leningrad hijacking plot” caused an uproar in the west, and was a catalyst for other Soviet Jews to begin their own ‘flight’ to freedom. In a way the Dymshits case was not unlike that of the case  Alfred Dreyfus  that had such an impact on Theodor Herzl to “hijack” the complacency of Jews in “enlightened” countries and set a goal to establish a Jewish state.

From Plight to Flight. Aeroflot’s An-2, the same plane the Dymshits–Kuznetsov group tried to hijack.

Fifty years after Herzl, the dream of establishing a Jewish state was realized and 50 years after Dymshits and the others involved with “Operation Wedding”, the majority of Jews who wished to leave the USSR were able to do so.

BACK ON THE BEACH

As I wiggled my feet in the soft sand, I became aware of a family speaking Russian behind me, clearly three generations: grandparents, their children, and their grandchildren. I understand some basic Russian from teaching myself in order to get by on my own in the USSR back in the 1980s. One of the little boys had a unique way he rolled his ‘R’s which I attributed to his growing up in Israel but speaking Russian at home among his immigrant family.

At one point as they chatted behind me, I read the following passage related to Dymshits’ arrest, trial and imprisonment and how in many ways that was a catalyst in the USSR to inspire Jews to try to leave, and a catalyst in the west to advocate on their behalf.

He wrote:

The KGB had a choice to make between (charging us with violating Soviet laws of) article 83 with short prison terms, or article 64 with long prison terms and even execution. If the KGB had chosen article 83, and given us prison terms of up to three years, they would have made themselves look humane in the world’s eye. After serving our short sentences, we would have gone off to Israel without causing a fuss, but without a fuss there would have been no large scale aliyah. They would have given exit visas to a few thousand Jews, and everything would have gone quiet for a few years.”

Rising Tide against Soviet Russia. A protest rally is held against the death penalty in Russia at Kikar Malchei  – today Rabin Square – Israel in Tel Aviv.

As I’m reading these words and hearing the Russian behind me, I see Dymshits’ vision being fulfilled. Eventually, the Jews of the Soviet Union would have come home. But if the high-profile nature of the bold plan, then the trial, and subsequent protest of the verdict had not taken place, it is indeed possible that at that point there would have not yet been a large scale movement, or exodus, of Soviet Jews.

Welcome Home. In the years following, Jews emigrated en mass to Israel as seen here with then Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin shaking hands with new Russian immigrants on their flight from Russia to Israel. 27 April 1994.

Friends who are former Soviet Jews who live in Israel have articulated what a hero and how pivotal Dymshits was. His book is a personal memoir, much about his early life and leading up to the hijack plan, and then the imprisonment, trial, sentence, and serving his time in successive prisons.  Spoiler alert, he was not killed. The sentence was commuted to fifteen years in a Gulag, and he was free after nine years thanks to an American-Soviet prisoners exchange in 1979. He then emigrated to Israel where he lived until the age of 88.

As much as Dymshits and the other defendants were pivotal in changing the dynamics, I’m sure that if I had asked the Russian speaking family sitting behind me on the beach who Mark Dymshits is, they’d probably have no idea.

We have a lift off. Jewish emigration from USSR to Israel ‘takes off’.

Today, it is not uncommon to see planeloads of new immigrants landing in Israel from different parts of the world. It’s important to know and never forget that only 50 years ago the Jews of the Soviet Union were prohibited from leaving and discriminated against. It is the heroism of people like Dymshits who changed the paradigm.

Especially as this week, I celebrate my 18th anniversary of making aliyah, thank God we’re all home.


Hijack for Freedom. The Memoirs of Mark Dymshits: Soviet Pilot, Jew, Breacher of the Iron Curtain

Gefen Publishing





About the writer:

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





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

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter- 07 August 2022

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BORN IN WAR, ISRAEL LIVES WITH WAR

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A WORLD APART

Two perceptions of a campus bombing

By David E. Kaplan

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

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

A WORLD APART

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(2)

KING ABDULLAH’S LEGACY

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

By Jonathan Feldstein

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

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

KING ABDULLAH’S LEGACY

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TIME TO DO RIGHT, SOUTH-AFRICA

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

By Pamela Ngubane

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

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

TIME TO DO RIGHT, SOUTH-AFRICA

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

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

The Israel Brief- 01-04 August 2022

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



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



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



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




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





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

TIME TO DO RIGHT, SOUTH-AFRICA

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

By Pamela Ngubane

(Originally published in The Citizen)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– the creation of an integrated and productive continental economy

– maintaining peace and security on the continent unlocking

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

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



About the Writer:

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







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